Lost weekend and other ramblings

9-5. That was the series score. Tigers pitchers kept a very good offensive team to just 9 runs and yet were swept because Detroit went 1-26 with runners in scoring position. The numbers are pretty much mind boggling. And 3 of the Tigers 5 runs came on solo homers. The White Sox took 2 out of 3 games in their weekend series meaning that the Tigers lead is down to a slim 1.5 games. It was a crappy weekend for Detroit baseball. They got swept, they didn’t score, and they lost a relief pitcher for who knows how long. But I’ll find some good news in here somewhere.

Pitching is still good

The Tigers continue to get good pitching. Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson came out strong and pitched the way they had for the bulk of the first half of the season. Sustained success for both is key to the Tigers playoff chances and with Verlander’s history of second half struggles, and Jackson’s history of never having been this good before, those are both question marks where the early returns are promising.

Also, outside of Joel Zumaya’s blow-up, the bullpen was just as good as the starters. Fu-Te Ni is probably benefiting somewhat from being the new funky-delivery lefty, but his results have been as impressive with the big club as they were with Toledo. I guess the other good news is that the bullpen is nice and rested.

Unsustainable pace

Fortunately for the offense, they won’t continue to be that bad. Going 1 for 26 in any situational split, or any situation period, isn’t a sustainable pace. They’ll at the very least accidentally get a hit at some point in time. But here is the other side of the coin. The Tigers did a good job early in each of the 3 games of making the opposing starter work hard. They were taking pitches, drawing walks, and putting pressure on the starter and thus creating all those scoring opportunities in the first place. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the lineup got destroyed later in the game and the outs came quicker and easier. The Tigers hitters need to carry the types of approaches they were taking early in the game and sustain them throughout and continue to generate the scoring chances.

The Tigers need more offense, and I’d love to see them add a bat, but it goes way beyond that. Even if they trade for a stud, left handed hitting corner outfielder (which is unlikely), he is only going to hit once each time through the lineup. The Tigers have legitimate offensive threats already in the lineup that aren’t producing. One bat isn’t going to have a big impact as long as Granderson/Polanco/Cabrera continue to struggle.

What is Josh Anderson doing in the starting lineup?

One thing the Tigers could do to improve the offense is to remove Josh Anderson from the equation. Anderson had seemingly played himself out of a starting role before the All Star break with Ryan Raburn getting the bulk of the playing time in left field. From June 29th through the break Raburn had 9 starts, Anderson 5 (and one of those was in centerfield to spell Granderson). Raburn hit 323/364/581 over that span and Anderson hit 200/238/350 with no stolen bases. Yet the team gets to New York and Anderson starts 2 of the 3 games.

Raburn is OPS’ing over 800 against both lefties and righties and he has a pretty even mix of plate appearances this year. Anderson is OPS’ing under 650 against both lefties and righties while drawing 88% of his plate appearances against his favorable platoon side. While he is fast, he isn’t a good baserunner. The glaring mistakes are well known, but there are smaller ones as well. On Sunday he slid into second on a fly ball to centerfield. He was stealing and never saw the ball. Plus he had 2 defensive miscues this weekend. One cost the team runs, the other only cost Jackson 6 pitches. Outside of a late inning pinch runner he should have no role on this team, yet he continues to get starts.

Other Stuff

  • The extent of Joel Zumaya’s injury still isn’t fully known but it is a re-aggravation of his stress fracture. I’m sure the 3 inning outing in Minnesota didn’t help the situation, but I wouldn’t blame it either. That shoulder has experienced a ton of trauma. I think there are only so many times Zumaya can throw the ball 100mph before the next injury occurs.
  • The Tigers were 1 of 7 teams to have scouts on hand for Halladay’s outing yesterday. The White Sox weren’t. I don’t think the Tigers have the pieces, or at least pieces they’d be willing to part with, to get Halladay so I’d chalk up yesterday’s appearance to either due dilligence or gamesmanship.
  • What is the smarter financial move for Mike Ilitch, who is faced with decreased revenue due to lower ticket sales and decreased corporate sponsorship, dumping payroll or adding players to keep the Tigers in the hunt? Extended contention and a possible playoff birth will do more to help the franchise’s economic outlook than trying to save on salary. The Tigers need to get through 2010 and then there is considerable salary relief coming.
  • Brandon Lyon has added a cut fastball and he has tweaked his delivery.
  • Curtis Granderson is holding a wine-tasting charity event this Thursday that features a bachelor auction. For more information on purchasing tickets, or if you’d like to learn how you can take home your very own Granderson or Jackson head over the Grand Kids Foundation site.
  • FS Detroit has started to replay each Tiger game at midnight with the Tigers live postgame show to air at 3 a.m. So if you miss either the first time, you have a second chance to DVR it.
  • Also coming up on FS Detroit is Batting Stance Guy. He’ll be recreating Magglio Ordonez’s ALCS homer and Justin Verlander’s no hitter. For more on Gar Ryness, check out his appearance on Letterman. He’s already got a compilation of Tigers past and present.

40 Comments

  1. jason

    July 20, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Is it rude of me to say I am already sick of this batting stance guy? It was interesting to see him the first time, but now every time I turn around this guy is plastered on my TV.

    As for the weekend series, my entirely subjective view was that Leyland blew a couple or the games, at least. If I recall, in the 2nd game, we had two blown opportunities in my opinion- both with rayburn at the plate. The first was with runner on second and nobody out, and the second was runners at second and third with 1 out. Can the guy not bunt? It seemed very obvious to me that runs were going to be tough to come by. Hoping for runs via a hit was unlikely.

    We should have taken 2 of those games, and letting games like these slip away are why you lose playoff races.

    Man, seems I am in sour mood this Monday morning…

    • Kevin in Dallas

      July 20, 2009 at 6:17 pm

      I think that batting stance guy has a little something, though for any avid sports fan, he’s overkill very quickly.

  2. Tbone

    July 20, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Re: Josh Anderson – thank you Billfer! Speed is of little use if
    a) you have trouble getting on base to begin with and
    b) you struggle with the fundamentals once you are on.

    I’m also worried about Inge. Dan Dickerson was talking about how both of his knees were hurting again and how ot’s affecting him both offensively and defensively.

  3. chief

    July 20, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Amen on the Josh Anderson thing. Does Leyland ever have to explain the continuous mistakes the guy makes? He’s bad at the supposed strengths he was brought in for and we already knew he was a terrible hitter. Free Ryen Rabourne.

  4. neal

    July 20, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Josh needs to be a 5th outfielder only.
    In LF, Rayburn is above average, while Anderson is excellent, according to the UZR/150 in fangraphs (8.6 vs 32.1). But Anderson’s bat is terrible, as noted.
    I think Rayburn would probably benefit by playing regularly in LF and his defense might actually get better as he concentrates on only one position.
    Palanco has been good defensively and should be better at the plate for the rest of the year.
    I don’t see a lot of good coming from Guillen, mostly a mixed bag. Rayburn is hitting close to what we would expect from Guillen, does anyone expect anything above 2007? Probably more like 2008. Rayburn is giving that already and balanced against lefties and righties (he should ph for Laird, I think that was Saturday), no use getting Guillen’s bat in the lineup if it gives lesser return than we have in the field already.
    Is there a spot for Guillen when/if he’s healthy?

  5. walter55

    July 20, 2009 at 10:44 am

    The offense is becoming extremely frustrating to watch and totally agree on Josh Anderson I mean if they just want some speed I wish they would have given Wilkin a chance since he could bring other things besides speed. The problem with the offense though I think has a lot to do with that our 1 and 2 hitters are hitting aroung .250 all year. It is also kind of hard to believe we are still in first when Polanco, Guillen, and Ordonez have all had either a down year, hurt or just disappeared. Hopefully Guillen can come back and help but he is putting us in a crunch before the trade deadline in whether he can hit or if we need to trade for someone.

    • Keith (Mr. X)

      July 20, 2009 at 5:01 pm

      Wilken Ramirez strikes out a ton, but I’d be willing to make that switch also.

  6. Mat

    July 20, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Just to play devil’s advocate on Anderson (read I don’t necessarily think he should be playing over Raburn), isn’t an OPS comparison unfair to a guy whose primary asset is speed? I always thought stolen bases were relatively minor, but there was an impact on the opposing pitcher’s performance when he had to pitch from the stretch and devote part of his attention to an impact runner like Anderson. Furthermore, if we’re going to argue defensive prowess for Inge’s all-star status, shouldn’t Anderson get the credit (though not on the same scale, of course) for his play in the field. He’s had mistakes, sure, but Inge leads AL 3Bs in errors.

    • billfer

      July 20, 2009 at 5:59 pm

      @Mat – There may be an impact, but quite frankly I don’t want to go through the gymnastics involved in finding out if his speed is helping out the guys who are hitting when he is on base (which is very rare).

      I have no problem giving Anderson credit for defense. He still isn’t a good player.

  7. Matt

    July 20, 2009 at 11:29 am

    You have some excellent writing skills. I own and operate http://www.thereedreview.com.
    We are looking to expand into baseball and are looking for bloggers. If you are interested please respond for more info.
    matt.reed@thereedreview.com

  8. Matt

    July 20, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    You have some excellent writing skills. I own and operate http://www.thereedreview.com. We are looking to expand to baseball and are looking for bloggers. Email me if you are interested and request more info.
    matt.reed@thereedreview.com

  9. jason

    July 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    matt reed- if you are speaking to billfer, which is a safe assumption i think, you can find his email address at the top of every page on this website.

    as for rayburn, i’d like to see his numbers with runners in scoring position, or with runners on base. Its obviously an area we need to improve.

    • Andre in Chi

      July 20, 2009 at 1:39 pm

      I think those are just auto-spam posts, I wouldn’t worry about directing them to useful info :)

      • jason

        July 20, 2009 at 2:23 pm

        I kinda figured, and that is the reason I directed him to the address rather than typing it out. No need to feed some auto-email-grabbing software.

  10. Cary

    July 20, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I’m sorry, but constructed as they are now, the Tigers are not a playoff team. Look around the league. The good teams do not have someone like Clete Thomas or Ryan Rayburn batting fifth. Miguel Cabrera has no protection and gets nothing good to hit. I know the Tigers like to draft those young power arms, but once in a while it would be nice to have a big bat available in the high minors. There is a serious lack of depth in the system. My suggestion would be to see if Luke Scott is available at a decent price.

    • Andre in Chi

      July 20, 2009 at 3:30 pm

      I know it might seem like I’m splitting hairs here, but there’s actually not as much wrong with how the Tigers were “constructed” going into the year as there is with the some of the performances. The positions that they supposedly traded offense for defense (3rd, SS, LF) have actually been offensive surprises when compared to pre-season expectations. On the other hand, some fairly consistent performers are, well, under or inconsistently performing.

      Their opening day #2, 3 and 5 hitters (Polanco, Ordonez and Guillen) are all producing much less than anticipated / reasonably expected. I would say that the loss of production from these three has more to do with the Tigers woes than Thomas or Joyce, both of whom have actually done an aight job filling in (both +.800 OPS). To a certain extend, even Granderson and Cabrera have been slight disappointments.

      Luke Scott might seem to solve things on the surface (power lefty bat), but there’s a reason he’s a DH. Adding Scott would mean subtracting a good deal of defense in the OF, and would further add to the roster complications that Guillen’s return will create.

      • VegasTigers

        July 20, 2009 at 5:10 pm

        Joyce? He was traded for EJ

        • Andre in Chi

          July 20, 2009 at 5:49 pm

          Ugh. My bad, I meant Rayburn. How could I forget “the Buldge”?

          • Coleman

            July 20, 2009 at 6:52 pm

            Don’t worry, he’s only The Codpiece.

    • Keith (Mr. X)

      July 20, 2009 at 4:58 pm

      Not many teams have enough lumber to go around when 2 of their top hitters aren’t playing.

      LA Angels had Gary Matthews Jr. batting 5th Yesterday.
      He’s batting .229 with a .610 OPS.

      Reason being is that Vladimir Guerrero and Tori Hunter are on the DL. That’s not much different from the Tigers’ situation with Ordonez and Guillen.

      Imagine Mauer and Morneau being out of the Twins line-up. Their offense would be far worse than ours. We still have Cabrera and Granderson to build the rest of the line-up around.

  11. Joel in Seattle

    July 20, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Not to be obtuse, but why do you need to send a guy to scout Roy Halladay? Isn’t he a pretty known commodity at this point?

    • Keith (Mr. X)

      July 20, 2009 at 4:35 pm

      Because he’s coming off an injury. Before yesterday he hadn’t won a game for about a month.

  12. Keith (Mr. X)

    July 20, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I’m ready to part ways with Josh Anderson also. The solution isn’t anywhere in sight though. Raburn isn’t good enough to play everyday. I’d rather almost see Ordonez get the AB’s, but I don’t care to see Maggs playing the outfield. Maybe we can get the rules changed. What we really need is 2 DH’s in the line-up. We’ll need 3 when Guillen comes back. Some PED’s would help too.

    • billfer

      July 20, 2009 at 5:56 pm

      Raburn is good enough to play everyday ahead of Anderson.

      • Keith (Mr. X)

        July 20, 2009 at 8:32 pm

        That is true.

  13. Keith (Mr. X)

    July 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I must say, it seems like in every thread the word “frustrate” is mentioned somewhere. I don’t know if it’s because of the Tigers or if it’s from the bad economy or what. It just seems like the number of frustrated people is growing and growing. The Tigers are exceeding expectations and have overcome huge obstacles (Willis, Bonderman, Robertson, Guillen, and Ordonez being lame), yet somehow we are still in 1st place. Enjoyment is something that is really lacking this year.

    I guess the only real question is who is going to be our new whipping boy Tomorrow? Once Anderson is gone, we’ll be running awfully low on them.

    • Mark in Chicago

      July 20, 2009 at 5:48 pm

      With his recent play (regardless of injuries), Inge will always be a top whipping boy for the haters out there.

    • billfer

      July 20, 2009 at 5:52 pm

      I’d be happy to be out of whipping boys :)

      But I do know what you mean. I have no problem with Anderson in general. I have a problem with Anderson getting starts on a regular basis. It is Neifi Perez all over again. The player is what the player is, but Leyland treats them like more, and the team suffers.

      • Mark in Chicago

        July 20, 2009 at 7:54 pm

        Frankly, I’d be happy with Neifi-like production, he at least posted a 672 OPS for his career. That’s inflated by Colorado, sure, but he still posted 632, 632, and 681 with the Giants and the Cubs all of which are better than the 611 Anderson has puked up so far this year. He’s got speed, though.

        Good analogy, billfer.

  14. Keith (Mr. X)

    July 20, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    The Mets line-up sure does looks gloomy these days. Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, and Sheffield are all hurting.

    Daniel Murphy and his .669 OPS is batting 3rd.
    David Wright and his 5 HR’s this year is batting 4th.
    Jeff Francoeur and his .640 OPS is batting 5th.
    Then the rest going down just gets worse.

    The Tigers are in great shape compared to them.

  15. Coleman

    July 21, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Some good news from the west coast, just watched Holliday hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 7th to tie the Twins 13-13, then Cust follow with a solo homer to take a 14-13 lead.

    And this after the Twins were up 12-2.

    To the anemic A’s.

    Now THAT’s a bullpen meltdown.

  16. Coleman

    July 21, 2009 at 1:28 am

    Not that I feel too bad for Blackburn, who did give up 7 runs in 5 innings. Though he did leave with a 6 run lead…

    So far for the MIN bullpen:

    IP: 2.0 H: 7 R: 7 ER: 7 BB: 3 K: 0 HR: 2 ERA: 31.50

  17. Coleman

    July 21, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Wuertz has struck out Punto and Morneau to start the 9th…this is about as much fun as one can have watching a non-Tigers game…rrrr and as soon as I type that Cuddyer hits a double…

  18. Coleman

    July 21, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Unbelieveable…after intentionally walking Kubel Wuertz throws a wild pitch to young, Suzuki couldn’t find the ball, Cuddyer tried to score from 2nd, Suzuki found the ball, threw to Wuertz and…

    OUT!! GAME OVER!!

    Twins are going ballistic about the call, and I’m outta here.

  19. Jerry the Tiger Fan

    July 21, 2009 at 1:48 am

    Nice to see other teams have meltdowns besides us. Wow. The Twins blow a 12-2 lead and lose 14-13 with the game ending on Cuddyer getting thrown out at home trying to score from second on a wild pitch. Unbelievable. Thank you Oakland! Now if TB would wake up in CHI and start playing the way they were the two weeks heading into the AS break it sure would be nice.

  20. Jerry the Tiger Fan

    July 21, 2009 at 1:57 am

    Does anyone know if Porcello or Galarraga is pitching Tuesday night? I’ve seen conflicting reports on various websites. Also, will Figaro get the spot start this Saturday agaisnt the ChiSox? ESPN has Verlander and Jackson listed as the starters for the Friday day/night DH and undecided on Saturday. Whoever starts Tuesday will start the Sunday night game vs. the Fightin’ Ozzies. I hope we are going with Porcello Tuesday/Sunday and coming back with Battlestar on Wednesday vs. King Felix and then to open the series at TEX Monday night. This way we get all three of our top starters in the big series with the Fightin’ Ozzies.

  21. Kevin in Dallas

    July 21, 2009 at 1:57 am

    See, some things to go our way. Let’s all channel our positive energy into a 12 game winning streak.

  22. Coleman

    July 21, 2009 at 2:14 am

    “Winning isn’t the only thing. It’s also really cool to watch your enemies lose.”
    -Vince Colebardi

  23. Gregory Kohs

    July 21, 2009 at 11:11 am

    You may be interested to read how Wikipedia can’t seem to figure out where Mike Ilitch was born:

    http://akahele.org/2009/07/whe.....ke-ilitch/

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