People call me odd, but I always look for ways to improve on things, even if they work great. Take for example my cooking. I have created dozens of recipes that I am told are perfect, yet I constantly try new things with them.
Now the playoffs are here. We just won Game 1 of the ALDS over the A’s. It was no contest. JV shut them down. 11 K’s, 14 total for Tigers pitching tonight, though that surprises no one; the A’s led baseball in strikeouts by players. We could go a long way, even all the way, but what about AFTER it’s done? Even if we win it all, we have to improve the team. Every championship team does. The Bulls did, the Lakers did, the Yankees did, the Wings did. It’s part of sports.
So here I am, already thinking towards next year. What can the Tigers do to improve on the already fantastic team we have? Well, the Guru and I have gone over the Free Agent list with a fine toothed comb, as well as looked at our top prospects. Illitch spent TONS of money building the Wings and retooling them. The highest payroll in the NHL for awhile there. Now he says he wants a World Series title before he dies. Well, here’s what he needs to do to get more than one.
1. Sign Josh Hamilton. Hamilton would make a great #5 hitter, and can play any outfield position, though I would put him in left. He will be costly, but worth it in the long run. He’s only 32, so a 6 to 8 year deal wouldn’t be too bad, plus, with V-Mart returning next year at the #6 spot, We would have our 21st Century version of Murderer’s Row, with Cabrera, Fielder, Hamilton, and Martinez. Kinda wish Ordonez had stuck around…
2. Re-sign Anibal Sanchez. This is a must. Smyly is young and inexperienced, and Porcello scares all of us. Make the rotation JV, Fister, Sanchez, Scherzer, and have Smyly and Casey Crosby duke it out for the #5 spot in the rotation.
3. Consider Zach Greinke. He’s young, talented, and could also be our 5th starter, or a great middle relief person. No more scares of Phil Coke or Benoit. Plus it takes one piece of another AL Central team.
4. A.J. Pierzynski as our new DH. Delmon Young is a free agent after this season, and after the way he performed in clutch situations this year (repeatedly trying to knock one out when a base hit would do), he can just go if we get A.J., plus it takes him out of Chicago.
5. Nick Castellanos for shortstop. This kid can hit well, and Peralta is a free agent after this year. Granted, we can keep him with a $6 million option, but we can save cash for Hamilton by buying it out for $500k and bringing Castellanos up.
6. Re-sign Valverde. Though he makes me nervous, the free agent market, especially the unrestricted market, is short on closers this year. All but four are restricted, Valverde being one of the four. The other three are: Jonathan Broxton, Brandon League, and Mariano Rivera, who will probably retire when the Yankees season ends. Like I said, slim pickings. Of course, 50 year old Jamie Moyer is available, and would probably sign on as a closer, but that’s more of a sideshow thing. They could try to coax Tim Wakefield out of retirement, but I doubt it. He retired at a young age for a knuckleballer, meaning he wants out.
7. Brandon McCarthy anyone? He is a starter, but he could also be a valuable asset for middle relief, or even as a closer. He’s 29, so he has plenty of years left. Put him in a relief role, like Glavine and Smoltz went to later in their careers, and he could be around longer.
8. Unless he retires, do not replace Leyland. The man always assembles winners. I’ve been a Leyland fan since his days in Pittsburgh. Even though his managerial record is 1,676-1,659 lifetime, he has 5 divisional crowns, 2 pennants (both with wild-card teams), and 1 world series title. His style of coaching is traditional, and very National League, which can hurt our opponents. Plus, we have back-to-back divisional championships for the first time since before my grandfather was born, thanks to his coaching. Besides, as of tonight, Francona is the Indians new manager. They may be a contender next year, not just a spoiler.
9. (NOTE: This is not something we need to do to win, but it is something that needs to be done.) Retire #3. No one else should EVER wear that number. While at it, retire #’s 47 (Morris), 23 (Gibson), 1 (Whitaker), 13 (Parrish).
See you in the Championship Series!