Monday, August 28, 2006

Random Tiger thoughts before this week's, "Biggest series of the season"

Neifi Perez: A week ago I called the trade for Neifi Perez a non-story, and had no problem with his replacing utilityman Ramon Santiago. Unfortunately, I made that statement before it became apparent that the Tigers planned on his being the everyday 2nd baseman till the Placidome returns from the DL. After watching Perez's flailing about at the plate for the past week, it's blatantly obvious that he has no place starting for a team that supposedly has playoff and championsip asperations. Late inning defensive replacement? I can accept that, hard to swallow as that may be. But batting leadoff and playing in front of Omar Infante, who has 5 times the ability of Perez at the plate? That I can't accept.

Giving Perez significant playing time is one of the few personnel decisions the Cigarette Smoking Man made that has backfired. Sunday, the Marlboro Man removed Perez from the lineup, and inserted Infante, who contributed 2 hits. Wonder of wonders, the losing streak ended. It seems conclusive to everyone, save for the Tigers braintrust, that the Tigers have a better chance to win with Infante's solid bat and below average defense, than Perez's good defense and the black hole of suck he turns his spot in the batting order into. I'm begging you, our cranky curmudgeon of a manager, just plug Omar Infante in the daily lineup, and let the black hole of suck that is Neifi Perez play defense. Just defense. We only can hope Placido Polanco's shoulder gets healthy sooner rather than later.

Andrew Miller: I'm all for the Tigers bringing up the phenom fireballer that is "Dr. Destroy." From all accounts, Miller has the ability to get out major league batters now, and is especially effective against left handed bats. Miller is the sort of wild card that could make the difference in a couple of tight September games. It's not as if the Tigers expect him to start. It appears that Dr. Destroy will be a long man and/or a LOOGY. If he has the talent, make sure he is at least eligible for the post season roster, and then see if he'll be an asset to an October bullpen. All he can do is make one of baseball's best bullpens even better. Even if he doesn't do much other than observe, being with the big club during a pennant race can only be helpful to the doctor's development.

Magglio Ordonez: For whatever reason, Maggs has turned into a punch and judy hitter. Maggs has the look of a player who has hit the proverbial wall, not surprising for someone who has not played a full season in 2 years. Hitting the wall or not, 5 home runs from your cleanup hitter since June is not going to cut it. The lack of home run power was not a critical issue till the past few weeks, as Maggs was still knocking in runs. But with 1 HR and 9 RBI for the month of August, his stats are representative of a bottom of the order hitter, not the cleanup man for the team with the best record in baseball.

The issue then becomes, do the Tigers have another option? That's the rub, as they really don't. Craig Monroe is the closest thing they have to a cleanup hitter, but he's absolutely pounding the ball out of the 2 hole, while replacing Placidome. Moving him to cleanup then leaves the Tigers with no true number 2 hitter, save for possibly Sean Casey. but Casey has been the Tigers most productive lower in the order hitter. It's a domino effect, anything the Tigers might do to move Maggs out of the cleanup slot leaves a glaring hole elsewhere.

At this point, about all the Tigers can do is hope that Maggs slugs his way out of his power outage. Hopefully, today's day off will help. I'd like to say that the Tigers should be resting Maggs on and off thru the month of September, but they are not going to have the luxury of resting their best players when fighting off 2 teams for the division title.

Kenny Rogers: I think that news of the Gambler's second half disappearance have been greatly exaggerated.

Justin Verlander: He still has his velocity, and I think that's the best sign that his recent struggles are not physical, but just those of a rookie pitcher. To think that Verlander would continue winning games at a once in a generation pace was being awfully optimistic. Still, the Tigers need the Verlander of the first 2/3 of the season to make the occasional appearance. I'm not asking him to win every start, but to at least give the Tigers a legitimate chance to win. And for the most part, even with his recent difficulties, Verlander has done just that.

Despite all the adversity, with their being being hit at the same time with trifecta of injuries, slumping bats, and Neifi Perez, the Tigers still have a 5 game Central division lead. Let's not forget that they still have the best record in baseball.

Is the upcoming 3 game series with the Yankees important? Sure, but it's not the end of the world if they do, God forbid, get swept. But I honestly don't see that happening. The Yankees can hit with the best of them, but their pitching, save for Wang and Rivera, is nothing to write to Geeorge Steinbrenner about. This isn't the Yankees juggernaut of 5 years ago. They are a very good team, but so are the Tigers. Let's play the games before we even think about hitting the "Panic" button some are oh-so-ready to push.


  1. Most excellent post, Big Al. Like you, I initially thought the deal for Neifi Perez was a clever trade. That is, until the Tigers made him the starting 2nd baseman and it was revealed that they're on the hook for $2.5 million next year.

    I don't get their approach with Infante. Okay, he'll let the occasional routine play get by. But he has a much better chance of making up for it with his bat. Am I looking at Infante through Tiger-colored glasses if I say that he could be a starting middle infielder on some other teams in the majors?

  2. No you're not Ian, Infante could be a starting infielder other places. He produces big hits and should be the man until Polanco returns.

  3. I'm sorry, but ONE homerun since the All-Star break from your "cleanup" hitter?

    Maggs' power outage is not only troublesome and curious, it's also shameful and hurtful to the team's chances. One of the media types (I guess I'm one of them, come to think of it!) noted that Ordonez might still drive in close to 100 runs, and that's his job. But his job is to also put some fear into the pitcher's heart that he could jack it out of the park if a mistake is made.

    One homer in nearly 200 AB doesn't instill such fear.

  4. I am officially panicking.