State of Tigers is not good

Detroit Tigers' Mikie Mahtook reacts after striking out against Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger in the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 8, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Late President Gerald Ford once described the state of the nation as “not good.”

That statement, made in 1974 after Watergate and the Vietnam War, could very well describe the Detroit Tigers right now.

At the halfway point, the Tigers have stumbled to eight games out of first place in the American League Central.

But that isn’t the major hurdle for this underachieving ball club.

The Tigers, you see, are caught in the numbers game.

This situation was caused by the front office throwing millions of dollars at several of the superstars they have — or have had — in recent seasons.

Remember that they still owe money to Prince Fielder, who’s now out of baseball.

Late owner Mike Illitch was willing to spend the money to bring a World Series contender to Motown.

For all his noble intentions, Illitch was rewarded with one WS victory. In the process, the Tigers were embarrassed by the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants in the 2006 and 2012 Fall Classic.

This team is currently going nowhere. Its stars are heading to the twilight of their careers and the rest of the team is comprised of players like Mikie Mahtook, Justin Machado and Alex Presley.

Sure, pitcher Michael Fulmer and J.D. Martinez look like All-Stars for years to come. And Nick Castellanos and Jose Iglesias could eventually become everyday players for years to come.

But the status of Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera are two major question marks.

Both players have been mentioned prominently in trade talks, especially Verlander.

But JV, who still has good stuff, will make approximately $28 million per season. Cabrera has a 10-year term contract that pays him even more.

The question, and it’s a big one, is how many teams want to inherit that kind of contract.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and even the New York Yankees, have the loot to pay the high price.

But the surprising Houston Astros could be a player because of a lack of starting pitching. Adding Verlander could push the Astros over the top.

The best bet is that Verlander will go to one of the above clubs.

Hopefully, the Tigers can get a good relief pitcher or center fielder in return if a trade is made. And retain the services of J.D. Martinez (he’s a free agent next year) for awhile.

If they don’t, it could be slim pickings for seasons to come for Detroit fans.