Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 1-5
This Week: (8/6-9: TB; 8/10-12: OAK)

The words that Jim Leyland used to talk about the current state of his baseball team weren't exciting, but they were accurate.

"Dull" and "bored" were two of them, and you can kind of see where he's going with that -- mainly because you see where the Tigers are going, which is not North.

They made it 13 losses in 17 games yesterday in a, well, "dull" 3-1 affair against the White Sox -- who, if they played everyone as hard as they played the Tigers, wouldn't be mired in fourth place right now. The Chisox are 8-4 against the Tigers.

"It's dull throughout the lineup right now," Leyland said of his punchless offense.

Then he spoke about the fans, who still fill Comerica Park every day.

"We're not doing things that are exciting the fans. We're not getting a couple guys on, hitting a triple, getting them all revved up.

"They're (the fans) bored right now. And I don't blame them."

This is the worst 17-game stretch in the Leyland Era. It smacks of last year's 19-31 limp to the finish line, although the Tigers were maybe due for that after starting out 76-36 in 2006. The Indians keep losing, which is making this slide somewhat bearable. I shudder to think how far behind the Tribe the Tigers would be if Cleveland wasn't also scuffling.

Leyland talks about the offense, but the starting pitchers have GOT to put together some decent innings. Someone has to go out and pitch seven or eight brilliant innings and turn this thing around. Quality starts have been as hard to come by lately as a trip on metro Detroit's roadways without encountering an orange cone. The supposedly strong starting rotation, hit by injuries and slumps, isn't contributing much of anything right now.

This week offers the clash of two tides: the losing streak of the Tigers versus the always losing Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Which will triumph? If the Tigers can't get well against TB, then ...

Last August, the Tigers lost Placido Polanco for 45 days and the team plummeted. Now, with Gary Sheffield playing hurt and/or out of the lineup, the Tigers look just as lost. It's amazing how one man's absence can have such a ripple effect on the rest of the team. We all knew how brilliant a move it was to acquire Sheffield from the Yankees. Now we're having his importance rammed down our throats. We get it already -- he helps!! Now get him back to us in one piece!



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