Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Morning Manager: Week 16

Last Week: 6-1
This Week: at Cle (7/24-26); at Tor (7/27-29)

So, What Happened?

What a fun, frollicking week of baseball for the boys at Comerica Park last week!

Yeah, they got scorched by the Angels, 13-0 on Tuesday, but that was the only blemish as the Tigers put together a 6-1 homestand, their first since the All-Star break.

The epic week catapulted the Tigers into first place, all by their lonesome, 1.5 games ahead of the White Sox, who got broomed in Detroit over the weekend.

The Tigers took no prisoners. They hit, they pitched, they caught the ball, they threw the ball, they were stone cold solid in the clutch.

MMM approves, very much.

Miguel Cabrera hit his 300th career home run, Quintin Berry hit his second, and Brennan Boesch just hit home runs of various numbers.

Tigers starters got stingy and the bullpen even stingier. There was no foolishness defensively.

Basically, the Tigers played, in one week, as if they were trying to make up for the season's first three months.

Hero of the Week
MMM has been saying it since late April: the Tigers' struggles have been because a select group of 2011 heroes have been 2012 goats.

Brennan Boesch was among that group---until recently. In fact, he was UtM as recently as last week.

Boesch, the sometimes perplexing right fielder, had a great week. He sliced balls to left, drove them up the middle, and rocketed them into the right field seats. He hit with no outs, with one out, and most importantly, with two outs. It was enough to make MMM cry tears of joy. For if Boesch can hit like this down the stretch, the Tigers are in business.

Boesch hit home runs on consecutive days over the weekend, including a three-run blast on Saturday that turned a 2-1 lead into a much more comfortable 5-1 margin.

MMM makes Boesch the Hero not because he was the most indispensable Tiger last week, but because he simply had a consistently productive, highly encouraging week in a seven-day stretch full of heroes.

Dare MMM say The Stroke is back for Mr. Boesch? We've been fooled before, but this just has a different feel.

Honorable mention: Rick Porcello, for his gem on Saturday in which he outdueled Chicago All-Star Chris Sale.

Goat of the Week
In a 6-1 week, Goats are hard to find. So MMM is going outside the box this week.

MMM is tabbing the folks who all but called 21-year-old right hander Jacob Turner a bust, following his horrific start on Tuesday against the hard-hitting Los Angeles Angels.

Even some mainstream media scribes got into the act, as one of them said that Turner's stock as a trading chip "plummeted" after the Angels debacle.

Five days later, MMM was listening to talk radio and Turner, who had just earned his first big league victory with 5.1 innings of three-run ball, was suddenly talked about as part of the reason why the Tigers' pitching will be OK, after all.

Make up MMM's mind!

But seriously, folks, just because scouts attended Tuesday's game---when Turner gave up seven runs in two innings of work---doesn't mean that his stock "plummeted."

Scouts know better than to make rash judgments after one game. They know, already, a lot about Turner and probably also know that Tuesday was an aberration.

So please stop the mood swings, Tigers fan base, aka this week's Goats of the Week.

Under the Microscope

The trading deadline for interleague, non-waiver deals is a week from tomorrow. So in a MMM tradition leading up to the deadline, this week's UtM subject is GM Dave Dombrowski.

Even with the team playing better, you can bet that all eyes will be on DD as July 31 nears. The Tigers are on fire now, but this is not a team without holes and needs.

Second base, for one. One more starting pitcher, preferably veteran in nature, is another.

The Tigers' sense of urgency has been dialed back thanks to the 13-2 run they're on, so DD should be able to have more leverage than when the team was scuffling.

Still, MMM thinks if the deadline passes with the Tigers standing pat, that's not going to go over too well.

But the move(s) Dombrowski makes don't have to be blockbuster in nature. In fact, with Andy Dirks apparently getting closer to returning from an Achilles injury, the Tigers' 25-man roster suddenly looks uber crowded.

Who goes when Dirks returns? This isn't September, when the roster expands to 40. If Dirks comes back before then, someone has to go.

DD, Tiger Nation turns its lonely eyes to you, ooh-ooh-ooh.

Upcoming: Indians, Blue Jays

Say goodbye to the creamy whites for nine games---the Tigers are headed back on the road.

It's another three-city trip, and the first two legs are this week, in Cleveland and Toronto.

The Indians are doing it again.

The Tribe is wilting under the heat of summer, just as they did in 2011 after their surprising start.

They didn't race out of the gate in 2012 as they did last year, but the Indians are nonetheless getting colder as the summer gets hotter.

Their latest slide is at four games, and this one has put them under .500 (47-48).

Remember when Cleveland closer Chris Perez crowed a bit too loudly after the Tribe swept the Tigers back in late-May? Remember when he smugly declared that while the Tigers may have bigger names, the Indians were more of a team?

MMM is dying to hear what Mr. Perez has to say now.

How's that "we don't have stars but we have a better team" thing working out for you now, Chris?

Wait---is MMM the one crowing too loudly now? What do YOU think?

The Indians get Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, in that order, this week. 

After three days in Cleveland, the Tigers take their road grays across the border to Toronto.

The Blue Jays don't have their superstar right fielder Jose Bautista, who is on the disabled list. He'll miss the Tigers series.

MMM is usually a little concerned when the Tigers play in Toronto, as it's one of the few ballparks with artificial turf, and the Tigers aren't exactly built for that kind of playing surface.

But this year the Tigers have Quintin Berry, and the team's 1-2 punch of Austin Jackson and Berry at the top of the order, with their blazing speed, has MMM actually looking forward to this week's trip to TO.

Porcello, Turner (presumably, barring a trade) and Fister get the nod this weekend in Toronto.

Will the Tigers stay hot on the road? Don't touch that dial!

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



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