About the only good news for Detroit Tigers fans in 2005 occurred at the end of the season. In October it was announced that Jim Leyland was coming out of retirement and had accepted the Tigers managerial job. Leyland is looking to help change the team’s fortunes for 2006 and beyond but he will have his work cut out for him. The Tigers managed to win only 71 total games in 2005 posting a lackluster 71-91 record. Yet somehow the Motown offense was able to score a total of 723 runs which was only 18 fewer then the World Series Champion Chicago White Sox. Of course it didn’t help matters that the Tigers also allowed a total of 787 runs – mostly due to an inconsistent and underperforming pitching staff.
The 2005 offense was led primarily by outfielder Craig Monroe (.277 20 89), and DH Dmitri Young (.271 21 72). Rookie 1st baseman Chris Shelton (.299 18 59) also provided some much needed offensive spark with veterans Ivan Rodriguez (.276 14 50) and Rondell White (.313 12 53) posting respectable numbers. The rest of the 2005 offensive production was supplied by 3rd baseman Brandon Inge (.261 16 72) and 2nd baseman Placido Polanco (.338 6 36) who was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in a midseason trade.
The Tiger starting pitching in 2005 had very few bright spots. Starters Jeremy Bonderman (14-13 4.57) and Mike Maroth (14-14 4.74) managed to combine for 25 total wins, while the rest of the starters struggled for much of the entire season. Both starting pitcher Nate Robertson (7-16 4.48) and Jason Johnson (8-13 4.54) turned in forgettable performances in 2005. The Tigers used a combination of five different closers with Ugueth Urbina (1-3 2.63 9 saves) performing the best, prior to his being traded midseason to Philadelphia.
For Detroit Tiger fans, the season couldn’t end soon enough.
Off Season Moves:
The Detroit Tigers signed free-agent lefty Kenny Rogers (14-8 3.46), to a 2-year, $16 million contract, hoping to provide some better stability in the starting rotation. The Tigers also signed closer Todd Jones (1-5 2.10 40 saves) from Florida in order to help upgrade their bullpen. Jones a 12 year veteran experienced a renaissance year with the Florida Marlins by holding opposing hitters to a .230 batting average while saving a total of 40 games (his highest save total in five years).
Rogers is an improvement to the starting rotation as is bringing in Jim Leyland from out of his retirement to help. Leyland has worked in similar environments before and has proven he knows how to handle the challenge. The starting rotation is still lacking. Detroit made a run at a few different free agents this winter, but little materialized. The Tigers have some hitting and can score runs. There’s also some talent in the bullpen, but the rotation doesn’t appear to be much stronger than it was last season (4.85 ERA, 10th in the AL). Fans will need to be very patient as Leyland attempts to rebuild from within.