A mishmash of things I’ve been meaning to comment on…
I’ve read and heard much lamenting that Leyland is being too loyal to Craig Monroe. That was called for at the end of June, but it’s not really called for now. Monroe had lost his starting job prior to the Marcus Thames injury. After a brief reprieve, one in which he hit a couple homers against Kansas City, he subsequently lost his starting job to Ryan Raburn. When you’ve seen Monroe playing lately, it’s because someone else is getting a rest. When he played Tuesday it was because Polanco was DH’ing. When he played yesterday it was because Leyland rested Granderson against a tough left hander. For the last month it wasn’t Leyland’s loyalty to Monroe keeping him in the lineup, it was injuries to Thames and Sheffield.
Monroe’s days in Detroit are numbered. There was a reason he only had a one year contract and it’s so money wouldn’t be blocking Cameron Maybin in 2008. You can even argue that Monroe was unnecessary this year with Thames capable of filling the role at one tenth the cost. But even the most adamant Monroe detractors had no reason to expect a 221/265/387 line from a player that had posted 3 straight season in the 100-115 OPS+ range.
Ryan Raburn has done way more than could have been expected of him and should have solidified his spot as a reserve outfielder on next years team. And I’m not reaching this conclusion on 50-some big league at-bats, but on a couple of strong seasons at AAA. Plus the added flexibility he brings by being able to play infield as well as all 3 outfield positions makes him a pretty valuable guy. I’m not expecting him to continue at his current rate, but near league average offensive production at a whole lot of positions for the league minimum is actually a pretty nice thing to have.
And for those who want to discredit his early success to small sample size, it’s fine to a certain extent in that he won’t keep up that production. But I’ve also heard comparisons to Brent Clevlen last year and those just aren’t apt. Clevlen has had one good year in the minors while Raburn has had several. Clevlen probably has a higher ceiling, and considering he’s at AAA and won’t turn 24 until after the season there is still reason for optimism. But in terms of being a productive player right now I’ll take Raburn.
I know that many want Jim Leyland to go and yell at all the players like he did last year. Because that will fix everything. He yelled last year because he wasn’t happy with the effort. Now he’s talking about the team not having an “extra charge” and things being dull in the clubhouse. If that’s the case Leyland needs to solve it.
It’s been my contention that Leyland’s strength is managing the clubhouse, and not his game strategizing. If he gets credit for last year and earlier this year, then a dull clubhouse is his responsibility to fix (and he admits as much). Bless You Boys has a take I tend to agree with
Well, where exactly is that going to come from? Yes, the players should provide it themselves. But would it really be a bad thing to close the clubhouse doors before they play the Indians or Yankees and remind them what’s at stake. No one’s saying he needs to rip his shirt off, throw a trash can across the clubhouse, and put out a cigarette on someone’s head. Leyland doesn’t need to put on a show. But he shouldn’t be content to send messages through the press, either.
But what I’d really like to see, and Sean Baligian brought this up on WDFN this morning, is for some of the guys in the clubhouse to take the lead on this. And maybe, this is Leyland’s way of trying to prompt it.