The Detroit Tigers got a crushing blow Monday afternoon when they learned DH Victor Martinez would likely be out all of 2012 with an ACL injury. The Tigers were already looking for a lead off man, 3B, and OF to fill holes this off season, and now have add to the list the almost irreplaceable DH and team leader in Martinez. Besides having to replace V-Mart’s batting stats (.330 avg, 103 RBIs, .380 OBP), they also have to replace a veteran leader and clubhouse favorite of the players (which isn’t possible). With most of the good free agents off the market already, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski will have little to choose to from and even less money to spend with a 2012 payroll already over $100M. The better question would be, do we even place our hope in a GM to replace someone of V-Marts talents this off season, when he hasn’t even been able to replace someone of Brandon Inge’s talents yet? Here are a couple options that I believe the Tigers should now consider that may not be what we want to hear, but what could be best for the team.
1. Do Nothing - The popular thing to do among fans is to rush out and get a player that will have just as good as stats as V-Mart’s, no matter what the cost. While I agree with Martinez being the type of player that you have to have in the lineup to succeed, I just don’t think the Tigers are in any position to even be able to replace him. They have too high of a salary already ($100M+) and the only player left in free agency that is close to that production is Prince Fielder. Let me only say this once to all to all the Tigers fans I have heard say Fielders name in the last few days .. NO CHANCE! He is way too much money, he won’t DH right away, we can’t afford him, and we still remember the last Fielder that was here and how that ended.
2. Play for next year – This is again not what anyone wants to hear, but why go out there and try and piece together humpty dumpty without the right pieces? Let’s not forget that the Tigers still have not filled holes at 3B, 2B, lead off hitter or Starting Pitcher. When Dave Dombrowski should have been getting free agents bats at the beginning of free agency and making trades like the Gio Gonzalez one offered, he was out signing 38 year old relief pitchers and backup catchers. What in the world makes anyone think he is now going to fix all that AND find a V-Mart replacement? The short answer is… he is not. A very unattractive option is to play till the All-Star break and trade away players like Jose Valverde and Octavio Dotel if they have good first halves. They both have expiring contracts and both won’t be Tigers in 2013, so you might as well trade them this year at the break and get some good young talent in return. Every contender will be looking to add bullpen help at that time, and trading them will not only get us talent in return, but free up the second half to evaluate younger arms. If the Tigers do this, they will have a lot of money in 2013 to go after the bigger names in free agency and have the money to resign their own players due for paydays. We will still have Verlander, Cabrera, a healthy V-Mart and hopefully more seasoned players in Jackson, Turner, Porcello and Boesch. That is the best option in my mind!
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3. Do what I think we will do – Pretend that losing V-Mart isn’t a big deal and convince yourself you still have a chance at winning the world series. Go out and sign someone really old and hope he doesn’t get hurt (ex. Magglio Ordonez) and waste more money on a club that won’t win the world series. Put yourself in the exact same position next year.. and wonder why!
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