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 Tigers have their work cut out for them

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PostSubject: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:20 pm

10/03/08 2:00 PM ET
Tigers have their work cut out for them
Team believes the core talent has the ability to win
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- Don't expect a massive overhaul from the Tigers after what manager Jim Leyland called an "unbelievably disappointing" season. Don't expect them to sit by and simply hope that things go better next year, either.

It's a middle ground in which the Tigers reside right now, and it's about all the maneuvering they can do in their situation. With so many needs, including a bullpen that Leyland described as having no roles secured for next season, the Tigers need help. Yet with so many players under long-term contracts, several of whom had down seasons, some of that help is going to have to come from within, with career rebounds and emerging youth.

At the heart of the Tigers' philosophy, however, is the belief that their core talent has the potential to win. Given that philosophy, the challenge becomes to fill the holes around that core.

"We have as good a nucleus as there is in baseball," Leyland said. "And now, to fit in some pieces, to get some guys that didn't do very well to do well, that's the next step."

President/general manager Dave Dombrowski agreed.

I feel like we have the nucleus to have a good club for next year," Dombroski said, "but we've got our work ahead of us."

Fitting those pieces into the financial structure, on the other hand, is a whole new trick than last year's shopping spree. The $138 million payroll the Tigers took into the season is likely to head downward. Rumors of a massive salary cut, however, are overblown. For one, many of the bigger contracts appear difficult to deal, including that of star hitter Magglio Ordonez. Beyond that, however, the Tigers have a big raise due to ace pitcher Justin Verlander, who becomes arbitration-eligible this winter and whom the Tigers are expected to consider for a multi-year deal to gain cost certainty, as well as Curtis Granderson and Miguel Cabrera under the terms of the long-term contracts they signed last winter.

After watching what seemed like a winning roster on paper falter for most of the season, spending more money on top of it is a difficult argument to make.

"We're not going to be able to afford to go out and just say, 'OK, well, it didn't work out. Let's just go get another [pitcher]. Spend whatever you want,' " Leyland said last week. "That's not going to happen. And it shouldn't happen. We're provided plenty of resources to be good, thanks to [owner] Mr. [Mike] Ilitch."

Or, as Leyland put it later, "You can't just keep going to the bank. You just can't do it."

In other words, don't expect bidding wars on Francisco Rodriguez to fill the closer's job or CC Sabathia or A.J. Burnett to add to the rotation. More likely, the Tigers will scour the second and lower tiers of the market trying to find an underrated talent or a role player who will fit what they need.

"We need guys that can fit in and contribute and maybe do the little things a little bit," Dombrowski said. "We don't need to go find an All-Star at every position. We need some guys that can fit in and give us a little hop in our step, mix some young guys in here."

It could mean a repeat of the market after the 2005 season, when the signings of Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones put the Tigers in position to win. It could mean lower-level or even Minor League free agents, trying to duplicate the success of the Cardinals.

"Those guys are out there," Leyland said. "We just have to find them. I'm not talking in numbers, but a guy here, a guy there, those guys are there. So I think we'll have to do a pretty good job. That's not putting any pressure on anybody. That's just a fact. Basically, we have a solid, really solid nucleus."

CONTRACT ISSUES
Free agents: Kyle Farnsworth, RHP; Freddy Garcia, RHP; Rogers, LHP

Eligible for arbitration: Aquilino Lopez, RHP; Fernando Rodney, RHP; Ramon Santiago, IF; Bobby Seay, RHP; Marcus Thames, OF; Verlander, RHP; Joel Zumaya, RHP; Gary Glover, RHP

Player options: None

Club options: Edgar Renteria, SS, $12 million ($3 million buyout, already chosen)

Non-tender possibilities:
Lopez

CATCHERS
Dusty Ryan, .306 BA, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs

The Tigers were impressed with Ryan in what amounted to a regular role in September, but the jury's out on whether he's ready for a full season of it. With Brandon Inge returning to third base full-time, however, Detroit will be in the market for a catcher, whether it's to platoon with Ryan or hold down the spot until he's ready.

FIRST BASE

Miguel Cabrera, .292 BA, 37 HRs, 127 RBIs
Jeff Larish, .260 BA, 2 HRs, 16 RBIs

After a half-season adjustment to the American League, Cabrera is now the center around which the Tigers offense revolves. Detroit believes that Cabrera has the chance to become a Gold Glove first baseman in time, leaving Larish to work at third base in the Arizona Fall League.

SECOND BASE
Placido Polanco, .307 BA, 34 2Bs, 58 RBIs
Michael Hollimon, .211 BA, 15 HRs, 33 RBIs (Triple-A)

Polanco is entering a contract year, and at 34, he'll be one of the next difficult decisions the Tigers have to make. Hollimon is among the abundance of young talent in the system who can play second, but shoulder surgery will sideline him when next season opens.

SHORTSTOP
Edgar Renteria, .270 BA, 10 HRs, 55 RBIs
Ramon Santiago, .282 BA, .411 OBP, 1 SB

The Tigers will not pick up Renteria's option, but Dombrowski hasn't ruled out re-signing him as a free agent. Before that, however, they are expected to take a good look at the shortstop market. Detroit would like to have better defense at the spot, but Renteria's second-half numbers quietly impressed.

THIRD BASE
Brandon Inge, .205 BA, 11 HRs, 51 RBIs
Ryan Raburn, .236 BA, 4 HRs, 20 RBIs

With the importance of infield defense hammered home this season, the Tigers returned Inge to third base in September and will start him there regularly next year. The hope is that stability will help him work to improve at the plate.

OUTFIELD

Curtis Granderson, .280 BA, 22 HRs, 66 RBIs, .365 OBP, 12 SBs
Magglio Ordonez, .317 BA, 21 HRs, 103 RBIs
Carlos Guillen, .286 BA, 10 HRs, 54 RBIs, .376 OBP
Marcus Thames, .241 BA, 25 HRs, 56 RBIs
Matt Joyce, .252 BA, 12 HRs, 33 RBIs

The major change here is Guillen, whom the Tigers hope will have a better chance at staying healthy by getting out of the infield. Though Granderson is ready to hit in the middle of the order, by Leyland's admission, he's by far the best option Detroit has at leadoff.

ROTATION
Justin Verlander, 11-17, 4.84 ERA, 163 Ks
Armando Galarraga, 13-6, 3.73 ERA
Jeremy Bonderman, 3-4, 4.29 ERA
Zach Miner, 8-5, 4.27 ERA
Nate Robertson, 7-11, 6.35 ERA
Dontrelle Willis, 0-2, 9.38 ERA

Verlander and Galarraga are the only rotation certainties in the group, with Bonderman returning if he has recovered from his surgery from this past summer. The rest are question marks -- Miner because the Tigers have to decide if he fits best starting or relieving, Robertson and Willis because of their struggles.

BULLPEN

Fernando Rodney, 0-6, 4.91 ERA, 13 saves, 49 Ks
Joel Zumaya, 0-2, 3.47 ERA, 1 save, 22 Ks
Bobby Seay, 1-2, 4.47 ERA, 58 Ks
Gary Glover, 2-3, 5.30 ERA
Freddy Dolsi, 1-5, 3.97 ERA, 2 saves
Clay Rapada, 3-0, 4.22 ERA
Casey Fossum, 3-1, 5.66 ERA

Rodney and Seay will likely be back, as will Zumaya if he's healthy. After that, the Tigers have arms to bring in and roles to fill, including a huge void at closer.


Beck talks about the season - click here to see video

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


Last edited by GoGetEmTigers on Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:02 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:22 pm

No Hessman... guess he will sign with another team.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:34 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
No Hessman... guess he will sign with another team.

Or probably just be with the Mud Hens again. I don't really see him going anywhere in the majors, he is really good in Triple-A but he hasn't done much when he gets called up.
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:39 pm

mrsrabelo wrote:
GoGetEmTigers wrote:
No Hessman... guess he will sign with another team.

Or probably just be with the Mud Hens again. I don't really see him going anywhere in the majors, he is really good in Triple-A but he hasn't done much when he gets called up.

This is a contract year for him as a free agent. Most commentators think he will sign with a ML team that needs a 3rd baseman. As far as I saw at the end of the season, he can hold his own with some ML team. Same goes for Thames. He will probably be gone to a team who needs a full time OF player.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Sat Oct 04, 2008 3:39 pm

Hope he's on SOME team, anyway!
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:18 pm

I like Mike!!
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:21 pm

Hopefully he signs as a Mud Hen

So Tigers can use him


And they probably will at somepoint in 09
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Sat Oct 25, 2008 2:53 pm

You mean like when Inge tanks it yet again??

Maybe Brandon will ROCK next year......
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Sat Oct 25, 2008 2:56 pm

hopefully!
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:16 pm

He better!!
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:30 pm

what other team would want him?
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Wed Oct 29, 2008 1:47 am

Toledo??
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Wed Oct 29, 2008 9:29 am

uh, the Whitecaps?
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers have their work cut out for them   Fri Oct 31, 2008 8:20 pm

Flying Tigers??
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