When things start to get really dire for the Tigers, I usually use this space to try and provide some perspective. This isn’t only for you the reader, but for me the Tigers fan as well. I’m really having to scrounge for perspective right now as the team has tanked since the All Star Break and have surrendered sole possession of 1st place.
There are cliches that I can always employ, about it being a long season and what not. It rings a little bit hollow today though. But…it is a long season. Losing 4 out of 5 games 2-1 is freakishly consistently bad. So freakishly and consistently bad it is hard to sustain – which could be the good news. As is usually the case, when the team is playing bad it is easy to assume things will stay bad or get worse. Just like when things are going well, people can’t imagine the team tanking.
It’s hard to believe that the offense will get better given what has been on display lately, but it will. Everything is going wrong when the Tigers are at the dish, everything won’t continue to go wrong. The team will score more runs and it is probably not best to make rash decisions based on 6 games. Of course this isn’t just a 6 game thing. The offense has been bad for a month and isn’t showing signs of getting better.
I’d like to see the Tigers add a bat as much as anyone, but the bulk of the improvement will need to come from the current roster. I don’t know what Clete Thomas will provide, or Ryan Raburn, or Marcus Thames. But I still believe that Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, and Miguel Cabrera will produce more than they have been. Beyond that where can the Tigers find help?
I don’t think the Tigers are putting all their eggs in the Carlos Guillen basket, but it’s worth checking out the Guillen basket before surrendering limited resources for another basket. Guillen is close to coming back, I think he’ll be back for Saturday’s game and the Tigers sent scout Dick Egan to see Guillen’s 3 hit night tonight. He doesn’t have the extra base hits yet, but he’s been on base in half of his plate appearances.
The problem with Guillen though is that he is likely limited to DH duties as he hasn’t played the field on his rehab assignment. That means the at-bats would come from some combination of Raburn and Thames, two of the hitters that have been producing somewhat. It could also mean the end of Josh Anderson.
The non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching, but I think the deadline isn’t that critical. I’d anticipate that a number of players would clear waivers and be movable until August 31st. Of course the trade deadline is the MLB sanctioned portion of a deadline. The Tigers may feel the need to accelerate the timeline if they continue to struggle. Matt Holliday has been a hot rumor, and the Tigers have expressed interest, but it doesn’t seem that the Tigers are willing to meet the A’s price. And for a farm system that isn’t exactly flush, the Tigers probably shouldn’t wipe it out. At least not for this team.
I don’t think this is a World Series team, but they are a team that is strong enough to compete and make the playoffs. I don’t think that Holliday would push them into the WS team category either.
But the Tigers do need to remain competitive. The Tigers have a ton of payroll, and will next year as well. The best thing for business would be a sustained pennant race and not a firesale (which I’ve heard people calling for already). They are going to be limited in terms of cost cutting, but they do have a chance for a nice revenue bump. Attendance is down 10K, but that is off a record setting year. Attendance is still quite good relative to the AL and the Tigers own history.
The Inge Factor
And then there are Inge’s knees. They are in bad shape, though there seems to be a little confusion on the actual injury. Inge said one was 75% torn, but I don’t know that is accurate. Kevin Rand said there were significant microtears, which is different than the condition that Inge was describing which would be more of a ruptured tendon. In any case, he’s not moving well and the Tigers don’t have great options to take his place either in the field or the lineup. The situation either makes getting a bat more important, or perhaps it changes the focus of what they are looking for.