Well, the Tigers played most of Game 159 with a playoff spot still on the line. I guess you’ve got to consider it a successful season. Still, those games squandered back in April, May, and June loom large now. Injuries were a factor, but as WDFN’s Mike Stone noted today on his afternoon radio program, the real reason this team isn’t playing in the post-season was lack of clutch performances by the folks who provided those last year (e.g. Pudge Rodriguez, Brandon Inge, Craig Monroe, Jason Grilli).
Having said that, there are some interesting decisions to be made this off-season. What to do, what to do? Here’s one man’s/fan’s opinion:
Gary Sheffield — He’s signed for two more years but the shoulder is bum. He claims he won’t undergo surgery again. If that’s what gets him healthy enough to be the player he was back in May and June don’t the Tigers have some recourse with him? He’ll be back, but he needs to be healthy to be impactful otherwise he’s an albatross around the center of this lineup.
Carlos Guillen — He’ll be back, no mistaking this; but will it be as a shortstop or a first baseman? I’m thinking it’ll be as a first baseman. Which begs the questions, “Who’s on short?” I know, he’s on first.
Rodriguez — GM Dave Dombrowski needs to do some wheeling and dealing here. At $13 million for one year I don’t think he’s worth it. Of course there aren’t many options out there. How about something more manageable like $18-$20 million over two years? The skills certainly detiorated this year and that has to be taken into account when the decision is made. It’ll be an interesting month for Double D while making this decision.
Sean Casey — I’d love to see him return simply because I could still claim I’m faster than one of the Tigers. I doubt he’s back unless it’s at a greatly reduced rate and in the role of pinch hitter and occasional first baseman.
Kenny Rogers — Our memories of October 2006 are secure, but there’s no need to pay for the memories. I’m guessing he won’t be back unless he really wants to take a big pay cut.
Todd Jones — It’s been well-stated that unless he gets a Jamie Walker offer, the Tigers will likely bring him back. As upset as that may make my digestive tract, he’s still a seasoned closer who finds a way to get the job done 35 times a year. Neither Fernando Rodney nor Joel Zumaya have shown any indication they’re ready for the job. I say bring him back for a year at a reasonable price. If Zoom or Crooked Cap show signs of being ready, pedal T.J. at an affordable price near the deadline for a prospect or too.
Jim Leyland — I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t think it’s 100-percent certain he’s back. At times this year he seems plum worn out and was grasping at straws. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s back, but it wouldn’t shock me if he announced next week it’s time to walk away. He’d probably have some say in either Gene Lamont or Lloyd McClendon being his successor.