Monday, July 07, 2008

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 3-4
This Week: (7/8-9: CLE; 10-13: MIN)

The Tigers will only have one All-Star on the American League roster next week -- Carlos Guillen -- and if that brings back ghoulish memories of 100-loss seasons, don't go there. The Tigers are a .500 team -- at the moment -- who are simply lacking players with eye-popping numbers. No Tigers made the starting lineup, so to have more than one at-large selection in what has, so far, been a disappointing season, would have been considered a bit of an upset.

Too bad for Marcus Thames, though -- and too bad for AL manager Terry Francona, who would have made a bold and daring move by adding Thames to the roster despite his not being a quote-unquote everyday player. Thames's tendency to hit a home run every 10 at-bats or so is not only All-Star-like, it's Hall of Fame-like. But we'll just cut Francona some slack and assume he had too many outfielders from which to choose.

Plus, this year's All-Star is Guillen, not Robert Fick or Tony Clark or Justin Thompson or any of the other non-deserving Tigers who made teams back in the day, just for the sake of having a Tiger tag along. Guillen, though having a less-than-spectacular year, numbers-wise (surprised Placido Polanco didn't get the nod instead), is a worthy All-Star, if only for his resume. He's not going to win a Gold Glove, but Guillen is still one of the Tigers you don't mind seeing at the plate when a base hit is in order, or even a home run. He tends to go deep when it matters.

As for Guillen's team, this is an important week for the Tigers. Of course, you can pretty much say that for every week going forward; that's what happens when you spend the first quarter of the season sniffing the dirt.

But this is particularly important, because you have the Indians -- the wretched Indians (and I love writing that) -- coming to town for two games, then the red-hot Twins invading for four. The Tigers are an unsightly 11-21 in games within their own division. It is literally impossible to win a division or qualify for a wild card with such a horrible divisional record; there are just too many of those kinds of games on your schedule. The Tigers are seven games out of first place -- not an insurmountable deficit, but also perilously close to double digits, and those holes are very hard to climb out of after the All-Star break.

What's more, the Twins are going to have to be leapfrogged, sooner or later, if the Tigers want to catch the first place White Sox. Doing well against Minnesota this week in Detroit -- where the Tigers have performed very well lately -- will be very well-timed right about now.

Still never thought I'd be as enamored with a 44-44 record as I am this morning.



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