Monday, April 14, 2008

Rant Is Fine, But Leyland Should Look In Mirror

Jim Leyland’s blowup following the Tigers’ 11-0 loss to the White Sox Sunday was both understandable and predictable.
His team has been awful. Leyland’s patience has been tested to the breaking point, but I honestly don’t think it is going to provide an impetus to the Tigers improving their play.
And it doesn’t - in any way, shape or form - mask the fact the Tigers simply weren’t prepared for the start of the season. For that, Leyland is culpable.
This is a team that looks like it expected to just show up and win games. Fundamentally, they have been awful. How can so many veteran players make so many mistakes? Perhaps they should have been reminded of a few things the last weeks of spring training.
Injuries haven’t helped, but in truth, Brandon Inge has done well in place of Curtis Granderson. Anybody they put in there isn’t going to be worse than Dontrelle Willis. He was pitching awful when he got hurt.
It’s the stars - from Miguel Cabrera to Magglio Ordonez to Gary Sheffield to Carlos Guillen to Justin Verlander - who haven’t been performing.
Tiger hitters give away too many at-bats by swinging at bad pitches and not working the count. They try to pull too many outside pitches, instead of going the other way, which has resulted in a rash of double play balls.
The pitchers haven’t help the situation. With the exception of Jeremy Bonderman in Boston and the bullpen Friday night in Chicago, when the going has gotten tough, Tiger pitchers have competed poorly.
Intellectually, you can slough this off as "being early." There is little doubt the season is not over by any stretch. But the Tigers start has been alarming nonetheless, and it will take more than the manager yelling at his players to turn it around.
It will take urgency on the field by his ballplayers. Based on what we’ve seen so far from this high-priced, evidently too comfortable team, I am not holding my breath for that to happen any time soon.

Random Thoughts

- Considering all the anticipation regarding Francisco Cruceta’s arrival, does anybody realize his career ERA is above 10? You’d think the Tigers were waiting for Mariano Rivera or something.

- The more I see of Rodney Stuckey, the more I like. Seems like a great draft pick by Joe Dumars. I wouldn’t be surprised if Stuckey is a major factor during the playoffs.

- Just a gut feeling, but closer it gets to the NFL Draft, the more I get the feeling the Lions will take a linebacker in the opening round.

18 Comments:

Blogger Fred Brill said...

Even watched pots boil ... eventually. It's the sound of the clock ticking while you're waiting that drives you mad.

In my opinion, the game Saturday should not have been played. It should have been called. I know there was a no-hitter on the line, but those were pathetic conditions. And we're already laden with Injuries.

I agree with your comments on Leyland. We should be hearing the calls for his head by now. I wouldn't support those wanting the Skip fired, but I would empathize with them.

I don't have a clue where the problem lies.

1:29 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
If it were a younger, less decorated manager, he'd be in trouble by now. Leyland's track record is what keeps him out of hot water, and deservedly so. I think Leyland is a terrific manager, but it is his fault his team entered this season so unprepared for it emotionally.
Caputo

1:55 PM 
Blogger Rick said...

I could not believe they continued to play the game on Saturday. There was no excuse. There were puddles of water on the infield.

2:16 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Book,
Does this Tiger Team seem "old" to you? It does to me. Yes it has a lot of All Star talent, but Sheffield, Rodriguez, Rogers, T. Jones are over 37. Guillen, Polanco, Ordonez, J, Jones, Inge, Renteria, Robertson are mid-30's.
Only Willis, Granderson, Verlander, Cabrera and Rayburn are significantly under 30. Perhaps I am reaching here but the team just seems to look old and unathletic. I don't blame Dombrowski because Illitch pushed the Cabrera deal (besides Willis and Cabrera are not over 30) but it takes older players a few weeks to kick it into gear sometimes.

3:13 PM 
Anonymous Bryan152 said...

I don't think the Leyland blow-up will do much because it lacked the spontaneity of the April '06 tirade. I feel like everyone, the players included, were simply waiting for it and afterwards, a sigh of relief was exuded that the rant had come and gone. Motivating big leaguers who earn more in a month than the manager does in a year is no easy task and perhaps Leyland has also lost that stern power of authority.

I know you think very little of Manager Ozzie Guillen but if you were watching the Sunday broadcast, you saw his comments in February regarding the Tigers' off-season acquisitions. He is the first one to perfectly sum up my feelings (now in hindsight, mind you) on the matter. I actually look at the Renteria trade now as being the biggest blunder since we gave up a perfectly capable starter in Jair Jurrjens who would've inevitably filled a void left by one of five guys in our rotation this season.

What I'm seeing out of the players now is a lack of clubhouse leadership by one player and heightened self-interest by the players in their own performance in order to avoid the scapegoat tag. The players need not worry though since there is no official scapegoat here: Not one player has been consistently good and every aspect of team has looked awful.

Let me conclude by asking you one thing: How in the hell did Jacques Jones hit 27 home runs in 2006?

5:14 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Book,

Great read regarding your Dad from Sunday. I really enjoyed learning a little about your relationship with your Father. I wondered at the time of his demise if you would write something about him to share with us.

I'm glad that you were able to provide readers like myself with some insight about you and your Dad's mutual interest. I'm sure that column was both easy and hard to pen.

I'm not a golfer but I do enjoy playing catch with my son.

6:15 PM 
Blogger Larry said...

I disagree about Leyland. He gets no credit, "getting the team ready"? There were sign during the spring that the pitchers weren't sharp, but Leyland had every reason to think his experienced players would be professional. I think they lacked an edge to start the season, but they have been pressing since. I think it's the choker collar that's fitting pretty snug, right now. And until something breaks for the hitters, it's self-perpetuating. The pitching is another story. It is downright scary.

7:30 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Rick,
They forced playing those games for two reasons - the forecasts and the fact their are so few off days early this season - fewer than in April's past. Doesn't make it good for the game, though.
Caputo

8:30 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
Your point is a valid one. At what stage does a player just lose it because of his age? The Tigers have several players in that "danger" zone.
Caputo

8:31 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Bryan152,
Yeah. Ozzie is turning out to be right. Also, the White Sox have been overjoyed by beating the Tigers - too overjoyed. Doesn't seem to bother the Tigers' players too much, though. That's disturbing. I hear you on Leyland blowing up. It wasn't exactly unexpected this time.
Caputo

8:33 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
Thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it. It was tough to write only in the sense it's not the easiest thing to do to share thoughts that are so personal. But I felt people could relate to it. Also, I would urge them to play that last round of golf - or whatever - with their loved ones.
Caputo

8:35 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Larry,
I think you're right. He did seem to feel his players were professional. But was that the right tactic in retrospect? I think it is a legitimate and fair question to ponder.
Caputo

8:37 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since managers can't turn .180 hitters into .300 hitters, it is absurd to think that somehow a manager is responsible for turning a team of .300 hitters into .180 ones !

The media in this town is insane. Just like two years ago when Leyland ripped his players for packing it in on a getaway Sunday, the media are overreacting to EVERYthing this team does.

The Yankees were 8 games under .500 at the end of May last year and made the postseason. If this team is 8 games under .500 at the end of APRIL, the media will be going bonkers!!

The season is 162 games and that means the best teams are going to end up at the top, so overall, you have to lilke the Tigers; chances.

But they were also one of the top 5 teams in all of baseball last year yet still didn't make the playoffs. It happens. There are no guarantees. But in today's world, the only thing that matters is that we find someone to blame.

The media in Detroit has been bush league in their coverage of the Tigers - not the beat writers who get it, but the rest of the ilk that share their newspaper space with a spot on the radio dial as well!!!!!

8:19 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
You make some good points, but don't seem to understand how passionate people are about baseball in this town right now. They go up and down every day with the team - and it has pretty much been down this season. I know people look for scapegoats, but certainly the media has had nothing to do with this. In New York or Boston or Philly or Chicago, the reaction to this would have been worse given the expectations.
Caputo

10:32 AM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

I just wanted to put this up before tonight's game.

I know everybody's happy about last night's game. And I know there is speculation that Leyland's rant worked again.

But.

What we need to see from these guys is two wins in a row. A second game where the bats show up. And we need to see the starter have a quality outing. And then if we get that, we need to see it a third and a fourth time.

Don't expect a streak right - now - though I wouldn't dismiss it if it happened. But do expect the consistency to get better. The wins to be more frequent.

But we can't do it without starting pitching. Right now - a poor starting outing is as good as a loss - even if the bats bail us out of another night of bad pitching.

Just my thoughts. I don't feel as confident as everybody else does right now.

3:31 PM 
OpenID Coleslaw369 said...

It was Leyland's rant that lit a fire in 2006 after a dreadful series. This was definitely needed and after watching them claw back, no pun intended, on Monday they already look like a different ball club. The same for Tuesday with another comeback. You are right that they should have been prepared day-1, but it worked before and seems to be again....Please get Leyland to yell next door in the lockeroom at Ford Field.

9:42 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Well, the Tigers did win a second game in a row. The bats did show up. Now what about the pitching?
Caputo

12:14 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

coleslaw369,
LOL on the Ford Field comment. Whatever Leyland said, didn't hurt. I mean the results the last couple night speaks for themselves.
Caputo

12:15 PM 

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