This has been a very confusing off season to say the least.
And it started that day in late September 2009 when once beloved Maglio Ordonez achieved enough at bats to trigger the option on a huge contract bonus of thirty three million of Tiger owner Mike Ilitch's hard earned dollars for the 2010 season.
After a lackluster three quarters of the 2009 season.
And even though Mags finished 2009 with a flourish, the Tigers finished 2009 with a flop.
I still shiver when I think of those last two games of the regular season. So I won't relive them for you. You remember them too.
Or that single game playoff against the Minnesota Twinkies in the dome from hell.
Have they torn that damn thing down yet?
And then the dominos – the repercussions of Mags contract option – started the dominos toppling.
We bid farewell to Placido Polanco as the stalwart and steadfast rock of the infield and master of the clutch hit was refused arbitration and allowed to move on to Phillidelphia.
And if that weren't unthinkable enough – Curtis Granderson – beloved star center fielder and all-around-good-guy destined to be the face of the franchise - is traded to the Yankees.
A kick in the groin to Tiger fans.
"The money just wasn't there to keep those guys", we are told.
Two new young minor leaguers are received for Granderson – Austin Jackson – a centerfielder that the Sporting News projected to be the rookie of the year in 2010, and Max Scherzer - a reasonable pitcher at best.
Scott Sizemore was decided to be brought up from AAA Toledo – only to break a bone in his ankle in an Arizona fall league game. He is still slated as I know it to be Placido's second base placebo replacement.
"Okay", we all thought, "This Mags contract option is costing us our big names and most beloved players … but we can carry on – there's no money and the team is moving into a younger state of mind."
That's when they signed Jose Valverde – a quality closer (to fill the vacancy of rollercoaster Tiger closer Fernando Rodney – who was also not offered arbitration) from Houston – for fourteen million dollars.
I thought Ilitch was pinching pennies this year?
I thought that's why we lost Granderson … and Polanco?
What the ….
Now, as I write this, the rumor mill is spewing the sour news that the Tigers are on the verge of signing Johnny "Curtis Granderson took my job" Damon to a two year fourteen million dollar contract also.
What is it with two years and fourteen million dollars contracts?
This leaves us to question why then did we lose Granderson and Polanco?
It couldn't have been the money?
It must have been a determination to go in a different direction. Not necessarily a young direction. Just in a direction without Granderson and Polanco?
Yet still we have Carlos Guillen in left? He doesn't want to play left field any more than Inge wanted to catch?
And we still have Brandon Inge – easily tied with Granderson and ace Justin Verlander as the most favourite Tigers.
And we still have Mags – without his head of curls – that once lopped off – reduced him to a mere shadow of his former power-hitting self – and the root of what we all thought the problem was.
We kept the weakest links on the roster – and we got rid of our stability leaders?
Oh, I know – only the players who flourished last season have trade value. But we got nothing for Placido, and we got unproven hopes in Austin Jackson for Curtis?
It just doesn't make sense. Not from the outside. Not from where I sit.
But the good news is that the Tigers are still in the American League Central Division. The weakest division in all of Major League Baseball.
So the Tigers still have a shot.
An outsiders shot … but a shot.
No matter my confusion, or disappointment, or frustration in trying to understand the void in rationale of this offseason, I will still root for those who wear the old English D. I will still listen to and watch every pitch on the radio or TV. I will still pump my fist when we win a close one, or utter profanities should we fail to pull one out in the bottom of the ninth with two men on and no outs.
Just like last year … when we led the AL Central from May 10th to the single game playoff in that disgusting dome.
We still have a shot.
And remember … we weren't supposed to be any good at all in 2006.
And for certain … the Tigers aren't supposed to be anygood in 2010.
So we got a pretty good shot.
Albeit and outside one.