Burning Questions After Game 6 of the ALCS
OK, you've had a couple days to chew on this. Thoughts?
I'd actually rather talk about the burning questions this spawns for the off-season in general, rather than re-hash Game 6. How much can you say about a 15-5 shellacking?
Fair enough. First, how about an overview of the ALCS overall?
The Tigers, in the end, were simply outgunned and too hurt to compete with a team as deep and robust as the Rangers. The Tigers would have needed almost perfect pitching performances from Max Scherzer and Doug Fister to have a shot. But Scherzer was just blown out.
The other thing that strikes me is how old and mediocre the Tigers looked against Texas. In fact, I can't believe our boys got by the Yankees in the ALDS.
Too many guys from Detroit failed to show up: Austin Jackson, Alex Avila, Victor Martinez to a degree, and the starters beyond Verlander and Fister were so-so.
Also, the Rangers drove runners in, while the Tigers didn't, so much. Too many wasted opportunities. Game 2, early, in Texas against Derek Holland stands out.
Let's face it: the Rangers were the better team, by far.
Was series MVP Nelson Cruz the only reason the Rangers won?
Of course not. Cruz was amazing, but the Rangers' attack was more diverse and more guys got into the act than did on Detroit's side.
Looking ahead to the off-season: what do the Tigers need to take the next step toward a World Series title?
I'm not going to tell you anything you don't already know, most likely. But I'll say it an yway!
The Tigers need a second baseman and probably even a third baseman. Too much revolving door stuff going on at those positions. It's amazing that a team in the ALCS didn't have a regular starter at the so-called "keystone position."
The third base situation isn't much better. You can win the whole thing with a revolving door at one infield position (read: the 1984 Tigers at 3B), but not two.
It's also time someone took Austin Jackson aside and made him a reclamation project. AJ regressed from his rookie year, and not insignificantly, either. His average dropped over 40 points, and his strikeouts didn't go down at all.
Defensively he was brilliant in the regular season but pedestrian in the playoffs.
The Tigers can't put Jackson at lead-off; he should be batting ninth---at least for now.
Ideally, the Tigers will acquire a second baseman who can also bat lead-off.
This may sound crazy, but the Tigers might want to consider Brennan Boesch to bat lead-off. The California Angels, in the mid-to-late 1980s and into the 1990s, used DH Brian Downing at the lead-off spot quite a bit. Downing was certainly not a "traditional" lead-off hitter, but it worked for the Angels.
The Tigers just need someone to get on base, and if it's someone with some power, all the better. Boesch isn't a great OBA guy, but I have greater confidence in him starting a game off on the right foot than I do with Jackson.
How deflating is it to constantly see Jackson start games by trudging to the dugout, a strikeout victim?
How about the pitching?
I'd like to see a lefty starter, as I'm sure everyone would, including manager Jim Leyland. Not sure if Andy Oliver, the youngster, is ready for that role, however.
The bullpen is a question mark, before Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde. Al Alburquerque's post-season meltdown, which actually began after he returned from his concussion, suddenly makes him an unknown entity again. Which Al-Al is he, anyway?
The rotation seems otherwise set, except for maybe Brad Penny's slot. I wonder if he'll be back in 2012.
Yeah. I don't think we'll see Magglio Ordonez or Carlos Guillen back, either. They make too much money and their bodies are too unreliable.
Brandon Inge comes back, but not sure about Wilson Betemit---which is ironic, since the Tigers acquired Betemit to essentially replace Inge!
It was a great year. By the end, the Tigers were put together with glue and bailing wire. I believe Justin Verlander tired out. Avila was broken. The Tigers didn't have Boesch, Guillen and Ordonez by the end.
It's a shame. Too bad the Tigers couldn't field their best, playing at their best, against the deep Rangers lineup.
But the Tigers WILL be heard from again in 2012. This team is young enough that it's not going away anytime soon. This wasn't a one-year wonder thing.
(thanks to everyone who faithfully read "Burning Questions" during the post-season and "Monday Morning Manager" during the regular season! You guys [and gals] rock!)