Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tigers to Pursue Pitching

In the first real hot stove article of the year, John Lowe of the Free Press says that that the Detroit Tigers will concentrate on pitching this off season. Specifically, they will search for a starting pitcher to replace Jason Johnson, who is not expected to return next season, and a closer. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Through trade or free agency, Dombrowski would like to acquire an experienced starting pitcher -- "someone who can help us win" -- and a ninth-inning closer. He called those roles "the two biggest needs we have."

  • Unlike a year ago, Dombrowski doesn't see a need to pursue an upgrade in centerfield. In an interview Monday, he spoke highly of Curtis Granderson, who started 39 games in center after his midseason call-up from Triple-A Toledo.

  • The biggest roster move involving hitters could be the subtraction of Dmitri Young or Carlos Pena. They are first basemen-designated hitter types on a club where Chris Shelton has established himself at first base.

  • Dombrowski said the established members of the starting rotation are Jeremy Bonderman, Mike Maroth and Nate Robertson. The experienced starter sought from elsewhere would take the place of Jason Johnson, who has become a free agent. The remaining spot in the five-man rotation will be saved for a young pitcher such as newcomer Roman Colon or one of the farm system jewels, right-handers Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya.

  • Dombrowski said the Tigers will pursue a second left-hander to join Jamie Walker in the bullpen

  • Granderson's arrival, along with a healthy season from the switch-hitting Carlos Guillen, means the Tigers have filled their voids at left-handed hitting.
Personally, I agree that they need to concentrate on pitching first. With Johnson leaving and the bullpen very lacking in reliable relievers after the departures of Ugueth Urbina, Kyle Farnsworth and the injury to Troy Percival, it's crucial that they add some pitching if the want to compete at all next year.

On the other hand, while upgrading their offense is a less pressing immediate need, I don't think they have enough young healthy hitters to say that they are all set offensively. At the very least, they need to strengthen their bench and replace a right-handed bat with a left-handed bat, although I agree that Granderson and Guillen will help the line-up balance. Their biggest problem offensively has been their inability to stay healthy and with an aging core of hitters I expect that to be a problem again next year. And, as has been the case for the past decade, they also need to get on base more. Dombrowski does address that point in the article but doesn't suggest how they will try to solve it.

In another article by the same writer, the Tigers expressed concern that Dombrowski's right-hand man, Al Avila, may soon find a GM position elsewhere.


  1. one possibility for Avilia that I don't hear anything about is a future as Tiger GM, with DD returning to the team president role that he held prior to firing Randy Smith. DD's statement in the article did not sound like this is a possibility.

  2. I agree that sounds like it would be a good solution. Perhaps, Dombrowski is just not ready to give up GMing. He seems to have too many positions though.

  3. Last year many said "this team won't have a problem scoring runs." Well, they did. And while we need to upgrade the pitching right now, we struggled to get to .500 while we had one of the more efficient pitching staffs early on.

    Being "set" offensively assumes rebounds from underperformers, health from the injured, and repeat performances from those who did well. A lot of "ifs."

    I don't think we have a lot of chances to upgrade offensively anyway so I guess pitching upgrades are the best we can do.

  4. That's true Bert. I think they'll score more runs than last year but they still have some holes offensively. I don't mind that they are focusing on pitching though because I believe that's where they need more immediate upgrades.

  5. Yay, Granderson in center! I heart Curtis Granderson. Curtis Granderson: he's MY Tiger! Etc.

    I like the fact that we're looking for a pitcher who can 'help us win'. As opposed to, you know, all those pitchers who come with a burning desire to lose. Or just burning, I guess, if you're Jose Lima.

  6. My main gripe is that we don't really need a 9th inning reliever. Fernando Rodney seemed to do a really good job at that. Again, whoever was saying that a collection of good arms is the way to go is correct. If we can find several of the more modestly priced 7th-8th inning guys on the cheap, that would go a longer way than having three expensive guys in the back end of the rotation clogging things up. Honestly, as much as it pains me to say it, the White Sox should be our model for success here as far as bullpen building goes. Also, this is where guys like Baugh, Colon, and Grilli can step in and be solid for us. We don't need to go around signing tons of closers: there are much more creative ways to do this.

    And of course, nice blog Lee.

  7. Edman, I agree about the relief pitchers. They need to find good pitchers and worry about the roles later. Dombrowski seems to love to acquire and trade closers. I'm not sure what Leyland's bullpen philosophy is.

  8. Sam, Granderson is one of my favorites too. I like home grown players and I like watching him play. For one thing, he's got a really cool stride running around the bases.


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