Friday, September 22, 2006

Just how good Is Magglio?

I was at the Tigers game in Baltimore Thursday and I have to admit to coming away from it a little perplexed about Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordonez.
In his first at bat, he crushed a high line drive down the left field line that hit the foul pole for a home run. It was his fourth home run in four games. After that, though, he did not put good swings on the ball at all - including when he came up flat with the bases loaded and one out during the fifth inning. His numbers are easily the best of any Tigers hitter. Yet, there is no other player that has been a bigger source of frustration for Tiger fans. I have mostly defended Ordonez. I think he is a very good player. But having said that, I do feel he will have to stop fading in and out with his production and become a more steady influence in the middle of the Tigers lineup if they are going to advance deep into the postseason. It's also noticeable he has hit his home runs recently at U.S. Cellular Field and Camden Yards - two of the smaller ball parks in the American League. Ordonez has hit only eight home runs at spacious Comerica Park compared to 16 on the road.

Random thoughts

- Usually I am not much for the rah-rah stuff having much influence on the outcome of a college football game. But I do feel Notre Dame will be motivated by MSU planting a flag at Notre Dame Stadium last season following the Spartans victory. That was a bush league move by the Spartans and Notre Dame has every right to be upset by it, and use it as a motivational tool.

- I know Fernando Rodney's numbers are pretty good, but there does seem to be a major difference between him and Joel Zumaya. I wonder if Jim Leyland will consider bypassing Rodney at times during the postseason and going to Zumaya on back-to-back days.

19 Comments:

Blogger I rule said...

Rodney and Zumaya are similar in that they both have one devastating pitch that they seem to have pretty good command of -- Zumaya's fastball and Rodney's changeup. The problem is that you don't see major league pitchers that can get by on one pitch. Zumaya's edge is that there are a number of major league hitters that can't touch his gas even though they know it's coming. It's also dominating enough that he can get by without great command of his slider. I don't think any hitter can sit on his slider, the way they can Rodney's changeup.

If Rodney can't consistently throw his fastball for strikes, as was the case yesterday, his changeup is much less effective. His change is his out pitch, but he needs to use the fastball to get the count in his favor to setup the change. I'll give Mora some credit for a great at bat to win the game, but it was Rodney's lack of command with the fastball that made it the difference in the game. The winning run was put on with one wild fastball, and it was moved into scoring position with another.

10:34 AM 
Blogger ThinkingMan said...

The difference between Zumaya and Rodney is that Joel throws more strikes ... or at least he seems to. I like Rodney, but sometimes he slips into Franlyn German mode, and that's scary. He needs a third pitch, too, like a slider. I can't recall a pitcher who had better control of his changeup than fastball.

As for Maggs, agreed. A single yesterday in that situation probably secures a win. I fear that if the Tigers don't win the Division, this is the game they'll look back at and know they should've won.

11:17 AM 
Anonymous garold said...

Pat,

Magglio has indeed been making better contact, and he's looking healthier. Hopefully, there will be a few more blow-outs, as the extra rest he's been getting seems to have been helpful. I don't get dismayed about his lack of homerun power at home. Just as long as he's driving the ball there, he'll be making the contributions the Tigers need. The past 48 hours has had to been a big drain on the team, with the quick flight to Baltimore, knowing that after the makeup game, they'd be off again to K.C.

Rodney hasn't been real reliable his past 3 outings, giving up runs in each. The bullpen has recently been alllowing runners on the basepaths,other than Jones. Rodney might be more effective if he was by-passed occasionally, and Zumaya does has the arm to go more than 1 inning, in a tight game. I'm with you on this one. This is just an impression, but it seems Rodney is most effective when brought into a game in the midddle of an inning; don't know if the stats bear that out though. During the playoffs, we'll also have at least one extra starter to throw a couple if needed, so take that leash off the Monster!

No one has stepped up yet to take the 11th spot on the pitching staff? Maroth has been used in long relief twice, but had a terrible last outing. While Miller has giving up only 1 hit in his last 3, he has walked 5, with zero SO. Zach Miner has been so-so, but Grilli has had the worst WHIP of all of them this month, with 2 SO, 4 BB, 12 H, and 7 ER in his last 7 INN. I'd like to see more Miner/Maroth in more middle relief the rest of the season. They need to find out who is going to help them the most, and whether Grilli is going to snap out of it.

11:54 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr.C.- Magglio - Funny i was wondering what his home and road recond was for HR. Personally i thought he hit 30, wrong again.- It seems to me he swings at some bad pitches. His topped grounders don't seem to get through. That is my opinion but who am i. 100 rbi! "It's hard to win a pennant, but it's harder losing one." Chuck Tanner Vinny

3:24 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I Rule,
You're right on target about Rodney. His changeup is great when he sets it up with a high 90s fastball early in the count. He has to throw that fastball for a strike. If there is a problem with his changeup, it's that he sometimes hangs it. But it matters much less when he's working 0-2 or 1-2. Even up in the zone, it's a good pitch in that count. It's when he hangs his change when the count is even or he is behind in the count is when Rodney gets in trouble.
Caputo

5:42 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Thinkingman,
I covered the game in Baltimore and had the same impression as you. They let that game slip away. It should have been a win - especially when they jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Caputo

5:44 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Thinkingman,
I covered the game in Baltimore and had the same impression as you. They let that game slip away. It should have been a win - especially when they jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Caputo

5:44 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Garold,
That last reliever spot for the postseason should be interesting. Personally, I would go with Maroth because he is a pretty cool customer who is left-handed. Oh, and he has good success against the Yankees.
Caputo

5:46 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Vinny,
Mags swing is weird. Sometimes he hits one-handed or something. He buggy whips the ball. You can't argue with the results, but I guess I can see where sometimes fans don't have that much confidence in him despite his numbers.
Caputo

5:48 PM 
Anonymous Rob said...

Rodney may never find the command he needs to be a consistent set up guy in the league. Leyland should continue to use him, because when he is right, he is very good, but Jimmy should keep a very short leash on him. If his command is not there facing the first couple hitters, it usually doesn't magically appear. Rodney got that off speed pitch up in the zone to Mora, and Mora didn't miss. Perhaps Leyland should have noticed earlier that Rodney didn't have it that day.

7:41 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I tell you what caputo I think MSU will still come away with this win. I just think Notre Dame is an ok/Good not a Good/Great type team. I think Stanton will outplay QUinn and swap positions in the Heisman hunt run.

I think Magglio's problem in my mind all year is he is just not a number 4 guy in the order type guy. Yeah the guy is a very good player. I think the addition of Polonco would help out. I just think next season if we can get a big bopper and put Mags in the third or fourth slot. He will be much more consistent. Which in my mind will make this lineup 100 times better. I really think we have a lot of nice peices via the farm system and Dombrowski bringing in young guys. We just need to fill in a couple of blanks. But that is next year. I really think the tigers if they can hold on to the division. Play Oakland. I don't see the ACLS out of sight. The yankees are the team to beat. But if are pitching can hold up who knows.

Rodney is a concern. He has been shaky all year in my mind. Even know his numbers are ok. Just it seems everytime I see him he is getting whacked around. I like Zumya. I have a quick question. How come Brandon Inge isn't in the running for a gold glove. He has put up very good numbers and has been just as good if not better then anyone at 3rd.

10:55 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
I made my pick for the print edition of The Oakland Press and did go with MSU. It will depend a lot on how much pressure MSU can put on Quinn. Michigan's defensive line is outstanding. They were in his face all day and stopped the run. Who says Inge isn't in the running for the Gold Glove? The managers vote on it and he did well (I think he placed third as American League defensive third basemen) in the Baseball America Tools survey, which done by the managers.
Caputo

11:12 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Rob,
He did notice right away that Rodney wasn't sharp, and knew Mora hit a home run off Rodney in the past, but didn't want to use Zumaya Thursday. It never should have gotten to that point, though. The Tigers had the bases loaded with no one out in the fifth and didn't score. That's where they lost that game. Fortunately for them, it went better Friday in KC.
Caputo

11:15 PM 
Blogger garold said...

Playoff Greetings Patrick!

Okay... it's getting close though, but still much work to do, and some luck to fall our way. The Yankees need to lose one more against TB, and hopefully, Oakland will lose one to the Angels. The Twins are now in that mini-slide I felt coming, and it'd be great to see the O's extend it another 2 games. Chicago has been the big mystery, but I think they'll win the next 2, to set up a real intersting final week of the season. I'm greedy. I still want the Chisox to take the Wildcard, beat the Yankees in the Division series, and the come to The Copa to take their SPANKING! Yes, I know you have to maintain an appearnace of sanity, but I'll bet deep down inside, you'd enjoy seeing the Tigers stomp their way to the World Series over the backs of Chicago! I still love to hate Chicago sports teams, and one of my favorite memories of all-time, is the day Dick McAuliffe stoled home in the 9th inning TWICE, to win both ends of a doubleheader! So, go White Sox... we deserve to beat you more!

We'll have a tough opponent in Toronto for 3 games, while the Twins will be beating up on the Royals for 4 games at home. The series with the Blue Jays will be most pivotal, and we need to win to stay ahead of the A's, and the Twins, while taking over top spot in the AL from NY, who get the resurgent O's next in the Bronx, and setting the rotation for Oct 3rd. That begins with tweaking the rotation against Toronto, while giving the Tigers the best shot at winning that series. The Jays are ranked 2nd in hitting in the AL, and #1 against left hand pitchers. There isn't a big drop-off against right handers. Bonderman falls naturally into Game 1, and Rogers is going to have to pitch Game 3, in order to be scheduled to pitch the first playoff game. Verlander makes the most sense for Game 2, and then Robertson could begin the final series with the Royals, and still be available for Game 2 of the playoffs. Bonderman could be used for the final game, which I think they'll need to secure something or another.

I agree with you that Maroth belongs on the upcoming roster; with Ledezma and Verlander going to the pen for the playoffs, the question becomes, Grilli or Miner for the last spot?

You never know... Leyland may go with a 10 man staff, just to keep Neifi on the roster. *LOL*

I've enjoyed your commentary all season, Book, and it just keeps getting better. There have been a few real nut cases surfacing on the airwaves, and I appreciate that you have the knowledge to call them out, unlike some of the other sports shows. One night last week, some guy was actually ranting about Leyland's constant use of Perez in the leadoff, and the host said nothing. I'm sure I speak for many, and finding this blog gives me the opportunity to say THANKS on behalf of Tiger fans.

1:28 PM 
Blogger John M said...

Pat,
Another Groves graduate here. I agree with your thinking on Fernando Rodney- we saw another example in that Baltimore game that he is not in the same leauge as Zumaya. Joel constantly calls himself a bulldog, and that's exactly the kind of pitcher that thrives in the playoffs. Also, if Rodney can't make that fastball work, I don't care how good that changeup is, he's not going to be effective.
I also agree with you about Maggs- he's on fire recently, but he's very hit or miss (literally). I'd love to see some consistency come out of those 14 million he's getting payed.
I also had a question for you Pat. I saw that you think that they should use a four man rotation for the playoffs, but that is not so likely. What three would you use? I'd love to use Robertson, but i'm keeping Bonderman's composure in big games and he and Verlander's ego in mind. Young pitchers seem to become damaged goods when they feel like their teams have lost faith in them. What do you think? I love the blog, and the show on WXYT. Thanks a lot

3:40 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I apologize I didn't know if he was or he wasn't in the running. I just think he deserves it because he has been outstanding. Especially all the scruitiny. I don't think 3rd base is our problem. Unless you get A-Rod. Tiger fans should be greatful for him at 3rd base because he is a good talent.

Also man what did I say I knew MSU would pull this one out. ND looked awful again. Last year they played on emotion and this year I thought they would come back to reality and be realy subpar. MSU is ok. Stanton is awesome. But reality is ND isn't that good.

Michigan on the other hand. Henne is very under rated. Manningham is continuing the tradition of great receivers at michigan. Hart what can oyu say. I do think the lack of a second receiver may hurt MI in the long run, but not much. GGood stuff from everybody this weekend. Lets just hope the lions can join in at some point with the rest of the Detroit sports nation.

11:21 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I feel like a major A*S now. THis is what I get for posting at halftime. MSU should be a shame of themselves. John L. Smith should go shove himself in a locker and stay there the rest of the year. What a disaster. That team has blown more big games. To mea that should be the measuring stick when John L. gets fired.

10:12 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

John M,
Always good to hear from somebody from Groves. It would be a tough call going to three pitchers. I'd probably go with Robertson over Bonderman against the Yankees, and definitely Bonderman over Robertson vs. Oakland. I like the idea of left-handers pitching at Yankee Stadium. Bonderman seems to have Oakland's number.
Caputo

1:42 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
I wouldn't fret too much about thinking MSU was going to win that game when it had that big lead. I did. too. I had to rip up my entire column right on deadline - Notre Dame's comeback was so swift. To me, that is one of the true low points in MSU football history. It might be the crossroad that costs John L. Smith his job. If they had won that game, with Illinois, Indiana and Northwestern being so bad, it was probable MSU would have a nine-win season. Now, anything is possible.
Caputo

1:47 PM 

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