First Pitch 7:15 Verlander v. Halladay (I really like those old AL East Rivals, its too bad the unbalanced schedule is so unbalanced). No turning back now folks, keep on reading to see why this season is going to be better than everyone thinks. Go Tigers!
Let's look at the lineups for a refresher
These seem relatively comparable, no? Of the players in 2006 that are no longer on the roster, Shelton was just cut by the Mariners, Young is on the DL for the nationals, the ever-dangerous Monroe just made the Pirates as a reserve and Rodriguez will be catching in Houston--Rodriguez aside, these are replacement level players.
Of the additions, Cabrera is an upgrade over anybody from 2006, while the other three are offensive downgrades. On balance, it looks like a parallel shift, especially when you consider that Thames will see major at-bats throughout the season. This is a good lineup, and should result in a good team.
2008 Clouded the vision of many people. With expectations so high, the crash was especially memorable. The culprits were Pitching and Defense--the offense was fine. What we see now is a vastly improved Defense and plenty of pitching question marks. If the pitching doesn't improve, then the team will fail. If the pitching outperforms, the team will be in the playoffs. If the pitching is average, I think that the offense will be able to carry this team down to the wire.
Prediction: The Tigers will be in the hunt for a playoff spot up until the final week, at which point, the hot team will win out. This team has tremendous potential, it's just a matter of putting it all together.
I hope that you all enjoyed my rapid-fire look at the 2009 team and can see why the 2006 team came out of nowhere and how this team has the potential to do it all again. Go Tigers and I hope everyone had a Happy Opening Day!