Game 65: Brewers at Tigers

PREGAME: Afternoon tilt today. Ben Sheets against Chad Durbin.

Tigers are fielding the Sunday lineup with Mike Rabelo catching, Perez at shortstop, and Omar Infante playing 2nd.

Game Time 1:05

: I missed the bulk of this game, catching bits and pieces on the radio between meetings. I’ve since lived it through the comments here and the FSN Squeeze Play.

I don’t think there are words to overstate how bad Craig Monroe was. He whiffed in his final at-bat on Wednesday night, meaning that in 6 straight trips to the plate now he has failed to put in the ball in play. And the 3 AB’s prior were another K, a double play, and a single. From what I gather from the condensed game as well as last night’s performance, it doesn’t appear that he’s reverted to his old form of chasing a bunch of bad pitches. He’s just swinging right through belt high fastballs.

I can’t profess to be able to break down someone’s swing. But Rod Allen mentioned that he was working on the bat wiggle and taking the ball the other way last night. If that’s what is causing the problems, go back to swinging away because his timing is all mucked up.

As for pinch-hitting for him, of course it is the move that makes the most sense for all of us watching. Tactically in that game it would have been the right move. But right or wrong I think we all knew it wasn’t going to happen. Leyland is going to stick with his starters (the bigger debate is should he be a starter). There are probably issues about what it would do to his confidence to pinch hit for him, but at the same time what did 5 K’s do for his confidence either? I thought Leyland was crazy when he left Jones out there that night in Cleveland (he was) and questioned how he’d motivate a team who he let that happen to. Then they won 7 of the next 9. Clearly I have no ability to evaluate these “soft” issues.

I’m not saying it’s right, just that I didn’t expect anything else. And no amount of complaining is going to get Leyland to change his ways and the guy isn’t getting fired – nor should he. Jim Leyland brought winning baseball back to Detroit. Part of the deal is that we’re going to have to suffer through odd strategic decisions.

Maybe because I didn’t watch it unfold, I don’t view it as crushing. Disappointing to be sure, but not crushing. When you’re going up against the other team’s ace and your starter doesn’t make it through 4 things aren’t looking good anyways.

  • The bullpen combined to throw 5 2/3 allowing only 3 runs, one out short of a kind of quality start. (ed: my bad, 4 runs in 5 1/3, nothing like a quality start) And yet it was largely unsatisfying. Probably because a run scored on a freak balk and another on a wild pitch.
  • Curtis Granderson had his 13 game hitting streak snapped.
  • Placido Polanco was ill which is why he didn’t pinch hit.
  • Bill Hall. Shakes Head. Freakin Bill Hall.

114 thoughts on “Game 65: Brewers at Tigers”

  1. With all the pitches he’s thrown he’ll be lucky to get in 4 or 5 innings. And then what?

  2. Hopefully my theory that teams that don’t take advantage of early scoring opportunities tend to end up losing the game benefits the Tigers today.

    Always seems to benefit the other team when it happens to us . . .

  3. Durbin just doesn’t have it today. I’m unable to watch the game but Jim Price and Dickerson kind of give me the impression he just can’t get his pitches over. This Sheets guy is good.

  4. Eventually, Leyland will have to put Grilli in again and I just wonder what will happen if he has another bad outing. Doggone it, Casey almost hit a double. Maybe we’re getting to Sheets.

  5. Monroe is definitely my least favorite tiger. He brings nothing to the table. .295 is a horrible OBP for an every day player. He makes Sean Casey look like Ted Williams.

  6. Sheets is just really, really good. I think we’ll score a few eventually, but I don’t think our pen can go 5 innings without allowing 10 runs.

  7. In case you missed it, Ledezma dropped the ball with a runner on 3rd – balked in a run.

  8. Wow. Being a big time Ledezma supporter gets harder and harder each day. All we need to do is get to the brewers pen and we can get back into this game.

  9. I’m not sure, Monroe has pop, but Casey at least has a track record of being a good hitter. Monroe has never proven that he is anything more than average on the Major League Level. He’s a AAAA player.

    I think that Casey’s not very good, but at least he can do something with his bat besides close his eyes and swing as hard as he can. His at bats are more productive than Monroe’s in a lot of ways.

    Monroe’s pretty brutal in the field as well.

    I think his contract at 4.5 million is the worst on the team, besides neifi and mesa.

  10. 4-3 now. I like our chances the rest of the way. Assuming the Brewers don’t put up a 6 spot in an inning. With Ledezma pitching, a 6 spot for Mil. is possible.

  11. Nice job by Rod pointing out the defensive alignment just before Mags puts it right where the second baseman would’ve been playing.

  12. Monroe is outslugging Casey by nearly 100 points. I think that trumps the 40-point difference in on base percentage.

    And I wouldn’t say Monroe is brutal in the field. He has average range and an above-average arm.

    Casey’s a great guy but you just can’t afford to have a starting first basemen with no hoe runs in the middle of June.

  13. Nice to see Sheff and Maggs come through to drive in a few runs. That’s the biggest difference between last year and this year–the sense that our 3 and 4 hitters are genuine threats to change the game every time they come up.

  14. I’m still on the Ledezma bandwagon, but I’ve got the sliding door open and I’m close to leaping.

    In other news, Milwaukee will put Capuano on the DL and call up stud Yovani Gallardo who’ll start on Monday against the Giants on 6 days rest.

  15. Oh man this hurts. Our bullpen is a freaking joke. Our starters and fielders are unbelieveable. I mean, we are 1 game out with the 12 ranked pen in the AL. Can you imagine where we would be with an average bullpen? We lead the league in BS with 12. Average is 8. Add 4 wins and subtract 4 losses to our current record…

    And that’s if we had an average pen.

  16. I had no idea the Phillies signed Mesa. I’m there for a game this weekend and now I’m hoping to see him.

    Michael in Pittsburgh- if you’re reading this, Yahoo thinks the series is Lieber/Moyer/Eaton vs. Bonderman/Miller/Verlander.

  17. Kevin: what do you expect with both Joel Zumaya and Rodney out? Our two best relievers being hurt, one long term. Couple that with Robertson’s struggles, maroth’s struggles, and having Grilli/Ledezma/Byrdak/Seay pitching in situations they weren’t expected to be pitching in and it’s no good. Also, the bullpen’s numbers are inflated by Jose Mesa’s numbers.

  18. I think Kevin is just stating a fact. With even an average Bullpen the Tigers would be threatening to have the best record in the MLB.

  19. I think Kevin is just stating a fact. With even an average Bullpen the Tigers would be threatening to have the best record in the MLB.

    I still think this is a more impressive season so far than last season, considering all the injuries. I’m proud of the team.

  20. “Bonderman/Miller/Verlander”

    Let’s hope some day that series of names ranks up their with Tinkers to Evers to Chance (or at least Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz).

  21. The bullpen has hurt, but only two of our starters have been above average. That hurts too.

    Looking forward, our offense will decline but I think the pitching will improve, and hopefully we can get into the playoffs. DD’s deadline moves need to be better than last year’s, though. (We shoulda kept Stairs and ditched Casey, in hindsight).

  22. Mike – good points. My concern is the loyalty that Leyland is showing to the guys who earned spots coming out of spring training. (Now, before I go further, I realize how easy it is to second guess, but hell, what else would we do on this site?)

    Did it really take 55 games to see that Mesa didn’t have it? How much longer do we have to take Grilli? Why not put Miner in Grilli’s role, cut Grilli and give Bazardo a shot. I doubt he’d be worse than a 6 ERA. Also, why not move Rodney into a mop-up role until he sorts out his confidence problems and give Byrdak or Seay a shot at the set-up?

  23. Ouch. Monroe is just holding a place until Maybin gets here, but if he doesn’t start making contact Infante may start playing LF.

  24. Why is C-Mo trying to bat like Sheffield this week? He hasn’t done ANYTHING since he went to this new stance AND struck out 4 times today. It’s time for C-Mo to go back to being just C-Mo.

  25. Anthony: What does the best record in MLB get you? nothing. Cardinals won a World Series after they nearly choked away a 7 game lead in 7 days and had an 83 win season. The Playoffs are a crapshoot and are a terrible way to decide a marathon season like the baseball season is, so i’m not worried about having the best record in baseball.

    Kevin: I agree with all your points, but like someone pointed out Verlander and Bondo have been our only above average starters with the ability to pitch deep into games (and they both tend to have streaks of 100+ pitches and scraping out of the 5th inning) coupled with injuries. Byrdak won’t keep his pace up and isn’t a long term answer. Grilli, though a solid dude, should be let go (homered off him as I’m typing this right now) and someone else should be given a shot. I’m just saying that as bad as the bullpen has been, there are reasons why, and those lend themselves to being rectified as the season moves along.

  26. I have to admit I’m getting very impatient with Craig, also. Maybe he’s putting too much pressure on himself, but he has been very ineffective at the plate this year. I don’t know if he’s just in a slump or what.

    There goes Grilli.

  27. Mike, relax, I was merely stating that as a reference point to how well the team, besides the bullpen, has played this year.

  28. Could it be that Leyland is reluctant to bring in PHs late in games (Polanco today) and seems to give guys multiple days off to nurse minor injuries because he feels that the team got tired towards the end of last year and he wants to avoid a September like last year’s?

  29. “because he feels that the team got tired towards the end of last year and he wants to avoid a September like last year’s”

    Maybe. But in favor of… what exactly? I don’t see how losing games in June is any better than losing them in last September, when we’d already assured ourselves a playoff spot.

  30. I’m with you Kathy….I’m a big C-Mo fan…and while he has decent power numbers…he seemed to take a step back this year.

  31. I understand not pinch hitting for Monroe–he’s the starting left fielder.

    But Leyland didn’t think Pudge could afford to bat for Rabelo there?

  32. I think the C Mo instance there highlights perfectly Leyland’s stubborn loyalty. I didn’t see this last year. It’s obvious that Monroe has had a bad day, let him work out of it tomorrow, not with the GAME ON THE LINE.

    I mean, if Polanco bats there, it’s gotta be 60% that he drives that run in.

  33. Pudge, Polanco, anyone. I just don’t understand why you let your third-string catcher bat in that situation.

  34. Someone has got to ask Leyland about pinch hitting for Monroe, please post the response if you catch it. I’m incredibly curious to hear what he says. Man we are giving games away this year. Just flat out giving them away. Let’s pray we don’t revisit this game again after today.

  35. I didn’t realize that Monroe had already struck out four times. In that case, both decisions not to pinch hit were bad ones.

    I understand catchers need days off, but I’d rather see Pudge pinch hit there and then take tomorrow’s game off too, if that’s what it takes.

  36. Rabelo is gonna bat there b/c he’s a lefty. I can live with that. The Monroe thing is eating me from the inside out. I’m not sure if anyone keeps a running productive out stat, but I’m willing to bet that PP is top 3 in the AL.

  37. I don’t think Pudge would probably have done better. In fact, I would’nt have pinch hit any of them.

  38. We are now all of 3 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees in the Wild Card standings. We’ve really squandered an opportunity to build some buffer there.

    I think it’s us or the Indians.

  39. I think with 1 out and someone with 4 strikeouts batting, unless its one of your top 3 players, you have to pinch hit for him.

    Leyland’s decision making is pretty bad.

  40. Craig Monroe just entered the Record Books. Somewhere Rod Allen is suffering from cognitive dissonance.

    Ties the record for most strikeouts in a 9-inning game.

    Some notables on that list. (rob deer anyone?)

    I hope the outfield tomorrow consists of Maggs, Sheff and Granderson.

  41. Rabelo I’ve got no problem with. Lefty/righty, and he’s a .280 hitter who doesn’t strike out a huge amount. Put up a good fight. Monroe, that a whole other. There is no one on the team I’d less rather see up right there. He’s 0-4 with 4 Ks. Not even good strikeouts. He looked about as good as Graffanino looked on Tuesday. Pudge, Polanco, and Guillen (healthy enough for 1 AB) on the bench. Thames on the bench to play left if the game goes extra.
    Come on.

    I have to disagree with you about not seeing this out of Leyland last year, Kevin. Last year his blind loyalty gave the team a much needed shot of confidence. The whole “you’re my guy, just play hard and you’re good to go” thing. This year it comes across as outings for Grilli, outings for Mesa until recently, entire series with Neifi in and batting in pressure situations, and Monroe in the 9th today. It seems like Leyland and/or Dombrowski have yet to make the attitiude transition to being AL champs where players must perform or be replaced because every win in June counts. I’m hesitiant to blame the whole thing on Leyland, I don’t really know the extent to which he’s responsible for people like Grilli and Perez still being Tigers. And he certainly needs to use everyone on the roster. But it may be time to hurt some feelings, because we look more and more like an 86 or 88 win team, and that won’t get it done.

  42. I agree 100% with Ryan. The wins are far to valuable to be putting faith in certain players who are average major leaguers.

    They should have learned from last year, when they crapped away that big lead.

    I’ve said before, Leyland is below .500 for his career. He’s a supreme motivator. The trade-off is definitely in his in-game management. If he was an average strategist he wouldn’t be below .500 for his career.

    His motivational skills won him a world series, not his managerial skills.

    I like him, but he is what he is. He’s going to blow mid-season games. He’s done it a fair number of times this season.

  43. I was going to weigh in but Anthony said it more eloquently than I could. Leyland is about as flexible in changing in-game strategy as Bush is at changing in-war strategy.

  44. Monroe probably will ride the pine for a day or two. Thames hasn’t hit that well in his last couple games. The gulls are gone, the magic has left the building.

  45. Reminds me of earlier this year when late in the game the tying and winning runs were in scoring position with Inge up when he was mired in his deep slump and he had 3 Ks already that game. A few of us in the DTW were calling for a resting Polly to pinch hit. It didn’t happen, and Inge got K number 4.

  46. Ryan: I completely agree with you. Your assessment absolutely sums it up.

    The main problem I have with Leyland is he manages the Tigers like a cinderella team, i.e. believes in players against all statistics and reason, rallies the troops, goes with hunches and rewards loyality. His managment modus operandi is to get players to over-acheive and play above their abilities. Last year that style worked because nobody seriously expected the Tigers to contend (including Leyland, per his own admission). This IS a contending team, so it’s time to manage it like one.

    I guarantee the reason Neifi batted yesterday in the ninth (in a one run game) was due to the great play he made in the no-hitter. No disrespect for that play — it was a great play — but that’s exactly why you have Neifi Perez on the roster, for defense and utility backup — you don’t have him in the lineup to start an offensive rally, or even keep one going — especially in a one run game bottom of the ninth. It makes absolutely no sense.

    I think Jim Leyland’s main Achiles heal is his “I believe in you, now believe in yourself, kid” approach to management. It’s the “little-league” approach to getting the most out of your players. I’m not saying managing players to over-acheive doesn’t have its place. All I’m saying is it’s time to manage the team to win 95 – 100 games.

    This was a game that was completely winnable — yesterday’s game, also winnable. Anybody who could have put the ball in play in the ninth would have be preferable to Monroe, who was slumping at the plate. You don’t think all those K’s didn’t get into his head with the tying run on third? But you got Leyland thinking the exact same thing, i.e. “go get ’em kid, put the ball in play… here’s your chance to gain back the confidence lost from the previous K’s…” That’s Leyland’s approach. And while that may be the best approach for a team that is re-building, it is absolutely the wrong approach to manage a contending team, when the game is on the line.

    What could have been a sweep, or even a series victory, is now a series defeat heading into a brutal road trip.

    If you keep managing the Tigers like a cinderella team, we’re only going to win 86 to 88 games, tops.

  47. Couldn’t we just have a competent stratigist backing up Leyland?? Let Leyland do the motivating and have somebody else actually manage the game…

    Just wishing outloud…

  48. Polly is sick and could not play…I do not agree that you pinch hit pudge for rabelo. 1st-rabelo is the 2nd string catcher…not 3rd…we must face the music that Vance Wilson is out for the year. If the Tigers score 1 run and the game goes multiple extra-innings than pudge is the only one who can play on a day that he needed a day off. You cant mess around with guys like that.

  49. Jon: Yes you can. That’s why he’s paid ten millions dollars a year. You have a chance to win today, you take it today. If you’re only going to carry two catchers, sometimes you have to play them on their day off. You can’t miss a chance on the slight possibility that the game’s gonna go twelve innings.

    I think T Smith is right: Leyland needs a real bench coach not a bunch of dudes who owe their employment to the face they used to play for hi,

  50. Unbelieveable that there was no one off the bench in the 9th. I don’t understand it. It feels like a couple games a week Leyland makes moves/doesn’t make moves that don’t put us in the best position to win baseball games. That is part of his job and, in my opinion, failing miserably in that aspect. Terrible.

    What does Polanco’s .412 BA with RISP, Thames’ .360 BA with RISP, or Pudge’s .943 OPS with RISP have to do to get a pinch hit AB with the stupid game on the line?

    Leyland’s a hell of a motivator and a terrible tactician of the game. At the start of our roll last year he said that managing is more pushing buttons and motivating guys then it is tactical moves because, and I quote “Everyone knows when to do certain things.” like bunting, or, you know, pinch hitting the top vote getter at 2nd base in the American League with the tying run 90 feet away.

  51. Mike R: Yes, very frustrating. I wish the media would call Leyland on it (if he were managing in NY they’d have him over the coals all over the front page of the sport section)… of course everybody in MoTown is smitten with Jim Leyland, and for good reason, really. We haven’t had good baseball in this town for a long time, and Jim Leyland does have a lot to do with that. I’m the first to give credit where credit is due; however, that doesn’t mean he should get a free pass at making some absolutely stupid mistakes that cost games. All these blown games add up. And as Anthony pointed out earlier, there have been many blown games that we can pin squarely on Leyland. This is clearly one of them.

  52. Definitely. Billfer should pull some strings and get one of us a media credential so we can have him defend his decisions. And with something more then “Craigs our everyday LFer”. I don’t care — 4 K’s in a game is 4 K’s. He was lost at the dish all day long, it’s not like he got rung up on a couple borderline calls, he was flailing at everything. Polanco, even if he’s hurt is a better choice when you need contact. Say he gets taht run home 60% of the time, the infields in so I’d say Polanco drives that run in 75% of the time. Even if don’t want to play him in the field, pinch hit polanco and then put thames in LF or something. I don’t care. Having to figure out who plays LF afterwards means you actually tied the game.

  53. Agreed. This is the defending AL championship team — we should expect the manager to defend dubious decisions that turn out costing games. Let him convince me why Monroe is our best bet to win that game. I’m the first to listen to reason, where there is some….

    If this were a rare blown call, that would be one thing. But this has happened alot already this year (and we’re only a little over 1/3 of the way through the season).

    I do like Leyland… don’t get me wrong. But he’s not above critique.

  54. I have no strings to pull. I can’t get myself a credential, and if I did the first thing I wouldn’t do is make sure that I never got another one.

    You can question Leyland all you want, and he’ll tell you the reason he made the decision. And you can disagree with him but you can’t get into an argument with him. Sure you can push back, but he’s still going to have his reasons and you’ll surely disagree with them. It is what it is.

    And for the record, I don’t think Leyland cost us the game. There’s only one loss this year that I am willing to pin on Leyland.

  55. To clarify, I too find the lack of pinch-hitting for Monroe to be the most offensive of the three potential pinch-hit situations (counting Neifi in the 8th), though I still would have taken out Rabelo for Polanco or Thames or Rodriguez or maybe even Guillen when he came up in the 9th. Don’t get me wrong, Rabelo’s filled in pretty well for Wilson, but we had some pretty good players sitting on the bench there.

    I saw some of Leyland’s remarks from after the game, that he was going to pinch-hit Polanco for Neifi if he came up in the 9th. Of course, if Rabelo and Inge both got on base to bring up Neifi, the game probably would have already been tied and possibly won. I really don’t understand that.

  56. I hope he gives Craig a day off and maybe he can work with McClendon on his hitting. Leyland is the kind of manager who lets his players play and kinda lets things play out because it’s Dave D who really decides who stays and who goes.

  57. Billfer: No one’s saying we want to argue with Leyland, but a solid reason other then something along the lines of “Monroe’s our LFer” or whatever, to me, isn’t a valid reason. I just want his thought process. And to save Polanco for a pinch hit only if Neifi comes to bat in the 9th? Huh? You can pinch hit someone for a player and not have to put them in that defensive position afterwards. PH Polanco and throw Thames in LF. Or move Infante to LF and Polanco at 2nd. Something other then letting Monroe grab a piece of history.

    I don’t blame this entirely on Leyland. And I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming him for losses — if Ledezma holds onto the baseball while getting the sign, it’s a tied game in the 9th regardless. or if Hall doesn’t make that great catch on Maggs sure game-tying double, it’s a whole new ballgame — but his job is to put us in the best position to win and he failed to do that. Especially with the chance to steal the series from the best team in the National League. I don’t blame him for whole losses, but he’s certainly not making moves to give us the best chance to win.

  58. Also, it’s not even as much I want them to question his move after the game, I would like to see more beat writers and people covering sports teams openly question it in their articles and columns; something that I don’t think gets done enough. Managers and coaches shouldn’t be immune to it and losing media credentials seems like it’d be pretty bogus (if that’s what you’re implying would happen for second guessing/disagreeing with a manager) way to run things.

  59. Billfer, I’m assuming you’re referring the Indians game when he left Jones in the game…

    I also want to clarify that I don’t mean to question and second-guess every managerial decision Leyland makes. I honestly think there is a difference between Monday morning quarterbacking and making more sound calls in certain situations. That said, who can really say how many of Leyland’s dubious decisions actually cost the Tigers a victory? There may be an equal number of calls that tipped the scale the other way. All I’m saying is there have been a number of times (not just one — from what I have observed this year) when a decision made or lack thereof would have given the Tigers a “better” chance to win. Add all those “better” chances up, and you surely have more than one game cost at the expense of a curious managerial decision.

    Again, I’m not willing to go so far as to say that another manager at the helm would have more than 37 Ws for the Tigers right now; what Leyland brings to the club may well compensate for some of these instances when the team falls short. All I’m saying is it would be nice to see a little more strategic management to give the Tigers the best possible shot at winning a game.

  60. Mike made some great points about Leyland’s treatment of this team as a cinderalla team. I know we are not the Yankees, but one day I sure as hell would want to be. You think Monroe even sniffs the on deck circle in the 9th if this were the Yankees?

    Hey, Leyland’s been fanf’ntastic, and has brought the spotlight back to Detroit. But until he wins a WS in Detroit, we’ll just be Cinderalla minus the slipper.

    All that said, following the Tigers last summer was exhilarating and this summer is shaping up the same.

  61. Mike – I understand the desire for more aggressive questioning, and I don’t want to imply that the Tigers would revoke credentials for disagreeing. All my interactions with the Tigers through various avenues have found them to be a very classy and reputable organization and I don’t want to imply otherwise. I was speaking about my specific case in which my getting credentials would be an exception to begin with and my need to tread lightly in such a case. I have no accountability beyond myself or an editor and would thus fall under great scrutiny. And I’m cool with that.

  62. Speaking about the Yankees, they are now only 3 1/2 behind the Tigers in the wildcard race…winners of 9 straight.

    One thing’s for sure: this should be an interesting summer.

  63. T Smith –

    I hear what you’re saying, and don’t necessarily disagree. It’s just that so many things happen during the course of a game, and so many pieces of information that we don’t have, I find assigning wins and losses to managers a fools errand.

    Everyday that a manager doesn’t put his best available starting 9 out there and his best fully rested starter out there he isn’t giving his team the best chance to win that day. And yet guys need a rest. And other guys need to get off the bench and play. And you might want to give your #1 an extra day of rest even if there is an off day.

    And then there are the decisions that are made that go counter to “best chance to win” that still work out. Does the manager get bonus points for those?

    I still hear what you’re saying, and this isn’t meant to be a defense of Leyland. And he should be criticized when he makes bad decisions, he’s not above that at all. Heck, I disagree with him about something almost every game – and yet the Tigers have done pretty well under his watch.

  64. Kevin –

    I don’t know if Monroe would have been in the on deck circle. Joe Torre isn’t always right either, and some decisions are tougher than moving player x and player y.

    If things were that different in New York, then why is A-Rod playing third while Jeter continues to play poor defense at short?

  65. Speaking of the Yankees, they are now on a roll. But, oh, only a a week or so ago, New York was rife with “fire Joe Torre” rumors. get rid of the “cancer” in the clubhouse, Bobby Abreu, Jeter sucks, Damon’s old, Cashman is an idiot. The same coach, same players and same general manager are now the toasts of the town.

  66. Mike R. et al:

    I truly believe this is more an issue of Leyland’s management style rather than a lack of tactician acumen — which is really the last thing I want to comment about (like Billfer said, we simply disagree). What I think we sometimes overlook is Leyland’s “motivation approach” and “tactician approach” seem to work completely at odds with each other, or at the very least work mutually exclusive of each other.

    Let’s forget about the circumstance for a minute and look at the principal… Leyland’s decision to bat Monroe is frustrating because it’s SOOO obvious what need be done differently, e.g pinch hit PP (or Guillen, Thames — anybody) I’m 100% sure Leyland is aware of this too. He probably even knows he has a better shot at getting Ordonez to the plate pinch hitting for Monroe. I truly believe he knows this. But…. in the managerial world according to Leyland (which is what I take issue with), he doesn’t want PP to drive in that run, he want’s MONROE to drive in that run. You see, he’s managing for more than just the outcome of this one game — he’s nurturing the future production of Monroe — who, as we all know, is our “everyday L Fer”. (Which, as Billfer says, should be the real issue for debate rather than this one at-bat that stranded Ordonez). If Leyland defends himself by saying “Monroe is our everyday L Fer,” that’s what he’s driving at. That is to say, he’ll bet on the lesser chance at getting Ordonez to the plate with Monroe in exchange for a greater chance at having Monroe excel in confidence and future production if he succeeds at getting Ordonez to the plate. In my opinion it’s a crazy approach, but that’s just my opinion. And this approach has proved to work for Leyland. It can even be argued convincingly (and I’m assuming Leyland supporters will make the argument) that this approach was good enough to win 95 games last year, and, a WS appearance. It’s just a nerve-racking way to manage (and watch) a game. That’s all. There is a time and a place to manage this way — and Leyland is great at it — I just wish he could somehow incorporate this approach with an approach that also allows for the best shot at winning every game.

    That’s all I was driving at earlier, in a previous comment. Whether or not Leland makes the right moves, who’s to say. And if you really want to get down to the psychology undergirding Leyland’s approach, I believe it all stems from his own minor-league-career/major-league-carreer-that-wasn’t. If he would have had a similiar-type manager who nurtured his own ability and confidence in the way he manages some of our own AAAA players (names omitted) he may well have been a major league catcher himself — which would have fulfilled his only real dream.

  67. Billfer: Gotcha. Even as classy as the Tig’s organization is, I’m sure they wouldn’t stand for a blogger to be vehemently questioning Leyland. Even if it is the best Tigers blog (in my opinion).

    Joe Torre, in my opinion, is an average manager tactically and does a great job at managing enormous ego’s. He’s in the Phil Jackson sort of way. Never going to take a bad team and make them over-achieve, but can handle all sorts of ego’s.

    Regarding the pinch-hitting situation: I get that Polanco’s sick, but there’s others hitting well with RISP. Even though it’s a third of the AB’s this year, Marcus Thames is still hitting for a high average. I just thought there’s a multitude of different options that would’ve put us in the better chance to win.

    I agree with most of what you said T Smith, about Leyland and how he manages to nuture a players confidence and I completely disagree with how he’s handling things. We’ll handle C-Mo’s confidence tomorrow in the batting cage (maybe someone telling him this bat wiggle crap isn’t cutting it. a 5 K day is a pretty good sign to just hang up and go back to your old ways). Today’s win, and any win for that matter, is more important then C-Mo’s confidence. Monroe will get hot again this year and this performance will be one we’ll vaguely remember; this loss is one we can point back at if we miss out on the postseason by a couple games.

    Billfer: I understand what you’re saying. Like I said, I don’t pin this all on Leyland. If Ledezma doesn’t go little league and drop the ball on the rubber or if Bill Hall misses Maggs shot to the gap, we probably aren’t even thinking twice about this and celebrating another comeback win. There’s plenty of blame to go around; Ledezma, Leyland, Monroe not being able to put a ball in play, Gas Can Grilli, etc. And I know players need the day off and that Polanco’s sick but Pudge is a better option. A hobbled Guillen (though i wouldn’t want him used in that situation, his health down the line is more important to us), is a better option. Even Marcus Thames is a better option. I expect us to rest players and I have all sorts of confidence in Infante (for the most part) and we battled back against the ‘ace’ of the best team in the NL valiantly, but Leyland just didn’t make the move that seemed so obvious to put us in the best position to win. Which is the 2nd part of his job after handling the team in the clubhouse and motivating them and whatnot.

  68. MIke R: The Rangers certainly didn’t think so.

    I just wish he could be a little more consistant. He does get hot, and last year he had spurts of clutch hitting. All that aside, I think it’s a legit question…. I’m not going to be the one to open that can of worms with an opinion; I’m sure there is passionate cries from both sides of the fence. But I will say with conviction that it is an absolutely legitiment question to ask.

  69. Good discussion gents. I enjoyed the passion. Thanks for the effort. “Hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.”

  70. Dave Dombrowski brought winning baseball back to Detroit. All Leyland did was accelerate it. As long as Dombrowski is here, the Tigers will consistently win, even if he outlasts Leyland.

    Leyland hasn’t directly cost the team more than a couple games, but there are plenty of occasions when he did not give the team the best chance to win, strategically. Not good.

  71. I do think Monroe is a legit everyday starter. Not a star, or even necessarily average, but he’s good enough defensively and hits for enough power. I was actually a proponent of Monroe up until this year when his contract went up over $4 million and Thames fills a very similar role for a fraction of that cost. Now that he’s a year away from arbitration I don’t think he’s a fit for this team economically. At the same time, while he may be a Tiger again in 2008, he most certainly won’t be in 2009 as a free agent and with Maybin hopefully ready to step in.

  72. I am absolutely disgusted at the way the end of that game went down. First and third with 1 out, and you leave a guy in there that is 0-4 with 4 Ks, only to leave him in there to whiff again? Plus, they leave the backup catcher in there, when you have better options on your bench.

    Don’t get me wrong, any of the guys on the bench could have failed just as easily, but I think THAT is what you have to find out. You have more than 10 guys on the roster for a reason… use them.

    I think Leyland messed up, I think our last two batters messed up. I think it is disgusting that we couldnt get 1 run in with a guy standing on third and 1 out. They didn’t look like a team fighting for a division to me.

    I am more upset about this than the previous game for some reason.

  73. Some of my favorite Leyland quotes of the week:

    “Neifi Perez has been a good player for a long time, but he’s not as good of a player as he used to be….But he’s done a hell of a job if you think about it.”

    Nope, thought about it a lot. Not done a helluva job.

    Last night:
    “If I’ve got to pinch-hit for Craig Monroe, we’re in trouble.”

    Yes, if you refuse to pinch-hit for him.

    Rabelo: “I actually thought he might run into a fastball.”

    No comment..

  74. I hope this bashing of Monroe is as effective as it was on Inge about 10 days ago. He really came around after we let him have it here.

  75. “I actually thought he might run into a fastball”

    Well, it worked for Alexis Gomez. Is there anythought about packaging C-Mo and Maroth for a major upgrade in the pen or LF?

    Also, if you guys aren’t sick of it yet, I posted a thread and my thoughts on Baseball Think Factory:


    There’s some interesting thoughts from fans not as close to the Tigers as us…

  76. Thanks for posting that link Walewander. I saw that discussion this morning, and meant to drop it in here.

    I urge you (broader you, not Walewander you) to read comment #2 from MGL. One of the most accomplished and prominent sabermetricians.

  77. Billfer: I agree with your sentiments on Monroe. Defensively Thames everday in LF would be worse, but for a fraction of the cost and pretty much equal production power wise at the plate, I would’ve like to see Monroe get spun in the offseason in a deal.

    For some reason, though, this loss doesn’t bother me all that much. More of one of those slap-your-head-and-get-frustrated-at-Leyland losses; not the end of the world. It wasn’t to a division opponent (namely, cleveland). That and I like the Brewers and am looking forward to following Yovani Gallardo’s start on Monday. The Brewers have been one of my favorite NL teams for a while. (Side note: Great stadium. Go if you have the chance. We sat behind home plate in the box seats last August against the Cardinals with a good mix of brewer/cards fans. Jenkins get’s a base hit and some dude behind us stands up and yells “Trade him. The man finally has some freakin’ value!”. Made us chuckle. Good people in Milwaukee, too.)

    Those quotes are exactly what bugs me about Leyland. I’ll take his motivation skills, though, for sure.

    Good link Walewander.

    Oh, and on the Leyland bringing winning baseball to Detroit, that’s partly true. However, I give more credit to guys like Bonderman and Verlander putting it altogether. Lest we forget that Bob Cluck predicted that 2006 would be the year the young pitching staff put it together and made their biggest stride. Maybe Leyland got in at the cusp of a great run. I don’t question how he handles the clubhouse or his motivation tactics, 2 of the 3 skills a manager needs. But honestly, with a night’s sleep under me, it’s a bad move but I don’t know many managers that would’ve done much different. Most managers are bad tacticians, as stated in the thread walewander posted.

  78. How is Jason Grilli not the losing pitcher of this game? The final score is 6-5 and he gave up the sixth and final run.

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