This time last season, Detroit Tiger fans were counting down the days to the opening of spring training. They couldn't wait to see Miguel Cabrera smack a home-run, Edgar Renteria to go to the hole and throw out a runner and Dontrelle Willis to prove that 2005 wasn't a fluke.
Instead they witnessed one of the most disappointing seasons in 25 years. The 0-7 start, the realization that by the end of July it was obvious the Tigers were not clawing their way to the top but trying to stay out of the basement in the American League Central.
The 119-loss season in 2003 was bad, but nobody expected that team to do well.
2008 was supposed to be the year that the Tigers could be mentioned in the same sentence as the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angles Angels of Anaheim. With names like Cabrera, Renteria, Jacque Jones, Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez and Carlos Guillen experts were predicting that the 08' Tigers would break records.
Names like Gerald Laird,Adam Everett, Brandon Lyon and Edwin Jackson will be replacing a future hall-of-famer, a two-time Gold Glove winner, a closer with over 300 career saves and a five-time Gold Glove winning pitcher. The acquisition of Laird filled the need for a catcher until Dusty Ryan is ready and moved Brandon Inge back to the position were he can help the Tigers most, third-base.
Everett brings with him the glove that the Tigers so disparately needed last season as it seemed every ground ball hit between shortstop and third-base made it into the outfield. Lyon lost his job as the closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks late last season to Chad Qualls because he struggled after the All-Star break and had a ERA of 12.77 in August
Although Jackson did struggle with his accuracy last season with the Tampa Bay Rays ranking 8th in walks in the AL (Justin Verlander was 3rd), he did win 14 games.
Much like last season the bullpen is the biggest unknown on this year's Tiger roster. Lyon should allow Fernando Rodney to return to a step-up type role with Joel Zumaya contributing anything he can as he continues to have shoulder problems.
Last season Tiger fans were counting their chickens before they hatched, this season they are assuming that their hen won't even be pregnant.