Monday Morning Manager
This Week: at LAA (4/19-22); at Tex (4/23-25)
So what happened?
The Tigers' first butt-kicking of the season came on Friday night, when the Seattle Mariners had their way with Jeremy Bonderman. The pitching was uneven all week, the defense shaky at times, and it all added up to a 2-4 week that the Tigers deserved; in fact, they were perilously close to going 1-5, thanks to a rousing 6-5 win on Tuesday (coming back from a 5-0 deficit).
Manager Jim Leyland wringed his hands over the starting pitchers, who have been laboring to give the team six innings, let alone the seven or even eight that Leyland would like to see more often.
But rookies Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore are not regressing; if anything, they're showing on an almost nightly basis that CF and 2B, respectively, shouldn't be positions of concern this season.
Starting with Jackson and ending with Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers' 1-4 hitters are holding their own, and then some. No. 2 man Johnny Damon's bat is warming up.
Hero of the Week
The kid went 9-for-23 last week, including three more multiple hit games. He's hitting .340 for the season (17-for-50). He's only drawn four walks vs. 15 strikeouts, but that .340 BA will do nicely.
It's very exciting to imagine where Jackson will be in his development after the All-Star Break. Hey---he may be IN the All-Star Game; you never know.
Jackson isn't being swallowed up or dwarfed by his responsibility as leadoff man and center fielder as a rookie---replacing the popular Curtis Granderson, to boot.
And that might be the most exciting aspect of his season so far.
Goat of the Week
The .143 Brothers.
Those would be catchers Gerald Laird and Alex Avila, who are each batting .143 (Laird in 28 AB, Avila in 14). Defensively they're fine, but you simply can't make the playoffs with pitcher-like offense from your catchers.
Laird is hearing it from the CoPa faithful, and if he doesn't get better soon I'm going to start having ghoulish memories of Neiffi Perez.
The bottom line: throwing out potential base stealers is nice, but how many games, really, do you win BECAUSE of your catcher's defense? On the flip side, how many can you lose because of his poor offense?
The rest I leave with you, and the .143 Brothers.
Upcoming: Angels and Rangers
The Tigers' brutal schedule continues unabated.
No days off, despite traveling from Seattle to Los Angeles to Dallas. Not even an afternoon "getaway" game this week between the Angeles and Rangers.
No built-in excuses, though.
The Tigers' opponents this week are going in opposite directions. The Angels have won three in a row to creep to 6-7; the Rangers have lost four straight to sink to 5-7.
The Tigers get the Angels' Joel Pineiro tonight, who is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA. Pineiro, 31, won 15 games last year. The matchup is Pineiro vs. Dontrelle Willis, who hasn't gained anyone's trust yet, despite two starts that haven't been awful.
This is a big week; the Angels, because they're winning, and the Rangers, because they're struggling. So I guess every week is big, using that theory---which it is.
With this frenetic schedule of games, the Tigers need to give their bullpen a blow; Justin Verlander did his part Saturday, and Max Scherzer had a fine start on Sunday; you could have made a case for him to start the seventh inning.
A 4-3 week would make the Tigers 5-5 on this three-city trip, and that would be very acceptable.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next Monday!
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