Monday Morning Manager
Week of 9/21-27: 4-2
This week: 9/28-10/1: MIN; 10/2-4: CWS
Goat of the Week
MMM has been riding Grandy all year long, and with good reason. This is easily his worst season, statistically, of his four full big league campaigns. Ironically, it was also the first season in which he became an All-Star.
It was hoped that MMM's venomous words would light a fire under him, as it has with so many other players who've been filleted in this space.
But Granderson, heading into the season's final week, is still muddling along around .250 with a distinct inability to hit left-handers---whether they're of Cy Young quality or just up from AAA.
There are flashes---like what he did to the White Sox on Saturday---but nothing that's sustained for any length of time. In that way, Grandy is like a microcosm of the Tigers' offense as a whole.
Speaking of time, it's running out. The Tigers need a big week from Granderson, if they want to clinch the division without it going down to the last day.
Dishonorable mention: The offense in general---again---which wasted Eddie Bonine's no-hit bid on Friday night in Chicago.
Hero of the Week
OK, so Miguel Cabrera listened to MMM and its alter ego, Greg Eno, who waxed Miggy in a column last week about not carrying the team, like great players do.
Cabrera lit up the Indians and, to an extent, the White Sox last week, edging over 100 RBI for the sixth straight season---or, for his entire career, so far.
Cabrera took the scolding personally, apparently. That's OK; we're glad to help!
Honorable mention: Righthander Rick Porcello, who's quieting any talk about hitting a rookie wall and/or wearing down, with a strong September.
Quick scouting reports: Twins and White Sox
This week marks the biggest regular season series in the ten-year history of Comerica Park.
The Twins are in town, for four huge games---games that will either keep the Twins in the AL Central race, or catapult the Tigers to their first divisional title in 22 years.
It'll be fun at the "new corner"---Montcalm and Woodward---as every inning, every at-bat, every pitch will weigh significantly. This is what it's all about.
The Twins, sans Justin Morneau, are on an 11-2 run, pulling from six games back to two.
Others are contributing, big time. Mike Cuddyer is the biggest bat right now. He has six homers and 18 RBI in his last 13 games, filling in for Morneau at 1B. Denard Span has been swinging a hot bat, too.
And there's always Joe Mauer to worry about, too.
Beware Carl Pavano, too---who's been able to vex the Tigers as both an Indian and as a Twin. He pitches on Wednesday.
The White Sox, who've had a miserable September, nonetheless took two of three from the Tigers in Chicago over the weekend, but the Chisox always play the Tigers tough---home or away.
The Tigers would be best served to have the division mostly sewn up by the time the White Sox arrive in Detroit. You know manager Ozzie Guillen will pull out all the stops to try to deny the Tigers an on-field celebration in front of his team.
Under the microscope
Granderson, as mentioned above, must come up big this week---especially in spacious CoPa, site of so many of his past doubles and triples. If he does, and Placido Polanco keeps up his strong September, then the Tigers' offense will take on a whole new dynamic down the stretch.
If Curtis "does his thing," it will go a long way toward clinching the division.
There's just something about the Tigers' offense, a certain je ne sais quoi, when the Nos. 1 and 2 guys are getting on base and wreaking havoc. That has been missing for alarmingly long stretches of time this season. If it returns this week, get ready to celebrate.
Bottom line: MMM wanted to see the Tigers enter these four games with Minnesota with no less than a two-game lead, and that's exactly what they have.
Why is that so important?
The Twins now almost have to win three of the four games in Detroit to have a fighting chance. A split is great for the Tigers; it would keep their lead at two with three games to play. The magic number would be down to two.
If the Tigers, who've played so very well at home all year, can just hold serve and nullify the Twins with a 2-2 record in "the series," then they're almost assured of winning the division.
Of course, it would be even better to get greedy and win three, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Tigers' magic number to clinch the division: 6
That's all for this week's MMM. Join me every Monday!
P.S. Also join me and Big Al from The Wayne Fontes Experience every Monday night as we co-host "The Knee Jerks" on Blog Talk Radio. The Tigers are a weekly topic. We go live at 11 p.m. ET, and every episode can be downloaded for your listening convenience!
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