The Winter Meetings are over and winter itself officially starts next week. While some of the Tigers are home in the tropics or enjoying 18 holes in Florida, The Hammer Toss will keep you warm with the hot stove!
Stop celebrating. This is no time for a high-five. The Tigers' offseason is quickly heading toward the toilet, as we are left to reap what has been sown in years past.
Failure begets failure. So much more the same. Tiger nation is left to "stay the course."
They acquired a leadoff hitter in Juan Pierre who has a decent shot to get 200 hits again, and steal 60 bases. They signed J.J. Putz to add to an already stellar bullpen. They also pulled off an intra-division deal through which they acquired Mark Teahen to play third base. This means Gordon Beckham moves over to second to complete their infield.
As for the Twins, Carl Pavano accepted salary arbitration and will be back in their rotation. You can bet they will trot him out against the Tigers every chance they get.
Split between Cleveland and Minnesota in 2009, Pavano made six starts against the Tigers. His line: 4-1, 3.00 ERA, 26-3 (K-BB). That ERA is nearly halved if you remove his one bad start. Additionally, they grabbed shortstop JJ Hardy from the Brewers to fill their need at that position.
That leaves the Tigers, who have been mostly sitting on their hands because their hands are tied. Years of bad decisions, bad contracts, bad management have finally caught up. 2010 looks destined to be a mess.
There was no attempt at a bad contract swap with the Dodgers, else Juan Pierre might be the Tigers' center fielder. If it wasn't for lousy spending, Curtis Granderson would still be in center instead of the victim of sudden, forced fiscal responsibility.
Second base is being given over to a kid who is still wearing a walking boot because he snapped his ankle in the fall. He gets the green light because another fan icon in Placido Polanco was shown the door.
Detroit stinks right now. It stinks of failure. What do the Tigers really have to look forward to in 2010?
The bullpen is a wreck, devoid of reliable arms.
The starting lineup has no punch. The Tigers were forced to bring back a light hitting shortstop because of monetary reasons, second base will be played by Scott Sizemore who has no major league experience. Prospects will be given the chance to claim center field, where 30 home runs were just lost in Granderson. Carlos Guillen cannot stay healthy and Magglio Ordonez got old overnight.
The starting rotation has some upside. Justin Verlander was dominant in 2009, Max Scherzer is coming of age, and Rick Porcello had a good rookie showing. A bounce back year from Jeremy Bonderman perhaps makes the team passable.
All else being what it is to this point, the front office needs to make a few aggressive moves to give the Tigers any chance for 2010.
Personally I do not see any chance of that happening, as David Dombrowski has not shown a penchant for it in the past.
Passing on the opportunity to try to get Juan Pierre from the Dodgers was a mistake. Say what you will about Pierre and his flaws, but he has skills that are needed in Detroit now.
Scott Podsednik would be a nice stop-gag for one year in center field. He hits left handed and is a capable leadoff hitter, although he doesn't have the speed that Pierre possesses.
The bullpen will probably be an area of constant tweaking for the Tigers. I foresee some reclamation projects in the future. Perhaps guys such as Justin Speier, Rich Hill or David Weathers. They all have some possible upside and will more than likely tryout somewhere for the minimum salary.
I also would not mind seeing Mark Mulder offered an incentive laden deal. Perhaps he can recapture some of the magic of his days in Oakland.
Either way, there is still a lot of work yet to be done this offseason. The big question is whether or not Dombrowski will make choices, or let the choices be made for him.
The hot stove is in full swing as this and many other topics are going to warm up your world. Stay tuned to The Hammer Toss.