Monday Morning Manager 2011, Edition 11
This week: TB (6/13); CLE (6/14-16); at Col (6/17-19)
So, What Happened?
First, MMM wants to say that the next time the Tigers see Miguel Olivo and Justin Smoak, it will be too soon. Thank goodness the Mariners aren't on the Bengals' schedule anymore this season!
Those guys from Seattle wore Tigers pitching out this year, with Olivo hitting four homers against Detroit and Smoak, five. Both had late, key, two-run homers in the M's 7-3 win on Sunday.
But aside from that, the Tigers went 4-2, beating a good Texas team 2-of-3 before coming home to split four games with the Mariners.
The Indians continued their freefall, enabling the Tigers to climb into one of those "virtual ties" for first place you hear the media folks talk about. It all sets up a fun three-game set against the Tribe at CoPa this week.
Hero of the Week
MMM is going to be self-aggrandizing and choose Austin Jackson.
Why? Because AJ is making MMM look really good.
Before the season, MMM wrote a piece that declared Jackson to be the most important hitter in the Tigers' lineup. As Jackson goes, MMM wrote, so goes the Tigers. And yes, MMM was very aware that Miguel Cabrera is also employed by the Tigers.
Well, Jackson had a brutal April and the Tigers were highly inconsistent, falling to 12-17---even with Cabby producing. Then Jackson got hot, and the Tigers have now won 23 of their past 36 games---winning even when Miggy was scuffling for a week or so.
MMM even heard manager Jim Leyland pretty much echo those thoughts about Jackson's importance to the offense.
AJ had another good week and has lifted his BA to .250-ish, which is saying something after batting less than his weight in April.
And he's making MMM look good in the process, which earns him bonus points.
Honorable mentions: Justin Verlander for getting the Tigers off to a good start against the Mariners on Thursday, and Victor Martinez, for showing why the Tigers signed him to a fat contract as a free agent.
Goat of the Week
As much as MMM would like to pile on Ryan Raburn, the struggling RR bores MMM, frankly.
Instead, this week's wrath doesn't go to a player---it goes to certain fans and, more so, to certain media people, i.e. the ones who say that Magglio Ordonez should NOT be automatically re-inserted into the lineup when he returns from his ankle injury (which might be tonight).
Are you kidding?
This is wrong on so many facets, MMM can't type fast enough.
Maggs is a career .300 hitter who was at .303 before being sidelined last summer with the ankle injury. He's hit around or above .300 every year he's been in Detroit, including winning the AL batting title in 2007 (.363).
And after 99 injury-plagued at-bats this season, people are willing to write him off, or at the very least, treat him like he's a rookie call-up from Toledo?
YES, Ordonez should be installed into the lineup, forthwith! If it means sitting down Andy Dirks, so be it. You'd trust Dirks over Ordonez? (Dirks, by the way, had an AWFUL at-bat in the eighth inning Sunday, being overwhelmed on three pitches with runners on first and second and nobody out---a key point in the game at the time).
On second thought, MMM isn't even going to debate this. It's not worth the old blood pressure going through the roof.
Ordonez plays. End of story.
The Tigers need offense, despite their recent pep. I'll take my chances with a career .300 hitter---even one who's 37 years old and coming off an ankle injury.
Under the Microscope
Daniel Schlereth, there might be a bus ticket to Toledo with your name on it.
MMM says keep your good eye on Schlereth, the maligned lefty out of the bullpen, who comes into games and promptly walks batters or hits them.
Leyland gave Daniel another shot Sunday, having him start the eighth inning with the Mariners ahead 3-2 and two lefty hitters scheduled to start the frame.
Schlereth retired the first, then walked the second on four pitches, ending his day. Joaquin Benoit then gave up a two-run homer to Olivo to move the Mariners ahead, 5-2.
Schlereth, for quite some time now, has been finding the strike zone as elusive as Barry Sanders. MMM can't help but think that Schlereth is working on borrowed time. In fact, MMM would not have been surprised if it was Schlereth who got sent to Toledo to make room for Ordonez (Enrique Gonzalez was demoted instead).
With the emergence of young southpaws Charlie Furbush and maybe even Adam Wilk in the bullpen, Schlereth might get squeezed out if he doesn't start throwing strikes, and in a hurry.
Upcoming: Rays, Indians and Rockies
Don't believe your little pocket-sized Tigers schedule: tonight is NOT an off day. The Tigers play a makeup game against Tampa at home before welcoming the Indians to CoPa. The weekend will find the Tigers in Denver, of all places, playing the Rockies.
The Rays are still the Rays---dangerous and in the hunt in the AL East. The Tigers went 2-0 against them last month, with the third game being rained out. MMM hopes the Tigers won't be looking too far ahead, when the Indians invade beginning tomorrow.
Ahh, the Indians.
After a 30-15 start that was far beyond their reach, the Tribe has plummeted, their seven-game lead over the Tigers vanishing. The Indians are 4-14 in their last 18 games, their offense soon to be on the side of a milk carton.
MMM read with glee some of the comments from Indians fans at www.cleveland.com (their version of MLive) the other day and it's funny to see them basically giving up on the season already---and they're tied for first place!
The series with the Indians might be the first official "big series" at CoPa this year, because first place is squarely (albeit temporarily) on the line. Should be fun, and interesting to see if the Indians continue to play bad baseball in Detroit.
As for the Rockies, they got off to a fast start but have struggled of late. Baseballs sometimes fly out of that ballpark rapidly, so Tigers pitchers must keep the Rockies from going deep too often.
BTW, Verlander gets two starts this week: Tuesday against Cleveland and Sunday in Colorado.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!
Labels: Monday Morning Manager