Monday, June 11, 2007

About Time Leyland Stated The Obvious

I have pointed out from the first week of the season that the Tigers bullpen was built on a house of cards. And that it really collapsed when Joel Zumaya suffered that freakish injury to his finger. I also pointed out the Tigers were living on borrowed time because of their bullpen. I still believe that. The Tigers, including manager Jim Leyland, have been slow acknowledge the severity of the problem. But Leyland did Sunday. Anything I asked him about following the game, he came right back to the bullpen and how it wasn’t good enough. It didn’t matter if the Tigers just pounded a future Hall of Fame pitcher in Tom Glavine. It didn’t matter the Tigers are on pace to break the club record for runs scored in a season. All he wanted to talk about was how bad his bullpen is, and how his team isn’t going to do much if the problem isn’t corrected.
This just a couple weeks after he had an outburst, rather unprovoked by the media, about his bullpen getting heat. Reading between the lines: I think Leyland wasn’t too pleased with Jason Grilli’s performance Sunday.
I do wonder why they keep staying with the same cast of characters in the bullpen instead of trying something different? They have some good young arms in the minor leagues. Why not try one or two? What are they going to do with their rotation when Nate Robertson comes back? It is obvious Andrew Miller belongs in the rotation, and that Kenny Rogers is about to start pitching in the major leagues again. Who goes to the bullpen? And the Tigers may have to bite the bullet and make a trade sooner than ideal because Fernando Rodney as a setup man is a disaster about to happen. He threw 49 pitches in two innings in his last two outings. Hitting is a fickle beast. It tends to come and go on a whim. The Tigers are outslugging teams, but at some point their bullpen has to hold a one-run lead on a consistent basis from the seventh inning on. Right now, it seems like a five-run lead isn’t safe. Glad Leyland finally acknowledges the problem. Maybe now the Tigers will finally do something about it.

Random thoughts

- If the Spurs win the NBA title for the fourth time in nine years, does that qualify as a dynasty? I think so. And I also believe, as understated as he may be at times, Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward of all-time. And I believe that is what he is - a power forward. Not a center. Certainly, I’d put him ahead of Karl Malone. With all due respect to the old timers and some truly great centers, but my all-time NBA team would be: Michael Jordan (shooting guard), Magic Johnson (point guard), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (center), Duncan (power forward) and Larry Bird (small forward). I see only center as debatable (Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell). But there are cases that can be made for Oscar Robertson and Jerry West at guard, and Dr. J at small forward.

- Most preseason forecasters have Michigan in the Top Five nationally, some as high as No. 3. My best guess is when the polls come out is they be No.4 - behind USC, LSU and West Virginia. That seems reasonable given Michigan’s returning firepower offensively and departures defensively. I know the Wolverines are going to very good this season. What I am not so sure about is Ohio State. The Buckeyes lost a lot. This is going to be the true test to whether Jim Tressel is really that great of a coach. Great coaches don’t have down years very often. We’ll see what Tressel can do after losing much of his crew. The Buckeyes’ quarterbacks, Todd Boeckman and Robbie Schonehoft, are huge and strong-armed, but lack mobility. And so much of what the Buckeyes have been about revolved around Troy Smith’s mobility. That was especially true in the matchups against Michigan.

- It is more a sign Andrew Miller is ready that he allowed a three-run home run, pitched out of bases loaded jam and survived through difficult times against a tough lineup such as the Mets than it would have been if it had all gone perfectly right Sunday, like it did during his first major league start against the Cardinals. The poise he displayed under pressure means a lot.


Blogger Fred Brill said...


I'll vouge for you saying the bullpen was a big issue since April 1st - because I have had to read / hear about it since April 1st.

Our bullpen is white-knuckle time at best. I do remember at least one major meltdown by Zoom-by-ya too before he hurt his finger.

I also remember that Jones scared the crap out of me all last season as well as this one. So did Rodney.

My answer? Move Robertson and / or Maroth to the bull pen. Both would be best. One to close, the other as short to middle releif. Challenge them both to the opportunity to be a hero - to be as star in their role. Do not go get somebody else - we don't need that. Shake up works better when it stays internal. It is better accepted.

That's my take on it. Going to buy anybody will cost us more than we get back right now.

Miller was very good. (I wanted to say GREAT but I caught myself because that would have been an emotional GREAT - not a rational GREAT) - he was good. Good enough to move into our rotation - as with hopefully Kenny - to let Maroth and Robertson go to the Pen.

But the best was the squeeze bunt by Infante to bring in Sheff. I loved it. Seems we just talked about those a few days back?

So we took 2 out of 3 from the Mets - smoked Glavin, and we are talking about problems. I love it. I think we are gonna make it Book. I really do! [Knocking the crap out of some wood as I typed that]!

The first two games of the NBA finals were like de ja vous. Seems the pistons took the first 2 games was well. But the difference was they had to struggle for them. The Spurs made it look effortless. Duncan made it look effortless. And James looked helpless. And like he didn't know what to do.

Yes, I vote the Spurs a dynasty.

12:46 PM 
Anonymous Chief said...


set your compadres at 1270 straight. Texas wouldn't want Maroth($2.95 Million) for either Otsuka or Gagne. They want prospects like Jurrjens, DeLaCruz, etc, etc.

Maroth will traded in a separate deal that clears his roster spot.

3:02 PM 
Anonymous lennyw1971 said...

Book... you're right on point as far as the bullpen goes. I just didn't envision a complete collapse. Can the team steal an arm from a team already out of playoff contention? It's tough for me to criticize Leyland... his managerial prowess goes without saying, but his loyalty to some of these guys baffles me. Rodney is horrible and Grilli is shaky at times, but I don't know if you just drop Nate or Maroth to the pen. I'm with you Book... I'm salivating over the young arms in the minors... let's see 'em

The Spurs are great... they're what the Pistons could have been if Larry Brown hadn't flaked out and started entertaining offers during the '05 playoff run. I would call the Spurs a dynasty, but the Lakers won 3 titles in 4 years during the first part of this century. Duncan is sick... it's as if a legendary big man took Tim under his wing at an early age and taught him every possible post move. I agree with you... he's the best power forward of all time. He just edges out Karl Malone because Karl became exclusively a jump shooter later in his career and couldn't grab a ring in a 20 year career.

I'm with you on Andrew Miller... too talented and the need for him to stay is too great to send him back down.

3:08 PM 
Blogger Andrew M. Fanco said...

Any chance we'll see Vic in Detroit?
Sure he's old and short but he's got an excellent WHIP and ERA in Toledo. Another guy that's been around baseball for a while, but may start to be breaking out?

Or would you prefer more of the younger arms coming up. I figure whoever can keep opponents from scoring would be a good choice!

3:14 PM 
Anonymous chief said...

Book, Does Miller have an innings limit this year similar to Verlander in 2005(first pro season)?

That's why I don't think you can count on him being part of the rotation all season.

When Robertson is back, Maroth will be dealt or released and Miller might be optioned to Toledo.

8:00 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I agree this is definitely not the time to make a trade. The Tigers are in anything but a desperate situation in their efforts to help the bullpen. They definitely have options. The Spurs are a better team than the Pistons - and they have peaked at the right time.

11:27 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I agree with you. Maroth has little value to the Rangers, but solid prospects have a lot. Gagne is throwing the ball surprisingly well.

11:28 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

If their bullpen doesn't improve considerably, I expect the Tigers to try to get a veteran arm, but not until near trade deadline time. Great point about the Spurs. They remind me a lot of the Pistons in a way, only better.

11:30 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew M.Fanco,
Darensbourg, if not used too much against right-handed hitters, could help them. Besides, I am partial to the guy because he is the only major league player who has come up to me and asked if I could break a $20 dollar bill. I think he was tipping the visiting clubhouse guy in Toronto. Shows you not everybody in the game has made big money from it.

11:35 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I don't believe they are as concerned about Miller's durability as they were with Verlander. He is much more experienced than Verlander was at that point. But I don't believe they will let him throw too many pitches this season. What they might do is have him skip a start or two later in the season. They certainly have the depth with starters to be able to do that.

11:37 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

Great chatter on the blog. Too bad you can't hear any of it on the infield at a kids game. No more "Hey batter, batter swing".

The next two starts for Mr. Maroth are going to tell the tale. If he keeps getting hit hard, those "at 'em balls" are going to start dropping in for hits. Looking at the schedule, the Tigers have an off day in a few weeks where his turn in the rotation could be passed over. By then, Mr. Rogers could be back in the 'hood.

I didn't want them to rush The Kid to the majors but you are on target about the way he pitched Sunday against an excellent Mets line-up. He is probably here to stay. I have to believe that it would take three or four consecutively bad starts to even think of optioning him back to the minors.

I like Fred Brill's idea of putting Robertson and Maroth in the bullpen. Figure this solution as the best remedy for a bad pen. Could you trade either of them (and their salaries) for a better arm to come out from the outfield?
Please don't start people bantering about trading C. Mo, Thames or Inge.

I want to give Todd Jones some love for that save on Saturday afternoon. That save had PROFESSIONAL, VETERN, MAJOR LEAGUE CLOSER written all over it.

10:54 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
LOL on the "hey batter, batter" thing. It was a little league staple. And I never could figure out why. The Tigers rotation will work itself out. Maroth and Robertson will either pitch well enough to stay in or they will be out. The competition is fierce.

2:52 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, your comments on the radio last night about watching Rodney pitch were hilarious (and right in line with my anxiety in watching him). Like you said, just waiting for it to blow up - you never know when, but are sure it WILL happen. I can’t stand to watch it. I either peek from the kitchen or leave my seat at the park to walk around.

Hopefully when Kenny returns we will have a rotation of Verlander, Rogers, Bonderman, Miller and probably Robertson. With that rotation and the hitting, this could be a really awesome and scary team - except for the pen. That leaves the question of what to do with Maroth, Durbin, and Miner (when he returns). They aren't really setup guys either. Hopefully Dave will make a move.


3:15 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I like the young pitchers they have in the minor leagues. Their are a couple relievers that are doing OK, but it's starters who have the good stuff. I just don't see anybody I would put in a setup role. That may force a trade at some point for a setup guy. Rodney has been shaky, and in fairness to him, I am not sure if he is totally healthy - although he is still throwing hard.

5:39 PM 
Anonymous Mike35 said...

I like your idea with the new rotation and all, but is Miller really ready to start perminatly in the Tigers rotation? He is still very young and just did come out of North Carolia. But then again, Justin Verlander just shocked the world and threw a no- hitter. Which leads me to my second question, do you know think the world respects Justin more, because I can remember even after winning ROTY, people were calling him a fluke, thoughts?

10:35 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I agree that Verlander is underrated given his extraordinary ability. He is so talented, it's almost surreal, at times, watching him pitch. Miller, in my opinion, is similarly talented. He will learn more pitching in the major leagues at this point than he could in the minors. I believe he is ready now.

3:26 AM 

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