It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Here we are, approaching the third weekend of August, and the Tigers are mired in third place, nine-and-a-half games out of first place. And, as I’m always reminding myself, only five games out of last place. This was supposed to be like 1984, 1968 or even 1945. It was not supposed to be like – gulp – 2005.
The Tigers record coming into this weekend series against the Orioles is 59-62. Entering play on Aug. 14, 2005, the Tigers were 53-61, 21-and-a-half-games out of first.
While the 2005 club was further back in the standings mathematically on Aug. 14, the current team feels about that far behind the White Sox and Twins. Doesn’t it?
Three years ago, Tigers fans seemed more interested in whether or not Alan Trammell would return as manager, who they’d acquire in the offseason, and what on God’s green earth to do with Carlos Pena?
Today, well, the team has probably more questions than the 2005 team did. One thing we can be assured of is Jim Leyland returning as manager. And that’s a good thing. Of course, some may disagree with that, but I believe there are very few buttons he could’ve pushed this year that would make up almost 10 games in the standings.
Here are 17 questions about the 2009 season rattling around in my head:
- Who’s the closer in 2009?
- Does Chuck Hernandez return as pitching coach?
- Is Nate Robertson a Tiger next season?
- Can Dontrelle Willis bounce back?
- Can the Tigers deal Carlos Guillen?
- If the Tigers can get a catcher, do they — and do they move Brandon Inge back to third?
- Does Vance Wilson return at long last?
- Who’s the shortstop?
- Would they deal Magglio Ordonez as some suggest?
- How does Jeremy Bonderman recover?
- Is Clete Thomas on the big club to stay?
- Who is 2009’s Matt Joyce?
- Are the Tigers counting on Freddy Garcia?
- Will Brent Clevlen finally break through?
- What can the Tigers expect out of Joel Zumaya?
- Do they sign Placido Polanco to an extension before the season?
- What’s Gary Sheffield‘s role — if any?
Ultimately, the 2005 Tigers finished 20 games under .500. Will this year’s team finish that far off the pace? Some days (i.e., against Tampa Bay) it certainly feels as if they could, but I doubt it.
I’m tending to believe that Doug’s right — 81 and 81 for this year’s club. But the fate of the 2009 team lies in how they address the pressing issues hovering over the organization.