Monday Morning Manager is a series that Greg Eno has been writing since 2009 on his personal blogs. It's a look back at the previous Tigers week and a look ahead at the current week. This season, he brings the series, featuring his alter ego "MMM", to Bless You Boys, every Monday morning.
Last Week: 3-2
This week: CWS (4/21-24); at Min (4/25-27)
So, What Happened?
The Tigers came home from southern California and were greeted by temperatures in the 30s and snow on Monday night, both of which combined to postpone Tuesday's game against Cleveland. So it was another five-game week, meaning the Tigers have played 15 games, which are the fewest of any team in MLB.
The week saw the end of the Alex Gonzalez Era -- all 14 games of it -- making the Doug Fister trade even more confounding. Gonzalez was released Sunday morning and Danny Worth was called up from Toledo. Don't worry---MMM doesn't get it, either.
Brad Ausmus must have said he isn't worried about Miguel Cabrera every day of the week as the two-time defending league MVP continued his sluggish -- not slugging -- start.
Max Scherzer got his first win and the Tigers took two of three from the Los Angeles Angels after splitting two games with the Tribe.
And, best of all, the Tigers remain on top of the AL Central for the third Monday in a row to start the season.
Hero of the Week
MMM loves how Ian Kinsler plays the game. He wears his socks high, he shows up to the ballpark already dirty and he runs the bases like Enos Slaughter.
It was Kinsler's Slaughter-like dash around the base paths on Sunday that is part of why he is MMM's Hero of the Week.
It will be known around these parts as the three-error play.
Kinsler was on first base in the first inning and was off and running on a 3-2 pitch to Cabrera, who walked. But Angels catcher Hank Conger threw to second in an attempt to nail Kinsler (even though it was ball four) and the ball sailed into center field. That was error number one.
Center fielder Mike Trout threw wildly into the infield. That was error number two.
Meanwhile, Kinsler kept running as if being chased by an angry ex-girlfriend with a knife.
After fielding Trout's bad throw, pitcher Hector Santiago, startled to see Kinsler heading for home, threw erratically to the plate for error number three. Kinsler scored, tying the game 1-1.
When was the last time you saw a runner score from first base on a walk?
That play was part of a grand week for the Tigers' new no. 3.
On Thursday, Kinsler slammed a three-run homer that turned a 3-1 deficit against Cleveland into a 4-3 lead and the Tigers never trailed again.
For the week, Kinsler was 7-for-20 with a homer, seven RBI and four runs scored.
Honorable mentions: Scherzer, for his shutdown game on Saturday the day after the Angels had 10 extra base hits in their victory; Victor Martinez (6-for-17); Rick Porcello (strong start on Sunday); and Joe Nathan (clutch save on Sunday).
Goat of the Week
MMM wonders if Torii Hunter slamming into the wall in Los Angeles hasn't done something to the right fielder's swing.
Since the mishap that occurred while chasing a foul ball, Hunter has gone 6-for-27 with one extra-base hit. Last week, Hunter was 4-for-19, all singles. He had one RBI.
The good news is that Hunter didn't strike out all week, so he's making contact. But he has also been popping the ball up a lot.
Hunter does have 10 RBIs, but most of those occurred in the season's first week.
MMM knows that Hunter prides himself on being the jocular veteran who is as cool as a cucumber, but last week Torii simply didn't bring much to the table. And when you're batting in the two-hole behind the hot Kinsler and in front of the dangerous Cabrera, MMM hopes Hunter's advanced age isn't being a factor.
Or it could be the after effects of the wall collision in LA.
Under the Microscope
OK, MMM has been putting this off but the season is three weeks old and in Detroit the fans live in dog years. So the three weeks translate to 21 weeks as far as the panicky fans are concerned.
Which means that MMM is reluctantly placing Miguel Cabrera UtM.
There is some statistical basis for this maybe-Chicken Little move.
Cabrera is slashing along at .220/.292/.356/.648, which isn't very MVP-like. It's not even very mediocre-like. The baseball isn't flying off his bat in a very Cabrera-like way. So MMM supposes it's fair to put the big guy under the scope.
Manager Ausmus isn't worried. Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo, who ranted on his "High Heat" show on Friday that Cabrera is a better player than Mike Trout, isn't worried. Most baseball people are likely not worried.
But Cabrera's season is 59 at-bats old and all there is to look at are three runs scored, a single home run and seven RBIs. Worse, Miggy has 15 strikeouts, which is a far higher rate than his career's.
In a word, Cabrera's year so far has been perplexing.
UtM is reserved for players who we all should keep a close eye on in the upcoming week, and by that definition, MMM thinks Cabrera qualifies.
After Sunday's game, Ausmus was actually asked if he suspects that something is wrong with Cabrera physically.
"If there is, then he's keeping it a secret," the manager replied, before reiterating that he "knows" Cabrera will be fine.
Sorry, Miguel, but MMM is caving and putting you under the scope. Please don't be mad---unless it provides some sort of motivation.
It's an all-AL Central week!
Unfortunately, we won't see Avisail Garcia with the Chisox. The former Tigers prospect, who had gotten off to a decent start this year, is out for the season with a shoulder injury.
But we will see 1B Jose Abreu. The 27-year-old rookie from Cuba leads the White Sox in HR (5) and RBI (17), despite a .243 BA. Abreu went 3-for-6 (two doubles, home run) with three RBI on Sunday.
Alexei Ramirez, of all people, is raking. The iron-gloved shortstop has four homers, 14 RBIs and is hitting at a robust .360 clip.
The Pale Hose, in fact, have four regulars batting .300+ (Tyler Flowers, Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo and Conor Gillaspie).
On the mound, tall, angular, herky-jerky lefty Chris Sale is humming along at 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA and a tiny WHIP of 0.86. He is slated to pitch on Tuesday against---drum roll please---Justin Verlander in what must be the pitching match-up of the week in MLB.
Tigers probables vs. White Sox: Anibal Sanchez, Verlander, Drew Smyly, Scherzer.
The Twins, at 9-9, are one of the season's early pleasant surprises---except for Tigers fans, who have been bedeviled by the Twinkies over the years.
Minnesota can swing the bats, though it's a little hit and miss, because the Twins are fourth in MLB in runs scored yet just 19th in batting average. They are second in OBP but just 20th in slugging percentage. Their offense is rather schizophrenic.
MMM wants to know who Chris Colabello is and why he's hitting .353 with 20 RBIs. So Google and Wikipedia to the rescue!
The 30-year-old who grew up in Italy and who played seven years in the Independent Can-Am League---and who wasn't drafted by any MLB team---is on fire.
Last week, Colabello had 12 hits and six RBIs.
Colabello had a chance to play in Korea this year but opted to stick with the Twins, who have owned his rights since 2012.
MMM thinks that Colabello's unexpected success is one reason why baseball is such a great game. It provides 15 minutes of fame to the unassuming constantly, and has been doing so ever since those dudes in the 1840s laid out the first diamond.
Tigers probables vs. Twins: Rick Porcello, Sanchez, Verlander.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!