Sunday, September 17, 2006

Maybe the Twins are just too much

I get it about the Minnesota Twins. How they have the best pitcher in the American League, lefty Johan Santana. I understand perfectly well that Twins first baseman Justin Morneau just might be the most underrated player in the major leagues. I know the Tigers neither have a pitcher the caliber of Santana (who does?) nor a power hitter as capable as Morneau. It is just I still do not feel the Twins are that good. I mean Jason Tyner could not play for Tampa Bay, but he stars for Minnesota? I am still not buying into the concept of Nick Punto. Also, the Twins were brutal early this season. The Tigers got much of their early lead in the American League Central from beating them night-after-night, sometimes by lopsided scores. Yet, every day the Twins keep winning. They lost just one of four games in Cleveland over the weekend - and they nearly won the game they lost. I know Fenway Park is difficult place for road teams, but the Red Sox have faded. I do not see the Twins losing there, either. It means the Tigers have their work cut out in Chicago.

Random thoughts

- OK. Sparty. I admit it. I was wrong about MSU's trip to Pitt. I thought the Spartans were going to lose that game. I was thinking the Spartans are not very good defensively. They played well defensively. As for my contention in Friday's column in the print edition of The Oakland Press that MSU athletics is "wallowing in mediocrity," I still believe that. Winning one game does not change that. Now if the Spartans beat Notre Dame Saturday and, say, win eight or more games this season, it would be different.

- It is amazing just how much better the Saints are by adding quarterback Drew Brees and drafting running back Reggie Bush. Houston was unbelievably unwise to bypass Bush with the first overall pick in the draft. He is a terrific football player.

20 Comments:

Blogger I rule said...

Three wins in five tries against Texas and Baltimore was the equivalent of treading water. We had an opportunity to get things headed in the right direction and rebuild some cushion, so I would call it a disappointment on balance.

We did get some good at bats on Friday and Sunday, but collectively our pitching was miserable. Losing after overcoming a big lead early and catching them with two in the bottom of the 8th is discouraging. That was the type of game that the early season success was built on, but when things aren't going well ...

The next 3 games could either validate our season or send it crashing down. The Sox have been our nemisis all year, so here's a chance to get the monkey off our back and put them out of the post season for good. I think 2 Tiger wins would do them in. My guess is we drop 2, we still control our own destiny, but it's continued teeth knashing.

I'm sorry to say how on the mark you were with Polanco. Guillen is still hurting too. Talk about limping to the finish line.

11:56 AM 
Anonymous Nick P said...

Hey Book,
Well, I read and commented on your MSU print story from Friday. And despite a comeback win that actually showed a little character against Pitt, they have to beat ND. UofM just handed MSU the blueprint on how to do it. I'm afraid we don't have the blitz packages to pressure Quinn like UofM did, but we'll see. But our offense should roll baby. It just seems like our little buddies in ann arbor just took a hornets nest, whacked it with a bat, and threw it into east lansing.
Tigs vs CWS - really looking forward to this series. While I've been worried before, its Sept 18th. We're playing our most serious challenger to get in the playoffs. If we can't take the series, then screw it, we shouldn't be in the playoffs.
Oh yeah, hats off to the maize and blue. Just a dominating performance, well done. (wow, that hurt to type).

lastly, and my apologies Book because i know it annoys you when callers bring this up, about damn time your radio station finally got rid of that steaming pile that was opie and anthony.

12:58 PM 
Blogger ThinkingMan said...

The Twins are a puzzling group. Their talent, beyond Santana, Nathan, Mauer and Morneau, is very mediocre. Minnesota just seems to be one of those organizations that everything works out right for. It's like they have Magic Dust they sprinkle on everyone that puts on their uniform.

I think I Rule's assessment of this series with the White Sox is a bit harsh. The Tigers' season was long-ago validated. They've had an outstanding year no matter what happens from here on out. The fact that they're even in the pennant hunt is a testment to Leyland, Dombrowski and the onions of players like Monroe, Robertson, Verlander, Jones, Inge, MAGGS and Polonco.

12:59 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

the twins have a great pitcher in Santana. Morneau has been great all year, but lets see what he doesn next couple of years before throwing him a bone as a godo player. No what I mean. Not saying he won't, I am just saying you never know. If it is true about Polanco that in my mind is a huge blow. As long as Perez isn't in the lineup except for late innings or if we need to bunt a guy over I think we could be ok in the first round against the A's. If we are stuck playing the Yankees then yes we are in trouble. You'd have to be realistic. Another question I had was could GUillen be a number 1 or 2. I mean besides Polanco taht guy is always on base. To me that is what you want to lead off. I'd put granderson in the 9 whole to take away some pressure. You could go. Just a thought. I know he is an RBI guy, but I feel other guys could drive him in, but if we have a consistent double or triple in GUillen leading off I think It would solve some offensive problems.

Spartans were ok. I think Michigan is the real deal this year. A lot will tell how they handle a guy like Stanton (who in my mind is better then Henne and Quinn) and I think Wisconsin's D- is pretty good matchup. If we take care of business then I can see a OSU/MICH winner goes for the national title loser goes for the Rose Bowl. THis is awesome. I love the college season so far. Some great moments already.

Its funny you mention brees. He only through for 350 yards with a no name receiver and stud back. Not bad. Good thing we took Kitna. Look no knock on the guy. But to me with all the talking, and penalties the lions are the stupidest organization in the league from top to bottom. To me Mike Williams can help this team and should play. He is a big horse who can catch the ball and take hits. We should be using him. You watch a guy like Urlacher. the man is a great player. He always makes game changing plays. Then you watch a guy like Merriman who is a monster and a guy like Ware who only had a few sacks yesterday. But we didn't need them we got Mike Williams. Damn Millen Damn him to hell... hahaha

1:47 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I Rule,
Sorry I didn't post a reply to your comment sooner. Monday was better for the Tigers. Rogers has been terrific. He has turned out to be a true ace. I think he should start the first game of the playoffs if the Tigers get there - and it appears they will one way or another. The one thing is the Tigers still rely too much on home runs. But 90 wins already. Who can complain?
Caputo

11:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Nick P,
Sorry I didn't reply to your post sooner. Monday was a busy day for me. You always make great points and have good insight. I was at Michigan's game against Notre Dame and think the Spartans have a good shot to beat ND. I like the looks of MSU's secondary. They hit people and have better cover skills. Stopping Walker will be the key. Notre Dame's defense is suspect. The Spartans are going to score.
Caputo

11:24 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Thinkingman,
Sorry I didn't reply to your comments sooner. You make a great point about the character of the Tigers. That, too me, is not an issue. This team is mentally tough. It's just that sometimes I am not so sure they're that good. I mean as good as the Yankees or the Twins or the Athletics - the other teams that will likely make the playoffs from the American League.
Caputo

11:29 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
Sorry I didn't reply sooner. The situation with Brees in New Orleans and McNair in Baltimore makes you wonder if the Lions couldn't have done better than Kitna for a QB. He has decent stats, but isn't getting the offense into the end zone.
Caputo

11:36 PM 
Blogger I rule said...

Pat - I agree completely with your comments on Rogers and feeling that he should open for us in the playoffs. He's not only earned it down the stretch, but he's also our only starter with playoff experience.

Thinkingman - You're correct with all the points you made in assessing the season, regardless of whether the Tigers get in. My comment about it validating their season was more about refuting the naysayers who believe they are a fluke team who don't belong in the playoffs.

If the Tigers were to fall out of the post season play it would fuel those sentiments and subject them to a never ending barrage of abuse by becoming a benchmark of historic collapses. No offense intended, Pat, because you are a terrific baseball writer and analyst, but the media and talk radio would be completely focused on losing a 10 game lead rather than their 25 game improvement over the previous season. It wouldn't be fair, but it would unquestionably be emphasized from that perspective.

Last night's win was a big step to ensure that the Tigers and their fans won't have to endure that. Step two will be leaving the Pirhannas to sink their teeth into the Yankess in the first round.

12:49 PM 
Anonymous Chris said...

Pat,

1) What is your take on the Mike Williams saga? Do you think he is a scapegoat, or is he just another guy who got his money but doesnt get it about what it takes in the NFL? I remember even Cris Carter, who had supposedly taken him under his wing was very critical of his work ethic.

2) I bashed the Tigers for signing Kenny Rogers - boy was I wrong. I love watching him throw a game, its great watching a guy who really knows the art of pitching - getting out of jams, working the strike zone. I fully expected him to stink in the second half, and he still may in the postseason, but he has been great for this team.

1:29 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tuesday Sept.19th Finally got access to your blog. The problem must have been on this end. Win one more at Chgo & 1 less team to worry about. Vinny

1:31 PM 
Blogger garold said...

Pat,

One thing baffles me about this series in Chicago. For the life of me, I can't figure out why Leyland didn't set up his rotation better - considering that the ChiSox hit 100 pts. less against left-handers at U.S. Cellular Field. It was great seeing such a strong game from Nate Robertson against the O's, but I would have rather seen them save him for this series in Chicago, and play the odds; besides he's been pitching better than both of the Tigers prized right-handers.

I think we all expected to see Kenny Rogers continue his mastery over the White Sox, and we have the one victory that was essential in this series. So Ledezma and Robertson were wasted against Baltimore, when you could have used Larry, Mo, and Curly. What would be so risky at this point, about throwing Andrew Miller out there tonight? Verlander has been hit at over a .400 pace there! I'm not real optimistic, with Chicago's mighty left-hander sticks chomping at the bit in anticipation. This isn't the time to be content with the Twins breathing down our necks. To me, this is a wasted start tonight; Verlander could be saved for Thursday in Baltimore, since the rotation wasn't set up better last week against a meager opponent, and for the White Sox, who struggle against lefties.

Bonderman is going to have to step up BIG on Wednesday, while the Tiger bats are going to have to be hot the next 2 nights. With all the trouble the Tigers have had in Chicago, you'd think that we would have gone in there this week using any advantage that we had in our favor, and against Chicago, that would be left-hand pitching to stifle their offense.

On Neifi Perez...
Okay, I'll give him some credit for his peformance last night, but I still like Omar better; good job, Neifi!

1:42 PM 
Blogger I rule said...

Book, here's your $64,000 question. Not to put the cart before the horse, but assuming we are in the playoffs, how would you shorten the rotation for a 7 game series?

The 7 game series are 2-3-2 format with days off in between, either beginning at home vs. Oakland or on the road at NY. It would seem like a no-brainer to drop Ledezma from the rotation, and you've already come out for Rogers in game 1. Put yourself in Leyland's shoes and fill in the blanks. Assume that on the last day of the regular season 1st place in the Central is decided and Ledezma pitches, so you're pretty flexible on how you shuffle the guys.

3:52 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Chris,
I question the Lions handling of the Mike Williams situation from this standpoint: In the two preseason games, when they threw him the ball, he made plays. One time, he caught the ball in traffic. The other time, he made a catch in space and got a lot of yards after the catch. Then, they just stopped playing him. To me, this smacks of cutting off their nose off to spite their face. Play your most talented players.
Caputo

4:42 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I Rule,
No offense taken on the collapse issue, but it's not just the media, but the fans as well. And it's understandable from both sides. It would disappointing if they don't make it. You never know when this opportunity will come along again. The Tigers might be better next season and not get in because of circumstances. There would have to be questions about what happened. Yet, even if they don't make it, it must be noted how much improved the Tigers are and how they are set up pretty well for the future.
Caputo

4:46 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Vinny,
It was our bad, not yours. We apologize. If the Tigers win tonight, they will be sitting pretty to get into the playoffs. But I still think they'll be a lot better off winning the division, so the race will still be an exciting one.
Caputo

4:48 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Garold,
Robertson has been pounded by the White Sox in his last two starts against them. He has no answer for them. Their right-handed hitters have killed him. So I don't blame Leyland for not starting him in this series.
Caputo

4:50 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I Rule,
I'd go with a four-man rotation of Rogers, Verlander, Bonderman and Robertson vs. Oakland and Rogers, Robertson, Verlander and Bonderman vs. the Yankees. I'd start left-handers both games to open the series at Yankee Stadium where lefties have more success.
Caputo

4:52 PM 
Anonymous garold said...

Pat,

It's true that Nate has been lit up by the ChiSox his last 2 starts; they were @ The Copa, but he's only allowed 1 run in his only start @ U.S. Cellular Field back in June, while Verlander has been hit much harder, any way you look at it, including that .360 ave. against.

Perhaps it's a hunch thing; I hope it works! Freddie Garcia has had the Tigers' number, and on the surface, Verlander isn't close to being our best match-up against him.

6:20 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Garold,
You may be right. I don't know if there is a right or wrong answer on that one. We'll see how it plays out.
Caputo

8:28 PM 

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