Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Morning Manager, Week 6

Last Week: 3-4
This Week: at CWS (5/14-15); MIN (5/16-17); PIT (5/18-20)

So, What Happened?

The mysteriously quiet bats of the Tigers lingered all week, a maddening, baffling subscript to a season of unexpected mediocrity.

The team even dipped below .500 briefly (16-17), after losing in Oakland on Saturday.

A 10-run outburst on Thursday was followed by three straight games of muted offense as the Tigers split a four-game set in Oakland after dropping two of three in Seattle---another series pocked with lazy, languid offense.

Not surprisingly, two of the Tigers' three wins came from Justin Verlander.

MMM is getting tired of typing "Brandon Inge," but he has to do it yet again, as the Tiger-turned-Athletic abused his old team with a grand slam on Thursday and a three-run homer on Friday.

The Tigers also saw the return to the rotation of Doug Fister, and although he didn't get a win in two starts last week, he pitched brilliantly.

Hero of the Week
Well, MMM certainly isn't going to give HotW to anyone wielding a bat.

So that leaves the arms, and while MMM was almost giddy over what Fister gave the Tigers in his return from injury, the bottom line is winning, and that pretty much leaves you-know-who.

Justin Verlander rode to the Tigers' rescue twice, with victories Tuesday and Sunday, both coming with his team under duress.

Tuesday's win followed a debacle on Monday, when the Tigers (namely, reliever Octavio Dotel) spoiled Fister's tremendous start by coughing up three runs in the bottom of the ninth in such an act of goodwill, the Tigers should have claimed it on their taxes as a charitable contribution.

Sunday, JV silenced the A's with seven innings of one-run, two-hit baseball after the Tigers had dropped two straight in Oakland. He's now 4-1 and hasn't lost a beat from his glorious 2011 season.

Honorable mention is Fister, who slid right into the no. 2 starter role seamlessly after having not pitched for the Tigers since the second game of the season.

Goat of the Week

MMM is going with Prince Fielder, who is earning his fat contract the same way Milli Vanilli earned their Grammy Award back in the day.

Cecil's kid is swinging a cold bat these days, and is in the midst of a 0-for-18 stretch.

Fielder is doing nothing to help out Miggy Cabrera, and Prince's Arctic bat is dragging an already tenuous offense down even further.

At a time when the Tigers need their "big boys" in the worst way, Fielder, as one-half of them, has basically become a rotund stop sign in the Tigers' batting order.

While Cabrera can still drive in runs when he's not at the top of his game, Fielder is giving the Tigers nothing at the moment. He's not immune to slumps---MMM understands that---but his struggles have extended to beyond just last week.

Dishonorable mention is Dotel, whose implosion on Monday night in Seattle surely will go down as one of the quickest and ugliest meltdowns by any Tigers reliever in recent memory. The veteran turned a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 loss with a display of wildness (wild pitches, walks) that was both stunning and hair-pulling.

Under the Microscope
MMM figures that the one human being on the planet who is truly sorry to see Inge leave Detroit is Ryan Raburn. 

With Inge gone, Raburn's anemic batting average and continued reputation for taking half a season to heat up is now UtM.

Raburn now has no buffer with Tigers fans; no one to share his misery with.

MMM looks at Raburn's BA, which is not only not his weight but also not the weight of a growing adolescent, and shakes his head. Here we go again.

How much longer can the Tigers carry a player who doesn't get it going until after the All-Star break?

But the UtM designation is for the venom Raburn is sure to be getting in the immediate future on sports talk radio and in the blogosphere and around the water coolers for his utter lack of production thus far.

Upcoming: White Sox, Twins, Pirates

It's a rare three-team week on deck for the Bengals.

First it's off to Chicago in an attempt to end the nine-game road trip with a 5-4 record.

But that will take a two-game sweep, and the Tigers haven't won consecutive games since April 18, which was so long ago, the Pistons were still playing.

Tonight it's rookie sensation Drew Smyly against veteran lefty John Danks, to kick things off.

The Minnesota Twins and their MLB-worst record invade Comerica Park on Wednesday for a pair of midweek games. The Twins aren't flukey bad---they're just plain bad, and again injury-prone.

But things have a habit of taking a turn for the bizarre whenever the Tigers and Twins get together, so we'll see.

The weekend will see the first interleague play of the season, when the perpetually-under-.500 Pittsburgh Pirates visit.

Last week, MMM said he was a little wary of the mood he'd be in today, given all the issues facing the Tigers last week as they made their first West Coast trip. Sadly, those fears were mostly confirmed.

The Mariners were losing a lot before playing the Tigers--and are at it again now that our boys have left town. The A's, with newly-acquired Inge and a bunch of kids, are over .500 and showed the Tigers why.

This three-team tour of midwest MLB teams this week is another seven-game week and another opportunity for the Tigers to bust out of May's Malaise.

See what MMM did there?

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



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