Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Tigers: So Close, Yet So Far Away

Note: For my thoughts on the Pudge trade, read my column at sports columns at theoaklandpress.com

I've been on the Tigers trip to Cleveland, and it's been a strange experience.
Tuesday night was typical of what I'm talking about. The Tigers beat the Indians 8-5. They got a good start from the team savior this season, Armando Galarraga. A couple of their maligned veterans, Gary Sheffield and Edgar Renteria, came through with clutch two-run hits. The bullpen didn't blow the game. In the process, the Tigers moved to within 5 1-2 games of the A.L. Central lead with two months remaining in the season.
Yet, you can sense no emotion - from the fans, the media, the team itself - that the Tigers are going to reach the postseason.
It's because neither Joel Zumaya nor Fernando Rodney looks particularly sharp. It doesn't seem like they will hold up to pressure beyond holding big leads against a struggling team such as the Indians. It will be a lot different in Tampa Bay over the weekend. The Tigers may have to go to Todd Jones again, perhaps as soon as tonight. How is he going to react? Certainly he is well-rested. Can the Tigers expect solid starts from Kenny Rogers, Nate Robertson and Zach Miner?
We've been waiting four months for Sheffield and Renteria to break loose. Who is holding their breath for that to suddenly happen? Besides, isn't pitching the Tigers real problem?
Still, it's difficult to look at the standings and not believe the Tigers have a chance.

Random Thoughts

- Like the rest of the world, I have always been underwhelmed by Kwame Brown. But he is a big body the Pistons desperately need inside, he does have obvious talent, he is about to enter his prime as a player and he wasn't cost-prohibitive to sign. So it was a pretty good deal.

- Look, I tire of the "Drama King" aspect of Brett Favre, too. But there is no way the Packers are better without him than with him.

- I drove by Tiger Stadium the other day. From the freeway, you can see the inside of the park now. To say it brought back memories would be an understatement. So would it be to say it brought a true sense of sadness. Some things are just difficult to let go. Tiger Stadium is one of them.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Bryan152 said...

To analyze the Tiger's postseason chances you must first break a baseball team down into three parts: Starting Pitching, Bullpen, and Hitting. Try and tell me that there is one aspect of those three that the White Sox aren't superior to the Tigers in. That's it right there. To say that the Tigers will play six games better than their AL Central counterparts battling for first place is almost silly. Where is this surge going to come from?

If you look at the White Sox you see a bullpen that is fortified like few other teams in baseball. Since 2006, there has been no question as to their closer role: Bobby Jenks is the real deal. Now, they have their 7th and 8th inning guys locked down which helps make them a real contender.

That sense of stability is common to the Twins, as well. Joe Nathan is about as automatic as Rivera, Papelbon, and K-Rod, if not more so.

I really can't picture the Tigers going into The Cell or The Dome this year and finishing out games on a consistent basis with a bullpen in such disarray.

1:21 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Great title Pat, because it's so painfully freakin' true.

They are always on that cusp of a big run - and always on that cusp of falling back into the hole.

I guess off balance like the great Walenda as he tried to walk between the Sears towers when we were kids - "he's gonna make it .. oops .. no he's ok .. oh no .. oh my goodness that was horrific ..". (my apologies to the remaining Walendas).

We need a closer - or a seven-eight-nine guy. Can throw most every night - gets the job done. Believe it or not - I'm askin for a knuckleballer. He doesn't need a rock-song intro either.

Tomorrow's the deadline and I pray there is a quality closer on a team not in contention that the Tigers can trade for Mr. Renteria - we got suckered for him giving up Jergins - if we all keep our mouths shut we might do like Atlanta did to us. Then we can get even with the Marlins later.

We could always throw in Willis too.

But as of this miunute - it still ain't over.

1:52 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Hey Pat, the Tigers are hard to get excited about when their pitching which is everything is rank 22nd in the league. Their bullpen has been a revolving door which is way more important than #5 guys. They are too dominate from the right side and being dominate from the right side they will never score 1000 runs. Look at what Paul Byrd did the other night. But that said, you have that feeling that maybe they will go on a hot streak and squeak into the playoff. I just hope fans keep supporting the team and showing up to the park. Mr.I comes through again as he did with the Cabrera trade. Is Marcus Thames a free agent next year, if so, would you resign him or let him walk? He deserves 400 ABS each year.

5:02 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book,

Pudge was failing us. We needed bullpen help. Okay I can dig that. But somehow I feel we were shortchanged.

This was Pudge Rodriguez, Hall of Famer to be and the piece that allowed Dombrowski to build the clubhouse we had in 2006? For only Farnsworth?

Have we given up?

The way they're playing Cleveland right now, it looks like our boys are stunned.

Of couse as I type this, Inge homers. But is Inge the only one who benefits by this trade?

8:30 PM 
Anonymous Hollis Keys in Detroit said...

Book, they still have a chance because of a favorable schedule in August and September as compared to the Chisox and Piranhas(Twins). Three 10 game road trips might do in Chicago and Minnesota's road woes them but a few things must happen for the local nine; 1. Nate Robertson must have pitched his last game as a starter for the Tigers. His inability to pitch effectively past 5 or 6 innings except the rare occasion and his penchant for blowing large leads call for a demotion of one sort or another. 2. Someone other than Jones or Rodney who can pitch inside effectively and throw strikes in the ninth inning with GOOD LOCATION must be found so that discouraging losses as the ones to the Orioles, Twins and White Sox stop becoming regular occurences instead of blips on the radar. The track record of the hitters is showing and now someone has to be found who can finish effectively and another who can hold what he has been given and keep his team in the game. Rodney, Jones and Robertson are not the answers to these pressing needs.

On Tiger Stadium. I understand the adoration and memories that people have for the old ballyard but in every city when they build a new stadium they tear the old one down memories and all. Crosley Field, Forbes Field, Riverfront, Busch, Comiskey, Three Rivers, all had their date with the wrecker's tools. In April of 2009 Yankee Stadium the "House That Ruth Built" will meet the same fate as all of the others. If that one with all of its memories and 26 World Championships can be relegated to a municipal park then why are we in this city trying to hold on to a "rusted old girder" to quote Bo Schembechler at the cost of millions of dollars which could be well spent somewhere else. It is time to move forward in this city as they do everywhere else.
Hollis Keys in Detroit

11:31 AM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

you know book what is happening with the tigers pretty much what we all thought would be the demise if there were one. That is the pitching. The Pitching is awful. Nate Robertson would be a solid bull pen guy being he can only pitch one or two innings anyways. Sheffield looks like he is hitting the basement and renteria we are still waiting to show up. Marcus Thames has tailed off to what he is. Personally I think we should be content with where we are. Would we reather be in first. UH YEAH! But what can you do. To me the tigers have a shot, but they'd have to make more moves then farnsworth. Personally I think that move is just a wash. We need an arm the yankees needed a catcher.

Another guy you have to look at is Leyland. Personally I don't think he has managed very well thsi year. For example today you have a chance to take the series and you put a turd lineup like he has in there today. i can see resting either Polanco or Ordonez then giving the other off in the next game, but not all at the same time. You want to get back into it guys need to man up and play now. What cracks me up the most is everyone is knocking the bull pen. what about the rotation. Verlander has been just OK. Rogers has been OK. Nate has been awful. The only consistent guy has been Gallaraga. Miner he is only 2 starts in. I don't know it will be itneresting, but I think the Tigers will finish up just an above 500 squad this year and with a lineup pretty set. Will need to really work on the arms this off season.

As far as Kwame Brown. Does anybody really care LOL...

Brett Favre... boy I know it won't happen hell I'd love for him to be a lion. I'd trade all of day 1 in the draft next year to get him.

2:20 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

bryan152,
The Tigers probably have a slightly more threatening hitting attack, but the White Sox are more consistent. Chicago definitely has better pitching.
Caputo

2:56 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Up and down...up and down...up and down. The only pattern the Tigers have established is inconsistency.
Caputo

2:58 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Barry,
If there was ever a team that proves baseball is all about pitching, it's this one. They aren't as good as '06 with a better hitting attack because they don't pitch nearly as well. Period.
Caputo

3:00 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
They need bullpen help, sure, but Kyle Farnsworth? Every club that has put a lot of faith in him pretty much has been burned by it.
Caputo

3:01 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

hollis keys in detroit,
I agree with you about the Twins. They will be on the road a lot - and they haven't played well on the road this season. I don't see where the Tigers have an edge on the Sox, though.
Caputo

3:03 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
It's all about pitching. Leyland would be a much better manager given better pitching options. Pretty much the entire Tigers staff has disappointed.
Caputo

3:04 PM 

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