Game 157: Royals at Tigers

by billfer on September 24, 2008 · 37 comments

in 2008 Season,Game Post

PREGAME: It’s been a while since the Tigers scored. Tonight they face a pitcher with a 5.96 ERA in Brian Bannister. But said pitcher hasn’t allowed more than 4 runs to the Tigers in his career. The most recent time he did it he also went 8 innings.

The Tigers send out a pitcher with a 6.15 ERA in the shape of Nate Robertson. Nate was good in his last start against a neutered Oakland lineup. Hopefully he can replicate his success against the Royals.

KCR @ DET, Wednesday, September 24, 2008 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

Game Time 7:05

 
 

{ 37 comments }

stephen September 24, 2008 at 8:37 pm

please tell me this team is not going to lose 90 games.

cib September 24, 2008 at 8:46 pm

I had to go away from the TV. Oh my god.

Kevin in Austin (now Dallas) September 24, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Stephen and everyone else out there, know that I’m commiserating with you guys. You’d think that since I took the last two months off from following every game that I’d be in shape or rich or something. But I’m not.

Here’s a topic for the off-season: Is this team as currently constructed closer to ’03 or ’06?

mcb September 24, 2008 at 8:54 pm

The way they have decided to roll over and die – they have no respect for the money the fans have paid to see them perform. I am seriously contemplating a non-renewal of my season tickets. There is just no excuse for this, and sign of changes – just words no actions. There won’t be a 3 million attendance mark next year.

RudeMood19 September 24, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Honestly, who cares? They’re not going to make the playoffs, their pitching blows. Let them lose. Better draft pick which IS VITAL for this team.

Look to next year, but keep losing, its unsportmanlike but honestly, does it matter?

Steve September 24, 2008 at 9:01 pm

This really is a shame.

9 Freaking nothing.

I thought we would be talking playoffs this week back in February.

My question is WHERE do we start?, WHAT do we fix and who is in the pen next year?

Steve

Vince in MN September 24, 2008 at 9:11 pm

The day after the season ends, Illitch, Dombrowski, Leyland and staff, and the players all need to have a public news conference and apologize.

Kevin in Austin (now Dallas) September 24, 2008 at 9:14 pm

mcb – I encourage you to follow through with that. It has to start somewhere. As fans, we simply can not tolerate this level of effort.

RudeMood – it’s not the losing. A bad team is one thing, but the spectacular way in which this team does it is too much to handle. Even Billfer popped off at the team yesterday. It takes quite a bit to get there.

mark_in_gr September 24, 2008 at 9:18 pm

RudeMood19, it most certainly DOES matter. If you are a true professional, you give your best effort to win EVERY game. Look at Cleveland and Kansas City. Have they rolled over and died, for the sake of a draft pick? No! They are playing to win, like professionals.

The Detroit Tigers of ’08 are an absolute disgrace and I am one fan who will NOT be taking my family to Comerica in ’09′. Mr. Ilitch, you have presented a product here which is an absolute joke and you and DD should be utterly ashamed of yourselves.

Michael Strahan summed it up on Fox Sunday regarding the Lions play this season. “You can teach technique, but you cannot teach heart”. The Detroit Tigers have NO HEART, they have NO HONOR, and they are a ridiculous excuse for a professional baseball team.

It REALLY is a shame that these clowns don’t have performance clauses in their contracts. This overpaid, overrated bunch of misfit, incompetent dolts should be paying the fans for having to suffer through this miserable season.

greg September 24, 2008 at 9:20 pm

mcb wrote – The way they have decided to roll over and die – they have no respect for the money the fans have paid to see them perform. I am seriously contemplating a non-renewal of my season tickets.

Amen mcb, amen. I’m doing the same thing, not renewing next year. Why should we pay money, to care more than they do?

The joke is on us.

Sam September 24, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Hessman hit his 300th career HR down 10-0.

288 have come at the minor league level.

-Sam

mcb September 24, 2008 at 9:52 pm

I can’t even believe Leyland is willing to guarentee anyone a spot.And I cannot believe he and his staff have a guarenteed spot.

Sain September 24, 2008 at 10:03 pm

These losses get me more than the earlier losses. It’s almost like you can look and tell that they have all just mailed it in and don’t care. I blew up at the bar because of Sheffield. I yelled “Finally!! Why didn’t one of these bastards show this type of emotion after the 7th loss of the season?” Get rid of Leyland and the whole staff to show that the people who can be easily replaced will be if this team doesn’t perform.

Dave BW September 24, 2008 at 10:32 pm

mark_in_gr: Dombrowski and Illitch did not in any way present us with an inferior product — aside from a questionable decision to not reinforce the bullpen, they constructed what EVERYONE assumed would be a top-notch club. It’s the players that couldn’t follow through.

Also, btw, the Reds recently apologized to their fans. I’m willing to bet the Tigers will not, and that is unfortunate.

stephen September 24, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Well, I’m still watching! I want to see if Inge can hit under .205 for the fourth time in his career. It’s gonna be close! Stay tuned! September baseball at its finest!

mark_in_gr September 24, 2008 at 10:53 pm

Dave BW, They most certainly did present a faulty product by concentrating on the sticks and forgetting about the pitching altogether. Any winning manager and GM throughout baseball history will tell you that baseball games are won w/pitching, not w/offense, just like Football games are won w/defense.

And I would argue that boasting the second highest payroll in the league was a major flaw in and of itself. What do you think it does to the moral of other players when they see someone like Cabrera earning that much? That money should have been spread around more, balance out the bullpen and rotation. Compare this team to the Twins, for example, a team focusing on the fundamentals and execution, not a team overloaded w/sluggers which strike out as much as they jack them out. Again and again, this type of management of a team(Yankees, and now the Tigers) has proven to be more for show and fan draw than winning games. It’s a short term style of keeping the turnstyles moving, when the right thing to do is build a balanced team versed in the fundamentals which will be a proven winner. I will take that over a team of over paid aging underachievers any day of the week.

Dave BW September 24, 2008 at 11:01 pm

You’re being revisionist, mark. Before this season, everyone viewed the Tigers starting pitching as a strength, many claiming that they had the best rotation in the AL (seriously, look it up). Therefore, Dombrowski had reason to believe that he HAD pitching. As fun as it is to find one or two people to blame for a given problem, doing so is rarely accurate. This season is on the players.

Kevin in Austin (now Dallas) September 24, 2008 at 11:31 pm

I don’t know Dave BW. I can recall for sure sharing doubts about the pitching openly on this forum, and I know that others were on board. Even though, can we agree that at times Leyland mishandled the pen? I know that it is unreasonable for us fanalysts to question an MLB manager, but at some point in time when the masses grow large enough, doesn’t that make them right? Or at least believable?

What about the failure to do more than bring in Kyle Farnsworth at the deadline? What about the failure to motivate players? What about the 1B-3B merry-go-round? Who do we blame for that?

I agree with you in some part that the players are to blame. Gary Sheffield, Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Todd Jones all woefully underachieved.

But were Inge’s struggles a surprise to anyone? How about a 37 year old catcher having problems blocking balls behind the plate? Wouldn’t you want a contingency plan for that? Were Rogers and Nate that much of a surprise? I mean, Kenny recorded “Lady” in 1980! We all knew the bullpen was bubble gum and duct tape the first week of the season, yet the handling of the guys in AAA was perplexing.

To me, the fact that we are gonna end up almost 20 games under .500 is on the players. The fact that we are under .500 period is on DD and JL.

Tbone September 24, 2008 at 11:32 pm

The way this team is finishing out the season is simply shameful.

jud September 25, 2008 at 12:28 am

if you think this team is embarrassed your are wrong they are laughing all the way to the bank with our money..
heck……..I might even switch to Dominos pizza as a protest

billfer September 25, 2008 at 5:08 am

@mark_in_gr

Everybody deserves some blame, but there is some ignorance in your posts. First of all, baseball games are won by scoring more than your opponent, there’s more than one way to do that. You can win with a great offense and mediocre pitching staff. Unfortunately the Tigers staff wasn’t mediocre, it was awful.

As for what should have been expected, Verlander has significantly underperformed, as has Robertson. I’m not saying Robertson is great, but he’s never been one of the 1-2 worst starters in the league either. They got NOTHING from Willis, which is far less than what could have been expected. Bonderman and Rogers are/were both injury risks, so neither should be shocking. But where the Tigers thought they’d have some production, they had none.

And as for the Yankees, you do realize this is the first year since 1993 they haven’t made the playoffs and that the team basically prints money right? That seems like sustained success to me. The Twins aren’t winning because of fundamentals. There fielding is worse than the Tigers and their stolen base rate isn’t anything special. They’re winning because their pitchers don’t walk anybody and the offense has hit remarkably well with RISP.

Smoking Loon September 25, 2008 at 8:36 am

“You can win with a great offense and mediocre pitching staff. Unfortunately the Tigers staff wasn’t mediocre, it was awful.”

True. Also unfortunately, the Tigers’ offense wasn’t great, either, but mediocre. Feast + famine / 2 = mediocre. As Joe Morgan might say, it wasn’t consistent. Even its inconsistency lacked consistency.

“They most certainly did present a faulty product by concentrating on the sticks and forgetting about the pitching altogether”

That’s not a faulty product. That’s a calculated risk. They didn’t forget about pitching, but they were counting on more than what they got from what they had. It happens.

“What about the failure to do more than bring in Kyle Farnsworth at the deadline?”

Yes. I wonder about that, too. The Tigers were just above .500 at the deadline, and it had been a struggle to get there. Trading Pudge certainly was a rock the boat move. Why they didn’t go beyond that – hard to say. But they were in a real position of weakness for making trades then. If Farnsworth was a bad deal, then maybe we should be grateful no more damage was done.

“I want to see if Inge can hit under .205 for the fourth time in his career”

So, again, who do you want at 3B in 2009, Stephen? Answer me, or I’ll have you banned from this weblog. I have a gold star, which makes me a deputy.

“Hessman hit his 300th career HR down 10-0″

I’ll take that to mean “Hessman should have a legitimate shot at 3B in 2009.” I agree.

“Better draft pick which IS VITAL for this team”

I can never tell if people are serious with this “lower finish, better draft picks, on purpose” stuff. MLB is not the NFL or the NBA. Finished players don’t come out of the draft. NFL and NBA drafts are like a state lottery. Baseball drafts are more like, I don’t know, buying shares of stock. Better scouting seems a lot more important than draft position. So I find the idea of losing on purpose, or even not caring whether you win or lose, in order to gain a better draft position laughable. It’s all too speculative for that. If it actually happens, then all I can say is – they’re morons.

Hey, I was just reminded of something I intended to research earlier. I would not be surprised if the Tigers had scored 50% of their runs this year off of opponent’s bullpens, and that wouldn’t even include the runs charged to starters but actually let in by relievers. The Tigers, it seems to me, have made a whole lot of starters look way too good this season.

jim-mt September 25, 2008 at 10:46 am

Last night, 2-0, runners on 1st & 3rd, 1 out-a chance to get back into it and for what seems likes has happened too many times, an easy double play. At those critical times in games, either to break it open or get back into it, the Tigers always seem to muff it.

I saw where Mike Schmidt sent a email to the Phils telling them to concentrate on the small things, one pitch, one extra base, moving the runner, all which lead to bigger things. One pitch, one hit here & there and the Tigers season could have rolled with confidence into what we expected. Instead it just kept slipping downhill.

Caberra will be the Tigers next hall of famer and will lead this team into the future.

Smoking Loon September 25, 2008 at 10:49 am

The 2008 Tigers hit starting pitchers to the tune of .118 runs per PA, relievers at .144 runs per PA. This may or may not ignore the issue of “earned” runs – I’m not sure. I think it does. That’s what I was after, anyway.

If the Tigers had hit starters as they’d hit relievers (and the converse), they’d have scored 825 runs now, or 30 more than actual. If the Tigers had hit all pitchers as they had relievers, they would have scored 884 runs now – 89 more.

In essence, then, our valiant Tigers refused to be shut down by those pesky bullpen guys. Bring ‘em all back, I say.

On the other side, without charging runs to the reliever who let inherited baserunners score, Tigers starters gave up .139 runs per PA and the relievers .123. If runs allowed to score by the bullpen but charged to the starter were added to the bullpen total, I’m pretty sure the numbers would be reversed and maybe then some.

So… if the starters had been at .123 and the pen at .139, in terms of runs allowed BY each only, the Tigers would have allowed 800 runs by now, 29 less than actual. If the whole staff had then pitched at the starters’ pace, they would have allowed 764 runs, 65 less than actual.

Thus (ha!), the Tigers’ Hyper-Pythagorean (Best Of All Possible Worlds) record is currently 90-67. Hey, they’re on the cusp of hyper-clinching the hyper-division! With better* hitting and same crappy pitching, they’d be 83-74 (3rd but still not eliminated). With better* pitching and same good but not really that good hitting, they’d be 81-76 (and only last night knocked out of the race).

* Within reason, as defined (sort of) above

Three guesses as to what the Tigers’ Sub-Pythagorean (Worst Of All Possible Worlds) record is. Hint: It starts with 71.

ron September 25, 2008 at 10:52 am

DD stands by JL, JL stands by the players and the players, well, they just stand by.

Smoking Loon September 25, 2008 at 11:02 am

Touche.

mark_in_gr September 25, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Bilfer

They’re winning because their pitchers don’t walk anybody and the offense has hit remarkably well with RISP.

Those seem like core fundamentals to me. The point I was attempting to make is, if you have to pick one key aspect of the game of Baseball in order to win, it is pitching. Just like it’s defense in Football, and putting in Golf. Ask any expert of each respective sport and I am sure they will agree. And it seems painfully obvious to me at least that part of scoring more runs than your opponent includes holding a lead which you obtain to begin with. Do people like Rodney, Farsnworth, Rapada, Seay, Zumaya and the rest of the pen emit the impression that they are up to this task w/consistency? I think not, and that should have raised a major red flag.

DD basically thought that he was going to blow away the rest of the AL w/his so called superior offense, leaving no plan b, and it backfired on him. You have balance, and more times than not, this type of dismal upset season never happens.

And as for the Yankees, you do realize this is the first year since 1993 they haven’t made the playoffs and that the team basically prints money right?
It may be quite a measure of success for 99% of the markets in baseball, but in NY, not getting to and potentially winning the world series is a crushing blow and inexcusable. I think the important thing to remember is taking the Yankees showboat roster into account and how their outdated view of what a winning team is comprised of, compared to the more balanced TB Rays, AL Angels or CHW of the league.

Smoking Loon September 25, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Not that it matters so much, but in my 10:49 AM post above, I should have said “charged” instead of that first “earned.”

mark_in_gr September 25, 2008 at 5:20 pm

SL:

That’s not a faulty product. That’s a calculated risk. They didn’t forget about pitching, but they were counting on more than what they got from what they had. It happens.
It’s a risk that any winning GM today would tell you is a bad risk. It’s really pretty simple. Look around at the teams w/the best records. I would argue that good pitchers are more consistent on avg. than, say, 4-5-6 sluggers accounting for 10-11 runs day in and day out. There are always exceptions, but just about every single team making the playoffs this year has at least 2 consistent starters in their rotation, a decent, consistent set up man(or two) in the pen, and a really good closer. How many games did the Tigers pen blow this year to teams where the hitter hit his first home run of the year, or his avg. was dismal?

Dr Dre in Chicago September 25, 2008 at 5:21 pm

mark,

i now understand the root-cause of my weak-ass mini-golf game.

i am no closer to understand my over-use of hyphens.

Dr Dre in Chicago September 25, 2008 at 5:49 pm

mark,

in an effort to pick a fight with just about everybody today, i wanted to make a couple observations. i think you may be too critical of DD for reasonably expecting more than he got from the starting rotation. i’ll attempt to be conservative when listing my “expected” wins, but this will be highly subjective.

(Pitcher, actual wins – expected wins = differential)

Verlander: 10 – 15 = -5
Willis: 0 – 10 = -10
Rogers: 9 – 10 = -1
Robertson: 7 – 10 = -3
Bonderman: 3 – 10 = -3

i think this was the assumed starting rotation going into the year, obviously we got a number of wins from Galarraga so i don’t know how to factor that into things. i guess what i’m saying is that DD and the coaching staff must have gone through plans A, B, C and beyond but the loss of so many expected wins from starters was more than they could deal with.

Chris in Dallas September 25, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Dr. Dre: I think that’s too simplistic of an analysis. Pitcher wins being a flawed and somewhat irrelevant statistic and all. Of course, none of those pitchers lived up to expectations by any metric so I get your main point. Each guy could’ve had at least one or two wins added to their total with a better bullpen and a defense that wasn’t in the bottom third in the league in defensive efficiency.

Chris in Dallas September 25, 2008 at 6:13 pm

just about every single team making the playoffs this year has at least 2 consistent starters in their rotation, a decent, consistent set up man(or two) in the pen, and a really good closer. How many games did the Tigers pen blow this year to teams where the hitter hit his first home run of the year, or his avg. was dismal?

Why do these teams have consistent starters? Because the glove guys create outs, that’s why. Top 10 teams in defensive efficiency: TB-CHC-TOR-OAK-MIL-BOS-NYM-PHI-HOU-ANA. The common thread? All of those teams have winning records (sans Oakland – and they have zero offense). By contrast, the Tigers are 23rd. Of course your pitching will look like dookie if they have to keep getting 4 or 5 outs per inning. I will say, however, that as a group the pitching staff should collectively work on throwing strikes to help their cause.

mark_in_gr September 25, 2008 at 7:23 pm

Chris in Dallas:

They should work on throwing strikes earlier in the count, I would argue. From what I have observed, at least in the AL central, is the competition is much more effective at getting ahead in the count, thus maintaining control. It’s frustrating to watch even Galaraga start out 0-2 on a hitter, then fall to 3-2, have the guy fight off the next few, then eventually get walked. As a manager myself in the past, the two things I stressed the most to avoid were walks and called third strikes.

mark_in_gr September 25, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Dr,

I would have said 20 expected for Verlander, but his is a very unique and strange situation, don’t you think? The gods were just against his this year, although he shouldn’t be excused altogether for his lack of control, which is mind boggling.

mark_in_gr September 25, 2008 at 7:31 pm

mark,

i now understand the root-cause of my weak-ass mini-golf game.

Doc,

I don’t think Nicklaus was including mini-golf when he made that profound statement way back when, but who really knows. Personally, I would chalk a fair amount of dismal mini-golf scores up to the majority of the patrons involved being in a state of inebriation(present company excluded of course) :)

billfer September 25, 2008 at 8:59 pm

@mark_in_gr

First of all the Yankees are the winningest team in baseball for over a decade. Whether or not the fans in NY judge that a success is immaterial to your argument that their brand of baseball doesn’t allow for winning.

As for the “defense wins championships” business, whatever. Outscoring your opponent wins championships. There’s more than one way to do it. Lee showed this earlier this season at Detroit Tiger Tales.

The Tigers problem, or their chief problem was not that they ignored pitching. It’s that they left themselves with little depth and the pitching significantly underperformed. For Verlander and Robertson and Willis all to pitch as bad as they did was unforseeable. The Tigers hurt themselves by leaving the ranks very thin, a problem compounded by the complete ineffectiveness of Yorman Bazardo, the lack of progress by Virgil Vasquez, and the frayed shoulder of Jordan Tata. All were “depth” guys heading into the season.

The injuries and age that caught up with Bonderman and Rogers were not surprises. But when all 5 members of your rotation are largely ineffective, there is only so much contingency planning you can do.

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