Friday, May 16, 2008

EVERYBODY PANIC!!! - The cards are on the table edition

I've tried to remain level headed about the Tigers' abysmal start. Honestly, I've tried. Getting swept by the Royals in totally mundane, run-of-the-mill fashion was the final straw. After 6 weeks of being witness to bad hitting, awful pitching, and even worse defense, I've come to a decision.

It's time to panic!

This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill. We are at DEFCON 1.

All is not well with the Tigers. The season is inexorably slipping away. They aren't just in last place in the central, they have the 4th worst record in all of baseball, 2nd worst in the American League. This team is broken, and I'm not sure if it can be fixed.

The Tigers are currently a BAD team. I don't see what they can do to pull out of this, as all their cards have been played. Let's run through the deck...

Release a player? Jacque Jones was waived. Hasn't helped, other than allowing Matt Joyce and Ryan Raburn to get some playing time.

Bring up help from the minors? Armando Galarraga helped stabilize a struggling rotation, Ryan Raburn has been productive in limited action, Matt Joyce has been the Tigers only source of home run power for the past 2 weeks, and Clete Thomas filled in ably while Curtis Granderson was injured. The young players have done their part, the veterans, on the other hand...

A clubhouse blowup? Jim Leyland went off like an H-Bomb a couple of weeks ago. It gave them a very short term lift, but they have now backslid. This is one card you can't go to very often, as the layers will end up tuning you out.

Lineup change? Carlos Guillen is now a 3rd baseman. Miguel Cabrera is a 1st baseman. Gary Sheffield was moved down in the order. Left field is now filled via committee. It really hasn't done much other than improve the defense slightly. Offensively, Guillen has cooled after his fast start, Cabrera is in a massive slump, Sheffield can barely swing a bat, and production in left has improved, but it wasn't the Tigers' biggest issue to begin with.

Bench a player? Other than Gary Sheffield becoming a part time player (And his health being a black cloud over the Tigers), who would you sit? Seriously, who would you bench? There is no one to bench. Not with a roster full of current and past All-Stars, all making big money. The Tigers have to play who they have, and hope for the best.

Play more small ball? Please. Small ball is overrated. You don't give up outs, playing for 1 run at a time, when you have a team struggling at the plate. For that matter, you don't play small ball when you have a lineup of historically .300 hitting smashers. The Tigers need to hit home runs to win. It was true in 2006, and remains true today.

A trade? Out of the question for the time being. The trade deadline is 10 weeks away. Even worse, the Tigers are full of players with either little value to another team, saddled with an untradable contract, or a combination thereof. For example, Sheffield has literally no value to other teams with his shoulder issues, and his contract is massive, with 1 more year left.

Fire a coach or coaches? Even with the calls for pitching coach Chuck Hernandez's head, it won't happen. Leyland would walk first. Would it make a difference anyway?

Fire the manager? I think Leyland would resign before Dave Dombrowski would ever give his manager the ziggy. The only wild card in this being Mike Ilitch. He cannot be happy right now, paying $138 million for a last place team. He may demand someone be held accountable. You can't fire the players, so...

So what's left? After going through the cards already laid, it appears there's none left to play. To continue the allusion, the Tigers only hope may be a wild card (I'm not talking about THE wild card, as the playoffs are the last thing on my mind). What that card might be, I have no idea.

As to what the Tigers can do at this point of the season, there really isn't much. We knew back in December what the roster was going to be. We also knew the Tigers had gone all in, win or go bust.

I hate to say it, yet I've had to say it repeatedly, the Tigers have what they have. Period. Unfortunately, we have to face the facts the Tigers may have a losing hand, and are unable to bluff their way out of it. As we are now 6 weeks into the season, with 25% of the games played, the Tigers will have to play their hand through to the end, and hope to catch a few breaks.

It's time to panic in Detroit.

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