Team 86: The 2008 Tigers

Blake VandeBunteContributor INovember 22, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 19:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers flips the ball to first base for an out against the New York Yankees on July 19, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
  • Year: 2008
  • Record: 74-88
  • Win %: .457
  • Win % Change: -86
  • Run Differential: -36
  • Pythagorean Record: 78-84
  • AL Finish: 12th of 14
  • Manager: Jim Leyland
  • Best Transaction: Trading for Miguel Cabrera.  Jury is probably still out on this one a bit, but Cabrera sure is good.  The Tigers gave up six prospects to bring Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit.  You have to wonder: If this reverse trade were offered to the Tigers RIGHT NOW, would they take it?  With the Tigers looking to unload contracts, would they give up these two big ones for six prospects?  Let’s focus on facts. Cabrera, while very pricey, has hit 71 homers in two years with Detroit, including a .300-plus average and back-to-back seasons of at least 100 RBI.
  • Worst Transaction: Trading Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez for Edgar Renteria.  The Tigers brought Renteria in with hopes that he would help boost their offense.  He did the opposite.  While Edgar was slumping through his single season in Detroit, Hernandez was blossoming in the Braves minor league system and Jurrjens was showing off his stuff as a pretty dominant starting pitcher in the big leagues.  At a time when young, affordable starting pitching is king in pro baseball, the Tigers gave it up for an aging shortstop with a history of failing in the American League.
  • Upper: Miguel Cabrera.  Cabrera was the silver-lining to a pretty awful season in Detroit.  The young slugger made major strides at playing a new position (first base) and also won the American League home run crown.  While Cabrera is set to make about $20 million a year for next century, he sure is exciting to watch and is often worth the price of admission.
  • Downer: The team was a downer, but the pitching was a real issue.  They used 25 different pitchers. Ten started at least three games, including guys like Chris Lambert and Eddie Bonine.  The pitching staff ranked 12th in the American League in ERA, 13th in walks and didn’t toss a single shutout all season.  Yikes.  This was also a team that was two years removed from a World Series appearance and were coming off an 88-win season.  They went out in the offseason, traded prospects and spent money, all in hopes of getting back to the postseason.  Instead, they finished in last place in the AL Central, behind the Kansas City Royals.  Justin Verlander led the league in losses with 17 while Kenny Rogers lost 13 in his final season.
  • Summary: This one stunk and it still stings a little bit.  This was a team that had every hole exposed during this season.  We learned that Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis are no longer big league pitchers.  We found out that Todd Jones and Rogers had finally reached the end and we got confirmation that Renteria just does not belong in the American League.  It wasn’t all doom and gloom though as the club got good performances from Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Armando Galarraga.