Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Morning Manager: Week 7

Last Week: 3-4
This Week:  at Cle (5/21-22); MIN (5/23-26)

So, What Happened?

Toto, I don't think the Tigers are playing Houston anymore.

The Tigers are 6-1 against the Astros, and 23-19 overall. MMM will save you the math. That's 17-18 against the rest of baseball.

Not ridiculous, but maybe a little troubling?

Last week was a microcosm of sorts. The Tigers went 2-1 against Houston, 1-3 against the rest of baseball. Correction---the best of baseball.

Gee, those Texas Rangers can hit, eh?

The Rangers looked at the Tigers' glorified starting rotation and gave a Texas-sized laugh.

The Rangers scored 29 runs against our boys last weekend, and that's numbing, considering Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister combined pitched about 11 innings in their starts.

That's impressive hitting.

Before the horrid weekend in Texas, the Tigers beat down the Astros twice more before finally losing to Houston on Wednesday afternoon, when the Stros managed two runs in the top of the ninth to win, 7-5.

Oh, and some guy named Cabrera hit three home runs on Sunday night, each more impressive than the previous one. The Tigers still lost in one of the most frustrating games MMM has ever watched.

To make matters worse, the Tigers fell out of first place. The (gulp) Cleveland Indians are in the catbird's seat, by two games.

Hero of the Week
MMM was struck by something FSD's Rod Allen said during a recent broadcast.

Allen said he was chatting with Tigers legend and Hall of Famer Al Kaline. Allen asked Kaline if he'd seen anyone like Cabrera---whether teammate or someone Kaline played against. Now, we're talking 60 years of MLB (Kaline debuted in 1953).

Kaline flatly told Rod that no, he's never seen anyone who can do the things with the bat that Cabrera can do.

MMM thinks that if someone like Al Kaline puts you in a class by yourself, then that's saying something.

MMM is making Miggy HotW largely for his three-homer effort on Sunday, but he had a good week other than that. Heck, Miggy always seems to have a good week, eh?

Cabrera went 12/28 (.429) with four homers, seven RBI and seven runs scored.

Just another week at the office.

Cabrera's performance on Sunday night was amazing.

The third homer, especially---a pitch that jammed him near his wrists, yet was driven over the CF wall---was jaw-dropping. The ESPN announcers, Orel Hershiser and John Kruk, were beside themselves.

"Aw, heck, he's just better than everyone else. Let's just go with that," Kruk said finally.

Miggy is, and he was again for the Tigers last week.

Honorable mentions: Don Kelly (for filling in admirably in CF and knocking a homer); rookie RHP Evan Kelly (two strong outings in Texas).

Goat of the Week
Where would you like MMM to start?

There was suspect fielding, bad pitching, and questionable decisions---and most of that happened in the seventh inning on Sunday night alone.

It wasn't the greatest of weeks.

MMM is going to name, as a trio, Verlander, Sanchez and Fister as co-Goats.

The Tigers' Big Three of Four (don't forget Mad Max Scherzer) simply didn't get it done against Texas. They didn't come close to slowing the Rangers down, and JV and Fister had leads with which to work and let their respective games slip away.

Ugly starts from those three guys.

The bullpen, as a result, got drained, and thank goodness for Monday's off day, to allow those arms to rest.

Look, the big boys have to be the big boys and they have to take the heat when they don't get the job done. Verlander, Sanchez and Fister let the Tigers down, big time, in a "measuring stick" series.

Under the Microscope
MMM is too lazy to pore over the archives, but this week may be a first.

Justin Verlander, meet the microscope.

Twitter and MLive's comments section are aflutter with worries about JV. Is his velocity down for a reason? Why have his last two starts been so bad? Is he going south?

MMM would like everyone to exhale, but still thinks Verlander should be scrutinized.


Well, the last two starts have been rough. Thursday's was downright ridiculous.

Plus, the storied fastball seems to have abandoned Verlander, mainly from a command standpoint.

MMM thinks that Verlander gets too amped up sometimes, and the much-ballyhooed match-up between JV and Texas' Yu Darvish on Thursday qualifies as one of those "big games" that sometimes gets Verlander to do too much.

He overthrows. He walks guys (walked in TWO on Thursday). He throws too many pitches. He gives up hits on 0-2 counts. And so on.

That's what happened on Thursday, and JV wasn't all that sharp against Cleveland the start before that.

His ERA jumped from 1.93 to 3.17 after the debacle in Texas. He is 4-4.

MMM doesn't think it's necessarily alarming, but still enough to place JV's start on Wednesday UtM.

Besides, MMM is curious to see how Verlander's countenance is in his first start after his Texas-sized meltdown.

Upcoming: Indians, Twins
Back to the AL Central salt mines this week.

Wait---are those the Cleveland Indians in first place? Do MMM's eyes deceive him?

Yes, the Tribe is hot. They are 17-4 in their past 21 games, and have surged from 8-13 and last place to 25-17 and first place.

But we've seen this before, haven't we?

The Indians have been a pretty good April to June team in recent years. But when the temps get hotter, the Tribe gets colder.

Their second half collapses are well-noted.

But for now, with some new players, the Indians are enjoying a great run. And they host the Tigers in a two-game mini-series this week.

MMM doesn't think Cleveland has the horses to stick around all summer, but who the heck knows?

Tigers starters: Scherzer, Verlander.

After the quick trip to Cleveland, it's back to the good side of Lake Erie for four games against the slumping Twins at CoPa.

The Twinkies have lost five straight and have sunk to the depths of the division at 18-22.

Joe Mauer's 15-game hitting streak was stopped Sunday against Boston.

The Twins were stopped several games prior to that.

For about 35 games, the Twins raised some eyebrows with their .500 play and their general nuisance they were causing in the division. Now, they are back to being the team most thought they were prior to the season.

Remember, this is a team that didn't even settle on who was in their five-man rotation until AFTER spring training, and didn't name an Opening Day starter until less than a week before the game.

But Mauer is back to the Mauer of old. He's batting .342 and he has 17 doubles. But he is striking out once every four at-bats, which is not like the Mauer of old. Still, .342 is .342.

The Twins' bugaboo is their starting pitching. No one in the rotation has an ERA lower than 4.66, and three of their starters have ERAs of 5.85-plus.

Tigers starters: Porcello, Sanchez, Fister, Scherzer.

The Tigers need a big week. Yes, it's May, but the team is wobbly now. They are 4-8 in their last 12 games, and the Indians are feeling good about themselves. As Mickey Redmond would say, time to "get 'er goin'."

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



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