The Tigers need a shortstop. It’s not a small deal. They have, at this moment, not a clue as to who will play the position come Opening Day, 2009. Of course, it’s still a much smaller deal than if this is still the situation in a few months. But it’s a concern.

The shortstop of the future, aka Cale Iorg, is still a year away, at least, from assuming the starting role. Edgar Renteria, the shortstop of the past, is now a San Francisco Giant — back in the National League, where he clearly belongs. His time in Detroit and Boston was proof that he’s not an American League kind of a guy. The shortstop of the present? That is a question, and the answer may be Jack Wilson of Pittsburgh. Or Adam Everett of Minnesota, if you believe the rumor mongers. Is it too late to ask Alan Trammell if he has a year or two left in the tank?

The Tigers need a bridge, that’s all, to Iorg. The shortstop of the present need only be such for the 2009 and MAYBE the 2010 seasons. But it shouldn’t be a wasted spot in the batting order, either. The Tigers already have one of those, with Brandon Inge and his limp noodle bat slated to play third base every day.


Wilson: Tigers SS of the present, soon?


Everett would appear to be another limp noodle. He batted all of .213 last year. And Wilson was slowed by injuries in 2008. That’s what they said about Renteria in 2007, and you can see where that got the Tigers.

Personally, I like Ramon Santiago. A lot. He is very good defensively, and I like his bat, which seems to have a lot of clutch to it. Of course, that’s all been in limited at-bats. It’s a whole different ballgame, literally, when you move from 200 plate appearances to 500+. But the Tigers see Santiago as a backup and nothing more. Kind of hard to argue that fact, I suppose — as that’s all Santiago has been since he arrived in Detroit.

Big Al of WayneFontes.com, in our weekly chat called The Knee Jerks, chided me for believing that the Tigers’ move to let Renteria walk without offering him arbitration was a smart one. He asked, “Are the Tigers THAT financially strapped?”

No, I said — but they don’t like the idea of paying Renteria $9 million — which is what he would have gotten if he accepted. Or, had he left after the offer, the Tigers would have been granted two compensatory draft picks. The Tigers feared no one would snatch Renteria up, and that they’d be stuck with him for another year at $9 mill.

Not cash strapped, just trying to cut costs where it makes sense.

Shortstop isn’t the only hole the Tigers have. They need pitching help and a catcher. Also not small deals. Last off-season was about beefing up the roster. This year it’s about fielding nine players when the curtain rises in April.

Bottom line: the Tigers WILL have a starting shortstop in the fold before spring training. Same with catcher. Pitching? Stay tuned. Two things at a time here!

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