Chatting up scouts about the Tigers

Frequent commenter Craig (aka West Coast Tiger) attended the Oakland series and sat near some scouts. Craig engaged them in some conversation and had the following report. This is from the Tuesday game.

I feel like Phil Connors in Groundhog Day. This is the same thing over and over and over again.

I have to begin by, Oakland fans have to be the most lame fans in all of baseball. I used to think it was confined to Pac 10 college football crowds. (I married a UCLA Bruin). The A’s fans have set a new benchmark. Even when they had the bases loaded, they were quiet, distracted and seemingly disinterested.

I hope for all of you that it was less painful watching it at home. Here were my observations. And those of the scouts sitting in front of me.

1. Clete Thomas and Running the bases. He was like a deer in headlights when the ball was hit. He stood there 10 feet off 2nd, when it was clear to everyone that it was going to drop, then he hesitated it seemed at third. He should have scored standing up. That was my take. I made a comment regarding the ability of Gene Lamont to do his job. At that point one scout turned to me and said you got that right, and said. “You know there are reasons teams lose”. He went on to say in his opinion Thomas made two errors and Lamont one. Thomas’ first and most costly was not getting to third on Granderson’s line drive to left. And the second being frozen on Polanco’s single. Lamont’s obvious error was once Thomas hesitated, not holding him at third. He added “and that’s a pinch runner.

2. ON WILLIS. He felt he had pretty effective stuff and thought his best was after the injury time out when he seemed to be really just letting it go. Feels he can still be an effective pitcher who can get inside hitters heads.

3. On CABRERRA. Both scouts had the same opinion. The question around the league has always been his motivation. In their opinion handing him 150mm before he’s had a single RBI for your team has it’s risks. Especially a 25 year old. On the upside he’s one of the most explosive hitters in all of baseball. Who will make Tiger fans happy in the long run.

4. ON THE TEAM AS A WHOLE . Fundamentals are killing them. They feel they are in the bottom three of worst base running teams in baseball. They will continue to to flounder until the bullpen issues are resolved. Most salient comment was “look at their body language”. “This is a great team that is struggling in every aspect of the game right now.” “To many moving pieces” “A different lineup evey day” “ Inge is a 275 BA away from being incredible” “Zumaya and Rodney not being healthy have put a strangle hold on Leyland.

Lastly. I’d like to leave this out because I love his offense. General consensus was Guillen should have had the Ball hit by Ellis in the 11th. They all felt Inge makes that play.

And to all the Renteria haters. He was absolutely robbed on his line drive. Crosby made a great play.


  1. Chris

    June 6, 2008 at 12:40 am

    It really nice to get these prospectives on this team by scouts.

    Thanx to West Coast Tiger for relaying the conversation and to Bilfer for posting it.

  2. Lee Panas

    June 6, 2008 at 1:31 am

    Very interesting post. It’s always interesting to hear a scout’s perspective. I’m glad they think Willis can still pitch. Some seem to be writing him off but I think it’s way to early to do that.

    The “too many moving parts” comments was interesting. I think moves had to be made but I think they’ve got the parts in the right places now – Inge at third. Cabrera at first, hopefully Guillen will work out in left (although I’d rather see him DH and Sheffield released). I hope Leyland just goes with that for the home stand and see what happens.

  3. Vince in MN

    June 6, 2008 at 2:02 am

    Suddenly Leyland is going to stop fiddling and stick with a plan? – don’t hold your breath. It’s been bad enough with the lineup and bullpen shuffling, but this year he has added positions to the equation too.

  4. Eric Cioe

    June 6, 2008 at 2:51 am

    Leyland has always used different lineups. I can’t see how that is a problem.

    I agree that the defensive changes have probably goofed up the team, though.

  5. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Yes, I don’t have a problem with different lineups or batting orders per se, either.

    “Fundamentals are killing them.” Yeah. Fundamentals killed them in the 2006 World Series, too. I can’t believe it’s still happening, same manager, mostly the same players.

    Wait a minute.

  6. greg

    June 6, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Great post. Most of it smacks of truth. The only thing that sticks out as suspect is the ‘too many moving parts’. Leyland stayed with the same lineup too long at the beginning, and what we’ve seen are ultra minor tweaks that, if you’re truly belong among the best baseball players in the world(mlb level players) or even if you’re not, really, these types of extremely minor changes should not be a big deal.

    Numerous other managers shuffle at least part of their lineup continuously from day one just to keep things fresh.

    On the Guillen comment, sadly, when I watch the Tigers, its rare that I don’t say that about Guillen 2-3 times a game when he’s at 3B. In that light, that’s a big reason why I can’t see his moving to LF can hurt the team any worse….I know, I know, DH is where he really belongs, but I wanted to get a good look at Larrish and his tremendous power, unfortunately, he looks overmatched at the plate, seems like he has good bat speed, but his swing is a little long. I haven’t seen him all that much, but I’ve only seen him go the other way once, every other time he was dead set on pulling the ball, which I think will be a problem if he doesn’t adjust.

  7. Kathy

    June 6, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Basically the same thing many of us have been saying all along: Gene LaMont very often gets screwed up on when to hold and when to let a runner go. The second thing is not being prepared right from the get-go out of spring training. I’ve done an about face on Leyland after not critisizing/questioning him at all for 3 years. The only one worth his salt, imo, is Andy VanSlyke. Dump the rest!

  8. Kurt

    June 6, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Thanks Craig for gathering and writing about those observations!

    Fundamentals are definitely killing them this year. When they play the A’s or the Angels, it really stands out.

  9. cib

    June 6, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Amidst all of the gloom and doom, enjoy this article as I did:;type=lgns

  10. T Smith

    June 6, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    On the Guillen comment — I disagree, but only half-way disagree.

    The mistake was playing Guillen too close to the line. This is Leyland’s mistake more than Guillen’s inability to field the ball. I’m not even sure Inge gets to that ball if he’s playing right on the line.

    The ball wasn’t hit hard but there was such a HUGE hole between Guillen and Renteria, it gets through. I understand the thinking that you want prevent the double down the line, but more balls are hit through the hole, probably 3:1, than hit down the line.

    But Inge should have been playing in that situation anyway — so that’s the half I agree with. I’m trying to forget that series so I can’t remember exactly why Inge wasn’t in there, but I’ll go out on a limb and say it was a boneheaded managment move to begin with, even without knowing all the facts.

  11. judpma

    June 6, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I was sitting at a spring training game against Cleveland and Clete Thomas was the runner on third as the bases were loaded.Thames hit one to the wall .It looked like it was going out,only it was caught. Thomas was not tagging up but trotting in for the grands slam that didn’t occur. The next time up he was on second and tried to go to third on a GB to the SS and was thrown out without a slide….the Next day in Lakeland he was a pinch runner and went to second on a base hit but was thrown out trying to get back to the bag…So much for the base running ability of Clete Thomas

  12. judpma

    June 6, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    on Willis 5 more walks and 2 hits in four innings …did he get picked for the All Star team yet!

  13. stephen

    June 6, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Great post. Points #3 is something I’ve feared from the day he signed that big contract before a game had been played. #4 makes me want to personally come to Detroit and fire Leyland. This team largely blew the World Series because of terrible fundamentals and nothing seems to have changed.