Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Some Observations About The Tigers...

As expected, they didn’t produce much against Mariners’ starter Felix Hernandez Tuesday. Yet, Rick Porcello kept them in the game with another strong outing. Porcello is a lot better than many people have been him giving him credit for, and it would have been a mistake to even consider dealing him at the trade deadline.
He needed to make two important adjustments, though.
1. More four-seam fastballs (a harder, straight fastball) to work with his two-seam fastball (a sinking fastball). Porcello’s two-seam fastball is the pitch that separates him from others. It’s a brilliant pitch, but he was overusing it. He needed a different look, at a different eye level and speed.
2. Throw a tighter breaking ball - a pitch more like a slider than a roundhouse curve.
A seasoned veteran couldn’t have made those adjustments any better than Porcello.

- It’s difficult, I know, to have much faith in Fernando Rodney, but he gotten the job done. With Rodney, it’s all about health. He doesn’t pitch as well as some major leaguers when his velocity is down. As such, a little ailment hinders Rodney a lot. He’s been healthy this year and his velocity is up. When he doesn’t throw as hard, hitters are still able to get their bat on his changeup - even if they are fooled by it. If he is in the mid-90s or higher with his fastball, they have to start guessing which pitch is coming - or they can’t touch his changeup.

- Miguel Cabrera is by far the Tigers best player. He needs to start producing in the clutch. He did Tuesday, that’s for sure. Could it be a turning point for him?

- Coming back to win Tuesday was huge - especially when Chicago was beaten at home by the woeful Royals. And considering how the Tigers lost Sunday to Kansas City.

- I’m still not sure if this town has bought into the Tigers just yet, and whether pennant fever is here. The trade for Aubrey Huff should help change that. Everybody knew they needed another hitter and help at third base because of Brandon Inge’s status. Well, they got both in one player.
Comeback victories like that one Tuesday will help in that regard, as well. The biggest factor, though, will be winning on the road. If the Tigers play well on the West Coast this weekend and early next week, their bandwagon will be full.



Anonymous Michael C said...

Sheesh, I can't believe you're still talking about how Cabrera needs to "turn it around" and "start producing in the clutch". First, he's been dominant in clutch situations the past couple weeks. More importantly, his career average and career OPS: .312, .928. His career average and OPS with runners in scoring position: .319, .928

He's had 5 straight years of 112 or more RBIs. He was a big part of a World Series winner. He's one of the most clutch 26 or younger hitters in the world.

He had a bad couple months with runners in scoring position. That doesn't mean he's not clutch or isn't doing enough, its just a case of looking at a small sample size in statistics. Run a simulation of 50 at bats for a guy hitting .350 w RISP a thousand times and you're going to get plenty of results where the player has less than 10 hits (a .200 average). That doesn't mean the guy is playing bad (he's a .350 hitter!), its just the way statistics work. They aren't accurate unless you're looking at a large sample size (like his 1071 career at bats w RISP where his numbers actually improve in those situations)

I've been reading your blog for quite a while and you spend more time criticizing Cabrera than any other Tiger by far, despite so many more players being worthy. You hardly ever criticize Magglio or Granderson despite Magglio's horrid year and Granderson struggling a lot lately. Do you just like them more? And can you finally put the "Cabrera needs to do more in the clutch" argument to rest? Its been your main topic for 2 months and its pretty silly looking at his career stats w RISP above, no?

3:31 PM 
Anonymous Jeff H. said...

I think people are still leary of the Tigers due to their 2nd half record the last few years. Even in '06 they faded hard, but contending was such a novelty we didn't mind. Until they can win a bit more consistently on the road, it's hard to make that leap of faith.

The Pretenders had a song called "It's a thin line between love and hate". That perfectly sums up my feelings about the Rodney Horror Pitcher Show. He scares me more than Rollercoaster Jones ever did.

3:33 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Hey Pat, I agree with everyone of your observations completly.

Porcello is exceeding my expectations and again I will say he is on his way to be another - Justin Verlander.

And Rodney is not nearly as scary as he used to be. Now - when he comes in to close - I know he will get the win for us in the end. He has only failed once in recent weeks - and you cant ask for more than that. It will be exciting when he does it.

BUT as for buying in - my perspective is different.

In 2006 it was a knuckle-biter hoping we could stem off the skid enough to still win the division - which we didnt.

In 2007 - it was a repeat of 2006 in the first half - but the decline in the second half was so fast we were out of it by this time of the season.

This pennant race is so exciting because we have been 3 or less games up all season - narrow margin - and GLARING weaknesses on the road.

I am 60% sure we will win the division - but there is no wild card for the central division.

Have I bought in?

OF COURSE I want them to win - but the uncertainty if they can close it out is the real honey on this bread and butter season.

I love it. But the fat lady ain't sung yet.

7:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Brill... Have you EVER disagreed with Pat? I mean, without literally apologizing for it after?

Just wondering.

7:34 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Michael C,
I was praising Cabrera, not criticizing him. It was a big hit, the kind he hasn't had many of this season. Secondly, Cabrera has 22 RBI in 230 road bats this season. Is that good? To give you an idea of how that compares, Placido Polanco has 25 RBI in 232 road at bats this season.

7:49 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

John H,
Great point. There is a thin line between love and hate with the Tigers. Think it's we haven't been through too many actual pennant races in this town lately, too. The mood swings about the Tigers are huge.

7:51 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
It's difficult to buy in completely because of the Tigers lack of success on the road. I think we'll know more about this team after the West Coast trip. Will they still be in first place then.

7:52 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill has taken me to task several times. I respect him greatly and the perspective he brings to this blog. I've learned more from Fred Brill than he has learned from me. And I read his blog regularly. It's excellent. I'd suggest it everyone. Check it out at

7:57 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I see your Cabrera, but I will raise you a granderson and inge.. These cats need to stop swinging at crap and start making better decisions at the plate.

Inge has come way back down to earth. This is the production a lot of folks got on him about. If he is hurt then well sit him... NO more excuses..

Granderson same thing.. Maybe it is time he takes a day or 2 off and takes some batting practice cause he has been awful at the plate as well since the all star break.

These pitchers are going out and giving u everything. It be nice if the rest of the team can join in.

9:46 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Anonymous - yeah I have - to the point where Pat yelled at me through the radio one night - although he swears he wasnt yelling.

I'm an Inge fan you see.

10:06 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leyland's comments in your article today make as much logic as his starting pitcher's changes ..

Leyland says that the Tigers try hard for nine innings ... that he doesn't care what some people think about the team's performance ... of course they try hard.

Most teams and players try hard. However that doesn't correlate to what they are doing on the field.

5:46 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Fred ... I've got some ocean-front property for sale in Vegas .. would you like to buy it?

5:47 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, I've been meaning to ask you a question for years ... actually it came to play when Mark McGuire was traded to St. Louis in '97 ... when he was traded St. Louis had played two less games ...

If a player is traded and then completes more than 162 games, does his record still stand? If not, where does his performance stop, at 162 games or does he just get an asterisk?

6:53 PM 

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