The 2012 MLB season has come to an end, maybe a shocking end for us Detroit Tigers fans, but an end none the less. The Tigers came up short (how short depends on your perspective) of the goal of a World Series title. Now they must begin 2013 from scratch just like everyone else. The work for that begins today for General Manager Dave Dombrowski. The Tigers have several issues to work out and below is an informal list (not in any order of importance really) of what decisions need to be made this off season.
•Jim Leyland- I think we ca argue Leyland did a pretty good job managing in his time in Detroit. I think he also got the most out of a team in 2012 that was all of nothing. They were hot or cod and hardly ever in between. Leyland got them all the way to the Fall Classic. He is unconventional and ornery, but for the most part effective. However, is 1-9 record in the World Series with this team (with two almost completely different rosters mind you) gives me pause. Is Jim Leyland the man to lead this team to a World Series title? If the answer is yes bring him back, if not well what the point then? (It has been announced the Leyland will return next year)
•Closer- We know Jose Valverde will not be the closer in 2013, but will it be Phil Coke? His performance this post season seems to have earned him a shot, but does this team go out and spend money on a big time free agent for this role or not?
•4th starter- Justin Verlander will be back. The rest of the staff need new contracts. We can safely assume the Tigers spend the money to keep Doug Fister, and Max Scherzer. It also seems a pretty safe bet that Rick Porcello comes back as the fifth starter. This leaves Drew Smyly or Anibal Sanchez as the current options to be the fourth starter. Sanchez is a free agent and is likely due a hefty raise. Do the Tigers make the investment in him? Do they sign someone else? Or do the roll the dice with Smyly?
•Corner Outfielder- Seems like a fair bet Brennan Boesch will not return, and that Andy Dirks will be one of the regular outfielders with Austin Jackson in Center. Delmon Young isn’t coming back and the Tigers need an upgrade in left defensively. I think Quintin Berry comes back as the fourth outfielder and resumes his role as a late inning pinch runner. It also seems Avisail Garcia needs a t least a year in Toledo to further his development. Left fielder may be where the Tigers choose to make a big splash in free agency.
•Short stop- It would be nice to have a short stop with better range that Jhonny Peralta, especially with Miguel Cabrera playing third. The Giants showed the Tigers what a good defensive team can do. I cannot think of one ball the Giants defense failed to make a play on. That is now the measuring stick and the Tigers cannot out hit bad defense. Hopefully that lesson has now been learned.
•The supporting cast- no matter what the Tigers supporting cast, meaning everyone beyond Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder, and Miguel Cabrera has to be better. The Giants were a complete team void of a weak link in the World Series. Again they are now the measuring stick and the Tigers should strive to construct a full 25 man roster than can possibly dethrone them as World Series champions.