Monday, June 06, 2011

Monday Morning Manager 2011, Edition 10

Last week: 5-1
This week: at Tex (6/6-8); SEA (6/9-12)

So, What Happened?

The Tigers ran into two teams that they've owned lately, that's what happened.

Of course, except for the Kansas City Royals, everyone has owned the Minnesota Twins this season. Teams haven't been able to line up quickly enough to buy a piece of the Twinkies so far.

The Tigers have also been dominating the Chicago White Sox lately, so maybe it's no surprise that the Bengals enjoyed a fine 5-1 week.

Speaking of owning, good thing the Tigers didn't go out and buy Adam Dunn. eh?

It was a week that saw the Cleveland Indians begin the nosedive that we were all hoping/waiting for, as the Tigers drew to within 2.5 games of the Tribe, who've lost nine of their last 12.

MMM is pleased, though he's still concerned that the Tigers tend to rely too much on the longball for their offense.

Hero of the Week

How about this Al Alburquerque guy?

The Tigers may have found their new Joel Zumaya.

All Alby does is come in, strike out guys, and leave runners on base, where they wither and die on the vine.

He logs about two strikeouts per inning, basically by throwing two pitches: a fastball and a slider. But that's really a misnomer, because Alby's slider acts differently depending on how he throws it. Sometimes, it even looks like an old-fashioned breaking ball of Bert Blyleven vintage.

AA got victories in consecutive games against the Twins last week in very similar fashion: by working the eighth inning, striking out guys, and enjoying the fruits of an offense that was heroic late.

There's no better way to douse a fire than with strikeouts, and Alby does that better than anyone. He'll turn 25 this Friday, which is exciting if he's the real deal.

Logic says that big league hitters will be on to his variety of sliders, so command of the fastball is essential, which hurt him last year in the low minors in the Colorado Rockies system.

But the Dominican Republic kid wowed scouts in Winter League ball, and teams were lining up to sign him. The Tigers horned in on him first, however.

Alby is almost a guarantee to get you a strikeout when you badly need one. He was rewarded last week with two victories. With Ryan Perry losing his way and being demoted, Alby is even more crucial to the Tigers bullpen.

Goat of the Week

5-1 weeks don't lend themselves too well to goats, and as hard as MMM tried to think of one, no individual truly stood out.

So in a rare instance of humanity, MMM is declaring that there was NO goat last week.

Even Ryan Raburn redeemed himself with a grand slam on Sunday.

But don't expect too many goat-less weeks, as much as MMM would like to see it.

Under the Microscope

Last week, MMM put third base UtM because of the apparent platooning of Don Kelly and Brandon Inge. Well, Inge is on the DL with mononucleosis, so it looks like MMM was prophetic in placing 3B UtM.

But the same position can't be UtM two weeks in a row. It's an unwritten rule. Actually, now that it's been typed, it is a written rule.

This week, MMM is putting RF Magglio Ordonez UtM.

Maggs is returning this week from the DL with his bad ankle, and he had a brief rehab stint with Toledo over the weekend. which went pretty well.

It's fairly easy to make the case for placing Ordonez UtM.

If Maggs' bat can come around, and he can be reinserted into the #3 spot in the order and be productive, how much better does the Tigers' offense look?

Tigers fans are collectively holding their breath that Ordonez can return to health and be, once again, a key offensive component. That question begins to be answered this week.

Upcoming: Rangers and Mariners

This maybe isn't the best time to play the Texas Rangers, who just swept the Indians in four games and who have been on a tear for about three weeks.

But the schedule says you have to play them, so here you go.

The Tigers took two of three from Texas in April in Detroit, with both wins coming in walk-off fashion. Not that that means anything, but that's the season history thus far.

But the Rangers were playing well then, too.

Then come the Seattle Mariners for four games at CoPa. What kind of a schedule has the M's visit Detroit twice and the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays once? Oh well.

The Mariners, of course, swept the Tigers in three games in Detroit in April, something unforeseen, as the Mariners were a bad team last year and started off as a bad team this year, too.

But the Mariners aren't a bad team right now. They are, surprisingly, bobbing around .500, mainly because they have two studs in their rotation: Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda, both of whom the Tigers will see over the weekend.

The Tigers are three games behind the Indians in the loss column, something that needs to be looked at a little more closely now as we sneak up on the halfway point of the season. Another good week will not only put the Tigers further away from .500, but will continue to put pressure on the Indians in a race that may be of the two-horse variety this summer.

That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!



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