A season that looked so promising turned into a major disappointment for the Detroit Tigers.
Manager Jim Leyland's club finished at 81-81, 13 games behind American League Central Division regular season champion Minnesota.
Considering the Tigers were 48-38 on July 12, just 1/2 game behind division-leading Chicago at the All-Star break, it was a major collapse.
Injuries took a major toll. Flame-throwing relief pitcher Joel Zumaya was lost for the season with an elbow injury; right fielder Maglio Ordonez (.303 batting average, 12 home runs, 59 RBIs) also saw his season end prematurely with a broken ankle; third baseman Brandon Inge (.247, 13, 70) missed a large number of games with a fractured left hand;and second baseman Carlos Guillen (.273 BA, six homers, 34 RBIs) played in just 68 contests after missing significant time with a strained calf and a knee injury.
Add it all up and that's a huge number of games missed by veteran players who could have been major performers for the Tigers had they been healthy.
But while several players turned in banner seasons, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson, to name a few, too many on the club underperformed.
Add the fact the Tigers were either forced through injuries - or just decided - to use a lot of rookies and it resulted in the perfect storm.
What should the Tigers do in the offseason to improve the club's fortunes in 2011 and make it a division contender?
Drop Jeremy Bonderman, Johnny Damon, Ordonez (is he worth another $15 million at a club option?), Gerald Laird and Guillen, for starters. Maybe Armando Galarraga, as well.
Revamp the bullpen, especially if Zumaya isn't healthy enough to start the 2011 season; add a starting lefthanded pitcher (current reliever Phil Coke will get a shot) and a No. 5 hurler; sign a free agent - or trade for - a power-hitting designated hitter, especially one who hits from the left side; make Alex Avila into an everyday catcher; move Scott Sizemore into the starting second base position; and replace Ordonez with a younger hitter capable of batting .300 or better, and-or hitting a lot of home runs.
The Tigers will have some money to use in the free agent market as they have eight players on the final years of their contracts, not counting club options.
General manager Dave Dombrowski must use that money wisely to bolster the club.
Some potential free agent targets: Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn and Jayson Werth.
The Tigers must also stay healthy in 2011. They're not at a point yet where a capable veteran sub could move into the lineup should a starter go down with an injury.
It should be an active - and interesting - offseason for the Tigers. Failure by Dombrowski to make significant moves to improve the team would mean another disappointing season in 2011.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.