Shuffling the deck and rehab news

A cornucopia of Tigers news that has come out today. Jim Leyland is prepared to make some changes, even if it means hurting some feelings. The skip says:

“So I’m going to change some things around here and see what happens. I think that’s important. As I said, I don’t know if it’s going to work. I don’t know if it’s going to make people angry, but that’s the way it goes.

“I don’t mean for this to sound negative, I don’t mean it that way, but this isn’t about feelings. It’s beyond worrying about egos. This is about doing the job. I’m going to try some stuff.

“We have a great group of guys and I think they’ll understand. They might not agree with it, but the manager has to do what he thinks is best for the team. If this team is what I think it is, they’ll go along with it.

“We have to get it rolling somehow,” Leyland said. “I’m not really a 40-game guy, or a June 1 guy, but you can’t just sit there when it’s not working.

“My general manager has given me a hell of a team here. I haven’t really coached it to the right flow. But I’m not going to sit still. I don’t want to be patient to a fault.”

One thing you can’t accuse Leyland of this season is being complacent. He’s shuffling batting orders, moving people aroudn the diamond defensively, giving pitchers different roles in the pen. The hope is that something sticks. Some of the moves coming out are:

Miggy drops to 6th

Jim Leyland dropped Miguel Cabrera to the sixth spot in the lineup. I have to believe that this move is more psychological that strategic. Let me rephrase that. I believe that the implications of this move will be more psychological than strategic.

Lineup configuration has a pretty limited impact on run scoring. Cabrera hasn’t put up his typical numbers, but has still been an offensive force. He has struggled with RISP to the tune of a 639 OPS. If there is a thought that he’s pressing, perhaps moving him down will take pressure off of him to drive in runs. I don’t really believe any of that and chalk it up more to sample size issues. I’m somewhat supported in this because he has a .903 OPS with men on.

Still odd that Cabrera is productive and gets moved from 5th to 6th while Sheffield was allowed to flounder at the 3 spot.

Rotation flip-flop

With the off day yesterday Leyland is flipping Jeremy Bonderman and Kenny Rogers in the rotation. I’m guessing the move is 2-fold. First, Rogers struggled a little in his last start against the M’s. He allowed 8 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs in 5.1 innings on May 21st. Second, Rogers is a Cy Young pitcher in Oakland. In 45 career starts he is 25-4 with a 3.46 ERA.

Supposedly there is another move coming with the pitching staff.

Rodney and Zumaya news

The news out of Lakeland is encouraging for Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney. Both will be embarking on rehab assignments soon. Rodney is likely heading to Toledo while Zumaya will stay in Lakeland to start.

I’d guess that Rodney is probably a week or two away if he is heading to the Mud Hens. But given his problems last year and this year, I’d still be surprised if he made it through the rest of the season.

Regardless, barring setbacks both would be joining the Tigers within a month or so because a rehab assignment can only last 30 days.

10 thoughts on “Shuffling the deck and rehab news”

  1. I’m not sure what Leyland means by making changes. I can’t believe that putting Miggy down in the order is it. I applaud the idea, but I’d hardly consider that worth making the statement above.

    I’m wondering if there is something in the works regarding Dontrelle Willis. Right now he is occupying a roster spot as a reliever, but because of his problem throwing strikes, there isn’t many opportunities to stick him in and have him walk batters in late innings.

  2. It’s encouraging to hear Jim Leyland saying these things, much more so than hearing mea culpas (without specifics), “we’re just not getting it done, I don’t know why,” and “I’m confused.” But it’s also hard to know how to take it, given some earlier rumblings about “drastic” changes that didn’t amount to anything very drastic.

    Significant to me are the following words/phrases: “People angry.” “Egos.” “Great group of guys.” “They’ll go along with it.” “My general manager has given me a hell of a team here.” “Patient to a fault.”

    I expect something bigger than Cabrera dropping a slot in the batting order. Things involving Sheffield, Inge, Rodriguez, Guillen, and Cabrera, I’d imagine. More playing time for Santiago at SS? Pitching-wise, I don’t know at all. Some kind of rotating #4-#5 starter thing with the lefties? Willis into the rotation, Robertson or Rogers out?

  3. At this point, I don’t know how you can take either Robertson or Rogers out, given their recent performances. Robertson was shakey tonight, but he wasn’t disastrous and ultimately got the job done. Rogers was downright dominant against the Angels this week. Certainly, if either one of those guys falter in their next outing, then a change may be warranted. Neither have been consistent. But on the other hand, Willis would hardly be an upgrade. I don’t know what the hell they are going to do with the guy.

  4. Robertson’s pitched well enough all year long to be in the rotation. He’s got a 4.19 xFIP, about a 2.5 K:BB ratio, all while have below average defense behind him and a below average left on base percentage. He’s got a high WHIP but that’s due to the hits allowed largely due to his substandard defense behind him (the defensive efficiency ratio [DER], the rate at which balls in play are turned into outs by a pitcher’s defense, is .652 where the league average is .699.

    The possibilities I can think of are: Rogers to the pen, Willis to the rotation, Galarraga sent down (unwarranted), Robertson to the pen (unwarranted).

    What we may be missing, though, is indirectly changing the pitching staff by the defense that plays behind it. Maybe Inge is at 3rd full time? Maybe He starts playing SS more? Guillen to the DH spot permanently?

  5. Guillen to play outfield:

    From Jason Beck at
    The other situation that needed a solution was at third base, where Leyland hoped to find ways to work in Brandon Inge without taking Carlos Guillen out of the lineup. With that in mind, Leyland revealed that Guillen has been taking fly balls with outfield coach Andy Van Slyke.

    “Whatever’s best for the team,” Guillen said.

  6. Leyland is also saying Dontrelle is replacing Galaraga, which we all knew was coming. He’s in a tough spot with that … he has got a stable of veteran starters. It would cause a lot of problems if he demoted Rogers or Nate to the pen.

    Playing Guillen in left is laughable. Has the guy ever played the outfield? Why is it that everyone else in the free world can see that Guillen should be the full time DH and Leyland can’t? And make up your mind what the hell you are doing with Inge …. PLEASE! Is he the heir apparent to Pudge? If so, let him catch half the games. Screw Pudge, he can’t freakin hit anymore anyway. If not, stick him at third base and leave him the hell alone!


  7. Chris – look at Robertson’s game log. He has been remarkably consistent. More than any other starter.

  8. Sounds good to me. Leland’s doing the best job he can at this point in the junction. Poor Carlos, he’s getting shoved all around the diamond, but the guy can hit and if anyone can turn him into a LF, it’s VanSlyke. Moving Miggs down to the 6 spot is probably a good decision too because it takes some pressure off him and probably pisses him off. Hopefully, Inge has proven he belongs at 3rd and will work on hitting. I’m pretty excited about it. Once Rodney and Zoom come back you know some of the pitchers are gonna go. It will be interesting to see Dontrelle pitch again. Hope he’s got it together!

  9. I think it’s interesting that Leyland is suddenly not concerned about hurting anyone’s ego now that Sheffield is on the DL and can’t participate anyway. I’m not saying there’s a connection, but it’s a curious coincidence.

  10. “Chris – look at Robertson’s game log. He has been remarkably consistent. More than any other starter.”

    Yes, you are right. What I should have said is that Robertson hasn’t been very consistently effective as a starter. He has been consistently mediocre-to-OK. I do think he’s done a good enough job to justify his spot in the rotation.

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