With Opening Day a mere two weeks away, we must also remember that this potentially could be the last one for a few members of the 2008 Detroit Tigers team. Pudge Rodriguez, Kenny Rogers, Todd Jones and perhaps Gary Sheffield may all be embarking on their last season of major league duty on March 31st. While the likelihood for all four members to retire in late October is as good as a Kansas City Royals championship, we would be mistaken not to mention this major detail. In fact, the Tigers have some major holes in their arsenal both now and in their near future. Ranked in reverse order of position replacement need…
(4) Gary Sheffield, DH/OF – His shoulder is surgically repaired and so is his swing. He looks to be slowly regaining what was the Sheff that pitchers and third basemen used to fear. When it comes to depth at either DH or OF, I don’t think Dave Dombrowski will be losing any sleep. The DH position can be filled with a number of great hitters and from what I’ve read, the Tigers have a few of those. I would not be shocked to see Magglio become the team’s full-time DH by 2010.
(3) Kenny Rogers, SP – Nobody has gone from zero to hero more than The Gambler. Will Tigers fans this year become privy to the man who set down one batter after another during the 2006 playoffs, or will it be the man who acted every bit of his age last season? Starting pitching in ’08 is just as big of a key as the relievers that follow. This position is pretty deep with recent drafts providing future stars in players like Rick Porcello. Bondo, Verlander, D-Train and Nate will determine what at least the next two years will bring.
(2) Pudge Rodriguez, C – I don’t believe any position on the team lacks more depth than at catcher. Don’t believe me? The likely backup catcher to start the season will be a guy who shares his first name with a comedian and has a career batting average around .225. An injury for no. 7 at any moment this season could make any of us long for the days of Mike Rabelo or Gregg Zaun. If this spring training is any hint, Pudge is making this contract year into one which everyone could remember for a long time.
(1) Todd Jones, RP – The Rollercoaster doesn’t have many rides left, as Spring Training games have demonstrated. The all-time Tigers leader in saves should probably be counted on for one more solid season. If June comes around and he is not throwing the steady stats that he provided the last two season, I will be another voice in the crowd reminding that we should have spent money this offseason bringing players like Francisco Cordero into town. I hope the next Tigers closer, whether it be Zumaya or not, provides the great emotion that Tigers fans would just feed off of.