74-88. That was the Tigers’ record for the 2008 season. After 130 million dollars were wasted on an AL Central last place finish in which the Kansas City Royals had a better squad (for a mere $57 million), realistically, where do the Tigers go from here?
It goes without saying that the Tigers face some pretty serious questions going into this offseason. For better of for worse, this is a team that was built to win this year. Not only did they trade away some fine young talent (Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller) in order to obtain the underwhelming Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, they also got rid of veteran leadership during the season when they sent Pudge to New York in return for Kyle Farnsworth. The former was a gamble that didn’t pay off and we all know how I feel about the latter.
But, to answer your question, I’m not sure where the Tigers go from here. Despite his poor season, Justin Verlander is still one of the most exciting young pitchers in the game. Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya have the entire (hopefully Guitar Hero free) offseason to get healthy. And Maggs’ resurgence over the past couple years makes him an attractive bargaining chip to other teams looking for an offensive bump that will put them over the top. I’m sure the Cubs or Cardinals have already placed an offer.
I’m not sure where we stand, though. This was supposed to be our year, the year when we finally put it all together and no almost .500 Cardinal team would be able to stand in the way. But, like John McCain on November 5, we’re staring at the wreckage and wondering how it all went so wrong.
Personally, I don’t think the Tigers will challenge for the AL Central next year. The Division isn’t all that strong but the Tigers are missing a lot of necessary pieces. The pitching is questionable, the offense never showed up and most of these guys weren’t really brought in because of their defensive skills. We don’t have a catcher, shortstop is a big question mark and I have no idea who is going to fill out the rotation.
You know what, though? At the end of the day, you never know what’s going to happen. Barack Obama was a footnote when he started his run for the Senate in 2004. And no one gave him a chance against Hillary in 2008 either. I don’t think anyone imagined the Rays would emerge from the AL East as Division champs and then slug their way into the World Series. So, I’m going to do what I always do and hope that Dombrowski and team are making the right moves to ensure that 2009 looks more like 2006 and a lot less like 2008. But I expect to be disappointed.