Friday, September 29, 2006

Are the Tigers Four-Month Wonders?

OK, Kenny Rogers did not pitch well Thursday afternoon against the Blue Jays. It came the day after Nate Robertson did not pitch well against the Blue Jays, either. Justin Verlander reportedly is tired, not so much physically, but mentally. Jeremy Bonderman has pitched a little better lately, but was hardly a rock over the second half of the season. How does Tigers manager Jim Leyland set up his rotation for the playoffs? All of a sudden, none of the choices seems too appealing. This team has provided a lot of excitement this summer. It has been terrific that baseball has come back the way it has in Detroit. But this is also one of the weirdest teams I can ever remember. They are so inconsistent offensively, it is impossible to have any idea when they are going to break loose. The numbers do not lie. The Tigers pitching is obviously excellent, but the pitching is in its own way just as inconsistent as the hitting. Fielding-wise, they make errors at the most inopportune times. I understand how bad the Kansas

City Royals are, and how it is likely the Tigers will pound them like a drum this weekend. I also understand the fickle nature of playoff baseball. That the Tigers may, indeed, go deep into the playoffs. Actually, I have a feeling they will do well in the postseason. It is just sometimes, when I really examine their team, I do not know why. I sit on the fence between thinking the Tigers are overachievers who just happened to get hot for four months, and giving them their due as a talented club with a bright future. They have not played well since July. I knew all about the 1984 Tigers and why they were so good. I knew exactly why the 1987 Tigers won 98 games. This team? Even after 159 games, I have no idea how good it is. The Tigers sterling record suggests one thing. The shabby way they often play another.

Random Thoughts

- I love hockey and cannot wait for the NHL season to open next week. I have a feeling this is the season Henrik Zetterberg establishes himself as the Red Wings next great player.

- I respect Notre Dame and its tradition, but whenever the Fighting Irish have a degree of success, it gets on my nerves. Charlie Weis seems like a nice guy and an excellent coach, but enough already. The Notre Dame head football coach is always overexposed. And lets face it, Notre Dame did not win that football game last Saturday as much as Michigan State lost it.

- It is difficult to feel sorry for someone who squandered more than $300 million. Or for somebody as messed up as Mike Tyson. But I do anyway. I mean he is going on tour to fight four-round exhibition bouts because he is broke. That is pathetic. What is next for the guy? Professional wrestling? Roller derby? "Dancing with the Stars?"


Anonymous Nick P said...

Hey Book,
Well, I said it before, and I'll say it again, tigs are a regular season team, not a playoff team.
I do think they will win the AL Central, we are tied going into 3 with KC while Min has 3 with CWS. We should win this thing. But playoffs are another story. We have good regular season pitching just like we have good regular season hitting. In the playoffs you dont need a strong 1-5 in the rotation, you need a dominant 1,2. Everyone of our pitchers has dominated a game here or there, but none of them are dominant pitchers. I love robertson and think with his bulldog attitude he could will a win and should be the game one starter, but dominant, not even close. Rogers, throwing 88mph is not dominant. Lets go to the power guys. Bonderman, has incredible stuff, but i really want to hear someone convince me that an era over 4 is dominant. Verlander, too many implosions, too young, to be dominant. For a perfect example, of regular season vs playoffs, look at the hou/stl race, it is essentially playoff ball for these teams. compare the starters and who has the momentum right now, nuff said.

Batting - homeruns win in the regular season agianst nonplayoff pitching, but a team that Ks too much and doesn't walk enough will be in huge trouble against the better pitching in the playoffs. everyone wants to see us play oak in the first round. Why?!?! Our lineup against Harden/haren/Blanton. Thats ugly, I'd rather take our chances against NYY's lineup and outslug against Wang/Unit/Moose.
All that being said, i'm loving playoff baseball, hopefully i'm wrong about the tigs chances

8:23 AM 
Anonymous Nick P said...

Its Friday and no Lions comments? Come on, at least give me something!

8:30 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Nick P,
When you think about it, the Tigers really haven't beaten anybody other than the White Sox and the Royals late in the season. And it seems like everybody else is doing in the same thing. I don't know if that is a bad sign for their playoff chances or not. You would think it would be, but like I said in the blog entry, playoff baseball is so fickle. They could come of out of the gate hot.

10:16 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Nick P,
You know, that is a bit strange. I didn't write a column this week about the Lions or post much on the blog about them. Seems like the Tigers are at the forefront now. And, honestly, I don't know how compelling the Lions game with the Rams is. The Martz returning aspect is interesting, I suppose. It's just the Lions have not only lost, but have looked disinterested while doing so. Maybe we've become disinterested in them, too. Corey Bradford getting cut suddenly says a lot. Seemed like they thought he was pretty good. It's another example of poor player evaluation.

10:28 AM 
Anonymous Nick P said...

agree 100%, i'll watch the lions, but as far as emotional involvement, total apathy.

As long as it's football, MSU is very compelling, and I actually find myself rooting for UofM slightly, screw the lions

10:48 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Nick P,
Even an MSU fan has to respect that Michigan team. Seems like it has a chance to be something special. Thing is, can you imagine how big the MSU-UM game would have been if the Spartans hadn't imploded vs. Notre Dame?

10:51 AM 
Blogger Daver said...

I agree 100% about the Tigers. I constantly have to remind myself of what they accomplished in the first half because of the let down. I think we will win the Division, only because of the 3 game set with KC. But wouldn't it be typical of the last 2 months if we were swept by KC, and MN sweeps Chicago. Would a wild card be enough? Perhaps for the fair weathers. But for me, it is a lack of committment to better the offense. Dave D has done a great job assembling the young talent, but what about offense? From the beginning series in KC, they should have known we will live and die by the long ball. Even now when Leyland plays small ball, these professional ball players cause me a ulcer every time a bunt is on because they simply can't do it. What does that say about the Tigers committment to getting better? To me it says volumes. For the same reason that Shaq can't hit a free throw, these guys can't bunt. Lack of preparation is my guess. Small ball is crucial in the playoffs as runs are a premium. I hope they show me just being plain wrong.

12:20 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I don't see the Tigers being swept by Kansas City. I also see a pitching matchup that should favor the Tigers tonight in Minnesota. I respect the Tigers for what they have done to this point. Yeah, the hitting attack is a little suspect. But I predicted they would win just 82 games this season - and thought maybe I was overestimating them. It is an odd dynamic. On one hand, you see how poorly the Tigers have played the last six weeks. On the other, you just want to appreciate what they have accomplished.

2:33 PM 
Blogger I rule said...

For those that didn't appreciate what Polanco brought to the team, the record while he was injured and what he has done since coming back isn't a coincidence. He is a classic two-hole hitter, and I don't see a benefit in having him bat leadoff against lefties. I think Leyland's concern about having Granderson bat leadoff against guys like Santana and Johnson is justifiable -- particularly at this stage of his career. I don't like moving Polanco, however, because the Tigers don't have another hitter who can consistently execute bunts, hit and run, and setting the table for Ordonez and Guillen. I'd rather see Inge or Pudge bat leadoff against lefties, if it's not Granderson.

I'm not particularly worried about Robertson and Rogers. They're experienced pros who compete. They'll keep us in games and give us 6 innings. Bonderman and Verlander I have more concerns about, largely due to inexperience. Ditto for Zumaya and Rodney being able to hold a lead and give Jones opportunities to close out games.

We should win the division given who the Pirhannas are throwing against Chicago -- Bonser, Garza & Baker. The Sox counter with Garcia, Garland, and Vazquez.

2:47 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I Rule,
If nobody knew how valuable Polanco was to the Tigers before he was injured, they do now. That stretch where they didn't have him and Guillen was particularly difficult. What a solid double-play combo.I might move Polanco to leadoff and hit Pudge second. It might make Pudge stay inside himself more and hit to right field. That, seems to me, to be when he is at his best. Granderson has done well at leadoff for awhile. Middle relief is very important in the postseason. So is bullpen depth. Your point about Zumaya and Rodney is particularly valid.

3:06 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. C. Watched the 8th & 9th from Minn. last night. Got the gas pipe out when Kc had 3 o/b n/w/o and did not score. Could not watch anymore. Dam that Minn football now baseball. Your comments Wednesday "do anything any more" How do you think Canada felt when they seen the Russian coming. At least The US has dominated almost all sports except soccer for many years. The basketball loss was surprising. Golf - Their A game come and goes just like the duffers. But at that level a couple strokes a game and you lose. Some luck involved, a player sinks a 50 ft putt. He could putt 50 more from that spot and he may miss 50. Tigers- I always had the feeling that they were not good enough to win it all, NYY are scary but so was St. Louis! What does Las Vegas say? Tyson - "It seems to me ive heard that song before" Vinny

6:18 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

The Yankees are favored, the Mets second and the Tigers third. Don't quote me on this, but I believe their odds 9-2. Personally, I don't think they are that good. I kind of view them as a longshot.

8:31 PM 
Blogger garold said...


First of all, thank you for the kind comments about a true Detroit Tiger, who was blessed with many fond memories of them. Can you even imagine being a actual fan of Charlie Gehringer, Hank Grenberg, Mickey Cockrane, Hal Newhouser, George Kell... and then, witness the next eras beginning with Kaline? Okay... UNCLE, I give; sometimes, you just can't win.

A Menagerie of Thoughts-
Maybe we might have a prayer, if the Oakland Press and the rest of the Detroit media would adopt a former rival, the Browns, as our football team, and force the Lions to relocate; giving us the opportunity for a brand new franchise, like the Michigan Roadkill Raccoons! Just grab a coonskin footstool and relax! I think the Browns will reach the Superbowl decades before the Lions at this pace! Yes, the Bobby Layne curse lives!!! Why did they ever trade him to Pittsburgh anyway???

How many people realize that the Lindell A.C. is all but a memory now? It was even a great place for lunch!

Hats off to you, Book, for the inspiring post-game last night. As Price would say, "WOW"!!! Indeed, no sugar coating! Thanks, I needed that, to shake that one off! That was a HUGE loss, as the Yankees now have been bequeathed home field advantage for the ALCS, and I agree with you about the concept of momentum; what could have been is slipping away by over-managing. I saw this being played out weeks ago... the continuation of games without pitching changes, turning any hope into despair. As I've said before, the Tigers aren't where they are without Leyland, but you nailed... a great manager can have BAD GAMES! Personally, if I had a vote, Manager of the Year would go Gardenhire, and then Leyland. You can't give a pass on the past 48 games, whether the Tigers back-in or not!

Today's game is really academic now; Miner is still a good choice to start, but I want to see Maroth next, and then some Miller. If Bonderman can't win Sunday, the Tigers just don't deserve the Central, and it would be hard winning the Divisonal playoff, whether it be against the A's or the Yankees. If he doesn't have it early, give him the hook, and try Verlander next. Wouldn't it be interesting if Maroth pitched this weekend and dominated? I thought that the announcement regarding his playoff status should have been held back until Sunday night. What was the purpose in that, when it left some of the Tigers demoralized? That made no sense! One way or another, the Tigers MUST win the last two over a Royals team gaining confidence, while they have NOTHING to lose.

Unfortunately, I agree with you regarding Ramon Santiago... sadly, Perez will get the nod. Manager of the Year??? Yeah, if the vote was taken 50 games before the season ends! It's possible, that this season could end on a very sour note.

12:07 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

LOL on the Lions. It is an odd situation I am addressing in my Sunday column in the print edition of The Oakland Press about how there is little fans can do about the situation because of William Clay Ford. I did get on the Tigers a litte bit last night on the postgame show. That wasn't a very good performance against what is basically a Triple-A team. The Tigers had breakdowns all along the chain. A 5-0 lead at home in an important game like that against that club - there are no excuses for losing that one. The Tigers are very lucky the White Sox held on in Minnesota or things would seem much worse right now.

12:36 PM 

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