Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monday Morning Manager - Tuesday Version

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 2-4
This Week: (9/1: L to NYY; 9/2-4: LAA; 9/5-7 at Min)

I knew someone in the mainstream media would come around.

As already mentioned here, back when the Pudge Rodriguez trade occurred, the Free Press's Michael Rosenberg wrote a column in this morning's fish wrap discussing Rodriguez's agenda when he signed with the Tigers in 2004. The timing was such because Pudge's Yankees were in town for a makeup game, and it was his first appearance in Detroit as a member of the opposition since the trade on July 30 that sent him to New York.

I didn't want to rain on the parade back on July 31 -- even the normally sour Drew Sharp called for the retirement of Rodriguez's jersey, of all things, for his decision to come to the Tigers on the heels of their 119-loss season of '03 -- but I also wanted you dear readers to remember the circumstances surrounding Pudge's arrival some four-plus years ago.

Rosenberg painted Pudge as a money-grubbing opportunist, which pretty much describes at least 50% of today's big league ballplayers. No real news there. But Rosenberg also dared to suggest that Pudge had zero interest in reviving baseball in Detroit -- and that's where even I won't go.

For all his warts, I think Pudge wants to win. His intensity in the 2003 and 2006 post-seasons should prove that. His almost maniacal look of joy when Magglio Ordonez rounded third base after his pennant-clinching HR spoke volumes. The guy likes to win, because it puts him on center stage, where he revels. So I think for Rosenberg to totally dismiss Pudge's desire to come here as being motivated 100% by money is a little disingenuous, and rough. And worse, wrong.

But I agree that Pudge Rodriguez didn't ride in on a white horse like a knight in shining armor, if only because there were few suitors for his services -- at his asking price -- in 2004. Even coming off a World Series win. The Tigers were desperate and crazy enough to fork over the kind of dough that I-Rod was looking for, and no one else really was ready to do that, truth be told.

Yet to infer that bringing winning baseball back to Detroit wasn't anywhere in Rodriguez's plans is, for my money, off base.

As for the Tigers this week -- the purpose of MMM, after all -- what is there to say anymore, really? The mathematical elimination will be coming soon (the magic number to eliminate the Tigers is 15); the torrid Angels are in town, and the Tigers are reduced to playing spoiler. Trouble is, the only thing they've managed to spoil thus far is their own season.



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