Defense shaky early

This is more an observation than a concern at this point, but the Tigers defense just hasn’t looked good in the early going.

The Tigers pitching staff received many accolades for keeping runs off the board last year. But the stat-minded folks pointed to the the lower strike out numbers and wondered how they were getting it done. A great deal of the credit deserved to go to the defense which led the AL in defensive efficiency (the rate at which balls in play were converted to outs).

However, in two games I’ve already seen a couple pop-flies fall in between the outfielders and infielders. I’ve seen Magglio Ordonez battle the wind and lose. I’ve seen 2 runners steal off of Pudge Rodriguez. I’ve seen a couple wild pitches, that didn’t look that wild, sneak past Pudge. I also saw Pudge not try for a likely double play on a foul pop-up. I’ve seen Brandon Inge fumble a routine ground ball and make 2 bad throws that were rescued by Placido Polanco and Sean Casey.

I’m not worried at this point, but more disappointed. The team played so crisp right out of the gate last year, seeing the lack of communication and execution is a little disheartening.

Not everything has been bad though. Carlos Guillen has played exceptionally well with a handful of “wow” type plays already under his belt.

I know it’s only 2 games, and the wind was definitely a factor, but if the pitchers hope to replicate their success from last year they’ll need help from a stalwart defense.

11 Comments

  1. Kathy

    April 4, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Mario and Rod explained that some pitchers are easier to steal against than others and included Bonderman and other pitchers on other teams (can’t remember the names). The steals were quite shocking to me also. But that is also very aggressive play. What bothered me in today’s game was when Maggs ran into the infield to catch the ball and Placido was just standing there. Now, that was a communication problem. Brandon did bobble a ball but recovered in time. It was Grilli and Rodney who almost drove me nuts. It is disappointing to see those misplays when you expect more, but I think they will start to gel within a few weeks.

  2. colin

    April 4, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Guillen’s knee must be feeling pretty spry

  3. DF

    April 4, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    I am a bit concerned about their baserunning to date. The Tigers in the first half of 06 always scored from second on a base hit, always were prepared to take an extra base when it was offered through defensive indifference. Late in 06 and now early in 07 they seem to have reverted to a “station to station” baserunning team. I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to lose some runs through poor baserunning or give back some runs on mediocre defense.

  4. David

    April 5, 2007 at 2:21 am

    I agree with you Kathy, they will start to gel.

    The Jays have one of the best 1-6 in baseball, and could potentially have good pitching. These series you try to take 2 out of 3, so I’d be happy if they did that, and expect them to. If we beat up on the bad pitchers, and scratch out some runs against the better pitchers we will be in great shape.

    They really did a good job against a somewhat erratic Burnett. I think this was Inge’s worst game that I can remember and that’s saying something… although he didn’t make an error, he seemed to have trouble with two ground balls, and turned a hat trick at the plate. Might be thinking about his ring too much I duno, but the guy is as good as it gets if not better defensively, and I believe could hit much better if than he has showed.

    Mario and Rod were talking about Guillen’s 10lbs lost over the off-season, just like Pudge became leaner and that vastly improved his D and took some pressure off of his knees, I’m expecting the same for Guillen. But it did seem to sap some of his power, hopefully he can still slug around .500.

    Robertson looked awesome today, I think that the cold helped him, and he needed it against this lineup, hopefully it’ll do the same for big V tomorrow.

    It’s important that Verlander has a good outing tomorrow; he seemed to regain some of his control in his final start of ST.

    Oh and the Chi Sox are 0-2 to the Tribe =). Go Sowers!

  5. Bobby

    April 5, 2007 at 6:10 am

    Am I the only one (again) who will complain about Rodney and Grilli? I’m sure Billfer has situational numbers on these guys. Rodney is my heart attack waiting to happen, and Grilli… well, maybe you remember the three-walks-on-12-pitches outing in Game 4 of the ALCS.

    Until these two rack up some serious consistency, they’ll be shakier than Todd Jones in my book.

  6. Anne

    April 5, 2007 at 6:59 am

    Fortunately most of their problems are fixable, not the result of lack of talent. You know Leyland won’t let sloppy play go on. It’s that in our super-competitive division, there may not be much margin for error.

  7. Dave T.

    April 5, 2007 at 7:39 am

    Lynn Henning is Maggs’ chief apologist, here is the love letter he penned today to Maggs in the D-News. I guess the wind was bad. I didn’t see the game, followed it online, did the Jays drop any balls in the outfield?

    http://detnews.com/apps/pbcs.d...../704050335

  8. Phil

    April 5, 2007 at 7:45 am

    Mr. Bilfer I am usually not one to disagree with you, but I don’t remember the start being crisp. It was good, but I seem to recall a famous butt-chewing by Mr. Leyland that seemed to really get things going.

  9. jim-mt

    April 5, 2007 at 8:09 am

    Did the pitchers make any fielding errors?

  10. adr

    April 5, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Billfer, good to get the viewpoint of someone who’s been able to watch the games (we’ve got company this week so I’m just following along on mlb.com during work).

    A couple things:

    (a) the wind yesterday was supposeduly something truly extraordinary bad. Was this the case or just, as one commenter put it, just an excuse?

    (b) The Tigers have yielded three SBs. Two of them came on Tuesday with Bonderman on the mound, however. Bonderman has one of the worst holds in MLB (in Strat-O-Matic terms, Bonderman’s hold rating is “5″ meaning a baserunner has a 25 basis point greater chance of success when he’s on the mound versus a pitcher with an average hold). We can exepct there to be some SBs when he’s on the mound. If runners are able to steal a lot on other pitchers, there may be cause for concern.

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