Monday Morning Manager: Week 25
This Week: KC (9/24-27); at Min (9/28-30)
So, What Happened?
Just another bob and weave ride on the choppy waters inside the Good Ship Tiger Pop.
That's what this team does to you: raises and lowers your hopes like a school flag.
The Tigers fell three games back on Monday after suspect (and MMM is being kind) defense doomed them in a makeup game in Chicago. That was followed by two straight wins over the surprising Oakland A's, which got people thinking that the Tigers weren't dead. But then the Tigers lost Thursday. Then Friday's game was rained out, then the Tigers drilled the Twins on Saturday. As the White Sox were being broomed by the Angels, the Tigers then dropped a day-night DH to the Twins on Sunday, the second loss of which was another bi-product of shoddy glove work.
Whew! MMM needs to catch his breath.
Such is the AL Central race that the White Sox can be on a five-game losing streak yet still lead the division by a game this morning. Chicago's last win was over the Tigers last Monday.
To bastardize the late Casey Stengel's words, "Can't anybody here win this thing?"
MMM still thinks the Tigers can pull this out. They finish the season with 10 games with the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins. Even though both those teams have been doing a great job playing spoiler this month, MMM will take that competition for the final ten games.
Yet MMM isn't too naive to ignore the possibility that the Tigers' defense may ultimately be their undoing. The inability to make the routine plays has killed them this year, especially in September, a month in which the Tigers are 10-11 so far.
The double play ball this season causes every Tigers fan, MMM included, to hold his or her breath.
In the name of Trammell and Whitaker, what's the deal with being unable to turn a stinking double play?
Miguel Cabrera continued his assault on the Triple Crown, and in the process MMM hopes he is silencing those folks who would vote for Mike Trout as league MVP. For more on that race, read THIS.
Max Scherzer gave all of us a scare when he left Tuesday's game against the A's after two innings with a "dead shoulder." An MRI proved negative, and Max made his next start on Sunday, as scheduled.
Hero of the Week
MMM is thinking of changing this section to "Miggy of the Week."
It's getting ho-hum, but MMM is going with Cabrera yet again.
How can you not? Cabrera is playing like he's on a mission, like he wants to win the Triple Crown, the MVP, the Silver Slugger, the Player of the Year, and heck, maybe even the Cy Young for all we know.
MMM is kidding about that last one...sorta.
Cabrera's onslaught continued last week: 9-for-26, 4 2B, 9 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI.
It's getting ridiculous now, Cabrera's beastiology. The man is playing as if possessed, like he is single-handedly trying to will the team into the playoffs.
Cabrera is simply the best player in baseball. If he wins the Triple Crown (he's tied in HR and leads in BA and RBI) for the first time in 45 years, his place in the game must be in cement.
And in that cement will be the letters M-V-P.
Goat of the Week
When the Tigers traded for 2B Omar Infante in late-July, MMM was thrilled. The deal included starter Anibal Sanchez, and it looked like the Tigers had killed two birds with one trade. Infante was going to shore up second base, right?
Not so fast.
Infante's bizarre degradation in defense has been dogging the Tigers all month. One night after the other, it seems, Infante is booting a ball or making a bad throw or is unable to complete a double play. And it seems that every mistake he makes is magnified by runs scoring as a result.
You can't hide your second baseman, and when things are going bad defensively, the ball seems to find that struggling defender. The ball is finding Infante, who is ruling second base for the Tigers with an iron mitt.
MMM doesn't care to list all of Infante's foibles. Just suffice it to say that MMM could have made Infante the GotW a few other times but didn't. This week, Omar isn't getting a pass.
Under the Microscope
Usually, UtM is reserved for the negative. Whether it's an injury or a player's suspect performance, MMM doesn't really use this space for anything terribly positive.
Until this week.
With the season entering its final full week, MMM must put Miguel Cabrera UtM because of his run at the Triple Crown. This is like a pitcher going for a no-hitter; you keep an eye on his performance specifically, and simultaneously hope your team scores enough runs to win the game.
We should all hope the Tigers win enough games to capture the AL Central, while also rooting for Cabrera to capture the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did it for Boston in 1967. And Yaz tied for the home run title that year; Cabrera could win all three legs of the Crown outright.
MMM is placing Cabrera UtM, knowing full well that Miggy doesn't shrink from the spotlight.
Upcoming: Royals, Twins
As MMM indicated above, the Royals and Twins have done a marvelous job of playing spoilers in the AL Central "race."
Both teams have beaten the snot out of the White Sox and Tigers in recent weeks, trying their darndest to help Chicago and Detroit in the process. The help has been sometimes accepted, but most time not.
Kansas City comes to CoPa for four games this week, then the Tigers visit the Twins for three.
At home, the Royals have swept the Tigers and White Sox over the past month.
MMM declares: 3-1 vs. the Royals is a must---nothing less will do in order to apply increasing pressure on the White Sox, who have the Indians (3 games) and Rays (4) this week.
No fancy-shmancy scouting reports here. Just go out and beat these teams, for goodness sake.
Pitchers this week, in order: (vs. KC) Justin Verlander; Anibal Sanchez; Rick Porcello; Doug Fister; (at Min) Max Scherzer; Verlander; Sanchez.
Enjoy the heat in this AL Central kitchen.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!
Labels: Monday Morning Manager