World Series Starts Tonight, Detroit Tigers Look to Next Season
The Detroit Tigers were two wins away from playing in the 2011 World Series. They surprised fans and sports pundits alike by going as far as they did. Unfortunately, they'll be watching the Texas Rangers take on the St. Louis Cardinals play for baseball's top prize. The Detroit Tigers look to be a good team again next year and with some minor tweaks should go far.
Almost everybody on the roster is already signed to come back next season. Question marks will be Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen. Both have been plagued by injuries and may be ready to hang up the spikes for good. Ramon Santiago is a free agent, and the Tigers should re-sign the super utility man. Flame throwing relief pitcher Joel Zumaya is also a free agent. Someone will take a chance on his once-golden arm that could reach 100+ mph with regularity. If he's willing to take a contract loaded with performance incentives, it could be the Tigers. Or not.
The Tigers have some needs to fill in the offseason, most notably a legitimate leadoff hitter. It would be a bonus if that player could also play 2nd or 3rd base. Austin Jackson should keep his centerfield job, but move to the bottom of the batting order. A backup catcher to help Alex Avila is needed. Victor Martinez may be able to do it. Having someone with good knees who can strap on the tools of ignorance at least once a week will certainly help Avila stay fresh for important games in September/October. Some more help in the bullpen is also needed. Valverde and Benoit held down the last two innings as well as any combo in baseball. Having someone to bridge the gap would lead to more "w's" for the Tigers in 2012. A quality lefthanded starting pitcher would also be nice. Tiger general manager Dave Dombrowski will be burning up the phone lines and internet to find some players to get the Tigers over the top. They could come via free agency or a trade or both. It doesn't appear that there are any phenoms waiting in the minor league system, but that's the beauty of baseball. You just never know who might come up big or when. It's a long season. 2011 was fun to watch and leads to high expectations for next season. Tiger owner Mike Illitch is 82 years old and will not be able to wait too long to see his team win the big prize. The Tigers will not stand pat in the offseason.