Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Morning Manager Returns!

Welcome to the fifth season of "Monday Morning Manager," where I take a look back at the Tigers' past week and a look ahead to the current one.

Last Week: 5-1
This Week: KC (4/12-14); at Sea (4/16-18)

So what happened?

The Tigers have only played one week of the 2010 season, and already they've won four games in come-from-behind fashion.

The kicker, of course, was Sunday's 9-8 thriller over the Indians, capping a comeback from a six-run deficit.

The Tigers could very well be 6-0, but they let one slip through their grasp in Kansas City last Wednesday.

Hero of the Week

So many to choose from: Miguel Cabrera, who I don't think has made an out all season; Magglio Ordonez, who's made maybe one or two; the rookie Austin Jackson, who's holding his own at the leadoff spot; and the bullpen as a whole

Cabrera, who I fawned over in this very space on Sunday, is smoking the ball and when he's not hitting is way on base, he's walking his way there. The guy's OBA is over .600 after Week One. He's one of those guys who, when his at-bat is taking place, you just have to stop whatever you're doing to witness it. You miss a Cabrera at-bat, you might miss the first baseball to be split into two.

Ordonez is picking up where he left off last September. He's moving up the list of the all-time greatest clutch guys in team history. I don't have the numbers, but his batting average from the seventh inning on must be highly elevated from his norm.

Jackson has been impressing me with that keen batting eye that manager Jim Leyland raved about in spring training. He worked defending Cy Young winner Zack Greinke to a full count during an impressive at-bat on Opening Day, and I like the quality of pitches (balls) that he's had the discipline to lay off.

The bullpen is staying steady. No major bungling of things yet. Brandon and Fernando WHO??

Goat of the Week

Leyland, in spring training, spoke of the need for catcher Gerald Laird to pick it up offensively this year.

Sunday's festivities contained Laird's first 2010 hit after an 0-for-17 start.

Newcomer Johnny Damon is 3-for-20 (.150), but his experience paid off with a bases-loaded walk in Sunday's ninth inning, which forced in the tying run.

Upcoming: Royals and Mariners

The Royals are 2-4; big surprise, right?

In the past, it was the Royals' anemic offense that kept them from winning. Now, it's their bullpen, which should be derisively nicknamed "Gasoline Alley."

The Royals' starters handled the Tigers pretty well last week, but their bullpen failed them miserably, with an ERA of over 10.00.

Manager Trey Hillman might be forced to hang with his starters longer than he'd like, given his bullpen's inadequacies. Better to lose with a tired starter than a fresh but "fiery" bullpen.

The 2-5 Mariners have a new look lineup as they try to score more runs. They may not need as many as they think, with Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee anchoring the rotation, though Lee hasn't joined it yet, due to an abdominal injury.

The M's, though, have played the Tigers tough over the past few years.

They also have old Central Division foe Mike Sweeney (Royals) back for another year. Sweeney, 36, made the team in spring training after signing a minor league contract and beating out Ryan Garko for the 25th spot on the roster. Sweeney hit .500 in spring training.



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