In the off-season between 2003-04, Tigers President/GM Dave Dombrowski set out to inject the roster with legitimate big league talent, in order to wash away the stench of the team's 43-win season. In the winter of 2005, Dombrowski continued to massage his roster.

Once again, Dombrowski went to the free agent well. He signed OF Magglio Ordonez, a four-time All-Star, from the rival Chicago White Sox. And he inked closer Troy Percival from the Anaheim Angels.

Returning to the trade market, Dombrowski dealt for late-inning reliever Kyle Farnsworth in February. Farnsworth had spent his entire six-year career with the Chicago Cubs.

The Tigers now had some depth in the position players, but were still deemed to be too thin in pitching---specifically, the starters.

That fear would be confirmed as the 2005 season played out.

Manager Alan Trammell had more pieces to work with than ever before during his tenure, but the Tigers still couldn't win with any consistency, frustrating everyone in the organization.

Making matters worse were injuries to both Ordonez and Percival.

Ordonez was felled with a sports hernia right out of the gate, and didn't even get his first hit as a Tiger until July, right when Percival's season was over thanks to a shoulder injury.

The Tigers fiddled with .500 for most of the first half, and even as late as August 23, the team was just one game below the break even mark.

But a 10-29 finish made players cranky, and whispers were that Trammell had lost the clubhouse and players were losing  respect for him and his ex-Tigers coaches.

Veteran 1B/DH Dmitri Young led the team with 21 homers, while 2B Placido Polanco, acquired in a mid-season trade with Philadelphia, batted a robust .338. But C Pudge Rodriguez dropped about 60 points from his 2004 BA, with a .276 mark.

Giving the Tigers hope for the future were young players such as 1B Chris Shelton (18-59-.299 in 107 games), CF Curtis Granderson (8 homers in 162 AB) and 3B Brandon Inge (16-72-.261).

On the mound, Jason Johnson again struggled to register wins, notching just eight despite throwing a team-high 210 innings. Lefty Mike Maroth and righty Jeremy Bonderman tied for the team lead in wins with 14. With Percival out of the picture after July 9, Farnsworth and young Fernando Rodney split closer duties.

The bad finish gave the Tigers a 71-91 record, a one game drop-off from 2004. Not long after the season, Trammell was fired and replaced by grizzled Jim Leyland, who hadn't managed since 1999 in Colorado. Dombrowski and Leyland combined to bring a world championship to the Florida Marlins in 1997. Would history repeat itself?

After a 71-win Tigers season, no one could have foreseen just how close Dombrowski and Leyland would come to duplicating their Florida experience, in 2006.

By GregEno

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Alan Trammell, Brandon Inge, Chris Shelton, Curtis Granderson, Dave Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers, Dmitri Young, Fernando Rodney, Ivan Rodriguez, Jim Leyland, Kyle Farnsworth, Magglio Ordonez, Mike Maroth, Placido Polanco, Troy Percival


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