Kurt: I looked at the standings this morning. I don't always do that. I don't really pay close attention to standings until deep into the season. And — THE TIGERS ARE IN SECOND PLACE IN SEPTEMBER. Panic?
Sean: Panic? No, no time to panic. We have six games left against Kansas City and that alone could decide the Tigers playoff fate. It's past the playoffs that I am panicking about. No Sanchez, No Soria, half of a Cabrera. Not sure this is a deep playoff run kind of team.
K: I do like that the Tigers control their destiny in that way — and they've handled the Royals well so far this season. If they can continue that, the division title should be theirs. Amazing that we have to have this conversation, though, isn't it? What happened to that runaway train the Tigers were supposed to be?
S: Misplaced hubris. Honestly, it was hard to not believe that this year wasn't the year. The team as a whole just looked so dynamic at the beginning. Everything was clicking. It was also just such a different change of pace coming from previous years. Rajai was running all over the place, J.D was raking, the team was stealing bases, no attitudes from anyone yet. It just felt right.
The Royals are tough, but I still think the Tigers are a better team, if they can just get their collective heads out of their asses. Also, Alex Gordon for MVP? It's not as crazy as it sounds.
K: I think Mike Trout has the MVP all but wrapped up — especially the way the Angels are playing. Writers who were on the fence the past two seasons with them outside the playoffs can finally give him a vote. But Gordon, man, he and the Royals are a great story. He might get a lot of second and third-place votes if Kansas City manages to make it into the playoffs. If not — well, them's the breaks when it comes to MVP voters.
S: If I had a vote, I would vote for Trout too, but Gordon is just so underrated. So let's say the Tigers don't make the playoffs, or get bounced early, what becomes of this team?
K: Man I hate to be one of those "blow it up" people, and I don't know if that's what actually becomes of the team, but blow it up. As awful as rebuilding may be for fans, I'm concerned that the lack of depth is always going to cause problems, as we've seen, and it'll only grow worse with the superstars on the wrong end of age 30. I think something has to be done. They can't afford to keep everyone they'll need to and there's just not a lot of help to be found elsewhere. The canary in the coal mine is turning blue before our eyes. Am I being dramatic or do you see that too?
S: No, that's exactly what I was thinking. I hate to talk about that this prematurely, but I would be a liar if I said it wasn't in the back of my mind.
K: Not to put too much pressure on them in the month of September, huh?
But they've got a little help. We're seeing a couple of guys who could be the future. Steven Moya, James McCann. Tyler Collins, sorta. Any of those guys excite you? Moya was the Eastern League MVP and had his first major league hit yesterday. Collins had his first HR. So that was kinda cool.
S: Of the call ups, only Moya does anything for me. Collins swing is ugly, and he doesn't have any particular set of skills (Liam Neeson). McCann will be a slightly above average backup catcher, but I don't get excited over backup catchers.
I saw Moya this spring, and although his production wasn't great when I was there, you could see the raw talent. He reminds me a little of a left-handed Jermaine Dye. What impression did you get this spring? Get a chance to see him play?
K: Moya was impressive. He seems taller than he is listed. Someone joked he's more like 6'10. When he connects he does some damage. You obviously can do just fine in the MLB striking out a lot, some do, but he's going to have to keep up his damage-to-strikeout ratio because his swing has some pretty big holes. You can tell that from his minor league numbers and major league pitchers are going to find them. So I guess I'm not real high on Moya right now. He could go either way I think.
Here's a question: how many plots from this spring training did we all get wrong, and whose fault was it? The team doesn't run great and the defense is awful. Those were supposed to be the high points.
S: All of them.
Verlander will rebound and win the Cy Young. (Nope)
This team will have improved defense. (Barely, if at all)
The Tigers will run away with the division. (Ha)
Steals, steals, steals! (That was true for about two weeks)
What a solid bullpen. (Incorrect)
Who's fault is it?
Ours, for getting far too ahead of ourselves? I am not quite ready to place the blame on Ausmus and staff. Yet.
K: I don't think it's completely ours. I mean, the team that was built was given more speed on the basepaths and a coaching staff that featured both one of the best shortstops ever in the game and a defensive coordinator. I don't think we were wrong in the assumptions we made before the season. Maybe other areas -- player health -- were our fault, though, and have played a bigger role in the losses.
Maybe the baseball gods just hated our hubris.
S: I blame Ryan Raburn.