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Tigers need to tweak their roster

October 23, 2011
By CRAIG REMSBURG , The Mining Journal

Few would disagree the Detroit Tigers turned in a banner season in 2011.

The team went 95-67 to capture the American League Central division title, beat the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series and took Texas to the sixth game of the AL Championship Series before being eliminated.

Pitcher Justin Verlander went 24-5 with a 2.40 earned run average and 250 strikeouts; reliever Jose Valverde went 51 for 51 in save situations; first baseman Miguel Cabrera captured the AL batting title with a .344 average to go along with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs; and designated hitter Victor Martinez batted .330 with 12 homers and 103 RBIs.

Add fine performances from All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta, catcher Alex Avila and pitcher Doug Fister (10-2 with Detroit) and it's easy to see why manager Jim Leyland's club was so successful this season.

But the Tigers didn't make - or win - the World Series. They ran up against a better Rangers team and Detroit's deficiencies were magnified.

That said, the Tigers need some help. Not a major overhaul, of course, but some changes or additions at key positions.

The team needs some speed. The Tigers are woefully slow, stealing a baseball-worst 49 bases. The next-to-worst St. Louis Cardinals managed to steal 57.

You can't continue to rely on the long ball. Manufacturing a run or two with "small ball" play can lead to a few more wins.

Detroit must also find a fifth starting pitcher. Brad Penny is gone. He went 11-11 with a 5.30 ERA.

Prospect Jacob Turner is in the wings, but he's a right-hander. The Tigers desperately need a left-hander, someone who can eat some innings and win more than he loses.

The club's relief pitching with Valverde and set-up man Joaquin Benoit is top-notch. But after that, the relievers were too unreliable in 2011.

The Tigers found out first hand from the Rangers what a good relief corps from top to bottom can do. Detroit can't count on often-injured Joel Zumaya ever coming back, so adding a pitcher or two for long relief should be on the team's shopping list.

Last, but certainly not least, the Tigers need to shore up their second base situation. Ramon Santiago, Will Rhymes, fragile Carlos Guillen and super-sub Ryan Raburn aren't every-day second basemen.

Finding a starter at that position who can field and post a decent batting average would go a long way in making the Tigers better.

Some of these changes will take money, of course. How much Tigers owner Mike Ilitch is willing to spend remains to be seen.

But if he's convinced the Tigers are on the cusp of making - and winning - the 2012 World Series with another player or two, he'll make the necessary money available.

If he does, it could be an interesting offseason for the Tigers.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is



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