Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 4-2
This Week: (8/25-27: CLE; 8/29-31: KC)

The Tigers are loathe to admit it, but the team is pretty much in 2009 mode now. Even the announcers are saying as much.

Yesterday, during another come-from-ahead loss, TV guys Mario Impemba and Rod Allen were musing over what spring training, 2009 might entail.

Allen said, "There will definitely be some jobs up for grabs next year." Both men agreed that 2008's spring was devoid of much drama, because few spots on the team appeared to be unset. But no one could foresee Dontrelle Willis's disappearing act, or Edgar Renteria's slide, or Gary Sheffield's MIA status in the season's first half. Also not figured on were injuries to Joel Zumaya and Jeremy Bonderman, and the dethroning of Todd Jones as closer. Yet it all happened, and more, and so 2009's spring certainly promises to be more unsettled, and more competitive.

Where, for example, might guys like Ryan Raburn and Matt Joyce fit in? Will Marcus Thames be traded in the media and on the Internet all winter? What does the future hold for Zumaya? Will Kenny Rogers retire? Who will the backup catcher be? Is Renteria toast?

Oh, and even manager Jim Leyland got into the act.

Yesterday, it was reported, Leyland and Sheffield had a discussion about 2009 -- specifically, if it was mutually agreed that Sheff can be a productive player at age 40, which he turns in November. Not surprisingly, the consensus among the two men was a resounding yes. Maybe Sheff's $14 million contract has something to do with that.

Regardless, with 32 games remaining and a 10-1/2 game playoff deficit, it's appropriate to talk 2009, as painful as it may be.

As for 2008, the Indians come to town with a seven-game winning streak and just 1-1/2 games behind the Tigers. Last year, the Indians and Tigers were battling for first place at this time. Now they are staging a less-than-stimulating fight for third place. What a difference a year makes.



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