Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
The Tigers have put themselves in a great position to compete down the stretch and in October, but things are by no means perfect or ideal. The Tigers still are getting less-than-ideal production at both first base and in left field, and the bullpen is still a huge question mark. Realistically though, while Craig Monroe has struggled and Sean Casey's limited power has mostly evaporated now, the offense is still producting better than any other in baseball, and the Tigers 1-5 hiters could be the most dangerous heart of the order in baseball. With the return of Kenny Rogers and the emergence of Andrew Miller, the rotation is settled, but the bullpen is still a huge concern. Macay McBride and Jose Capellan are nice additions, but the Tigers lineup is built to win right now, and the Tigers should not be banking on question marks to close out the best offenses in baseball in October. A formidable setup man is needed, with or without the return of Joel Zumaya, and the Tigers shouldn't hesitate to sacrifice a prospect or two to make it happen.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
I wouldn't be horribly upset if the Tigers went into the stretch run with the club as it is currently constructed. However, if the Tigers have the opportunity to upgrade any of several positions -- first base, left field, bullpen -- then they need to absolutely jump at the opportunity; provided they aren't mortgaging the future to do so. The bullpen has begun to settle down of late, and if Fernando Rodney and/or Joel Zumaya can return healthy and effective before the close of the regular season, the bullpen could again become a solid part of this team. Craig Monroe's struggles have been well documented, and it appears Jim Leyland may just be willing to give Marcus Thames more of a shot -- which could be a nice boost to the bottom of the lineup. Sean Casey is swinging a better bat (though not for power), and isn't quite the offensive black hole he was earlier this season. Quite possibly the most likely acquisition is a player for depth, because as it stands now, any injury to one of the big guns, and this team is hurting. Like I said, I'm fine with staying the course with the current lineup, but reasonable opportunities to improve the club should be sought.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
There are a few areas that I would look at. Obviously, the bullpen has been a sore spot for most of the year, but the acquisitions of Jose Capellan and Macay McBride have helped. However, with the uncertainty of Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney, I would look at getting another bullpen arm. With Vance Wilson on the shelf, I would also check and see about the availability of a veteran catcher to backup Pudge Rodriguez. Left field was also an issue with the immense struggles of Craig Monroe, but with Marcus Thames getting hot, the Tigers seem to be in good shape there, especially if Ryan Raburn can produce when he's in the lineup. The roster is in good shape, but what happens between now and the trade deadline (particularly with the other contenders) could have a big impact on how everything shakes out.
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