Friday, August 24, 2007

Great Pitching? What Great Pitching?

Can we please stop talking about the Tigers’ great pitching? Can we please put to rest the notion the Tigers are so good because their pitching is so good?
Truth is, they have played so poorly lately because their pitching has been bad.
The evidence is overwhelming. They rank 11th in the American League in pitching. They rank in the bottom quarter of the major leagues in runs allowed.
Last season, their pitching was among the best in baseball. This season it ranks among the worst. Like Sparky Anderson used to say, "You don’t have to be Branch Rickey to figure it out." Solid outings by Jair Jurrjens and Nate Robertson this week don’t really change that.
And it’s just the bullpen. That’s the cruel twist of this season. The bullpen is finally set. Fernando Rodney is throwing very well. Joel Zumaya is back. They have a good situational lefty in Bobby Seay, so this isn’t a losing Jamie Walker issue. It’s the starters, particularly Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander, who have struggled lately. Robertson was great Thursday and deserved a better fate, but his ERA is 4.80 and he has allowed 160 hits in 135 innings. His ERA is a run higher than last year. Those three starters have done nothing to off set the loss of Kenny Rogers. If anything, they have enhanced it.
There is more than a month of the season remaining. After the Tigers face the Yankees this weekend, they play nine straight games against losing teams. There is still plenty of time to make up ground. I don’t believe they are done. I still believe they will be there in the end. But if they don’t get better pitching, they won’t be. That’s undeniable bottom line.

Random Thoughts

- Jon Kitna’s back spasms don’t seem to be that serious of an injury, but they do lead to an uncomfortable feeling about the Lions. You can debate all you want about Kitna’s merits as the Lions QB, but there is little doubt he is by far their best option. They did not do a good job of covering their tracks if something happens to Kitna. If he gets injured and can’t play, the Lions are in serious trouble.

- The Shock begin the playoffs today in New York and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest. I don’t think that is fair. They have won a couple championships. They do have excellent players and interesting personalties and a high profile coach. They deserve more credit and attention than they have been getting.

- The Eddie Drummond era is over. It is true that wide receiver is the Lions’ deepest position and there are other viable options for returning kicks. But it’s also true that Drummond has lacked the same explosiveness since suffering a leg injury a couple years ago. Give him credit, though. He has had an NFL career - a decent one. He was even an All-Pro one year. That wasn’t anticipated when he came out of Penn State as an undrafted free agent. It’s also an example of how fleeting success can be in the NFL. It was just 2005 that Drummond was an All Pro.


Blogger Max Perilstein said...


Wanted to say 2 things...I enjoy your blog and radio appearances....
2nd- What were your thoughts, as a true baseball guy, on Leyland's managing in Thursday's game vs the Indians? For me I was blown away by some of his calls, most notably letting Santiago bat in the 9th. There were others, that to me could go either way like having Polanco sacrifice, when a hit and run could've been the call. Plus the Inge situation is bad, why only give him one day off to get his head straight? Why not let him sit a few days? I know Leyland likes his starters to play through it, but it didn't work with Monroe and its not looking good with Inge.

Anyway, I'd love your opinion on it- obviously its just one game, but it just feels like the buttons that are being pushed this year aren't the right ones (and in 06 everything was right)

12:38 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I still think you put too much clout into Jon Kitna as the quarterback. O'Sulivan looks accurate and has a quick delivery and has really picked up the offense well so far. Orlovski already knew the offense, although he isn't as accurate or have as quick of a release (Which is probably why Martz seems to prefer O'Sulivan), but he is a bigger and more athletic QB. I would almost rather see one of these QB's than Kitna out there, because Kitna seems to fall apart when he is under pressure. We will see, but I really don't worry nearly as much about the QB depth as you seem to. Kurt Warner was MVP in the same situation with a very similar cast and the same offensive coordinator his first year with the Rams. They even had the same record the previous year. When Trent Green went down in the final preseason game, everyone thought that the Rams season was over because of who they had at back-up, but they ended up being just fine.


3:06 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Max Perilstein,
Thanks for the compliment and the support. I appreciate it. To me, it's not only that Santiago was allowed to hit in that sitution, but that he is on the team ahead of Omar Infante that I find perplexing. Infante is a better player. They seem to think. Santiago is a much better shortstop than Infante. I don't. Infante is the much better hitter. As for Polanco bunting, I didn't think that was the right move, either. But I am not one for bunting that much, especially with a good hitter like that. Outs are too valuable to just give one to the opposing pitcher.

3:15 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

O'Sullivan and Orlovsky have virtually no experience in the NFL. None. As such, it seems like very dangerous business to hand them the team should Kitna go down. Maybe Mike Martz thinks a Kurt Warner comes along twice in a lifetime. I think that's highly doubtful.

3:18 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, enjoyed listening to you on WXYT-AM last night between 6 and 7 pm! You pretty much nailed the Tigers problems. Reminded me a lot of the post-game shows last year when you were talking people down from the ledge. Comforting to hear confirmation of what a lot of us are thinking.

Tigers this year are baffling. The mantra goes: IF IF IF.. If only we had Zumaya, if only Rodney could get it together, if only Kenny came back, if we didn't have the flu, if Bonderman can get out of the first inning, IF, IF IF. We could go on for three pages.

Doesn't matter. Supposed to be the best team in baseball. Look like the worst. Can't win two in a row. Can’t win a series. What happened to the team that destroyed the National League? Doesn’t matter that the NL is “weaker”. Tigers can’t beat bad teams right now. At-bats by Pudge and Inge seem like Groundhog Day

If the expectations weren't so high, it would be ok to be struggling to stay over .500.

Has Gilda said, “It’s Always Something”.

Let’s hope they can turn this train around. Time to put up…

Will be there cheering them on Saturday! :-)


3:34 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger, Brad Johnson, and Jon Kitna (with Seatle), all had little to no experience in the NFL when they were forced into playing. None of the players I mention were drafted very high. Yet they all did very well in their first year put into action. Each had a year or more of experience as a backup though, just like the two backups in Detroit. Martz has done very well with all three of the quarterbacks he has developed before Kitna, to the point where all three made multiple pro-bowls. All of them seemed to come out of nowhere. I don't worry much about wether Jon Kitna will be healthy throughout the year. He may have the most important position on the team, but that doesn't mean that he is the only one who can man that position. I prefer both Orlvski and O'Sulivan to quarterback with experience brought up in a different system, because Martz system is so different.

4:21 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You may very well be right. Time will tell. But I see absolutely nothing about O'Sullivan or Orlovsky that reminds me of the QBs you mentioned.

4:28 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

It has always been something. And that's not a good sign. When the Tigers correct one problem, another arises. That's usually means a team isn't that good. Thing is, though, they do have a track record. Last year, they pulled out of a nasty tailspin and performed very well during the playoffs. So it's not out of the realm of possibility they will turn it around this last month.

4:30 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book, I too enjoyed you on the radio last night - both shows.

Play more Johnny Cash.

Right now the Tigers are sounding like a country music song. Like a bad episode of "My Name is Earl!".

Have you noticed we are taking the first game of a series - and losing the rest? - this is an interesting pattern, and it must have some meaning?

It's like they get the first one under their belt and then feel comfortable they can win the remainders. And they don't.

This is a symptom of something. I don't know what.

You watch - we will beat the Yankees tonight - and be flat the rest of the weekend.

But as for our post-season chances - "I hear that train a comin'.

PS - I agree with Marty on the Kitna issue. Sometimes being brand new like O'Sullivan can be a benefit.

5:02 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
That is a disturbing pattern. It's almost like they can't stand prosperity. Thing is, the Tigers played really, really well in the first game of the Yankee and Indians series. We'll see how this weekend goes.

5:33 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I tell you what Book. I agree with you on the pitching. Lets start with the starters bottom line they just haven't got the job done. Robertson do it like a few times in a row or at least 4 out 5 before I become impressed. I am not worried about Verlander. Bonderman I am a little concerned. Abotu the bull pen I am so sick of hearing these guys aren't use to there roles etc. You are big league pitchers you are paid to get guys out no matter what inning. Can guys like Grilli, Byrdek, even Miner or whoever jsut come in and put a hold on. I have litterally no confidence in anybody on the staff at this point. I understand they still have time. But I think the Tigers are in jeopardy primarily cause of the pitching. Hitters go through funks. For the most part Ordonez and Granderson have been consistant all year. People may think I am crazy (readint the bog and listening to radio I am not the only one on this), I keep hearing abuot Shortstop, firstbase. Catcher rightfully so. But personally I think we may need to look at 3rd base as well cause I truthfully don't think we are as solid there. Yes Inge has looked Brilliant at third defensivelly, but unless they tigers add a couple of peices to the lineup then they can afford inge, but at that particular position you need a guy who can swing the stick as well and lets face it Inge has stunk at the plate other then last year when he was ok.

As far as drummond goes, big deal. Except for his rare 25 to 30 yard returns he really has added nothing even in that department. Returners can be replaced. I think the Lions have bigger issues. Like there defense. Yeah they didn't give up a TD against the Browns. It was the Browns and they still moved the ball pretty decent against the lions. I just don't think Lennon is the answer at middle linebacker and I think our secondary is going to blow really bad. We still don't have a decent pass rush. This game will prove it all.

1:10 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Well, the third preseason game didn't go well at all and it obvious said a lot about the Lions defense. Ouch. And Kitna better be ready to play. They don't seem prepared at QB.

12:57 AM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

... or being brand new like O'Sullivan can be a detriment ... I best stay out of the Lions discussions.

The only thing I can say about Bonderman is "at least he is consistant ..."

9:46 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
You make a couple really good points there, my friend.

10:11 PM 

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