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Today's Game: Who's! The! Closer?

If you didn't already grasp the idea that the 2010 Detroit Tigers baseball club would look different from the 2009 edition, further evidence of that came last night with the news that Brandon Lyon was set to sign with the Houston Astros.

Earlier in the evening, there were rumblings that Lyon was looking for a two-year, $9 million contract, in light of the two-year, $7.5 million deal LaTroy Hawkins signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. And that probably would've been too rich for the Tigers.

So when Lyon ends up agreeing to a three-year, $15 million contract, it's probably safe to say Detroit was never really in the running to re-sign him. Unfortunately, this is the guy the Tigers were presumably hoping would be their closer in 2010. Now, they probably have to go to "Plan B."

But if "Plan B" was Fernando Rodney, he might not be available, either. (I'm thinking Rodney wasn't the Tigers' Plan B, however.) Dave Dombrowski called it "a long shot." And now that the Phillies have lost out on Lyon, they might be targeting Rodney. The buzz around Rodney has almost been non-existent during the offseason, though there were rumblings in early November that the Phillies were interested.

(via The Detroit Tigers Weblog)

Even a lower-cost veteran reliever like J.J. Putz, which seemed like a near-ideal fit for the Tigers, might be out of reach. Reports out of Chicago have the White Sox nearing an agreement with him.

These developments might leave Detroit with no other choice but to go with an in-house option. And considering the investment this team has made in young relievers over the past three years (including the two just acquired in the Curtis Granderson-Edwin Jackson trade), maybe that's a direction the Tigers should've gone in anyway.

Could Joel Zumaya be the first candidate for the closer job? Dombrowski said the team feels he's ready. That might make a lot of fans cringe, given his recent injury. (And surely, the Tigers are nervous about that, as well.) But if he is healthy - and that's been such a big "if" over the past three years - he may be the best choice.

Zumaya has four seasons of experience (not four full seasons, mind you), and if you're a believer that a closer needs to have a certain mindset, being "the man" for the ninth inning appears to be a role he relishes. Plus - and this is not an unimportant point - Jim Leyland seems to trust him.

If Zumaya ends up being the favorite, however, the Tigers need an insurance policy. That's where the depth of young relievers comes in.

Should Ryan Perry be next in line? Zach Miner? (Leyland seems to prefer that sinker for groundball situations, though.) Casey Fien didn't impress all that much in his first two major league stints, but he did save 14 games for the Mud Hens. Is Cody Satterwhite (12 saves with Double-A Erie this year) ready for the big leagues? Robbie Weinhardt? What about Daniel Schlereth?

Who else would you like to see get a shot?