Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Morning Manager: Week 15

Last Week: 4-3
This Week:  All-Star break; at KC (7/19-21)

So, What Happened?

The Tigers played win, lose, win, lose, to the tune of a 4-3 week, which was enough to remain in first place, though the streaky Cleveland Indians are hanging tough, just 1.5 games behind Detroit.

Max Scherzer (gasp!) actually lost a game, but Justin Verlander made up for that by flirting with his third career no-hitter, AGAIN. The Tigers signed a familiar name to a AAA contract (RHP Jeremy Bonderman), and their six-man All-Star contingent hopped a plane to New York following Sunday's game.

MMM wasn't thrilled with a series loss to the Chicago White Sox, but nothing compared to the anger exhibited by manager Jim Leyland, who went ballistic on Thursday afternoon after relief pitcher Luke Putkonen was ejected for throwing behind Chicago's Alexei Ramirez.

So the Tigers week looked like this: WLWLWLW. Not terribly thrilling, but MMM will always take a winning week.

Hero of the Week
MMM is getting that 2011 feeling. Specifically, when it comes to DH Victor Martinez.

V-Mart continued his torrid (lately) hitting with a 12-for-27 week, which included a homer and six RBI. He has raised his average, which has been in the tank all year, to .258.

In fact, Martinez smacked 10 hits in his first four games last week, truly making the Tigers 3-4-5 hitters something to fear, as was hoped back in spring training.

Martinez is back to spraying the ball to all fields and he appears locked in. MMM kind of wishes the All-Star break wasn't here, given V-Mart's hot bat as of late.

The performance is reminiscent of two years ago, when Martinez followed Miggy Cabrera in the batting order and racked up over 100 RBI.

Honorable mentions: Verlander (for his bounce back start on Sunday after falling apart late in Tuesday's outing); Cabrera (as usual); and Torii Hunter.

Goat of the Week
It was another non-productive week for Andy Dirks, who has had a lot of them this season.

Dirks was 1-for-11 and is not showing any signs of being able to lift his BA out of the .240s.

Dirks peaked at .251 briefly last week, but has sunk back to his more regular .243.

Meanwhile, Dirks' tag team partner in LF, Matt Tuiasosopo, continues to make the most of his playing time---which has been mainly against LHP. "Tui" delivered a big single with two outs on Sunday, on an 0-2 count, to drive in a run and give Verlander some breathing room. And, bonus: it came against a RHP.

MMM was glad to see Leyland refrain from lifting Tui for Dirks in that situation.

Dirks was supposed to have a breakout year and seize control of LF. Hasn't come close to happening this year. MMM placed Dirks Under the Microscope last week, and the 1-for-11 demoted Andy to Goat status this week.

Dishonorable mention: the umpiring crew on Thursday, which totally botched the Chris Sale-Fielder-Putkonen-Ramirez deal.

Under the Microscope
(with only three games this week, MMM will skip UtM in this update)

Upcoming: Royals
The Kansas City Royals did the Tigers no favors this past weekend, getting swept in Cleveland.

But as MMM has pointed out in the past, the Royals never seem to be a pushover for the Tigers, especially in Kansas City.

MMM looks at the first week or so of games after the All-Star break like he does an NBA game after halftime. In the NBA, whichever team controls the start of the third quarter often wins the game. In baseball's case, the team that comes out of the All-Star break slumping, usually dooms itself in the pennant chase.

The Indians have had issues post-All-Star break the past two years. The Tigers, under Jim Leyland, used to have a bad reputation for being second half scoundrels.

The Tigers could really use a 2-1 weekend (or better!) in Kansas City, when their pack of All-Stars reunite with their teammates.

Tigers starters: Anibal Sanchez, Verlander, Doug Fister.

That's all for this week's MMM. See you in two weeks!

(Note: there will be no MMM next Monday, since the Tigers are only playing three games this week)



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