Monday Morning Manager is back! The series that Greg Eno has been writing since 2009 and switched to BYB in 2014, will appear every Monday morning, like clockwork, through the regular season. The change this year is the replacement of the Upcoming Opponents section with weekly Burning Questions.
Last Week: 4-2
So, What Happened?
Two more series wins for the Tigers were racked up, and against two pretty good teams.
The Minnesota Twins were on fire when they arrived in Detroit, and the Tigers walked off on the Twins on Tuesday, then blew them out of Comerica Park on Thursday, sandwiched around a loss on Wednesday.
Then it was off to St. Louis to play MLB's best team by winning percentage, the Cardinals, and their 24-10 record.
Miguel Cabrera terrorized Cardinals pitching to the tune of three homers over the weekend, including his 400th career bomb on Saturday as the Tigers won two of three from the Redbirds.
MMM was proud of the slick glove work the Tigers displayed, especially in St. Louis over the weekend.
One by one the Tigers turned in defensive gems, either robbing the Cards of hits or throwing base runners out. MMM probably isn't alone in not being used to seeing Tigers teams in recent years flashing this kind of top-grade leather.
Shane Greene left Friday's start after just five innings with some tingling in his fingers, but an MRI showed nothing serious. The incident was called mild ulnar neuritis. Greene doesn't think he'll miss a start.
Hero of the Week
What better week to name Miguel Cabrera as the Hero than in the one where he became the most prolific Venezuelan-born home run hitter in MLB history?
Miggy passed Andres Galarraga with home run no. 400 on Saturday in the rain in St. Louis. Fittingly, it was a signature Cabrera bomb: to dead center with that effortless-looking swing.
The roundtripper was the fourth of the week for Cabrera, who went 9-for-24 with nine RBI.
MMM is continuously amazed at how Cabrera looks like he's taking batting practice when he hits. The great ones in any sport make it look easy, and Cabrera is no exception in that regard.
Honorable mentions: Yoenis Cespedes, who had eight hits and six RBI, including back-to-back games in St. Louis where he went 3-for-5; Jose Iglesias, or as MMM now calls him, The Batting Glove (get it?), who combined his usual stellar defense with eight more hits; J.D. Martinez, who had nine hits while pulling himself nicely out of a ghastly slump; and Ian Kinsler, who had 10 hits, scored six runs, and is proving to be the perfect no. 2 hitter in front of Cabrera after batting mostly lead-off last year.
Goat of the Week
MMM is going to use his bully pulpit to pick on someone who probably doesn't deserve it.
Won't be the first time.
This is a good week to go after Hernan Perez, because even though the Tigers lost two games last week, there really weren't any goats, per se—unless you count Kyle Lobstein's subpar performance on Wednesday against the Twins.
MMM looks at poor Hernan and sees a Four-A player who is almost useless with the big club.
We've all seen a slew of those types come through Detroit over the years. Among the most famous might have been Quintin Berry, who thrilled us for half a season before ultimately proving himself to be a Four-A guy.
But most of the Four-A types have been utility guys/middle infielders, just like Perez.
The reason MMM says that Perez probably doesn't deserve the ire is because Hernan doesn't belong in the big leagues but that's not his fault.
MMM isn't crazy about the Tigers' bench, and with Andrew Romine already on the 25-man roster to be that utility guy, a dude with some pop like outfielder Tyler Collins would be nice to have.
But alas, we're stuck with Hernan Perez.
Under the Microscope
MMM wants to take some credit for the slump-busting J.D. Martinez, who appeared in this space last week. Faithful readers will know that last year, MMM's UtM guys often became relevant the very next week—for good or for bad.
This week's Microscope guy is there for a reason not normally displayed under this header.
MMM thinks that young catcher James McCann is going to be a fine, fine player. And now is McCann's time to seize the moment, with Alex Avila sidelined with a knee injury.
MMM is putting McCann UtM because while other higher profile Tigers are getting the majority of the ink, McCann is quietly doing a great job behind the plate and in the batter's box.
McCann's got a rifle for an arm and he hangs in there against tough pitchers when he's batting.
McCann's play, if it sustains itself, also presents a potentially dicey situation when (or if) Avila returns to health.
Burning Questions for the Week
MMM will now open the floor.
The Tigers face two opposites this week: the horrid Milwaukee Brewers and the surprising Houston Astros. Is the Brewers series a "trap" series?
Not really. Anyone can beat anyone in the big leagues, mainly because of the 162-game season. Even the bad teams win, on average, one of every three games they play (at least). So it stands to reason that the Brewers will win one game this week in Detroit, no matter what you choose to call the series.
And the Astros? Is their start (25-13) sustainable?
Of course not. You're talking a 106-108 win pace.
But the Astros aren't likely to fade in anyone's rear view mirror, either.
The Astros can rake, and their best player is all of 5'5" (Jose Altuve).
MMM would tell you to be a little suspicious of the Astros' starting pitching over the long haul, but don't be shocked if Houston is in the AL West mix all year.
After Miguel Cabrera hit his 400th home run, everyone wanted to extrapolate his numbers for his career. So may as well ask you: does Miggy get to 600 dingers before he hangs them up?
Six hundred, yes. But not 700, which would really put him in rarefied air.
MMM thinks Miggy will land somewhere in the 650s, but the irony is that when all is said and done, when they prop Cabrera up as one of the greatest hitters of all time (certainly among right-handed swingers), it won't be because of all the home runs. That's just part of his greatness.
Speaking of home runs, Ian Kinsler has exactly zero of them so far. Is this a sign of a rapidly-declining player (he's going to be 33 in June)?
It's true that Kinsler is no longer the guy who was a legitimate 15-20 home run per year threat, but do you see what else he's doing?
Rapidly declining? MMM thinks not.
The glove is still soft, the range is still wide and all Kinsler seems to do is get on base (.386 OBA) and score runs. If MMM isn't mistaken, aren't those two pretty important things?
Kinsler will still hit about 10-12 homers this year, if you're hung up on that.
Hey, what are those "OT" patches the Cardinals are wearing on their jerseys this year?
The patches honor young prospect Oscar Taveras, who died tragically in a car accident last October. Taveras was 22 years old.
Isn't nice to have a week that doesn't include at least one AL Central series?
You're not kidding. MMM was beginning to think that MLB had changed the schedule to mandate that 146 of your 162 games be played within your own division.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next Monday!