Monday, April 03, 2006

If ifs and buts were hits and health, we'd all have merry season

It's opening day, and the Tigers have sucked me in...again. You know, hope springs eternal, every team starts 0-0, anyone can win, all the platitudes we fans tell ourselves to convince us that it won't be another season of futility. And I'd like to believe them. Do the Tigers have a snowball's chance in hell of contending for the wild card? Sure, if everything, and I mean everything, goes their way. It will come down to those pesky ifs and buts.

In other words, "The Tigers can contend if" and "But the Tigers won't contend because."

If Pudge Rodriguez isn't on the decline.
But catchers almost always decline in their early 30's.

If Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen stay healthy.
But neither have shown over the past 2 seasons that they will.

If age doesn't catch up with the Gambler and the Rollercoaster.
But the Rollercoaster is already on the DL.

If Chris Shelton continues to hit as consistently as he did last season.
But can he hit for the power that is needed from a big time first baseman?

If Brandon Inge dosen't wear out in the second half of the seaon.
But the season splits show he always slumps after the break.

If Curtis Granderson, Justin Verlander, and Joel Zumaya live up to their more than considerable potential.
But they all may be a year away, especially Verlander and Zumaya.

If Nate Robertson pitches like it's 2004.
But his 2005 was absolutely awful.

If Jeremy Bonderman has his breakout season and wins 20 games.
But last season was supposed to be his breakout season.

If Mike Maroth finds a way to win more than he loses.
But he hasn't found a way to be anything more than .500 pitcher over his entire career.

If Vance Wilson can be a quality backup catcher to give Pudge the rest he needs.
But Wilson couldn't hit Nook Logan's weight last season.

If Omar Infante can become a super sub, being a quality back up at 3 infield positions and also playing centerfield.
But his shoulder still isn't healthy, it wasn't healthy last season either.

If Dmitiri Young, who's in a contract year, can have a big season at the plate and not hurt the team when he plays the field.
But he was a clubhouse cancer last season and can he really play third and left?

If Craig Monroe continues to steadily improve.
But he's never shown he has the ability to be nothing more than an average, at best, corner outfielder.

If Marcus Thames can consistently hit for the power he has shown during his short MLB stints.
But he's always been considered nothing more than a AAAA player.

If Jim Leyland can keep a lid on a clubhouse that has been fractured for several seasons.
But does Leyland still have the fire in his belly that is required to ride herd over 25 egos, some that are absolutely massive?

If they get some breaks, and the Tigers are a team that is overdue for more than a few, they can contend for a wild card spot.
But when was the last time that happened?

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