Wednesday, October 07, 2009

This Is What I Honestly Think About The Tigers

- I spent much of the summer proclaiming that if I had a vote for American League Manager of the Year, I would vote for Jim Leyland. I take that back. He made more than a few curious calls down the stretch that, unfortunately, negated the tremendous job he did the first five months of the season. Also, it's obvious he didn't have any control of his best player, Miguel Cabrera.
I don't know the reason why, honestly, but it is a fact - Leyland has trouble stopping the bleeding. When it starts going South for his teams, he never seems to contain it.


- I was lukewarm to the thought of the one-game playoff in Minnesota and, frankly, figured the Tigers would get crushed. Yet, it was one of the best games I have ever seen. Great strategy. Plenty of drama. Many great moments and plays.

- Anybody still want to trade Rick Porcello to Toronto for Roy Halladay? He should be named Rookie of the Year, maybe sealing it Tuesday.

- Gerald Laird is a good player who had a bad game at the worst possible time Tuesday night.

- I wouldn't be surprised if Magglio Ordonez has a pretty good season in 2010.

- The Tigers should never move Brandon Inge nor Curtis Granderson. They are both destined to be career Tigers.

- I will vote for Justin Verlander for Tiger of the Year.

My column about the Tigers in Wednesday's Oakland Press: http://tinyurl.com/ybvpcxx

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19 Comments:

Anonymous Michael C said...

I thought Leyland was as much to blame as anyone for the loss. I don't get how you take Porcello out so early when he's pretty much plowing through the Twins and then, of all people, throw Zach Miner out there.

I understand if you have to use Miner in a key situation because the bullpen is spent, but we just had a day off. Everyone was available. With a 1 run lead in a must win game you use one of your best relievers, you don't save them for the 8th inning. Particularly with the long delay between the 6th and the 7th, I couldn't believe he sent Zach out there again after he just barely got out of the 6th. We had a one run lead. Leyland should've sent Lyon out there and hoped he could shut the door for two innings.

Sending Rodney out there for a third inning seemed kind of crazy too. The Twins didn't do that with Nathan. And if you do that you AT LEAST have someone going in the bullpen in case Rodney starts struggling, don't you?

The Twins handled their bullpen MUCH more effectively. They actually managed like their season was riding on winning this game, taking bullpen guys out as soon as they showed signs of struggling, instead of just seemingly sending guys out there for a predetermined amount of time.

I think Leyland is best with a young rebuilding team that doesn't believe in themselves yet (and that he deserves the lions share of the credit for the 2006 team). I don't think he's the best guy for managing a contender / big payroll team, as he clearly seems outclassed strategy-wise against the likes of Ron Gardenhire, Terry Francona, Mike Scioscia, etc. I don't think he needs to go if we can't find anyone better, but I think the Tigers should definitely be keeping their eyes open.

And finally I think the Tigers desperately need at least one other legitimate star offensive player. The one man show and other guys that sometimes contribute just isn't good enough. If they can't get another star they at least need offensive upgrades at SS, LF / DH, and either C or 3B, but I think another star would go a long way.

(sorry for the long ramble - had a lot of things to get off my chest - brutal way to end the year after I've thought they were playoff-bound for months ...)

6:53 AM 
Blogger Rick said...

Microcosm — a small example of an overall picture, e.g. the performance of the Detroit Baseball Club on Tuesday afternoon versus the Minnesota Baseball Club is a microcosm of the troubles the team faced throughout the season, i.e. hitting with runners on base.

One more win — ANYTIME — during the season and we don't have to play on Tuesday afternoon. In fact, there is no reason we should have been playing. To finish the season 1–4 while the Twins finished 4–1 tells you everything you need to know ... They wanted it more. And the Tigers were an average team who happened to be in first place for five months.

The writers I follow on blogs and Twitter were talking up the game as an instant classic. One even said it should be replayed 15 minutes after it ends on ESPNClassic because it was such a great game. I'm sorry, but it was not a great game. Lots of lousy at bats and failures to hit when one tapper to the outfield would have produced a run.

7:55 AM 
Blogger Core Contrarian said...

Jim Leyland - no comment.

Very happy to see Magglio's home run last night and second half comeback. I call it redemption. His loss of power this year was diifucult to understand but I bet he makes some adjustments and gets it figured out by next year. That said, he was never a pure power hitter to begin with.

8:07 AM 
Blogger Barry said...

Yes, JL and DD do some strange things and that is why the Tigers are not consistance. For example, did Rodney really pitch over 3 innings last night? Where was Perry to take the ball from Rodney? I would be looking for a new 3B when Inge contract is done next year. I cannot overlook his 230 avg. Look like easy off-season for the Tigers because a lot of contracts do not expire until after 2010. All need to do is go after excellent closer. There are 2 or 3 on the market this year. No sense signing Rodney to a huge 3 year contract.

8:47 AM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

I do not think the Tigers deserved to make the post season this year. I truly think the better team won.

That was a fantastic game last night - and my wife cried when it was over.

Leaving the ballpark Sunday after their win over the White Sox - and seeing the cenerfield scoreboard spewing a 7-0 lead for Minnesota over KC - I knew we would not beat the Twins at the Dome from Hell.

I think we all did.

That suns up the year for me - Rooting for the boys with the emotion I could invest - but never with any faith - only hope - tainted by strong doubt.

That's why it feels like a kick in the old church bells to have lost so dramitacally in the eleventh inning of game 163. The prior 162 that we agonized over meant nothing.

But a team is the sum of all its parts - not just the ones who perform. When a part breaks in a machine - most likely the machine performs poorly if at all.

And a season is comprised of all 162 games, not just the first half of a season - and certainly includes the last weeks of the season.

What a comeback for the Twins - an impossible chase to catch a broken machine with a couple bad parts.

I also hope that Inge and Granderson are Tigers forever and hope that doesn't condemn to a carreer on a mediocre club.

But the worst thing that happened last night - in my opinion - was the Cabrera home run - the two run shot to give us the lead.

Because in my book all is not forgiven or forgotten. His action of drinking so heavilly the night before the most important game of the season was a spit on the old English D - and an arrogant slap in the face to all who love it.

Let Cabrera be MVP for someplace else. Not here.

As well, I would like to see the Skippy Leyland decide to retire in the offseason with dignity. I have stood up for that man as much as any - but I am bamboozled by his lack of September / October success. When it counts - his machine broke down. And I don't think he has the tools in his box to fix it.

Such a disapointing letdown - with a little mix of betrayal - on this day that sums it up for me.

A gloommy day in mudville to be truthful.

12:43 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Michael C,
Miner had thrown 12 scoreless and done well. Porcello had gotten into trouble. Miner got them out of that inning. I would not have put Rodney out there with the extra inning. I would have gone with Perry.
Caputo

1:58 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Rick,
Great point. It did sum up there season in so many ways. There were great moments, but blunders, too. It was a terrific game, but Tigers collapse on season will be remembered most as time goes on.
Caputo

2:00 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Core Contrarian,
True enough about Mags, but those power and run production numbers - or lack of them - in 2009 will stick with him forever.
Caputo

2:01 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I agree with you about the Twins lineup, especially after they got Cabrera. But what about the pitching. The Tigers starters were so much better. Scott Baker was their ace.
Caputo

2:03 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Barry,
Rodney is going to be fair the most interesting situation for Tigers in the off season. Was this just his one good year? I would think so. But how much trust do Tigers have in Perry?
Caputo

2:04 PM 
Anonymous Michael C said...

Porcello had gotten into trouble? He just had a guy on first in the 6th inning ...

If he allowed another baserunner at that point I could see the reasoning. But it seemed like he was still completely in control of the game, and all of a sudden he was gone just because the tying run was coming to the plate, and replaced by a VASTLY inferior pitcher that was much more likely to give up the tying homerun (a scoreless stretch of 12 innings does not a star reliever make).

Overall it felt like Leyland managed the game like a regular season game. He didn't want to give Porcello a chance to lose the lead himself because it would hurt his confidence after pitching a gem, but that's April logic, not October ...

I 100% believe that the better team won. I have a ton of respect for the Twins and what they did down the stretch, especially without Morneau.

And please, whatever you do Tigers, get more players who can guy in from 3rd with less than 1 out next year ... that cost us so many games this year, including this one ...

3:29 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Michael C,
Porcello had also allowed a home run in the inning and Miner did pitch 12 scoreless innings before that. You wonder why he did it, I told you. And I didn't think it was that bad of move. Porcello had thrown 90 pitches.
Caputo

4:31 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Pat,

in my view - opposing pitchers don't face each other - they face the other teams line up - and when the two sides battle - the side where the difference between picthing and hitting is greater wins.

We have great pitchers - but not enough to offset our sporadicly lathrgic hitting.

Those hitting-dead-streaks our line up suffered took a lot of wins away from every pitcher in our rotation - when that pitcher had a quality start.

Our pitching shows promise - excitment for Porcello and still more awe for Verlander - but angst for the rest - do you trust Jackson to win a big game like Verlander or porcello? He was our number 2 until very recently.

The Twins pitching outlasted our pitching last night - they held us to 5 - and those bastards got 6.

Thats how I see it. The better team won - and damnit it wasn't us!

Thanks Pat,

4:58 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
The Twins also play well defensively. They also beat the Tigers consistently head-to-head.
Caputo

6:48 PM 
Blogger CCBLOGGER said...

Pat, I have to put much of the blame for the Tigers failure last night (indeed for numerous other games that should have been won during the course of the season), squarely on the shoulders of Jim Leyland. He was a manager in the NL for many years and should have more knowledge of strategy and fundamentals than what was put on display last night. From not moving runners up, to not pinch running for Cabrera, to allowing Laird to bat and Rodney to pitch that last fateful inning; those were just a few of the examples of Jim Leyland's managing by the seat of his pants, following his gut instinct, brand of baseball strategy. I have seen Jim Leyland numerous times at Greektown Casino and he always plays the highroller slots. Someone should point out to him that the outcomes of ballgames are not decided on a hunch or a pull of a slot machine handle. It takes the teaching of sound fundamentals to his players and the use of time honored strategy to win. Neither was on display last night and many times this season.

8:33 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat,

I think you called it right about Leyland not being able to stop his teams from spinning out of control once in a free-fall, but I am sick of all the comments made about his managerial style or lack-thereof. Would anyone rather have Buddy Bell, or Luis Pujols, or Alan Trammell, or Larry Parrish, or Phil Garner? Would Bobby Valentine really be better here?

It's not Leyland's fault that Laird couldn't get a bunt down, or Raburn lost a ball in the lights, or that there was a blown HBP call on Inge, or that we failed so many times with RISP. Rodney asked to go back out on the mound, and he gave him the shot because he thought he deserved it. Was it the right move? Not in hindsight, but Rodney was one of his best pitchers this season, and he was giving him the Verlander/Jackson treatment. He thought he deserved the shot, but once the leadoff man was on, he wasn't going to saddle a less-qualified arm with the job of getting out of it.

He's not the perfect manager, but he is a pretty darn good one. Talk all you want about a guy like Ron Gardenhire (who does a great job, btw), but what has that team won lately? They frequently win division titles and can't even make it out of the first round. We went to the World Series in '06, contended into the final week in '07, and went to game 163 with a mediocre team this season. I'll take 1 AL Pennant over a bunch of 1-round and done division titles any day of the week. I think the negative run differential says it all about the '09 Tigers, and Leyland never put a bat, other than a fungo, in his hand all season. All-in-all, it was a great ride, and I am still excited for 2010.

Travis

1:02 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Travis,
I think you make very good points about Leyland. There was a noticeable difference in the Tiger managers between Sparky and Leyland. You talk about questionable lineups and decisions within games, but the team wasn't in contention and it would often get overlooked. But there is no denying the end of season collapses, although the postseason in 2006 negates some of that.
Caputo

11:55 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

CCBlogger,
There is no doubt Leyland manages more by feel than by the book. I consider that one of his strengths, although I must admit it does seem like he overthinks things sometimes. Guess that's why they call it a gamble. Pays off, you win big. Doesn't pay off, you lose big.
Caputo

11:57 AM 
Blogger eddie said...

In response to anonymous writer's analysis of Tigers final game I would offer the following. Any and every move in that game by Leyland was reasonable and could be supported accept one: MINOR CANT START THE 7TH INNING, PERIOD. This was a game to go with your best. LYON SHOULD HAVE STARTED THE 7TH INNING. Minnesota had Guerier, their best set up guy in their 7th and even put in their closer for the 8th inning. THIS WAS NOT A JUNE GAME- THIS WAS FOR THE DIVISION AND A POSSIBLE WORLD SERIES ! Minor hit a guy the inning before and has been eratic and inconsistant for all his years in Detroit. Minor to start the 7th inning was disgusting and reprehensible.

9:59 PM 

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