WTF Tigers

I’m a pretty patient guy. My thing is to be pretty measured in my analysis. I try to consider all the angles. While I have the emotional response, I usually put that aside when it comes time to blog. But enough is enough. In a season full of disappointment, frustration, angst, and disbelief, today’s game left me disgusted.

Three hits. Three lousy freaking singles. Three measly little singles. How the hell can this team not hit? They certainly aren’t afraid to swing, you’d think by chance something good would happen.

I’ve defended this team when people have complained about approach. I hate the bitching about first pitch swinging because that only happens when it results in an out. I hate the bitching about not working the count because using actual data shows the team is generally normal in this regard. But the approach in the first 5 innings today was a disgrace.

Here is the pitch by pitch in those awful innings: (B is ball, C is called strike, S is swing strike, X is ball in play)

Inning 1
Granderson – BX
Guillen – CSC
Thames – SX

Inning 2
Ordonez – BBX
Larish – X
Cabrera – SX
Rodriguez – SX

Inning 3
Santiago – CCBBBB
Raburn – X
Granderson – CBBX

Inning 4

Guillen – BSSX
Thames – SX
Ordonez – SSC

Inning 5

Larish – CSBX
Cabrera – SX
Rodriguez – CBCSSX

In the first inning Detroit took 3 pitches, but one was for a called third strike. The second inning saw the first two pitches taken, and the inning was over after 6 straight swings on 6 straight pitches.

The third inning was an anomaly with only 2 swings, of course one resulted in a double play. Yes, on a day when Detroit was swinging at everything the side was retired in an inning with only two pitches swung at.

Back to the same old crap in the 4th inning when only 2 pitches were taken, one for a called third strike. In the fifth inning there was something new and different. Pudge Rodriguez, in the Tigers 16th plate appearance, managed to foul off the first 2 strike pitch of the game for Detroit. Yes, it was that bad.

Scoring Screwing Up Chances

And in the 6th where Duchers… completely lost control and the Tigers had no chance to take, they could barely take advantage. Carlos Guillen gets the mad props for, I don’t know, getting a hit and an RBI. But it was Jeff Larish’s turn to be rally killer with a double play ball.

It was more of the same in the 7th where Duch… put the tying runs on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, but Ryan Raburn couldn’t even put the ball in play to get one damn run.

Bitching about the pitching

And then there were the arms. Robertson gave up his requisite 4 runs on his own, including a solo homer to a crappy hitter when his offense had just cut the deficit to 1. He got charged with a 5th when he walked a hitter in the 7th inning.

Next it was time for the parade of relievers. Leyland’s bullpen usage has left something to be desired this year, but today it didn’t matter. Everybody he put in got hit. Every reliever on the staff save for Bobby Seay, gave up runs in this series. A particularly low scoring series at that.

Of course the pitchers didn’t get a lot of help today. Santiago, Cabrera, and Raburn all had plays they didn’t make which would have made things easier.

It’s gotta stop

I don’t know what fixes it. Hell, I don’t even know what it is. They’ve had good pitching performances which should be giving the team a lift. They’ve had some spectacular defensive plays (see Grandy go) that should have provided a spark. They’ve had the occasional offensive outburst where guys can relax. Yet nothing helps.

The walk-off losses are disappointing because whenever you’re in a game that close there are always things to point to that you did or didn’t do. The thing is both teams can point to some of those things. it’s not like the A’s and Angels played flawlessly in those games.

But the crappy display on get away day is inexcusable. I know it was a long and demoralizing road trip, but the Tigers aren’t in a position where they can be giving anything away. And to see such a sorry approach offensively, and such bad relief pitching, is beyond disappointing. I can’t believe that I find myself hating this team in a season that was supposed to be so wonderful.

But who knows, maybe they were in a hurry to catch a commercial flight. It’s not like Red Bird One was there to shuttle them home. It’s with the good Ilitch team in Pittsburgh.

119 Comments

  1. Dead Rabbit

    June 4, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    word

  2. Tbone

    June 4, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Yikes. When Billfer has lost it, you know things are bad. These are Paper Tigers in every sense.

    But we still love ‘em!

  3. Mt. P Chris

    June 4, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Bilf. I keep saying 6 games out but it dosen’t help. Im at a loss.

  4. Sam

    June 4, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    I think the team is epitomized by the walk off play on Cust last night. Freddy Dolsi can’t cover 1B on a groundball? This team just plays BAD baseball. They do all the little things wrong.

    -Sam

  5. Mike R

    June 4, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    I do not know why, but I have not reached a snapping point with this team — and it’s not because I’m a big hockey fan as well. I’ve been indifferent on this team from the get-go.

    Expectations are expectations. Am I disappointed they haven’t lived up to the billing? Yes. Am I distraught? Not in the least. I think what’s different for me with the Tigers (I’m just 22) is that if you take out 2006 and parts of 2007, this Tigers ball club is right in line with every other mediocre team I’ve watched take the field in Detroit. So I think I’m just comfortable with that. I’ve only gotten a taste of what baseball success from Detroit is like rather than what it was like in the mid-80′s.

    It’s been a lot of subpar performances from a lot of people combined with a lot of bad luck. Granted, some of that bad luck is self-inflicted via errors, walks, balks, or terrible managing.

    I guess for me, as a sports fan who gets distraught about the Red Wings when they don’t win the cup (hate the Lions and refuse to ever root for them again in my life and I hate the NBA), the Tigers have always been just baseball. I love baseball more than any other sport and I follow a lot of players and other teams and prospects and the MLB draft in depth and the minor leagues, so it’s still … just baseball. “Pure” I guess is the only other way I can put it. I just laugh at Jack Cust’s 85 foot walk off worm killer.

    I can tolerate underachieving by the players for whatever reason — probably because baseball is just so immensely tough to play that I try to not get on too many players for not coming through against the best of the best. The only thing that gets me worked up is when we aren’t put in the best position to win baseball games. I think that’s just because making those types of decisions that get made that I deem incorrect bug me because they seem to be so simple. Which is a naive thought in an of itself.

    I guess the best advice is to just enjoy it. It’s baseball.

  6. Jeff

    June 4, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    I just want to see them battle. Run out ground balls and battle pitchers. For the pitchers it means trusting your stuff.

    One of the infuriating things this year has been the pitchers’ walk rate and the number of times they’ve fallen behind on the count and had to come in.

    With the hitters it’s less the swinging at first pitchers and more the attitude that the goal on the first pitch is to swing at any pitch that might be a strike. That’s not the purpose — it’s to swing at your pitch, not any pitch.

  7. West Coast Tiger

    June 4, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    I have to say, that was disappointing, I have looked forward to this series since I got the tickets 4 months ago. I had great seats, with all the scouts, 20 rows behind home plate. The first two games were painful, but todays was pathetic. For Leyland to put that lineup out on the field when they are in a need to win situation. ( from a not wanting to to get swept point of view.) I just don’t understand where the coaching staff is coming from.

    With a day game, they have 48 hrs off.

  8. charlie

    June 5, 2008 at 12:07 am

    i’m a canadian and as a result i guess i know hockey best and my take on sports comes from hockey…i’ve played it, coached it and managed teams.

    in hockey you have to play hard, work hard and try hard or you sit. you have to execute the plays or you don’t play. you have to support your teammates or the team can’t win and if you don’t support you usually get sent to another team. you have to be in shape to play…i know baseball players are not in great shape but if they are not in shape enough to play their best they should sit. and in hockey if two of these things happen at once they usually fire the coach and bring in someone who will drill the team on basics and cut out the country club atmosphere…that person will also weed out the players who are not part of a win or else mentality and often the result is a complete turnaround although not always in the same season.

    i think it is now past time to fire the manager and change the emotion and atmosphere and it is now time for dombrowski to listen to the new man and start making some changes to the roster. if that doesn’t happen i believe strongly that the tigers will finish the season at 20-25 games below .500…and what a shame that would be for everyone.

  9. DREW

    June 5, 2008 at 12:08 am

    I HAVE HAD ENOUGH TIGERS SUCK. YOU MIDAS WELL START WILLIS REST OF SEASON TO GET HIM READY FOR NEXT YEAR. AND START PLAYING WHO EVER IN THE HECK WANTS TO HIT FROM TRIPLE A. I DONT KNOW WHAT TO SAY IM TIRED.

  10. Chris in Nashville

    June 5, 2008 at 12:29 am

    This was pretty tame compared to John McLaren. Man, they must REALLY suck to lose to the Tigers 5 out of 6 games this season.

  11. Ian C.

    June 5, 2008 at 12:39 am

    I’ve been thinking for a few weeks now that “The WTF Tigers” is exactly what this 2008 team will be known as when we look back.

    The Gashouse Gang, the Go-Go Sox, Murderer’s Row, the Miracle Mets… the WTF Tigers.

  12. Mike in CT

    June 5, 2008 at 1:17 am

    I was living and dying with this team through May, but it was just too damned depressing to keep it up — especially on the west coast.

    All the tinkering.

    All the cutting and shuffling.

    None of it works.

    I know this is a minor thing and a typical fan response, but maybe a coach needs to get canned just to shake things up. The Tigers have no problem “firing” players (Jones, Monroe, Cruceta, etc.) so why no a coach, who isn’t getting through to the players?

    And it’s also about time we stop saying how bad the rest of the teams are playing. The Tigers are 10 games under and going nowhere.

    Sad really.

  13. JML

    June 5, 2008 at 2:35 am

    I’m enjoying my mental health break from the Tigers. I’m getting outside, reading, catching up with friends. Was there a ballgame today? Ah, who cares. Life is good, even if the Tigers stink.

  14. Jon D

    June 5, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Billfer is human! He’s mad!

    You are not alone.

    Here’s to a sweep vs. Indians! (I’m mad, but I’m hoping every series brings an extended winning streak.)

  15. West Coast Tiger

    June 5, 2008 at 2:44 am

    How long is the Larrish experiment going to Last? He has shown absolutely nothing. Is there some sort of curse on this team?

  16. Mike R

    June 5, 2008 at 2:49 am

    Honestly I don’t think Jim Leyland could have handled Larish any worse. Right-Left-Right in the lineup be damned, he shouldn’t be hitting ahead of Miguel Cabrera and he shouldn’t be DH’ing out of the shoot. Let the kid play some 1st base and give Miggy some time at DH and then Miggy can play 3rd when Guillen DH’s (since Inge is hurt) and Larish can get some time in the field to be comfortable. He’s obviously not comfortable at the plate right now and pressing all game long on the bench in between AB’s doesn’t help him any.

  17. Steve in Kzoo

    June 5, 2008 at 3:21 am

    Guys Bilfer is totally right. This team has not hit, nor til recently pitched like a true team. The relief corp is horrible without guys like Rodney, Zumaya and Bautista. The only good pitcher is Todd “Rollercoaster” Jones amazingly. And even then that is stretching it.

    The hitting or the “1000 Run” lineup is an absolute disgrace. Getting shut out now 8 times through 2 months is horrible. Getting 19 runs one day, and 1 or 0 the next is inexcusable. I think as the A’s have shown us that now that most of our big guns( Grandy, Miggy, Pudge, J.Jones, and Inge) have great contracts and money, they dont need to play baseball or have the fire in the eye to win. The A’s and Rays(reminding me of good ol’ ’06) shows us that rookies and younger vets have fire and want to win because they dont have heavy contracts. Maybe we shouldnt ever sign big stars until their last year of their arbitration years. Then we might get some production from the likes of Willis and Cabrera.

    I love my Tigers. But its with that love that I must say that around 20 more games and we still play like this crap, we are out of it. And not only are we out of it, I would LOVE to see a huge FIRESALE even though it more then likely wont happen. Tim from MLBTR forsees the tigers neither buying(with what?) nor selling(Why not?). That will disappoint me even further if we don’t sell at least someone. Sheff or Guillen or Inge or Pudge. It has gotten so bad that we need to do this and restart but I dont see DD doing anything at the break. 2009 cant get here any sooner but it doesnt look to good anyhow.

    ’09 Starting Lineup

    1.Granderson CF
    2.Polanco 2B
    3.Guillen 3B
    4.Maggs RF
    5.Cabrera 1B
    6.Holliman/Santiago SS
    7.Thames/Joyce LF
    8.Thames/Joyce/Larish/FA DH
    9.Inge C

    Starting Rotation

    1.Verlander
    2.Willis
    3.Bondo
    4.Roberson
    5.Lopez/FA/Tata/Porcello?/??

    Not much to look at but maybe with all of the rooks. Maybe they will teach the vets that Baseball is about winning and having fun. And not about collecting a paycheck.

  18. Mike R

    June 5, 2008 at 3:28 am

    I don’t get how anyone can say they’re simply playing to pick up their paycheck. They look completely dejected, shell-shocked when they lose and when they win, they all celebrate like their 12 year old kids playing little league. I think it’s awfully presumptuous to assume that just because they’re not performing to levels we think they should, that it’s because they simply don’t care about baseball and just about the money.

  19. Steve in Kzoo

    June 5, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Ok then Mike you make a good point. But please tell me when watching the game today or the highlights of last nights game that you can say that. The A’s no big named players playing this weekend and no heavy contracts either. But they keep on winning games left and right and were supposed to be a bottom feeder in the West this year. The A’s are currently 2nd and 3.5 games back of the Angels.

    Now look at us. Many All Stars and many big named guys with heavy contracts. I’m not saying completely that they just come and do whatever and then get their paychecks. I’m saying they are easily looking like they don’t care, with or without their facial expressions. Look at what Bilfer wrote. Look at how many god aweful swings Miggy, Renteria and Pudge go after. First pitch swings from Sheff and Maggs, that end up a swinging strike, pop up or ground balls into DP.

    Please tell me Mike that you see any fire or need to win ball games from these Tigers and tell me that the A’s dont have the fire? Because from what I see the Tigers are not here to play and the A’s are here to play and Win.

  20. Kathy

    June 5, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Fire Jim Leland

  21. jeremy

    June 5, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Steve thanks for the laughs on that 2009 projection: Ryan Roberson as the number 4 starter and A. Lopez as the fifth starter. That with Jordan Tata as his back up, LOL. Tata is in Lakeland with the thing. He can’t throw strikes anymore.

  22. Neal

    June 5, 2008 at 9:56 am

    JJ is hitting only .083 with an OPS of .316 while with the Marlins.
    Man, we should have waited till he turned it on.

  23. Neal

    June 5, 2008 at 10:06 am

    The A’s have a lot of flexibility and don’t really have a committment to a long term team unity. I think that helps explain (not entirely) the low turnouts and fan support.
    Our real problem was that we left ourselves with almost no manuevering to bring up guys because we had so many guys locked into big or long term contracts.
    Our infield was locked up, and so was our outfield, DH, and pitching staff.
    Sheff is out, JJ is gone (That’s the only reason we have space Thomas and Larish).
    We can’t give starts to what has been our most consistent starter because all our Starters are tied to long term deals or big deals.
    Then when we do have some flexibility we DFA a guy with what looks to be a lot of potential to bring up journeyman lefty. And the only reason we got ourselves into that position is because we rushed Cruceta to the Bigs after he finally got into the Country.

  24. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 10:11 am

    You know things have gone too far when Kathy says Fire Leyland. I was all set to be moderate and reserved, but now I’m not so sure.

    I will say that the AL Central atmosphere has grown stale and stagnant.

  25. Neal

    June 5, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I am not against long term contracts, and I think the Tigers actually did well in most of them. It’s just that I don’t think you can have a team without some young minimum guys. I don’t mean old minimum guys like Hessman, though he might work as a stopgap.
    I think Steve meant to put Robertson as the 4th starter.
    What, no love for AG?

  26. Blake

    June 5, 2008 at 10:18 am

    I feel your frustration. It seems like when we do get the hitting going, the pitching struggles. When the pitchers are playing well like they have lately, the hitting struggles. It’s like a perfect storm of crap.

  27. tiff

    June 5, 2008 at 10:27 am

    today, I give thanks for the Wings. They provide a WINNING distraction.

  28. Neal

    June 5, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Idea: the Wings have shown that you can win with European players. Everyone has a baseball academy somewhere in Latin America.
    Have Illitch set one up in Sweden. In a few years we could dominate. Even if we don’t, wouldn’t it be great to see the suprised look on the guys face as he gets checked running the bases? Could they bring sticks out into the field so they could hit the ball rather than throw it? At least at the beginning, just to get the guys somewhat used to baseball.

  29. charlie

    June 5, 2008 at 10:41 am

    neal

    that of course means we would have to go with swedish cheerleaders…lurkdy durkdy

  30. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Good idea about Sweden, Neal. I’d recommened recruiting from their football (soccer) players instead, though. Lots of athletic talent there. Easier transition, less competiton with the NHL. Maybe not a lot of pitching prospects, but when a Swedish SS boots a ground ball, that runner is going to be out at first by 15 feet.

  31. charlie

    June 5, 2008 at 10:49 am

    i hope fossum gets a couple of relief opportunities this w/e…perhaps we can get his era up over 250.00. has there ever been a team with a relief pitcher with a higher era than the dh has batting average?

  32. cib

    June 5, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I’m liking this. A team full of guys who look like Zetterberg. It’s working for me.
    And I suppose we can expect to see Herring and Swedish Meatballs in the food court.

  33. Chris in Dallas

    June 5, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Well, Billfer summed everything up nicely as usual which is why I like reading this blog. I have to say I’m starting to like reading this blog more than actually, you know, watching this team. That’s when you know things have gone south. The suckiest aspect of it all is there’s no way to make it all better. Fire Leyland? That sounds all well and good, but that would probably result in riot or some other sort of mutinous activity since the players love him so damn much. Trades? They cashed in those chips in the offseason. Excepting Porcello, they have no top shelf prospects to deal, and no one on the big club is going to command much in return. The only obvious solution is to plant a couple of kilos of coke in Renteria, Rodriguez and Cabrera’s lockers.

  34. Kevin in Austin

    June 5, 2008 at 11:00 am

    A few weeks ago, I supported Maggs on the first pitch swinging b/c his OPS was 900 or so on 0-0. But now, it has dipped to 745 (though this could be too small of a sample size to give up on it). After the first pitch, Maggs’ OPS is at 1.295 at 0-1, and 1.136 at 1-0, which argues strongly in favor of Maggs taking the first pitch, regardless of how good it looks. But Maggs really isn’t the problem.

    That said, I took a look at the other regulars’ 1st pitch OPS. After doing so, my theory is that McClendon has fallen in love with the #’s below and this is leading to too many 0-1 counts and low-pitch count innings for the opponent. Though the #’s below are hard to ignore. I’m not sure what the answer is.

    Guillen’s OPS is 1.258 at 0-0
    Polonco: 745
    Renteria: 1.072
    Thames: 2.000 (only 8 ABs)
    Cabrera: 1.147
    Pudge: 1.087
    Granderson: 1.334 (only 3 ABs)
    Sheffield: 1.339 (only 7 ABs)
    Inge: 1.000

    As for Leyland, he’s got to go. Let’s consider the downside – this team can’t possibly get any worse. And if it did happen, who cares? We are already the laughing-stock of the league, what are they going to do, laugh harder? So assume that Leyland comes in here and Manager X (Kirk Gibson) keeps the status quo. Have we really lost anything? Does anyone out there really believe that Leyland is going to bring us a WS in ’09 or ’10?

    But, the upside is fantastic. It’s hard to argue against the talent on this team (in light of the lack of execution). The pitching has been average over the past month, and bullpens can be overhauled over the course of a few days in December. Sure, we need two starters, but who doesn’t?

  35. tiff

    June 5, 2008 at 11:14 am

    what we need to do is appeal to Sports Illustrated and ask them to recant their prediction of the Tigers winning it all…. after that, we will mount a 58 game winning streak, the likes of which the League will never believe.

  36. Chris in Dallas

    June 5, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Even with the high OPS numbers on 0-0, that can end up being counterproductive. The Red Sox and Yankees, to use two examples, are generally very patient clubs which works to their advantage when it comes to running up pitch counts and getting into teams crappy middle relief earlier in games. I watched the Texas-Cleveland game last night and you could see the Rangers using that approach, knocking Cliff Lee out of the game after 5 innings. As a sidebar, Cleveland had Betancourt working the *sixth* inning last night. How the mighty have fallen.

  37. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    A review of past mistakes that have led to the WTF Tigers:

    Getting Cabrera with either a) no good plan for what it meant, or b) an abject failure to follow through with the plan.

    Acquiring Jacques Jones, even assuming he would have put up normal career numbers. That move says it all about failure to take all things into consideration. Sheffield should have started the season in LF if he was deemed healthy enough to play at all.

    Getting stuck with Inge. It looks better now than it really was or will be.

    Counting on Willis right away, ignoring evidence in spring training that he could be a long-term project.

    A dogged refusal to be realistic about Sheffield.

    Giving up so early on Cabrera at 3B and Guillen at 1B. What that says about what (didn’t) happen during spring training counts as another mistake.

    Guillen to 3B and Cabrera to 1B. Cabrera at 1B looks OK now, especially if the Tigers really don’t have a true 1B prospect coming up. But how he got there is stupid. The refusal to move Guillen to DH was tied to the Sheffield issue, of course. Jim has an early June brainstorm about Guillen in LF. Oh, really? How about an early April brainstorm about trying a left fielder in LF, Jim?

    Refusal to go with the obvious solution to defense at 3B – Inge. Was it fear of looking dumb with such a rapid aboutface? If you needed to appease Guillen, then Cabrera could have gone to DH and Guillen could have stayed at 1B.

    The handling of Cruceta. The handling of the bullpen in general, personnel-wise, in-game, all of it.

    Steadfast refusal to change the game plan even slightly or as a temporary measure. No. We are station to station, and the long ball is our salvation. Being resolute is so much more important than winning.

    Not going with Thames in LF and sticking to it. Not utilizing Santiago more often. If that’s how you treat guys who come in and get it done when called upon, treat them like scraps, for the sake of “proud” veterans like Renteria and Sheffield, then you may as well have dealt Thames and Santiago and gone with Thomas and Hollimon as your bench guys.

    The only bad luck that has befallen the Tigers has been the early injury to Granderson, and the news about Vance Wilson. Otherwise, it’s all been self-inflicted.

    Jim Leyland adheres to a philosophy of “they’re professionals, and I expect them to get it done.” No, he can’t hit or pitch or field for them. But when it doesn’t get done, all I hear is his “I’m befuddled.” I don’t hear anything about doing anything extraordinary to address obvious problems in basic aspects of the game. Is that kind of extra work during a season beneath MLB players?

    People are giving Leyland way too much credit for “trying things.” He’s tried next to nothing as far as obvious common sense goes. Revolutionary things like batting Larish #5 between Ordonez and Cabrera, confidence-building exercises with Cruceta, and dropping Cabrera to #6 just strike me as trying to fix a hole in the roof by rearranging the furniture in the room below.

    I don’t see the games, don’t see the facial expressions or overall hustle and spirit displayed. But I don’t think the Tigers suffer from a lack of heart, but lack of a brain. I think they’re playing desperate and distracted. As Greg has suggested, I think their beloved manager has become, not a motivator, but just another distraction.

    If I don’t see some awakening from JL over the course of this next series, some move toward best team on the field and damn everything else, then even if things go well for the Tigers, I’ll be convinced that Leyland has become irrelevant. I’ll stop thinking, “Jim, please step aside for the sake of the team” and start refusing to even mention his name. (And this will hurt him deeply, I know. I’ve pulled out the serious weapons now.)

  38. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    “And I suppose we can expect to see Herring and Swedish Meatballs in the food court.”

    I’m all over that, cib! I’ll move to Detroit if that happens.

  39. Chris in Dallas

    June 5, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Just as long as they don’t start serving lutefisk at the ballpark…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutefisk

  40. Dave BW

    June 5, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    My take is that Leyland has tried TOO hard to repair deficiencies. Problems that very well could have sorted themselves out have simply become compounded by the multitude of measures taken to resolve them. The position shifts are the chief example of this, of course, but giving up on players/pitchers after minimal ab’s/ip has also been rampant.

  41. cib

    June 5, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    A few of us went over to Mexicantown for lunch (for those of you non-Detroiters it’s near old Tiger Stadium). Sat down and on the wall across from me what did I see but an autographed photo of Darrell Evans. Okay, I guess there is no deep meaning in that but it’s Tiger related, and let me also say that I highly recommend having a couple of Coronas at lunch every once in a while. It dulls the pain.

  42. ron

    June 5, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Jim needs to join Flip in the unemployment line.

  43. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    What did you have for lunch, cib (besides the Coronas)? If the Tigers start the series with a win against the Indians, you may have to stick with it, so I hope it was good. We won’t hold you to a steady diet of Corona, no matter what. The Tigers themselves are more of a depressant than alcohol.

    I remember Darrell Evans.

  44. tiff

    June 5, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I can see the slogan now: “WTF TIGERS: The Valium of the MLB.”

  45. T Smith

    June 5, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Sean: You okay? That was the most sober post I’ve read from you in a long time. But very eloquent nonetheless. Kudos.

    And to see Billfer blow his lid a little bit, fuggetaboutit! Apparently, the gloves are off. And for good reason. This team is lost.

    The thing is:

    I knew going into this road trip that the set of games with the Angels, Ms, and As were crucial to the team and a crucial to the season. It was almost as if these set of 9 games represented some kind of Mega Series that would determine whether the team was heading toward contention or toward a colossal bust. Any that’s exactly what this road trip did.

    To maintain any hope for the former scenario, I figured the team had to go at least 5-4. Not only were five victories required to remain in the hunt mathematically (realistically speaking), but more importantly, five victories were required to keep the morale on the team in tact.

    The most disheartening fact is the Tigers should well have gone 6-3 by the utmost of conservative measures – despite how badly they played. All three of these teams were extremely beatable, even by a Tigers team playing mediocre baseball. Instead, due to an incredible string of bad breaks and an unfathomable set of defying circumstances, the Tigers went 2-7. How deflating. Four walk offs. That must be some kind of hall-of-shame record.

    I know a lot guys pay no credence to things like morale and confidence, i.e. what I’d argue is the “mental” aspect of the game (after all these players are professionals, the theory goes), but I for one consider the mental aspect of the game one of the most important factors to the success or failure of a team. The problem with this team is they are 100% demoralized and have lost all confidence in themselves. Even if one guy gets a big hit, he has no reason to believe his teammate behind him will do the same. And so on. It’s seems obvious to me. You get a group of pressers, a collective slump, and a complete erosion of team confidence, which is the foundation to the lack of execution. This is why guys who get paid to rake can’t even put the ball in play with runners on third, less than two outs. This is why the team can’t consistently get it done. It certainly isn’t lack of talent or lack of track record or continual bad luck. Even luck goes your way by the law of averages, unless there is something else at play. That something else at play is doubt. Doubt breeds underachievement. Which breeds doubt. And so on and so on. This team has the swagger of a withering Pac Man being chomped. What we’re seeing here is a team that never fully recovered from its 0-7 / 2-10 start.

    What we also see is players who retreat back into themselves amid the turmoil and begin to punch the clock as a self-preservation technique. If you don’t think after every painful and embarrassing loss that Maggs doesn’t ogle his batting-champion trophy showcased in glass, or Pudge doesn’t behold his MVP trophy of years past, or Renteria, Sheffield — and everyone else not named Clete Thomas for that matter – doesn’t retreat back into themselves somewhat during this storm, I’d say you don’t fully understanding human nature. And we all know retreating to individual play is no way to foster the elusive intangibles called “team” and “camaraderie” (Jason Grilli be damned!)

    Something about yesterday’s loss marks a turning point for me. I’m not sure they can turn it around. The team may be past the point of no return, regardless of what buttons JL pushes from here on out, or regardless of any incredible run the team might embark on. They have simply lost their confidence. And other teams can smell the blood and are taking advantage.

    I don’t know the answer. Firing Leyland? Maybe. Hiring a group psychologist? I’d be willing to try anything.

  46. cib

    June 5, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Chicken fajita salad and too many chips. But I can’t eat like that all the time – I can’t spend all day at the gym and like Gil Cabrera, I gain weight easily!!

  47. Chris in Dallas

    June 5, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    I hate to go all John Kruk on the board here, but maybe they need to get into a fight or something. With the opponent, of course. I remember the ’04 Red Sox season was going down the toilet until Varitek punched A-Rod. That really turned it around for them. Or even last year – remember how the mini fracas with the Orioles and Daniel Cabrera ignited Sheffield? He all of a sudden went into F*** You Mode for 3 straight months. I don’t know, I’m grasping at straws here.

  48. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    A look at the *OPS+ for Granderson-Polanco-Guillen-Ordonez-Cabrera-Thames-Renteria-Inge-Rodriguez will leave you as befuddled as Leyland as to why the Tigers can’t score consistently. The only holes are Pudge (77) and Edgah (82). Even Inge is at 95. Yeah. WTF?

    An Anti-Leyland might try the following:

    DH Guillen
    2B Polanco
    CF Granderson
    RF Ordonez
    1B Cabrera
    LF Thames
    SS Santiago (vs RHP) / Renteria (vs LHP)
    3B Hessman / Inge
    C Inge / Rodriguez

    I think we’re stuck with Renteria until Santiago gets back. And who knows how Santiago will be then. But yes, I think Edgar can use a little extra “rest” at least until he can pick up the pace. Hollimon doesn’t appear to be much of a SS, and only offers a bit of power over Santiago.

    It appears that Hessman really can play a mean 3B. He’s a second Inge, completely, except for the catching part. And without old Pudge, long gone now, this team needs a second Inge. If Hessman could hit .225 with good pop, it would be a gain for the rest of this season.

    It’s time to ease Rodriguez out. Play Inge at C early and often. Play him at 3B the rest of the time. Sounds crazy to say “Inge must play everyday,” but that’s what I maintain. He’s really less destructive in the lineup than Rodriguez, by a fair margin.

    Sheffield… well, if I was charitable, I’d keep him on the bench as a pinch-hitter/occasional DH and nothing more until he proved he coud really hit again. That’s not unfair. Ryan Raburn is being asked to do much the same thing for unrelated reasons. But I don’t think a .407 team can afford a bench spot for a PH. The Tigers gave up on Shelton, Monroe, Inge, and J. Jones, among others, and 3 of those guys did have a future even if the Tigers were correct in giving up. Sheffield has no future. Keeping him around to make a run at .500 – yeah, that’s a good idea.

    The Anti-Leyland bench would be Raburn and Thomas. Even these guys would see plenty of action.

    Guillen leading off? Well, yeah. He gets on base. (Granderson – not so good at this so far.) He’s a switch hitter. No speed? Well, too bad. Is Granderson’s speed leading off at all relevant to the Tigers game plan? I haven’t seen it.

    Also, the Anti-Leyland might keep Willis in long relief and what-the-hell relief (i.e., all the situations Miner currently gets) until he gets it together, all season long if that’s what it takes. Again, hurrying a guy in desperation, in this case Willis, just to make a run at .500 makes no sense. Galaragga might turn out to be the righty Nate Robertson (not a compliment). This still benefits the team more than the split-starts are going to. Long-term and short-term.

    Also, giving the Anti-Leyland GM powers, trade Todd Jones to a contender. He’s a great preserve the win guy, great save guy. He’s not getting those opportunities with this team, and the Tigers need to find, identify, or go after a shut them down guy. If Zumaya comes back strong, then it’s time to hand it over and let him stand or fall as the closer. It’s not going to make or break 2008, and it looks ahead to 2009. Herll of a vote of confidence, too, which might do Zumaya good.

    That’s the non-fire sale solution. Or one of them. Or at least something to talk about while we wait for the team as presently constituted to bring it all together to the same games.

    I still hope Leyland resigns. I really do.

  49. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    “I can see the slogan now: “WTF TIGERS: The Valium of the MLB.””

    Yeah. And we’re the clinical trial. I’m reporting side effects.

  50. T Smith

    June 5, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    In upcoming series with Whitesox, aforementioned knife fight between Renteria and Uribe on 2nd base might spark something. That’s assuming we can somehow get Renteria on base, though.

  51. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Just eat half the salad there and take the rest to work the next day, cib. Skip the chips. I think that will still count.

    Don’t pick on our Gil, now. He’s just big-boned.

    Leave it alone, Chris.

  52. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    No, Ron. Flip Saunders needs to move over to the Tigers. A fresh approach might help. And if he’s like most NBA coaches, he probably dresses better than Leyland.

  53. Chris in Dallas

    June 5, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Sean: You’re very verbose today. I like it. If I were JL at the moment, I’d stick with a lineup for more than one consecutive game. He’s been fiddling with it too much not giving some of the lesser lights a chance to feel comfortable. Even Gil has been shuffled around in the order. I don’t know. It seems like a hopeless situation. I do know that I’d send Renteria to the glue factory, though. In fact, I’ll start calling him Elmers Renteria. Either that or plant coke on him as I suggested before. At least they won’t have to face Lee, Carmona or Sabathia in the upcoming series against Clevo. So there’s that.

  54. Chris in Dallas

    June 5, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Well, if you’re a believer in things eventually regressing (or progressing) to the mean there’s some hope I guess. I’d say there’s no way as a team that these Tigers will continue to post the .264/.347/.398 abortion that they have thus far with RISP. The OBP part of that is OK, but the slugging is brutal. They *should* be better than that. And also, inter-league play will soon be upon us, and they’ve flat out owned the NL the last two years (29-7 if you don’t count the WS).

  55. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Whoa, I missed the lutfisk thing, Chris. Don’t need to follow the link, I know what it is. One of the more bizarre Swedish dishes. Actually, Swedish cuisine – the everyday stuff – is quite good, albeit very plain by comparison with, say, Mediterranean or Mexican or anything from a more southerly clime.

    You’ll find out when the Tigers take Neal’s Sweden suggestion seriously and food at the ballpark takes an ethnic turn. I expect this to happen.

    OK, you won’t find out, since you’re in Dallas. But we’ll send some overnight to you.

  56. jim-mt

    June 5, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    The baseball gods have to let things change soon. I mean an infield double has to be the sign that it can’t get worse.

    Of course, I also thought when the king of the check-swing strikeouts went down with a check-swing oblique strain that was a sure sign of good times.

  57. Steve in OH

    June 5, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Man, I go away to Europe for two weeks and have nice optimistic thoughts that the Tigers will at least be a LITTLE better when I return… so much for that.

    Hmm… Go Wings!

  58. T Smith

    June 5, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    I don’t think it’s a good idea talking about bringing exotic food to Comerica. It’s hard enough keeping Gil focused as it is without the distraction.

  59. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    T Smith

    This team has the swagger of a withering Pac Man being chomped.

    That was good. As was the rest of your post.

    I don’t look forward to a resurrection of the “chemistry” debate, but I agree completely. These guys aren’t sets of numbers progressing and regressing to means – they’re human beings. Yes, the chemistry is bad because of the losing and how they are losing. They didn’t start losing because someone resented Sheffield or because Inge gave someone a dirty look. But you’re stuck with bad morale as yet another obstacle to overcome no matter what.

    Let’s look forward to something good, really good, happening sometime soon. And for those of you who watch the games, maybe you’ll be able to actually detect a moment, a win that turns the tide. A “we can do this – how could we possibly have forgotten that?” kind of moment. Nothing mystical about it – it happens. Not without good play. But we’ve seen some good play, really quite a bit, and still no overall, lasting change. Can one game do that? One game can at least start it.

  60. Chris in Dallas

    June 5, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    “These guys aren’t sets of numbers progressing and regressing to means”

    Yes they are. ;-)

  61. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Chris – I’m liking this Gil thing. Shorter even than Miggs or Miggy. The other, non-Nashville Chris should take note. You can’t misspell Gil. Well, I suppose you could spell it Gill. Never mind.

    More 3 letter names for Tigers are needed.

  62. Chris in Dallas

    June 5, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Yeah, Gil seems to roll off the tongue naturally. Or rather, the fingers but you get what I mean.

    So they got another kid that can throw 100 in the draft. Let’s hope he doesn’t enter any octopus throwing contests…

  63. charlie

    June 5, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    i once coached a youth hockey team and they all shed their own names and went by their fathers first name…no one but the team ever figured it out. we had a lot of laughs…kind of like the posting here for the past few days. this is a lot better than last year when so many posters were pi##ed off at least we seem to know where this season is going and there are so many helpful solutions and everyone is taking it in stride. i really like elmer and gil maybe maggs will grow his hair a little longer, have it styled into a mullet and he can be bubba.

  64. cib

    June 5, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Chris in Dallas, I like your way of thinking. If things don’t turn around soon, I am going to run down on the field and start fighting with my own team!!

    Anyone else planning to be at the game on Monday night? Want to meet up for some liquid fortitude beforehand?

  65. charlie

    June 5, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    or bub if we’re sticking with three letter names

  66. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    “Yes they are.”

    Ha! I could say a lot, but I’ll say a little.

    Baseball was more fascinating to me when I was more ignorant of the business side and the possibility that not all players were such good guys. How could they have anything on their mind but playing to win and putting up good numbers? I loved the numbers and still love the numbers. No sport like baseball for numbers and a veritable HISTORY of numbers. None.

  67. Ken from Cincinnati

    June 5, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Charlie, I love your muppet reference. “lurkdy durkdy”. Would that be the swedish sheffield you’re quoting?

  68. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Charlie, I like Bub. It doesn’t fit Maggs, though, somehow. Something sportier, like Slick but with 3 letters.

    Inge has got to be Red, an old, time-honored, tired baseball cliche nickname.

  69. Chris in Dallas

    June 5, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I wish that players would have nicknames like they used to in the way way old days. You know like Rabbit Maranville or Three Finger Brown and the like.

  70. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    I’m willing to help Edgar become Three Finger Renteria. Are you in, Chris? No reason to fear him any more. Much like I arm myself against vampires with garlic, crosses, and silver stakes, I have found talismans that will surely ward off Evil Edgar, The Ageless One, The Goat With A Thousand Young. To wit, AL pitching and ground balls hit farther than arm’s length left or right of where he stoically stands.

    And I’m verbose today because I heard that for every million words we type here, MLB will donate to the Tigers our choice of either a fair strike zone for one (1) whole game or a one-day “Get Out Of Sheffield” card that will extend his DL stay “for free” aboive and beyond the rules.

  71. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Oh, I guess Kathy didn’t actually say Fire Leyland. She said Fire Leland. Clever loophole.

    Carbera is a total bust!!

  72. Vince in MN

    June 5, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Nicknames:
    Inge already has a nickname – “Babe”. It can’t be “Red”, that was Shelton’s. “Maggs” is OK for Ordonez, I like “Polly” for Polanco, Bonderman is “Bondo” or “Bombedagain” depending on how he is pitching that day, “Rollercoaster” for Jones – you can’t get any better than that; “River” for Thames is OK, maybe “Range” for Renteria (has a nice ring to it); Cabrera needs a new one – “Miggy” just doesn’t cut it – how about “Speed” or “Corners” (I like the illiteration). Rogers is “Snake”, Pudge is, well, “Pudge”, “Zoom” is great for Zumaya, maybe “Walks” for Willis (illiteration again); Verlander needs one though. How about “Specs” for Robertson – a nickname that goes way back.

  73. Vince in MN

    June 5, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    On the other hand, with so many Latino players, perhaps Spanish nicknames are in order – I am sure they have them already but the Anglos amongst us aren’t priviledged to this info. My Spanish is really bad (casa, lobos and gato are about it), so I won’t be any help there.

  74. Ken from Cincinnati

    June 5, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Instead of boasting to all my friends pre-season that we had a hall of famer batting 8th so we HAD to have the best offensive line-up ever produced, I should have just shut my mouth. Because deep in my heart, I knew that almost every single player on our team was overrated and overhyped. Granderson- coming off of a historic season. Could we really expect him to compete for MVP again? Heck the guy can’t even hit left-handed pitching. Polanco- Again, coming off of the best season of his career. Could we really expect him to come even close to duplicating that? At his age, should we even demand a career average type season of around .300? Sheffield- at his age and with his injuries, the only possible course is to overrate him. You know he’s going to fall apart, but you keep clutching on to his hall of fame numbers like your favorite teddy bear that’s coming apart at the seams and missing an eye. Magglio- Maybe just slightly overrated pre-season. We knew he would produce, but I don’t think anybody expected .360 again. We probably did expect more RBI’s though. Cabrera- Clearly overrated. I’m not saying he won’t produce what he is capable of producing at some point, but anybody who wasn’t expecting 12 dingers and at least a .300 average at this point in the season is lying to you. Carlos- Everybody marked him down for another .300 20-25 HR season as if he is a timeless wonder that will never age. We gave him the benefit of the doubt with his defense, never foreseeing that he would start a game of musical chairs from hell because he throws like Steve, the guy from your softball team trying to relive his days as a high school third baseman. Renteria- in his career he’s been up, down, up, down. He had an up year last year. Do we not understand how a pattern works? Pudge- Old. Despite his history, he could be replaced by one of those bounce back to you net thingys that little league players practice with. Heck, Mike Rabelo would be a dynamic upgrade at this point if we still had him. Jacque Jones- Oh, but guys he has a career BA nearing .300! We were overrating that guy if we expected him to make it out of spring training, and we did. To me, we payed these guys for their names and that’s what we got.

  75. Vince in MN

    June 5, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    As for the old-time nicknames, now that I think about it, I am sure some of them wouldn’t be appropriate today.

  76. Chris in Dallas

    June 5, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Vince: You will note by reading some of these threads that a few nicknames have been spoken for. Cabrera is ‘Gil’. Guillen is ‘El Carnicero’ (that means “the Butcher” in Spanish), Renteria has alternately gone by ‘Renta-rally Killer’, ‘Gonorrhea’, or ‘Zapatos Concretos’ (that’s “Concrete Shoes”), Dosli is ‘Freddy Solid’ (a personal favorite), Sheffield is ‘The Cadaver’ and Cruceta is ‘F***ing A**hole’.

  77. greg

    June 5, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Things could turn around. Stranger things have happened. But the odds are against it. I think this team has to look to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches. The status quo will just further imbue this disease of losing that’s infected everyone.

    Rumor I heard, supposedly from someone on the inside, if they don’t have a major turnaround soon, they’ll look to trade Maggs.

  78. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Trade Maggs? I’d sure be sorry to see that happen. Rather than see the Tigers trying to make a big score with all they could get for Ordonez, I’d hope they’d be more inclined to move guys who didn’t fit the plan for 2009 in exchange for a “merely” decent player or two that did, and beyond that mostly just prospects.

    I think Maggs fits the plan for 2009. There’s no sign of decay as far as I can tell, unless he’s declining in RF, and between him and Guillen as a guy to keep for DH (if that was the choice), I’d keep Ordonez. He keeps on keeping on, produces more consistently even than Carlos, and it’s not like he won’t be able to play the field when called upon. I’m not saying I like the idea of trading Guillen, but I think this season shows that hoarding DHs isn’t a good plan.

  79. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Vince

    “Doc” Robertson could also work. Wasn’t that a traditional name for bespectacled players?

  80. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Now that the Red Wings are done with him for a while, the Tigers need to sign Nicklas Lidstrom right away and make him team captain.

    After this season, the entire Tigers team needs to spend their off season with the Detroit Red Wings. Skating with them, practicing with them, traveling with them, though not appearing in any games.

    A quote from Chris Osgood:

    “I just want to win. I don’t care what the score is. I don’t care what the shots are. I just want to win.”

    I like that.

  81. Mark GR

    June 5, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    But really . . . after all the analysis, and even though many of the team say they want to win, what real incentive do they have considering the ridiculous contracts? If your boss agreed to sign a $150,000 ten year contract w/you, would you really kill yourself to find out why you can’t perform up to expectations if you weren’t, or would you just coast after a while and sigh in relief when you bank statement arrived in the mail? The blame here is really on the front office for running their organization so irresponsibly.

    So the question is, do the players have pride and honor for the game? Actions speak louder than words, don’t they? I mean enough is enough. For two months we have been listening to excuse after excuse about why they can’t produce or execute or win or whatever . . . I listen to Zach Minor talk during a pre-game interview after blowing a 4 run lead the night before, and he just seems like, “Oh well, that’s history, there’s always tomorrow” . . . but tomorrow is the same nightmare as yesterday was. Then I see players messing around and laughing in the dugout when there just blew a lead and are about to lose.

    So do they care about winning? In my humble opinion, not nearly enough based on their actions.

  82. T Smith

    June 5, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    The way I see it, Verlander, Grandy, and Cabrera are untouchable. It’s also not an easy task to sell off or trade for players that have fat, long-term contracts. So if the Tigers are selling, the most reasonable players to push are:

    Renteria
    Pudge
    Rogers

    but who would want them? And what could we get? All three players will likely not be in a Tigers uniform next year, so if the Tigers are selling, DD should try to get something for them — anything. Propects.

    The value players — that is, players other teams would be willing to pick up the contracts on — in order, are:

    1. Maggs
    2. Bonderman
    2. Guillen
    4. Polonco
    .
    .
    .
    25. Inge/Sheffield

    Personally, if you are building for 2009/2010, I wouldn’t consider trading Maggs, Gullien, or Polonco. That’s your core team for another possible run. If were talking a fire sale, though, let any other player(s) be bait for the right player(s) in return.

    There is a lot of gloom and doom — understandably so — the last road trip was brutal — and there is no reason to suspect the team is going to magically pull it all together and start playing .660 baseball from here on out (which is what it is gonna take to win the division); but as far as the organization is concerned, everybody needs to step back, take a deep breath and understand the Tigers are not even entertaining plans to sell until we at least get through this next ten game homestand, mostly against division rivals. A good showing could leave the team right in the thick of the race, just a few games back.

    The following road trip should be much easier to pull off some Ws…. in theory… and the Tigers shouldn’t even think about selling until at least the first week of July or so. Anyway, that’s what I’d be thinking if I were DD (and whose to say I’m not?)

    (Sorry Sean. I couldn’t resist).

  83. Vince in MN

    June 5, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Sean C. in Ill:

    “Doc” Robertson sounds good, except that I can’t imagine him being able to heal what is wrong with the Tigers, so it comes off as a bit oxymoronic. I don’t believe there are any players of German decent on the team, so the old-fashioned “Heinie” is out. I thought about “Shoulders” for Sheffield, but it has an air of ’30s gangsterism about it. “Pops” is possible for Leyland. I always liked “Skooter”, but we don’t have one of those either.

  84. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    T Smith

    So, you’re a shape-shifter. Sheffield one day, Dombrowski the next, all in one. No wonder Sheff isn’t going anywhere.

    No, your views on trading are sensible and moderate, as usual. I have only tangential thoughts to add.

    Not that the Tigers have any reason to write off this season – that’s an excitable fan thing (and I’m an excitable fan) – but I really do hope that any moves that are made take 2009 strongly into consideration.

    Trades are something fans are always willing to undertake long before they make any sense for a team. It’s not hard to understand – “they’re just playing bad baseball” is like a brick wall. We can’t do anything about it, don’t know why it’s happening, and can’t do any better than guess at ways to get them to play better baseball. So, it’s “get rid of these guys and bring me some better guys.”

    Well, we’ve brought in some new guys since 2006, and… well, it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. Sheffield, Renteria, Cabrera, Willis, Jones. None without some measure of disappointment.

    I’m trying to think more in terms of who the Tigers ought to lose than what they might gain, and more in terms of specific needs for 2009 that they can start doing something about already this season than any “big scores” of certain players.

    I’ll tell you one thing – the Tigers should have held on to Mike Rabelo. They should have made the Marlins take Brandon Inge instead. Inge has been valuable, no doubt, but I would have preferred Cabrera at 3B as originally planned. Some agony, some growing pains, but no circus.

  85. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Hey, Vince – I think Granderson is a Scooter. Scooter Granderson. Doesn’t sound half bad.

  86. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 5, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Also, as “Doc” Robertson. we might be able to sue Nate for malpractice.

  87. Vince in MN

    June 6, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Once you eliminate all the players that are 1) washed up, 2) part of the core future, 3) over-paid with multi-year contracts, and 4) a spare part, who exactly is left for the Tigers to have a “fire sale” with?

  88. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Vince

    T Smith addressed that question, I think, albeit in a different form.

    My take, assuming the future begins in 2009:

    1) Washed up: Sheffield, Rodriguez, Wilson
    2) Part of core future: Cabrera, Polanco, Ordonez, Granderson, Verlander, Bonderman, Zumaya
    3) Overpaid multi-year: Inge, Willis
    4) Spare parts: Raburn, Santiago, Thomas/Joyce/Larish/Hollimon, Thames, the entire current bullpen

    That would leave, for your definition of a fire sale seen through my eyes:

    Guillen, Renteria, Rogers, Robertson, and Galaragga. All but Rogers could fetch a decent if not spectacular return, I think.

    I think of a fire sale as putting all but the core players on the table, including “washed up” guys with some speculative value for teams in serious contention with desperate needs to fill (i.e., Rodriguez and Sheffield). Even Inge might begin to look more attractive to other teams as the season wears on.

    I don’t advocate a fire sale, but I do think about it.

  89. Chris in Dallas

    June 6, 2008 at 10:07 am

    I think you really have to wait and see what the record is at the ASB before you go all fire-sale wacky. They had a similar stretch of games down the stretch in ’06 and still won 95. They’re just doing it backwards this year – getting the crappy play out of the way early. God I’m such an optimist.

  90. greg

    June 6, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Regardless of his stats, Sheff’s above average bat speed quickly quiets any talk that he’s definitely washed up. He’s simply injured right now and until his bat slows down, no way am I writing him off. Agreed he should stay on the DL until he’s right.

    I could defintely see a market for Renteria, Pudge, and Rogers.

    a) Renteria – not everyone has seen his rough D at short this year, and you can talk up the point that he’s an NL player vs. an AL player, and dump him off on an NL team out there.

    b) Pudge – still above average defensively. I say this ducking as I know there are some Pudge haters out there, but he seems to be past last year’s episodes of passed balls on easy pitches. And the SB % on him last year was overblown as well, when the runner is practically sliding into 2nd when the ball hits the catcher’s mit it’s impossible the throw out the runner at that point no matter how good your arm is. At least 50% of catching runners stealing falls on the pitcher holding the runner and a quick deliery to home plate. He’s overpaid, but someone in a pennant race in need of a catcher(Yankees?) would go for him.

    c)Rogers – 2 straight quality starts – put together about 3 more and teams with poor pitching will definitely come asking.

  91. Chris in Dallas

    June 6, 2008 at 10:50 am

    If Rogers puts together 3 more quality starts in a row, odds are that the Tigers will win those games (even though they haven’t been offering up much run support, that won’t last forever). A Brewers-like run (12-4 over their last 16 games) over the next batch of games puts them right back in the mix. I would wait and re-evaluate the team around July 4 before ditching anyone.

  92. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Greg, you’re probably right about Sheffield. I hope anyone I write off proves me wrong – big-time – while they’re still a Tiger.

  93. Carolyn

    June 6, 2008 at 11:10 am

    I’ve gotta be careful, because the last time I defended Cabrera, I was told the poster was being tongue-in-cheek. But I’m not detecting sarcasm in Ken’s post. Do you really think Cabrera is overrated?
    “I’m not saying he won’t produce what he is capable of producing at some point…” So you concede that he’ll probably be batting .320+ sometime. Not quite understanding how that makes him overrated, then.

    I found a somewhat interesting stat on Miguel and his time with Florida. Out of all NL teams, Cabrera had by far the lowest batting average against Houston, batting .195 from 2004-2007 in 87 at-bats. The Astros were the team the Marlins faced the least. Perhaps this is not significant, but it may show that Cabrera needs to see a pitcher a few times before he’s comfortable.

    Maybe I’m grasping at straws, but I’m absolutely befuddled by his performance this season. I don’t know how many of you watched him in Florida, but the guy was such a gifted and smart hitter and was so consistently great that he was taken for granted by the local media and the fans.

    Here’s a very unique at-bat from 2006. Maybe Larish should bat behind Cabrera so we can see something like this happen. (The Marlins did hang on and win it.)

    http://mlb.mlb.com/media/playe.....0&v=2

  94. Chris

    June 6, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Why shouldn’t Cabrera be part of any fire sale move to build for the future? I would imagine if the Tigers did offer him down the stretch, they could possibly get a really excellent prospect that could quickly make an impact for this team. The potential of Cabrera’s bat to any contender in need of offense, could fetch a steep price and maybe too irresistible to a team just one hitter away form winning it all. And then a top prospect for the Tigers could do a lot to cut payroll and to make the team much more athletic.

    Cabrera, even if he does hit the way he did in Florida, is still not a good fit for the team. Tigers have too many station-to-station hitters and not enough defensive skills, even without Cabrera.

    Hopefully, DD isn’t too stubborn to see that the Cabrera acquisition isn’t sacred and that he may not be a good fit for the team going forward.

  95. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 11:16 am

    I don’t really have Rogers on my mind as a guy to unload.

  96. Chris in Dallas

    June 6, 2008 at 11:19 am

    No one is going to be willing to take on Cabrera’s mega-contract. I think 2 months into an 8 year deal is a tad to early to be writing him off. He’s going to be the cornerstone of this franchise for a long time.

  97. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Carolyn

    Wow. That was cool. Thanks.

    You’re really Cabrera, aern’t you now? Or his agent.

    Just kidding.

  98. billfer

    June 6, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Why would you trade a 25 year old stud to build for the future?

    Look guys, there isn’t going to be a fire sale to build for the future. The only way they start dumping guys is if Ilitch orders a reduction in salary.

    This is the team they have, and largely the team they’ll have next year as well.

  99. Chris in Dallas

    June 6, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Agree with billfer for the following reasons:

    Cabrera: signed through 2016
    Granderson: signed through 2012 (club option for ’13)
    Ordonez: signed through 2009 (club options for ’10 & ’11)
    Guillen: signed through 2011
    Bonderman: signed through 2010

    etc. etc…I don’t see them dealing any of these guys away in any sort of fire sale. They’re obviously committed to their core guys. With the track records they have, there’s no reason to believe that even if 2008 turns out to be a disappointment that they can’t make a decent run in ’09. The only major changes I could see for next year are not bringing back I-Rod and maybe some sort of buyout of Sheffield. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Rogers got some sort of perpetual 1 year contract a la Tim Wakefield if he still thinks he can pitch.

  100. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Billfer, unless it’s so far back in the thread that I don’t remember it or can’t find it, I don’t think anyone except maybe Chris actually advocates a fire sale. More of a “what if.”

    Sometimes things that aren’t going to happen, happen. Somewhere, some time last year, there was someone saying “what if the Tigers got Miguel Cabrera?” That wasn’t going to happen, because Inge was under contract long-term and 3B was not a pressing issue for the Tigers.

    I’m curious to know if there’s anyone on the team you see whose return in 2009 is contingent upon their (individual) performance this year.

  101. Chris

    June 6, 2008 at 11:40 am

    “Why would you trade a 25 year old stud to build for the future?”

    … because you can get a 21 year old stud who, in a couple of years, can be offensively skilled, with speed and good defensively. This team has too many slow DHs.

  102. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Why shouldn’t Cabrera be part of any fire sale move to build for the future?

    Chris, because dealing for him was building for the future. Sheffield, Renteria, and J. Jones were all “win now.” Cabrera was “grab a cornerstone.”

  103. T Smith

    June 6, 2008 at 11:46 am

    “…This is the team they have, and largely the team they’ll have next year as well…”

    Agreed. Except — let’s just say for sake of illustration the Tigers are clearly out of contention at ASB. I mean CLEARLY out. If they could get anything for Rogers or Pudge I suspect they would (what good would either player do for the 2008 team for two-and-a-half months? — presumably neither will be back in 2009 anyway).

    I would also assume they might not exercise Renteria’s option for 2009 if he continues his Boston-like year — so he might be a person easily sold to a NL team if another SS solution presents itself. Not so sure the Tigers would give up on Renteria like this, but I’m quite sure they would try to get some parts for Rogers and Pudge.

    Buy the way, we’re talking double-digit games out at ASB before the team contemplates anything.

    Ohh, and after seeing that clip Carolyn posted, I say Cabrera for manager once Leyland resigns. That was brilliant.

  104. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Chris – So what if the 21 year old stud is putting up .270/8 HR/35 RBI after 2 months, and not quite what you anticipated defensively or speed-wise? Do you trade him in another fire sale to build for the future? A 4 year difference in age makes Cabrera a bad deal, a bust, washed up, someone to have zero patience with?

  105. Chris in Dallas

    June 6, 2008 at 11:49 am

    “because you can get a 21 year old stud who, in a couple of years, can be offensively skilled, with speed and good defensively. This team has too many slow DHs.”

    That may be the case, but if you want to lower the Molasses Factor, Cabrera is the LAST guy that you get rid of. With the recent moves, I don’t think the Tigers are all that intersted in fielding a “small ball” club anyway.

    Sean: To answer your question (even though you didn’t ask it to me), I’d say Elmers Renteria probably has to put up better than a .266/.307/.390 line over the next 100 games to get his option picked up for ’09. And I don’t see any scenario where He Who Does Not Walk returns for ’09.

  106. Carolyn

    June 6, 2008 at 11:53 am

    “Why shouldn’t Cabrera be part of any fire sale move to build for the future?”

    Chris, do you secretly work for the Marlins?

  107. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Chris used to work for the Marlins. He was the one who originally suggested dealing Cabrera.

  108. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    He Who Does Not Walk! That is excellent. It’s really got a double-meaning thing happening – not sure if that was intentional. You know, like, a supernatural-type guy wouldn’t actually walk, just sort of glide mysteriously. Good, Dallas Chris.

    Goat With A Thousand Young is still more insulting, though, somehow.

  109. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Oh – maybe you were talking about Pudge. Duh.

  110. billfer

    June 6, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Renteria, Pudge, and Rogers are the ones most likely not to be back. Renteria has an option but is essentially in a contract year.

    I wouldn’t expect the Tigers to actively resign Pudge, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they offered him arbitration. He’d still be a type A free agent meaning they would get draft pick compensation. Worst case is they get him for one more year at a contract that is much more affordable than this year.

    Roberston is tradeable but I don’t know they’d do it given the lack of big league ready pitching in the system.

  111. Kyle J

    June 6, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Random note on Pudge: Noticed on one my son’s baseball cards his career BA coming into the season was .303. It’s now at .301. Will probably drop below .300 by the end of the season. That’s a shame. However bad he may look at the plate now, we’re still talking about someone in the conversation for greatest player ever at his position.

    Agree with Billfer that offering him arbitration makes a lot of sense. If you can get him for a price tag reflecting roughly what he is now–a very good defensive catcher who’s barely a replacement-level hitter–I think you do it, since there’s no obvious replacement besides Inge and he may be your starting third baseman again.

  112. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 6, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Billfer

    What about Sheffield?

    Is Thames really back next year if he doesn’t get a clear shot at LF in 2008 or does and disappoints? Same (type) question about Santiago.

    Is Inge the catcher in 2009? Is trading him still unworkable or now simply off the table altogether?

    Just an opinion, and hardly an expert one, but I see less of this team still together in 2009 than you do.

  113. T Smith

    June 6, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    I’ve got an idea. Let’s go on something like a 10 game wining streak (starting tonight), and then maybe an 18-4 run so this entire discussion becomes mute.

    Is that too much to ask?

  114. Kyle J

    June 6, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    I’ll second that motion, T Smith.

    These next 6 against the Indians and White Sox may be the final stand for this team. Win 4-5 of those games and you close the gaps in the standings to a reasonable number. Lose 4-5 of them and I think we really have to write the season off.

  115. Chris

    June 6, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    “Chris used to work for the Marlins. He was the one who originally suggested dealing Cabrera.”

    Oh yea. And the Marlins are really regretting that trade….. Jeez!

  116. Ken from Cincinnati

    June 6, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Carolyn, I do indeed concede that Cabrera will eventually be hitting .320. I guess I was simply using “overrated preseason” to also include performing below expectations at this point. With every player we either had expectations that were unrealistic considering career history or age factors, or the player is performing well below the realistic expecations we had. I’ll be more concise next time. Well…probably not.

    Anyone going to the game tonight? I’m traveling through Michigan and thought I would get a couple games in along with some poker play at MGM. While I’ve been to Comerica before, what do you think the best seat value is if I’m looking to be economically frugal. Also, what’s a good place to “tailgate” or grab a few beers before the game. I can only remember the Hockey Town USA and Johnny Rockets, which I know doesn’t have brews.

  117. Dave BW

    June 6, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    “Oh yea. And the Marlins are really regretting that trade….. Jeez!”

    VORP for Cabrera trade players, 2008:

    MARLINS
    Andrew Miller (probably the best pitcher of all time):
    -3.7
    Eulogio de la Cruz (Zumaya Jr more than likely):
    -.2
    Burke Badenhop (he could have been our ace this year):
    -7

    TOTAL: -10.9

    TIGERS
    Miguel Cabrera (who sucks and is a bust):
    10.4
    Dontrelle Willis (who is horrible and totally lame):
    1
    TOTAL: 11.4

    That’s a 20 VORP difference — even with Cabrera slumping. Essentially, so far the trade has netted us the equivalent of another Magglio Ordonez.

  118. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 7, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Awesome, Dave.

    But you’re leaving out Rabelo, not to mention Trahern and Maybin. So your results are quite skewed. Nice try, spin doctor.

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  119. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 7, 2008 at 1:23 am

    “This is the team they have, and largely the team they’ll have next year as well.”

    Leaving aside all the back and forth from Toledo guys, I see only the following players starting 2009 with Detroit:

    Verlander
    Bonderman
    Willis
    Galaragga
    Dolsi
    Lopez
    Rapada
    Zumaya
    Cabrera
    Polanco
    Ordonez
    Granderson
    Guillen