Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Are The Tigers Living On Borrowed Time?

The Tigers are 10 games above .500. They are right there with Cleveland near the top of the American League Central. Yet, there are some ominous signs. I have wondered, nearly from Day 1 of this season, whether they are winning on borrowed time.
An overreaction? Perhaps. But I can’t help it. What I liked about the Tigers so much last season was their pitching. I am not nearly as impressed with it this season.
The good part about the Tigers is that in April, when they weren’t hitting a lick, their pitching came through for them. In May, when their pitching struggled, they have hit like crazy.
But it is not a good sign that Mike Maroth, in Comerica Park where he should excel, is knocked around like he was Tuesday by the Angels. His ERA is nearly 5.00. The Tigers bullpen is an adventure right now. Is there any reliever on that staff you really trust with a lead right now? Even Todd Jones is shaky of late. And if anybody says Bobby Seay, may I remind them he is, well, Bobby Seay.
It is Jim Leyland’s great strength handling the bullpen, but its shaky at best. All that said, the Tigers nearly pulled out that game Tuesday. They did an excellent job of waiting out Angels starter John Lackey. They nearly rallied in the ninth. The Angels were brilliant defensively. That was the difference. It’s just I don’t like the way the Tigers pitching has been depleted. Supposedly, Jeremy Bonderman will be back in the rotation and pitch on Thursday. He can’t return fast enough. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Andrew Miller eventually takes Maroth’s spot in the rotation. He just brings such better pure "stuff" to the mound.

Random Thoughts

- I hope, deep into the future when his career is done, Tayshaun Prince gets the credit he is due as one of the great playoff players of his generation. The way he clamps down on the NBA’s greatest scorers defensively is unbelievable. No wonder LeBron James was afraid to shoot Monday. Prince deserves more consideration than he has been getting for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award. And Prince is an excellent clutch shooter.

- I have a feeling this is the year when their poor decisions and wasteful spending catches up to the Yankees - and they don’t make the playoffs. They need more than an aging, part-time Roger Clemens to get them out of this jam. The Red Sox are killing the Yanks - and in every way.

- If I am the Red Wings, I’d do everything possible to retain Dominik Hasek. While they did show much more grit this playoff run than during the recent past, if CuJo or Manny Legace were still in net for them, I doubt they get out of the first round - and certainly not the second. Hasek was that big of a differencemaker. He was terrific during the playoffs. And I am starting to wonder if Jimmy Howard is really that good.

- Pavel Datsyuk had eight goals during the playoffs, including the biggest one vs. San Jose during the Western Conference semifinals. And Tuesday night, with the season on the line, he played brilliantly during the third period against Anaheim. So I guess it’s official - Ken Holland did make the right decision by giving Datsyuk a long-term contract just before the start of the playoffs.


Blogger Andrew M. Fanco said...

Byrdak! I guess he hasn't been around long enough to be proven, but he has been awfully good so far. I guess so was Seay...

12:19 PM 
Blogger Fred C. Brill said...


Hasek - please let him go. He is the Roger Clemens of the NHL - But Clemens doesn't do the Rock-Lobster dance in front of the net! It's hard to watch him laying 3 feet past the crease on his back reaching for a puck he can't reach as it slowly trickles in. If he does come back, his tag line should be "I've fallen and I can't get up!"
(Sorry - that's how I see it).

Point about Tayshaun - Yeah - he is great. He raises the level of that team huge. How can a guy who looks so fragile (compared to the common giants of the day - like James) be so amazingly tough on defense.

Tigers - Borrowed time is fine as long as the payments extend beyond September.

Maroth may never be the same after that elbow surgery - building to a climax in a carreer doesn't mean they can pick up where you left off when you come back - but you hope they can. Our guys hitting got him his 4 wins to date.

I like our boys even better, with Sheffield on board. Pitching? Well, we may not be as good as last year (without Rogers, Zumaya, and until today Bonderman) but we are still right there with the best. And Miller deserved a good pat on the back!

Say, last year the 40 (day? / game?)milesone that Sparky used was a hot topic. Has anybody talked about the 40 game mark analysis for this year yet (if so - sorry I missed it).

We're pretty lucky here, Book.
Oh, and THANK YOU KC!!

12:37 PM 
Anonymous lennyw1971 said...

The team is living on borrowed time. The pitching is the total opposite of last year's edition, and it's not just the bullpen. No injuries of note last year (save soft-tosser Maroth)... now almost everyone starter from last year is hurt except Maroth and Justin. The bullpen can slowly improve with newcomer Byrdak here, the possible callup of Miner, and the eventual return of Zoom. But expecting the bullpen ERA to drop quickly is not reality... so everyone will have to deal with top-tier hitting and low-end pitching for most of the season.

As far as Tayshaun goes, let's not get crazy... his personality type screams of a passive, yet knowledgable player, so never expect a 20 point-a-game scorer, but do expect a better-than-average defender, shooter, and passer who understands the team concept and never steps on the toes of teammates.

As far as D. Hasek, the team calls the shots on his next contract, or he should hit the pavement... we have to develop one of the young goalies.

Let's not get crazy as far a Datsyuk goes... he is a tremendous talent who doesn't show up most of the time in the playoffs, but they had to re-sign him or else wonder what they could've had as he excels elsewhere. He's like Sergei as far as the playoffs go, but the signing is justified... just don't expect too much from this delicate flower!

4:27 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew M Fanco,
He has been around for awhile, just not in Detroit. He hasn't had much succuss. But it's a results business. If he keeps throwing the ball like he has for the Tigers, he might have a future afrer all.

4:59 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred C. Brill,
You and I differ on Hasek. I don't think the Red Wings make it past the first round, and certainly not the second one, if not for Hasek. His style is odd, like you say, but he comes up with a lot of difficult saves. Good to see the national team finally giving Prince some love. The Tigers were 24-16 at the 40-game mark. That's pretty good. They need to hang in there, though, and hope to get something from Rogers and Zumaya late in the season. Or Miller comes up and stands out. Without some combination of help from those three late in the season, I don't believe the Tigers can make the playoffs.

5:04 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I thought it was the opposite with Fedorov, that he was better during the postseason than the regular season. I hear what you are saying about Prince. But nobody is saying he is a star, but rather a clutch playoff performer.

5:06 PM 
Anonymous Andy Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

Listening to the Tigers and reading your blog. Great stuff on your blog, not so good on the wireless.

I was just about to chastise you the bloggers about the doom and gloom regarding the pitching staff woes. Grilli finally gave the relief pitching we fans had become accustomed to last season. Then, Jose Mesa has just about given the game away. I-yi-yi. Tim who? Way to leave the tying run stranded on third, Mr. Byrdak!

Yes, the pitching isn't as good as last season. No, the Tigers staff isn't as good as the Bosox's staff. That doubleheader sweep last week was proof positive of that fact. Still, I believe the Tigers staff is the best in their division. I'm sure Yankee fans wish their staff was only as weak as the Tigers.

I'm hoping that Bondo comes back tomorrow afternoon and pitches so loud that it silences all this talk about Andrew Miller. Don't rush the kid! A little success at Erie, a mid-season promotion to Toledo and then, and only then, a September call up.

Roller coaster Jones is at it again! Vladdie's up with runners on. Double play. Jones saves the game. Now what did the Indians, Chisox and Twins do tonight? And tomorrow, baseball fans get to do it all over again. Ain't it Grand-erson?

I hope the Wings sign Hasek just so Cheli isn't the only 40 something year old in the locker room. Worst case scenario, Hasek pulls his groin and the Wings have to use Osgood in goal. If memory serves he was between the pipes in '98 and that was great.

11:05 PM 
Anonymous Andy Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

I, and it seems like everyone else, is forgetting about that bulldog named Nate Robertson. The Wizard of Woodward Ave. just keeps giving him the ball every fifth game. All "Bulldog" Nate does is give the team a chance to win darn near every time he starts. Be interesting to see how he does this weekend against the Tribe.

11:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andy Winkle,
That bullpen is scary. You have to wonder when they will have seen enough of Mesa. Grilli did throw very well Wednesday and Byrdak was a savior striking out Figgins. But it's a good thing Granderson hit that home run. That injury to Zumaya was a killer. Their bullpen was struggling before that, but the injury threw them completely out of whack. They are fortunate to have the record they have right now with that 'pen.

12:01 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andy Winkle,
Two times in one blog...Robertson is just a very good pitcher. I like the way he matches up with Cleveland. The team he doesn't match up so well against is the White Sox.

12:02 AM 
Blogger Andrew M. Fanco said...

I meant long enough in Detroit. I know he has been through a lot of baseball, and has paid his dues.

4:51 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

andrew m fanco,
There are guys like that who come on sometimes. Remember Cliff Politte with the 2005 White Sox.

6:26 PM 
Anonymous brian c said...

Pat, whats the inside on the Troy Percival comeback?

8:05 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I don't have any inside info on that one. To me, it seems like he should just give it up. I can't imagine the Tigers are interested.

3:06 AM 
Blogger Andrew M. Fanco said...

If troy "the money pit" percival pitches for the tigers he should it for free.

10:43 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

andrew m franco,
It was unfortunate Percival was hurt, but I must admit, there is an element of truth to what you say. The Tigers didn't get much out of that investment - and it was a hefty one.

4:14 PM 
Blogger fullcount said...

Icouldn't agree more with your comments on the tiger pitching
situation.I believe it's Miller
time.Bring up Tata,Lopez and Jorge.
Send down Mesa,Seay and Grilli.
Move Durbin to the bullpen.Rogers
is due back soon and when he does
place Maroth to the pen.
What do we have to lose? I was the guy who called in this week suggesting a trade offer of Monroe
and Robertson to Texas for Teixeira.
Marcus could still play leftfield.
I like the idea of Teixiera and
then Guillen in the 5&6 spots both
switch hitters with average and some pop.
By the way for the Rogers and
Miller moves it would mean Byrdak
and another pitcher from the pen.
What are peoples thoughts on this?

7:00 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Who wouldn't want the Tigers to get Teixeira at some point? The question is about cost. He is still signed through next year, so the Rangers don't have to move him this season. They can wait until the off season. He would cost Andrew Miller or Cameron Maybin right now. I agree you about moving out some of the dead wood from the bullpen, but like youngers guys like Trahern, de la Cruz and Jurjjens more - even if they have been starting.

8:00 PM 

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