Season Previews: Detroit Tigers
Kicking off the MLB 2007 Season Previews for the tough-as-nails American League Central are the Detroit Tigers.
The seemingly unbeatable Tigers and their angry, chain-smoking manager of the year, Jim Leyland, had a hell of a season last year. They even had Bob Seger sing "America The Beautiful" before Game 1 of the World Series. But it wasn't enough; not even the rain could stop the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
The Tigers have done some revamping this offseason by adding a big, controversial bat in Gary Sheffiel and a steady arm in righty reliever Jose Mesa from the Colorado Rockies. They also re-signed Brandon Inge's soul patch for four years and avoided arbitration with first baseman Sean Casey for another year.
Magglio Ordonez' beautiful locks will return to the outfield along with Craig Monroe and Curtis Granderson. Utility infielder Omar Infante was also given a one-year contract, with righty reliever Fernando Rodney recently signing on for two years at $2.7 million.
Carlos Guillen and Placido Polanco are back as the double-play duo, as they've been signed to multi-year contracts and Pudge Rodriguez will once again lead the backstops in his 4th year as a Tiger.
AL Rookie of the Year, Justin Verlander and Nate Robertso will rejoin the starting rotation along with the tumultuous, pine-tar-palmed Kenny Rogers. Detroit's other rocket arm, Jeremy Bonderman, agreed to a four-year deal with the club to the tune of $38 million, a bargain in baseball dollars.
Detroit's bullpen is still stocked with million-dollar arms, including Joel Zumaya's 100-mph fastball, Wilfredo Ledezma, home-towner Jason Grilli and starter-turned-reliever Zach Miner.
It seems the club is set for another challenging season in the ALC, with a strong rotation and a heavy lineup. Look for the Tigers to make another run at the Central Title, while trying to fight off the Twins, White Sox and Indians.