Wednesday Walewanders: LCS Edition

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  • So this is what we’re left with: rooting for former Tigers still playing in the ALCS and NLCS. The Phillies’ Matt Stairs and Chad Durbin, the Rays’ Carlos Pena, and the Red Sox’s Sean Casey are a Tigers fan’s only connection to playoff baseball.

    Was I the only one who thought Stairs’ bomb on Monday night at Dodger Stadium was a carbon copy of the one he hit at Comerica Park on the last day of the 2006 season? Fortunately for Stairs and his teammates they had Brad Lidge to hold a lead. (By the way, when in the postgame interview Fox’s Ken Rosenthal mentioned Stairs being 40, it was the first time I’ve reacted by thinking: Hey, watch it. I’m 40!)

    I honestly don’t know what to say about Pena. For him, I’m glad he’s found his groove. For the Tigers, well, let’s put it this way: Imagine the roster issues the Tigers would’ve dealt with this year if they had Pena in the mix. Oy vey. But good for Carlos, his fellow Rays and their dozens of fans. I’m enjoying every deliciously exposed chink in Red Sox Nation’s armor. If you want to read what Pena’s thinking about these days, read his playoff blog on MLB.com.

    As for Durbin and Casey, the Tigers could’ve used both of them this past season but for different reasons. Durbin would’ve spared us the Eddie Bonine Experience while Casey’s personality might have been a soothing influence on a prickly clubhouse.

    Bygones.

  • Wow, Leo Mazzone doesn’t make the Tigers’ short list of pitching coach candidates? Tell me this is some sort of smokescreen. Or joke. Or inexcusable oversight. How can Mazzone not be at the top of the list? Sure, Rick Peterson is a good choice and a solid Plan B. But Mazzone seems to be a no brainer. What do you think?

  • I keep thinking that Nate Robertson will end up out here in the desert next season with catcher Miguel Montero heading to Detroit. I’ve been beating the Montero Drum all season to Ian at BlessYouBoy.com — so much so that Ian has reportedly started coding an eyes-rolling emoticon for Google Talk instant messaging. Better late than early, a week or so back the Free Press‘s Jon Paul Morosi got on board the Montero Express.

  • Congrats to Eric Howell of Clawson who correctly answered our Name That Tiger Quiz. The correct answers: Chuck Scrivener, Eric Munson and Steve Foucault. Eric received a copy of George Cantor’s Tigers book, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

  • Sean Heyboer, an Orlando-based Tigers fan, launched a new Tigers blog recently, titled Trumbull and Michigan. Check it out when you get a chance.

Three for Thursday: Former Tigers Edition

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  • This afternoon I caught the last three innings of the Red Sox-Yankees game from New York. In the bottom of the ninth, with runners on second and third with one out, Pudge Rodriguez pinch hit for shortstop Cody Ransom. Sure out, right? Oh, ye of little faith! Pudge drew a walk. Sure his walk numbers are up this year, but in countless similar situations with the Tigers we saw him swing at that low-and-outside pitch. Jason Giambi came up next and singled in the winning run for the Yanks. Does the Pudge Era, which ended less than a month ago, seem like a distant memory to you too?

  • Carlos Pena continues to dazzle with the Tampa Bay Rays. How did this happen? Seriously. Didn’t the Tigers give him a pressure-free environment (2002-05) in which to thrive? It may have been pressure-free but apparently it wasn’t simple enough.

    Rather than letting your mind get cluttered by internal pressure, just focus on the most basic element of hitting, which is to see the ball, and this is what Pena has been doing — what all the Rays have been doing.

    Rays hitting coach Steve Henderson must be a miracle worker if he can get this level of performance out of the once enigmatic Pena

  • Have you seen the Tigers’ schedule for September? Oh, dear lord. Angels, Twins, White Sox, Rangers, Indians, Royals and Rays. They also have the A’s at Comerica Park for three but that’s not as intimidating as the others. Then again, given how bad Detroit’s playing these days, the A’s could cause trouble. But it’s all relative, isn’t it?

Finally, I received a complimentary issue of the newly refreshed yet not-exciting Sporting News yesterday. Can someone explain to my why Tank Johnson is wearing a Tigers hat during Cowboys Training Camp? According to always-reliable Wikipedia, he has no obvious ties to Detroit.

Back in Time: 2008 is 2005

BallTherapy.jpgIt wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Here we are, approaching the third weekend of August, and the Tigers are mired in third place, nine-and-a-half games out of first place. And, as I’m always reminding myself, only five games out of last place. This was supposed to be like 1984, 1968 or even 1945. It was not supposed to be like – gulp – 2005.

The Tigers record coming into this weekend series against the Orioles is 59-62. Entering play on Aug. 14, 2005, the Tigers were 53-61, 21-and-a-half-games out of first.

While the 2005 club was further back in the standings mathematically on Aug. 14, the current team feels about that far behind the White Sox and Twins. Doesn’t it?

Three years ago, Tigers fans seemed more interested in whether or not Alan Trammell would return as manager, who they’d acquire in the offseason, and what on God’s green earth to do with Carlos Pena?

Today, well, the team has probably more questions than the 2005 team did. One thing we can be assured of is Jim Leyland returning as manager. And that’s a good thing. Of course, some may disagree with that, but I believe there are very few buttons he could’ve pushed this year that would make up almost 10 games in the standings.

Here are 17 questions about the 2009 season rattling around in my head:

  1. Who’s the closer in 2009?
  2. Does Chuck Hernandez return as pitching coach?
  3. Is Nate Robertson a Tiger next season?
  4. Can Dontrelle Willis bounce back?
  5. Can the Tigers deal Carlos Guillen?
  6. If the Tigers can get a catcher, do they — and do they move Brandon Inge back to third?
  7. Does Vance Wilson return at long last?
  8. Who’s the shortstop?
  9. Would they deal Magglio Ordonez as some suggest?
  10. How does Jeremy Bonderman recover?
  11. Is Clete Thomas on the big club to stay?
  12. Who is 2009’s Matt Joyce?
  13. Are the Tigers counting on Freddy Garcia?
  14. Will Brent Clevlen finally break through?
  15. What can the Tigers expect out of Joel Zumaya?
  16. Do they sign Placido Polanco to an extension before the season?
  17. What’s Gary Sheffield‘s role — if any?

Ultimately, the 2005 Tigers finished 20 games under .500. Will this year’s team finish that far off the pace? Some days (i.e., against Tampa Bay) it certainly feels as if they could, but I doubt it.

I’m tending to believe that Doug’s right — 81 and 81 for this year’s club. But the fate of the 2009 team lies in how they address the pressing issues hovering over the organization.