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Morning Prowl: Missing Miner, Magglio's Contract, Outfield Defense, and Grandy's Slump

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So as it turns out, the Detroit Tigers weren't one man short in their bullpen on Tuesday and Wednesday. They were down two relievers. The relief corps was already at six, as you know, after Eddie Bonine was sent down to Toledo to make room for Aubrey Huff.

But Jason Beck reported yesterday that Zach Miner also wasn't with the team for the first two games of the Seattle series because his wife was giving birth to their second child. Miner was back yesterday, of course, and pitched two key shutout innings that allowed the Tigers to eventually overtake the Mariners in the ninth.

Over at The Spot Starters, Blake is worried - very worried - about Magglio Ordonez being less than 80 plate appearances away from triggering that $18 million option for next season. And I understand the concern about that contract potentially crippling the Tigers next year and beyond, especially when they have future paydays for Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson to consider.

But amidst all the hand-wringing, it seems to me that Jim Leyland had no choice but to play Ordonez. In mid-July, Ryan Raburn and Marcus Thames were both slumping. Josh Anderson was playing so poorly that he was eventually released. Meanwhile, Maggs has been hitting. In August, his batting line is .396/.420/.646. No, he's still not hitting for power, which is troubling. But can the Tigers afford to sit him down, at this point?

Take 75 North's Matt Wallace is now a featured columnist at Bleacher Report (joining our good friend Kurt Mensching). His latest piece laments the Tigers' bad match of outfield defense with its pitching staff. (Jarrod Washburn could tape this inside his locker.) Unfortunately, Jim Leyland has to make some concessions to offense, with as much trouble as the Tigers have scoring runs.

And if you don't think outfield defense matters, did you see what a difference Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders made for Seattle over the past three games? How many doubles did those two take away?

Matt cited UZR in his column, and if you're not entirely familiar with that defensive metric, Newsday's Ken Davidoff recently spoke with the man who created it, Mitchel Lichtman.

It's Just Sports interviewed Tigers' TV analyst Rod Allen. Has Rod really been doing Tigers games for seven years now? Wow. Topics discussed include Allen's schedule during the season, what he likes to convey during a telecast, and what led him from coaching into broadcasting.

With Curtis Granderson likely to sit out his second straight game tonight (due to Oakland starting the left-handed Gio Gonzalez), Tiger Tracks looks at Grandy's recent slump. He's been terrible against lefties this year, after making some improvements last season. So what are the Tigers' options at this point?

Rob Neyer writes about the Yankees' plan to monitor Joba Chamberlain's innings once again, noting that their big lead in the AL East affords them the luxury to sit him down, if necessary. Neyer compares that to the Tigers, whose close race with the White Sox might force them to use Rick Porcello more than planned.

While explaining the process of putting players on waivers, Danny Knobler shared an interesting Tigers-related nugget. It's ultimately irrelevant, but some of you might be interested in the name he mentions.

Roar of the Tigers complains about FOX Sports Detroit's choice of programming during yesterday's one-hour rain delay. And I have to agree. I'm biased because I don't play golf, but was running "Michigan Golf Live" really the best choice in the second half-hour of that delay?

Sam also has a, shall we say, passionate description of Brandon Inge's stellar play in yesterday's 6-5 victory.

FOXSports.com's Dayn Perry pokes holes in the notion (apparently ignited by the NY Times' Tyler Kepner) that the Yankees' Mark Teixeira is a more worthy MVP candidate than Minnesota's Joe Mauer. How much might Mauer be hurt by the Twins likely not being a playoff team? And how much does Teixeira benefit from playing in Yankee Stadium, while also batting in a lineup that gets plenty of guys on base for him?

The aforementioned Neyer and Posnanski both weighed in on this debate a few days ago. (Neyer, by the way, thinks Miguel Cabrera has to be in the discussion.)

Oh, and Chris Lambert - recently designated for assignment to accommodate Jacob Turner and his new major league contract - was claimed by the Baltimore Orioles.

Did the O's management see Lambert pitch against the Red Sox last Tuesday? They remember that's a division opponent of theirs, right? Maybe they thought they were getting this guy.