Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Monday Morning Manager - Tuesday Version

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 2-5
This Week: (8/5-7: at CWS; 8/8-10: OAK)

If a team's playoff chances are ever decided in the first week of August, then that scenario has dawned on the Tigers.

They are 7 games out of first place. They've lost three in a row, and seven of ten. They are no longer the hottest thing in the American League. And they are about to have the dirt tossed on them, pending what happens this week -- starting tonight in Chicago.

You hate to say that a team HAS to sweep another, but in this case, the Tigers pretty much must win all three in Chicago. They are 6-1/2 behind the White Sox, and a sweep gets them to within 3-1/2 and even if that doesn't get them much closer to the first place Twins, it at least gets them much closer to one of the two teams they must leapfrog in order to win the division. The Tigers aren't going to win the Wild Card, most likely. There are too many teams in front of them. Their playoff hopes rest with the Central Division crown. And it's time to make a move -- and now.

It can't just stop with the White Sox series, of course. The A's come to town this weekend and the Tigers, who had used strong Comerica Park play to get themselves back onto the fringes of contention, have stumbled at home lately. There can be no losing two of three anymore -- much less being swept, as the Tigers were in Tampa. Just about every series must be won. Two of three -- even three of four -- must be won from here on out. That's the bed the Tigers have made and must now sleep in.

But it's the same old story -- the one we've all been reading (and writing) about for weeks -- months, even: forget such a blistering finishing run with the bullpen constantly throwing gas on the fire. The Tigers, as a result, are being cooked before our very eyes.

As I've said, Fernando Rodney is not the answer as far as closing games. He throws too many pitches, mainly because of his wildness. It reminds me of a line once said about a young Sandy Koufax, written by a scout: "Koufax would be a great pitcher, if the plate was high and outside." So even if Rodney does get the save, often he's unavailable the next day because of his high pitch count.

Kyle Farnsworth, it looks like, will get the next try -- his meltdown in Tampa notwithstanding. Farnsworth has closed before, and he has the stuff to do it again. Whether he'll be successful, of course, is another question.

And you can't have Todd Jones to kick around, because Jonesy is on the DL. Don't be surprised if he's thrown his last pitch as a Tiger.

The Tigers will have to slug their way into the playoffs, if they're going to get in. They'll have to go on pace for that 1,000-run season that everyone was predicting back in March. It's their only hope, I fear.



Blogger Brian said...

After Tuesday night's game, all I can say is I now won't have to feel like I'm missing anything if I don't get home in time to watch the game. They're done for the year.

I'm not a bandwagoner. I will still watch them, still root for them. But after last night I can stop getting upset when anything happens. It took me this long to realize they aren't going anywhere, but that's where I'm at now. I will watch the games for their entertainment value - because I LOVE Tigers baseball and always have. But at least I can now save my emotions and my sanity for hockey and basketball seasons.

And by the way, to all those who kept saying "get rid of Jones" for the last two years - what do you suggest? Seriously - what do you suggest? No, I'm not the biggest Todd Jones booster, but you have to admit, he was the best we have.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Greg Eno said...


Even if Dave Dombrowski doesn't do another thing the rest of his career, he MUST find this team a bullpen -- specifically, a closer. He's going to have to trade a frontline player, but so be it. The bullpen is KILLING them. It is literally wrecking their playoff chances right now. These losses have been absolutely gut-wrenching.

11:55 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home