scared-help.jpgAbout 36 hours before the Tigers game ended last night, Ian and I were interviewing Lynn Henning of The Detroit News for episode 119 of the podcast.

During the conversation, I mentioned that the Magglio Ordonez contract has really worked out well for the Tigers and, on the other end of the contract-karma spectrum, Carlos Guillen appears to be aging before our eyes. And we all agreed that Ordonez has turned out to be a good deal for the Tigers and that, well, poor Guillen’s knees just won’t allow him to age gracefully.

Little did we know.

In the span of three innings Saturday night their season at worst crumbled completely or, at best, their offense got dramatically retooled. After two consecutive victories, Tigers fans seemed to have come down off the ledge and were ready for a meaningful August — and quite possibly, September. Now, who knows?

The short-term fix, as you’ve already learned, includes infielder Will Rhymes and the now-versatile Jeff Larish. Both were part of the Tigers’ Arizona Fall League contingent in 2008, so it’s time to see if they really are the top prospects we’ve heard about.

My gut is telling me that this season is now effectively over. As Tony Paul writes in the News this morning, the Tigers now have too many holes to fill and Dan Haren, Ted Lilly, Stephen Drew, simply aren’t enough spackle — no matter how good they are.

No one wants to concede the division to the Twins or, God forbid, the White Sox on July 25. But after sifting through the wreckage from Saturday night, how can we believe the Tigers will be a factor in this race?

I’d like to be surprised, but I think the focus of this team has become, all of a sudden, 2011.