Frustration

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?

Carlos Guillen

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.

Trade

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.

16 Comments

  1. Vegastigers

    July 23, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    As always, I agree with all your thoughts. It is very hard to watch these guys in this condition. I can barely remember those Tigers, who would come from behind with that big HR. I’m hoping they are still somewhere on Woodward.

  2. walter55

    July 23, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    I agree with you on the Holliday I just don’t think 2 months of him is worth what we would most likely have to give up. Then there a lot of other guys who teams want too much for and I am not sure how much better they are than what we have. It is a tough spot for DD maybe in a few weeks if we are still in the race other players might become more available that might fit our needs.

  3. Robo-Tiger

    July 24, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Yes, I’m sure the Tigers offense will turn it around. I hope the pitching is still effective when it does. Back to back very good outings from the #4 and #5 starters and nothing to show for it. Tigers have been in first place at the AS break 3 of the last 4 years and have tanked the 2nd half every year. I’m usually an optimist but this year is tough…and to think they are still in 1st place for now anyway!

  4. Chris

    July 24, 2009 at 3:23 am

    This offense will not improve because most of these guys are not very good. Too many of the Tigers can not get hits when theyget a 2-0,2-1, or 3-1 fastball.
    They have maybe 3 guys who can improve: Grandy, Polly, and Cabrera
    Thomas, Everett, Laird, and Rayburn can’t give you anything on a sustained pennant race level.
    Anderson is ridiculously overmatched…Maggs can’t hit a good fastball
    Inge and Thames’ History suggest a dropoff.
    Finally, I agree that this team is not a WS team even w/ a big move, but, they have collapse the last few years and 07 and 08 they found themselves out of it pretty quickly after the break…08 they were bad, but, 07 they had a great record at the break and they didn’t even play meaningful games by late August. I think that they will be done before the middle of August. Correction..they are dead men walking…Cabrera never hits in the clutch, all his numbers come after his teams are out of it..so he should have a huge final month and a half.

  5. Chris

    July 24, 2009 at 3:31 am

    I think Illitch needs to move out DD, like he did Brian Murray…DD has done a great job returning us to respectability..but, he will be incapable of allowing us to get to the next level. We had a stocked farm system after 06 and a great team..He depleted that farm system and we are left w/ 2 great pitchers in need of a payday (yet, very little money available) almost no offensive players ready to step in for aging vets. We have Grandy, Inge, and Miggy.. Scotty Bowman took murray’s teams over in 94, then the GM job in 95 and he methodically took Murray’s great talent and moved to a position of championship caliber. DD took a championship caliber team and darn near destroyed it w/ aging vets past their prime. We need a guy to come in and be able to draft everyday players…His bad contracts have made it impossible after signing Jackson and JV to actually sign good offensive players.

  6. Steve

    July 24, 2009 at 8:34 am

    The Renteria for JJ trade is the one that killed me, maybe we don’t make the Jackson for Joyce trade if JJ is here, either way we have a really great staff or a decent arm to trade. Renteria was cheese the whole time he was here.

    Regarding DD, I think after this year, we need to reload and face facts. While we all would love to see Maggs and Carlos hitting / slugging like the old days, the fact of the matter is those days are over there is no coming back for either of them, the killer of it is the years and the money, toss in Robertson and its a big mess. The players we have in those cases are over paid and take up roster spots. If we move them out, how does that happen? and how do we replace and upgrade?

    The question I ask my self and now you guys is >> Are we happy just hanging around 1st place here and there or do we dump the players that need to be dumped and move on? If this is the case, I would be in favor of seeing Leyland move as well, which would be more than likely happen if DD goes. Do we cash in the bummer guys and reload with younger up and coming talent (in our system or trades – FA etc) and take a rebuilding year and then be primed with a team that can really move forward………. That is what I would like to see.

    Right now I am 50 / 50 on DD. He took over a trash heap of a team and got us here with complete respectability, but can we go higher with him?. Most of the trades / signings have worked out, but we have had a couple real bummers that not only have not worked out but have really harmed the overall make up of the roster and finances.

    I am not down on the team, I think we have a great nucleus developing, but I have my reality hat on this morning and have faced the fact that some real hard decisions have to be made> soon.

    I am coming to Detroit for the next Seattle set in August, it will be interesting to see what is happening in a month.

    Bill thanks again for a well run and well thought out place to hang with other Tiger fans, love the spell checker it makes me look educated and saves the other guys form having to figure out what I said.

    Steve

  7. Kevin

    July 24, 2009 at 8:44 am

    “Correction..they are dead men walking…Cabrera never hits in the clutch, all his numbers come after his teams are out of it..so he should have a huge final month and a half.”

    Where are you getting this from exactly? All of his “clutch stats” are excellent if you actually bother to look them up (sample size BS like that varies anyway, but who’s counting?).

  8. Tbone

    July 24, 2009 at 9:14 am

    If our starters continue to perform at the level they have been, this thing will turn around on its own. The bats on this lineup will not stay this bad for the rest of the season.

  9. scotsw

    July 24, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Addressed to the “fire sale brigade”:

    Pathetic. Where are your stones, men?

    I don’t hear the fat lady singing.

    The team’s in first place, hits a few road bumps, and everyone wants to blow it up and quit? This is a team with some of the best pitching we’ve seen, with two Cy Young candidates and a R.O.Y. possibility in the starting rotation, a closer who hasn’t blown a save yet, and a very good hitter possibly 24 hours from a return from the D.L.

    You break a team up when you’re out of it, and it’s clear you can’t win this year. If a franchise quits on a winnable season, that’s a breach of faith. The fans would have a moral (if not legal) right to a refund on their season tix due to breach of contract, IMHO. And I certainly won’t waste my time on a team that quits on me.

    The fans in Minnesota and Chicago must love you guys… If you got your way, it would instantly be a 2-way battle. They know their teams have flaws, as well — they’re just not surrender-monkeys.

    Look, I’m realistic about the shortcomings. But if Guillen become a productive hitter and the Tigers can add a bat via trade, suddenly the sun will shine a little brighter, the birds will be singing a little more sweetly, and a new breeze will blow. It’s not like they need to put up 8-spots to win — 3 runs would do it, apparently.

    Will they win? I dunno. It will be a tough 3way fight with the Twins and Sox. But isn’t a competitive summer exactly what we were begging for back in the bad old days? Good lord, enjoy the pennant race or find a different sport to follow. If you enjoy agonizing over an awful team, go find a Lions blog to pollute.

    I’m in it to win it like Yzerman.

  10. RPS

    July 24, 2009 at 9:49 am

    The big advantage for the Tigers going into the next month is that the DH and corner outfield spots are so bad that they don’t have to get a big name to significantly upgrade. Luke Scott or Adam Dunn would be great, but all it takes to improve the team is a corner outfielder that is average offensively and defensively. A cheap guy like Willie Harris or Joe Inglett or Matt Diaz makes this a better team. Add two guys like that, DFA Anderson and Ordonez, make Clete the fourth outfielder, and this starts to look like a playoff team again.

    And remember, a the White Sox were going through this exact same thing two months ago. It turns around.

    • scotsw

      July 24, 2009 at 10:14 am

      What do you do with Guillen?

      I’m not saying you’re wrong about any of your points, but Guillen is under contract a couple more years, and not currently tradeable. So if you’re wearing your GM hat, you have to account for him. I think there’s room for one corner outfielder, and I agree he has to contribute on both sides of the ball.

      • RPS

        July 24, 2009 at 11:05 am

        Guillen is the DH. I’d like to see a platoon between him and Thames right now while we don’t really know how injured he still is. If Guillen looks good, I think Thames becomes our big can-contribute-now trade chip for pitching help. If he doesn’t, he’s shut down for the year (and I’m certainly not advocating for any of the guys I mentioned to be given multi-year deals hastily). I think this is how it has to go; I don’t see how you can carry two DH-and-occasionally-LF guys and four guys to start at RF and SS on the roster until September.

  11. scotsw

    July 24, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Apologies for the double-post…

    I know most of the folks reading here are not ready to pack it in, but a few are. Mike Valenti and his acolytes on sports talk are also in the “give up the ship” camp. The thing they don’t seem to understand is that the parts we need to get rid of can’t be traded (Ordonez), have limited trade or savings value (Polanco), or are off the roster but on the payroll (Sheffield).

    Looking forward to 2010 and beyond, the Tigers must have high hopes for Jeremy Bonderman. He is still young, believe it or not, and while he will probably lose a couple mph, there is a very good chance he can return to be a valuable part of the rotation. He’s a good pitcher, clearly MLB-caliber, and has shown periods of real dominance. Don’t give up on him.

    Detroit needs another young, athletic everyday outfielder. I’m sure there are hopes for Wilkin Ramirez, but he hasn’t exactly dominated at AAA. They need a counterpart to Granderson in one of the corner outfield spots. It isn’t Maggs, and with Guillen under contract until 2011, the other corner needs to be strong-armed and healthy.

    They will also need a second baseman who can get on base — potentially a lead-off guy so Granderson can move down to 2nd or 5th.

    The needs seem pretty clear.

    I’d like to see them make a move this week to secure a bona-fide starting outfielder who can hit. Raburn or Clete probably move out in the deal, along with a pitching prospect (French? Dolsi? Ni? Depends on the return). I’d expect the deal to be with an N.L. team.

  12. Mike F

    July 24, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Uh-hem!

    Isn’t this a team that everyone thought was going to be living in last place when it left spring training.

  13. Sirk

    July 24, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I think the story of the weakness of this team can be identified by one unexpected factor: the almost complete decline of Ordonez’s bat. And even though Cabrera is a very good hitter, we are now learning that he is not a frontline run-producer.

    The painful truth is that it would be easy for even the most mediocre hitting lineups to provide enough runs to win with this pitching. This lineup is sub-sub-par.

  14. Keith (Mr. X)

    July 24, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    We were not much of a World Series caliber team in 2006 either. We defeated the odds and beat the Yankees in the playoffs .

    As bad as our hitting has seemed lately, I’d still give some credit to AJ Burnett, CC Sabathia, Joba Chamberlain, King Felix, and Jarrod Washburn. It takes awfully good pitching beat us.