Three questions still facing the Tigers

1. What about the rotation?

2. What about the lineup?

3. What about the bullpen?

I hold these truths to be self evident.

1. Moving Phil Coke from the bullpen to the rotation is not a sufficient move to address the problems of the 11th best rotation in the league.

2. While Victor Martinez is a welcome addition and a good hitter, he does not, by himself, replace the Tigers 2 and 3 hitters in Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez

3. Jim Leyland cried out for bullpen help both at the trade deadline and after the end of the regular season, yet the first move that the Tigers made was to move the one proven set up man that they had out of the bullpen. They're one up with Benoit and one down without Coke.

Summary: Nothing has been upgraded yet.

The payroll is some $40 million lighter now than it was in 2010, after subtracting all the free agents, and adding Inge, Peralta, Martinez, Benoit and Alburquerque. That includes Verlander's raise, and projected arbitration increases for the four arbitration eligible players, and filling in the vacancies created by departing players with league minimum salaries. Forty million bucks. Some $ 26 million of that had been spent on the 2 and 3 slots in the batting order, at least one if not both of which are not adequately filled, and some $ 34 million was allocated to the starting rotation, with only six million spent thus far- for Verlander's raise.

The Tigers are believed to be looking for another bat for the middle of the order, and that bat would likely fill a corner outfield spot when the Tigers are in the field. Crawford, Werth and Ordonez are the free agent options, while the names of Luke Scott and Josh Willingham have been linked to possible trades. Internal options are plainly inadequate. Even with an experienced outfielder being added, one corner outfield spot will be held for Ryan Raburn, Brennan Boesch, Casper Wells, or Clete Thomas. Giving two outfield spots to that group would hardly be a replacement for a major league No. 3 hitter.

The silence has been deafening with respect to that rotation that posted a 4.46 ERA for the 2010 season. Free agent options again are limited. Only Type A free agents Carl Pavano and Jorge de la Rosa are appealing to me, and each would require surrendering the second round pick as well as a three year contract. Trade possibilities look like the better option, with Matt Garza, Zach Greinke, Jeremy Guthrie, and Wandy Rodriquez possible trade candidates. Internal options Andy Oliver and Jacob Turner are not ready for prime time, but could certainly compete with Coke and Galarraga for the fifth spot. An other option would be to sign one of the walking wounded to a high risk, high reward type of deal.

Bullpen options are plentiful, with at least twenty good major league relievers on the free agent market, and the cost would be much more reasonable. If the list is limited to lefty relievers to replace Phil Coke, then the quantity is significantly smaller. Downs, a Type A free agent, Feliciano, Takahashi, Fuentes, and Rhodes are lefties that would be an upgrade, and the list of righties includes such names as Rauch, Guerrier, Uehara, and many more. There are talented relievers in the system, but Ryan Perry has never had a stretch of more than a few weeks of success in the majors, Dan Schlereth has about half a dozen solid appearances, and relying on Joel Zumaya to be healthy once again would be a big mistake (although the warm and fuzzy stories will fill the papers when the snow melts) They should at least see what relievers slip through the cracks in January and pick one up.

But any way you slice it, it's too soon to rest on the off season's work. Progress has been made, but there is much work to do in order to turn a .500 team into a contender.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.