Thursday, March 25, 2004

Tigers ink Urbina
Sources including both ESPNews and mlive.com are reporting that the Detroit Tigers have signed Ugueth Urbina to close in 2004. The average to below average efforts of Fernando Rodney, Franklyn German and Matt Anderson coupled with the breakdown in negotiations between Urbina and Cleveland led to the signing. Outisde of the injury-riddled 2000 season, Urbina has netted 24 or more saves (topping out at 41 in 1999) since 1997 and will instantly solidify a shaky bullpen. The Tigers played in 37 1-run games last year and lost 18 of them.

The former trio of closers, using the term loosely, pulled together a collective ERA of 5.90 over the 97 and 2/3 innings they pitcher last season. To call that kind of performance atrocious would qualify as the understatement of the year. The Tigers continue their positive offseason with their second acquisition from the World Series winners. Anderson will move to the minors while Rodney will continue to close until Urbina is ready to pitch and will most likely assume a setup role once Urbina is ready.

If the defense improves, and it should with Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Guillen and Fernando Vina up the middle, and the pitching staff achieves a level of consistency, the Tigers could find themselves on the winning end of almost twice as many games as last year's 43. Jason Johnson, Mike Maroth, Nate Cornejo, and Jeremy Bonderman have tons to prove before I'll set my sights that high, though. A goal of 70-80 wins is reachable.

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