Two for Tuesday

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  1. Somewhere on the vast Internet I saw a reader comment that the Tigers should fire hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. The thinking was that outside of Brandon Inge, Lloyd the Legend hasn’t developed anyone for Detroit. I’m always hesitant to fire coaches because so little is in their control. (Besides, remember how Chuck Hernandez was the Second Coming in 2006 and today he’s the Indians’ bullpen coach?)

    Anyway, how can McClendon be blamed for an offense that manages to get runners in scoring position but fail (and fail and fail) to drive them home? Take, for example, this instance in last night’s dreadful game: Miguel Cabrera up with the bases loaded and a 3-0 count…and he ends up striking out to end the inning. Is that Lloyd’s fault?

    Discuss.

  2. On this date in 1993, Travis Fryman smacks five hits on his way to the cycle in the Tigers’ 12-7 loss to the Yankees. He is the first Tiger to hit for the cycle in 43 years.

Catching Up on a Week of News

Catcher.jpgEvery time I sat down to write about a bit of Tigers news in the past five days, another shoe would drop and I’d think “I’ll write about both of those items.” Then another and another, etc.

So, as I wait out this Tigers/White Sox rain delay from bright, sunny Phoenix, it’s time to weigh in on:

  • Todd Jones’s Retirement. The decades-old joke in Detroit is that the most popular person in the city is the Lions’ backup QB and/or the Red Wings’ backup netminder. I think we can now add the Tigers’ setup man to that punch line. Detroit is unusually cruel to its closers. Less than a year after Willie Hernandez won the 1984 Cy Young and MVP awards, he started getting booed and it’s never stopped. Mike Henneman did too, but to a much smaller degree. The Tigers were so unwatchable during Todd Jones‘s first tour of duty in Detroit, that often he was the only bright spot. Come to think of it, he was a welcome sight then because it mean the Tigers were in line for a rare win.

    But what was it about Jones in his second stint as a Tiger? What made it so infuriating? Sure, he got 93 saves in just under three seasons but his ERA was always around four and … ah, what’s the use? Jones is a good guy and I’m sure he’ll be missed by his teammates. I guess. For me, though, I’ll never be able to forgive him for not being Joe Nathan.

    Continue reading “Catching Up on a Week of News”

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.

The Monday Report

My son woke me up at 5:45 this morning so I had some time to catchup on my reading and thinking…

  • Call me naive, but I thought the Kenny Rogers thing would be a slam dunk, even with The Scott Boras Factor. Now that Rogers, who turned 43 on Saturday, is testing the market — the market for a mid-40s pitcher coming off a season virtually lost to serious injury that is — one has to wonder if the Tigers have used up the patience they reserve for dealing with Boras. From everything I’ve read, most still expect a deal to get hammered out. And I tend to think so too if only because Dave Dombrowski doesn’t seem to be a cut-off-the-nose-to-spite-the-face kind of guy.Speaking of Rogers, I thought I’d stumbled upon major news over at Yahoo! Sports when I read in this Tigers rumor:

    According to the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Tigers and free agent lefty Kenny Rogers have parted ways.  

    If you read to the story referenced in the piece you’ll see that nowhere does it say Rogers isn’t coming back. Perhaps a little fact checking would help.I’m intrigued by the Dontrelle Willis thing but can’t fathom what it would take to acquire him (for starters, Brandon Inge, perhaps?). Sure seems like a drastic change of course going from re-signing Rogers to dealing for Willis.Ah, but you gotta love the smell of hickory on the Hot Stove.

  • Our man Ian Casselberry notified me of the Omar Infante-for-Jacque Jones trade this afternoon. I think it’s safe to say Ian and I were both underwhelmed by the move. As Jon Paul Morosi suggests, this is likely a stop-gap solution until Cameron Maybin is ready for prime time, all the time. If that’s the case, I supposed I can live with it.

Still, you have to believe that somewhere in the Dominican Republic, Timo Perez is wondering what he has to do to become more than a September call up.But probably not in those words.

  • If you missed it, Joel Zumaya turned 23 on Friday. Here’s hoping his birthday wish was for health and wellness. And, while the Lions were stinking up University of Phoenix Stadium yesterday, Jason Grilli and Chuck Hernandez were celebrating birthdays. A belated #31 to Grilli and #47 to Hernandez. To help you plan your card and gift shopping, here are the upcoming Tigers birthdays of note: Nov. 18 – Gary Sheffield (39); Nov. 19 – Preston Larrison (27); Nov. 29 – Tony Giarratano (25); Nov. 30 – Ivan Rodriguez (36). 
  • Mr. Casselberry and I also wondered aloud who the Tigers backup catcher would be on Opening Day. Vance Wilson should be ready to come back and reclaim his job, but Mike Rabelo certainly made a case for himself in 2007. Too bad one of them can’t play another position — or that Ryan Raburn can’t catch. Ian thinks Rabelo comes North. I’m undecided but tend to think Wilson will rejoin the team if he has anything that resembles a decent spring.