“…the Tigers had an awful lot of bad happen to them in 2008. It was borderline ridiculous. So to look at them and place them 25th out of 30 teams makes me seriously question the credibility of such an assessment.”


With apologies to Neil Armstrong, here’s a possible scenario for the Tigers.

2008 was a small step back, and 2009 will be a giant leap ahead.

It’s a nice thought, anyway.

One thing is for certain, though. Those goof balls at Fox Sports have got it all wrong.

They came out with their Power Rankings this week, and you have to keep scrolling down, down, until you come across the Tigers — at no. 25. Out of 30 teams.

Does Fox really think that the Tigers are better than only five other teams in baseball?

My goodness, there are five teams who barely belong in the big leagues, let alone who should be ranked at all.

It all goes to show that the expectations, nationally, for the Tigers after 2008’s disaster are exceedingly low. USA Today has the Tigers no better than 9th in the American League and fourth in the AL Central.

Well, here’s someone who has quite high expectations: Me.

The Tigers have a ton of players who have “bounce back” written all over them. In fact, the Tigers have more bounce back potential than a room full of super balls.

It all adds up, I figure, to a 90+ win season. That should place them a tad higher than 25th overall, I believe.

Here’s a quick look at the super balls:

1. Justin Verlander: the kid’s too good NOT to bounce back. 2008’s debacle (11-17, 4.84 ERA) might be good for him, in the long haul. I bet that he’s back to form in ’09.

2. Gary Sheffield: Sheff says he’s healthy, and that’s good enough for me. Sheff is not known to say things that he doesn’t really mean. At age 40, he feels he has something to prove. That makes me smile — a lot.

3. Carlos Guillen. Another one who should be healthier in 2009. Guillen didn’t play after late August due to a pinched nerve. The team’s new left fielder shouldn’t have as much wear and tear on his body this year.

4. Joel Zumaya. Again, healthy. Says he feels great, and a part of the team again. Manager Jim Leyland is also duly impressed thus far. I shouldn’t have to tell you what THAT can mean to the Tigers.

5. Dontrelle Willis. I’m putting my faith into the notion that 2008 was a grotesque blip on Willis’s screen and nothing more. Admittedly, this is the crossroads season for him — he’s either nearing the end, or last year was a fluke. I’m banking on the latter.

6. Nate Robertson. I’d like to think that Robertson is better than the 6.00+ ERA guy he was in 2008. History says so. Maybe it was more of a mechanics thing.

Lest us not forget that the Tigers pitchers might get a boost from new pitching coach Rick Knapp. Another bounce. Oh, and the arrival of closer Brandon Lyon won’t hurt, either.

Will ALL of the above-mentioned players have terrific seasons? I don’t know. But the point being, the Tigers had an awful lot of bad happen to them in 2008. It was borderline ridiculous. So to look at them and place them 25th out of 30 teams makes me seriously question the credibility of such an assessment.

The Tigers just might win their division in 2009. Think I’m nuts? Place their roster against those of their competitors. Do you see a measurable difference?

The Detroit Tigers, 25th-best team in baseball? Maybe at the end of last year. But this isn’t last year. Somebody ought to change the calendars over at Fox.

Advertisements