Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Detroit Tigers sure are a bad team. According to the message boards...

For a team that is only .5 out of first place, virtually tied with 3 of the best teams in all of baseball, and considering it's only APRIL, if you read message boards, you'd think it was 2003 redux.

The same topics get hashed over. Again, and again, and again...

Rodney is teh scuks! The pen is beyond awful! Sheff is washed up! Cut himm! Casey blows goats! Cut hin! Bring up Shelton! Durbin is the worst pitcher in MLb history!! Cut Durbin! Bring up Miller!!1! Dombrowski needs to make a trade! NOW!11!11!!

You want to tell these "Fans" to calm down, take a step back from the keyboard, and look at the Tigers a little more rationally. Which I'll now try to do...

Fernando Rodney and the bullpen: Which sounds like the name of a 70's R&B group, not the most pressing issue of most Tigers fans. After spending the first few weeks of the season pitching like a combination of a pre-glasses Ricky Vaughn and a pre-Crash Davis Nuke LaLoosh, Rodney finally put together a couple of very good innings yesterday. The reason the bullpen has been such an early season weak spot was much in thanks to Rodney's implosion. If Rodney has fixed his issues (Chuck Hernandez supposedly found a flaw in his mechanics), the bullpen will be fine. Grilli, Seay, Zumaya, Lopez, Ledezma, they have all held their own. It's still a formidable bullpen.

As for Todd Jones and his 2 blown saves, what are you going to do? It wasn't as if he was hit hard by the Los Angeles Southern California Disneyland Angels of Anaheim. (Or whatever damn name they are going by this season) In the 9th, it was all about a superstar ballplayer, Vlad Guerrero, basically creating a run all by himself. How many ballplayers could score on a wild pitch that bounces 10 feet away from the catcher? Not many. Vlad is one of the exceptions. You know, sometimes the other team just makes a play...

For all of those screaming for Zumaya to close, keep this in mind. If Jones isn't closing, he really doesn't have a spot on the staff. I wouldn't trust him in Zumaya's or Rodney's roles. He's not the guy you want coming into games with runners on base. To start an inning, I can live with the Rolercoaster. Next year will be the year of Joel Zumaya, lights out closer.

Leave things as they are, and if the Tigers are still having bullpen issues June 1st, then we'll talk about what changes might be needed.

Chad Durbin: Tigers fans now know what it's like to watch a team that doesn't have an effective 5th starter, much like 90% of MLB. It's better than the days when the Tigers didn't have ANY effective starters, but still...

Despite the assurances of the Marlboro man, Durbin appears to be on thin ice, if not double secret probation. He has been the one member of the rotation that has not given the Tigers an opportunity to win his starts. At the time of the Gambler's injury, Durbin looked the best of the lot, especially when factoring in his excellent 2006 season at Toledo. After 3 big league starts though, he looks just plain hittable. If the ChiSox belt him around tonight, I may join the chorus, and ask that the Tigers send Durbin to the bullpen, Toledo, on a beer run, to replace Rosie O'Donnell on "The View," anywhere but in the rotation.

So the question becomes, who replaces Durbin? If, and this is a big IF, Bobby Seay continues to pitch effectively as the LOOGY, I'd like to see Wil Ledezma. It's too soon for Andrew Miller. In June, I might be signing a different Miller tune...

Gary Sheffield: Ewww. Up until this current road trip, Sheffield was scuffling along, swinging at bad pitches, taking hittable pitches, and not hitting any pitches. Even through he was struggling mightily with his swing, Sheffield was still getting on base at a respectable clip. Patience is a virtue, and it's Sheffield's saving grace.

The 2 games with the Los Angeles Southern California Disneyland Angels of Anaheim could have been Sheffield's coming out party. He began to hit the ball, HARD. The at-bat that impressed me the most was yesterday's 9th inning line double off of F-Rod, and then his totally unexpected steal of third. It was an impressive display. I don't know if that sequence of events flustered Rodriguez, one of MLB's best closers, into Maggilo Ordonez's home run, but it sure didn't hurt.

It's obvious that Sheffield still has his bat speed, and his baseball smarts. I think Sheff will be A-OK.

Sean Casey: Ewww, squared. Even the staunchest Casey fans are beginning to ask why he's still in the lineup. 2 reasons. He's a left handed bat, and he's a left handed bat. I know, I said it twice, but it gets the point across. The Tigers have next to no left handed hitting. There's Curtis Granderson, the switch-hitting Carlos Guillen, and...and...No one other than Sean Casey.

If he wasn't a left handed stick, I doubt, no, I know he's not playing nearly as much. If only Marcus Thames was left handed. Is it too late to change him into a switch-hitter?

Considering Casey has a 4 million dollar contract, he'll get plenty of rope to hang himself. Or at least enough rope to become a below average offensive first baseman, rather than what he is currently, the worst offensive first baseman in baseball.

Why the Tigers have had such trouble in finding a left handed power hitting first baseman for so damn long is a total mystery to me. I used to think that good first basemen were dime a dozen. I'm not so sure anymore, considering the Tigers difficulties in finding one.

Since Cecil Fielder was unceremoniously traded in 1996 for a bat bag, Ruben Sierra, and the immortal Matt Drews (Turns out the bat bag had the most value. Drews was supposed to be so good, the Tigers traded for him...Twice. Those crazy Randy Smith years...), other than a a 3 year period when Tony Clark was good for 30 HR/100 RBI, it's been nothing but flameouts at first base.

Carlos Pena's inability to, you know, actually hit the ball, has just killed the Tigers. I was once sold that Chris Shelton was the solution, but is he ever going to be anything more than a 20 HR/70 RBI below average first baseman, at best? I'm not sure if I want to give him 2 years as the first baseman to find out.

A left hand hitting first baseman with POWER has to be targeted in the coming off-season.


  1. I have issues with Gary Sheffield for 2 reasons: 1. That damn dancing bat!! Hold the stupid thing still for a few seconds and maybe you could hit the strikes the pitchers are throwing! and 2. He still has that NYY smell to him.....ick!!

  2. Your challenging of the Durbinator sure paid off!
    On TJ: I'm sure that if the right team is desparate for a closer, say a team with a left handed first baseman that can actually hit, we're in a good position.

  3. Yeah, I can't stand watching Sheffield's at-bats either ... I get dizzy.

    Zumaya has been ... well, not in 2006 shape, exactly.

    The two problems with this team appear to be sporadic hitting and the bullpen. Not as deadly as, say, not having a starting rotation, but still enough to keep an otherwise excellent team out of the playoffs.