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 Ilitch's desire for 2011 winner has not waned

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Number of posts : 57424
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PostSubject: Ilitch's desire for 2011 winner has not waned   Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:16 am

Ilitch's desire for winner has not waned
By Jason Beck / | 07/26/11 8:20 PM ET

CHICAGO -- Like most Tigers fans, team owner Mike Ilitch is looking and waiting for his club to add a starting pitcher on the trade market before Sunday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. So far, by every indication, nothing is close. But judging by the owner's comments, he's open to considering plenty of possibilities, maybe even some that cost them coveted prospects.

Because to Ilitch, this is the best Tigers team since they went to the World Series five years ago. And while he didn't outright say he expects to make the playoffs, he strongly hinted at it.

"I'd be extremely disappointed if we don't," Ilitch said in a group interview recorded and posted by WXYT-FM 97.1. "We've got a good team."

Though Ilitch was talking with Detroit media at the press conference for Red Wing Kris Draper's retirement on Tuesday morning at Joe Louis Arena, he spent a good amount of time talking about the Tigers. From the trade picture to the postseason implications to what's at stake for the guys in charge this year, the longtime Tigers owner gave his views on what's going on with the ballclub heading into the Trade Deadline and beyond.

His target, not surprisingly, is in line with what his front office is seeking.

"We need that No. 5 guy," Ilitch said.
"We've got some [pitching] prospects, but when you're in a tough race like this, it's hard to throw some of them in there when you're a game or two this way or that way."

So far, they have, but they'd rather not go into the home stretch that way. Actually bringing in somebody, however, has been tougher.

"Everybody's looking for the same thing, so it's very, very difficult," Ilitch said. "I haven't talked to [team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski] in a couple days, so I haven't gotten the latest update."

Asked if he expects to have a deal by Sunday, Ilitch couldn't say.

"I don't know," Ilitch said. "I haven't been presented with anything. [Dombrowski] hasn't been able to bring anything to me that he feels makes sense at this point."

Ilitch has made no secret of his desire to win now as he approaches 20 years since his purchase of the club. That approach has shaped the strategy of the team ever since Ilitch made the commitment to help sign free agent Ivan Rodriguez in 2004 and Magglio Ordonez a year later. Now, that desire is arguably stronger than ever, and he was frank about it on Tuesday.

"Well, I'm not a rookie, and I'm not a spring chicken," Ilitch said. "So you figure that one out."

That reflects in the situation for most of the front office and staff. Ilitch was asked about the contract status of Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland. Both of their deals are set to expire at the end of the season, as are those of many assistants and coaches.

"Well, I don't want to talk about the contracts," Ilitch answered. "I'd like to skip that."

So far, the Tigers have been reluctant to part with top prospects in any trade since the Miguel Cabrera deal four years ago. Whenever the Tigers have been asked about Futures Game participant and potential 2012 starter Jacob Turner over the past year, they've indicated no willingness to deal him.

Part of that reflects Ilitch's desire to build a strong farm system. But with the Tigers fighting for what would be their first division title since 1987, Ilitch hinted that waiting for prospects to emerge might have its limits. He was also asked to talk about the job Dombrowski and Leyland have done.

"We've done a fairly good job," Ilitch said. "We've been competitive. I put a lot of emphasis on the farm system, and you can't get carried away with the farm system. That Tommy John [surgery] always seems to surface.

"It looks like when you look at the system, geez, we've got six [top prospects] here. For sure, two are going to be stars. It just doesn't work that way in baseball. It's much different than some of the other sports."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. 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
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