Detroit Sports

Friday, April 01, 2005

Season Preview

The Detroit Tigers start the 2005 MLB season on Monday. The Tigers come into this season with great anticipation of having a chance to compete for the weak American League Central title.

Two seasons ago the Tigers finished with a 43-119 record, one of the worst records of all time. They had such a bad season that they could not really get any worse. Over the offseason they signed allstar catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez along with other good players such as Rondell White and closer Ugueth Urbina. The Tigers also traded for shortstop Carlos Guillen. The Tigers went into the season much improved. They won 72 games, 29 more wins than the previous season. The Tigers' record not only improved but some of their younger players improved also. Pitcher Mike Maroth went from a 9-21 season to a 11-13 season. Pitcher Jeremy Bonderman went from a 6-19 season to a 11-13 season. The biggest surprise of last season was how Carlos Guillen made the allstar game. Last season he hit 20 homers, had 97 RBIs, and batted .318. Another surprise we saw was how Brandon Inge stayed on the team, after the Tigers signed Pudge, and had a good season. Last season was fun to watch because the Tigers were actually competitive. They were above the 500 winning percentage for parts of the season. They were not the laughing stock of baseball. They could have maybe finished above 500 but they were not able to accomplish that goal.

Over this past offseason the Tigers went after almost every big name free agent on the free agent market but every single one of them turned down the Tigers. The Tigers finally signed outfielder Magglio Ordonez to a 5 year deal worth 75 million. Ordonez was the last big name free agent on the market. Many people thought this was a dumb signing because Ordonez is getting older and because he was injured for most of last season. The Tigers also signed closer Troy Percival. Percival had 33 saves last season with the Angels. He has always been a good closer throughout his career. The Tigers lost a lot of one run games last season and signing Percival was a very smart signing. The Tigers also traded for relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth is known for his 100 MPH fast ball. He is a solid relief pitcher and he should help out the Tigers' bullpen.

The Tigers should be awesome on offense this season. They have a lot of players who can hit. Carlos Pena, Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Guillen, Craiq Monroe, Dimtri Young, Rondell White, and Magglio Ordonez are all capable of hitting 20 homeruns or more. Brandon Inge and Omar Infante both improved greatly last season at the plate. Inge and Infante should be able to do even better this season. The Tigers no longer have Alex Sanchez to be their first bat in the lineup because they released him a few weeks ago. They will have to figure out who to put at the top of the lineup for the season. I think the Tigers will be able to produce a lot of runs this season and have one of the best offense's in baseball.

The Tigers should be able to score a lot of runs this season but they will also need to have a good defense if they want to win a lot of games this season. The Tigers' first four starting pitchers will be Jeremy Bonderman, Jason Johnson, Nate Robertson, and Mike Maroth. On how well those four pitch will most likely determine whether the Tigers compete or not for the division title. Bonderman is coming off a solid season and many believe he is a future allstar. Johnson is coming off a bad season and he needs to pick it up this season. Robertson had a very good season last year going 12-10. Robertson hopefully should be even better this season. Maroth is another young pitcher the Tigers have that shows some potential. The bullpen should be much better this year with the signings of Percival and Farnsworth. The bullpen needs to pitch good to help support the starting pitchers.

This is the most excited many Tigers' fans have been about the start of a season in a long time. Some fans are even expecting them to win their division. I think the Tigers will win about 85 games and finish in second place behind the Twins. I do not think the Tigers will make the playoffs. They will be fun to watch but I think they are a year away from winning the Central division or making the playoffs as the wild card. However, I hope I am wrong and I hope the Tigers do make the playoffs. They have a good team and they definitely have a shot to make the playoffs in the weak Central division. Opening day is on Monday and that is when we can start to see how good the Tigers of 05 actually are.

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