The Tigers can't be happy with how this season has gone. Plagued by injuries and inconsistency, the club has fallen to 11 games out of first place as we get set to enter the season's final month. John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press tells us though, that manager Jim Leyland feels his club can "get real good, real quick:"
“I think this will probably be the most interesting winter for our ball club since I’ve been here, I would think, because our club has a chance to get real good real quick,” Leyland said. “It appears that we have some money to spend. I’m not talking about foolish money.”
Lowe mentions the contracts of Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, and Nate Robertson coming off the books; those contracts total $34MM, but that's only the beginning. Magglio Ordonez's $15MM option is sure to be declined, Johnny Damon and his $8MM are off the books (though he'd like to return to Detroit), as are the contracts of Brandon Inge, Bobby Seay, Gerald Laird, and Jhonny Peralta (what little amount they're paying him anyway). In total, the Tigers will have an astounding figure of around $70MM in contracts coming off their books.
Detroit figures to be set in some areas, with Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, and Brennan Boesch having earned spots in the 2011 lineup. The rotation will likely feature Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and Armando Galarraga. Jose Valverde will still be closing games out in the ninth. You can put Carlos Guillen just about anywhere on the field. Scott Sizemore struggled in the Majors but has found his stride in Triple-A Toledo, with an overall line of .299/.379/.463. He'll likely get another look at the very least.
Still, they'll have a number of holes to fill through free agency and trades, but as you can tell, they've got the funds to do it and do it well. Notable free agents include Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn, Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, Orlando Hudson, and Manny Ramirez to name a few. With their rotation nearly filled out, and some promising bats penciled into the order, Leyland's prediction is certainly one that can come true with some wise spending from general manager Dave Dombrowski.