Monday, April 09, 2012

Monday Morning Manager Is Back!! (Week 1)

It's a new baseball season and that means it's time for Monday Morning Manager, that weekly assessment of the Detroit Tigers that no Tigers fan can live without (seriously).

Last Week: 3-0
This Week: TB (4/10-12); at CWS (4/13-15)

So, What Happened?

More fireworks than 4th of July, that's what happened.

Opening Day was marked with a walk-off 3-2 win in the 9th inning, Game 2 was a 10-0 Tigers blowout, and Sunday was a wild Easter affair---13-12 for the good guys in 11 innings, another walk-off.

That's 26 runs, three wins, two walk-offs and a shutout.

Think the Tigers are ready for the season?

My complaint about the much-ballyhooed 2008 season was that the team didn't seem prepared for the pre-season expectations and played like it, stumbling out of the block with a 1-8 record from which they never recovered.

Well, Jim Leyland seems to have the boys ready this year.

Hero of the Week

This is like picking the prettiest flower in a bouquet; the brightest star in the sky; the best noodle in a spaghetti dinner.

OK, you get the idea.

Where to begin with such a menu to choose from?

MMM is going with Miguel Cabrera. Miggy, save for one blemish on Opening Day, played a competent third base, drove in runs with home runs and singles, and was generally a beast. He had two big flies on Saturday and a monster three-run blast in the ninth inning on Sunday that tied the game.

Honorable mention: Justin Verlander, for showing us that 2011 was no aberration with eight efficient, shutout innings on Opening Day. This guy simply is the best pitcher in baseball, hands down.

But you might have different selections, because there were so many guys who were outstanding over the weekend.

Goat of the Week

This one isn't nearly as difficult.

Jose Valverde---Papa Grande---MMM loves you, really. But your blown save on Opening Day can't be ignored, which MMM knows is terribly unfair after converting 52 straight.

But MMM is legally bound to name a GotW every week (really), so Valverde has to be it.

On the bright side, maybe it's good to get that streak out of the way, as Leyland said after the game.

"I'm kind of relieved that it's (the streak) over, to be honest," the skipper told the press. "Now we can kind of put that behind us."

Consider it behind us.

Dishonorable mention: Max Scherzer, who continues to baffle with his on-again, off-again pitching performances.

Under the Microscope

With Doug Fister on the 15-day DL with a strained side (MMM can't spell or pronounce Fister's real injury), whoever replaces him in the rotation gets put UtM.

MMM doesn't see anyone else who should be there, as new star Prince Fielder is off to a good start, quelling any fears that he might be pressing coming off the block.

So UtM is the mysterious Fister replacement. Leyland, at press time, wasn't sure who it might be. But it will most likely be lefty Duane Below.

This is a mild UtM, because Fister should only miss two starts, possibly three.

Upcoming: Rays, White Sox

This is an intriguing early season matchup: the 3-0 Rays (they swept the Yankees) with their superb pitching against the 3-0 Tigers with their offensive juggernaut.

It doesn't get much better than this for a series in the season's second week.

It will also contain our first look at no. 4 starter Rick Porcello, who, like Scherzer, needs to find some consistency in this, his fourth season (yes, can you believe it?).

The weekend finds the Tigers on the road for the first time, in Chicago to face new manager Robin Ventura and the White Sox.

This is way too early to make statements, but if you're Chicago, you want to put on a good show, considering everyone in the free world (MMM heard that even the natives on the Galapagos Islands are picking the Tigers to win the division) has anointed the Tigers as AL Central champs.

Frankly, MMM isn't too impressed with Ventura's squad, but the Chisox do still have Paul Konerko and if Adam Dunn can rebound from a miserable 2011, the White Sox might surprise a few people.

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



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