Game 2015.56: Tigers at White Sox

(The A’s earned that pic above)

As I mentioned the other day, I’m usually pretty calm when it comes to the ups and downs of a baseball season. Every team goes through streaks, and you’re usually not as good as a 11-2 start, nor as bad as an 0-7 run.

But I’m ready to push the panic button. This team is so uninspired that I’m starting to think that Ausmus is about as motivating as Bill Lumbergh.

Kurt Mensching of Bless You Boys (I’ll openly admit that I’m insanely envious of their site and content, and wish we could create a DTW follower only forum over there) wrote a nice piece on the Tigers’ struggles yesterday morning. He straddles the “it’s a bad streak” / “the season is falling apart” line, but he does bring up the trade deadline. I feel that he reached into my brain and pulled that out a few days ago, as I was contemplating content for this post, but really, all of you have probably been thinking about this. The reality is that with the contracts in place and age of this team, the Tigers could very quickly be the Phillies or Yankees, without any of that heavy hardware that’s so annoying to find a place for. The club owes well over an entire Astros payroll to 3 players, 2 of whom aren’t currently playing. (Cabrera + JV + VMart = $74M; Astros = $69M).

I’m gonna give you a minute to let that sink in, and then remind you that the Astros are 6 games ahead of the Tigers.

Tony Paul of the Detroit News accurately called the team the “bumbling Tigers” which is accurate given the suspect performances over the past week. I did not have the courage to look this up on my own, but if the Tigers don’t win a game this weekend, they’ll find themselves in last place in the AL Central. LAST PLACE!!??

Where are the water coolers smashing up against the wall? Where are the broken bats, the helmets being launched across the dugout, the cagey veteran run team only meetings? All I’m hearing is that the manager is embarrassed but the team will be prepared tomorrow. Embarrassed? How about furious? Outraged? Pissed off? Ausmus is treating this losing streak like I treat my three year old’s reluctance to eat anything but chicken nuggets; just wait it out and hope that it fixes itself. I mean, these are big leaguers, right? They’ll snap out of it…eventually, right?

The answer is absolutely not, you have to get into their mind and motivate them, teach them, and lead them. A manager’s job is not to fill out a line-up card, much as Jim Leyland would lead us to believe, but to manage a room full of men. Any of you out there who run a business know that you constantly turn the dials and tweak the settings until the machine is running at optimal performance for the current environment and set of parameters; and you redo that every damn day. Ausmus seems to be under the notion that the car doesn’t need tuning until it collapses.

Quite the contrary, he needs to be talking to each guy every day. And figuring out how to make sure that on that day, during that game, that player will be the best player he can be. I think he treats every player with the exact same hands-off approach, which is an awful way to manage. Not the hand-off approach, but treating every player the same way. I cringe every time he uses playful nicknames for every player – “well, Sanchy’s gonna get better” and “Kins-dog knows how to make that play” then “Greenie-bo will make that throw next time.” Man, stop worrying about whether you can be these guys’ bro and be someone whom they respect and look up to.

Kinsler is a great example. Right now Kinsler is showing us why the Rangers were so anxious to let him go (right down to the lapses in concentration, see my post from March 2014 for reference). Once Kinsler gets into a funk he stays there until the law of averages charitably pulls him out of it (which lines up perfectly with Aumus’ strategy). Or, perhaps, until you sit him. Or talk to him. Moving him down in the lineup was a great start, albeit 10 games late. If Kinsler could get himself out of this, he’d be managing the team himself.

This season is at a tipping point. Right freaking now. Even the Freep is calling it. And you know what the crazy thing is, the Tigers are only 6 games way from the best record int he AL. The talent on this team is so strong, and the AL is so weak, that the Tigers are only 1 game out of the playoffs right now, despite playing their worst baseball in 4 years.

Finally, one last point. And I realize that this will sound hypocritical, so know that I at least recognize that. But let me make my point.

Baseball is a long, long season. There is plenty of time for this team to turn it around. They may even be able to do it under Ausmus. But the whole organization has got to recognize that it is time to panic and make decisions and play with a new level of urgency; because this team is not good enough to pull itself out of this tailspin. No more, it will get better, or this is baseball…it happens. It needs to be, we will make it better right f’n now – starting with this pitch, and then this play in the field, and then this at bat. They can no longer afford to take a single pitch, or play, or at-bat off. Assuming I’m right about Ausmus and he is trying to hard to be everyone’s friend and not heard enough to be their boss, I have no idea how he changes that. But he had better figure it out. That is your job, Brad.

I think the Tigers are playing the White Sox this weekend, most likely a three game set.

32 Comments

  1. Jud

    June 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Excellent work Kevin!!!..SPOT ON!

    Me ….I will TIVO and only watch if they win. I have some paint to watch dry which is just like watching the Tigets bat!

  2. Kaline fan

    June 5, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Great article, Kevin! You said it all; I have nothing to add, except that I wish Brad and the whole team had read it.
    I’ll just highlight my favorite part, in your summary when you said, “No more —‘it will get better’, or ‘this is baseball…it happens’. It needs to be— ‘we will make it better right f’n now – starting with this pitch, and then this play in the field, and then this at bat’. They can no longer afford to take a single pitch, or play, or at-bat off”.
    Amen.

  3. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    June 5, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Cespedes has spanked Quintana hitting homeruns 4 of his 9 at bats. Let’s hope he can lead the team out of this funk.

    • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

      June 5, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      As the Hawk would say, “he’s my pick to click.”

  4. StorminNorman$

    June 5, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Well stated Kevin! i agree that DET has the talent to turn this around, but the big question is, will they?

    as poorly as MIN and TEX looked starting the season, they both have better records than DET – and even CLE is only a game behind DET — and if teams like MIN and TEX can do a 180, DET most certainly could/should

    Despite DD’s proclamation today that “its not Ausmus’ fault”, i have (want) to believe that if DET finishes 3rd or worse, he won’t be back next year (that’s if there’s a viable option available), and if fired, i doubt other teams will be clamoring to hire him “as a Mgr” anytime soon

  5. Kaline fan

    June 5, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    I guess I do have something I wanted to add after all.
    It’s just that what Kevin was talking about reminds me so much, how this team misses a fully healthy Victor Martinez. At 90-100% (like most of last year), he’s a guy who can inspire a team. No one can argue that he’s not the “Poster Boy” for concentrating, totally focusing on every pitch of an at-bat. I would get goose-bumps watching him in the batter’s box last year! F$#* this “speed-up-the-game-no-stepping-outside-batter’s-box” new rules! Not that it’s not a good rule in general —- for everybody else, that is, EXCEPT VMart. Lots of guys just screw around, adjusting their batting gloves, etc., for God-knows-what-reason. But VMart was different. I always felt like he was constantly thinking, plotting what he might do on the next pitch, psych’ing out the pitcher, figuring out what he’ll throw next. And always conscious of what the present particular situation best called for, and he would go for that, and invariably get it done. His time in (and out) of the batter’s box was truly an artform. He made it an artform, because he was so focused, so determined to drive runners in, or help the team by putting himself in the moment, and not missing anything.
    This year can’t be exactly the same; it will take each player on the team to look inside himself, not just one guy, to turn things around.
    But I sure do wish Victor could get back with us, in full health.

  6. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    June 5, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Will this be the last round of Lobstein, Farmer, Ryan combo that we will see in a while as Verlander works his way back?

    • Kaline fan

      June 5, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Will feel great getting JV back.

      • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

        June 5, 2015 at 8:59 pm

        Yeah, I was thinking if the Tigers make the playoffs, will Verlander be fresher? Oops….I forgot he is dating Kate Upton.

        • Kaline fan

          June 5, 2015 at 9:24 pm

          Well, Upton or no, let’s hope it’s the GOOD Verlander we get back.

  7. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    June 5, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Papa Rajai! And Grandpa Ian!

  8. Coleman

    June 5, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    A little late here, but let me add another “great post Kevin.” You win this week’s Coleman’s Wish I Had Written That Award.

  9. Kaline fan

    June 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    When Kinsler got his “big” hit, I thought immediately, “Jeez, I hope he doesn’t get picked off”, because, well, that’s the way he makes us think these days.
    Now I’d like to know, “Ian, what planet are you visiting these days?”
    This guy needs to be sat out for 10 games.

  10. Kaline fan

    June 5, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    1st & 2nd, 0 out. This needs to be a Bunt, bunt, bunt, bunt, bunt.

  11. Kaline fan

    June 5, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Yay!!! I can hardly believe it! Congratulations, Brad! You did it!

  12. Kaline fan

    June 5, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    And now Wilson knocks in 2 —–I’m in ecstasy!

  13. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    June 5, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Josh Wilson, you magnificent walk-on!

  14. Kaline fan

    June 5, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Smart too, to try to bunt Rajai, even with 1 out, since he’s a speedster. Would have been a beauty of a bunt single too, had it stayed fair.

  15. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    June 5, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Good outing Mr. Ryan.

  16. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    June 5, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Last time Soria did this in Chicago, he struck out Garcia, LaRoche, Rameriz, and Abreu.

  17. jud

    June 5, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Everyone in baseball knows LaRouche is a low ball golf swing Home Run hitter…so where do the Tigers pitch him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…..and they actually wonder how they could possibly be losing!!!

  18. StorminNorman$

    June 5, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    …SSDD

  19. jud

    June 5, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    Tigers took the lead then 8 Of the next 10 batters ….STRUCK OUT

    Groundball 3 steps to Miggys right. Kinsler never takes one step that way UNTIL the ball glances off Miggy’s glove…….and they can’t believe they are losing!!

  20. jud

    June 5, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    UNFRICKINBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Fire everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. jud

    June 5, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Wait!…when the Sluggos finally win a game someday….no one will care!!!!!

  22. Jim EggersUSMC

    June 6, 2015 at 12:18 am

    What can one man do in the midst of all this madness ?

    • Coleman

      June 6, 2015 at 1:48 am

      Go mad.

    • Coleman

      June 6, 2015 at 2:03 am

      Or bench Kinsler. He is single-handedly destroying this team. I don’t know how it’s possible, considering the career he’s had, but he’s playing like a cross between Ryan Raburn and Neifi Perez.

  23. Jim EggersUSMC

    June 6, 2015 at 2:34 am

    Who will win again first, M’s or Tigers?? Or American Pharoah???

  24. StorminNorman$

    June 6, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Price vs Danks today – other than Danks last outing (a SO vs HOU), he’s been pretty bad all year… so i wouldn’t be surprised with him either; a) giving up 5 or more runs and getting pulled in the first four innings, or b) throwing another SO

  25. KW

    June 6, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I’m just about ready to throw in the towel on this season, but don’t forget that the mediocre Cards of 2006 had two eight game losing streaks and a seven game losing streak, and we all know how their season ended. Keep the faith for a couple more days!

  26. jud

    June 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    The Tigers always hit Danks….today though he will carve them up. Heck the bat boy could carve them up.

    No life..yesterday Miggy hit a routine FB to right then took at least 30 sec to walk slowly from first to the dugout…anyone say anything…nope. That winning run was a routine GB towards Kinsler, except he never took even one step towards it…anyone say anything to him….nope..JD whiffed for the 4th time on a 4th pitch out of the strikezone…he was laughing walking away from the plate..anyone say anything to him …nope…..

    The Tigers believe this will just go away!!!! Craig Monroe and Asmus need a job at Disneyland!