Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Morning Manager: Week 15

Last Week: 2-1
This Week: LAA (7/16-19); CWS (7/20-22)

So, What Happened?

Justin Verlander got torched in the All-Star Game, AL manager Ron Washington scolded him publicly, and JV was linked to supermodel Kate Upton.

Oh, you mean what really mattered?

The Tigers extended their win streak to six games, before losing a toughie in Baltimore on Saturday night, a 13-inning marathon. But---guess who---Verlander sealed the series win with surgeon-like precision on Sunday, using his scalpel, er, arm to carve up the Orioles on three hits in eight shutout innings.

It was a big series win, maintaining the momentum---if there is such a thing in baseball---from before the break.

Rookie lefty Drew Smyly landed on the disabled list, retroactive to July 7. He has a sore side. What is it with Tigers pitchers and sore sides this year?

Jacob Turner starts on Tuesday.

One more thing: Miguel Cabrera is playing like he plans on simply taking his first MVP Award, simply because he wants it. He hit two baseballs over the weekend so hard that MMM feels sorry for the cowhide spheres.

Hero of the Week

MMM only has three games to work with when it comes to Hero and Goat this week, but as you know, that's enough to come to a decision.

MMM likes Miguel Cabrera, because the ferocity of his power---to center field and right field, no less---put exclamation marks on the Tigers' two wins in Baltimore.

Cabrera is gaining on Texas's Josh Hamilton for MVP consideration. Hamilton appeared to be running away with it in April and May, but he's cooled off and Miggy is on a mission. His power knows no bounds. His flair for the dramatic is unparalleled. His hitting approach is elite.

Take Sunday's bomb in the ninth inning. That poor kid Steve Johnson never knew what hit him. But just a couple pitches prior to the homer, Johnson tied Cabrera in knots with a wicked curve ball. No matter. When the kid tried to paint the black with a fastball on the outside corner, Cabrera swung at it as if the baseball was on a tee. The result: a 420+ foot home run to center field that might have had a flight crew and peanuts on it.

That followed a rocket on Friday night on a pitch that was low and a little outside.

Miggy plays no favorites and takes no prisoners.

Honorable mention: Verlander, for his series-winning gem on Sunday.

Goat of the Week

MMM feels kinda bad about this, but he only had three games with which to work.

Joaquin Benoit, you're this week's Goat.

MMM feels bad because Benoit has been mostly terrific this season. But had he not given up two home runs in the 13th inning on Saturday, the Tigers would be working on an eight-game winning streak. And, the White Sox lost on Saturday.

Twice the Tigers had a chance to win in extra innings Saturday, and after Jose Valverde blew it in the 11th, Benoit did the same in the 13th.

So why not Valverde as Goat?

Benoit gave up two homers, number one, and the second was to a guy, Taylor Teagarden, who just came off the disabled list and wasn't even expecting to play, let alone be a hero.

That's why.

Under the Microscope

Is the real Brennan Boesch on display, or is this just another tease?

Boesch, the sometimes confounding right fielder, has been hitting well as of late. Even balls he isn't hitting all that well are dropping in for base hits.

MMM wants to believe that Boesch, along with Jhonny Peralta, is getting back to his 2011 level of play (before Boesch hurt his wrist).

If so, MMM loves the Tigers' chances in the second half.

MMM is putting Boesch UtM until further notice, not convinced that this recent hot streak is a harbinger of things to come.

Upcoming: Angels, White Sox
The Tigers marketing and sales departments must love this post-break homestand.

The Angels and the White Sox?

One team making a run for its division, with marquee players and a rookie phenom, and a team the Tigers are chasing? And a natural rival, to boot?

What a way to kick off the home portion of the second half schedule, eh?

The Angels invade for four games, and the only thing that will be lacking is that neither Jered Weaver nor Verlander will pitch.

But it will be the Tigers and their fans' first look at rookie Mike Trout, who is leading the league in hitting at age 20 (he'll be legal to drink on August 7). Oh yeah, and there's that first baseman the Angels signed in the off-season---Albert something or the other.

As for the White Sox, MMM isn't convinced they can keep up their first place pace in the second half. Too many rookies, including their manager.

But Adam Dunn is the Dunn of 2010 and prior, and Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski are two of baseball's most underrated players, in MMM's humble opinion. Or, in today's text message age, IMMMHO.

Still, the rookie thing gnaws. Or maybe it's just wishful thinking.

Regardless, this ought to be a wild and wonderful week of baseball at Comerica Park.

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



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