It has been just over four years since the Detroit Tigers started the 2008 season as the proverbial favorites to not only win their division, but to compete for a World Series title. Much the same way the 2012 season started with many baseball pundits saying the Tigers were the favorite to win a weak American League Central, and again compete for a World Series title.
In both cases the Tigers have failed to live up to expectations. It seems that we could effectively argue that this team does a very poor job living up to expectations and/or performing in the heat of the national (maybe even regional) spotlight.
In 2008 the big off season moves was the trade that brought Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to town. They also traded for SS Edgar Renteria, and resigned Kenny Rogers, Todd Jones, and brought in Francisco Cruceta one a one year deal. Cruceta and OF Jacque Jones would be released during the season.
2008 was ugly from the get go. The Tigers started 0-7, and would not reach a .500 record until the 80th game of the season. Sound familiar yet? The 2012 Tigers didn't start off terrible, but they have been in a funk, and now injuries are starting to pile up.
2008 saw Gary Sheffield have his worst year in a Tigers uniform, as he hit just .225 (a full 67 points lower than his 22 season BA of .292). He would drive in just 57 runs while hitting 19 home runs. Cabrera came in and performed up to expectations, however much like 2012 the 2008 Tigers team had a big hole defensively that the team scrambled to fix.
In 2008 that hole was at first base, and after Renteria was signed the Tigers tried Carlos Guillen there, and after a disastrous start at third eventually moved Cabrera over. To be fair Cabrera was an average first baseman and handled the position fairly well. The 2012 Tigers have a large hole defensively at second, and so far have failed to rectify it.
However, it seems the larger lesson of 2008 is that General Manger Dave Dombrowski’s always seems to sign players for one year to long. In 2008 it was Sheffield who was here one year too long; in 2012 it has been Brandon Inge and quite possibly Closer Jose Valverde.