Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tigers/Tribe thoughts: That was damn ugly

Tonight's Tigers loss was bothersome, so I felt the need to say a little something.

As I was hanging out at the Bless You Boys game thread (Check it out on game nights, you'll often find me over there) with some of Detroit's blogging riff raff (Kurt of Mack Avenue Tigers), the game quickly turned ugly for Tigers fans.

Topic 1...

//Big Al said in a Jerry Seindfeldian voice// What's up with Justin Verlander?!

Seriously, what was the matter with Verlander? He couldn't find the plate with a seeing eye dog, GPS, Google Earth and a compass. I've never, ever seen him so wild. You'd have thought the D-Train was on the mound, when no one on the field is safe from taking a fastball to the noggin.

Verlander's velocity was way down as well, down to the point of concern. He was rarely in the 97-98 MPH range, let alone triple digits. Verlander was in the low 90's with his fastball, making it much more hittable. Well, hittable when he was around the plate, which wasn't often.

I'm not overly worked up yet. Verlander was great in his last start, hanging pitch for pitch with the White Sox's Gavin Floyd, who was throwing a no-no for 7+ innings. Verlander pitched better than his stats showed in his first 3 starts. Tonight, he earned an inflated ERA. Verlander, and his damn important to the Tigers' chances arm, bear close watching.

Topic 2...

Anyone get the impression it was going to be a long night when you saw the lineup the Marlboro Man ran out onto the Jake? (I know it has some damn corporate name now, it's still Jacobs Field to me)

Clete Thomas CF
Ramon Santiago 2B
Gary Sheffield DH
Magglio Ordonez RF
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Carlos Guillen 1B
Edgar Renteria SS
Jacque Jones LF
Brandon Inge C

Does that give off a "B" team vibe to you? With Jones, Thomas and Santiago in, and Inge playing his least favorite position, it had the feel of one of Leyland's famous Sunday lineups, where he starts every damn bench player. I know, it's much too early for statement games, and admittedly, there are some injuries to be nursed. But it would have been nice to take every advantage of a Tribe team on a downward spiral, and a struggling Fausto Carmona.

Then again, the Cigarette Smoking Man may have thought he could get away with resting a few regulars with Verlander on the mound. So much for that plan...

Topic 3...

Zach Miner needs to be sent down. Even if it's only temporary. He needs some time in Toledo to get his head together, and hopefully find his stuff. Because he's got neither right now.

I think we all expected more, much more, from Miner. The Tigers had thought enough of his past performance to plan on his pitching in a setup role. Instead, he's become Jason Grilli, but worse. At least Grilli pitches decently on the road. Miner hasn't pitched well at home, on the road, against right or left handers, he's blown everywhere and against everybody.

When the Tigers feel Francisco Cruceta is ready, Miner is number one, with a bullet, to be sent down. Hell, the way he's currently pitching, being sent down may happen even sooner.

The Tigers are slowly finding some trustworthy relievers in the pen. Seay and Jones go without saying. Lopez and Bautista have shown they may be quite capable. Rapada is a question mark, but he's a lefty, and the Tigers want 2 on the roster. We all despise Grilli, but Leyland, God knows why, loves him.

That leaves Miner, who does have a minor league option left, as the odd man out. It may be best for all concerned to let him figure out his issues as a Mud Hen.

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