Posted on: February 7, 2009 11:07 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2009 9:21 am

Will the Tigers make a comeback in 2009?

Are the Tigers ready for a comeback in 2009?

<tbody> </tbody> All-Star badge Lone Star Steve  Reputation:91
Since:Oct 8, 2006
February 7, 2009 7:19 pmScore: 197

After a disasterous "08" baseball campaign, the Detroit Tiger braintrust went back to the drawing board this off season, to address the problems which led to such a dramatic drop from the heights in "07". From the perspective of this fan, the team is on the right track to correcting those problems while not having a Steinbrenner budget to throw around. (not that it has helped the Yanks lately)

The starting pitching this year should be much stabilized and the rotation looks to be this way at the beginning of the season. 1) Verlander (should have a reversal of fortune with a new contract, better D behind him and an improved pen (maybe?) comfort level and confidence should be better), 2) Bonderman (healthy again and can throw without restriction-should get back to Galarraga type numbers), 3) Galarraga (great rookie season, lets hope he does not have a sophmore slump) 4) E. Jackson (had a great season for Tampa Bay last year, a solid addition to the lineup, looks to be very consistent on the mound, as long as he is backed by good D and decent hitting) 5) Up for grabs. It will either be Willis or Robertson. Gut feeling says it will end up being Robertson because he has been working like a dog to get himself in the best physical and mental condition of his life in the off-season. I do not believe that Willis has that kind of work ethic but we will see.

The Relief corps have been bolstered but there remain many questions. The departure of Todd Jones as closer brings a spring battle for the job to the forefront but there is no saying that it will not end up a closer by committee type of season opening. The candidates are Joel Zumaya (healthy again and throwing without restriction), Fernando Rodney (does he have the confidence needed to be the one) and new-comer Brandon Lyon (who showed a Jeckyl/Hyde like demeanor for the position last year in Arizona. If he can shake off the bad second half of the season that he had, then maybe he can help fill out the puzzle) The middle relief is something else again. Aside from Bobby Seay and Zach Miner, there are a group of retreads, so-so's and bright prospects that must prove themselves in the spring. This is our largest question mark area of great concern and one to watch with great interest.

Another item of interest that has been addressed. That of team defense. The Tigers now have one the best left side defensive tandoms in the league with Brandon Inge at 3rd and Adam Everett at SS. This was a glaring weakness in "08". The trade off is loss of offensive pop. However the Tigers have enough lumber to make up for it elsewhere. Gerald Laird at the C position is a stabilizing effect for the Infield move as Inge never wanted to be a full time Catcher. Laird is nothing extremely special but he does have some pop in his bat and is a decent defensive player. The right side of the infield is once again solid with Polanco, a extreme hitter at 2nd and the monster offensive force at 1B, Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers will also be well represented in the outfield with Ordonez, Granderson and Thames supplying Offensive pop and decent range. One question does present itself, as to whether Mr. Sheffield can actually swing his bat this year to any effect. The man is getting a tremendous amount of money. Let us hope he can deliver this year and I mean on the field and not just from his mouth.

So, the spring will be interesting and although this may not be exactly the line-up to emerge for the beginning of the 2009 campaign, the team looks fo be a bit more stabilized per position with less question marks in the key areas. Of course, another factor which contributed mightily to the downfall of the team last year was injuries. Unfortunately, it seemed to affect the major positions in pitching primarily. Hopefully, "09" will be better healthwise and will be less of a detriment to the success of a winning formula. "07" was Cinderella like. "08" was Devil's revenge. "09"...somewhere in between? We shall see! 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or