Team 81: The 2004 Detroit Tigers

Blake VandeBunteContributor IDecember 1, 2009

DETROIT - AUGUST 8:  Ivan Rodriguez #7 of the Detroit Tigers points to the sky as he runs to the plate after hitting a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning of the game on August 8, 2004 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.  The Red Sox defeated the Tigers 11-9.  (Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images
  • Year: 2004
  • Record: 72-90
  • Win %: .444
  • Win % Change: 179
  • Run Differential: -17
  • Pythagorean Record: 79-83
  • AL Finish: 10th of 14
  • Manager: Alan Trammell
  • Best Transaction: Traded Ramon Santiago and a minor leaguer to Seattle for Carlos Guillen.  Forget that Guillen’s current contract is a total albatross and think back a few years ago to when Carlos was a major piece of the Tigers offense.  Guillen was a league-average shortstop at best during his time in Seattle, which is why the Tigers had to give up very little to obtain him in a trade.  Upon arriving in Detroit, Guillen became a serious slugger and made multiple All-Star appearances.
  • Worst Transaction: Traded Cody Ross for Steve Colyer.  Colyer never did a thing in Detroit.  He was a lefty reliever and he didn’t make a dent in the bigs.  Ross, on the other hand, has developed into a pretty nice outfielder with the Marlins.  He has 20 HR power and dives around the outfield with no concern for his body.  The Tigers could use a guy like that.
  • Upper: The play of Ivan Rodriguez.  Pudge came to the Tigers after their 119-loss disaster of a season in 2003.  Many said that Pudge came to Detroit strictly for the money, and while that may be true, Pudge was terrific at the plate and the Tigers looked like a different team.  Pudge hit .334 and finished 10th in the MVP voting, all great for a player on a last place team.  Rodriguez also took home another Gold Glove and another Silver Slugger award.  His .334 batting average ranked him fourth in the American League.
  • Downer: The end of Eric Munson.  Munson was third overall pick in the 1999 draft.  He was going to be the big bat in the Tigers future.  That just never happened.  2004 was Munson’s final chance in Detroit and he fell short.  He clubbed 19 home runs but struck out 90 times in only 321 at-bats and had an on-base percentage of only .289 which isn’t going to get it done for any big league team.  It’s always tough for a team to admit that they made a major mistake with a top pick like Munson, but letting him walk away was the right choice.  Isn’t it sad that this guy used to be in the middle of the Tigers lineup?
  • Summary:  While their record looks awful, this team won 29 games more than they did in 2003, so this was a HUGE improvement.  They would relapse a bit in 2005 before putting it all together in 2006.  The pitching staff was led by a young Mike Maroth who won 11 games and had an ERA+ of 103.  The back end of the rotation struggled with the likes of Gary Knotts and Nate Cornejo.  A young Jeremy Bonderman rebounded from a 19-loss season to go 11-13 and lowered his ERA considerably.  Free agent pick ups, Fernando Vina and Rondell White looked good for a few weeks, but both players spent way too much time on the DL.  The offense was led by the surprising Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez, and Carlos Pena.

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