My step dad and I are sports buddies. Whether on email or via phone, we communicate nearly daily and it’s prominently sports discussion.
We exchanged some Tigers thoughts over the last couple of weeks, which led to him sending me the following email note: “You should write for the Detroit News, and work for the Tigers – and I’m serious.”
Since I don’t write for the Detroit News, and the Tigers won’t return my calls, this blog is the next best thing. My readership is just slightly off the Detroit News pace, but thoughts are still worth sharing (at least my folks seem to think so).
I started this blog last week, but got busy and didn’t get very far. At the time, I had titled the blog “Panic in Tigers Town.” Interesting enough, they have won a few games since then, and have a shot at winning a series today with JV on the mound.
It’s interesting how panic works.
Regardless of them winning or not today, it still feels like there is a great deal of panic around our Tigers, and justifiably so. They have been putrid. There is no other way to say it. It’s not just that they have not lived up to expectations; they have not. And it’s not because they haven’t scored the runs envisioned; they have not. And it’s not because we haven’t seen all facets of the game working in tandem to get on a hot streak; we have not.
It’s because it’s been brutally awful baseball to watch, game after game.
Baseball is a game about stats. Most sports are pretty statistics heavy. But, a real lover of the game knows that many important things go beyond the stats; truth lies deeper. If you watch the game day in and day out, you get a feel for things. Otherwise why would we play the games or watch the games? A GM could simply formulate a team with all the appropriate stats in place, have a statistical reviewer run the team, and we all could barely watch from afar, although why would we bother?
Stats provide us with data. But watching the games and understanding the games provides us with information; with the bigger story.
And for the Tigers the story has been a horror film. And the story has been a boring horror film, at that; a real yawner.
With all of that being said, the situation is not dire; at least not long term. I hear rumor after rumor; trade Fielder, trade Cabrera. I hear lots of arbitrary and dramatic moves to try and appease the panic. But, reactions of that nature are not needed. The Tigers are fine with the power boys at the corners. Cabrera is serviceable at third base, and Fielder should work into being serviceable at first, as well. The Tigers still have a strong core to work from and work with.
To fix them, long term, seems pretty simple to me; baseball is a game of strength up the middle. If the Tigers had strong defensive players at shortstop and second base, and if those guys were capable “get on base” hitters with decent speed, I would be pretty happy. The problem is the Tigers have a revolving hole at second, and a player with no range currently at shortstop. That doesn’t play well with Cabrera and Fielder at the corners. So, instead of trading away two of the best hitters in baseball, how about taking a logical and calm approach and shore up second and shortstop?
The Tigers have strength up in the middle in the outfield and I feel have enough outfielders to work with; and outfielders are much easier to fit into a line-up.
Fix shortstop and second base and this team is much improved. I would throw in the general “pitching” comments, but we all know the importance of pitching. No need to state the obvious. But, pitching hasn’t really been that bad with our Tigers; defense and lack of timely hitting seems the bigger issues. The bullpen certainly had its struggles out of the gate, but it seems that there is talent in the pen; that talent just needs to perform.
And let’s not forget, most teams have holes and flaws; that’s baseball. The good teams rise above it, the bad teams sink in the holes.
What will our Tigers do? How will they handle those holes? I don’t even think the Baseball Gods know the answers to those questions. But, one thing is certain; the panic rollercoaster flies at high speed. Fasten your seat belts and keep your hands inside the car