Friday, August 10, 2007

Leyland Is A Strength, Not A Weakness

I was in the Tigers clubhouse the other day after a loss and manager Jim Leyland said it was his responsibility, that he was to blame for the Tigers’ disconcerting slide.
I applaud Leyland for being a standup guy, but I don’t think the Tigers’ recent collapse has been his fault. That bullpen has been a disaster since Joel Zumaya got hurt. Is it Leyland’s fault? No. I feel like he has handled the bullpen well under adverse circumstances. But he can only do so much. Nobody can make chicken salad out of rubber chickens.
Jeremy Bonderman has gone south at the worst possible time. Is that Leyland’s fault? No.
Gary Sheffield and Marcus Thames have been hurt. Craig Monroe has slumped. Leyland’s fault? No, no and no.
Leyland has made a couple questionable decisions regarding when to remove pitchers. He, for example, took Nate Robertson out too soon, and Bonderman not soon enough, in their recent starts. But mostly the Tigers have tanked because of injuries and a sour bullpen. Also, Bonderman and Justin Verlander have shown they still have a ways to go before becoming genuine "aces."
Panic? Yeah, there is panic in Detroit. The Devils Rays series was disturbing. How could the Tigers split with such a reeling club that has been so awful on the road? I don’t have a certain answer for that, but I don’t feel it lies with Leyland’s managing.

Random Thoughts

- There was a relatively small crowd at Ford Field for the Lions’ preseason opener Thursday. It would have been nice of the Lions to throw a couple passes toward Calvin Johnson early in the game instead of making fans wait until nearly halftime. And when the ball was thrown Johnson’s way, it was easily the highlight of the night. He seems special. The team overall, however, still appears to be mediocre.

- Oddest thing I have ever heard a manager say that eventually proved to be true: When Gary Pettis played for the Angels, Sparky Anderson said he was the greatest center fielder he’d ever seen - even better than Willie Mays. This was before Pettis came to the Tigers. I’m not old enough to remember Mays distinctly. I can only go by the highlights I have seen of him, although I have seen many. He was truly great. But it is true, at least in my opinion, the best defensive center fielder I have seen was Gary Pettis. Seems like he is a forgotten player.

- A prediction: The most-celebrated player on Michigan’s defense following this season will be tackle Terrance Taylor. He is strong and athletic and plays the leverage game very well. By the time he leaves Michigan, it just might be as a first-team All-American.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Book, that series with the D-Rays was damn disappointing. The Tigers weren't even competitive the last two games. They could have easily lost 3 of 4 to the worst team in the AL. If they sweep the A's that makes the homestand a rather mediocre 6-5. Anything less means a losing record for an ELEVEN game last bats advantage.

I don't know if I feel so much panic as an extreme sense of dread. If the calendar read September 10th, then I would be peeved and panicky. Of course by that date, the way our hometown heroes have been playing, they may be "sleeping with the fishes".

Then again, maybe the Gambler, the Kid and Zoom-Zoom all return in top notch form and cure what ails the pitching staff. Hey, it's baseball and it's August, I'm allowed a little midsummer's night dreamin'.

Unfortunately, Gary Pettis couldn't hit a lick. I would take Mickey Stanley or Chester Lemon over Pettis any day of the week and twice on Sunday. But Curtis Granderson may end up being the best of them all. For everyone that wants to hand Maybin the CF position I say: "Make him him earn it". Curtis had to against Nook Logan in spring training two years ago.

11:22 AM 
Anonymous Wyandotte said...

pat,

your comments about player production being out of leyland's control are the same reasons why most fans thought he was the second coming last season, but for exact opposite reasons. i have argued at length on how different the team was last year from the one trammell finished with 2 years ago.

i am not a big leyland fan. he handling on the regular hitters is a joke (typically would never ph them late in games on their numerous days off even in huge spots). todd jones and jason grilli, need i say more.

11:49 AM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, you are right about Leyland, of course. Even his two pitching decisions that everyone talks about only look bad in retrospect because all the pitching is so bad. I would have left Nate in as well. But if Grilli gets an out, it looks great.

Plus who is he going to bring in to stop the Bonderman bleeding? Let Jeremy suffer out there. The game was lost already the way the Tigers at bats looked.

Bonderman - I am at “who cares” anymore. He seems completely confused and lackadaisical. I am through getting excited because one of the “aces” is pitching. Jim Price made a good comment about all the batters looking really comfortable against Bonderman – and that shouldn’t be. Where’s the killer slider strikeout pitch? Where’s the intimidation? Is this the post contract season?

Does anyone on this team ever get mad?

Going to the game tonight. Not jumping ship for sure, but after 15 -2 in two games against the Rays, it would be nice to see some life. Don't know if I could sit through 9 innings of the last two games. Just no spark at all! Especially yesterdays game – 8 -1. Just horribly outplayed! One opportunity with 2 on and no outs and nothing happens.
Terrible at bats.

On Wednesday the Tigers walked 0 times and struck out 13 times against 3 pitchers.
On Thursday the Tigers walked 1 time and struck out 9 times against 4 pitchers.

Seems to me somedays the Tigers can find a way to make all pitchers look like Nolan Ryan. I know the last two guys are pretty good, but hey, they ain’t that good.

Cheers,
Danny

12:09 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
If the Tigers can't win a series against the Devils Rays, who can they beat? Seems like right about now it is nobody. You're right about Pettis offensively. Stanley was a true great defensively, much better than Lemon. Chet was solid, but lacked speed. Stanley could run a little bit and was a great all-around athlete. Pettis was very fast and covered more ground than any center fielder I have seen.
Caputo

12:16 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

wyandotte,
Leyland had a much better team last season than Tram had in 2005. He pointed that out a lot. Obviously we disagree. I think Leyland is a great manager - as good as there is in the game. But I don't see any manager being able help this current malaise. A few players need to sack it up. We'll find out how hungry they are.
Caputo

12:19 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
I have no idea why Bonderman isn't better. I do think he cares - a lot. Maybe that is part of the problem. If you took all the pitchers who have ever appeared in the major leagues, he is in the top 10 percent in terms of ability. He throws in the mid to high 90s with the best slider in the league. People talk about his need for a changeup. He shouldn't need one that badly with such good first two pitches. This seems like a mental hurdle he hasn't be able to get over. The great ones avoid big innings and bounce back quickly from bad outings. With Bonderman, it tends to escalate.
Caputo

12:22 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

The guys are tired.

And each game that they play poorly - they feel worse.

This is officially a tailspin.

And Pat, I love the Skip, but this is when The Skip earns his pay. He holds the throttle and it's his job to pull out of nose-dives and tail-spins.

Don't ask me how he is supposed to do it. I am not that smart.

But if these guys don't get it together, the Comerica ushers will all be reciting the emergency landing procedures speech to us before each game.

Here's one to get a laugh with - Lions make post-season - Tigers don't. No I don't believe it - but please talk amongst yourselves on it a bit.

3:39 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are being kind to our beloved Lions. They are truly a horrible team. They are thin on talent, injury prone, mentally soft (demonstrated through the last few years), mistake prone and have no identity. Their coaching is not exactly Bill Parcells material, and their owner should probably be relaxing in assisted living. Do I have to mention their president & GM?

Allan

4:26 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Wow Pat, your comment about Bonderman being the top 10% of all time in terms of ability is high praise indeed!

It seems hard to believe, but I bow to your knowledge of the game.

He remains an enigma.

Off to the park to see the A's game.

Cheers,
Danny

5:24 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Your spot on about a manager. There are no excuses in his job. It's his duty to get the plane to land safely even if both engines are out. And I think that's the point Leyland was making by accepting responsibility. I didn't think the Lions played well Thursday.
Caputo

5:57 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Allan,
I don't know if they will be much better this season. They have tons of holes on that team. But I know this, they shouldn't be talking as much smack as they do. Win a few games - and then people will do the talking smack for them.
Caputo

5:59 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
Thjing is, there have been a lot of pitchers with less "stuff" who have a lot better. That was the point I was attempting to make.
Caputo

6:01 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

The only thing that I took out of the game was the starters Stunk? Especially on the Defensive side of the ball. Boy oboy they are explosive huh. Explosive in their pants after getting beat to a pulp by the first string offense of the bengals. I think if the two first teams continued the lions would of lost. Another glairing whole. For the life of me. Why are the lions so enlove with crap. Raiola in my mind would be best served as backup guard center. Woody should be moved over to center and they should insert peterman or somebody else at right guard. Raiola is like theodore from the chipmunks in their going up against bears. I think that move a lone would improve the lions offensive line dramatically.

As far as the tigers. No you can't blame things on Leyland. To me the biggest problem has been what was suppose to be the strength. The starting pitching. We haven't had very many games where the bull pen was to be used like it should. The majority of the games Leyland has had to go to the pen late in the 5th and 6th innings. Bonderman has been a dud I am sorry. Even some of the games he one early on. He was lucky the offense gave him 8 runs or so. he in my mind hasn't put together a full solid game. What i mean by that innings 1 through 6 at least. Robertson has been inaffective except for a few games. the 4 and 5 guys have been a mess. So you are right is that leyands fault.

As far as folks stating. I liked pettis, but I agree with other dudes granderson is fastly putting himself in the mix. Another quick note I know we have a long time to next year. But a guy I would go after next year even though the outfield is solid. Is Andrew Jones. Man him granderson ordonez. It allows Mayben some more time. And when mags goes in a couple years. Maybe Jones Granderson not bad.

12:07 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
I wonder how much different the Lions defense would have been if Rogers and White played. But the thing with Rogers is that it's difficult to put much faith in him at this point. But it was more obvious than ever they need him to stop the run. I think Raiola is an effective player if he is not power blocking. They must keep him out of those situations. Granderson is very good in center field, but not to the level of Pettis or Stanley yet. But he does seem to be keeping there. He is proof hard work pays off.
Caputo

9:41 AM 
Anonymous lennyw1971 said...

There's enough of the blame pie to go around for the Tiger freefall. The emotions range from anger to pity to sadness as I witness this slide.

Us fans have to guard from romanticizing what the Lions really are. I understand that some key defensive lineman didn't play, but the first-string defense got torched in a very special way. Our rookie receiver does look like a stud... too bad you can't put him at corner, defensive end, tight end, etc...

Pat, your observation of Terrance Taylor is on point. I'm just worried about losing Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, and the other stud defenders... I don't trust Lloyd, so I'll just accept the 10-win season and shut up now.

6:51 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Lennyw1971,
I really liked the way Rodney threw the ball Saturday. Having Sheffield and Thames back has been helpful as well. All this and still within a half game of the division lead. Amazing. If Michigan wins 10 games, that would still be pretty good - if they beat Ohio State. Won how Brandon Graham will do at end. He reminded me of Woodley in a way at media day.
Caputo

1:34 AM 

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