Friday, July 13, 2007

"Bless you Boys" asks the questions, TWFE has the answers

Most days, I wake up having no idea what I'm going to write about here at TWFE. I'll pound the coffee, sit in front of the PC, and then surf around the series of tubes till inspiration, or something I can "Borrow," strikes...

Often, inspiration doesn't strike till late in the day. When you see a post time stamped sometime in the evening, odds are I was having some sort of writers block.

Today was looking like one of those days... But after reading Kurt's answers to Ian's questions about the Tigers second half issues this morning, well, that was something I could "Borrow."

Let the blog tag commence...

Do the Tigers still need to upgrade at first base, or is Sean Casey's production acceptable, especially considering how many runs this team scores?

Even though the fans may find Casey's production unacceptable, the Tigers seem happy with the limited output they've been getting from The Mayor. Casey does give a couple of things the Tigers had lacked, in that he doesn't strike out, and has plate discipline.

It'd be great if the Tigers would get what you'd normally expect, production wise, from your 1st baseman. That being 30+ HR's and 100+ RBI, but the Tigers have studs (Carlos Guillen) at other positions that make up for Casey's power shortcomings. If Casey's BA continues to hover around .300, along with playing solid defense, and remains a positive locker room presence, I don't see the Tigers doing anything with 1st base. Next year, however...

Will the Tigers make a splashy addition to the bullpen by the end of this month, or are they more likely to try and hang on until Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney come back (hopefully healthy)?

I think they will be buyers at the deadline. You cannot count on Zumaya and Rodney both being A) Healthy and B) Productive, after such long layoffs. It's not as if either had been pitching near their 2006 form before their respective injuries. Both struggled with command. To think that they can quickly get that command back is the orange and blue colored glasses view of things.

Another reason Dave Dombrowski will pick up a reliever is to keep Cleveland or Boston from acquiring whomever is being targeted, be it, to name 3 players who are regarded as available, Brad Lidge, Akinori Otsuka, or Eric Gagne. Sometimes the best move is preventing your opposition from making one.

Who scares you more: The Indians or Twins?

The Twins never seem to go away, and I'm sure they will hang around all season long, but the Indians scare me more. They have a legit Cy Young candidate in C.C. Sabathia, and an offense that is comparable to the Tigers. God forbid if Travis Hafner turns it up another notch. If he gets hot, he could carry the Tribe for several weeks.

Cleveland's having one of those seasons where most everything is breaking their way. They are going nowhere, and the Tigers have good reason to be wary.

Is there another team the Tigers should be worried about, as a wild card competitor (Mariners, Yankees)?

I don't see either team mentioned being a major threat. There are 4 teams that are the class of the American League, if not all of MLB. Boston, Cleveland, LA, and Detroit. Everyone else is a step down. I'd be more worried about the Twins, than anyone else.

Will Magglio Ordonez win the AL batting title? (Or would you prefer to see him hit for some more power?)

No and yes. He's going to have a monster season knocking in runs, and could lead the league in doubles, but I don't think a batting title is in his future. I can't see Ordonez keeping his average in the .370 range, he's just not that sort of hitter. I'll venture a guess that he ends up in the .330 range, which is still damn impressive for a cleanup hitter.

I'd like to see Magg's HR total rise, but as long as he's knocking in runs at a 130 RBI clip, you can't really complain.

Speaking of Maggs, will he win the AL MVP? Or if Gary Sheffield continues to hit as he has, might he leapfrog Maggs in voters' eyes?

I can't see Sheffield gaining MVP momentum. He's made too many enemies in the media. You know he's bound to say something controversial in the 2nd half of the season, it's how he rolls.

It'll be hard to ignore the crooked numbers Alex Rodriguez in putting up, but the MVP rarely goes to someone on a team that isn't in the postseason. That's why Ordonez is in the MVP drivers seat. If Ordonez continues as he has been, and ends the season with, let's say, a .330+ average, 25 HR's, and 130 RBI, on a team that makes the playoffs, Magglio will be the MVP favorite.

Can Curtis Granderson break the AL record for triples in a season (26)?

No, but it will be fun as Hell to watch Granderson try. Triples are such an oddball, fluky, random thing, to have 15 at the break is unexpected, if not unprecedented, in an era of small ballparks and juiced balls.

In his favor, Granderson does play in a park that is conducive to triples, but I really have to think that the record will remain safe. I'll throw out a guess and say he ends up with 20, which would still be an impressive achievement.

Will Nate Robertson still be in the Detroit starting rotation by the end of the season?

Yes, as he has Jim Leyland in his corner, and Robertson is a better pitcher than he's shown in the past 6 weeks. He proved as much in 2006, so I'm giving Robertson the benefit of the doubt. You also have to consider the fact that Andrew Miller is going to watched very closely by the Tigers' brass, and will likely be on a strict pitch and innings count. Much like Justin Verlander in 2006, I would not be surprised to see Miller skip a few starts later in the season.

So for that reason, along with the fact that Leyland is loyal to veterans, sometimes to a fault, Robertson will remain in the rotation. I do think that Robertson may be trade bait in the offseason, but that's another post.

Is there someone in the minors now - pitcher or batter - who will make a notable contribution to the Tigers this season?

I don't really see anyone currently in the system contributing this season. There are no position players ready, period. Even hotshot prospect Cameron Maybin looks to be a couple of seasons out. Pitching is a different story, as there appears to be some big league ready arms in Toledo and Erie. One or more of those arms may make a difference, but it will be as trade bait, not on the mound pitching for Detroit.

I honestly think, barring catastrophic injury or the bullpen totally imploding, we aren't going to see anyone from the minor leagues till September.

Ian, your turn to answer your own questions...

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