Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 4-3
This Week: (4/21: at Tor; 4/22-24: TEX; 4/25-27: LAA)

If this doesn't make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, then you ought to have your Tigers stripes revoked immediately: Placido Polanco and Gary Sheffield are hurting, and aren't showing any signs of getting better.


Double shiver, actually.

In 2006, when the Tigers limped to the finish line after their remarkable 76-36 start, the downslide started -- and not coincidentally -- with Polanco injuring his shoulder while making a diving catch in Boston (remember that?). Last summer, the Tigers struggled mightily when Sheffield's bad shoulder didn't respond to treatment.

And now the Tigers might be without both of them for an undetermined amount of time?

The news isn't awful, but it isn't all that encouraging, either. Polanco was sent to Detroit ahead of his teammates to have his aching back examined further. And Sheffield is pondering a doctor's exam on his still-not-right shoulder. Both situations are scary, but I think Sheffield's is the more troubling, despite how petulant backs can be. Sheffield is 39, and if you read between the lines when he talks -- normally not a necessity because Sheff rarely speaks anything less than his mind -- he's dropped several hints that he might, at a moment's notice, decide that enough is enough and that he's through as a player. Even a run at 500 career home runs (he has 481) won't be enough to change his mind. Over the weekend, he acknowledged to the papers that he probably should have taken a full year off after his post-season shoulder surgery. Instead, he "rushed" back in five months, in order to be ready for the 2008 season.

Ah, but just how ready was Gary Sheffield, after all? His paltry numbers are indicative that he's not healthy. Just how "not healthy" he is, is the question that gives me those shivers.

Polanco's back is also a major concern, of course. The Tigers, simply, win when Polanco and Sheffield are both healthy and doing their thing. And they lose when those guys aren't and don't. Nothing fancy or over-analytical about it. I'm not saying that Polanco is to blame for the Tigers' loss in the 2006 World Series, but he hit in the ALCS, won the MVP, and the Tigers swept. In the Series, he went hitless, and you know what happened.

I'll bet the Tigers can't wait for April to be over with. It's been a miserable month, and all the cold weather hasn't helped the aches and pains.

At least Curtis Granderson is going to be back soon. It's just too bad that his return has to be muted by the Polanco and Sheffield issues.

This week the Tigers host the struggling Texas Rangers. If ever there was a time to get this train fully back on the track, it's against Texas, because the first-place Angels follow the Rangers into Detroit.



Post a Comment

<< Home