Most of you have probably read about Dave Dombrowski's press conference this week where he discussed the future of the team. If you want to hear him for yourself, you can watch the video on MyFoxDetroit.com. My summary of the conference is listed below:
Some of the big moves already happened during the off-season, so there is less of an urgency to make a bif splash in the off-season. They will have Doug Fister for the full season which is a major addition. Delmon Young will probably be back as their starting left fielder, but Dombrowski stopped short of saying it was a sure thing.
Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen will not be coming back. Brad Penny and Wilson Betemit also probably won't be returning. Joel Zumaya may be back on a minor league deal. They would like to re-sign Ramon Santiago, but Dombrowski expects competition from other teams who might see him as a starter. The Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time player.
The main focus during the off-season will be second base and third base. At the present time, the only second baseman they have is Ryan Raburn and he's not a starter. Dombrowski mentioned Danny Worth and Will Rhymes, but didn't sound really confident that either was a major league second baseman. Ideally, they would like to find a second baseman who can bat lead off.
They will look for help at third base as well, but Dombrowski thinks that a Don Kelly/Brandon Inge platoon would be acceptable. It appears that finding a second baseman is viewed as a more urgent need.
Austin Jackson did not hit like a lead-off hitter. They want him to get back to hitting to right field more often. They will search for a lead off hitter - preferably a second baseman. However, Dombrowski's reluctance to guarantee Young the starting left field job suggests that they might be open to finding their lead off man there.
They are going to add a right-handed back-up catcher, so that Victor Martinez can be the every day designated hitter. I was hoping that Inge would be able to fill that role, but apparently he's either physically unable or just doesn't feel comfortable as a catcher. That's unfortunate, because having Martinez DH and carrying another catcher uses up a valuable bench spot. The bench could consist of Raburn, the second half of the third-base platoon (Inge?), a back-up middle infielder and a back-up outfielder.
The Tigers will not be as aggressive pursuing free agents this year, so don't expect any quick signings like Joaquin Benoit and Victor Matinez last year.
Dombrowski is not worried about the bullpen. He expects Al Alburquerque, Daniel Schlereth and Ryan Perry to contribute, but is open to adding a more reliable middle reliever.
Dombrowski thinks one of Jacob Turner, Duane Below, Drew Smyly or Adam Wilk could emerge as the fifth starter. However, he would also like to add a veteran as insurance, preferably a left-hander. I suspect one or two of those prospects could be involved in a trade to get help elsewhere.
Let the serious rumors begin.