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All Star Break Discussion #2 – Open Mic

It’s a free for all on All Star day. I won’t post a game thread for tonight’s All Star game so feel free to use this space. Other possible topics for discussion but feel free to deviate:

Posted by on July 15, 2008.

Categories: 2008 Season

98 Responses

  1. I think the main difference between Zumaya and Rodney so far has been that Zumaya has been able to get out of his jams while Rodney has allowed some runs to cross the plate. Also, fair or not, Rodney’s ERA is much higher than Joel’s and that means a lot to some fans (1.59 to 7.71).

    I don’t think that’s fair, but I do think that has something to do with it. However, it’s pretty clear that they both have some serious control issues that need to be worked out if the Tigers are going to make some serious noise down the stretch.

    by Blake on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:14 am

  2. I think the perception between Zumaya and Rodney is a but justified. Zumaya has been walking an awful lot of people, but he seems to get out of his Jams. As a result, the Tigers are 8-2 in his appearences.

    Rodney can be brillant at times, but when he cannot control his fastball, he is horrible. The Tigers are 3-7 in his appearences, and his last 3 appearences have been in games the Tigers have eventually lost by 1-run.

    -Sam

    by Sam on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:16 am

  3. posted my comment before reading Blake’s. Obviously great minds think alike ;-)

    by Sam on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:18 am

  4. here’s a Q
    What’s it say about the team when Matt the Catt Joyce is voted AL Player of the week?

    by tiff on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:23 am

  5. Ramon is hitting 110 points above his career clip right now. Edgar is hitting nearly 40 points below his. My feeling is that both revert a bit closer to career form in the 2nd half with Renteria being slightly more productive. It’s also hard to really compare the two right now considering Renteria has about 300 more plate appearances this year too. I’d love to see Santiago keep it up though, I’ve always liked the guy – hard to not root for anyone who played everyday during the dark time.

    by Jerkwheat on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:28 am

  6. I’ll go with Galarraga for the guy who will have the biggest impact in the second half–for better or for worse. For the most part, the hitters are on track to match their career numbers down the stretch. If Galarraga can continue to be solid, that should give the team enough starting pitching to make a run at the White Sox and Twins. If he doesn’t, it’s hard to see the Tigers being able to compete with only three established starters–and little in terms of promising starers in the minors.

    by Kyle J on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:29 am

  7. I read some where on ESPN.com recently that a scout for some team wondered out loud how much longer Edgar Renteria would even be able to play in the Majors. Apparently people in the league are beginning to see him as being totally washed up. I think he’s been playing pro ball since he was 15 so that’s certainly possible. The guy could just be worn out.

    by Blake on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:46 am

  8. I hate to pick a player for impact, because I really think it’s going to be about the bullpen in the second half. I expec the starting pitching to be good enough and the hitting to be great, but I’m very worried about the bullpen.

    I’ll take Edgar for better numbers that Santiago. I’m too much of a stat guy to go the other way.

    by Deryl G on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:47 am

  9. Let’s get back into the Sheffield’s Home Cooking catagory. At this point Sheff is cooking a huge steaming bowl of S-U-C-K…. His season stats are awful. His stats since his DL return are even worse.

    Yet, Leyland is on record that he will be starting Sheffield at DH on Thursday, though he didn’t indicate how many more chances Sheffield will get…

    So, on Thursday with the return of Maggs we will have Thomas, Thames, or Joyce on the bench so our .217 hitter who hasn’t been healthy since ’05 can get in the game… This of course makes perfect sense, since Thomas, Thames, and especially Joyce have not had any sort of impact in the last several weeks…. -did that sarcasm come through clearly-?

    We are .500, having only recently climbed to this benchmark. I am of the opinion that we need to play the players who have been helping us win recently. Joyce in right. Thames in Left. Maggs to DH. Thomas can com in as a defensive sub. That is far better lineup than using Sheffield right now. There is also the added benefit of playing two young guys who have a future as oppossed to Sheffield, who has little to no future left. Well, except the 18 million he is owed next year.

    by ez on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:53 am

  10. Blake hit the Zumaya/Rodney conundrum right on the head. A lot of fans will look at the ERA disparity and automatically assume that Zumaya is “lights out” while Rodney is a “gas can”. And of course Joel has the big fastball (not that Rodney’s a soft tosser) and doesn’t wear his hat crooked. But he can’t do a Kermit the Frog impression, so I’d say they’re even. Anyhoo, I think they’re both still kind of getting their sea legs under them after not having pitched to big league hitters for such an extended period, particularly Zumaya. I’d say by the end of the month one or both of them will start finding a groove.

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 10:34 am

  11. You are Dead on on the Sheffield comment.

    Here are his numbers over the Tigers last 162 games:

    98games – 353 abs – 13 2bs – 7 hrs – 29 rbis – 200/320/300.

    THAT IS A 620 OPS!!!

    The Tigers really need to cut him and eat the ramaining 1.4 years of his contract. He has nothing left in the tank.

    -Sam

    by Sam on Jul 15, 2008 at 10:37 am

  12. I think Magglio Ordonez and Justin Verlander will have the most significant impact on the Tigers in the second half. Positive. Just a hunch.

    Zumaya and Rodney are perceived differently in part because Zumaya is still seen as a big potential guy, being much younger, whereas Rodney is expected to get it done now or be gone. Also, Rodney has blown it big time 2 or 3 times already since his return. I can’t think of any games that Zumaya has really blown so far. Of course, Rodney has probably also been been put in more high-leverage situations than Zumaya.

    I started thinking of Dolsi as a potential closer as soon as I “saw” (read accounts of) his coolness under fire, not losing it when things went a bit awry, not letting things go from bad to worse, in contrast with other blow-ups I was seeing from other members of the bullpen around that time. I also noticed that while he wasn’t so fantastic with inherited runners (just better than the Tigers norm), he seemed superb whenever innings were “his own.” He’s also a great groundball pitcher. He throws hard and yet isn’t a blow ‘em away guy like Zumaya. All in all, I started seeing Dolsi as a version of Todd Jones at his best – a guy who shuts ‘em down in way that isn’t flashy at all, just effective.

    While we weren’t looking, Ramon Santiago somehow became a better hitter than his career numbers indicate, I think. No, not a .350 hitter. I think he can outperform Renteria for the rest of the season. He’s earned a shot at more playing time, for sure, and I see him making the most of it (see 2-run double in one of his first games back after the injury.)

    Unless they’ve fixed Renteria, he seems to be in a Jacque Jones-like death spiral. Frankly, I think Santiago is a better hitter. Heresy, madness, I know. But Ramon has helped the team more thus far. That is fact.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 10:41 am

  13. Since a reliever’s main job, in my opinion, is to prevent inherited runners from scoring, we need a new stat. ERA tells you nothing about a reliever’s effectiveness. It’s routine to see a starter pitching a gem, then leave with 2 out and 2-3 on. Then the reliever comes in. He gives up a triple, walks 2, then gives up a screaming line drive but someone makes a diving catch. This happens every day almost without exception.

    End result: the starter gets charged for all of the damage, 2-3 earned runs. The reliever? 1/3 of scoreless relief 0.00 ERA. Indicative of performance? Not even close.

    We need an IERA – Inherited Earned Run Average. That’s their job, to prevent runners from scoring, who cares who put them on base. It’s a tough job. If they can’t handle it, let someone else try. We need to know how effective they are at it. % of inherited runners scored is a start, but we need a fuller picture of their effectiveness.

    by greg on Jul 15, 2008 at 10:56 am

  14. Rodney’s two blown saves might have something to do with it.
    I find that the WPA — a metric of how much a player advances the team’s chance of winning with each batter faced (and aggregated) — maps fans’ intuition fairly well. Zumaya registers a + 0.5, while Rodney comes in at -0.6. (For perspective, Joe Nathan is the leading reliever in this category with a +3.6, while Isringhausen and his 7 blown saves is last with -2.5.) Perhaps, Zoom has been “lucky,” as insinuated in yesterday’s “5 inning recap”, but he hasn’t cost the team as much as Rodney has.

    by Dave in New Have(n) on Jul 15, 2008 at 11:04 am

  15. I don’t want to say Sheffield is washed up. I just don’t know. I see it this way, as a choice between:

    a) Save a roster spot for Gary and keep playing him (how can you do the former without doing the latter?), just in case he ever remembers he can hit AL pitching, gets unbelievably hot, and carries the team to an 81-81 record.

    b) Cut your losses with Gary and let someone else carry the team to an 81-81 record. Get a head start on 2009 by making room for both Clete Polanco and Marcus Joyce on the team. Deal with the learning curve and the growing pains, because it will pay off (from a fan’s perspective, it makes the team more interesting, if nothing else). Maybe even this season.

    I can afford to see it this way for a couple reasons. First, I don’t know Gary Sheffield the man or work with him every day. Second, I don’t owe him millions of dollars.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 11:07 am

  16. Greg

    “We need an IERA – Inherited Earned Run Average.”

    Everything you say is on the money.

    A while back, I posted stats on the Tigers pen with ERAs based on considering any run allowed the responsiblity of the pitcher who let it score. The team bullpen ERA, seen this way, was 18.42. This was also Zach Miner’s ERA. Only Rapada and Dolsi stood out as better. It was a problem, and remains a problem for the Tigers. Inherited runs weren’t the only problem, either – after coming in with runner(s) on, the pen allowed something like 83 H/BB in 35 IP.

    Even if “IERA” needs an allowance for the fact that it’s a tougher than normal pitching situation we’re talking about, an 18.42 team IERA still seems pretty dismal.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 11:17 am

  17. Sean: If I am to read your comments correctly, then the team is going to go 81-81. Thanks, now I don’t have to watch the rest of the games. I think I’ll take up model ship building instead.

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 11:40 am

  18. Dave: To further your findings – here’s most of the reliever’s WPA with their AL rank in parenthesis.

    Jones .80 (31)
    Solid .70 (33)
    Miner .53 (43)
    Zumaya .51 (44)
    Rapada .32 (58)
    Lopez .16 (73)
    Seay .09 (79)
    Rodney (.60) (167)
    Cruceta (1.41) (185) – second to last. Way to go, Francisco.

    All that info really tells me is that there’s not a single guy who you can count on at any given time in relief. It’s a total gamble out there. Not good times. Bad times.

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 11:52 am

  19. “the team is going to go 81-81″

    Chris: Yeah, but how do you know which 34 games the Tigers will win? You must tune in and find out!

    The point is really that I don’t see Sheffield being a big factor in any possible run. But I’m not so cynical as to think that 47-47 at the break doesn’t give the Tigers a pretty good chance at a winning season.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 12:21 pm

  20. given all the inconsistencies
    given JL’s refusal to start the 9 best guys in each game
    given the shakiness of the bullpen
    given the fact that their aren’t 5 reliable starting pitchers
    given the fact that the billion dollar offense could go flat in any game
    81-81 might be a very good season

    by judpma on Jul 15, 2008 at 12:48 pm

  21. I am going to answer the question of which Tiger will have the most significant impact now, since I’ve been thinking about it. I say it will be one Curtis Granderson, and here’s why. In games that the Tigers win Grandy is producing to a tune of .387/.439/.593, which you might say is, I don’t know, f*$&^ing phenomenal. When they lose, he drops to .181/.255/.354. So I guess you could say as he goes, so go the Tigers.

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 12:49 pm

  22. Re: Freddy Solid. I don’t see him as a future closer, but he could probably be a 7th inning guy. In the post-Todd Jones apocalyptic wasteland, a Solid-Rodney-Zumaya back half of the ‘pen might turn out OK. Given that he’s only thrown something like 4 innings above the AA level going into the year, there’s room for growth from him. It would be nice to start seeing more K’s and fewer walks, but a GB/FB ratio of nearly 2:1 is positive. And considering his average FB comes in at nearly 95 mph, touching 98 on a couple of occasions I’d say he’s got an arm to work with. Which brings us back to the pitching coach discussion from yesterday – is it up to Chuck to harness that?

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 12:57 pm

  23. judpma

    “given all the inconsistencies”

    I’d say that yours is a reasonable assessment overall.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 1:08 pm

  24. Chris: Regarding Curtis and W-L, look into Renteria’s line.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 1:11 pm

  25. I stand corrected.

    Thomas, Thames, or Joyce won’t be on the bench when Maggs returns…

    Either Thomas or Joyce will be sent down to Toledo, and the other will be on the bench because we just HAVE to have Gary in the lineup….

    Thanks for helping us get back to .500, lads. Enjoy Toledo while we play a player who has been healthy 6 months out of the last 36….

    The biggest distraction for Detroit in the second half? Gary Sheffield. And he is long overdue for one or both of his favorite past-times: 1) Making a divisive racial comments, or 2) Demanding a new contract. Though, I can’t see how in good conscience he could expect to be paid more than the 18 million next year…

    I don’t think this Tiger team is going to make the playoffs. If that be the case then play the kids and get them seasoned for next year.

    by ez on Jul 15, 2008 at 1:17 pm

  26. “I don’t think this Tiger team is going to make the playoffs. If that be the case then play the kids and get them seasoned for next year.”

    Kinda what I’m thinking, ez.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 1:21 pm

  27. Yeah, Sean, Renteria’s splits are pretty exaggerated as well. I think Granderson is somewhat more important since he hits leadoff though. The team really benefits from his being on base in front of Polanco-Guillen-Ordonez-Cabrera. Edgar not so much. In those games that the Tigers have won, Granderson has scored 41/72 times on base, vs. 9/34 in the losses. Granted, his scoring is largely dependent on the guys behind him, but considering he’s been on base almost 40 more times in the wins I’d say he gives them ample opportunity.

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 1:31 pm

  28. And I’m not willing to write off the Tigers postseason chances when they’re only 7 games back, especially considering the two teams in front of them are also flawed. 2 things have to happen: 1 – they need to have a winning record head-to-head against Chicago. I mean like 8-4. That would mean they have to find a way to make up 3 additional games over 2 1/2 months. 2 – 4 of the 5 starting pitchers need to be effective for at least 80% of their remaining starts. That will lead to the requisite amount of wins to be in the hunt.

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 1:35 pm

  29. I don’t understand all the hate on Sheffield. The Free Press gave him a C+ grade for the first half, after all. (end sarcasm.)

    basically the only way this team sniffs the postseason is stepping up and not playing afraid against the White Sox, Royals and Twins.

    The season will probably be defined by a ten-game road trip that beings July 28 with four games at Cleveland, followed by three at Tampa and three at CWS.

    On the plus side, the Tigers are done with the Red Sox and have one makeup with the Yankees and three with the Angels.

    The schedule isn’t terrible, but the team has to keep playing.

    by Mike in CT on Jul 15, 2008 at 1:48 pm

  30. “Granderson is somewhat more important”

    Good points, Chris. What struck me about thinking about both Granderson’s and Renteria’s Game Outcome splits was this:

    “As Granderson goes, so go the Tigers.” Inspires confidence, hope.

    “As Renteria goes, so go the Tigers.” I reach for the Drano cocktail.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 1:50 pm

  31. I prefer strychnine martinis myself…

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 1:54 pm

  32. Speaking of exaggerated Game Outcome splits (which I’m sure are more or less an MLB norm), earlier research left me unsurprised to see the following (well, the first one of the following):

    2 and only 2 Tigers regulars/semi-regulars are surprisingly consistent, win or lose. Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge.

    Kenny Rogers, unique among Detroit starters, has a better – much better – ERA in no-decisions than in wins.

    Magglio – 6 RBI all season in Tigers losses. Not knocking him, but this is still pretty shocking (not that it’s such an unusual split for this team overall).

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 1:56 pm

  33. Yeah, Chris, but where am I gonna get ahold of any strychnine? I don’t even know what it is, actually (though I’ve heard of it). Do what you can, with what you have, where you are, is what I was always taught.

    Strychnine. Good baseball name. RF Hank “Poison” Strychnine.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 2:00 pm

  34. Hooooweee…. I just read the FREEP’s mid season grades… If you read them and DIDN’T know our team record you would conclude we were in first by about 30 games… Nearly everyone gets a “B” or a form of an “A”… Sheffield a “C+”???? That was the grade Ralphie got for his Red Ryder Theme, and his Theme was a whole lot better than Sheffield’s BA, OPS, RBI’s, and HR’s…. I would normally say something about Inge getting his preposterous “B” grade, but let’s not get into THAT again…

    The mainstream media poo-pah’s the blog universe, but after reading schlock like that I would recomend Jon Paul should petition the courts to have his last name changed to “Glue-Sniff”

    I’ve seen A-Team episodes that were more realistic than his grades.

    There is a chance this team makes the playoffs. But MUCH has to go right and almost nothing can go wrong… Sheffield would need to regain his form from ’05 and before, the starting pitching would need to pitch beyond its culumnative ability, no more injuries can happen, and the White Sox need to implode… All of those things can happen, but the odds are long against them happening… Unless Jon Paul Glue-Sniff suddenly becomes a Master Of The Universe.

    by ez on Jul 15, 2008 at 2:13 pm

  35. Those grades were right on…if we were still living in 2004 and were expecting the Tigers to win 55 games.

    by Ryan P on Jul 15, 2008 at 2:22 pm

  36. What’s even more interesting is the pitcher W/L splits. Did you know that Justin Verlander is 7-0 in games in which he wins? Kind of amazing. OK, that was terrible. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 2:36 pm

  37. He’s also 0-9 in games the team doesn’t score more runs than he gives up!

    by Adam on Jul 15, 2008 at 2:47 pm

  38. Seriously, I was disappointed that baseball-reference doesn’t have the same simple Game Outcome for Team splits for pitchers and hitters alike.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 3:05 pm

  39. One way to sum up the diappointment of 2008:

    Cabrera + Renteria + Willis + Jacque + “healthy” Sheffield = +1 game in the standings, from 8 back of Cleveland to 7 back of Chicago.

    Seen another way, they’re way ahead of the Indians now. So maybe 2008 has been a roaring success.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 3:26 pm

  40. I won’t be officially disappointed in anything until the day they are mathematically eliminated, which by my estimate should be July 27.

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 4:06 pm

  41. Really, though, it’s hard to imagine all of the offseason “retooling” going much worse than it has. Cabrera is starting to bear fruit, but the rest is the pu-pu platter deluxe. Whod’ve thunk that someone named “Armando Galarraga” would have more wins at the ASB than Dontrelle Willis and that Edgar Renteria would have a lower slugging percentage than Nick Punto while Jacque Jones works the drive-thru at In N Out Burger.

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 15, 2008 at 4:10 pm

  42. Comparisons of some team stats.

    OPS IN WINS/LOSSES

    CHI .882/.636
    MIN .835/.620.
    DET .925/.599

    OPS AGAINST IN WINS/LOSSES

    CHI .587/.877
    MIN .639/.957
    DET .634/.909

    BABIP AGAINST IN WINS/LOSSES

    CHI .250/.340
    MIN .268/.357
    DET .243/.346

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 4:27 pm

  43. As for relievers:

    Zumaya’s fastball (and some good D-plays behind him) has gotten him out of more than a few jams. His current ERA is a perfect example of why this stat is, at times, meaningless. Right now, his control is fleeting and he can’t seem to throw anything but his fastball. Batters know what they are going to get, but his wildness has actually has actually helped out in this regard — getting a number of batters swinging at stuff over their heads. Mostly, I think he’s just rusty — as would be expected. Right now, I’m just thankful his velocity is still there.

    Rodney was put in a few tight games and blew up, ending in losses — so there is the kick. He has never seemed to have the right attitude/desire/anger to close, and this remains a problem. His control seems absolutely gone and his stuff seems degraded. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him used sparingly and working on the side from here on out, with the idea that hell be good to go in 2009.

    I like Dolsi. He doesn’t have a ton of experience and it shows at times. A fair number of his walks are the four pitch variety where he is clearly overthowing — seems to happen right when he enters the game to start an inning. I really think his stuff is good enough to close and he has shown glimpses of excellent control, but right now it seems as if he doesn’t trust his changeup enough — most hitters are getting a steady diet of 95 mph fastballs. I think this is why we aren’t seeing a lot of strikeouts and attributes to some long ABs leading to walks as well. I think all of this will get better once he trusts his change more — it seems like a good pitch when he throws it. Like others have pointed out (incl. Smokin’ Jim L.), I think his even0keel makes his stuff that much better — he just doesn’t seem to get too upset one way or the other, he moves on with the same approach. Bare minimum, I’d like to see him inherit the set-up role once Zumaya moves to the 9th and I expect he will. I think his numbers in the minors support this analysis with a 2:1 K:BB ratio, about 1 K per inning, and 65 BB in 166 innings since 2003.

    by Chris Y. on Jul 15, 2008 at 4:40 pm

  44. I just can’t believe Travis Fryman made four all-star teams

    by stephen on Jul 15, 2008 at 4:57 pm

  45. Reagarding the significance of ERA:

    I’ve been a baseball fan for about 40 years, so I can understand if this sounds “outlandish.” Until recently, I would have thought so, too. But I really don’t care for the business of runs as earned or unearned, nor do I care for runs being charged to a pitcher who didn’t allow them.

    That being said, plain old ERA still has meaning, especially for starters. Relievers? Hmmm. No, not really. Not as much, anyway. I’m inpressed with any pitcher who strands (by percentage) a lot of runners, and it’s especially important for middle relief to strand inherited runners. 9th inning specialists that don’t inherit runners, maybe not so much, of course. Which brings me to: I’m not so impressed with the save as a statistic, either.

    What I want from (Tigers) pitchers: Outs. Period. Please? Thank you.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 5:04 pm

  46. What was wrong with Fryman, Stephen?

    It’s not like being an All-Star is based on any objective grading of performance. Carlos Guillen really doesn’t belong on an All-Star team this year by any objective measure.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm

  47. I was actually just making an off-point joke since this was open-mic night. fryman was a good player.

    by stephen on Jul 15, 2008 at 5:31 pm

  48. Sean, there is a glimmer of hope…

    The Tigers’ pitching staff is averaging slightly under 3 outs per inning.

    by Joel in Seattle on Jul 15, 2008 at 5:51 pm

  49. Well since we are doing wacky splits…when I was thinking about the pitching coach thing, I was wondering how much pitching coach success and failure depends on the catcher. And then I wondered how the different pitchers did with the different catchers. There was nothing really dramatic, but you do see:

    -Kenny don’t pitch good to Brandon; he like Pudge
    -Bonderman pitched very good to Brandon
    -When Inge is behind the plate, pitches seem more likely to head in the vicinity of batter’s ribcage. Or the backstop.
    -Inge spells relief: Todd Jones-5 of 5 save oppportunites with Inge behind the plate: and the Inge/Dolsi-do Duo: 5 appearances, 29 AB, ERA 0.00 OPS .457.

    by Coleman on Jul 15, 2008 at 6:08 pm

  50. Who’s been calling Freddy Dolsi closer material? He’s living off that jam he got out of against Cleveland I believe it was where he had 2 or 3 K’s to strand a runner on 3rd (or were the bases loaded?). He’s walked more than he’s K’d, giving up basically a hit an inning. Great fastball, solid offspeed stuff but at this point, what separates him from Denny Bautista? Not much, aside from a better name.

    As for the biggest impact, I’ll go a bit outside the box: Zach Miner at the back of the rotation. I will admit I’ve had some mancrushes on other Tigers starters before (oh, hey, what’s up Wilfredo Ledezma?) that haven’t worked out but I really think Zach Miner can, and will, establish himself as the No. 4 Starter for this club from this point forward. Though, he’ll be in the 5th spot.

    by Mike R on Jul 15, 2008 at 6:46 pm

  51. There are a couple players who will have the most impact on this club.

    1. Gary Sheffield
    2.

    by T Smith on Jul 15, 2008 at 7:16 pm

  52. There are a couple players who will have the most impact on this club.

    1. Gary Sheffield
    2.

    by T Smith on Jul 15, 2008 at 7:16 pm

  53. There are a couple players who will have the most impact on this club:

    1. Gary Sheffield
    2. Edgar Renteria

    If the Tigers have any shot at making some noise, these guys need to pick up the pace. Since it’s obvious that Leyland is gonna play both, they simply need to get it done. If they don’t, 81-81 will be a miracle.

    I’ve read all the comments and am going to swim against popular opinion somewhat. Gary Sheffield can still contribute to this team. Here’s why. He’s a streaky player. Yes, he’s been productive 6 months out of his time here, as someone else pointed out, but a lot of that time he’s played through injury or has simply been injured. Does that mean I advocate towing the adrocious line he’s put up thus far? No way. But guaranteed, he’ll get going at some point. He claims he feels okay, which is something he never claimed before when he was playing thru the injuries. Let’s hope he gets going sooner than later. I’m chalking up this current pot of suck as just one of his streaks. The cycle will turn and we’ll all be singing praises to Sheff soon enough. And if we aren’t (if he doesn’t come around), the Tigers don’t have a shot.

    Edgar Renteria. He simply has to produce if this team is going to contend. I worry more about him than I do Sheffield. Everyone jumps on the Bash Sheffield Wagon, but I feel compelled to point out: if Sheffield has been stirring up a pot of S-U-C-K, then Renteria has been catering an entire meal of P-U-K-E to a tent-full of starving children. He’s been beyond horrible, on both sides of the ball. It’s just too big of a hole to have in the lineup if this team is going to content. I’ve seen nothing from this player that tells me he can produce anywhere near his career numbers. At least Sheffield has had some flashy streaks (albeit short ones), gets on base a lot, and has won some games for the Tigers this year on some key clutch hits. Renteria? Not so much.

    by T Smith on Jul 15, 2008 at 7:37 pm

  54. To expound on the previous comment: I’d much sooner release Edgar Renteria and play Santiago the rest of the year to free up a roster spot for one the Hens. You only lose half a year vs. a year-and-half if you release Sheff, and you have an equal or better player in Santiago, in terms of contribution.

    Santiago will continue to produce at the plate and provide much better defense. I’m reluctant to go on record to say Santiago will end up with better offensive numbers than Renteria (even though off the record I’d bet the farm on it), because I am somewhat stupidstitious… To say so is like bestowing a death sentence to the Tiger’s season. If Renteria can’t get it done, it’ll take Leyland till late August to figure out he’s been a complete bust, and by then the Tigers will be 12 games out of first. It all rests on Renteria and Sheff. The other guys will come thru more or less on pace and produce to expectations, more or less. Renteria and Sheff have been collosal disappointments, on the far end of the spectrum — the difference is, I hold out hope for Sheffield, whereas I’ve lost all hope for Renteria.

    That said, he simply has to prove me wrong and get it done.

    by T Smith on Jul 15, 2008 at 7:57 pm

  55. The introductions with the Hall of Famers at each position were very, very cool.

    by Kyle J on Jul 15, 2008 at 8:53 pm

  56. I will quickly answer bilfer’s bullet-pointed topics with bullets of my own:

    1. Most impactful Tiger in 2nd half:
    Jim Leyland, who will continue to perform up to his usual standards and lose many more games than he wins, all by his lonesome.

    2. Zumaya:
    It will catch up to him. I don’t expect him to be really back to normal til next year. Rodney: it has caught up to him. This is probably who he is.

    3. Dolsi:
    Not a future closer and can only be considerd as such by desperate Tiger fans comparing him favorably to Todd Jones.

    4. Santiago:
    Too small of a sample size to be meaningful. On the other hand Renteria’s large sample size is very meaningful, so play Santiago anyway.

    by Vince in MN on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:10 pm

  57. Sheffield should get 2 weeks to turn it around, if it doesn’t happen you sit him/put him back on the d.l. until 9/1.

    Then you give him off-season to rehab/get better/hope for miracle.

    If it doesn’t happen, you take a bite out of the big shark sandwich and release him next year at the end of spring training. Too much $ to release him now, too much of an albatross not to release him next year if he still sucks.

    by stephen on Jul 15, 2008 at 10:36 pm

  58. I think the al would have a chance if inge were playing c. But we wasted too many innings with that candyass mauer.

    by Forty on Jul 15, 2008 at 10:43 pm

  59. Shrug, rivera is no todd jones

    by Forty on Jul 15, 2008 at 11:33 pm

  60. This is boring even for an All Star Game.

    Why is Cook walking Guillen to get to Sizemore? There was already a man on first.

    by Dave BW on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:02 am

  61. The NL has a chance to get out of this after loading the bases with no outs. Insanity!

    by Dave BW on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:03 am

  62. Dave BW

    Hurdle knew to walk the most feared hitter in the game. :)

    by Brian in Tampa on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:06 am

  63. I agree with stephen.

    by Kathy on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:18 am

  64. “Why walk guillen” — because you don’t pitch to the most feared bald spot this side of manu ginobili

    by Forty on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:27 am

  65. The Tigers victory party will be even sweeter since everyone has written the Tigers off. Fine by me. The Tigers were supposedly done in May when they were 12 games under .500.

    Then there were all the if’s. If the Tigers can get to .500 by the all star break, then they’ll have a chance. The Tigers get to that and then everyone raises the bar on them. Their comeback was amazing. What’s not amazing is the fans giving up before it’s over. That’s what sickens me.

    I have team-mates like that, but I always tell them, we can still win 1st or 2nd, if we go about our business and not worry about what the other teams think.

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:29 am

  66. U-g-l-y you aint got no alibi, you uggla

    by Forty on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:39 am

  67. Guillen double!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can actually sort of support the AL now that most of the Yankee/Red Sox players are gone.

    by Dave BW on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:39 am

  68. Way to represent Guillen.

    by Brian in Tampa on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:40 am

  69. Carlos!

    by Forty on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:41 am

  70. Hahaha uggla sucks

    by Forty on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:42 am

  71. This is ridiculous. Cook is a groundball machine

    by Dave BW on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:44 am

  72. I’m getting tired. At least Guillen showed up. That kinda looked like the tigs 1/2 the year. Leadoff double gets stranded.

    by Brian in Tampa on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:47 am

  73. Nah, when he almost got thrown out home it was like the tigers ;)

    by Forty on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:48 am

  74. Selig did not look pleased. Perhaps this system of taking out starters after nine pitch innings (halladay) in the All Star Game should be reconsidered.

    by Dave BW on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:49 am

  75. Blaming 2 non-key players for the success or failure of this team is plain dumb. Fact is we don’t need Sheff or Renteria, they are just here for the ride. If they help, that’s great, even better, but they weren’t even on the team in 2006, and we got by without them.

    We have a surplus of great talent on the Tigers, so there is no way 2 players can drag us down, especially one being a DH. Look at the other top teams. If Renteria and Sheff were on those teams, would they be any worse because of it. No, not at all.

    Example- Lugo has played horribly for Boston and Ortiz hasn’t played in more than a month, but the Red Sox are still doing fine.

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:49 am

  76. The guy who hit third in the lineup for alot of the first half is a key player. Renteria was traded for, so that he could be a key offensive player at short. I hope we didn’t make that trade for defense. They drag us down when they make no productive outs, and routinely kill any sort of rally.

    by Brian in Tampa on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:55 am

  77. I don’t think the game is boring anymore.

    Cool note: I happen to be in NYC for business and as part of the decor, they have placed 8 ft. Statue of Liberties all over the city, each one painted in a different teams colors and logos. I found the Tigers statue in Chelsea Market and took pictures.

    by Tim in TX on Jul 16, 2008 at 1:00 am

  78. Fact is we don’t need Sheff or Renteria, they are just here for the ride. If they help, that’s great, even better, but they weren’t even on the team in 2006, and we got by without them..

    Respectfully disagree. Sure, if you get Maggs and Granderson in 2007 form for the rest of the year, and Polanco and Guillen do what they do and you get solid starting pitching and a consistent and a reliable bullpen, maybe that core of players can carry the team without a DH and with a lame shortstop. One or two or maybe even three of those elements may come to pass, but I’ve seen this team play and have little faith all those cylinders will fire at once for the remainder of the season. I think it’s pretty safe to say you need to count on Renteria (and/or Santiago) and Sheff to hit above the pitiful lines they’ve produced thus far for the Tigers to make a run at it.

    In 2006 the Tigers coasted into the playoffs. To say they “got by” is a stretch. Success on that team came primarily from April/May/June magic and from surprise players like Shelton (who didn’t even make it thru the season) and from phenomenal pitching. That team played horrible baseball from early-August on, and its weaknesses clearly showed later in the season. The 2006 Tigers had its holes, too, which is why they went after Sheffield in the first place. Frankly, the 2006 Tigers were fortunate to even make the playoffs.

    by T Smith on Jul 16, 2008 at 2:07 am

  79. Tell me, what team doesn’t have a few weak links like Renteria or Sheff?

    Please take a look at other rosters of all the other top teams!
    Like Tampa Bays. Can you name their starting SS and DH off the top of your head? Doubtfully. Look at the stats of these players too. When you get down to critiquing Tampa Bay, you’ll find more holes than what the Tigers have.

    PLEASE LOOK AT MORE ROSTERS!

    It’s just not right to critique only the Tigers. You should put all the teams under the microscope if you want a non-biased opinion. Your opinion is probably biased because you probably watch the Tigers more than any other team.

    Look at the rosters again. Like Minnesota. Minnesota has a ton of players who are stinking it up. Top of the list is Craig Monroe, he’s hitting .203. Mike Lamb is hitting .220. They have a handful of other scrubs that are hitting below league average. They have some pitchers who are beyond bad too, especially Livan Hernandez.

    Why should I only focus on the weaknesses of Minnesota? It’s stupid ain’t it? Well, that’s what you are doing with the Tigers.

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 3:06 am

  80. Sure, if you’re looking at 30 teams that makes a lot of sense. In fact that’s probably exactly the case with all the AL teams left out in the cold in October… But I’m not talking about looking at 22 also-rans. I’m talking about looking at the 4 top teams in the AL on October 1. Guaranteed every one of them won’t have a couple everday position players (not platoon players like Monroe) that contribute little-to-nothing to the team. Mark it down, take it to the bank. The cream will rise, and the teams with serious holes will sink.

    If for some fluke you get insane production on one of those top teams from the rest of the lineup to compensate, you might be able to carry one player — but I still stay say not two.

    The 2007 Tigers had career, MVP-type years from 3 guys, and career production from another 4 guys — and they only won 88 games last year. That kind of production should have carried the team to glory, according to your reasoning. However, there were two black holes at 3rd base and LF last year that kept the Tigers from contention. That’s exactly why DD addressed those needs (or attempted to address those needs) in the offseason. This year it’s SS and DH. But the good news is, the year ain’t over yet and there’s still time for those guys to stand up and make sure what happened in 2007 doesn’t happen in 2008.

    by T Smith on Jul 16, 2008 at 10:25 am

  81. What T said.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 16, 2008 at 11:30 am

  82. Joel (in Seattle)

    “The Tigers’ pitching staff is averaging slightly under 3 outs per inning.”

    Officially, maybe. Word on the street is that it’s 3+ and maybe closer to 4 per inning (d-e-f-e-n-s-e).

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 16, 2008 at 11:42 am

  83. Then just look at the top teams. Like I said, Just look at Tampa. Can you name their SS and DH? Probably not. Can you name more than one pitcher in the their pen besides Percival. Probably not.

    Look at Boston. Lugo Stinks more than Renteria. Big Papi hasn’t played in more than a month. The back end of there pen pretty much sucks. They have a couple of guys who make Grilli look good.

    Look at the White Sox. Contreras has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball since June. His ERA went from 2.76 to 4.60 in about a month. Jenks is on the DL. Their entire pitching staff got lit up last week on their road trip.
    Konerko is hitting .217, with a .687 OPS. He’s been no better than Sheff. I thought you said a team couldn’t be in 1st with a big hole in the line-up. Guess what, you are wrong buddy. They have a few other players not doing all that well, Swisher at .236, Thome at .253, Crede .253.
    O Cabrera has only a .692 OPS. That’s better than Renteria’s .627, but it’s nothing to brag about. They both stink. That’s another hole in Chicago’s line-up. How can that be if they are in 1st?

    If all you want to do is dwell on the negatives I can keep going. If you looked at the other teams like how I told you to do, I wouldnt’ of had to make this stupid post.

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:39 pm

  84. Boston- Varitek is hitting .218 with a .653 OPS. Boston is in 1st place though. How can that be? According to you, they’re not supposed to have any holes if they want to be in 1st.

    Lugo .680 OPS, Crisp .719 OPS, and Ellsbury .714 OPS could probably be considered holes also.

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:47 pm

  85. It’s simple Chief.

    1. Boston and Tampa don’t need to play .685 baseball to make the playoffs — the Tigers do. I doubt Boston or Tampa will play .685 baseball over the next 70 games if their position players don’t step it up. I’m talking about what it’s going to take to make the playoffs for the Tigers, being a .500 team with 70 games to play.

    2. I beg to differ on Lugo sucking more than Renteria. I’m not saying I want Lugo on my team, but his line .264/.330/.355 and his defense are both appreciably better than Renteria.

    by T Smith on Jul 16, 2008 at 1:11 pm

  86. “Guaranteed every one of them won’t have a couple everday position players (not platoon players like Monroe) that contribute little-to-nothing to the team. Mark it down, take it to the bank.”

    Players with sub .700 OPS’s-

    Boston- Veritek .653 OPS and Lugo .680 OPS

    White Sox- Konerko .687 OPS and O Cabrera .692

    Tampa- Bartlett .592 OPS and Crawford .700 OPS

    LAA- Matthews JR. . 661 OPS, Izturis .685 OPS, G. Anderson .690 OPS, Figgins .701 OPS, Aybar .702 OPS.

    Minnesota- Gomez .638 OPS, Lamb .548 OPS, Harris .691 OPS.

    Tigers- Sheffield .662 OPS and Renteria .627 OPS

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 1:19 pm

  87. Lugo’s defense has been horrid. 16 errors. .945 fielding pct. Google “Lugo sucks” and you’ll get thousands of hits.

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 1:24 pm

  88. Have you EVER looked at the other teams?

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 1:27 pm

  89. Dude, Tampa’s bullpen is pretty good. Wheeler-Miller-Howell have been dynamite for that club. Though I do agree that every contending club has holes. The Angels and Twins in particular could not hit their way out of a wet paper bag as a group.

    by Chris in Dallas on Jul 16, 2008 at 1:37 pm

  90. Here’s the thing. Renteria missed the last 4 games. The TIgers lost 3 of them. Did Renteria matter?

    All those were tight games. If anything I’d blame the Tigers pen for not holding the 1st game. We should of atleast split the series.

    The Tigers won a crap load of games in June when Renteria was struggling and without Sheff in the line-up.

    I agree that Sheff shouldn’t be playing everyday. He doesn’t deserve to play right now. I don’t think Renteria deserves to play either, but I don’t think either of them or their replacements have been difference makers.

    Larrish didn’t do anything when Sheff was gone, but the Tigers still won most of the games.

    My only point is every team has holes. If it’s not Sheff or Renteria, then it will be Pudge, Inge, and Todd Jones. There will always be someone to blame. There will always be weakest links.

    IMO, the keys to the Tigers making it to the playoffs is the pitching and Granderson, Polanco, Guillen, Magglio, and Cabrera. The top of the order needs to consistently score runs and topple opposing pitchers.

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 1:54 pm

  91. Well Chris, you’re one of the only people left that thinks with a brain instead of raw emotions.

    I think the Tigers can make another run.

    They’ve taken the 1st step by getting to .500, now they just need to take the 2nd step and get back into 1st place.

    The Tigers got the players to make an honest stretch run. Even most of are reserves are playing well. We just need to win 8 more games than the White Sox out of the next 68 games. The way the White Sox have pitched lately, I think they could easily do that.

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 2:08 pm

  92. Chief,

    It would seem we are splitting hairs. What’s the real issue here? I’m not saying other teams don’t have holes and weaknesses in their lineups — I’m also aware of Lugo’s defensive miscues this year; I stand by my comment. Lugo is still better than Renteria defensively and he is still more productive than Renteria offensively. Plus he’s been clutch for the team and contributed (and yes, I’ve witnessed it myself in games against the Tigers, where Mr. Clutch Lugo tipped the scale to a Redsox W). Maybe Redsox fans just have higher standards than apologist Tiger fans ??

    In any event, Lugo and the other sub .700 OPS players you cite are not issue. Plus, there are six teams in your sample — at least two of them (perhaps more — depending on second-half surprises) will not make the playoffs.

    The issue is what will the Tigers need to do to be one of the 4 AL teams to make the playoffs. The thread began with the question, “What Tiger(s) will have the most significant impact in the second half”. I choose to focus on what Tigers would have the most significant impact in that time frame, assuming to make the playoffs, the Tigers would need to play damn near perfect baseball and fire on all cylinders for the entire stretch (and if you want to argue that point with me, fine, let’s go there instead — but that seems to be a different issue) — and the two players that come to mind, most obviously to me, are our sub .700 OPS players, who also so happen to be aging Veterans whom the skipper and organization have issues benching.

    It’s not that complicated really. The Tigers are in an entirely different situation from the other teams you cite.

    by T Smith on Jul 16, 2008 at 2:13 pm

  93. I really like the fact that the “elite” pitchers (those in the all-star game) use their fastball up high for a put-out pitch. NONE of our starters do that. They nibble from 0-2 outside and low (or in the dirt) until the count is full. Then they throw a meatball down the middle.

    The only one who does it is Zumaya, but even he looks nothing like he did two years ago when he was so good at it.

    It’s interesting…

    by Taylor on Jul 16, 2008 at 2:22 pm

  94. Wait. I have a last minute compromise solution.

    Platoon Sheffield and Renteria at DH. Bat them #9. Start with Edgar. Tell him it’s that “second leadoff hitter at the bottom” thing. It’ll fly. The next day, when it’s Sheff’s turn, tell him… well, I’m not sure what to tell him.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Jul 16, 2008 at 2:24 pm

  95. Here’s the thing. Renteria missed the last 4 games. The TIgers lost 3 of them. Did Renteria matter?

    Yes! He absolutely mattered! If you insert as much as one more hot bat in each of those games — all other things being equal — that tips the scale in the series. That’s exactly my point! All those games were lost by one run. If Renteria were playing in those games and went 2-4, 3-4, 1-4 even, hitting for power and coming thru in the clutch — whatever — getting on base, scoring runs and racking up a couple RBI over the series, that likely would have tipped the scale in one, two, or all three of those one-run loses.

    Can you expect all your players, 1 thru 9 to produce like that every game? No. But you do have to expect all your players — even Gary Sheffield and Edgar Renteria — to produce like that in some of your games. When two players consistantly fail to produce, you gotta a problem. And I’m not even as much pointing the finger at Gary Sheffield, because as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, he at least produced like that in a recent series the Tigers took from a very good St. Louis Cardinal team.

    by T Smith on Jul 16, 2008 at 2:34 pm

  96. No doubt the Tigers need to play great from here on out. They can do it. They got the talent to rise above the other teams.

    The Yankees done it last year. They were 47-44 at the break, then went 47- 24 for the rest of the year. They finished with a 94 -68 record and won the wild card.

    A significant impact would be a pitcher winning 9 games in August and September. Or someone hitting 20 homers in final 2 months of the season. That’s what the Tigers need. Impact players. Leaders. We’ve had none so far this year. Thames has been the closest thing so far. I could see Verlander and Cabrera leading this team.

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 2:52 pm

  97. Actually, Santiago done very good in Renteria’s absence. We really don’t need Renteria at all if he’s hitting like a stiff. We don’t need Sheff either.

    Personally, right now I’d rather have Inge at 3rd, Santiago at SS, and Guillen at DH. Sheff and Renteria are not needed, they’d be best off on the bench.

    If the top of the line-up ain’t beating up on the pitcher, then the bottom of the line-up probably won’t either. That’s the thing you don’t get. You don’t need 1 though 9 to produce unless it’s a slug fest.

    The improved defense could help win us more games. I’d like to take Sheff’s poor hitting, and Renteria’s poor overall play out of the equation.

    by Chief Monday on Jul 16, 2008 at 3:14 pm

  98. Chief:

    And I agree with you there. I guess my pet peeve is when a clump of players go on a tear (Maggs/Grandy/Polanco 07) — and then some players, whom I need not name, polarize the production by creating holes that, in effect, cancel aforementioned production out, e.g. that 20 hr player shows up in August in September and 16 of them are solo shots, or when the LOB % is obscene, or when rallys are squelched like clockwork because the team can’t quite figure out how to bridge the same old holes that continually and habitually squelch opportunities. Perhaps my own bias and annoyance of this pattern has colored my perception of what will most impact this team down the stretch.

    I’m not expecting everyone in the lineup to be an MVP candidate, or everyone to produce in every situation, or even for the players to avoid slumps – I just expect everyone in the lineup to come thru every now and then, thus contributing to the team in its quest for the division — so that the impact play/players you mention pay off. And if we’re gonna pull off what the Yankees did last year, I certainly think that’s fairly necessary, whether your Maggs or Reteria.

    Yes, we have the talent to do it. In my view the rotation is also good enough to have a couple in the ranks win 9 games down the stretch — if they continue to pitch like they have — but that’s also going to entail winning some games 4-3 instead of losing them 3-2.

    For the record: I’m not short on the Tigers. I’m only holding them to the standard to which I believe they need to play down the stretch to win the division.

    by T Smith on Jul 16, 2008 at 4:09 pm

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