Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dombrowski looks towards 2009

The most disappointing season in a long time is over with a team many thought would make it to post-season instead finishing in last place. It feels like the season never even started and here we are looking towards 2009 already. We will now spend the next five months discussing what's wrong with the Tigers and how to fix it.

Dombrowski spoke earlier this week and was more candid than usual. He first admitted that the season was an embarrassment:

"I'm embarrassed," Dombrowski said before the Tigers-White Sox game, a makeup from an earlier rainout that needed to be played because of the tight AL Central race. "I've had a bad year. There were a lot of things anticipated that I missed on.

"We had a bad year as a team," Dombrowski said of a team that finished last, a game behind the Royals. "Now we need to fix it."

Then he discussed is plans and thoughts going into the off-season. Here are the highlights:
  • Pitching and defense will be off-season priorities.
  • As we knew, Edgar Renteria's option will not be picked up but there is a chance he might still be back. Ramon Santiago may play more next year but not likely to be a full-time regular. They won't look for a long term solution at shortstop though because Dombrowski thinks prospect Cale Iorg will be an all-star and that it won't take long.
  • They will not slash payroll but will not likely be big players in the free agent market either. That is, don't expect them to bid for Frankie Rodriguez, CC Sabathia or any of the other top names.
  • Getting a closer will be a big priority. They are not going to depend on Fernando Rodney or Joel Zumaya to carry the bullpen next year.
  • They will look for a catcher but there is a possibility Dusty Ryan will be a starter next year.
  • They may trade young players for young players.

My thoughts on Dombrowski's thoughts:

  • It doesn't sound as if there are going to be major changes this off-season. Assuming there are no deep underlying chemistry problems of which I'm unaware, I do think this unit can do a lot better next season without big changes. They do need to make some additions though.
  • Dombrowski didn't talk about obtaining a starter but I think they need to try to acquire someone who can give them some solid innings. I also hope they acquire substantial relief help. It doesn't have to be expensive relievers (I'm never in favor of breaking the bank for relievers) but they need to do something significant.
  • I think Renteria will be back next year. He wants to be back and I don't see them making a significant trade to get a one year stop gap. I think he'll bounce back offensively but his defense is still a problem. It might be less of a problem if Inge, with his great range, is the third baseman as planned. If he's not back, then they might have Santiago split time with another cheap defensive shortstop. I think defense will be a priority in any move they make to strengthen their line-up.
  • I'm a bit surprised to hear Dombrowski rave about Iorg as much as he did. He's a good prospect but I was not under the impression he was regarded as a sure thing. He batted .251/.329/.405 in Lakeland this year after being out of organized ball for two years doing missionary work. You had to expect him to be rusty this year but he'll need to put up better numbers at AA Erie next year before I begin to take him seriously as a future all-star. Matt Wallace talks more about Iorg at Take 75 North.
  • Dusty Ryan looked very impressive in September but I don't know that he's ready to be a full-time starter. They may try to obtain a left-handed batter to platoon with him. Jeff Zaun seems like a good possibility.
  • Young players for young players? What does that mean? Is that why Dombrowski was pumping up Iorg so much? Probably not but I could see them trading Matt Joyce in a package for pitching or catching help.


  1. Great thoughts, Lee, and thanks for the article link.

    Just wondering... has there ever been discussion of Inge playing SS?

    Assuming even a mild rebound he should be above average with the bat for a SS. A decent 3B is easier to find (Casey Blake?) and they could use Santiago as a defensive sub, sliding Inge to 3B in late innings.

    Then again, Orlando Cabrera may solve those problems?

  2. Andrew,

    They were experimenting with Inge at short in spring training but that stopped when Granderson got hurt and Inge needed to concentrate on playing center field. I've heard the Inge to shortstop suggestion before but I have never heard Leyland or DD say that Tigers say he was an option to become the regular shortstop. You never know what they are going to do with Inge but Leyland seems to want him at third next year.

    Cabrera wouldn't be a bad option on a one or two year deal. The problem is I expect that he'll be looking for a 3-4 year deal and at his age I'd be worried about a decline very soon.


  3. Thanks for the link, Lee. I answered your question.



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