Monday Morning Manager 2011, Edition 4
This week: SEA (4/26-28); at Cle (4/29-5/1)
So, What Happened?
Now THAT'S more like it!
MMM is feeling almost giddy this morning, in wake of a very impressive sweep of the struggling White Sox and taking the Mariners, two-out-of-three.
Those Tigers must have read MMM last week, because in this space it was discussed how important it was for the Bengals to take advantage of a bad team (Seattle) and a slumping one (Chicago).
In the words of George W. Bush, "Mission accomplished!"
When a team like the White Sox is underachieving and they come to your place, all you want to do is beat them and get them the heck out of town before they catch fire. And the White Sox did look bad, didn't they? Sheesh!
Yes sir, a 5-1 week which lifted the Tigers to 12-10 definitely puts a smile on MMM's often crabby face.
Hero of the Week
Let's hear it for Alex Avila, the nepotistic (is that even a word?) catcher who fans wanted to run out of town after Opening Day.
All Avila is doing is smacking the baseball all over the alleys, against righties or lefties, and delivering runs to the plate in the process. He's also stuffing a sweat sock into the mouths of those who were all over his case just a couple weeks ago. He certainly wore out the White Sox over the weekend.
This couldn't have come at a better time, what with Victor Martinez on the DL, forcing manager Jim Leyland to play AA against lefties, too. And the kid is responding.
Avila is one of those lefty swingers who can look like he's got the smoothest stroke in the world (like right now), then can go back into flailing mode, just like that.
But right now Avila is hot, and good for him. He's making papa---and MMM---proud.
Goat of the Week
MMM was going to name Phil Coke as GotW for his inexplicable start in Seattle last Tuesday, but instead 2B Will Rhymes is going to feel the wrath.
After winning the starting 2B job in spring training, largely because of his .300+ average last summer with the Tigers, Rhymes has hit nothing like he did in 2010. In fact, Rhymes is hitting nothing, period. He has zero---ZERO---extra base hits and his average is hovering around .200.
As a no. 2 hitter, Rhymes makes a good no. 9 guy. All he does now is lay down the occasional sacrifice bunt. Kind of like what a pitcher does at the plate.
MMM thinks it won't be surprising to see Rhymes in Toledo and Scott Sizemore in Detroit before too long.
Under the Microscope
This may surprise some, but MMM is putting pitcher Brad Penny under the microscope this week.
The timing may be odd at first blush, given that Penny flirted with a no-hitter and totally shut the White Sox down on Saturday. But, strangely, that's precisely why MMM is putting the veteran righty UtM.
Why? Because after such a poor start to his Tigers career, which caused many fans to look at him cross-eyed, now those same folks (and MMM, obviously) want to see if Penny is indeed coming around, or had one of those "every dog has his day" moments against the Chisox.
MMM will be paying close attention when Penny makes his next start on Thursday. This is the guy the Tigers chose to sign over Armando Galarraga. MMM thought it was a good swap at the time, and still believes that. For now.
Upcoming: Mariners and Indians
Last week MMM stated that the Seattle Mariners should be the tonic for what was ailing the Tigers, who took 2-of-3 in the Pacific Northwest. This week, MMM is stating that the Mariners should be a good team to play to keep the wins coming.
But beware: the M's will start King Felix Hernandez on Tuesday and this kid Michael Pineda on Thursday, both of whom the Tigers missed in Seattle last week.
Felix is the reigning Cy Young winner, and Pineda might be this year's Rookie of the Year. Pineda is 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA, and he's only 22 years old. Pineda has 21 Ks in 25 innings and opponents are batting just .202 against him.
Then the Tigers travel to Cleveland to face the surprising Indians.
The way the Tribe is playing, and with CF Grady Sizemore back in the lineup, this series will have shades of 2007-08 all over it, when the Indians were among the beasts of the Central Division.
While no one expects the Indians to contend all summer, part of the beauty of baseball is its long season and finding out if good, surprising starts can be sustained, and if bad starts can be overcome. The Indians are certainly in the former category.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!
Labels: Monday Morning Manager