It’s safe to come out now. The you-know-what is over. I don’t know what it was supposed to prove, with the Tigers not in it, but I guess they’d already scheduled the event and couldn’t cancel on such short notice.
(NOTE TO FUTURE GENERATIONS IN SEARCH OF CONTEXT: At this point in the offseason, the following changes/events have taken place: Jim Leyland has retired. Four or five candidates to replace him have been interviewed and have also interviewed with other teams. Club declines to offer Brayan Pena a contract. Matt Tuiasosopo (Diamondbacks) and Darin Downs (Astros) have been claimed off waivers by other teams. Club declines to pick up Jose Veras’s option. Miguel Cabrera has had surgery to repair a groin tear and is expected to recover well before spring training 2014.)
To discuss, much of said discussion already in progress:
* Who will the new manager be? Who should it be? You, maybe? Commenting here gives you a leg up for the job, I’ve been told, so speak up.
* Whole new coaching staff or some holdovers?
* Catcher: Avila/Holaday? Holaday/Veteran Backup? Free Agent/Avila?
* First Base: Fielder an albatross? A slight overreaction, perhaps?
* Second Base: Pay up for Infante or let him go? Go with youth and potential in Perez, or make him serve an apprenticeship, under… who?
* Shortstop: Is Iglesias the shortstop of the future or an injury-plagued and mostly batless dead end?
* Third Base: Is Cabrera’s surgery really “no big deal”? Will his condition(ing) and health be an issue in 2014? How did that groin injury come about, anyway? (Rhetorical.)
* Left Field: Sink or swim with Castellanos? Hedge your bets with Dirks? Something more surprising, as in free agent in, other guys gone?
* Center Field: Continue to grant AJax Favored CF status, or pull a surprise? Could he bloom under a manager with actual confidence in him?
* Right Field: Is Torii the Hacker really your #2 hitter? I see a vacancy at #6.
* Designated Hitter: A position without a question mark, eh? Oops. Would Martinez batting immediately behind Cabrera be too much to ask for?
* Bench: Santiago and Kelly stick around? Seriously? What’s a good bench for this team?
* Starting pitching: Would they really trade Scherzer? Come on. Really? Is Smyly in the rotation a foregone conclusion? Is Fister such a lock? Does the occasionally brilliant young Alvarez stand a chance, and would it take an injury to one of the main dudes to find out?
* Bullpen: Is Benoit the “anchor” you want? Will the mythical appeal of “established closer” never die? Is it enough already with AlburCokey? Is Rondon the new Zumaya? As the bullpen purge proceeds apace, would you rather see a few “name guys” brought in or an effort to assemble a greater quantity of lesser-known talent? Rondon, Putkonen, Ortega, Alvarez – young turks and core of a new group or peripherals?
* AL Central: Would 3rd place in 2014 surprise you? It’s a jungle out there.
* Does a new manager really promise a more modern approach to baseball and a different style of play, or does “no culture change” mean what we think it means? Is Mr. New Manager going to be the placeholder for a train wreck, the one-season sacrificial lamb?
* Scan those free agent and arbitration-eligible lists, plot your brilliant trades, and order your brilliant lineups and batting orders. The Hot Stove League is upon us.