Promoting this for a little positivity in our lives -- Kurt
I'm not waiting until next year. Not with this team in this division as they are. The Tigers are contenders in the AL Central, right now, this season, and I fully expect management to make a run at the division this season.
Sure, there are problems with this ball club. There are problems with every club in the division. The Tigers are a couple of games off the lead on July 21, and folks are starting to panic. There is nothing wrong with this club that can't be fixed at least well enough to make another run at the division in 2010, and I expect management to acquire some pieces for the stretch run. That can be done without mortgaging the future.
The team is already better than the team that left Lakeland just three months ago. Most of the baggage has been let go. Gone are Everett, Willis, and Robertson. Laird is on the pine, essentially as Avila's back up as he auditions for the job next season.
Verlander is on pace for 20 wins- again. Yet every time he loses a game, the panic across Tigerdom is evident. The rotation has issues, but there is some talent there as well, and I'd expect -- no, demand -- that management get more pitching before the end of the month. If they don't, then they're telling us that they've thrown in the towel on this season, so why should we tag along for a repeat of 2008? The GM put this roster together, and it's up to him to tweak it for this year and next.
The bullpen needs one late inning reliever, to replace Zumaya, (as if that's a shocker) and I'm okay with Robbie Weinhardt, who's been quite unfortunate as opponents have hit one ground ball after another for seeing eye singles and infield hits. If not Robbie, then Zach Simons, or Jay Sborz, or Brendan Wise, or let Dombrowski make a trade. Coke is a legit set up man, and Valverde is as good as any closer in the league.
Cabrera is having an MVP-caliber season and is a legit triple crown threat. When is the last time we had one of those in Detroit? Ordonez is on track for 20 homers and 100 RBI. Rookies Brennan Boesch and Austin Jackson have been very nice additions, and we should soon have Scott Sizemore back in the lineup, this time hitting like he didn't do last time he was up.
The Tigers are not as good as the team that went 8- 1 before the break, nor are they as bad as the team that has lost seven in a row at the moment. They're very much like the team that got through 2009 a few games above .500, only to lose it at the end to a team that finished on a 17- 4 run. Relax, folks. A season is 162 games -- at least. This race is far from over. If management will show me that they're willing to make a run this season, I'll stay along for the ride.
The future is even brighter. When the Tigers get to spend some of that $60 million coming off the books after this season, mostly in contracts of players that aren’t contributing a whole lot, if anything this season. They have to get better. It doesn't have to come from within. It can come from trades, free agents, overseas, wherever. This is a team in transition. The contract status of so many players dictates that they're in transition. So what? They're changing on the fly. It's not necessarily a choice between win now or win later.
Frankly, I don't think the pieces are entirely there to win later. Not on this farm, they're not. Jacob Turner, Andy Oliver, Daniel Fields, and nada. That's what's on the way to help. From the many will come a few good men, but much of the help has to come the old fashioned way. They'll just have to buy it.
For now, we're in a pennant race. I plan to enjoy it.