The Tigers have a lot of holes, but unlike all the "experts", I don't think they're that far off from being an elite team. If I was the GM of the Tigers, this is the team I would field for opening day next year.
Starting for the 2009 Tigers
Catcher- Russel Martin
How they got him? The Tigers traded a bad contract, Nate Robertson, and a third baseman, Carlos Guillen, to the Dodgers for Russel Martin. The relationship between the Dodgers and Martin is struggling, and they might be willing to trade him to get a veteran third baseman with a little pop in his bat.
First Base-Miguel Cabrera
Second Base-Placido Polanco
How they got him? Free Agency. He would most likely split time with Ramon Santiago. Plus, the Tigers have enough force in their lineup that they don't need a huge bat here. They just need good fielders and that is exactly what Santiago and Cora are.
Third Base- Brandon Inge
Left Field-Raul Ibanez
How they got him? They didn't sign him to a small contract, money wise, but he'll be a starter in left field for the Tigers for two to three years.
Center Field-Curtis Granderson
Right Field-Magglio Ordonez
Designated Hitter- Gary Sheffield
Set Up Men: Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney
Closer: Jason Isringhausen
Bull Pen: Denny Reyes (Signed from Free Agency), Zach Miner, Bobby Seay, Macay McBride
Bench: Matt Joyce, Ryan Raburn, Ramon Santiago, Dusty Ryan
After these signings and trades, will their payroll go down? No, but they would have spent their money smarter.
True, in my scenario, they are relying on Willis to be DECENT, and for Garcia, Zumaya, and Rodney to be healthy. But, let's say Willis is awful, move Miner to the rotation and bring a decent Freddy Dolsi to the pen.
Anyways, are these moves the perfect moves, maybe not, but they probably are the smartest moves.