Well, it was a fun ride, but it unfortunately came to a disappointing end. Congrats to the Texas Rangers—they really do deserve to be in the World Series, and the Tigers took them to Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, which is really amazing.
Instead of sitting around feeling down about this loss, let's look at the positives:
- The Tigers won their first AL Central title since joining the division.
- Everyone gets to take a nice long rest—especially Alex Avila.
- The Tigers were only a few clutch hits away from sweeping this series.
The last point is huge. There are holes in the lineup that need to be addressed as well as holes in the defense that definitely need some fixing. I believe these moves can put the Tigers in the World Series next year.
Jamey Carroll may be getting up there in age (he'll be 38 in February), but he can still play ball.
With the Dodgers this past season, he had a .290 batting average, a .359 OBP and a 58:47 K:BB ratio. This is the kind of guy that the Tigers lacked for most of the season in the upper third of the lineup—a guy who can get on base consistently.
Carroll would be a great replacement for Austin Jackson at the leadoff spot. He rarely strikes, out as you can see (58 K in 146 games played), and he gets on base and can steal every now and then (10 SB, 0 CS in 2011).
The best part is that he would cost only around $3 million. He does not have a free agent rating, so he will not cost a draft pick if he declined arbitration with the Dodgers.
The Tigers could easily slightly overpay Carroll if the Dodgers try to bring him back with the Dodgers' financial problems.
Possible contract: 1 year/$3.25 million
Yes, Delmon Young had a lot of big hits for the Tigers during the regular season and during the playoffs.
However, he also suffered an oblique injury, which is the same injury that kept him out when he played for the Twins.
He is also terrible in the outfield. He played way over his head with the Tigers and could be traded this offseason for a decent bullpen arm or bench player.
No, I am not a Brandon Inge lover. Yes, I did see his season, and he was awful.
Hear me out on this, though.
Inge did not look like the 2011 version of himself during the playoffs. He got a lot of big hits and played very well at third base.
I would guess that it was the rush of being in the playoffs—and next year will be the last year of his contract, so he knows his career may be coming to an end and he's going to want to be in the playoffs more than ever.
Expect Inge to put in a lot of work in the offseason, as he always does. Just hope that Lloyd McClendon has him start pushing the ball instead of pulling it.
In his first few starts in the big leagues, Jacob Turner didn't have much success. This is exactly how a certain other Tigers pitcher's career started.
That pitcher was Justin Verlander. He was terrible for two starts in 2005 and won Rookie of the Year in 2006.
Turner has the possibility of being very good in 2012, but he is not a prospect to toy around with. If he isn't ready, sign someone for cheap and get rid of them when he is ready.
I think that the Tigers will go the route of Turner being the fifth starter at the beginning of the season. If he is ready, then the Tigers will have a very dominant rotation—but if not, then they still have three very good starters and a potential very good starter in Rick Porcello.
If a starter is to be signed, he should be left-handed and cheap—someone like Bruce Chen or Jeff Francis. Neither were particularly great, but they would be fair number-five guys—especially Chen.
Possible contract: 1 year/$2.5 million
Ramon Santiago was one of the Tigers' best players in the postseason. However, he is not consistent enough to be a starter.
Santiago can be a day off for Jhonny Peralta or Jamey Carroll, as well as a late-inning defensive replacement. He is also insurance for injuries.
Every team saw Santiago play in the postseason, and many will want his services for infield depth or as a starter. If Santiago chooses to be on a team that he can play for every day, then no one can blame him.
If he can be had for less than three million, then Dave Dombrowski needs to get him back. It seems like an overpay for a bench player, but Carroll is getting older and Santiago may need to start more often than a typical bench player.
It's also a nice "thank you" for all of his work and postseason performance.
Possible contract: 2 years/$3 million ($1.5 million each)
We all wanted Joel Zumaya to be huge in Detroit, ala Mariano Rivera in New York.
It didn't work out that way, as his career has been hampered by injury. He hasn't pitched since June 2010 and has had two surgeries since. If he is brought back, it may be the end of his career—most likely through another injury.
The Tigers need bullpen help, though. Zumaya was overused due to lack of a decent bullpen, which led to all of his injuries. Now with Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque able to pitch in the seventh or eighth inning, Zumaya should be able to get proper rest.
He should be on a strict one-inning-per-appearance limit, though.
Possible contract: 1 year/$500,000
Victor Martinez was the biggest free agent signing last winter. In fact, he was the biggest move the Tigers made.
While everyone was hoping for Adam Dunn or Jayson Werth, Dave Dombrowski went with V Mart, saved a lot of money and got a postseason appearance—unlike the respective teams of the other two players.
This is not a team that went 81-81 last year and needs some big help. This is a team that went to Game 6 of the ALCS and could have swept with some timely hitting.
There are only a few holes to address, and they can easily be filled with a little money. Let the other teams throw all kinds of money at big names and choke the season away. Let the Yankees give a huge raise to C.C. Sabathia and overpay C.J. Wilson.
The Tigers beat both of them in the postseason.
These moves also let the Tigers keep their first round draft pick in 2012.
What did every American League playoff team have that the Tigers did not?
A team with guys that can turn a walk or single into a double. Guys that could easily go first-to-third, second-to-home or score from first on a double.
I'm talking about good baserunning.
Guys that can manufacture runs. Guys that make the pitcher take his focus off of the batter. The Tigers are built on driving in runs with huge hits, but they could be as dangerous as the Rangers—a team that steals, runs and hits.
Jamey Carroll, Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch and Andy Dirks are all capable of stealing bases consistently, or at least being aggressive runners.
The team also needs to work on bunting. Nearly every single time someone tried to bunt this postseason, they failed miserably. Austin Jackson and Ramon Santiago are very guilty of this.
Jackson should bat lower in the lineup. If he can be better at bunting, then he would be much more valuable.
One last thing is to work on fouling off pitches. It seems like a waste and they should just put the ball in play, but this is a good way of wearing down a pitcher who isn't giving you anything to hit.
Justin Verlander had very high pitch counts this season because of all the pitches he threw being fouled off. Too many Tigers take pitches that are too close to take or just swing right through them.
The fundamentals need to be worked on this winter.
On April 5, 2012, the Boston Red Sox will stroll into Detroit looking to make up for last year.
The Tigers will have the tools to put them in an 0-3 hole to start the season.
1. Jamey Carroll 2B
2. Brennan Boesch RF
3. Miguel Cabrera 1B
4. Victor Martinez DH
5. Jhonny Peralta SS
6. Andy Dirks LF
7. Alex Avila C
8. Austin Jackson CF
9. Brandon Inge 3B
1. Justin Verlander
2. Doug Fister
3. Max Scherzer
4. Rick Porcello
5. Jacob Turner/Bruce Chen
MU Ryan Perry
LR Duane Below
MR Al Alburquerque
MR Phil Coke
SU Joel Zumaya
SU Joaquin Benoit
CL Jose Valverde
Don Kelly (any position)
Ryan Raburn (OF, 2B, 3B)
Danny Worth/Ramon Santiago (SS, 2B)
Omir Santos (C)