Side note--winter meetings are in Vegas, so let's hope Dombrowski isn't tempted to do a lot of gambling. Although, with our funds available, that may be a necessity. Our player payroll was about $134 million in 2008, and it's expected to stay right around that level. We've already got $100 million committed. A lot of that is tied up in bad contracts (Inge, Robertson, Willis, Sheffield), further hindering our ability to do what we need to do. This leads to the talk that the Tigers will have to listen to offers for Magglio Ordóñez. A lot of folks have argued that he'll be difficult to move without eating some of his contract, so we'll see. Marcus Thames and Jeff Larish (especially with his quality performance in the AFL) are also good bets for trade bait.
December 1 is the deadline for clubs to offer arbitration to their free agents. December 7 is the deadline for the player to decline or accept it. This deadline is right before winter meetings, so that may make things interesting for the Renteria scenario at short (as pointed out by Jason Beck in his Nov. 10 Tigers.com mailbag).
The hardest part for us (besides the limited payroll) is that we've got players who are very close, but not quite big league ready, so we're looking for short term solutions, while most free agents (who aren't older than dirt or coming off injury-riddled or underperforming seasons) are looking for long term contracts. Farm talent ready to come in by about 2010 includes short, closer and starting pitcher. Catcher Dusty Ryan may be ready this year, may not. It all makes for gut-churning drama, which may not play out until the season is in full swing. Better go buy more Maalox.