Questions, Answers and Tigers…
I was recently asked to give my two cents about the upcoming Tigers season.Â Being one to never turn down an opportunity to speak my mind (well, lets be honest it’s not like people have to ask, I just do it) here are some of my opinions, thoughts and quandries about the upcoming 2010 season… enjoy and feel free to state your opinion on my opinions.
1) How was the off-season? What kind of grade would you give it? Woah, that was a weird offseason. We as fans don’t hear anything for weeks then BAM! Two fan favorites are gone. I will miss Polanco – A lot. I think the Tigers should have made him an offer, and a nice one at that. He has many good years left and he has proven time and time again to be the spark that ignites this team. As for Granderson, I was impartial to the trade that sent him to the evil Yankees. Granderson was good but very unpredictable – when he was hot he was on fire. When he wasn’t – well, zzzzzzzzzz. No one can say anything negative about his love for Detroit and his charitable contributions to our suffering city, but I think he was at the peak of his career and the time to trade is in that peak. Jackson – he fell off so bad in the second half of the season that at times it was hard to watch; his pitching had become almost predictable. One couldn’t help bu think that may be a predictor for seasons to come – no hard feelings but I’m not crying over his departure. Johnny Damon – ugh, that saga went on WAY too long. I’m not opposed to the signing, but he needs to prove that he can perform and perform well for us before I make my way to the Tiger Den Shop and get me one of those $95 Damon Jerseys… Grade: B/B-
2) What is the key to success for 2010? The key to the 2010 season is definitely going to be health – this team (pitchers in particular) need to stay healthy.
3) What will be the team’s strength? Pitching. With the acquisition of Sherzer and the recovery of Bonderman and Zumaya the pitching staff should be spot on this season. I’m also expecting a bounce back year for Galarraga too – I would like to think that he knows last season was dismal and he needs to step up and perform to keep his place on the mound. Willis is done – we should cut our losses and move on from that experiment.
4) What could be their Achilles’ heel? In one word – rookies. There are two prominent rookies that are expected to make the opening day roster – Jackson in Center and Sizemore at 2nd. This new lineup leaves inexperience up the middle and that makes any baseball fan cringe just a bit
5) Who will be the team’s MVP? hopefully, putting all of last seasons boozing and beating issues behind him now for good, Miguel Cabrera will have the standout season we all have been expecting him to have and that he is capable of having.
6) Will a rookie make a significant impact on the team in 2010, and if so, who? Jury is still out for me on this one. Praise abounds for the defensive skills of Jackson in Centerfield but rumor has it that his presence at the plate leaves something to be desired. Many great things have been said about Sizemore at second as well. I haven’t seen enough of either of them to reach a solid conclusion on future performance but my hope is that if they are not ready for the big show the Tigers will leave them in Toledo to grow a bit.
7) Who will be the breakout player for the team? After years and years of injuries and setbacks, I’m going to have to go with Joel Zumaya. If he can keep it together and keep off the DL he should have a year on par with his breakout season in 2006. Also, I can’t write a synopsis blog without giving a shout out to my boy Magglio. After a horrid first half last season, he has regained his form, looked fabulously fit at Tigerfest and will end the season with a .320 BA and 30 HR.
8 ) Which player will drop off the most from 2009? It will be hard to maintain the greatness that Justin Verlander demonstrated last year, but I’m going to have to go with Rick Porcello. He may not fall to the very bottom of the ravine, but he will definitley feel the effects of a sophomore slump.
9) Who is the most likely player to be dangled as trade bait? oooh, that’s tough seeing that no one really saw the Granderson/Jackson trade earlier this winter – anyone is really up for grabs. If had a gun to my head and was told to pick one, I would have to say Jeremy Bonderman. This will be a big return year for him and he may have a good enough record at the trade deadline to warrant the Tigers letting him go for possibly another power left handed bat. The Tigers talking heads also seem to have a love affair with Ryan Raburn but he may be on the block too come trade deadline.
10) What will be the team’s final record and divisional standing? My heart and optimism say first in the division with a 96-66 record, by my realism is going to say 88-74 – second in the ALCS behind the Evil Empire (aka: Twins).