Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Morning Manager: Week 17

Last Week: 2-4
This Week: at Bos (7/30-8/1); CLE (8/3-5)

So, What Happened?

What a difference a week makes.

The last time MMM sat down at his laptop to bang out this weekly recap, some 168 hours ago, the Tigers were on a five-game winning streak, the White Sox were on a five-game losing streak, and Detroit had finally re-captured first place, by 1.5 games.

Today, the White Sox are the ones in first place by 1.5 games, and the Tigers are the team trying to right themselves.

That's baseball. That's all part of the game's fascinating, humbling 162-game season.

Give the Chisox credit. They left Detroit a week ago Sunday looking like a team whose wheels might fall off, then they went on a five-game winning streak in which they found their hitting touch and even took two of three from the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers.

The Tigers?

It was a tough week on the banks of two of the Great Lakes---Erie and Ontario.

Progressive Field in Cleveland continued to vex the Tigers, who are 1-5 there this season. And Rogers Centre in Toronto wasn't any kinder, though the Tigers did end the week on a winning note there.

It all added up to 2-4, a week after 6-1.

The week began with Monday's off day trade of pitching prospect Jacob Turner, catching prospect Rob Brantly, and low minors pitcher Brian Flynn to Miami for 2B Omar Infante and RHP Anibal Sanchez.

When MMM laid out the pitching order for last week, he reminded you that Turner's Saturday start would only occur barring a trade.

Isn't MMM smart?

Anyhow, MMM is pleased that GM Dave Dombrowski appeared to patch two holes with one deal, though Sanchez can be a FA after this season. Infante scuffled last week in his return to Tiger Nation, but MMM isn't concerned. It's a huge upgrade from the Santiago/Raburn/Worth trio.
As they ask in the National Enquirer, how was your week?

Hero of the Week
It's Jhonny Peralta this week, by a Tiger's whisker over Doug Fister.

The Tigers offense has gone back into scuffling mode, and the last thing they needed was a three-game sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays. Enter Peralta, who slammed two homers, providing all the offense in Sunday's 4-1 win.

Jh-P hadn't had a hit on last week's trip until he busted loose in Toronto. His timing couldn't have been any better.

Peralta edges out Mister Fister, whose gem on Sunday also came at a great time. But without Peralta's offense, Fister's outing would have been just another wasted effort.

Goat of the Week
Ironically, it could have been Peralta, had he not had his breakout game on Sunday.

But MMM is going with Brennan Boesch, mainly because he represented, in MMM's sometimes twisted mind, the struggles of the Tigers' 5-9 hitters last week.

Manager Jim Leyland kind of called Boesch out, though not by name, when he ranted before Saturday's game that certain guys have to start driving in runs, and pronto. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Boesch, Alex Avila and Delmon Young (who WAS mentioned by name) were who the skipper was talking about.

Boesch's BA continues to hover around the very mediocre .250 mark, and he disappears suddenly and often, something that MMM finds very annoying.

Last week Boesch might as well have been on the side of a milk carton. He was 3-for-23 with six strikeouts, no runs scored and one RBI.

But then this week he might be 10-for-25 with a couple bombs and six ribbies.


Under the Microscope
Last week MMM put Dombrowski UtM because of the impending interleague, non-waiver trading deadline. But even though DD made the Infante/Sanchez trade, there's still time before July 31 for another move.

But MMM won't cop out and put DD UtM again; that would be taking the easy way out. But it's food for thought.

Instead, MMM is taking his forceps and placing Infante UtM.


Well, his arrival was looked at as sweet relief for a fan base tired of looking at second base and seeing a black hole. But Infante went 2-for-14 after arriving, and while that's a tiny sample size, you can bet that if he keeps scuffling, he won't be flying under the radar for too long.

Still, MMM feels MUCH better seeing Infante's name in the no. 9 spot, rather than the aforementioned trio of second basemen the Tigers have tried this year.

The other reason for the UtM designation for Infante is that if he has a good week at the plate, watch the over-the-top reaction from the fan base on places like MLive and sports talk radio. It'll be the 180 degree opposite from the reaction to another tough week for Omar. It'll be a hoot!
Upcoming: Red Sox, Indians
Another un-Tigers-friendly ballpark awaits the Boys this week: Fenway Park.

The venerable old baseball theatre, 100 years old, hasn't been a great place for the Tigers in recent years, 2012 being no exception.

The Tigers dropped 3 of 4 in Boston in May, and that was against a Red Sox team that has been underachieving all year. The Red Sox are still "meh," hovering around .500, but they could be hovering around .400 and still give the Tigers fits---in Boston.

Justin Verlander would normally have a shot at starting twice this week because Thursday's off day might have allowed Leyland to skip Turner's start, but with Sanchez in the rotation, JV will get an extra day off after Tuesday's start in Boston and will take the mound next Monday against the Yankees in Detroit.

The Red Sox still have Wild Card thoughts dancing in their heads, despite a hundred mediocre 2012 games.

Thursday is a day off and then the Indians come calling.

Cleveland had a good series against the Tigers last week but sandwiched around those three games has been some bad and mostly losing baseball for the Tribe.

The Tigers haven't had much success against the Indians in Cleveland or Detroit this year, and that has to change right now, especially since MMM is squeamish about what might happen in Boston this week.

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



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