In my effort to keep you, Ian's faithful readers, amused in his absence, I'll cross post the occasional Tigers piece from my blog, the wonderful (Well, I think it is!) The Wayne Fontes Experience. Here's the latest...
The Tigers are another losing streak, have just lost a pair of gut punch games and are still in last place. Sounds like a good time for a round of burning questions...
We've been witness to 2 consecutive walk off losses for the Tigers, dropping them to 10 games under .500. The last few nights sure sucked, haven't they?
It's the worst I've felt about the Tigers since their pitchers were throwing the ball all over the good earth in the 2006 World Series. But at least that implosion was happening in the WORLD SERIES. Those heady days sure feel as if it's been longer than only a season and a half ago.
I know I've asked this before, but it's worth asking again. Is there anything the Tigers can do?
Not a damn thing. This is our Detroit Tigers, an older team saddled with mostly untradable long-term contracts, for better or for worse. We've seen little in the way of better, and as bad as the season has gone, I doubt we've seen the worst.
Worse than this?
Let's not forget the Tigers are on the first leg of a 3 city, 9 game road trip. The Angels and A's are good teams, and the M's are as bad as the Tigers, but will be at home. The Tigers' season could essentially be over in a little more than 10 days.
A bad road trip, and it's off to an awful start, would crush the Tigers' chances. The only reason they aren't already 10+ games back in the Central is only in thanks to the utter mediocrity of the division.
7.5 games back isn't season ending, but if something doesn't turn around soon...God forbid someone in the Central gets hot...Well, I'd rather not think about it.
Why can't the Tigers make a few trades, unload a couple of older players?
Who would you suggest trading? Gary Sheffield? Always injured and still owed $14 million for next season does not make for an attractive trade target.
Edgar Renteria? First off, the Tigers would never give up on Renteria 50 games into the season. Not going to happen. But for the sake of argument, do you seriously want to play Ramon Santiago every day? If he and Brandon Inge end up as the left side of the infield, it'll be the 1960's all over again. Remember .200 hitting 3B Don Wert and .135 hitting SS Ray Olyer? In 2008, you just can't carry a pair of good field-no hit players as your starters for an entire season. Inge and (I know he's hitting .353, but Santiago is a career .235 hitter) Santiago are excellent defensively, but couldn't hit Paris Hilton's weight.
Brandon Inge? .220 hitters with a superiority complex and owed $19 million aren't much in demand.
Magglio Ordonez? He's the most tradable commodity, but he's also the Tigers best offensive player. Think the offense is struggling now? Think of it without your number 4 hitter. Gives you the willies...
Ok, I get it. Trades are out of the question. So what can the Tigers do?
It's not difficult to figure out. Jim Leyland can only keep penciling in those under performing players in the lineup every day, and hope a roster full of athletes with excellent offensive track records finally start producing. It's not what people want to hear, but it's the truth.
But I can't handle the truth!
Get used to it. This is our Detroit Tigers, the good, the bad, and the ugly. (My apologies to Sergio Leone...)
There's a rising cry for the Tigers to fire someone, anyone. Fans want a head on a platter. Even the once untouchable Jim Leyland is under fire. Anybody going to get the ziggy?
Nope. Ilitch has the utmost trust in Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowki loves Jim Leyland, having been to a pair of World Series' together. Leyland is uber-loyal to his coaches. Who's going to fire who? No one is in jeopardy. Not yet, anyway.
I'd bet on Leyland walking at the end of the season first, rather than anyone being canned. But that's a long ways off, and it's possible the season could still turn around. Seriously, it could happen!
In other news, Jeff Larish was called up to take Sheffield's place on the roster. Will he help?
He's a 25 year old left hand hitting 1st baseman who hits for power, and had put together a nice season in Toledo. It's time to see if he's ready. for that matter, the Tigers need a left handed bat, even if it's another 1B/DH type. If anything else, as I doubt he has a long-term future in Detroit, Larish can be showcased around the league. The Tigers may be able to trade him for help at another position of need.
Why doesn't Larish have a future in the the D?
1st base is taken for the next 8 seasons by a certain player who is making $150 million. The Tigers already have a pair of DH's in waiting, namely Guillen and Ordonez. (Let alone the fact Sheffield is still under contract.) Unless Larish can play corner outfield, or 3rd base, he has no position in Detroit. Larish's value to the Tigers is as trade bait.
Why not call up Mike Hessman? He leads the International League in HRs' and RBI. Plus he plays 1B and 3B, giving the Tigers more flexibility. Wouldn't he bring more to the team than Larish?
Larish has upside, that nebulous thing called "potential," while we already know what Hessman brings. The occasional home run, and not much else. Hessman is what he is, and that's a 30 year old 4A depth player. He's not a long term solution of any kind, and has little value in trade. The Tigers are better off with the much higher upside of Larish.
All this doom and gloom! Is there any good news?
Only if you are a fan of the Red Wings and/or Pistons. They are playing great! It's very possible Detroit will have champions in both the NBA and NHL.
God help the Tigers when the playoff runs end, as the entire focus will finally be upon them. Fans aren't going to be happy with what they see.