It’s not often Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski gets loose and talks at length about the club’s plans, but on Sunday in Baltimore he did just that, breaking some news and confirming a few long-anticipated decisions:
- Brandon Inge gets offered an extension. As Ian wrote this summer, Inge is either loved or loathed in Detroit — with little in between. But I think even those of us who are frustrated by his lack of a strategy when he’s at the plate feel better about third base next season and maybe in 2012, too. In our recent Fungo Pulse Check, 79 percent of respondents (207 of 263 votes) preferred bringing back Inge over Jeremy Bonderman.
- Magglio Ordonez might be back. This isn’t a surprise. The Tigers aren’t picking up the $15 million option on Ordonez’s contract which means he’ll be a free agent, but the Tigers are open to re-signing him. I kept thinking that sentimental Mike Ilitch would tell Dombrowski to pick up the option for old time’s sake. I hope he comes back. If he does sign elsewhere — and you know Scott Boras is already firing up his hyperbole machine — I just pray that he doesn’t go back to the White Sox.
- Jeremy Bonderman gets shown the door. In some ways this is such a no brainer. In others, you had to think the Tigers would bring him back with that “the devil you know” thing in mind.
Bondo came to Detroit with such promise — “the anchor of the rotation for years!,” we were led to believe — that his unceremonial departure seems like a major disappointment. Remember him walking of the mound to a standing ovation in Game 4 of the 2006 NLDS? I thought his career was set to take off.
Alas, injuries, inconsistency and — stop me if you’ve heard this one — the inability to develop a third pitch were his ultimate undoing in Detroit. My guess is that he ends up with the Mariners, Cubs or Rangers next season, even the though the Tigers are saying they might be interested in bringing him back if he’s still unsigned close to Spring Training.
- Johnny Damon experiment ends with a whimper. If the Tigers had sneaked into the playoffs this year, you know that we would’ve read pages and pages of stories about how his mere presence impacted the club. Instead he’ll be relegated to conversations five years down the road when people will say, “Wow, I totally forgot Damon played for the Tigers.” Kinda like Jarrod Washburn. Damon’s a good guy and you know he’ll end up somewhere next season.
- Gerald Laird cut loose. It’s still amazing to me that Laird was unable to hit in Detroit. He always seemed to give the Tigers fits when he played for the Rangers. Wasn’t the thinking that he could produce as a full-timer in Detroit because it wasn’t as hot and humid as Arlington? Laird is a Phoenix-area resident and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up with the Diamondbacks next season. (Oh, and Dombrowski also said that, to no surprise, Alex Avila is the club’s catcher in 2011.)
- Jhonny Peralta likely returning. Dombrowski also mentioned that the Tigers are interested in bringing back Peralta next season:
“We don’t know what we will do with his ($7.25 million) option, but would like him back next year as our shortstop.”
I guess I could live with this for a year, but this is what Tigers fans have to accept thanks to the team’s inability to develop a shortstop (apologies to Danny Worth). Personally, I’d rather they go after the Diamondbacks’ Stephen Drew but the price tag will likely be too high.
Finally, Jim Leyland said that he’s “99.9 percent sure” that Phil Coke will be in the starting rotation in 2011. Coke sure seemed to fit nicely into his relief role this season but I suppose the Tigers do need a lefty in their heavily right-handed rotation. They must feel confident in Daniel Schlereth’s development.
So, is that enough news for you? What do you think of these moves?