Monday, January 14, 2008

On The Tigers, NY Giants, Chargers and Goalies

I was at TigerFest Saturday and these are some of the impressions I took away from it as the boys of summer are in the state for their annual winter visit:
- Concerns about Miguel Cabrera’s fitness are unfounded. He did put on an alarming amount of weight last season, but has lost it. I was surprised by how tall he is, and he looks really strong. Cabrera will fit in perfectly with this team in terms of his demeanor as well. His is not unlike that of fellow Venezuelan’s Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen. In other words, perfect for a ball player.
- Jim Leyland’s is not as concerned about the Tigers’ bullpen as the media and fans. He is putting it on the starting rotation to go deeper into games.
- Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski is not feeling heat to make a trade for bullpen help. He says either Francisco Cruceta and Denny Bautista - or both - could emerge this year to give the Tigers’ bullpen much-needed depth. He says Tiger scouts clocked Bautista’s fastball as high 100 mph when he was with the Rockies.
- The Tigers have no plans to trade Brandon Inge and will ask him to report to spring training with pitchers and catchers to re-acquainted with the catching position.
- There was a line down the street at the opening of the event. I remember, not long ago, when they couldn’t give tickets away to TigerFest.
- The Tigers own this town right now. Amazing.

Random Thoughts

- Lost in the shuffle of the Tony Romo meltdown Sunday was just how little faith the Giants coaching staff had in Eli Manning throwing the football while protecting the lead during the fourth quarter. The ineffectiveness of the Giants offense with the lead should have cost them the game. Manning was, however, spectacular on the Giants scoring drive to close the first half.

- The most underrated unit remaining in the playoff chase is the Chargers defense. The Chargers have played well on the road, but there is little doubt a cold weather trip presents a difficult task.

- If the playoffs started today, who would be the Red Wings’ starting goalie in Game 1? I think it would be Dominik Hasek. But should it be?

16 Comments:

Anonymous Chad said...

Pat, I couldn't possibly be more excited for the upcoming tigers season. This morning i was bored so i decided to crunch some numbers and the tigers opening day starting line-up had a .311 average in 2007. 311! And that's with Sheffield's paltry .265 weighing things down. I'm not worried about the pitching staff that much right now. I think the offense alone if healthy, is good enough to get us into the playoffs with mediocre pitching support. They should come very close to averaging 6 runs a game. Also, i'm extremely confident that if there are pitching woes during the season, that DD will make the necessary moves to correct it.

11:37 AM 
Anonymous Bryan152 said...

I don't know if there has ever been this much hype as there is following the Tigers this year. Pressure will be on them to win at least 95 games and anything less than a playoff berth will be a major disappointment. Once again this spring, I see the Tigers drawing fans away from the Joe during the NHL playoffs.

I think the biggest factor in yesterdays Dallas / New York game was the astounding pass rush of the Giants. Osi and Strahan are the best one-two punch in football right now and they forced Romo to rush a great deal of his passes last night. That said, I see the magic running out for the G-Men this weekend, if only because of the inevitable blizzard at Lambeau.

Babcock needs to simply start in Game One whichever goalie is hotter going into April. This will hopefully motivate both Dom and Ozzie to play hard in otherwise meaningless games as the season winds down.

12:46 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book,

Dombrowski stating he is not feeling heat for bullpen is perfect. I would hate if he were broadcasting the peril of our bullpen - I predict (based soley on cosmic Karma) a trade is made - a closer - before April. But then my crystal ball goes foggy.

Glad to hear Inge stays. All you need is an injured Cabrera and the Tigers are hot-box-prone. My thinking anyways. Thank you Branden - I know it's not what you want - but thank you.

Goalie starter? - You start Hasek - but make Ozzie understand Dom is out at first sign of problem. Ozzie is your best goalie - Dom just makes a better bobble-head.

On my satelite (Bell ExpressVu) Boston is our home city - there is no other option. Watching their version of SpartsWorks Sunday night - they were calling Peyton a choker and disappointed it's the Chargers - not the Colts. Me too. Pretty nasty talk though.

It must be nice to have an NFL team. I wish we could get one.

Go Tigers

1:05 PM 
Blogger Dakota Mark said...

Hey Pat - I am glad to hear Leyland not being so concerned about the bull pen this season. Plus, after reading the Tigerfest columns from all of you beat writers, I didn't consider one glaring piece of info; Yorman Bazardo. Before the big trade, he was slated to possibly be the 5th starter...Now, he would be slated for the Bull Pen. That alone helps the pen tremendously! I am very excited about the season.

As for the starting goalie for the Wings if playoffs started today...Osgood hands down. Dom has been great also lately, but Ozzy has that special confidence so far this season, and I think the players see it too and trust him more.

As for Jimmy Howard, from your last blog, I thought he was purposely kept down in Grand Rapids this season, no matter what, to help get him seasoned for next year. With Dom showing his age this season, and Ozzy getting the contract extension, I think the Wings are setting the table for next season to bring Howard up to share time with Ozzy, with Ozzy taking the play off roles next season...then in 2010, having Howard - depending on his 2009 performance - take over the starters job permanently. Howard had a great camp this year, and is play well down in GR. I believe all is well in goalie land for the Wings. I trust the Big 3 decision makers for the Wings on this(Devellano, Bowman, and Holland).

Later - Mark

1:24 PM 
Anonymous Barry said...

Hey Pat: You would think a team would take Inge because of his defense and range at 3B and he does hold a career batting avg of 251 as a 3rd sacker and average 19 hr per season as a 3B. He could also be a super sub. But if he accept being a super sub including catcher, then the Tigers might as well keep him. He could be the starting catcher in 09? If the Tigers keep Inge on the roster that would mean either Raburn or Thames might be off the squad. Inge should be able to play LF against lefthanders. Is there still no market for Thames?

1:40 PM 
Anonymous Tim said...

Hi Pat,

The Tigers are even getting me excited, and I haven't followed the team since the 80's.

Regarding the goalie situation, I'm not sure why Ozzie and Dom cannot rotate during the playoffs like they're doing now. I know it's always been believed that a team has to have only one goalie in the playoffs but I was never too sure why. I guess you're supposed to go to the hot hand but if both are hot, use them both.

If having to chose one goalie, I'd be hard pressed. They have both won cups so it might be a coin toss. By the way, the Senators sure looked to have the Wings solved by clogging up center ice. The Wings have to remember that's what teams are going to do to them during the playoffs.

Thank you

1:57 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Chad,
They did average about six runs per game for much of last season before Sheffield's injury brought a downturn offensively. I still see him as key. They say he should be able to swing the bat by spring training without any problems. But that is an incredible lineup. Lots of firepower and better contact than, say, in 2006.
Caputo

1:59 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Bryan152,
The Tigers are definitely the darlings in this town. Last year, they definitely stole attention away from the Wings. But the Wings have earned the attention and support. They have been masterfully built by Ken Holland and gang. Obviously, the Giants pass rush was a factor, but Romo, who is quite mobile, is usually a lot better in the face of such a rush.
Caputo

2:02 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Calling Manning a choker is unfair. I mean, he did win it all last year, beating the Patriots in the process. San Diego, for whatever reason, matches up with the Colts. I thought it was more the Colts defense that lost that game than any other factor. Could agree more about Inge may be needed.
Caputo

2:10 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

dakota mark,
Good point on Bazardo. I think he is pretty good, too. They have a little more out there than originally throught in terms of raw talent. The question is about production. As for Howard, that was the plan this season. What about next? Seems like Hasek might want to come back if he backstops the Wings to the title or to a deep playoff run.
Caputo

2:13 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Barry,
He could be their starting catcher in 2009. I think that is what the Tigers are thinking, too. But Inge may not be on the same page.
Caputo

2:15 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Tim,
They have different options at goalie. Teams have played the hot hand before (Carolina two years ago). Better to have some options than just one. The Senators played a great game Saturday. It was like a playoff game. It was good for the Red Wings, though. Some nights they aren't even really tested.
Caputo

2:18 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

Great sports weekend with NFL playoffs, Wings-Sens game on HNIC, and, of course, TigerFest. With all this activity, MSU's Men's hoops team stink bomb on the prairie could almost be overlooked. I'm sure Coach Izzo's practices this week will be intensely uptempo to put it mildly.

Concerning the Tigers, the $64 K question (actually $6 million) is will Brandon Inge reconsider and, hopefully, have a change of heart about catching. Inge refamilarizing himself with the "Tools of Ignorance" (may Jim Price forgive me) makes too much sense for both he and the Tigers for this move not to happen.

I was reading this morning that Leyland is concerned about Vance Wilson's recovery and status for the start of Spring Training. In all likelihood, this will be Pudge's last year as the Tigers backstop. Inge could be the "super" sub this year and the everyday catcher in '09 for a pennant contending club. Being the fan I am, I surely hope that the Inge's don't put their summer home in Dexter on the market anytime soon.

So where was the Benny Hill music for Ken Kal's most difficult trivia question last week? I had the over/under at 300 seconds (five minutes) before a winner. I believe that difficulty of Mr. Kal's trivia question is in direct proportion to the difficulty of the trivia questions he has to endure from Woodsy on their Red Wing wireless broadcasts.

2:51 PM 
Blogger Dakota Mark said...

Pat - back to the Howard point you made....What about next season? Even if we win the Cup with Dom. I still don't think they should let, nor want him to come back.

Lets take the 1998 season, and subsequent 2nd Cup as a real life example of my point. Vernon helped win the 1997 Cup, and was named MVP. That didn't stop Big 2, at the time, from letting Ozzy take the raigns for next season.

Albeit Ozzy had a few seasons already under his belt at that point, but that is why they signed Ozzy to a 3 year deal...to give Howard that Veteran support for the next few years....

Dom needs to go after this season, regardless of the outcome! We need to tailer our Goalie of the future NOW!!!!

Mark

5:06 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
The Tigers need Inge to catch. We'll see if he is willing. In my opinion, it would jump start his career. Hopefully the Bennie Hill music will be back for "Inside Hockeytown" this week.
Caputo

11:51 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

dakota mark,
They need to go to a young goalie eventually, but I do think the Red Wings need to see what Hasek does this postseason first. Also, I'm not sure if Howard is the long-term answer. Guess the fear is that we'll never find out and that he'll flourish elsewhere.
Caputo

11:54 AM 

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