Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Heart of The Tigers

The Tigers were playing Toronto down here in Lakeland on Tuesday when it dawned on me one of the reasons they are so good. Carlos Guillen was at the plate. Remember him? He had an MVP-caliber season last year. He came up with important hit after important hit. He played very well defensively. He provided quiet, but effective leadership in the clubhouse.
Guillen’s average wasn’t quite as high, but in every other category he was nearly as good as Derek Jeter in 2006. Nobody talks about him, though. But once the season begins, there is no more important player on the Tigers. What a great trade Dave Dombrowski made to get Guillen. What an astute move it was to sign him long-term (three years, $14 million). How important it is that Dombrowski sign Guillen again. Why? Because he is the heart of the Tigers.

Random Thoughts

- Oakland University turned in a great effort before falling just short against Oral Roberts in the Mid-Con tourney title game Tuesday. I know they draw great crowds there, but it is an extremely unfair situation to be holding the tournament on Oral Roberts’ home floor. The court was anything but level for OU. This season, the Golden Grizzlies were the third-best team Division I team in the state behind only Michigan State and Michigan. That’s significant progress.

- It'll mean a lot if the Lions are able to sign a really good free agent that isn’t a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer or St. Louis Ram - and doesn’t play defensive line. But it doesn’t seem like free agents are buying what the Lions are selling, which is a bunch of nothing.

- A pet peeve: Spring training ball parks that look like regular season stadiums. Legends Field in Tampa is so big, it just lacks the usual spring training charm.

11 Comments:

Blogger Craig said...

I agree with evertying you say about Guillen except that he played VERY well defensively. He led the league in errors and defense is not one area of his game that anyone would consider a strong bargining point. Adequate would be a more accurate description.

9:57 AM 
Anonymous Brian said...

He did have a rough year in the field last year but he has a track record as a very solid fielder in the past so I don't think Pat was off base with his comment. Errors is just one measure of how good a particularly fieder is. By a lot of metrics, Brandon Inge is at the top of the third base heap but he makes his share of errors. It'll be interesting to see if it was the dings that slowed Guillen down or if it's just age.

Pat - where would you put the Carlos Guillen trade historically? Would you consider it the best ever? I know that's hard to quantify but it definitely has to be top five. The Placido Polanco deal might be top ten.

12:01 PM 
Blogger royaloaklobo said...

BBook,

Caught the OU game last night and was entertained more than most college games I see on TV these days. Good point on the location of the game, the Mid Con, and the Big Ten for that matter could benefit from rotating the game around to different locations. The Big Ten can't come to Detroit after the World Series, All Star, and Super Bowl Games?! One more thing, University of Detroit and Oakland offer the best deal in town for sports, 10 dollars to see Division One hoops and the games are over in about 2 hours. More local coverage by the electronic media (instead of canned bloopers) would help both of these programs succeed.

1:10 PM 
Blogger royaloaklobo said...

Book,

Caught the OU game last night and was entertained more than most college games I see on TV these days. Good point on the location of the game, the Mid Con, and the Big Ten for that matter could benefit from rotating the game around to different locations. The Big Ten can't come to Detroit after the World Series, All Star, and Super Bowl Games?! One more thing, University of Detroit and Oakland offer the best deal in town for sports, 10 dollars to see Division One hoops and the games are over in about 2 hours. More local coverage by the electronic media (instead of canned bloopers) would help both of these programs succeed.

1:10 PM 
Anonymous David said...

Craig your dead wrong. Although he made more than his share of errors he is smooth at shortstop. The guy (a year removed from knee reconstruction) had the fourth most assists in the American League behind Michael Young, Aaron Hill and Jhonny Peralta. The guy is fluid.

My only problem is that sometimes he double clutches. But he was and still is our best hitter, and our smartest base runner. The guys got great contact, solid power (40 doubles, 19 hrs), and solid speed (20 steals) very good plate discipline (71 walks)

Month to month his OPS improved, and rivals Polanco with runners on base.

I think he was Dombrowski's best move, with the signing of Kenny Rogers coming in at a close second.

He's had his share of duds though and Magglio falls under that category, an MVP type contract for a solid hitter and a terrible outfielder. And for anyone who thinks he can field, we sit right behind him and I watch him not make plays that I could make and it makes me sick. Still, if I were Magglio I would have taken the contract and I hope he stops doing what Leyland says he does (plays conservatively.)

Pat I'd like to know your take on Curtis Granderson's swing. It’s really long, and I was wondering if they could make him shorten it up into a Jeff Bagwell type. It would help him hit sliders, splitters, changeups etc.
I've always thought that an Ichiro type hitter (mr. contact) would really benefit the Tigers and set the table for their offense. I hope Grandy can just put more balls in play and have opposing defenses work. Sorry that was long, so do you think they'll try tinkering with his swing?

Thanks,

And I love listening to your post game show during the season!

-David

5:13 AM 
Blogger Craig said...

david--I never said anything about not being a good hitter or base runner, merely pointing out the fact that he did not play VERY well defensively..adequate at best. If you asked all the GM's in the league, I would bet they put him in the lower half of fielding shortstops. Again, that is saying nothing of his hitting, baserunning, etc.

11:04 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Craig,
I believe he is underrated defensively. He does make some strange errors shifting the ball from his glove to throwing hand, but he makes more good plays than bad ones.
Caputo

2:48 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Royaloaklobo,
The Big Ten Tournament would draw well here, but the Mid Con would be a tough sell. Oakland is starting to establish a fan base, but it is still relatively small. Playing that tourney at The Palace would be a disaster. I could, however, see the Big Ten Tournament being a perfect fit for The Palace.
Caputo

2:50 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

David,
Thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it. Granderson does have a long swing, but his biggest problem is recognizing pitches. He just doesn't do that very well and that's a talent more than something that can be worked on.
Caputo

2:52 AM 
Blogger Craig said...

Pat-I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding the chances of Andrew Miller making the club out of Spring Training? It strikes me that it is very similar to the Zumaya situation last year...even some of the comments from Leyland are similar.

8:18 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Craig,
Miller will start the season at Lakeland and then move to Erie when the weather warms. Last season, the roster spots were more wide open. This season, they are pretty much set. That limits Miller's chances greatly of making the big club out of camp.
Caputo

6:36 PM 

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