Awesome subject... frankly the only thing that's going to be keeping me going through the winter.
Article on the subject that I found fascinating
:Tiger's 2011 Blueprint for Success (Part 1)Tiger's 2011 Blueprint for Success (Part 2)
Quick Summary of those articles:
- Power DH (Dunn)
- Impact Everday OF (Werth/Crawford)
- Platoon Catcher (Buck)
- #3/#4 Starter (De La Rosa)
- Stable Reliever (Balfour/Crain/Guerrier/Frasor)
Not sure I agree on the reliever, depending on how much faith Leyland develops in some of the younger bullpen arms and a recovering Zumaya, but the rest of the wishlist seems right on.
Current rumors about VMart do not excite me. At all. I hate having catchers who can't hit (Laird), but I hate people running all over the Tigers even more. We need a Righty catcher who can at least play adequate defense.
I would be ecstatic to see two new
impact players in the top of the Tigers lineup (Crawford/Dunn/Werth in that order). I don't think it's likely though, simply because the top free agents this offseason are going to be getting a crap-ton of money and I don't think the Tigers are only one or two pieces away from setting themselves up long-term.
Checklist for what I think would be a positive offseason for Dombrowski:
1.) Sign Crawford. This is the least likely, but most positive, step he could make. A player young enough to continue building around for the future, not just playing for next year. With Verlander and MCab the only other big guys signed long-term, I would like to see one more All-Star caliber guy as a foundation. Corner OF is only one hole of many that need to be addressed, but it lets them remain very flexible.
2.) Keep everybody else short-term. Nobody besides MCab and Verlander are key pieces. If it's not going to happen next year, I don't want to see them commit all of this $60+M of "free" money to anybody past 2012 unless it is Crawford/Dunn/Werth.
Anything beyond that is gravy (and maybe irresponsible). Having Magglio as DH instead of Dunn wouldn't be the end of the world. Grabbing a bottom-tier C to platoon with Avila SS/2B are a black hole right now, but these will need to be addressed from within the organization. I'm happy with waiting another year for Rhymes/Sizemore to sort this out.
Bottom line: They've got the money to get a long-term impact guy to continue building around. Despite the Central being up for grabs every year, I don't think the Tigers are going to be ready to try and "buy" the division title yet. If Scherzer/Porcello have a great year next year and they are ready to make a playoff push then
we could spend some more of this money before the deadline and sign an ace or another power guy. I don't really see why it has to all be spent right now when we don't even know if they're going to be a competitive team next season.
I'm all for building the foundation another step and then waiting to see how the Central plays out next year until August. Illitch is probably going to need to save some of this cash to rebuild the Pistons anyway.
All that being said... could you imagine how sweet it would be to look on Opening Day and see their lineup looking like this:
CF - Jackson
LF - Crawford
RF - Raburn
1B - MCab
DH - Dunn
SS - Peralta
3B - Inge
C - Buck/Avila
2B - Rhymes
Makes me smile just thinking about it...