Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 3-4
This Week: 9/8-10: OAK; 9/12-14: at CWS

The push to .500 is on!

That's this year's Great September Race for the Tigers: whether they can manage the same number of wins as losses. The "magic number" is eight. Meaning, eight more losses and you can kiss .500 goodbye. The Tigers are 69-74 and have to go 12-7 the rest of the way to be mediocre. It shouldn't be an impossible task, but the way things have gone post-All-Star break, you certainly can't count on it.

Yesterday, the Tigers won consecutive games for the first time since August 22-23, according to the Free Press's John Lowe. That's over two weeks, folks, and that's why the team never made any serious, late-season push to respectability, let alone playoff contention. It's also why they may not even make the break-even point. Or finish any higher than fourth place. Fourth place! Could you have imagined such a thing?

I gotta hand it to the naysayers -- the doomsdayers who said that, despite the Tigers' off-season trades and signings, the team was still in a heap of trouble, due to the uncertainty over the pitching. Specifically, the bullpen. And that was before injuries to Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney and Jeremy Bonderman and the curious vanishing of Dontrelle Willis, and the not-as-curious slide of Nate Robertson, and the capitulation of Todd Jones as team closer. But those folks were right; we were too quick to expect 1,000 runs and 105 wins and a World Series, as if it was fait accompli. Because the pitching -- and the DEFENSE -- failed the Tigers miserably this season.

I didn't really see the defense thing coming. The pitching, I was a little leery of myself. But the defense? It looked solid, if not great. I was expecting 20-25 errors at 3B for Miguel Cabrera, but wasn't going to sweat it in light of his bat. But then Miggy couldn't play third, and Carlos Guillen couldn't play first, and Edgar Renteria couldn't play short, and suddenly you had an infield in disarray. And that was in April.

Toss in all those four-out innings and all those blown saves, and, well, you're right where you should be: struggling like mad to finish .500.

It's still true, and always will be: pitching and defense wins. And, in the Tigers case, it also can lose for you, too.



Blogger Brian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

The sad thing about this season is that we had three September weekend games (one on national TV) against Minnesota, and three more coming up against Chicago (again, national TV) and they were barely even thought about. This town could have been going nuts this past weekend. The atmosphere should have been electric.

Instead, we're relegated to "geez, the Lions are already down 21-0; I guess we'll see what the Tigers are doing."

11:36 AM  

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