SS Edgar Renteria (Trade with Atlanta Braves)
SP Kenny Rogers (Re-signed)
OF Jacque Jones (Trade with Chicago Cubs)
RP Todd Jones (Re-signed)
3B Miguel Cabrera (Trade with Florida Marlins)
SP Dontrelle Willis (Trade with Florida Marlins)
SP Denny Bautista (Trade with Colorado Rockies)
Lost Their Roar
SP Jair Jurrjens (Trade with Atlanta Braves)
OF Gorkys Hernandez (Trade with Atlanta Braves)
1B Chris Shelton (Trade with Texas Rangers)
SS Omar Infante (Trade with Chicago Cubs)
OF Cameron Maybin (Trade with Florida Marlins)
SP Andrew Miller (Trade with Florida Marlins
C Mike Rabelo (Trade with Florida Marlins)
RP Jose Capellan (Trade with Colorado Rockies)
The Skinny: 2007 Detroit Tigers were a decent team. Good enough starting staff, headed by a blossoming Justin Verlander, and a powerful offense that finished 3rd in runs scored. However, in the AL Central, "decent" won't cut it, and, to prove my point, it didn't. One year after winning the AL Pennant, the Tigers finished 2nd in their division, missing the postseason.
Strengths: Try this on for size: 2nd year in the bigs, Verlander went all 8.17 K/9 and 2.99 BB/9. I'll dig that. Is he ever going to be a kick-ass ace? Dunno, but he's close now, and I got no credible reason to think he won't get better.
The crown jewel of the offense, however, is newcomer Miguel Cabrera. Kiddos, I love me some Miggy. 24 years old. Career OPS+ of 143 (Daaamn).
His top 4 Baseball-Reference Comparables are: Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Sr., Frank Robinson, Orlando Cepeda. Oh, and Al Kaline and The Mick both are in the top 10.
Nifty. BP's PECOTA projections think that Cabrera is good for a 50.1 VORP year (.300/.376/.515). I'll take it.
Weakness: What didn't go as planned in 2007? The big one for me is Jeremy Bonderman. One year after going all 112 ERA+ and looking like a ripe breakout candidate, Bonderman took a step backwards to the tune of a 91 ERA+. That hurt, because the Tigers needed a big time ace, and although Verlander came of age right on time, the fact that Bonderman regressed, mixed with no one else cracking a 100 ERA+ meant the Tigers rotation was bad. (Okay, Kenny Rogers was at 103, but he only slung 63 innings.)
Why did Bonderman regress? A lot of the hype for Bonderman came down to his awesome K to BB rates: 168 K to 73 BB in 2004; 145 to 57 in 2005; and the awesome (and evidently peak year) of 202 to 64 in 2006.
What's 2007, you ask? 145 to 48. K's are down, big time (8.50 K/9 in '06 to 7.49 in '07). The walk levels didn't change, which is good, but the hit rate increase a lot.
What's my feeling? Bonderman has peaked. Sorry, Tigers fans, but you still have Verlander!
Let's head over to the offense. Magglio Ordonez had a big ole random BABIP year, so his averages grew faster than the national debt. Example: his career OPS is .892. In 2007....1.029. Numbers don't lie, and I'm saying Ordonez goes back to around the .892.
CF Curtis Granderson - Yeah, 2007 was probably a lot of wacky BABIP, but he plays an excellent center field and I don't see any defensible reason why he can't be considered one of the elite Center Fielders in the game of baseball.
2B Placido Polanco - Good hitter, definitely won't be as good in 2008. BABIP spike.
DH Gary Sheffield
RF Magglio Ordonez - I like him, and he should produce at a good level again.
3B Miguel Cabrera - Awesome. Really, awesome
SS Edgar Renteria - Decent bat, decent glove. The end is nearing, but he's more than servicable. (PECOTA says 19.0 VORP).
1B Carlos Guillen – Good hitter but his bat won't play as well as it did at short. Then again, I'm not sure Guillen will be absolutely atrocious at first with the glove, so I guess it's alright. Also, he's better than Sean Casey, but...well...
C Ivan Rodriguez
LF Jacque Jones/Marcus Thames - Ugh. Not a whole lot here, but Thames has good power.
Justin Verlander - good pitcher, and I expect a leap forward again.
Jeremy Bonderman - an enigma.
Nate Robertson - okay, a good 4th starter/LAIM type.
Dontrelle Willis - will not be any good
I think they're good, and Cabrera helps, but I don't see how they can beat out Boston, New York or Cleveland. With that in mind, I say 92 wins and 2nd in the AL Central, but no playoffs.
Keys to Success
The Tigers just need to have Bonderman bounce back and throw the quality innings he is capable of, but might not do. Also, it would be nice if someone from either Robertson, Willis, or Rogers stepped forward as a number three starter to match whatever the Angels or Red Sox can throw out there. As for the offense, Jim Leyland just needs to write their names on the lineup card.