Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Morning Manager: Week 2

Last Week: 4-2
This Week:  at Sea (4/16-18); at LAA (4/19-21)

So, What Happened?

Somehow the Tigers managed to squeeze in two games against Toronto at Comerica Park despite weather that had MMM wondering if we had all been transported to Seattle by osmosis. Wednesday and Thursday were filled with rain, off and on, yet the Tigers and MLB got the games in---mainly because the Jays only make one appearance in Detroit all season.

The much ballyhooed bullpen got even more ballyhooed when it blew Wednesday's game---a 6-1 Tigers lead that turned into a tough 8-6 loss. The goat was Brayan Villarreal, who walked three straight batters---the only hitters he faced. Then Octavio Dotel served up a bases clearing double with the sacks juiced, putting the Jays ahead 7-6.

Then on Friday night in Oakland, Villarreal struck again, giving up a walk-off homer in the 12th inning to Josh Donaldson. It was the A's ninth straight victory.

But the Tigers bats sandwiched awesome hitting performances around those two stinkers, making for a satisfying 4-2 week.

Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez each picked up their second win, and the Tigers 1-2-3-4 hitters terrorized Jays and A's pitching.

Hero of the Week
You can't stop Prince Fielder, you can only hope to contain him. And you can't even really do that nowadays.

MMM had quite a selection to choose from in the Hero department last week.

Austin Jackson is playing like the best center fielder and lead-off hitter in baseball. Torii Hunter has solidified the No. 2 spot in the order wonderfully. Miguel Cabrera is, well, Miguel Cabrera.

But Fielder is an RBI machine these days.

He lasered an RBI double on Sunday, scoring Cabrera from first base, that MMM swears was shot out of a bazooka. Prince is locked in as never before since becoming a Tiger.

Fielder reached base 11 times in the Oakland series over the weekend, and he is feasting off the success of the 1-2-3 hitters, who are getting on base with ridiculous frequency.

So Fielder becomes that rarity: MMM's Hero two weeks in a row.

Honorable mentions: see above, plus Sanchez, who along with Rick Porcello gave the bullpen a needed rest on Sunday.

Goat of the Week
MMM will make this quick and painless, like ripping off a Band-Aid.

Brayan Villarreal.

OK, next?

If you need further explanation, then MMM wonders if you've been living under the Uniroyal tire.

Under the Microscope
MMM is loathe to jump on bandwagons or pile on with the blowhards who call in to talk radio, but the way things are going now, it's hard to ignore the bullpen as being the only aspect of the Tigers' game that isn't clicking. Oh, that and Andy Dirks. But more on Dirks later.

MMM is placing the bullpen, as a whole, UtM because it was responsible for both losses last week, and with the Tigers' hitting and fielding firing on all cylinders (except Dirks), then what else is there to scrutinize?

The bullpen needs to get itself sorted out. MMM thinks the arms out there are good enough, though he would like to see Villarreal demoted to Toledo---at least.

As for Dirks and his under-.200 start, MMM isn't overly worried. Andy did deliver a two-out single Sunday, albeit in a 7-0 game. But still a good sign. He'll come around, and with the rest of the guys bashing, there should be less pressure on Dirks to get it together.

Upcoming: Mariners, Angels
The sojourn out west continues with six games in Seattle and Los Angeles/Anaheim.

For whatever reason, the Ms have been a thorn in the Tigers' side in recent years, both in Seattle and in Detroit. They seem to give the Tigers fits. But they also gave the Tigers Doug Fister, so maybe it's a push.

Seattle is off to a 6-8 start, which is about right for them. But again, they seem to always take two of three from the Tigers.

2012 post-season hero Raul Ibanez is now a Mariner, and the Tigers will face Felix Hernandez this week. King Felix goes up against Max Scherzer on Wednesday---a great MLB matchup.

But no Mariner regular is hitting .300, though Michael Morse has six home runs.

Tigers starters: Fister, Scherzer and Verlander.

The Angels have two MVPs in their lineup---Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. And Pujols isn't off to the slow-as-molasses start that he had in 2012.

But the Angels are 4-8, and last year's rookie sensation Mike Trout, isn't helping. He's at .269 with one homer and two RBI (and 12 Ks in 52 AB). Hamilton is .234-2-8. Pujols is .293-2-7. But it's early.

Tigers starters: Sanchez, Porcello and Fister.

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



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