The Detroit Tigers come into 2009 with not-so-lofty expectations. In fact, they are coming in under the radar.
KEYS TO SUCCESS:
Start fast. The last time the Tigers started the season well, they won the American League. It is a matter of coming out of the gates early, getting ahold of first place in the AL Central, and never letting go.
Consistent Bench Play. Marcus Thames, Ryan Raburn, Brent Clevlen, Ramon Santiago, and Matt Treanor need to play solid in the games they start. In 2006, we had Vance Wilson, who was a great spot catcher for Pudge. The Tigers need Matt Treanor to be like Vance Wilson.
Thames will hit his 20 homers, and Santiago will continue to be a great fielder. Raburn is a very streaky hitter with a decent glove. He can play almost anywhere in the infield, which is a plus.
Solid Bullpen. The major thing that the Tigers need is a closer that can step up and give them 30 saves. Dombrowski believes Brandon Lyon is the one. I'm a little worried about that—Lyon hasn't shown he can be a great closer for a whole season.
Ryan Perry should get his shot this year—he has proven he can pitch during the spring. He will be our future closer. Fernando Rodney hurts to watch, but we'll be seeing a lot of him this season as he is a workhorse. Bobby Seay is great versus left-handed batting. Scott Williamson and Juan Rincon will be pitching to prove themselves.
Stolen Bases: These are important for Granderson and the bench players.