By:  Kurt Snyder

Ever get sick around the holidays?  I do every year.

It’s a frustrating predicament, because every year, I look forward to a couple weeks off from a very stressful job. It’s a time to unwind, a time to celebrate.

It generally has the potential to be chock full of fun. But I never, ever make all the parties. Walking out of that office on the last day, the body relaxes, surrenders to the weather, and the germs team up with all the stress, finally winning the battle over adrenaline.

It seems the Tigers struggle with this right around playoff time. Poor health brings them down, right when the real fun starts. Oh sure they tend to make most of the parties, but generally they are too sick to attend the best one of all, the World Series. And there are a handful of players this season that they will need to be great to finally, finally be the ones left standing when they close the curtain on the Fall Classic.

So, here they are:

1. Miguel Cabrera – What really needs to be said here? A healthy Cabrera means everything to the Tigers. He’s the most important player on the list. He’s the best hitter in baseball. Somewhere deep in the Red Sox media guide for 2014, they could have thanked Miggy for tearing his groin. Deep down they know it was the reason they began the season as defending World Series Champions.

2. Justin Verlander – A return to a more dominant JV is essential and expected, frankly. To get to the Series and win it, JV has to lead us again, bringing the competitive fire that still burns within the former ace of this staff. A healthy Justin would bring a swagger back to this rotation, a much needed one since we said good bye to Max.

3. Joakim Soria – I don’t expect after what we experienced last season with Joe Nathan, that a 40 year old, coming off his worst season as a closer, is bound to turn it around; maybe at 30, or 35 but not 40. So should the worst happen, Mr. Soria must be ready to assume the 9th inning duties and return to the dominant pitcher we expected him to be when he arrived. But we never really saw what he could do, mainly because he was, dare I say, hurt. If he disappoints again and doesn’t own it, then the party’s over.

4. Jose Iglesias – He arrived in Detroit with a swagger like no other. This was going to be our shortstop for the next 10 years. The highlights began early. But his injury robbed all of us of the opportunity to watch this glorious talent, the wizardry of the guy we call Iggy, as he missed the entire 2014 season. To get to the Series and win it, Iggy’s gotta play, a lot!

5. Yoenis Cespedes – This is the guy with the ability to take the Tigers over the top. Adding speed, power and tremendous arm strength to your leftfield position is the kind of impactful variable we were missing. But, every season he has struggled with injuries. When healthy, he can become one of the most dangerous hitters in the game, especially if he were to bat in front of the best. That’s right Brad, bat him second.

So, there you have it. Today you get the pulse. Thursday you get the logic. I can see Holly shaking her head already. “This guy is a nut!” But, this is what’s great about this blog of ours. On Thursday, Holly will get her turn and it will be nothing like today. Stay healthy my friends!