Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Morning Manager: Week 10

Last Week: 3-3
This Week: at CHC (6/12-14); COL (6/15-17)

So, What Happened?

MMM thinks that's the question Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker was asking himself after Sunday night's nationally-televised game went sideways against the Tigers.

The Tigers enjoyed perhaps their most unexpected win of the season Sunday night, rallying from a 6-2 deficit to beat the Reds, 7-6---and doing much of it off Cincy's lights out closer, Aroldis Chapman.

The Reds seemed to have the game salted away, going into the seventh with a 6-2 lead.

But then the Tigers used clutch hitting and Reds wildness to steal the game in the eighth inning.

The rest of the week was up and down, as much of the season has been.

The Tigers dropped two of three to the Indians at home, but then played a tense, playoff-like weekend series in Cincinnati that might---might---help turn their season around.

Then again, MMM recalls several occasions in May when a so-called "big win" was supposed to catapult the Tigers out of their malaise. And MMM is still waiting for that to happen.

But Sunday night's win had a different feel. First of all, it wasn't one of those deals where the Tigers hang on for dear life after moving ahead by several runs. In other words, it didn't feel like the win over the Indians on Thursday or that epic Saturday night win at home vs. the Yankees.

Only time will tell, but MMM has watched enough baseball to know that in those occasions where a team turns its season around, it's wins like Sunday night's that often gets pointed to as THE win that jump started everything.

We'll see.

Hero of the Week

Prince Fielder continues to be an RBI machine in June.

Fielder is making one harken to the days of Victor Martinez, with his two-out RBIs of late.

Fielder was huge on Saturday; his two-out single scored Brennan Boesch with the eventual game-winning run. He did it again on Sunday, drawing the Tigers closer in the seventh inning. Both hits came off the same lefty reliever, Sean Marshall.

Fielder's overall numbers might not be as eye-popping as some would have hoped at this point in the season, but MMM thinks he's doing just fine---with the bat---considering the guys hitting behind him haven't exactly been setting the world on fire.

Saturday's hit was huge, but MMM cautions you not to underestimate the importance of Sunday's, which made the score 6-3, Cincinnati. Those hits can be overlooked when the comeback inning is of the four-run variety, as it was in the eighth inning. But they're no less important.

Honorable mention: Jose Valverde, who has now turned in four straight 1-2-3 innings, and who saved the two wins in Cincinnati (and the one in Detroit) with no drama whatsoever.

Goat of the Week

Why is Matt Young with the Tigers? Why is he in the big leagues, period?

Young was called up last week to take Andy Dirks's spot on the 25-man roster and was immediately inserted into the no. 2 hole against Cleveland. He went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

In fact, Young has struck out nine times of the 10 plate appearances he's had.

Not only that, the strikeouts have all been of the swing-and-miss variety; MMM hasn't seen Young make contact, let alone put a ball in play.

In the field, Young badly misplayed a ball into a triple in Cincinnati on Friday night, which led directly to the Reds' walk-off win.

MMM can't abide players who can't even foul off big league pitching.

Chapman, ahead of Young 1-2 Sunday night, "hit" Young with a pitch, even though TV replays disagreed. Chapman certainly would have fanned Young. The score was 6-3 at the time, the bases loaded and nobody out. The HBP forced in a run.

MMM wants Matt Young out of a Tigers uniform forthwith. Andy Dirks can't get healthy soon enough.

Under the Microscope

Is Brennan Boesch truly snapping out of his funk or was his weekend in Cincinnati an apparition?

MMM says, "Stay tuned."

MMM is putting Boesch UtM because, after a supposed flaw was detected in his mechanics last week, Boesch went on a mini-tear, including a base hit off Chapman, against whom opponents were batting .090 (9-for-100) against this season.

If Boesch is indeed "cured," it's huge for the Tigers' offense.

But if this is a mirage, then it's not, obviously.

MMM is eager to see Boesch over the next few weeks, to see if the mechanical flaw has indeed been rectified.

And MMM apologizes for using the word "rectified."

Boesch is one of those guys who MMM has identified as being fraudulent this season---one of those hitters who we all expected a whole lot more from in 2012.

Let's hope the Cincy weekend is a sign of good things to come from Boesch AND the Tigers as a team.

Upcoming: Cubs, Rockies

Ahh, the Cubbies.

2012 has been a nightmare so far for the North Siders.

The team is buried in the NL Central with no end in sight. The Tigers better win two of three in Wrigley Field. This is how you mount a comeback: you follow up a big, clutch series win on the road with another against an inferior opponent.

No let downs. Every big league team can get you.

MMM cautions that the series opener on Tuesday finds Max Scherzer on the mound, who is as predictable as Michigan weather. Then it's Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander (Casey Crosby gets skipped because of Monday's off day).

A Cub to watch is 1B Bryan LaHair, who has 12 homers and is batting .310.

The Cubs actually have three solid starting pitchers (Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Jeff Samardzija), but the hitting has failed them.

MMM thinks it's always better to play the Colorado Rockies anywhere other than in Denver.

The Rockies are a different team at home, i.e. the games are different because of the high altitude and thin air. This year they're 15-18 at home, 9-17 on the road.

This could have been a great chance for Tigers fans to see just how good SS Troy Tulowitzki really is. But Tulowitzki is on the DL with a bad groin and though he's eligible to come off the list on Friday, it's uncertain.

The Cubs and Rockies are a combined 31 games under .500.

It's time to get on a roll.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!



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