Game 40: Twins at Tigers

PREGAME: Ah, that magical game 40 when it is suddenly safe to make judgements about teams. Today’s game will feature Kenny Rogers taking on Brad Radke.

A couple weeks ago the Tigers beat the stuffing out of Radke. Hopefully they can repeat the effort. Working in the Tigers favor is that they have 4 players hitting over .400 against Radke for their careers (min of 25 ABs) – Monore, Rodriguez, Ordonez, and Guillen.

I very rarely make predictions, but I think Pudge goes yard to day. He’s been sitting on two home runs for a long time, and he has 8 career dingers off Radke.

POSTGAME: You know things are going good when your pitcher is sick but doesn’t allow any earned runs, and you make two fielding errors, and a couple baserunning errors, your closer has a rocky outing, and you still pick up the win.

I was wrong about Pudge’s homer, but Placido Polanco managed to pop his first of the season.

And aside from the win, and resulting 2nd consecutive sweep, there were actually 26,000 there to see it. With the Reds coming to town this weekend, I’ll be disappointed if they don’t break 100,000 for the series.

15 Comments

  1. Dave

    May 18, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    I don’t live in Detroit, so I have no insight into this… but how does this success reflect on Trammell? I would wonder (be nervous) that this is bad for him in that Leyland is getting great success out of a team that is very similar to last year’s. As such, what’s the general feeling?

  2. Jeff M

    May 18, 2006 at 12:33 pm

    how does this success reflect on Trammell?

    Poorly, but not as much as you would think. Tram didn’t have Verlander, Zumaya or Tata. Tram didn’t have a healthy Guillen, Ordonez, or Rodney. Rogers has more than replaced Johnson, plus he is credited with helping every other pitcher on the team.

    Leyland is certainly an upgrade over Trammell, but he also has much better horses, even if the roster looks similar.

  3. Matt in Toledo

    May 18, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    A lot has been made of Verlander not getting any strikeouts last night, but nobody seems to mention that he was able to induce seven(!) popups that were either on the infield or fieldable by infielders. Has there been any study to determine whether a high rate of infield popups is just luck or if it’s something the pitcher might be doing?

  4. Marshall in DC

    May 18, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    I agree with Jeff on the talent development. However the most daming thing about Trammell was the quote from Maroth about ten games into the Season. He expressed the pitching staff was meeting before each series to discuss strategies, and that level of preperation was new.

    Kudos have to go to this year’s Pitching Coaches, and their game plans. Makes you wonder what they were doing last year?

  5. chris m

    May 18, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    One thing to keep on mind about the talent on the team is that from day 1 Leyland has talked about how he wants the best 25 players in the organization on his roster.

    He brought up 3 rookie pitchers with not much minor league experience. Tata and Zumaya had always been starters, but he decided it would be better to put them in the role available, rather than thinking of them as strictly starters.

    He made Granderson the center fielder instead of Nook, which Trammell could have done much earlier last year. Thames was brought up with the club, even though all the outfield spots were filled.

    He ended the disastrous Pena experiment and made Shelton the starter.

    And looking at the Tigers compared to last year. The third best hitter (Rondell) left, the second best hitter (Polanco) has hit terribly so far, and Dimitri has been real bad. While the rest are hitting around expectations, except Shelton.

    Rodney, even with his injuries, pitched well in 39 games last year. And while they were here, Urbina and Farnsworth also pitched very well.

  6. chris m

    May 18, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    Though there is no way to ‘prove’ this, I would also say that Rogers deserves some kudos for the improvement of the starters.

  7. Kyle J

    May 18, 2006 at 8:12 pm

    I know this topic has already been beaten to death, but Jones does concern me. Here are the WHIPs of our three top relievers:

    Jones: 1.58
    Rodney: 0.94
    Zumaya: 0.98

    Luckily, most of Jones’ shaky outings have come when he had a margin for error. I just worry that the shaky outings are going to cost us at some point.

    But not much Leyland can do at this point. Here’s hoping Jones’ performance picks up.

  8. Steve

    May 18, 2006 at 8:51 pm

    There are a lot of little things that the Tigers are doing this year that seem to have an impact on their play. This has brought some confidence out in them that has been lacking and that has caused them hang in there and battle. They are almost like the Buffalo Sabres. No great stars but everyone doing their part to put up W’s and the wins just keep on coming. I am interested in seeing them this weekend vs the Red’s.

    Bilfer… Love this Blog,

    Steve

  9. Jeff M

    May 18, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    Luckily, most of Jones’ shaky outings have come when he had a margin for error.

    Ite may not be luck. Billfer, when you get some downtime, could you examine his career and see if Jones’ shaky outings correlate with the games where he inherited multi-run leads?

  10. billfer

    May 18, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    Downtime, what’s that 🙂

    Chris M – I agree about Rogers

    Steve – Thanks. You’re right about the balance of this team. That should be an upcoming post.

    Marshall – I defended Trammell more than I probably should have, mostly because I thought a lot of the criticism was unfair. That business about not planning for the upcoming season is unfathomable.

  11. Dave

    May 18, 2006 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks for all the feedback. I was born and raised in Detroit; so of course was (and still am) a Tigers fan. Given that I live in the Chicago area now; keeping up with (and today PASSING) the White Sox is amazing!!!

    I really liked Tram as a player; and felt his 43-119 season was unfortunate given what he inherited. I did expect more out of last year’s club, though. I place some blame on the players. It seems they need more of a disciplinarian to kick their a** from time to time instead of the easy-going Trammell approach. I would have thought these guys were beyond that. But… it looks like there’s more to it than that.

    I’m thrilled with the Tigers’ success so far; and will keep reading for the insight from Detroit.

  12. Joey

    May 18, 2006 at 11:45 pm

    I think the starting pitching has been better because we have two pitching coaches, Chuck Hernandez and Kenny Rogers. Everytime they show him in the dugout when he is not pitching he is talking to Mike, Bondo, Nate or JV. I think he has been a great addition on and off the mound.

    On a side note I think Troy Percival deserves mad respect for working as an advance scout for the Tigs and not just lounging at home collecting his paycheck. What a standup guy.

  13. Joey (the other Joey. Joey C.)

    May 19, 2006 at 9:45 am

    Maroth was interviewed during the game on Wednesday and he talked about moving a step over on the rubber as per the advice of The Gambler. He clearly believed that this has made a difference and is one of the reasons he’s off to such a great start.

    I was definitely not one of the people defending Trammell last year and I’m glad that he’s was moved out in favor of Leyland (obviously). That being said I think we should give him and his staff some credit for the work they did with Robertson, Maroth, and especially Bonderman. I think Bob Cluck is a good pitching coach and I don’t think we’d be in the shape we are now without his effort.

    Also…

    WE HAVE BEST RECORD IN THE LEAGUE!!!

  14. Matt in Toledo

    May 19, 2006 at 10:26 am

    Did anybody see the home run Polanco hit? I noticed Yahoo! said the wind was blowing out to left at 15 mph, and I was wondering if he actually tagged one or if it might have been “wind assisted”. It would be nice if he started coming around, since he seems to be pretty well cemented in that two spot.

  15. Kyle J

    May 19, 2006 at 3:22 pm

    It may not be luck. Billfer, when you get some downtime, could you examine his career and see if Jones’ shaky outings correlate with the games where he inherited multi-run leads?

    I did a quick and dirty analysis just on Jones’ game log from last year. I assumed that he finished the game in all his appearances, so that the run margin when he entered was a function of the final score and the number of runs he gave up. I defined a “shaky outing” as allowing two or more baserunners (hits plus walks). Nearly all of his outings were one inning or one inning and a fraction, so I think this is fair.

    When his team was behind, he had shaky outings in 46.7% of outings (7 of 15)
    When his team was ahead by one run, he had shaky outings in 15.4% of outings (2 of 13)
    When his team was ahead by two runs, he had shaky outings in 20.0% of outings (3 of 15)
    When his team was ahead by three runs, he had shaky outings in 7.1% of outings (1 of 14)
    When his team was ahead by four or more runs, he had shaky outings in 18.2% of outings (2 of 11)

    Hard to make a judgement here. He was clearly better with a lead than when his team was behind–but the size of the lead didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Probably hard to pick out much given that he had a very good year last year. He only gave up a run in 3 out of 53 outings in which he came in with a lead.