Tigers Running Out of Options

With the L.A. Dodgers coming to terms with free agent pitchers Odalis Perez and Derek Lowe, and President/CEO announcing the Tigers have no intentions of pursuing free agent Outfielder Carlos Beltran, the free agent period could be coming to a disappointing close for the Tigers.

Even after the disappointing Winter meetings, many Tiger fans still had hope that the organization would be able to land another big name free agent, besides closer Troy Percival, who came to terms with the club back in November.

But that never materialized.

The Tigers have been active, but haven't been able to win one – either because of the organization's unwillingness (justified, by the way) to break the bank, or because of other factors (team's losing history, Detroit's weather). In any case, the free agents just haven't taken owner Mike Ilitch's money.

There are still a pair of power-hitting free agents left on the market; 1B Carlos Delgado and OF Magglio Ordonez. But the Tigers already have Carlos Pena entrenched at First, and Dmitri Young at Designated Hitter, leaving no place for Delgado.

As for Ordonez, the Tigers have expressed some interest, but so have a number of other teams, and everyone will be on hold to see how Ordonez looks in workouts, as agent Scott Boras has promised Ordonez will work out for clubs in January now that he has been cleared to participate in full baseball workouts.

Trade avenues remain open, albeit hard to predict. Plus, trades require giving up something of value in return, and the Tigers aren't loaded with such items. The team has been mentioned in connection with pitchers such as A.J. Burnett and Javier Vasquez, however, to acquire either would probably be at the expense of a young member of the current rotation, one of the top pitching prospects (Kyle, Sleeth, Joel Zumaya, or Justin Verlander), or maybe even both. Certainly a steep price to pay.

Where does that leave the 2005 Tigers, assuming the team goes into spring training with largely the same look as it has today? Probably right around where the 2004 group ended up – with the majority of improvements hoping to come from development from youngsters, namely Carlos Pena, Omar Infante, Jeremy Bonderman, and Nate Robertson.

If that development comes, and the bullpen holds up better this season, maybe the Tigers could push .500. But those fans that were ready to purchase playoff tickets for 2005 back in November should probably put those order forms away for now, because while 2004 saw great strides, 2005 probably won't be THE year for baseball in Detroit.


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