Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Special Moment, But Is This A Special Team?

Sometimes it isn’t necessarily winning games, but how you win them that breeds confidence.
You can sense it is growing with the Tigers. Among the players. With their fans.
A turning point was when Curtis Granderson made that great catch in Cleveland early in the season. The Tigers were at a crossroad at the time - and took the right path.
Tuesday’s victory over the Cubs was particularly meaningful because the Tigers rallied a couple times and won it with a walk-off home run by Ryan Raburn.
Contending teams not only have contributions from role players such as Raburn, but also these certain magical moments. The two elements combined Tuesday
Come on. Raburn was a right-handed baitter, pinch-hitting for a left-handed hitter, Josh Anderson, against a right-handed pitcher, Kevin Gregg. Logically, the move made no sense at all. Raburn was hitting .225 at the time. It’s not like he has displayed a lot of power. It was a pure "feel" move by manager Jim Leyland. Raburn made him look like a genius by crushing the ball. It was an awful pitch from Gregg. And he paid for it.
The Tigers are a flawed team. They lack punch. Their bullpen is being held together on the whims of Fernando Rodney’s effectiveness, They don’t really have a fifth starter. Armando Galarraga hasn’t been much of a fourth one lately, either.
But the Tigers aren’t beating themselves with fielding blunders and a lack of range like last season. The top three in their starting rotation has pitched as well as any trio in baseball. And the Tigers are getting far more than expected from role players.
This is a team that is essentially in first place with virtually no contribution from Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen or Jeremy Bonderman.
How can that be? Somehow they have developed an intangible quality that keeps building. It’s almost July, you know. This team seems in it for the long haul.

Random Thoughts

- Best move of the season so far by the Tigers: Calling up Donald Kelly and sending Clete Thomas to Toledo. Thought it was a curious move at the time, but it turned out to be the right decision, didn’t it?

- Not going to miss Donald Fehr as head of baseball’s Players Association? Me neither. He was as big a part of the steroids scandal as Bud Selig, as far as I’m concerned.

My column in Wednesday Oakland Press on Lions minicamp:



Anonymous Anonymous said...


down here in Florida, I dont have the opportunity to watch to many tigers games, but i did get a chance to see the game last night thanks to WGN. I only saw 1 at bat from Don Kelley and that was in the last inning. The mechanics of his swing are really good in my opinion. They did a slow motion of an inside pitch he fouled off and it was amazing how he was able to keep his hands inside that tough pitch (that same pitch would have been a strike 3 for many of the guys on the team with the better HR capability but with swings that have poorer mechanics). The way he worked the count in the 9th inning and got on base is so much bigger than a guy that hits a meaningless home run at a random part of the game. We get so caught up in the stats that we forget about the little things that win ball games (prob why the yankees have the highest payroll with nothing to show for it in some time). Maybe kelley is an example of billy beane's money ball (or sabrnomics). just my thoughts.

lil rob

9:00 AM 
Blogger Barry said...

That the ticket Pat, three good starters and two good set-up guys and good closer. Play good defense and have a little speed. The Tigers are getting close to the mark. The only thing the Tigers are lacking is another big bat.

9:22 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This Tigers team intrigues me. I truly believe that if they can just make it to October, they have a shot at getting hot, riding Verlander and Jackson, and pulling off a stunner like the '06 Cardinals. It would truly be something for this area to be proud of. We need it. It would be similar to the '68 team and how the city rallied behind them.

Maybe I'm dreaming, because this team certainly is flawed like you said, but you're right. They have a real shot to be in the thick of it come late August and September. They just might be the real deal.


11:53 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

lil rob,
Kelly does have smooth swing, but I do expect him to slow down. It was a huge at bat in that game. Pony up for the MLB package. It's not that much.

10:00 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

All that - and be in the American League Central where you dom't have to win that many games to reach the postseason.

10:01 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
For some reason your comment didn't post, but it was a good one about Kelly's at bat. Very perceptive.

10:02 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Great point. The rotation is shortened to three pitchers. Teams have won it riding just two. Remember the '87 Twins with Viola and Blyleven.

10:04 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think the best move of the season is Magglio cutting his's about time!!


8:16 AM 
Blogger mikey610 said...

I would add Sunday's game to that list of games that 'good teams win', against a really good pitcher (Gallardo),with one swing of the bat (Inge).

3:39 PM 
Blogger Kurt said...

I wouldn't say pinch-hitting the righty Raburn for the lefty Anderson "logically made no sense" because of the righty/lefty matchup. In fact, logically it made the most sense.

Right-handers are hitting .50 points higher than lefties off Gregg and righties have a slugging average is .100 points higher than lefties.

Add to that the fact Raburn is a better hitter for both average and power than Anderson, and it made good sense.

Leyland knew the numbers and went with them.

12:23 PM 

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