Okay, so technically it is the 20th already, but I am counting this as my post for the 19th. If you don't agree, too bad, get over it, my blog, my rules.
So the Tigers blow another game and therefore their season. A season full of inconsistencies. Some people will blame the manager, some the star players that didn't perform to their potential or the price of their salary, but you can't put the blame in anyone specific place. It was a lot of things that compounded themselves and everything finally just caught up to them.
It goes back to the last off-season when not enough was done to shore up the back end of the bullpen. Too much hope was put in Rondon being the man, which didn't pan out. There was never a plan B and that was a mistake. That one mistake was the beginning. All season long there were issues with the bullpen. Moving Benoit in to the closer's role did help to calm things but now there was no solid 8th inning guy.
Leyland's managing cost us some games throughout the season. I have always thought that he is a decent manager, I don't really like him, but he is a proven winner. I think though that his weakness is his handling of a pitching staff. He is terrible at it. So he is really dependent on having a good pitching coach and we really don't have a good pitching coach. Which leads me to the hitting coaches. Our hitting has been up and down all year. You expect there to be slumps and hot streaks but I think there was more than the normal this year. The lineup that the Tigers has should be able to withstand those downs but there were too many games where there was simply no offensive production whatsoever.
So what I think needs to happen is to overhaul the coaching staff completely. I would be glad to see a whole new staff by the start of spring training. The next thing that has to be addressed is the bullpen. The closer role has to be decided and then figure out the set up man. After those two positions are set you can fill in the missing pieces with guys that are going to throw strikes. Too many times this year a guy comes in to the game and walks the first batter they faced. A relief pitcher has to throw strikes, plain and simple.
Finally, they need to figure out left field and the lead off spot. Do they go after a left fielder or go with what they have. I think they could stand pat with the position players they have now and save the money to go after the bull pen needs and resigning any position players they need to keep. I am just going to throw out there what I would like to see for next years opening day line-up.
1. Iglesias - SS This kid is going to be special. The only thing he lacks is power and that may come.
2. Hunter - RF The perfect #2 hitter
3. Cabrera - 3B If he gets healthy this off season he is a threat for another MVP season
4. Martinez - DH This guy just hits, he had a slow start after a year off but he showed his true colors in the end
5. Fielder - 1B He has had a rough year on and off the field but he will be back to himself next year
6. Peralta - LF He needs to go play some winter ball and work on his outfield defense but he could be a good serviceable OF and his bat is a proven commodity.
7. Avila or Pena - C I like both of these guys, the key is which one is going to hit, this may be a spot where you play the match ups or it depends on who is pitching.
8. Infante - 2B The DP combo of I & I is going to remind everyone of Trammell and Whitaker
9. Jackson - CF I like having a 2nd leadoff hitter in the 9 hole. He showed this postseason he does better with less pressure, he could become the best #9 hitter in the league.
The next season has really begun already for the Tigers. Dombrowski has his work cut out for him but he has done a good job for the most part in his time in Detroit and I don't expect anything less this year. I just hope he starts with the coaching staff. We will have to wait and see.