Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
There is certainly no shortage of needs on the current Tiger team, as this team could still use upgrades at a number of positions. However, in my opinion, the biggest need remains a top of the line starter in the rotation. The third base job and closer's role also likely need to be addressed, but in my opinion, nothing trumps the need of an ace in the rotation, something the Tigers have been lacking since Jack Morris still sported the 'ol English D. Right now, not only are the Tigers at a disadvantage of not having that ace, they're forcing the rest of the rotation to pitch out of turn - with Jeremy Bonderman often facing the opposition's ace, Mike Maroth (more suited to be a fourth or fifth starter) facing the opposition's, number two, and so on. Take care of the rotation, then worry about whether Brandon Inge needs an upgrade or if Fernando Rodney can handle the full time role as a closer.
Mark Anderson, Minor League Editor
This may be stretching the question just a bit, but the Tigers most dire position of need this offseason is simply players who value getting on base at a high rate. The Tigers have been positively abysmal at getting on base over the last several seasons; ranking 12th (out of 14) in the American League in 2005, 7th in 2004, 14th in 2003, and 14th in 2002. The object of the game is to score runs. In order to score runs, a team's players much reach base at an acceptable clip, something the Tigers have failed at miserably. The Tigers only real "on-base threats" are first year player Chris Shelton, Carlos Guillen, and potentially Brandon Inge, if his new-found patience proves to be something other than a fluke. Players like Placido Polanco, Ivan Rodriguez, Dmitri Young and Curtis Granderson's on base success is directly tied to their batting average, which can fluctuate wildly. In addition to targeting free agent hitters for third base and left field that can get on base at high rates, the Tigers much begin preaching this value throughout the minor league system. In short, the only offensive players targeted by the Tigers this offseason, need to have a demonstrated track record of getting on base at above-average rates. Without that skill becoming prevalent throughout the Tigers lineup, we simply won't win enough games to be considered a serious contender.
Jason Avery, Amateur Baseball Editor
This is close, but I think they need a big left-handed bat in the middle of
the order to get some balance over getting a starting pitcher. The free
agent market is very thin with Brian Giles likely the top power lefty
target, but he just turned down a three-year deal worth over $21 million
from San Diego, so he is going to be very pricey. The Tigers likely will
have to go the trade route to get their man with Carlos Delgado as a
candidate if only because he won't cost much in return because of his hefty
contract and he doesn't have a no-trade clause.
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