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News » Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2008-09-30

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2008-09-30

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2008-09-30
It wasn't the unavailability of third baseman Carlos Guillen that cost Detroit in the season finale. And it wasn't the fact shortstop Edgar Renteria and second baseman Placido Polanco also were injured and unable to play.

What doomed Detroit to an 8-2 loss at Chicago in a makeup of a rained-out game from earlier in September was the same thing that plagued them all season -- the absence of Todd Jones and Joel Zumaya, and the fact that nobody could replace Fernando Rodney in middle relief when he was bumped up to closer.

The puncturing of the rotation in April and May really hurt, but so did the early absence Zumaya (shoulder surgery) and Rodney (shoulder tendinitis) plus the later loss of Jones to a career-ending shoulder injury.

Once starter Freddy Garcia went out in the sixth inning Sept. 29, Chicago pounced on the weakened Detroit bullpen and pounded out the win it needed to create a tie for first with Minnesota in the AL Central and force a one-game playoff.

Landing a closer is going to be tough because the Tigers aren't going to get into the free agent market in a big way, general manager Dave Dombrowski indicated.

"At this point, I would be surprised if we're real big participants in free agency," Dombrowski said. "We have a solid core of players. If you look at the top of our lineup, our first six guys, they're stars. I don't know that they'll have good years or bad years, but they're star players.

"So we need guys that can fit in and contribute and maybe do the little things a little bit. We don't need to go find an All-Star at every position. We need some guys that can fit in and give us a little hop in our step, mix some young guys in here."

He'll work on getting a shortstop ("We need to get better defensively at shortstop," Dombrowski said), having told Renteria that the Tigers are buying him out of his option year, and probably will try to get a closer candidate through the trade market.

"Fernando is the leading candidate with the team we have," Dombrowski said. "Is he capable? Yes, he can do it at times, but he has to throw more strikes on a consistent basis. But I'd really like to find someone else to do that.

"We have flexibility to do some things. I don't have flexibility to do tons of things, but I have flexibility to do some things. Sometimes you trade young players for young players. We've got plenty of finances that are attributed to our ballclub. Now we just have to make them work better for us."

But as the finale again demonstrated, fixing the pitching must be his chief offseason objective.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: September 30, 2008

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