Friday, September 07, 2007

Believe It Or Not, The Tigers Are Still In A Race

I have talked to a lot of people about the Tigers lately - in the media, with fans, through this blog - and I must admit I have been taken aback by the tone of the conversations.
It’s as if the club isn’t even involved in a pennant race. That the Tigers are cooked. Done like dinner, so to speak. To say there isn’t a lot of belief in this version of the Tigers is putting it mildly.
And I understand why. The Tigers have gone a long stretch - since mid-July - since they have won more than two games in a row. Seems like every time one player gets healthy, another is injured. Andrew Miller folded. Calling up Cameron Maybin hasn’t had the desired impact. Brandon Inge, Jeremy Bonderman and Ivan Rodriguez have struggled to a frustrating degree. And just when all seems to be going well, Todd Jones has a bad night at the worst possible time.
These are all signs of a team that just doesn’t have it.
But I do think the Tigers, despite everything, have hung in there pretty well. They are still in the wild card race. They did just win two one-run ball games vs. the White Sox, who had been beating the Tigers like a drum. The Tigers did lose 31 of their last 50 games and their first playoff game last season - and then won seven games in a row to advance to the World Series.
Do I think the Tigers will make the playoffs? Not really. Like a lot of people, I just don’t like the way they have played the second half. But I wouldn’t be shocked if they got in. I still think they have a decent shot at it.
My advice is to just enjoy the ride. It’s September and the Tigers are still playing meaningful games. I remember when that was the Tigers’ stated goal. Not that long ago, either.

Random Thoughts

- The Lions are really hurting at safety. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Oakland work the middle of the field extensively in the first game Sunday. Then again, what is there to fear outside? The Lions are really hurting at cornerback, too. Ah, they better get a strong pass rush.

- In a way, Jim Leyland has done a better job managing this season than he did last season. With a lesser manager, this team might have fallen to .500 or below. He didn’t panic. If the Tigers don’t reach the postseason, it won’t be because of the manager.

- The Red Wings vs. the Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals? Now that would be something to behold.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

Nothing like back-to-back last bat wins to get the juices flowing again. I have to admit that after Sunday's debacle on the mound and Tuesday's trepidations at the plate, I was ready to mail the season in. After all, the fellas getting paid seemed to be doin' the same. But now my ifs are about the present and not next year.

If the Tigers can take two out of three from the fishermen...if the Gambler can out pitch Mr. Halladay on Monday...if the boys can sweep the Rangers...if they can cut the Tribe's lead to four games or less before they play at Jacobs field. A lot of ifs but that's what makes this month fun.

Pat, I have a serious suggestion that needs serious consideration: why not pitch Verlander and Robertson on three days rest next week against Texas? Just the one time during the rotation. This would set up Verlander, Robertson and Bonderman to pitch against the Tribe on at least four days rest. Not to mention that they would each get two more starts before the end of the season, on normal rest between starts.

Why Lolich and McLain pitched on three days rest beginning in April. You telling me this generation is soft? You'll still see it done in the post season. Considering the position the Tigers are in, you might as well figure their post season is now.

Quick, to the Bat phone. Get the Skipper and Dombrowski on line one. Set up the conference call. Give Lolich a ring at the donut shop for some advice. Buy the linament that Sandy Koufax used to rub on his elbow. There's an invitation to a post season party that needs to be addressed to Foxtown not the Bronx or Puker Sound.

12:04 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Yeah Pat, I guess we are really out of “pennant race” practice.

As fans – we always expect the team to do better than last year. This year that would have meant at least 2 world series game wins.

And I think we all saw that as “asking a wee bit much”.

But the post-season - I think we all thought the post-season was a given.

Especially with Mags tearing up the place …

… Especially with Sheffield teaching the younger hitters like Kenny taught the younger pitchers last year…

… and Maybin and Miller on the verge of emerging…

How could we not make the post season?

But I find it incredible the inspiration these guys find from Kenny Rogers. And Gary Sheffield as well, but honestly not quite to the same degree. Because Sheff just does it. But Kenny pours every ounce of his soul into it. And that I think is the inspiration.

I think losing Kenny Rogers was the beginning of the down-slope. Inspirational people can sometimes carry a double edged sword. But now he is back and the Karma has been re-balanced. Ying has its yang. “It’s ok – Kenny’s here.”

Yes, this will be an interesting ride. Another rollercoaster.

But we rode the monster coaster last year – this ride should be a piece of cake.

And the good news is we are just starting to pick up steam.

- I like the idea of a Pittsburgh – Detroit Stanley Cup – then we can at least have one Canadian team in the finals!

2:38 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In a way, Jim Leyland has done a better job managing this season than he did last season. With a lesser manager, this team might have fallen to .500 or below. He didn’t panic. If the Tigers don’t reach the postseason, it won’t be because of the manager."

Pat, please take your blinders off. By "did a better job and didn't panic" do you mean threw Timo Perez in the 3 hole, didn't have the guts to bench Inge for more than 1 game, gives guys days off like it's going out of style, doesn't play maybin enough, and lots of other situational blunders?

i am also getting a bit concerned that he can't bring young talent along. bonderman didnt take the jump he should have, verlander outside of the no-no may have regressed, robertson didnt improve, inge regressed, monroe regressed. granderson is the only young guy that took a step forward.

i'm not going to throw the carlos pena situation on leyland since i think he only had him for spring training last year. someone has to take a little heat for this. we have a 1b currently in casey that will probably set a record for fewest hr's and steals by any player with 400+ ab's in the history of the game. i don't know what the lowest combined total is, but it struck me the other day that this could possibly be the record. (normally if a guy is only hitting 3 hr's, he is stealing 15+ bags and thats conservative). meanwhile, pena is going to have 40+ hr's. i thought bringing casey back this year was awful when they did it and it has truly been a debacle that hasn't been talked about much (mainly because he is a nice guy and nobody wants to dog him).

with that said, let's go grab a spot in the playoffs and make a run.

3:36 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
The Tigers are lucky to be in it, but they are. In order to take advantage of it, they need to win a few games right now and build off those one-run victories. They won't do that with Robertson and Verlander. They want to protect Verlander's arm because he is young and Robertson had some arm problems earlier in the season. But I am sure they would like to.
Caputo

5:37 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I would have said the Tigers would have been a lock for the postseason if before the season started I knew Ordonez and Granderson would post those kind of numbers. The Tigers big problem has been pitching. It was excellent last year, less than mediocre this season.
Caputo

5:40 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
You make good points, but mine is that Leyland has been forced to do a lot of things he wouldn't normally. He has generally gotten the most of his team under the circumstances. A lesser manager and they really would have been in trouble. As for the young players thing, he is totally different than Sparky in that regard. Just look at Granderson and Verlander and Zumaya - they have all done well. He also developed Bonds and several of the Pirates top stars. He is a very good manager, one of the best in the game. Guess we have to agree to disagree. But I respect your opinion.
Caputo

5:44 PM 
Blogger Max Perilstein said...

Pat-

Just curious... how far underground is the scout that thought after six games in double A that Maybin was ready? Its extremely apparent that he was not, neither offensively or defensively.
Its a shame that the Tigers did not stick to their original plan of keeping him in the minors all year, because now, he's missing out on tons of AB's because he's not going to play.

So how can DD and company trust their scouts because they whiffed badly on this one.

Last- what were your thoughts on Todd Jones article in the Freep. To me he should be embarrassed. It was such an arrogant, condescending and clueless piece.
thanks for your time and keep up the great work.

9:09 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Max Perilstein,
It was their top guys, including Dombrowski who wanted him up. I disagree with you about Maybin. I feel it was the right decision. They didn't get the expected boost from him, but if anything the couple weeks in the majors will help him a lot more than spending time in the minors. This is a smart kid. He will make the necessary adjustments and learn from the experience, not be defeated by it. And the season isn't over yet.
Caputo

9:45 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Book, three in a row. Ho, ho, ho!

I realize that it is more likely that Morris and/or Petry would start a game this season then anyone on the current staff would start a game on three days rest in this day of money ball.(Good read by the way) Still, I don't think it would endanger either Verlander's or Robertson's career. Not the way Durocher wore down the '69 Cubs starters into the dust.

Did Verlander even throw a 100 pitches tonight? Seemed effortless on his part. If these guys arms were up to the task of throwing on three days rest, that could send the message that everybody on the roster needs to cowboy up. Ride hard, sleep in the saddle, become "Ghost riders in the Sky". Might cause dem Injuns on the south shore of Lake Erie to blink.

I would never trade Casey for Pena.

Does Grandy need one or two more steals for 20? Then does he get a national publication article comparing and contrasting him with Willie Mays? Will we start seeing the "Say Hey" Kid at Comerica Park?

After five years and a lockout, witnessing the Red Wings in the Cup finals again would be marvelous. With all the young talent that the Penguins have accumulated, they are a good bet to represent the East. Especially after all the talent that left the Sabres. Yet, until I actually see it or die, I'll always be rooting to see either the Maple Leafs or Les Habitants versus the Winged Wheel for the Cup.

11:33 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
Three in a row is a miracle (LOL). It was impressive how Verlander didn't throw as hard as usual, but was still very effective. It means he is becoming a savvy pitcher at a young age. Now if only Bondo can start doing the same type of things...
Caputo

12:09 AM 

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