Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Morning Manager 2011, Edition 12

Last week: 4-3
This week: at LAD (6/20-22); ARZ (6/24-26)

So, What Happened?

The Tigers tied for first place, took first place over by themselves, tied for first again, and then slipped into second place---all within a matter of days. Just another roller coaster week in what has been a roller coaster season.

Oh, and Justin Verlander went 2-0, with two CGs and dominant in both instances. Just another week for JV, too.

Those rumblings you hear, by the way, are the Minnesota Twins.

Hero of the Week

MMM is almost sheepish to name Justin Verlander as HotW, because it's like shooting fish in a barrel. But MMM has to give credit where credit is due.

JV, as mentioned above, tossed two CGs---against the Indians and the Rockies---and both games were crucial to the Tigers. On Tuesday, Verlander lifted the Tigers into first place with a gem in which he didn't allow a hit until the eighth inning. On Sunday, Verlander mesmerized the Rockies, snapping a two-game Tigers losing streak and nipping any nonsense in the bud.

Verlander is in a zone that hasn't been seen by a Tigers pitcher since the days of Lolich and McLain. Even Jack Morris wasn't this dominant for this long of a stretch.

Honorable mention goes to Alex Avila, who had another solid week and who is stirring All-Star talk and looking more and more like the Tigers catcher for the next 10 years. AA does a great job driving in runners from third base with less than two out; his 71% success rate is 16 points higher than the MLB average.

Goat of the Week

Rick Porcello didn't give the Tigers a chance to win Friday's game in Colorado, the day after the team reclaimed first place from the Indians. The bullpen didn't help, either. But Porcello gets the "honor" for laying an egg at a time when he looked to be finding his groove.

This might seem like an unfair GotW, but MMM isn't always interested in justice!

Porcello must bounce back on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Under the Microscope

It's only been a week, but how can MMM NOT put Magglio Ordonez UtM?

It's only natural, although MMM has been a faithful and strong Maggs supporter.

It's natural because now that Ordonez is back from his extended stay on the DL due to his bad ankle, prying eyes will be on him.

He came back last week to mixed reviews---hitting the baseball hard a few times and not getting rewarded, but also looking slow and old on occasion.

It's too early to tell what, if anything, Maggs can give the Tigers at age 37.

But that won't stop people from voicing their premature opinions. Just listen to sports talk radio if you don't believe MMM.

With no other serious concerns aside from the much-maligned Ryan Raburn, Magglio Ordonez is squarely UtM for this week, and beyond.

Upcoming: Dodgers and Diamondbacks

Interleague play continues as the Tigers venture to Chavez Ravine to take on the LA Dodgers Monday thru Wednesday.

Yes, the Tigers visited the Dodgers last year, too. And yes, the Tigers entertained the Arizona D-Backs---their other opponent this week---last season as well. How can the IL schedule be so repetitive?

Regardless, the Dodgers have been a mess---on and off the diamond. They're going through a nasty divorce with owner Frank McCourt, who's dragged the good Dodgers name through the mud.

On the field, the Dodgers are still chasing .500 more than they are first place. Yet they have Matt Kemp, and he's a beast.

Kemp has 20 homers, 57 RBI, and is batting .328. His partner in crime, Andre Ethier, has been in a power drought, but is still batting .313. A pleasant surprise has been SS Jamey Carroll, who's batting .308, but he only has eight RBI for the season.

Lefty Clayton Kershaw starts Monday. He's 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA and he averages about 9.5 Ks per nine innings. Kershaw is only 23 years old and is a rising pitching star.

Over the weekend some old pals return to Detroit---Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell. Gibby manages the Diamondbacks, and Tram is his bench coach. Gibson has the D-Backs playing surprisingly good baseball, battling for first place in the NL West behind clutch hitting and solid pitching.

Look out for OF Justin Upton, who's batting .302 with 12 HR and 13 SB.

Righty Ian Kennedy, 26, is 8-2 and is scheduled to start on Sunday---the same day the Tigers take advantage of Gibson and Trammell's presence to retire Sparky Anderson's no. 11.

Kennedy leads a D-Backs rotation that features three starters with ERAs of 3.56 or lower: Kennedy (2.98); Josh Collmenter (2.09); and Daniel Hudson (3.56).

But the biggest variable is Gibson, who took over last July from A.J. Hinch, commandeering a volatile situation and seizing the opportunity---being rewarded with a new contract after the season. In 2011, Gibby's bunch has been one of baseball's biggest surprises.

But those who know and who have followed Gibson maybe shouldn't be so surprised.

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



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