Friday, August 17, 2007

About Maybin, The Pennant Race and The Tigers...

I suppose it is dangerous to feel this way when the Tigers are in the midst of a series vs. the Yankees in New York, but I do think they will be right there until the end, and probably make the playoffs. I like the way they have played the past week. They look like themselves again. Seems like what transpired over that awful three-week span was more an aberration than a trend.
I do feel, however, that in order to get into the postseason, the Tigers must outlast Cleveland in the American League Central, that it will be difficult to beat out the Yankees or the Red Sox from the A.L. East this time to secure a wild card spot. I see 95 wins or so getting the wild card slot again. I anticipate the Tigers finishing with only about 90 wins (I don’t think Seattle will win more than 90 games, either, by the way).
That could change with Joel Zumaya’s return to 100 percent health. And Fernando Rodney is throwing the ball exceptionally well and seems to have re-gained his confidence.
Another "X Factor" is Cameron Maybin. I wrote here a few days ago that I wouldn’t be surprised if they called up Maybin. They did Friday. He could really give them a shot in the arm. He is extremely talented, and not all that unpolished considering his youth. But a word of caution here: Don’t expect a savior. Whatever the Tigers get out of Maybin would be gravy, something that wasn’t anticipated. In that way, he could be like an impact player acquired at the trade deadline.
The best part about Maybin is that he is yet another symbol of how the Tigers are building a core of relatively young players that should keep them in legitimate contention deep into the future. Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Andrew Miller on the starting staff. Maybin, Curtis Granderson and Gorkys Hernandez in the outfield and Brandon Inge at third base - that’s a pretty good base camp.
What the Tigers need to develop, though, are the shortstop and catcher spots. I expect the Tigers to pick up the option on Ivan Rodriguez’s contract, and I do believe they can get one more year after this one out of Carlos Guillen at short, but what about after 2008? There are no ready-made answers for those positions other than trades and/or free agent signings because their system is thin at those spots.

Random Thoughts

- It’s amazing the Cardinals are below .500 and so close to the lead in the National League Central. It’s also an embarrassment to the Cubs, who should, honestly, be running away with that division.

- A sleeper team in college football is Texas A&M. The Aggies lost a lot of close games last season, beat Texas in the regular season finale and return a very good veteran QB in Stephen McGee, and two excellent running backs - massive Jovorskie Lane and speedy Mike Goodson - who compliment each other well. Their defense is getting better.

- Anytime the Tigers face Mike Mussina these days I view it as an automatic win for Detroit. He is not even close to being the same pitcher he used to be.

- This second preseason game will be a good test for the Lions. The Browns are home, will play hard and there is much hype surrounding Brady Quinn. It will be interesting to see how the Lions react to all that.

12 Comments:

Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book,

Let’s not say the ship has righted until we get out of unfriendly waters. Yankee Stadium is about as unfriendly to the English D as a boatload of tea in Boston harbor.

But I certainly agree that it looks more promising.

When you have a team of talent and experience such as we do, one would be hard pressed to call Maybin a Savior – perhaps one of the twelve apostles maybe – but we have a team full of Saviors and they all take their turn accordingly.

I am hoping Maybin can live up to even 75% of the hype.
No hype when Raburn came up – look at him now. He’s a keeper, brother!

Given we will not likely see a gap of more than 1 or 2 games between first and second places in the Central, we will be both treated and tortured to an edge-of-the-seat experience from now through September. I hope the Tigers are the ones on top when it ends.

Ain’t it great!?

And you don’t need to be a statistical analyst to appreciate it.

2:34 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Maybin and Raburn don't really equate. Raburn is six years older than Maybin. And remember, a lot of things people were saying about Brent Clevlin last season they are saying about Raburn now. It's possible, maybe even probable, this is his 15 minutes of fame. With Maybin, it's about whether he can handle the pressure at this point. He has not played professional baseball for that long.
Caputo

2:55 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Book,

I just got caught up on the past weeks blogs and comments. I've been out of town swimming in big sweet water where I-96 ends and sunsets begin. Wall-to-wall Tigers and nary a word of the cats out of Africa I read from your blog. Ah heaven!

While I was out of town the Boys or Summer got some good starts from Verlander and Bonderman. I'm listening to Nate pitch pretty well while getting little run support. Seems like things are getting back to normal for the Tigers.

While I was enjoying Michigan's West Coast, I began reading George Cantor's, "The Tigers of '68, Baseball's Last Real Champions". What a great read for any baseball fan but especially any Tiger's fan. The book was published ten years hence so you might have already perused this book. However if not, I highly recommend doing so.

Maybin's debut is turning out to be forgettable. Two strikeouts and a ground ball he touches for an out. If the score stays 3-1, I'm hoping Thames pinch hits for him before his next bat.

Here's a prediction, if the Tigers win the AL Central, Granderson will win the Gold Glove. To the victors go the spoils. And the Yanks are now winning 5-1. But hey, the '68 Tigers got swept by the Bronx Bombers in an August weekend series and that season turned out pretty fair.

10:27 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
We have a beautiful state and you visited one of the nicer parts of it. I don't know if Granderson has the national rep to win a gold glove, but it wouldn't be out of line. He has been great. If Maybin doesn't do well for a few games, it doesn't mean he won't be good. Both Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle struggled when they first arrived about the same age. '68 was special and George Cantor is a good writer who covered the team that year for the Free Press. It's not a surprise that is a good book. An oldie, but a goodie was the "Year of the Tiger" written by Jerry Green about that team in 1968. My favorite book about the 1984 Tigers was "Inside Pitch by Roger Craig and Vern Plagenhoef.
Caputo

2:35 AM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I tell you what I took the Tigers moves by complete shock. #1 of all the players to be called up I was shocked it was Mayben. As talented as he is I jsut think it is to soon. I was more then happy to have Rayburn replace Monroe full Time. I understand they want Defense so they brought Santiago up, but personally I think Infante is 100 times better. There isn't a big drought in defense between the two. Only thing I can think of is the Tigers sending maybe Infante and Monroe or something like that to Pittsburgh for jack wilson. Which personally I'd still rather have infante then jack wilson. I jsut don't see the moves necessary. I think you get Andrew Miller back and Zumya. This team is already better by far.

As far as the lions go one name to really watch is Francis. I think Kalmibas Days are indeed numbered. the guy just sucks. I think Marinelli Knows it (though won't admit it).

As far as college football I can see the Texas A&M as a sleeper. I am pumped ready to get the grid iron kicked off. we are entering my favorite time of year. Baseball Playoffs, Football all levels and Hockey and basketball start to heat up.

10:00 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
I found the Infante move, too, to be a curious one. I don't see that much difference in them defensively and Infante is much more of a threat offensively. But you and I obviously think Infante is a better player than Jim Leyland does because he keeps dumping on him for some reason. He had three hits his last game, including a game-tying rbi single off CC Sabathia. I don't get it. Never have. Leyland liked Neifi Perez more than Infante. But every time I ask him about Infante, he has nothing but good things to say. But his actions say something different. It's weird.
Caputo

10:22 AM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat,
1. What is your take on Clemens hitting Maybin with the pitch after the single and the home run? Seemed like the pitch was little hard to plunk someone, but Clemens is Clemens.

2. Did you catch the exchange between Thames and Jeter in the first inning on Saturday after Jeter flied out and was headed back to the dugout? Thames (playing 1st base) makes some kind of friendly gesture and Jeter just runs right into him and shoved Thames aside - never looking at him. Seemed pretty rude and obnoxious to me. Thames just laughed after he passed. It was clear as day but of course the national announcers didn't comment at all.

Cheers,
Danny

12:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
I think Clemens has gotten away with too much when it comes to hitting batters. I am surprised he has gotten away with it to the degree he has without getting his butt kicked. But it might be good for Maybin to understand the seriousness of the game at the major league level. As for Jeter, it's called gamesmanship. Thames played for the Yankees and knows him, but it seems like Jeter's way of not giving any quarter. It's also a sign of respect toward the Tigers. Everybody loves a loser.
Caputo

5:05 PM 
Anonymous Chief said...

Hey Book,

We keep waiting for the Tigers to flip the switch. But maybe they just don't have that extra gear this year. The utter lack of focus at the plate over the weekend was horrible. Plus the pitching just doesn't win them games. It's ok but not great when it needs to be.

11:55 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Chief,
I posted a new entry with my thoughts on this. There are obvious concerns, but the season is far from over.
Caputo

9:47 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Book,

I was really thinking about the future of this team and let me tell you, it almost had me salivating. Picture this:

Gorkys Hernandez in CF, Maybin in RF, Granderson in LF, A rotation of Miller, Verlander, Bonderman, Jurrjens, Trahern.

I know many people say moving Granderson is a bad idea, and I agree for now. But Hernandez has more speed than Granderson and even more than Maybin. It would fit good for Hernandez to be in center, judging that he does not have the same power as Grandy or Maybin. That would leave Maybin for RF, considering he has the best arm of the bunch, and that would push Grandy over to LF (which is his natural position if I remember). Think about that, Maybin would be a possible 40/40 guy, Granderson hitting 30 HRs and year, and Hernandez leading off with his massive speed.

And what can we say about that starting rotation. Jurrjens really showed alot in his first start, I've heard great things about Trahern, Verlander has thrown a no-hitter already and is on his way to being the elite pitcher in the AL, Bonderman is Cy Young worthy, and Miller draws comparisons to a young Randy Johnson. I think they would have to give out more than one Cy Young award for that bunch!

I must say, Dombrowski has really done a great job with this club. That outfield has the potential to be by far the best in baseball, not to mention that rotation is going to have the Cy Young every year.

I love it.

1:16 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
Catcher and shortstop they need to address for the future. Obviously there is sound nucleus to build from, though. You're right. Hernandez is very fast. But it's not just speed that makes a great center fielder. His power potential is there. He has a chance to be very good, but is so young now it's difficult to discern how good. He likely won't move or develop as fast as Maybin and doesn't appear to be the same caliber of player.
Caputo

12:21 PM 

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