The Tigers lost badly in the last game of the weekend. The Cleveland Indians looked like an overpowering offense. In reality, that hasn’t been the problem this year. The Indians are sixth in the league in on base percentage. They are hitting above .260 for the entire season. The problem has been at the hands of the pitching.
Against the Tigers though, Cleveland’s rotation has looked like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay number wise. When Carl Pavano, who has a near six earned run average this season shuts you down for seven plus innings not once but twice, something has to be wrong. It reminds me of Bill Engvall’s set called, “Here’s Your Sign.” It’s plain and simple. Some mix up needs to happen. Maybe some spark can be found on the waiver wire. Dave Dombrowski was clear that the Tigers were looking only for corner outfield help. Since a deal didn’t come through, maybe Wilkin Ramirez is the Cameron Maybin type call up of 2009. If his is or isn’t, something has to happen. What are the options outfield wise? Let’s just say there aren’t many out there internally outside of Ramirez. Brent Clevlen is remaining a mediocre talent in Toledo, and Don Kelly hasn’t shown the production power the Tigers desperately need. The offense flat out stinks.
But it could be worse.
As we all witnessed in the 2006 American League Division Series, it isn’t always about having the best lineup day in and day out. If the right guys can get hot at the right times, then the sky is the limit. Even David was able to slay Goliath. With these top three starters, the Tigers could very well slingshot their way into a fun October. If someone emerges out of the bullpen as a “go-to-guy” and the defense remains at par, then there is no reason to think this team can’t compete with the rest of the American League in a long seven game series. To borrow a slogan from the good ol’ Detroit Pistons- It’s simply, “Time to go to work.” August and September are going to be as fun as a used jigsaw puzzle from Goodwill. We have no idea if 100% of all of the peices are in the box, but we do know that we can put together pretty much the whole thing.
It could be worse.
I found that out this trade deadline when I headed on down to Milwaukee to catch some baseball action with my friends. The Brewers are the exact opposite of the Detroit Tigers. Their offense is pretty darn good, and has performed in the clutch. Sure, they have the same team average of the Tigers (.271) but they have 26 more doubles, and have driven in more runs. They have scored fourteen more runs all season. For the Brewers, their true weakness has been their pitching. Beyond Yovani Gallardo, it has been hard to find someone consistent to hold a starting job and hold opponent’s offenses. In reality the Tigers offense in retrospect is in the same position as the Brewers pitching. On deadline day, Doug Melvin wasn’t able to get anything done. The cost for our flashy new lefty was just way too much. Everybody else was asking for the Brewers’ top prospects.
So the Brewers had to make due with a former Milwaukee starter that has never been anything special. Claudio Vargas now becomes a stopgap that is going to have a lot on his shoulders. The Brewers fall from being a contender to pretender, with the Cubs adding two lefties and the Cardinals adding Matt Holliday and Julio Lugo. To make things better, exiled third baseman Bill Hall will be called on to play the outfield, filling in for the injured Corey Hart. A team that made a push to the playoffs a year ago, is now on the outside looking in. At least Dave Dombrowski was able to bring in something good. Jake Peavy is a real scary threat, but he won’t be facing A.L. Central hitters until September. Orlando Cabrera brings nice depth to an already good offense, but is it a significant piece that pushes Minnesota over top in the Central?
These questions and more will be answered down the stretch as the Tigers battle for another division crown.