Alan Trammell is halfway through his third season as Tiger manager and in his second attempt to dig his historic record out of the abominable hole 2003 put it in. How's he doing, now that he's no longer a managerial neophyte? Let's look at some of the things he can control.
Lineups: Trammell has done an excellent job setting lineups this year, balancing his expectations with the evidence on the field. He dropped Omar Infante out of the leadoff spot when it was evident that his slow start would continue. He took the Tigers' only walk threat, Brandon Inge, and gave him the leadoff job, which Inge kept until a recent slump. He recognized that Pudge Rodriguez does not have an OBP high enough to mandate a spot at the top of the lineup, and has settled him in the fifth hole. He realized that even though Dmitri Young is a more famous 1B/DH, Chris Shelton was a much better hitter in June and July and deserved the third spot in the lineup. He kept Nook Logan in the lineup when Magglio Ordonez was hurt without getting fooled by a high batting average and speedy legs into batting him leadoff. Solid all around.
Pitcher Abuse: The Tiger starting pitchers have been the surprise of the 2005 squad. They've been healthy, and four of the five Opening Day starters have been effective. The starting rotation gives Trammell his most important sheep to shepherd: 22-year-old ace Jeremy Bonderman. Trammell and pitching coach Bob Cluck have been careful to keep Bonderman's overuse to a minimum; his reasonable total of 99 pitches/start lead the team. His season high is 118, a number that's excusable considering it was a slump-busting complete game against Randy Johnson and the All-Star break was coming up. For more sophisticated minds, no Tiger starters are in the top 67 of abused pitchers, according to Baseball Prospectus' Pitcher Abuse Points. All in all a fine job of pitcher management, showing the proper priorities.
Bullpen Use: Again impressive. Trammell and Cluck have shown a willingness to trust young pitchers in tough situations, most notably Chris Spurling over tha last couple of months and Franklyn German all year. Veterans are all well and good, but too many managers have an unhealthy fascination with them.
Manager Face: Tram looks good with a scowl, good kicking dirt at an umpire. Check.
In-Game Management: I live in the West and don't get to see enough games to have an informed opinion. What's yours?