Monday, June 9, 2008

The wrath of an ailing Tiger

All right, folks, it's time we take a moment away from all this political talk and speak (or write) a moment about my favorite baseball team: The Detroit Tigers.

My friends tell me that I'm falsely optomistic about the Tigers; that I always predict they will do well. Then again, if that were true, my prediction success rate would be less than 0000.000000001%, considering the Tigers have been in the World Series only three times since 1945.

Yes, I did predict the Tigers to do well this year, but I also predicted that they would nott get to the World Series. My reason was the bullpen. Little did I know the bullpen would turn out to be pretty decent, it was other things that have hurt the cats this year.

Why then, are the Tigers, of whom CBSSports.com writers predicted would be in the World Series this year, currently in last place? I have the answers that will impress my humble readers (the one's that care anyway).

If you go to CBSSPortsline Detroit Tiger's page, and scroll down the threads on the bottom, you will see where I created some threads regarding certain pitchers, all of whom are currently on the Tiger's staff.

Two years ago, I wrote that, "While Dontrelle Willis is over hyped right now due to his great season, I do not think that Willis will be a good pitcher in a few years. He, like Justin Verlander, has an awkward pitching style that will lead him to being an ordinary pitcher at best in the years to come, if they are still playing at all."

So you can see why I wasn't particularly thrilled when the Tigers chose to trade for Willis last summer, and got too excited about Verlander. This year, Willis has missed all but two games, and Verlander has a record of two wins and nine losses.

After last year's season I started this thread: "Bonderman is not an elite pitcher. He is injury prone and inconsistent, and, on average, pitchers that are going to move into the elite status do so in their third season, Bonderman's third season was 2007 and he still was as mediocre of a pitcher as Nate Robertson, and he never even finished the season."

Other Tiger fans railed into me: "How could you say such crap. You'll see. In 2008, Bonderman will have a career year."
Good, I hope he does have a career year. And if he does, I hope the Tigers trade him. But hold on, because Bonderman is now out for the remainder of the 2008 season. So who was right?

So there you have it. Four of the pitchers the Tigers were relying on to carry them to the World Series have been over hyped and overpaid.

The other starters this year are rookies or young players who have a tendency to have some great games, but will also have some bad games in between. The result here is a whopping amount of losses, coupled amid a few well pitched games, and even a few games the Tigers will win via their bats.

Before I get into offense, I have a few words about the bullpen. How can you expect the Tiger's bullpen to excel when two of its best pitchers in Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya are both on the disabled list. And it appears that Zumaya might be the second coming of Mark the Bird Fidrych.

Rodney is an average pitcher at best, and he had a career year in 2006. Just like Craig Monroe and Brandon Inge had career years that year.

Note to baseball fans: If you are a 1.90 hitter your whole career, and then all of a sudden you hit 3.00 with 20 home runs one year, chances are you will be a 1.90 hitter the following year. This is what is dubbed a career year.

A good example of this is Adrian Beltre. He used to be an over hyped player even before he had his career year, but then one year he hit over 40 homers and batter way over 300. I don't know what they were thinking, but the Seattle Mariners signed this guy to a multi million dollar contract, and guess what? He became mediocre again.

Surprised? NO. Not this guy. While other fantasy baseball GMs were scooping this guy up at every chance they got, I stayed as far away from him as I could figured he'd be a bust. And I was right. Now of course I could have been wrong, but would you want to put $10 million on the line over one career year?

My point here is that baseball fans need to quit getting excited over a player just because he has a career year. Regardless, it's good to get excited about the career year when it's happening, as it's these players who carry a team to the World Series (aka Detroit Tigers in 2006, Calorado Rockies 1007)), but managers need to recognize these guys and trade them before they start sucking again, and not listen to fans who get overexcited about them.

And that is exactly why the Tigers got nothing in return for Craig Monroe, and nobody wanted Brandon Inge, of whom the Tigers offered a $4 million per year contract after his career year instead of trading him. To me, my friends, that is simply stupid General Managing.

Now, back to pitching. While many contend that Todd Jones sucks, they are correct. However, he is a baseball player and a champion, and he does have a good closer's attitude where he can go out there and get shelled one day and go out there with a calm demeanor the next and give his team a fighting chance. So, while he is no elite closer, and one no fantasy player would want on his team, he is not the reason the Tigers suck this year, despite what I myself predicted.

Now lets get to offense. The trade for Miguel Cabrerra was stupid. I said this right from the beginning on CBSsportsline: "What are the Tigers thinking. They trade away one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, the next Randy Johnson, for an elite batter and a dub for a pitcher in Dontrelle Willis. This kind of a trade is not going to make the Tiger's better. Willis is washed up, and offense does not win World Series' games, pitching does."

I also didn't like the trade that got rid of Jair Jurjens for Edgar Rentaria, of whom has had two good years in the past ten. I like having those guys on my team, don't get me wrong, I just think it is bad policy to trade away great pitchers for offense.

Now, I have used the argument here before that prospects do not win world series games, and this justifies this kind of a trade, considering both Willis and Cabrerra are already quality players who can immediately help the Tigers and Miller and Maybin (of whom the tigers traded) would take a few more years to develop.

I don't have a problem trading Maybin, but why Miller? The only thing I can think is that the Tigers don't think they'd be able to afford him by the time he becomes an elite player anyway, and Dumbrowski decided he might as well trade him away now while he can get a quality player in return for him now. Well, Cabrerra is a quality player.

That aside, injuries have hurt the Tigers. Likewise, you can't expect an elite batter to come to a new team and a new league and have a great year right away. It is very seldom that this happens. Even Darell Evens struggled in 1984 when he was first traded to the Tigers.

And you can't expect a 42-year-old pitcher to come off a year of which he did not play and return to elite status right away. Here I'm referring to Kenny Rogers, who has only just recently come of his own.

Now, in order for a team to reach the World Series, some rookie has to step up. Where are the rookies who have stepped up this year? Aha, last night we saw Freddie Dolson do what Zumaya did quite often in 2006, as he came into one of his first games with the bases loaded and missed bats. He threw heat that measured up to 98 MPH right by the batters. He got me excited.

If the Tigers are to win this year, if they are to become one of the very few teams in Major League Baseball history to come back from 10 games back to get into the World Series (the Astros did it in 2005), we need to see some rookies, or some unknown quality players, step up to the plate and get hot, and stay hot the rest of the year.

Sure, a lot of experts say that the elite players need to carry the team, but when the elite players go into a slump, great teams have some unknown quantity step up to the plate. Remember Chris Shelton back in 2006. Man was that guy hot at the beginning of that year.

Sure Shelton didn't finish the season, but he carried that team until the elite bats got hot. Where is the 2006 Chris Shelton? Where is he?

One of my brothers keeps chanting that the Tigers are sucking because of their manager. In baseball, who cares who the manager is. All that matters is that the players on the field are doing their jobs, and that is something the Tigers are not doing.

I asked my son Jordan why he thinks the Tigers are doing bad. I wasn't expecting an intelligent answer, but my son impressed me as usual. He said:

"Dad, the Tigers are doing bad because of this: Cabrerra is with a new team in a new league and playing a new position. Rentaria is with a new team in a new league, Carlos Guillen is playing a new position, Brandon Inge is playing several new position. It takes time for them to gel. Of course they started out slow this year."

So, if my son is right, once this team has time to warm up, to gel, they will heat up. It may be this year, and it may be next year. We'll see.

4 comments:

Thinking Sage said...

Well I will say this!
My fave all time player was a Tiger.
Yeah you already know who that is. Cobb, but Trammel was great too in my opinion.
I played pro ball for 3 seasons in the minors, I don't follow it now but

Sometimes you win
Sometimes you lose
Sometimes it rains............

Freadom said...

Wow. You played minor league baseball. That would be cool to hear about, or read about.

Nikki said...

My favorite all time player is Roy Hobbs. The best there ever was! :)N

Freadom said...

Freddie Dolsi had another great game today, as he came in with the bases loaded again and "held" the game.

Brent Cleveland threw a batter out at the plate, and his defense might be what the Tigers are missing. Plus he has some pop in his bat that just might help.

Perhaps now is the time for the Tigers to get hot. They beat the Whitesox today, and have won 3 of their last 4 games.