Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Morning Manager 2011, Edition 16

Last week: 1-2
This week: OAK (7/19-20); at Min (7/21-24)

So, What Happened?

The last thing this town needed, after all the talk over the All-Star break about the Tigers' second half woes, was for their baseball team to limp out of the gate to start 2011, Part II.

Yet that's exactly what happened as the Tigers were outscored 13-2 in dropping the first two games of their weekend series with the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park---including the Tigers' money pitcher being off his game on Friday night.

Sports talk radio, as expected, exploded.

"The collapse is nigh!" was the theme of the post-game talk shows.

The Tigers stopped the bleeding with a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory on Sunday, continuing a disturbing trend where they lose the first two games of a series and then salvage the third.

Hero of the Week

There were only three games last week, and only one win, so the pool of candidates for HotW is a small one, indeed.

Candidate #1: Starter Brad Penny, who bounced back from a bad inning early in Sunday's game to qualify for the win.

Candidate #2: DH/C Victor Martinez, whose clutch, two-run single in the sixth inning tied the game, 3-3.

Candidate #3: Newly activated 2B Carlos Guillen, whose single right after V-Mart's put the Tigers ahead, where they stayed.

MMM is going with Victor Martinez, because if he doesn't come through, Guillen doesn't get a chance to do what he did.

Not only that, but after starting the second half 0-2 and looking sluggish to start the game Sunday, the Tigers needed a two-out knock in the worst way. And Martinez, signed over the winter instead of a certain free agent who the White Sox inked, came through in spades.

Goat of the Week

MMM is getting bored with targeting 3B Brandon Inge, but sometimes it just can't be helped.

Like Sunday, when Inge was approached after the game by 97.1 The Ticket's Jeff Riger, who asked Inge about the abuse he's taken from fans recently.

"I don't think you're a true fan" if you boo players, Inge said, though he added that everyone has that right and prerogative.

Inge also told Riger that "I don't care what you think," referring to fans.

MMM can see where Inge is going with these comments, but they don't work coming from the mouth of someone hitting .180 with 1 HR and 17 RBI in mid-July.

And how is booing a trait of someone who "isn't a true fan"?

This was no way to douse the flames, Mr. Gas Can!

So this week's Goat is Inge for inserting his cleats into his mouth.

Under the Microscope

This is new for MMM: placing someone UtM who has no name.

To wit: MMM would like to place the fifth starter UtM, except that MMM doesn't know who that is. No one does, for the moment.

Manager Jim Leyland needs a starter for Wednesday's game against Oakland, unless he pitches Justin Verlander, who would be going on his regular four days' rest, thanks to today's off day.

Regardless, sooner or later a fifth starter will be needed to replace lefty Charlie Furbush, who replaced lefty Phil Coke.

And whomever that is, will be UtM.

Will it be the much-ballyhooed prospect Jacob Turner, a right hander? Will it be lefty Duane Below, from Toledo? Will it be someone from outside the organization?

Doesn't matter. MMM is placing Mr. X UtM---whoever he is. Even a "fifth starter" is important, because he takes the ball every fifth day, just like everyone else. The success or failure of that starter can determine whether a losing streak is extended or not, and whether the bullpen gets a breather or not.

Upcoming: A's, Twins

The Oakland A's have been a disappointment this season. And, they're 16-32 on the road.

So when the A's stroll into Comerica Park for two games on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Tigers ought to pounce on them.

But the A's have, historically, been a difficult team for the Tigers to beat, regardless of record.

Those two games are huge for the Tigers, who then travel to Minnesota to play the Twins four times.

Yes, the Twins---baseball's Jason.

When the Tigers last saw the Twins, the Bengals swept them out of Detroit and Ron Gardenhire's bunch was a stunning 17-37 and double digits out of first place.

Since then, the Twins have gone 27-12 and are---get this---just five games out of first.

Granted, three teams are ahead of them, but the Twins' turnaround is yet another testament to that team's moxie and how freaking annoying they are.

This will be a distinctly different Twins team than the Tigers faced the first time in Minnesota, when Detroit swept.

Make sure your seat belt is buckled and your trays are in the upright position, for the Tigers are playing the Twins in Minnesota four times this weekend in a series that could either vault the Twins right into the thick of the AL Central race, or knock them back a couple pegs.

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



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