Monday, June 04, 2012

Monday Morning Manager: Week 9

Last Week: 2-5
This Week: CLE (6/5-7); at Cin (6/8-10)

So, What Happened?

The Tigers played seven games against the Red Sox and Yankees, and the week was like walking across hot coals.

The result? Two wins, five losses, and the injuries are piling up almost as fast as the defeats.

The Tigers a beaten down, desperate team which is sinking further in a division that they were supposed to dominate.

Righr now, the only thing the Tigers are dominating is in the area of supreme disappointment. Hell, even Justin Verlander is on a three-game losing streak. Isn't that one of the signs of the Apocalypse?

How much longer can MMM say that the season is early?

Sunday's game marked the one-third mark of the season. That's right; if the season was a baseball game, the Tigers have already completed the first three innings.

Now on to the top of the fourth.

Andy Dirks is the latest to wind up on the disabled list, with a disagreeable Achilles tendon. Speedy OF Matt Young has been called up from Toledo.

The Tigers' lineup is looking more and more like what the Toledo Mud Hens fielded on Opening Day.

Yesterday MMM was watching the game and as FSD went to break, they displayed the three Tigers hitters scheduled to start the next inning: Omir Santos, Quintin Berry and Danny Worth.

It was a face palm moment.

Hero of the Week
You're kidding, right?

MMM knows he's contractually obligated to pick a Hero. Doesn't mean he has to be happy or enthusiastic about it.

So this one might surprise you: Delmon Young.

Why DY?

Well, his bat is heating up, and that means Young, stationed normally right behind Prince Fielder in the batting order, can lengthen innings far better than he was doing earlier.

Young had a couple homers in the Red Sox series in Boston, and even though he still has the maddening proclivity to swing at the first pitch and bounce into inning-ending ground outs, Delmon was one of the few Tigers last week not named Cabrera or Fielder who did anything of note with the lumber.

Honorable mention: Joaquin Benoit, if only for his amazing effort in the seventh inning of Saturday night's game against the Yankees, when he wiggled out of a two-on, no-out situation by slithering past Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, preserving the Tigers' lead, which was huge at the time.

Goat of the Week

Now HERE'S a menu!

MMM almost doesn't know where to begin, because it was another week of foolishness and sluggishness. MMM thinks it's ironic that the word "slug" is found in sluggishness when it comes to the Tigers' popgun offense.

MMM is indicting Brennan Boesch, who had a 1-for-12 series against the Yankees and who is simply not giving the Tigers what they need from an everyday corner outfielder.

MMM understands that Boesch is merely a symptom, but he's being called out this week because he's one of the few guys who are healthy now and the Tigers need his bat big time. They're just not getting it right now.

Dishonorable mention: don't get MMM started.

Under the Microscope
MMM senses that batting coach Lloyd McClendon is UtM anyway, regardless of what is written here.

But MMM agrees, and is placing "Mac" squarely on the glass slide, to be focused on.

The media is starting to call for McClendon's head. The Free Press' Drew Sharp hinted at that in his latest column. Of course, sports talk radio callers have been beating that drum for weeks.

The comparison is being made to last season, when the Tigers fired pitching coach Rick Knapp in mid-season and replaced him with Jeff Jones. The move was credited with jump starting the Tigers' second half uprising.

The Knapp move, obviously, has set a precedent which may or may not be dangerous.

MMM could understand why McClendon would be replaced (the Angels fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, part of manager Mike Scioscia's inner circle, and the team has come around since then), but don't count on it. McClendon is tight with Jim Leyland and it was a lot easier to jettison Knapp than it would be to do so with McClendon.

Still, MMM thinks Mac should be UtM. There was a telling quote from Leyland after Sunday's miserable offensive performance against New York's Phil Hughes. Sharp included it in his column:

"(Hughes) just pounds the ball inside, and we didn't look in there to turn on the ball at all," Leyland grumbled afterward. "We just kept letting him pound it in there, and he kept jamming us. It was pretty disappointing. You have make adjustments in the game. ...

"You could see what he was doing, but we made no adjustments whatsoever. We kept letting him beat us and fighting off (pitches) the other way. That was not a good day of hitting. That upsets me a little bit. It was a disappointing."

So....who's responsible for initiating adjustments?

MMM is just wondering out loud.

Upcoming: Indians, Reds

Last week MMM said that, despite the competition being the Red Sox and Yankees, the week was still more about the Tigers than about who they're playing.

Nothing that happened since then has changed MMM's tune for this week.

When you're 25-29 and underperforming, it's not about the opponent. It's just about getting wins. It's about playing better.

The Tigers continue to have their hands full with themselves, let alone with the Indians and the Reds.

But having said that, MMM would advise that it's always a good thing to beat the teams in your division---even if you are your own worst enemy.

The Tigers were 8-1 against the Indians at Comerica Park last year, but as we have seen, last year is so...last year.

Should the Tigers have any added incentive to beat the Indians in light of what big mouth closer Chris Perez said about them following the Tribe's sweep of the Tigers in Cleveland two weeks ago?

See the third paragraph of this section.

Interleague play kicks off in full force this weekend as the Tigers visit Cincinnati.

It'll give Tigers fans a chance to see 2010 MVP Joey Votto, who's off to a pretty good start for the Reds. Verlander pitches on Saturday, hoping to snap his three-game losing streak and mini slump.

But aside from Votto (.346, 9 HR, 33 RBI), the Reds have their problems on offense as well. No other regular is batting .300+. But look out when RF Jay Bruce is up. The lefty slugger has 12 homers and is sluggng .541, though his BA is just .259.

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



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