What’s next for the Tigers?

Well as everyone knows by now I’m sure, the Tigers have traded Prince Fielder to Texas for second baseman Ian Kinsler.  This deal will save the Tigers $8 million for the next four seasons while Kinsler is under contract and gives the team a lot of flexibility heading into the free agent market with numerous holes left to fill.

The four moves I would make to improve the Tigers would be

  • Trade for Josh Donaldson
  • Sign Carlos Beltran
  • Sign Brian Wilson
  • Shore up bullpen with Jesse Crain and Manny Parra

First up is what to do with the infield alignment.  Various options have been floated out that include both leaving Miggy at third and looking for a new first baseman or putting Miggy at first.  Then if Cabrera goes to first base, the options include putting highly touted Nick Castellanos at third full-time or hitting the market.  If I’m Dave Dombrowski my first call is to Billy Beane in Oakland to try to pry Josh Donaldson away from the Athletics.

With this trade Tigers fans are worried about replacing the power and production numbers Fielder had last season.  His .279 average, 25 home runs and 106 RBI’s are nearly matched or exceeded by Donaldson last season as he hit .301 with 24 home runs and 94 RBI’s.  I would plug him into either the four or five-spot in the lineup, and imagine what he could do with the best player in the game hitting in front of him here in Detroit.

How could we get a guy like Donaldson here?  I would start by offering Rick Porcello in the deal to Beane, he is the type of player the A’s covet.  Porcello is young, cheap and still under team control, plus he would benefit from the improved defense behind him in Oakland as opposed to Detroit.

Bringing in Donaldson would also greatly improve the Tigers infield defense as well.  Jose Iglesias covered more ground in Detroit than any shortstop I can remember with the injured and slowed even more Cabrera next to him.  With a superb defender like Donaldson at third instead and Cabrera moving back to first the infield defense may even become a strength on this team.

With moving Fielder, the Tigers have a huge lack of left-handed hitting in their lineup.  To solve that problem I’d look to the switch hitting Carlos Beltran.  He had a great year last season with the Cardinals hitting .296 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI’s before coming up big for the team in October.  The Tigers need a bat that has succeeded in the playoffs before and would be able to help carry this team over the hump in the World Series.  Giving Beltran a two-year contract would be a stop-gap type solution to allow Castellanos more time in the minors for polishing instead of rushing him into action.

The bullpen was a struggle all season until Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly were able to right the back-end at least.  In this scenario I’m moving Smyly into the rotation and Benoit is gone as a free agent, so the best reliever remaining is Al Albuquerque.  Not good.  So the first thing I’d do is look to sign closer Brian Wilson, who looked strong towards the end of last season with the Dodgers after Tommy John surgery.  The Beard would be a great addition to this locker room and roster and could hold down the fort in big situations.  Signing him to a two-year contract would allow for more time for Bruce Rondon to take over as the closer of the future.

The bullpen still has more holes other than closer, so signing two guys at different stages of their careers would be a good fit.  First Jesse Crain was on pace for one of the best years by a reliever ever with three earned runs in 36.2 innings before injuries cost him his season.  Now Crain is looking for an opportunity to prove he is right again, and I think a one-year, incentive rich contract would be perfect for both sides.

Also the addition of a lefty in the pen besides Phil Coke is needed, and that would be Manny Parra for me.  Parra is a converted starter who had a decent ERA last season, 3.33, and struck out 56 batters in 46 innings of work.  The Tigers could use him and Coke as situational lefties, or use Parra in full innings of work as well.  Either way, this bullpen needs a big improvement and I think these three guys could get it done.

So what do you think Tigers fans, are my ideas out in left field or do you have another way to get this team back to the World Series?  Let us know at DetroitSportsBloggers.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

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