Sunday, April 02, 2006

Me, Write A Tigers Preview? Okay, But Only Cuz You Asked

I'm not much of a Preview guy.

I originally wasn't going to place any sort of prognostication about the Tigers and how they'll fare in 2006 on this blog -- even though it's all baseball, all the time. After all, I'm not a writer who's set up that way. Doesn't lend itself too well for sarcasm and irreverance, a "Preview" isn't. Besides, folks like Lee Panas at Detroit Tiger Tales do a much nicer job of it, anyway.

But there should be, I suppose, an opinion about the Bengals here because how can I call this blog Where Have You Gone, Johnny Grubb? and NOT put in my two cents worth about the team's chances this season?

So, here goes.

Jimmy Leyland brings an approach to the game that I think the Tigers sorely needed. He's a National League guy, which means he believes in moving runners along, stealing a base or two, and keeping the factory open.


I just came up with this one, but from now on whenever I say "keeping the factory open," it means the team is manufacturing runs.

I know -- cute, ain't it?

Be that as it may, if there are two departments in which the Tigers have been awful lately -- meaning, more awful than everything else they've done in the past decade -- it's been in the areas of creating runs without hitting homeruns, and overall on-base percentage. As Lee Panas correctly pointed out to me recently, the former won't matter if the latter doesn't improve.

And that's where I think Leyland and hitting coach Don Slaught will have an impact.

Team defense has been marginal since, oh, the late 1980's, if you want to know the truth. And there are still too many popgun arms in the outfield to suit me, and an adventure or two during flyballs waiting to happen. The middle infield is pretty tight, as is the catching position. First and third base are mediocre to average.

Pitching -- ahh, pitching -- is where I feel the Tigers will be made or broken. The rotation could be quite nice, thank you, if everyone performs to their potential. The bullpen is shaky, and it's not Todd Jones that will be the concern, but rather getting to him. Rookie Joel Zumaya could be a beast or a bust early -- we'll see. Jamie Walker is satisfactory against lefties, and Fernando Rodney, who looks like the main setup guy, can give hitters fits, but not all the time.

So there you have it -- as much of a "preview" as you're gonna get from me.

Oh yeah -- in case you were wondering: 82-80.

Satisfied now?


Come back tomorrow and I'll let you know what you can expect from WHYGJG during the regular season, now that these preliminary, spring training posts are over and done with.


Blogger Ozz said...

I predict 83 wins.

I think Leyland will have guys playing at the potential they're capable of playing.

Key players need to stay healthy (yeah, Jones was DL'd, so maybe it's a little too late to say that?). If the hitters stay healthy and finally figure out (at least somewhat) situational hitting, the offense will be better.

A better offense will help the pitching staff. Improved defense to me is really the key to the season. They've got to make the plays they're supposed to make.

10:39 AM  

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