Feb 20, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland (left) talks with general manager David Dombrowski at Joker Merchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Last Minute Thoughts Before the Game

Before I get into things, I just want to say that I believe Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers will win the series-deciding game tonight. It may be rough going, it may be one-sided, but I truly believe in the end that the Tigers will advance.

Having said that, my gosh, I can’t wait for the offseason house cleaning should they lose.

Is this too presumptive? Too cynical? Oh, most definitely. But having watched the gradual implosion of the back-end of the bullpen yesterday, and just in general growing weary of Jim Leyland’s Old School nonsense, my hopeful thoughts often have negative ones echoing in the background.

Indulging in an exercise like this could be a futile gesture, what with Mr. Illitch having a desperate craving for a World Series. The thing is, this team doesn’t really need an overhaul – a lot of its current pieces are phenomenal. Heck, most of its current pieces are phenomenal, and Victor Martinez will be back next year to make an already scary lineup look downright horrifying. But judging by these playoffs alone, some things have to be changed.

First off, that bullpen needs to be addressed. If Bruce Rondon can somehow keep evolving into the Closer of the Future, he could be a catalyst next year when camp breaks. He could be that pre-breakdown Matt Anderson/Joel Zumaya homegrown bullpen guy that Ryan Perry couldn’t. Look at the success that young rookie closers have had recently in Atlanta, Oakland, Los Angeles, etc. This could conceivably happen here. They could also keep Albequerque (another “If he stays healthy…” type of pitcher), Benoit (last year of his bloated contract), and maybe a Darin Downs or Duane Below, but more or less just try signing experienced guys to one-year deals and letting them prove their worth. It worked for Tampa Bay, and it’s working for Oakland.

Secondly, it’s time for a managerial change. Bunting with a man on first and one out worked last night, but that’s a, what, one out of twenty type success rate? Not using Quintin Berry as a pinch runner as often as he should be used? Sitting people based solely on lefty-lefty, righty-righty matchups? This stuff is antiquated and frustrating. This team needs a guy who can think outside the box and understand how to be unpredictable in strategies to throw off opposing managers. I throw out Brad Ausmus‘ name as a potential manager merely because it just seems so darn…fitting. (And somewhere Randy Smith gets all hot and bothered)

Again, this is all presupposition by me. I really believe that after tonight Detroit will be travelling to either New York or back home to face Baltimore, and this questions won’t have to be addressed until another day.

But really, closers shouldn’t cough up must-win games, and if a manager can’t win a series with the best hitter and best pitcher in baseball, what good is he?

 

(Final Predicted Score: Detroit 4, Oakland 2)

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Tags: Bruce Rondon Detroit Tigers Jim Leyland Jose Valverde Justin Verlander Miguel Cabrera Mike Ilitch

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