It’s a refrain that has been uttered by Tigers fans over and over again. This time it is a quote from Jim Leyland. Leyland was responding to questions about Marcus Thames playing 3 straight days and said:
“It’s an attempt to get some production in the lineup,” manager Jim Leyland said Thursday, before the Tigers’ 11-5 loss. “The fact of the matter is that Casey hasn’t produced anything.”
“When Marcus hits it, something happens,” Leyland said. “I love Sean Casey, and he’s going to play. But if Casey isn’t hitting, I’m going to play Marcus. That’s just the way it is. I need to get some thunder in there.”
Since Sean Casey became a Tiger he has hit 256/303/349 with 41 RBI and 5 home runs in regular season action. It isn’t exactly the production upgrade the Tigers were looking for when they found Chris Shelton’s production in June and July unacceptable. Shelton hit 246/310/374 over those miserable months.
Of course Casey’s struggles really don’t come as a surprise. Some will point to his World Series performance, but 4 months of poor performance have to trump 2 weeks of stellar production.
Some will also point to his clubhouse presence, which is fine. He is universally regarded as a really nice guy and a guy you want to cheer for. It also makes it very hard for the Tigers to cut him and it’s something I just don’t expect to happen. But reading Leyland’s quotes it seems like Thames will have an opportunity to dictate his playing time with performance. If Thames can hit, and this is the time of year he really turned it on last year (he hit 309/346/639 with 8 homers in June while filling in for Craig Monroe in left), it sounds like he’ll have his chances.
Given Sean Casey’s veteran-ness and attitude I don’t think this is a move by Leyland to light a fire and motivate Casey. This is simply about production. And quite frankly, if Carlos Guillen is going to be missing any time a hot hitting Marcus Thames can actually provide some protection hitting behind Magglio Ordonez.