This was a disappointing season for Detroit Tigers fans.
I, like many, expected the Tigers to be in the race for a central division title and a serious contender for the world series. The record of 78-88, and their last place finish was not expected from a team filled with veterans.
In order for the Tigers to get back to the top in the American League Central, they need to build on what got them to the world series in 2006.
In 2006, the Tigers lead the AL in starting pitching ERA. To "fix" this team, the bullpen needs to be addressed and the rotation has to be more effective. The Tigers need a closer and must determine who will be their third, fourth, and fifth starters.
Justin Verlander and Armando Galarraga are the only starters with guaranteed spots. Jeremy Bonderman is recovering from an injury, while Dontrelle Wills and Nate Roberston have struggled with their control. The Tigers have invested heavily in both Wills and Roberston and need them improve.
In free agency, I would like to see the Tigers go after at least one starter and one or two relief pitchers. I'd love to see the Tigers go after someone like Ryan Dempster or Ben Sheets. But in reality, those pitchers will be outside of the Tigers' new budget.
My pick for a free agent starter is Derek Lowe. Lowe would provide veteran leadership and could help take some pressure off the younger pitchers.
In relief, I wouldn't mind seeing the Tigers go after Kerry Wood, LaTroy Hawkins, or Jaun Cruz. Unfortunately, the Tigers won't be able to get lots of help in the free agent market for their Achilles hill. The Tigers need Joel Zumaya and Ferando Rodney to return to their 2006 form. Though, pitching isn't the only problem the Tigers are facing.
They need to determine who will be catching those pitches.
I think part of the help for the Tigers will come from within. Dusty Ryan showed promise in his call up to the big leagues. However, Ryan is still a young player and the Tigers need a veteran catcher to back him up. The return of Pudge Rodriguez to the Tigers has been mentioned, but I do not see that happening. It is more likely they will go after a veteran like Greg Zaun or Paul Lo Duca. If I were the Tigers, I would go after Zaun.
Defense was another problem the Tigers had this year. Edgar Renteria seemed to have less range and struggled offensively. I would like to see the Tigers go after someone like Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera brings solid defense, and teaming up with Brandon Inge would provide an above average left side of the infield.
The Tigers outfield is solid. Moving Carlos Guillen to left field should enable him to stay healthier. When Guillen takes a break, the Tigers will be able to bring in youngster Matt Joyce who played well during his time in the bigs.
The Tigers do not need to overhaul their roster this winter. They do, however, need to find a few pieces to fit in around their veterans.