Friday, October 02, 2009

Bottom Line: Leyland Should Have Played Polanco

It was obvious Thursday the Tigers would have been better served with Placido Polanco in the lineup rather than Ramon Santiago.
I heard Tigers manager Jim Leyland explain why he made the move. Santiago was 6-for-12 lifetime against Twins starter Scott Baker. Polanco sometimes has back issues. He wanted him to rest, but Polanco definitely could have played.
Polanco has come through in the clutch as much as any Tigers hitter this season, including twice in late or extra innnings against the Twins. Resting him would have been the least of Leyland's problems had the Tigers won Thursday.
This was a clinching game. Not just another afternoon game during the grind of July.
Most of the time, I understand Leyland's logic behind such decisions. I do believe if the Tigers win the division, he should be named American League Manager of the Year. But not for this decision. It was clearly the wrong one.
I can't help but think the outcome of Thursday's game might have been different had Polanco come to the plate with the bases loaded in the fourth inning rather than Santiago - or another time when Santiago didn't come through with a runner in scoring position.
Also, I can't help but think the Tigers would have been better served with Aubrey Huff or Clete Thomas in the lineup Thursday rather than Marcus Thames.

Random Thoughts

- To me, the start of the National Hockey League season is every bit as big a deal as opening day in baseball or the start of the NFL and college football seasons. I do, however, wish the Red Wings weren't opening in Sweden. Just don't see where playing regular season games in Europe is necessary. Why just not do it during the exhibition season?

- Yeah, I still think the Tigers will win the division. My best guess - Saturday. That's important because the last thing the Tigers need if they do, indeed, reach the playoffs is not being able to start Justin Verlander in the ALDS opener against the Yankees.

- This weather could become a major issue the next couple days. Oh boy, October baseball.

- I believe the Lions have a fighting chance against the Bears on Sunday. Chicago's defense is kind of banged up. I'm big on Jay Cutler's ability, but not necessarily sold on him as a leader. Matthew Stafford, however, must continue to take care of the ball. If the Lions turn the ball over, especially in the first half, they will be done. Also, the Bears' return game is the very best.

- Rain on Saturday should favor Michigan State's style of play rather than Michigan. The Spartans need one of their tailbacks to go over 100 yards, though. Not sure if I picture that happening.



Blogger Barry said...

Hey Pat, one thing we need Verlander to pitch two games against the Yank. That all we have is pitching and a pray. The cold weather may help Justin and Jackson. After CC, the other Yanks pitchers are beatable. The Tigers have pounded CC before. Remember Thames broken bat home run. JL better get Thames, Raburn and Maggs swinging the bat this weekend and others. Lets go get them.

3:28 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

When you live by your gut instincts - you can also die from them. Last night was such a case for Skip Leyland.

I still think Skip has won more games for the Tigers this year than he has lost for them with his gut-instinct (not to be confused with a woman's intuition - totally different) style of managing.

But last night was hard to settle with.

Maybe Leyland had indigestion?

5:12 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, If Leyland liked playing Santiago against Baker, he should have sat Everett, and let Roman start at SS. Everett essentially replaced Polly in the lineup, which is indefensible., Dave

6:05 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You're right. It is very important the Tigers clinch before Sunday so Verlander can be ready to go twice - especially in the opener -of the ALDS.

6:06 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Couldn't agree with you more. And Leyland has been right a lot more than wrong this season.

6:07 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maybe. They do give up something defensively when Everret isn't in there.

12:09 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't quite figure Leyland out?

I still think that even a great manager like Leyland gets stale with too many years in the business..

Come on ... what does a manager do in crunch time at the end of the season ... tired? Batting average vs. a pitcher?

If a guy is on cruches, you put him in if he is a clutch player..

Remember the home run by Gibson limping?

10:24 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Agree Leyland is a good manager, but one thing hasn't necessarily been able to do in his career is stop the bleeding. Either with bad teams or good teams in the second half of seasons.

1:10 PM 

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