Monday, June 02, 2008

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 3-3
This Week: (6/2-4: at Oak; 6/6-8: CLE)

So now it's Brandon Inge at 3B, Carlos Guillen occasionally in LF when he's not DH-ing, Marcus Thames in LF more often than not, Jeff Larish DH-ing when Guillen isn't -- at least until Gary Sheffield returns from the DL. Got all that?

Tigers manager Jim Leyland is apparently opting for the "more is more" method of managing, juggling his lineup so much that you half expect a big top to appear and some calliope music to start playing.

The latest incarnation of Leyland's lineup shoved past the Seattle Mariners yesterday, 7-5, and it was Inge's strong play at third that helped.

Guillen is on his fourth position as a Tiger, and his third in two months. Last year he was a decent shortstop, but with limited range. This spring he was going to potentially be, according to those who supposedly know about such things, "a Gold Glover" at first base. Then he was going to be "one hell of a" third baseman. Now he's going to be "fine" in left field. The quotes are there because they are words that have been used in describing Guillen's have glove, will travel career turn over the past year.

A cynic might suggest -- and maybe not just a cynic but a realist -- that the reason Carlos Guillen is playing so many positions is because he's not any good at any of them. And such a fellow might just be right. But enough negativity.

The Tigers have won three of four, are showing some more esprit de corps, and even the sour puss of Inge is turning jocular. He's "ecstatic" and "thrilled" and all sorts of other nirvanic words about being returned -- at least more often than before -- to third base, the only true love of his baseball life. Not that I'm unhappy about this; Inge is, for real, "one hell of a" third baseman. Even those who DON'T know much about such things can see that. So it's not a bad thing to have his glove in the game, especially after seeing how Guillen and, before him, Miguel Cabrera, butchered the position earlier this season. It's that .225 bat that gets me. Ahh -- but nothing negative.

It's too bad that the Tigers can't feast on the Mariners more, but maybe they're showing signs of life. Six games against the surprising A's and almost-as-disappointing Indians this week give the Tigers a chance to cobble together some more momentum gleaned from this successful weekend series in Seattle. We'll see.

At least Brandon Inge is happy. It's a start.



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