Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
While there are numerous slots on the club that need to be addressed, every list must start with finding the team a reliable closer. Time and time again this season, the Tigers competed and battled, only to see the lead slip away in the last couple innings. Joel Zumaya can't stay healthy, and Fernando Rodney proved in his three month audition that he likely will never be a closer. Other positions of need can be filled internally if necessary - shortstop could be handled by Ramon Santiago or even Carlos Guillen potentially, while catcher there is Dusty Ryan, Dane Sardinha and others behind the plate. Those aren't ideal options, but they're all solid defensively, and the Tigers problem wasn't scoring runs - it was keeping runs off the board and holding onto leads late in the game. For that reason, the Tigers must find a reliable closer to head up the back end of the 'pen first and foremost.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
There are numerous positions in need of upgrade, but the most critical from that will absolutely have to come from outside the organization is catcher. While they need upgrades in the bullpen, rotation, and at shortstop, there are at least reasonable internal candidates to promote into those roles; Santiago at short, a litany of minor leaguers in the bullpen, a return of Willis and Garcia in the rotation, etc. At catcher, the consensus assumption is that Dusty Ryan has locked up a spot on the roster, but there's got to be somebody of substance to caddy for him. Expecting Ryan to be the everyday catcher next season is more than a bit optimistic, and the Tigers would be wise to search for an external veteran option that can handle 75-100 games behind the plate if necessary, with adequate production and an ability to mentor Ryan through what is likely to be a tough rookie campaign.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
If the Tigers go outside the organization to upgrade just one spot, it would likely be for the pitching staff. Regardless of whether it's the rotation or the bullpen, the Tigers need upgrades, and there aren't enough in-house candidates to fill those vacancies. I also believe that the Tigers will go outside of the organization to fill their needs at shortstop and catcher, but the Tigers do have personnel that can play those spots, although it would be behoove the Tigers to find more suitable players for their needs (having a capable veteran to play with Dusty Ryan instead of Dane Sardinha for example). Even if the Tigers wind up having to trim payroll, I expect Dave Dombrowski to be quite busy in trying to get the Tigers back on the right track.
Have your own opinion on the issue? Ready to talk about it? State your opinion on the Detroit Tigers Open Message Board and go head to head with the experts!