01/14/08 9:30 PM EST
Notes: GM content with relief corps
Dombrowski tells fans he likes his pitchers in the bullpen
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
With so many stops at different places, from around the state of Michigan to Northwest Ohio and into Canada, the Tigers Winter Caravan can prompt some repetitiveness. President/general manager Dave Dombrowski told the detailed story many times over the last three days of how the trade for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera came together, and how Brandon Inge might fit on the club if he isn't traded.
Another question that seems to pop up is one about the bullpen and whether any additional moves could be coming there. His answer to that is as consistent as the others: The Tigers like their relief corps, and they don't really like the other options out there.
"When we look at who else is out there at this point, and who has really been available within a realistic situation, we don't look at a situation where we really see anybody out there that's a significant upgrade for us," Dombrowski said. "Now, will we look at it? Sure, we'll continue to look at it. But we feel comfortable going into Spring Training with who we have."
The bullpen comes up, Dombrowski said, because of the comparative strength of the starting lineup and rotation if healthy. It's also a group that doesn't have as many well-known names as the other facets of the roster.
"So you're going to continually talk about the bullpen," Dombrowski said, "and we lost [Joel] Zumaya."
The Tigers had discussions earlier in the offseason regarding free-agent relievers, including LaTroy Hawkins and Octavio Dotel, after Zumaya had his freak injury in October and underwent surgery to rebuild the AC joint in his throwing shoulder. Hawkins ended up signing a one-year contract with the Yankees, while Dotel remains a free agent.
As for Detroit's relievers, Fernando Rodney will be their setup man behind Todd Jones. Francisco Cruceta will be a candidate to work the seventh inning. Zach Miner and Jason Grilli could be asked to step up, and Yorman Bazardo will be a candidate.
Dombrowski's latest remarks came as the team's Winter Caravan wound down. The West Tour's final stop came Monday evening at Eastern Michigan University.
Tickets going fast ... too fast: While single-game tickets don't go on sale until March 1, season-ticket packages have been wildly popular ever since the trade for Willis and Cabrera. They've been so popular, in fact, that the Tigers might have to stop selling them.
The team has sold the equivalent of about 4,500 full-season tickets since the trade last month. That's on top of the already healthy season-ticket base the Tigers enjoyed last year, around 19,500.
"We haven't even started our new season-ticket push because our renewals [from last year's season-ticket holders] aren't due until the middle of February," Dombrowski said.
Assuming the vast majority of season-ticket holders renew, there might not be much of a push to make. Dombrowski said team officials are having conversations about cutting off season-ticket sales for fear of overselling.
It's not that they would sell out with season tickets. However, teams are required to keep a certain number of tickets available at each postseason game for Major League Baseball and others.
"We're closely approaching that number," Dombrowski said.
That could make the rush on single-game tickets that much more important for fans hoping to get to games.
"I would just suggest to people ... that when our individual-game tickets go on sale in March, buy your tickets quickly," Dombrowski said. "There are some games that are going to sell very, very quickly."
Three players for two spots: As much as has been made about Inge's situation, whatever happens to the onetime Tigers third baseman could have a major impact on other players on the team as well, notably Marcus Thames and Ryan Raburn.
With one spot dedicated for a backup catcher and another for a utility infielder who can play shortstop, it leaves two roster spots for the bench. When Inge seemed destined for the trading block, Thames and Raburn appeared likely to make the club. If Inge remains, however, the math doesn't work out -- three players for two spots.
"I don't think it would necessitate a trade," Dombrowski said, "but they probably all couldn't make the club."
Thames is out of options; Raburn is not.
Nice catch: Monday's trip to Eastern Michigan gave the Tigers a chance to congratulate one lucky fan who is the proud owner of one historic ball.
John Fenlon was a student at EMU in the fall of 2006 and had seats in left field for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, when he caught Magglio Ordonez's historic walk-off home run. Ordonez wasn't in attendance at Monday's gathering, but he left an invitation for Fenlon to be his guest at a game of his choice this coming season and watch batting practice on the field.
Fenlon, who graduated last August, still gets to keep the ball, which he has resisted any temptation to sell.
"I've got it in a safe place," he said.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.