Monday, May 28, 2007

How Do The Tigers Pick Up The Pieces?

No team is perfect. No season is, either. Losing streaks happen. I understand. That isn’t the point about the Tigers right now. Failure, the real kind, hasn’t been part of their equation this season. But then again, isn’t that what made getting swept by the Indians this weekend painful? This was a test, the Tigers first real one of the season. In front of sellout crowds at Comerica Park, they came up woefully short. Most of the reason was the bullpen. Close games and they weren’t able to hold in there. But they had other chances. They didn’t deliver in the clutch at the plate on those chances. The Indians made more of their opportunities. It was that simple. The season is still young. We’ll see about the Tribe. The thought they are this season’s version of the Tigers of 2006 is still a stretch. They lack range and are weak behind the plate defensively. Their bullpen is suspect. I still think the Tigers are a better team. But I do think the Tigers must remember what got them turned around. To me, it was last spring when Jim Leyland decided the best fit was the talent of Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya. Keeping them to start the season was a catalyst for the Tigers. I would like to see the Tigers do more of that this year by giving chances to some of their pitching prospects in the minor leagues. Dallas Trahern, Eulogio de la Cruz and Jair Jurrjens have all pitched well. They have been in the Tigers system for a few years. It doesn’t matter if they are starting, they have ability and it should be tested in the major leagues, even as relievers. I’d hate to see the Tigers become one of those teams, because they are contending, that relies too much on veteran players just because they have experience. Their mix between younger and older players is good. They shouldn’t be afraid to trust their minor league system. They should embrace it. The sooner, the better.

Random Thoughts

- I like Ottawa in six games in the Stanley Cup Finals. I think the Senators’ snipers, particularly their No. 1 line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson will expose Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s relative lack of agility. He is getting way too much credit for the Ducks’ success. I expect Ray Emery to outplay him in the finals.

- When is there going to be some hatred in the Pistons-Cavaliers series? The series is missing the intensity of the Pistons’ series with Miami and Indiana during the past. And that is especially true compared to the Bad Boys version of the Pistons’ series with the Celtics and Bulls. It is perplexing because the two teams have already played a seven-game series - just last year.

- I haven’t heard any Tiger fans clamoring for Brent Clevlen to be Magglio Ordonez’s personal defensive replacement during the late innings. In fact, I haven’t heard one Tiger fan this season say anything bad about Mags. Gee, wonder why?

18 Comments:

Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, I think it is hard to build a real rivalry with Cleveland in any sport. You would think it would be easy building one with us competing with the Cavs and Indians. But Cleveland people are just so nice and Cleveland is really nice. They haven't won anything in a long time.It is great going to Cleveland for games. It is so easy to hate the Yankees, White Sox and even Red Sox now. Their fans can be obnoxious and they are the media darlings. I have never heard more booing than when the Yankees came in for the ALDS last year. When they introduced the Yankees individually before Game 3, we booed everyone loudly, from the equipment manager to the bat boy. Same when Randy Johnson left the game.

You are right about the "talent over experience" in the pen. Give these young guys form the minors a chance. I want to see Trahern and the others who have good numbers in the minors. The veterans up here now are not capable of pitching lights out in the 7th and 8th. That is exactly what Leyland said yesterday in the pre-game interview (but not exactly in those words.) Check out the interview, if you didn't hear in on WXYT. They must be thinking about a move somewhere.

Marv Albert said “yes!” after all the Lebron baskets and most of the other Cleveland baskets down the stretch. Gave some credit to the Pistons but never the trademark “Yes!”

Cheers,
Danny

11:45 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
True. We share so much with Cleveland. It is a good place. The people are nice and down to earth. They get a raw deal in terms of perception - like us. But man, there is so much at stake in the Pistons-Cavs series. Yet, it seems to lack some intensity.
Caputo

12:24 PM 
Blogger Fred C. Brill said...

Book,

Ouch, this weekend hurt. I expected a game out of the 3. I think we have been pulling from Toledo and Erie. I agree that this is our first true failure this season. The Red Sox taking 2-3 was not exactly a failure.

As for this Pistons - was on the train to Toronto for this one - and I am sorry I missed it. The highlights make it look like James just plain walked through our guys - the collaps wasn't collapsing?

In Toronto right now it's all Senators. These guys didn't pay enough attention to how the Ducks beat the Wings. If the Senators aren't careful I think they might underestimate the Ducks - and find themselves down a quick 2 games to none. But the real news up here is that a journalist for the Globe and Mail couldn't walk down the street and find one pedestrian who even knew the name of one Duck - or even what the score of the series was (0-0) in the Stanley Cup. Why, oh why - do they put teams in those markets?!!

PS - The Tribe of 2007 is the Tigers of 2006 - on paper only. We will get that lead back. Cleveland will hit a cold spell like they did with KC!!

Your the Man

1:23 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pistons are the Pistons. They don't respect the Cavs. Actually they don't really respect anyone. They may not be as good as they think they are/or they may be. Same with the fans. Until Cleveland beats us, there will be no rivalry.

Danny

2:49 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred C. Brill,
I have been to Southern California a lot and like it, but I do hope Ottawa wins the Stanley Cup. It's a wonderful city with a great hockey tradition. It would matter a lot more there. I am suprised they aren't more in tune with the Cup finals in Toronto. I find that disappointing. The Ducks have some pretty big names.
Caputo

8:01 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
You might have a walid point there. Tuesday will be telling one way or another.
Caputo

8:02 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I tell you what dude you guys got loads to talk about these days.

Lets make it easy. The Wings what was everybodies prediction at the beginning of the season for this team, remember? I think the exceeded expectations. I think a healthy kronwall and schneider might have made the difference, but the ducks had one hell of a blue line and that is why they won. I do think the wings are set up nicely for next year so I am not worried or disappointed.

Lions = um what else can you say anymore.

Pistons = I tell you what they may just win this series, but they are making me a firm believer as time goes on that they will not do crap in the finals. You know what I miss about L.B. was when Billups or Hamilton start playing one on one, sloppy, disenchanted basketball. He would pull them a side and say WTF (in nicer words probably) are you guys doing. Slow them down and boom they turn it back on. Flip needs to find that motivation that wick to light under this team to get them back to the first 6 games of the post season.

Now on to the Tigers. I think now is the time to pitch a real argument. There are some major leaks in this team. Mainly the bull pen. Ok I undestand what Leyland said. However, what is the starters and the rest suppose to do give 10 run leads going into the 6, 7, 8 and 9th all the time. Jones has blown like 5 saves this year already. 2 were against the Royals, and Devil Rays. It is not like we were talking quality ball clubs like Boston or Cleveland. Even a lot of his saves have been extremely close calls. I can see us missing Zumya. However, Rodney struggled since the beginning of the season. Grilli has been awful. Seay has had moments, but has been shaky as of late. Ledezma was awesome early on but since picked up the funk lingering in the pen. This Hydak character has been nothing. I think the tigers are in some serious trouble in a jeopardy of falling back. My mind Durbin has been very servicable. Verlander has been good. Bonderman is in a groove. Maroth has shown flashes. Robertson has been struggling as of late. And how about Mr. Inge. he has five million reasons now that he needs to be better then a 210 avg. He is either a whif or a dud. We are fortunate to be where we are in the standings. Cause I think we are in trouble oftaking a dip. It is baseball the tigers can't and won't score 8 runs every night. It is the 3 run games they need to win.

10:36 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

lt would be nice to see the tigers bring up one of the hard throwing minor leaguers to pitch in the bullpen, much like the Twins pitched Liriano in the bullpen before they moved him to a starters position. If they continue to strugle like this, they probably will.

8:44 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
I thought what Leyland said about the starters going deeper into the game was ridiculous. They have been averaging more than seven innings per start the last 10 games. There is no need to panic. The Tigers are still right there, but they have to turn it around as quickly as possible to stay in it. Jones' performance Monday really hurt, though. They did not need that. You're right about the Red Wings. They did a terrific job this season. The Ducks are very good (they carried play by a wide margin Monday vs Ottawa). The Wings outplayed them much of that series.
Caputo

10:44 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
Liriano was exceptional. These guys are not of that caliber. Miller, however, is capable of being that good. How about putting him in the rotation and then moving either Durbin or Maroth to the bullpen?
Caputo

10:46 AM 
Anonymous lennyw1971 said...

It's funny how at the end of last season, the Tigers' pitching staff was the talk of all of baseball (Big club and minors). Now, the team needs arms badly. Book, you've just named 3 pitchers that I knew nothing of.... these arms in addition to Andrew Miller and Jordan Tata (who I've been waiting for 2 years to come up) should be here. Your guess is as good as mine why Dave D. or Leyland won't pull the trigger on these guys... oh yeh, he's afraid to trade or release gas cans like Mesa, Seay, Rodney, or Grilli (all of whom are at least 30 save Seay and have no more potential to tap into).
P.S.... let's not wait too long to pull the trigger on Inge and Monroe... both are 30, have no more potential, and have stupid hitting techniques (long, looping swings and the unwillingness to hit to the opposite field). I'll start on those "Maybin for '08" posters.

Book, I see your point on the lack of nastiness between the two teams... the very first time the "King" gets into the paint, he gets a well placed smack or elbow to serve notice. Take the flagrant foul... at least he'll know that paint is not for him. If Coach Saunders doesn't know how to free up Chauncey or run the offense through Webber, this squad is doomed in this series... it would reaffirm why I have no use for a guy who didn't know how to lead K. Garnett to a legit title shot. He should have made adjustments after game 1 of this series... but that's Flip!

You may hear Clevlen's name later in the season, but it won't be in lieu of Magglio... it's Granderson who will grind on your nerves with his inability to hit the other way, steal bases with any consistency, and to avoid striking out nearly 200 times this season. I'm not giving up on Curtis... just pointing out that his window should be closing and Brent's should be opening!

2:02 PM 
Blogger Dave said...

Book
I agree with your solution of bringing up the young guns on the farm to replace the 4A pitchers in the Tigers bullpen.

Do you think that the Tigers may be trying to delay the arbitration eligibility of these young pitchers by not bringing them up now?

Dave

2:58 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Lennyw1971,
Tata is hurt and Clevlen is having a horrible. There is another young pitcher, Jon Cononlly, who dominated with West Michigan a few years ago and is back in the organization. He doesn't throw hard, but has passed the Double-A test and is left-handed. He is another possibility. They won't trade Inge, probably ever. They love him. Monroe is a possibility after the season. It depends on Cameron Maybin's progress.
Caputo

6:01 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Dave,
That is always one of the reasons, that and using up an option to the minor leagues. Good point. But aren't they trying to win now?
Caputo

6:03 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

De La Cruz doesn't have command of his fast ball yet, so it would really benefit him to stay in the minors until he does. I don't see any reason why Jurrjens couldn't pitch in the majors yet though.

1:09 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
I'm not so sure about that. De la cruz has a pretty good walks per strikeout ratio this season. Jurrjens may not throw hard enough, as a short right-hander, to be an effective major league pitcher.
Caputo

1:17 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

With De La Cruz, the strikeouts are more a function of velocity than control. He can throw strikes, but he can't really spot the ball that well yet. He gets away with balls down the middle because he throws around 100MPH, but that may not fly in the majors. His pitching coach says that he has made great strides this year over last, but he still believes he needs some work before he is ready for the big leagues. I wish I had the link to his quote, but it was from only a few weeks ago.

2:14 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
I posted a comment for you on Wednesday's blog
Caputo

12:54 AM 

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