Monday Morning Manager 2011, Edition 3
This week: at Sea (4/18-20); CWS (4/22-24)
So, What Happened?
The Tigers somehow won four games last week with an offense that couldn't punch its way out of a paper bag.
The week began ominously with a Justin Verlander loss to the hot Texas Rangers. which is unfair to even write because JV was excellent; the Tigers got shutout, however, dropping them to 3-7. Tigertown was aghast.
Two straight walk-off wins over the Rangers ensued, followed by a shutout of the Oakland A's out west (thanks to the stellar pitching of starter Phil Coke) on Thursday. On Friday night, the Tigers took advantage of a boatload of walks from A's pitchers---and a clutch, ninth inning homer from Miguel Cabrera to tie the game---to win going away in the 10th inning.
Then the Tigers slipped, dropping the last two games in Oakland as the A's starters vexed the Tigers' woeful offense.
MMM is beyond cranky with the rinky-dink offense. Even minus Magglio Ordonez, as the Tigers have been a lot already, a .245 team batting average is unacceptable. And MMM will say it again: sophomore Austin Jackson's struggles are more than alarming. Someone better get this kid turned around before his confidence is ruined irreparably.
Hero of the Week
In what is sure to be one of many, many times this season, MMM is going with Miguel Cabrera as its HotW.
Miggy won the game on Tuesday with a walk-off single, and saved the Tigers' bacon Friday night in Oakland with a solo homer in the ninth inning of a game where the Tigers looked dead, despite trailing just 1-0.
What's amazing about Cabrera is how hard---and far---he can hit baseballs that aren't in his wheelhouse. Then again, what isn't in Miggy's wheelhouse? Whether he's jammed or challenged up high or enticed by a low, outside offering, Cabrera drives the ball. It's uncanny. Even his outs can be majestic and exciting to watch.
If not for Cabrera last week, MMM thinks the Tigers likely would have been 2-5 instead of 4-3. And that's a mighty big difference, especially when you entered the week 3-6.
Goat of the Week
This may sound like MMM is copping out, but the choice for last week's Goat goes to the entire offense.
It's been since the home opener that the Tigers have struggled mightily to push runs across the plate. It just seems so hard for them right now. If they're not hitting home runs, they're not scoring, and that's beyond disturbing.
So many can be indicted: Ryan Raburn; Austin Jackson (still); Will Rhymes; and several more. The team batting average says it all, along with the anemic on-base percentages that dot the roster.
MMM wants and expects the bats to heat up soon, or else.
Under the Microscope
Back by popular demand (because I said so) is UtM, where MMM calls out a player as being looked at very closely by the Tigers fan base for the moment, and why.
Is it any surprise that the year's first UtM "honoree" is CF Jackson?
A-Jax's woes continue and it's becoming the white elephant in the room. No one really wants to talk about it, but it's there, folks.
Jackson looks confused and bewildered, which might be OK if you're the family's crazy uncle, but not so endearing in your baseball team's starting center fielder and lead-off man.
That low rumbling you hear that is getting louder is the Tigers' fan base growing restless about Jackson. His average is an unsightly .170 after another 0-for-4 on Sunday.
MMM is starting to sound like a broken record: a struggling Jackson is directly proportional to a struggling team offense.
Upcoming: Mariners and White Sox
The Seattle Mariners should be the tonic for the Tigers' offensive struggles; the Mariners' pitching staff stinks. And Seattle's offense is even worse---dead last in the majors with a .214 batting average. Even Ichiro Suzuki is scuffling along at .254.
And---bonus---the Tigers will miss Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, who pitched on Saturday.
The Tigers MUST take advantage.
This weekend, the Chicago White Sox invade Comerica Park, and if a team has a worse bullpen right now than Ozzie Guillen's bunch, MMM would like to see it.
The Chisox have already blown six saves this season, which is almost unfathomable.
"I don't have a closer," Guillen said bluntly the other day.
After scraping and clawing to get back to .500, the Tigers have to do it all over again this week. The opportunity is there---with the bad Mariners and inconsistent White Sox on this week's menu.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!
Labels: Monday Morning Manager