TORONTO -- With the MLB non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching and the post-all-star break blues in full effect, the Detroit Tigers have some serious soul-searching to do before July 31st.
Heading into the Mid-Summer Classic, the Tigers were a half-game back in the American League Central and locked into a dogfight with the surging Chicago White Sox, who had reeled off eight-straight wins leading up to the break.
But after dropping four straight to the lowly Cleveland Indians and surrendering the next two games to the AL-West leading Texas Rangers and falling 3.5 games back in the division, a crumbling economy wasn't the only concern in Motown.
To make matters worse, a resurgent Brandon Inge, who hit .287 in June and .326 in July, was sent to the disabled list with a broken hand that will keep him sidelined for at least four weeks.
Inge's misfortune comes less than a month after flame-throwing reliever Joel Zumaya endured a season-ending elbow injury - further crippling Detroit's postseason aspirations.
If the Tigers hope to avoid a mid-season meltdown similar to years' past, it might be necessary for owner Mike Ilitch to open his wallet and seek out quality replacements for Detroit's fallen soldiers.
With an estimated $50 million coming off the payroll next season, the Tigers are in prime position to acquire the necessary talent for a late-season playoff push.
Detroit is in desperate need of help on the mound and in the middle infield. Fortunately, there seem to be many names available who could be of major interest to a fledgling franchise.
It has been speculated that the Tigers, along with the Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox could have interest in AL home-run king Jose Bautista.
The Jays slugger could fill the void at third base and bring some much-needed pop to a floundering offence while helping insulate triple-crown threat Miguel Cabrera.
Other names that have been mentioned as possible trade bait include Cleveland's Jhonny Peralta, Baltimore's Ty Wigginton, Seattle's Jose Lopez and Chicago Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot.
Despite Inge's injury and the bottom-of-the-lineup struggles for the Tigers, pitching help still reigns supreme.
With the loss of Zumaya and the lack of consistency throughout the starting rotation, there are plenty of stop-gap solutions available for hire.
Arms such as Ted Lilly, Ben Sheets, Michael Wuertz, David Aardsma and Dan Haren have all been mentioned as potential targets that could help balance out a bullpen or rotation in need of a hired gun.
But after the failed experiments of Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff a year ago, one has to wonder if the Tigers will be fated to similar circumstances this time around.
Regardless of history, it's evident the Tigers cannot rely on a sturdy, yet inexperienced core of youngsters to bring them back to the postseason for the first time since 2006.
Super rookies Brennan Boesch and Austin Jackson have been a welcome addition this season, but relying on two new starters along with third-base fill-in Don Kelly could spell disaster for Detroit down the stretch.