Dave Dombrowski moved quickly this offseason. We had a lot of questions surrounding the team after the last pitch of game 162 this fall. Contract extensions to Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta surprised no-one, but neatly resolved the questions of who would play third and short in 2011 and 2012 – and who would back up Inge at third as well. We needed a setup man to fill the critical role that Zumaya did before his injury this summer, Joaquin Benoit was the answer. We needed a DH that could outhit Brennan Boesch, the answer there was Victor Martinez. Conveniently, he can also catch should Alex Avila be lost to injury or incompetence. For an organization that is very weak behind the plate, I think that matters. The answer to the question ‘who will replace Magglio Ordonez in right?’ turned out – after a lot of tire-kicking and blogger speculation – to be Magglio Ordonez.
As a fan, I’m certainly pleased that all these things were accomplished. I’m sure the gnashing of teeth can be heard all over the big apple from those opportunities missed and questions left unanswered. Of course, those teams like the Yankees, Angels or Rangers that failed in their primary goals this offseason still have lots to do. That means lots to follow, and lots to speculate on. We haven’t had a new rumor out of Detroit in a good week now. So… are we really done? No, not really. There are questions still left unanswered and unaddressed. So the question I ask you is: what do we Tigers fans still care about? I’ll list the ones that come first to mind, if you think I’ve missed anything please leave a comment.
1. Who’s going to be the fifth (and fourth, for that matter…) starter? We heard long ago that Phil Coke was going to be starter number four, but Armando Galarraga has been given no implied job security at all. Dombrowski seems to have assessed the pool of free agent starters way back in October and decided that none of them were worthy of pursuit, except perhaps Ted Lilly who didn’t seem to have any desire to hit the open market. That doesn’t mean DD is satisfied with our rotation, any more than I’m satisfied. We’ve heard rumors of trade interest before, including guys like Tom Gorzelanny, and we may keep hearing them until something actually happens. I’m not so sure Coke’s rotation slot is as secure as we hear. Dombrowski, like any sensible GM, doesn’t talk about decisions that haven’t been made yet. We’ll hear nothing from him about trades until they happen. We’ll also hear nothing about the possibility of a rookie claiming a rotation slot until said rookie proves something to the team in spring training. They may be, privately, figuring on a 60% chance of opening with Oliver in the 5th slot (or maybe even Turner), but that will never be discussed now.