There has been a lot of speculation on which free agents will be or should be signed by the tigers in the 2010 off season. I'd like to look at that question from a different perspective. Who is likely to play the majority of innings at each position if no free agents or trades are made? This is a worst case scenario based on filling each roster position entirely from within and without signing any of the current players whose contracts are about to expire. This serves as a good starting point for discussions on what would happen if the tigers don't sign or trade for someone to cover any open positions.
Here we go.
1B - duh
2B - Guillen and Rhymes (starting after Carlos hits the DL)
SS - Worth / Santiago (he can't keep Leyland's attention for a full season, though)
3B - Sizemore
LF - Boesch
CF - Ajax
RF - Wells
C - Avila
DH - Raburn / Guillen
MI - Santiago
MI - Dlugach
OF - Clete Thomas / Ryan Streiby (if he can show his wrist is solid (but I'm not confident))
C - Max St. Pierre (congrats on the call up)
SP1 - Verlander
SP2 - Scherzer
SP3 - Porcello
SP4 - Armando
SP5 - Oliver
RP - Weinhardt
RP - Sborz
RP - Schlereth
RP - Bonine
SU - Coke
SU - Perry
Closer - Valverde
So, all of these chaps are signed for 2011 and are on the 40-man roster. Doesn't include Zumaya, Miner, or Seay (who won't be pitching next year anyway and is a free agent). Certainly is a much younger team than this year, but the roster is not as horrific as it would have been if we did this exercise a few years ago while trying to plug the same number of holes on the MLB roster.
Pitching - starters looks pretty darn good, although I'd rather see Oliver spend more time at AAA. Armando is better off as a 5th starter but he's pulled together a pretty decent season. The bullpen looks pretty much like what we have right now. If Perry and Schlereth find some consistency and Valverde and Coke maintain their production, then this could be a strength of the team.
Outfield - pretty risky with a rookie and 2 second year players as the starters. If Boesch has reached his level (a .260 hitter with sporadic power), then this group really needs reinforcement. Wells might be a solid pro, but I would hate to rely on him and Boesch too much next year and would much prefer going in with no more than a platoon between the two. Raburn at DH and occasional fill in for the OF would be pretty good given how well he has hit with consistent AB's -no need to ruin the benefit by him spending too much time in the field.
Infield - Here's where things really fall apart. Miguel is one of the best in the league. 2B though depends too much on Glass jaw Carlos. If they put him at DH, that would reduce his time on the DL, but come on, he is not likely to see more than 300 plate appearances wherever they put him. Rhymes has been exciting, but who is convinced that he could be an everyday 2B? If he splits the spot 50 / 50 with Carlos (my best case scenario for playing time), then this position is still not likely to be too much above replacement level. SS is just as bad, but with more predictability. Worth could be an everyday SS, albeit greatly below average offensively. Sure beats Everett (which makes me think that SS is less likely to be filled by a FA given DD's approach). 3B is also a big unknown as Sizemore has had many starts in Toledo recently at 3B. His defense could be poor but has the potential to hit well enough to earn a look. Leyland hasn't given him any AB's since his callup in Sept so I must believe that Sizemore did something bad to Leyland (hid his smokes?).
Bench - This is predictably awful. Santiago is fine as a backup MI and Clete Thomas could also do well as a fill in, but we'll need more help at C. If FA's are signed or trades made, then some of the projected starters slide back here.
Overall, I'm much more concerned about the 3 infield positions. What we've seen this year from the tigers has been inconsistent use of the youngsters, a lack of faith in Sizemore, too much faith in Carlos' body, and general confusion about SS. In the eyes of Dombroski, are Peralta and Inge that much better than the in-house candidates? We certainly need the addition of one outfielder (preferably one who can get on base) and likely also a DH and at least two infielders (2B, SS, or 3B) with the other spot manned by Carlos and a youngster. Pitching doesn't look too bad, compared to the fielders. Despite all the calls for more pitching, this seems like an area that can more easily be filled from within compared to other positions.