With the body of the 2011 season still warm from the defeat in the ALCS, the Tigers organization, and especially the front office, are going to have to fill some glaring holes on this team. Taking care of those gaps will begin right away, if not already, and the process for putting the 2012 team together begins.
I understand as a fan wanting to mourn the loss, or heck, even be angry over losing the series to the Texas Rangers. Personally, I think losing the series provided the Tigers with a blueprint to become more successful for 2012. In other words, I’m over it, let’s move on.
Texas put a complete team on display for the Tigers and their fans. Texas possesses talent on offense, defense and pitching at levels which Detroit just simply couldn’t match, especially when fighting injuries. How many times did you find yourself saying in this series, if it becomes a bullpen contest, the Tigers are going to lose? I know it came out of my mouth.
Did you find yourself asking, how in the heck is Nelson Cruz batting 7th? Or how about, who in the heck is Derek Holland? The Texas Rangers simply have depth on their roster that the Tigers don’t have. Given the numerous holes the Tigers have, David Dombrowski and staff are going to have their work cut out for them.
Some areas the Tigers need to improve:
The Tigers need to find themselves a full time 2nd base option. Whether or not that comes from free agency or a trade, a full time guy that can defend a little and provide some on base percentage at the top of the order is almost essential. Few teams fail to get on base in front of their big hitters like Detroit.
With Brandon Inge in the fold for next year, and apparently Wilson Betemit not, the Tigers need to find some offense at this position. Brandon Inge’s defense is no longer superb enough to make up for his batting struggles.
The Tigers need some serious pop, and probably a 3rd spot in the order hitter. Magglio Ordonez‘ stint with the Tigers is likely done, and it isn’t a done deal that the Tigers are going to bring Delmon Young back. Couple that with an injury to Brennan Boesch and corner outfield production is an issue.
David Dombrowski is going to have to go out and find another one year rental as a 5th starter for the Tigers. Hopefully a little more effective than Brad Penny. I don’t think the Tigers can just throw Jacob Turner into that role at this point, and having some veteran competition would be helpful.
I can’t believe I am saying this with all of the Tigers resources they have either used in the draft or spent in free agency, but this is still an issue. Benoit and Valverde are more than solid, but the rest of the pen is a question mark. Another guy or two could help out.
Team speed and baserunning-
This has been an issue for forever. It hurts the Tigers defensively, and it hurts them in pushing runs in. It’s not just about team speed either, it’s about taking the extra base on a single to right field. The Tigers have to preach aggressiveness, and I’m not sure why it’s taking them this long to adjust their lineup to their home stadium.
If Victor Martinez can’t catch 40 games a year, then the Tigers organization is going to have to go out and find one. Omir Santos isn’t going to be the answer, and it doesn’t look like there will be an answer internally for a couple years yet. The bad thing about this is, it is going to cost a roster spot elsewhere as Victor Martinez is going to be on the roster as a DH only in that event.
This is a pretty big grocery list for the Tigers to be shopping for, and it may not all get done. It may not need to considering the Tigers won the A.L. Central with all of these issues present in 2011. All things considered, it’s quite a testament to the Tigers and their season given the deficiencies the club had.
Time to get to work Mr. Dombrowski.
*As the off-season rolls along all of us here at MCB are sure to be taking a look at more specific solutions, rumors, and deals that may involve the Tigers during the off-season.