Sunday, September 20, 2009

On Stafford And The Tigers Mr. Clutch

There are a lot of things to like about Matthew Stafford. He has the big arm, pretty good mobility and, for the most part, a good feel for the game.
What has to be questioned about his long-term potential is whether he can stop throwing interceptions at the worst possible times.
That was his biggest issue at Georgia. It was a problem in the preseason. It certainly has been troubling since the start of the regular season.
Just when you think Stafford is going along fine - boom - there comes the interception card.
They don't come on deflected passes, either. Or throws where he is trying to fit the ball between defenders. Or where a great play is made by a defensive player.
We're taking about right in-between the numbers turnovers.
It could be that he is overaggressive sometimes - as Lions' coach Jim Schwartz stated following Detroit's 27-13 defeat to the Vikings Sunday.
Or could it be a quirk Stafford can't overcome? Time will tell.

Random Thoughts

- Honestly, when you come right down to it, and with due respect to Miguel Cabrera, is there a more valuable position player on the Tigers than Placido Polanco? Big game Sunday from a big-game player. Without Polanco, the Tigers wouldn't have won a game in Minnesota all season. One of the great mysteries - what happened to Polanco in the 2006 World Series. It was so out of character.

- Baseball's a weird game, isn't it? The deck was so stacked against the Tigers Sunday. Give Nate Robertson and Zach Miner credit for coming through when it seemed highly unlikely.

My column in Sunday's Oakland Press about Michigan State



Anonymous Michael C said...

No offense Pat, but you must be on crack if you actually think Polanco is more valuable to the team than Cabrera. :-)

I don't think you actually believe that though. Today sure, but not for the season. We're probably competing for last place without Cabrera. We'd have no offense without him.

But Polanco is definitely one of my favorite Tigers, if not my favorite period. Great defensively. Good hitter, for a 2nd baseman especially. Clutch. And possibly the only guy on our team that can keep fouling off 2 strike pitches. I wish he'd take a few more walks (in which case he'd be the perfect #2 hitter), but I'd be happy with him playing 2B for my team anyday.

2:30 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Michael C,
I'm not talking about overall production, but rather clutch hits. He comes through more often when it matters than any Tigers hitter. Sunday was more proof.

2:52 AM 
Blogger Barry said...

Hey Pat, everyone think Polanco is gone next year which probably true with all the pay raises coming to existing Tigers. I wonder if the Tiger would offer him Arb? Placido is a very good 2B and probably underrated at that position from defensive point of view. I guess the question is, is Sizemore ready to take over 2B.

9:54 AM 
Anonymous Doug said...


I keep hearing about Stafford's "big arm", but most of the passes I see him throw are short. If he has as much arm strength as touted, why need have him throw down the field more often? The pass to Bryant Johnson was overthrown, but he was wide open. Eventually, he'll get that throw down. Your thoughts?

11:19 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I think it would be unrealistic to expect Sizemore to come close to matching Polanco - both at the plate and in the field.

10:18 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

They are giving him the short passes and taking away the deep ones. That's why when he does get a shot downfield, like the one to Bryant Johnson, he can't miss.

10:19 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stafford is going to be fine if he doesn't get hurt ...

Remember Payton Manning had the same rough start in his freshman year ...

This pro game is about 150% faster than the college game and it takes time ...

He has the good arm and smarts to become really good in the pro game ..

Obviously one has to worry more about the defense ... but I wouldn't see Stafford short just yet.

11:52 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

It does seem like he is adjusting to the speed of the game. He also needs to learn sometimes to take what the defenses are giving him.

12:23 PM 
Blogger Jim15032 said...

Polanco is a blunk hitter who has good bat control and a good glove, but poor speed and limited range in the field. The Tigers should have taken the lesson of Branch Rickey: trade them while you can still get something. He traded more HoF players at the time their careers turned down than anyone else (of course, he usually had replacements when he did).

As for the mystery of the 2006 WS, I thought everyone knew that Polanco hates cold weather and has always played poorly when it is cold.

10:49 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point about Stafford having to learn the defensive schemes .. they are so much more sophisticated than the college defenses ... and the c. backs and the d. backs are so much better playing together .. and much faster. And having the thought of 250 lb. fast linebackers (instead of 220 lb. slower college players) blitzing is scary!

9:34 AM 

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