Rule 5 Update
With the rosters expanding to 40 on September 1st, Hector Luna and Luis Gonzalez are now officially property of the Cardinals and Rockies, respectively. Lino Urdaneta still hasn't pitched for the Tigers this season, as he's been hurt all season, and the rules stipulate that a player must be on the active 25-man roster for at least 90 games if the player was on the disabled list the previous year. But, as we found out last year with Derek Thompson, a club can simply nontender the player and re-sign him to a minor-league contract if they wish. Oh, the madness of major-league transactions...
Peralta Wins International League MVP
If Jhonny Peralta hadn't been rushed to the majors last year after injuries to Omar Vizquel and John McDonald, he'd make a lot of top prospect lists. He's 22 years old, and still much younger than the average AAA player. With Omar Vizquel probably on his way out, he has to go into Spring Training the early favorite to be the team's starting shortstop. Will he stay there for the forseeable future? I doubt it; his range isn't what you like to see in a shortstop, and he looks to have enough power to justify moving over to third base eventually. He's going to have to win the job over Brandon Phillips, who's a better fielder, but I'll give the early nod to Peralta as Vizquel's successor.
Running Out of Gas
Just like last year, the team is starting to limp going into the home stretch. Victor Martinez is probably wearing down due to all the games he's caught during the year (having Josh Bard and possibly Ryan Garko around should help next year), and Cliff Lee really looks like he's "hit the wall". But Matt Lawton has really fallen off as well, he doesn't have the excuse of not playing an entire season before; he's hit a dismal .229/.329/.335 since the All-Star Break.
As bad as the team has been playing, they've already matched last year's win total of 68. Getting to .500 by the end of the year would probably be a nice goal; after Oakland this weekend, they have 7 more games against teams over .500 (Minnesota), so it's a realistic goal. It should only get better from here on out, and this winter will be much more interesting than last year, where the big moves were acquiring/signing Scott Stewart, Ronnie Belliard and Jose Jimenez.