April 4, 2005

HERE'S YOUR SLEEPER TEAM FOR '05:

Plan in place to win now and in future (GENE GUIDI, April 4, 2005, Detroit Free Press)

When president and general manager Dave Dombrowski took the wheel of the Tigers' bus, he spent more time tapping the brakes than a commuter in rush hour. Now it's pedal to the metal.

The not-so-subtle change in philosophy that started last off-season is easy to read: Win now.

You don't give contracts potentially worth $105 million to someone like Magglio Ordonez if the idea is to tread water and await reinforcements. They're here.

The Tigers have passed the point of being able to sell another rebuilding phase to their fans or themselves. The pieces are in place -- not all of them, but many more than we've been accustomed to -- for a postseason run. And not just for 2005. The window of opportunity extends beyond this season, and owner Mike Ilitch seems fully committed to giving Dombrowski the go-ahead to keep adding talent until the Tigers can't be ignored as contenders.

That doesn't mean the Tigers will pay lip service to their farm system and invest only in free agents. But the system isn't at the point where it can provide immediate help, so for now the Tigers must import talent to succeed.

"You have both long-term philosophies and short-term philosophies," Dombrowski said. "My beliefs are the same as they've been through most of my career. But where you are in the process changes what you're going to emphasize."

The Tigers now are as close to being called a contender as they have been in a long time. They entered the free-agent market before the 2004 season for the first time in years and were rewarded with a jump in victories from 43 to 72 in one year.

Even the additions of a slugger like Ordonez and a top closer like Troy Percival won't translate into another 29-victory gain.

But the improvement doesn't have to be as dramatic to put the Tigers in the playoff hunt.


They'll need to go get a real centerfielder, a lefty reliever and a #2/#3 starter but their offense is terrific, Bonderman and Ledezma are nice building blocks for a rotation, and Percival, Urbina, Farnsworth, German and Rodney make for a dominant bullpen.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 4, 2005 10:07 AM
Comments

Go Tribe!

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 4, 2005 5:47 PM

Above .500 and I will be pleased. Go get 'em Tigers.

Posted by: Dave W. at April 4, 2005 8:57 PM
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