Dave Dombrowski is facing some tough decision this week as the Major League Baseball trade deadline approaches. Two weeks ago, the general feeling was that the Tigers were a pitcher and a power hitter away from making a run at the Central division.
As we all know, now that the injury bug has hit the Tigers hard their needs have become many.
As it stands today, in order for the Tigers to compete they need to add the following pieces: a starting pitcher, a relief pitcher, an outfielder, a third baseman, and either a shortstop or a second basemen.
Adding only one or two of these pieces will only serve to gut the farm system, while not greatly improving their chances at the Central title.
The Tigers must approach the rest of this season with competing in 2011 as a priority. The first step, and it pains me to say it, but if Dombrowski is able to get a good package for either Damon or Valverde, he has to pull the trigger. Getting rid of Valverde is a big risk if they cant find a replacement during the summer, but his value is sky high right now and good prospects are sure to be offered for him.
The second step is to play the young guys as much as possible. When Inge, Guillen, and possibly Ordonez come back, they can't be given the majority of the playing time. The Tigers have to find out what they have in their farm system so that they can make intelligent decisions this summer.
Speaking of summer, the third and final thing that the Tigers have to do is not waste the money coming off the books with the expiring contracts. They cannot sign free agents just because money is available. They only need to look north towards Auburn Hills and the signings by the Pistons of Gordon and Villanueva to see how that is a bad strategy.
Money must be spent wisely and does not all have to be spent this offseason. This will leave financial flexibility come trade deadline 2011 for them to make a move, if necessary.
This season has been fun so far, but the injuries and the slowdown that Boesch is going through have put an end to meaningful baseball too early for the Tigers this year.