This time, it's Drew Sharp and his latest article. Now, look. I realize that I'm just some idiot with a blog that has maybe six readers (Love ya, kids). I realize that I might write something one day like "Sheff's the key to the offense" and the next day write "Trade that rat bastard Sheff". If the president of the country can flip-flop, so can I. I may make the occasional typo here and there. I don't have an editor and, to be honest, I am kind of a moron. Most importantly, I'm not being paid to write for one of the biggest newspapers in the country about sports. Sharp is. And he's an idiot. His words are in bold.
The sensational didn't work, so now the Tigers opt for the sensible.
Ahh, we're being clever. That's adorable. No problems yet.
It's the prudent path for a team that eroded into disarray last season about as fast as it stunningly congealed into the American League champion in 2006. The acquisitions of catcher Gerald Laird and shortstop Adam Everett didn't push the excitement needle, but the significance was in the message conveyed -- it's no longer about painting in broad strokes, but rather paying more attention to the tiny details.
Tiny details like consistently fielding the ball.
I'll bet Drew Sharp spent a lot of time putting this opening together. It's almost poetic the way it's written. Excuse me...I must wipe a tear from my eye. Oh wait...it's about to go to hell from here...
Tiny details like surrounding the team with more players who understand the concept of team.
Oh, no. This isn't going to be how we need to add a bunch of little, scrappy, white guys to the team, is it? Eck-stein! Eck-stein!
But role players like Laird and Everett prosper only when stars perform to the heights of their ability.
You mean, they suck. They need the stars to play well to cover up their inadequate play. This doesn't bode well for us, does it?
Role players aren't entrusted with erecting the foundation of a playoff contender. They're responsible for filling the inevitable cracks.
Role players, if you're going to call them that, should not be starters. A role player is a Ramon Santiago...a defensive replacement or spot starter. (Wussup, Blake?) A role player is a Dave Roberts, who pinch ran and stole a base that led to erasing the Curse of the Bambino a few years ago. A role player is a Mike Myers, who has had a long career by coming into a game and getting one left-handed hitter out and leaving the game. A role player should not be the starting catcher and shortstop of your "playoff contender". You're either a qualified MLB starter or you're not. And if most of your guys are not, you are the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Tigers aren't a desolate mess, but there are certainly some serious issues.
Bringing manager Jim Leyland back for 2009 without even a one-year contract extension becomes an unnecessary gamble. They're inviting clubhouse dissension should another disastrous start cripple them next season.
Look...I think that Jim should have gotten some sort of extension last season. He was the Manager of the Year in 2006 and the players all respect him. I don't blame him for last season's mess. I blame injuries and bad pitching. But these guys aren't children (other than Sheff). Jim not having a guarantee for 2010 doesn't mean anything nowadays...coaches and managers get fired constantly whether they have a long-term deal or not. This isn't a team of kids...it's a bunch of veterans that are going to play to their capabilities whether Leyland is there or not.
But their most serious problem approaching this off-season was too often fielding a team that woefully looked out of position.
No, it was the pitching. Blame everything on Nate Robertson...that's what I do. And Renteria wasn't out of position. Neither, really, was Guillen or Inge. Edgar and Carlos are just getting older and their range isn't what is used to be. As for Inge, he's just a baby that cried when his favorite toy (3rd base) was taken away.
It cost them only $4 million next season to upgrade perhaps the two most important defensive positions -- catcher and shortstop.
Upgrade? Maybe. Everett needs to stay healthy and Laird needs to show that he can play a full season. If that happens, then, awesome job. But let's not pass out the GM of the Year trophy just yet...we still need pitching. Are you ever going to talk about pitching, Drew?
They're moving Brandon Inge back to third, a coin flip for success considering the problem with Inge wasn't his ability to get to ground balls usually destined for left field, but rather his ability to make an accurate throw to first base.
Coin flip? Look, I get annoyed by Inge just as much, maybe more, as the next guy, but he's more than a coin flip better than Guillen, Larish, or Raburn defensively at third base. I'll take his arm over the other guys any day of the week. The REAL problem with Inge is his inability to hit a baseball. Well, that and his inability to grow facial hair that doesn't make him look like a 16 year old.
The Tigers are defensively stronger up the middle now than previously with the additions of Laird and Everett and that might directly improve the quality of the current starting pitching.
Finally! A decent point. I agree...the starting pitching can't help but be improved by a better defense. Good job, Drew! Have a cookie. Now, talk more about the pitching and how it was what REALLY hurt us last year.
But any success next season still comes down to the production of the stars.
Wait. Back to your poetry...what about the broad strokes not working...we need only to field the ball to win, I thought? You're making this seem somehow difficult to make the playoffs. I thought Everett and Laird were the answer! You deceived me, Drew Sharp...never again.
It still comes down to three guys -- Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Justin Verlander.
B F'n S. It comes down to a hell of a lot more than the three franchise players, Drew. You just spent the whole article saying that. And now you're switching directions? Miguel was an MVP candidate last year. Grandy started hurt and was slightly down, but was still great in center. Verlander sucked hard last year, I admit. But I think success is more than three guys. TEAM, remember? There's no "I" in "Tigers", Drew. Oh wait...never mind that last part.
Cabrera rebounded offensively in last season's second half, becoming the AL's home run champion, but he got hot only once the Tigers' serious playoff aspirations cooled. What does hitting endless home runs in meaningless games actually mean?
Okay, Drew. Now, you're just bring a prick. It's not like Miguel played like total crap the first half. You don't win a home run crown in half a season. There's a period of adjustment in switching leagues for 90% of players. And what does hitting "endless home runs in meaningless games" mean? It means that he never quit. It means that he's a phenominal talent. It means that he is the franchise player that this team has been looking for. It's not his fault that we couldn't hold a lead while he hit home runs. It's not his fault that Nate Robertson spent the season looking like Charlie Friggin' Brown on the pitcher's mound. And it's not his fault that Gary Sheffield's hitting stroke couldn't keep up with his mouth. I don't like you, Drew.
He has had of [sic] year of adapting to the American League and his new responsibilities of becoming the Tigers' new face. Cabrera should enter the 2009 season as one of the top three favorites for AL Most Valuable Player.
Nice typo. Fire the editor! Good job acknowledging the period of adjustment. And yes, he is an early favorite for the MVP...as long as he quits hitting those stupid endless home runs in meaningless games, that is. That's why A-Rod sucks, too, right?
Granderson should be an All-Star by now.
All Star selections are meaningless. Seven of the nine starters every year play for Boston and New York. That's fan voting for you. And being that every team has to have a representitive, many deserving guys get left out. Don't crap on Grandy's game due to stupid rules.
And Verlander should be the Tigers' irrefutable ace of the starting rotation.
Who said he isn't? Do you think Nate is the ace? Justin's had two full seasons. One good, one bad. Lay off. It isn't like we overpaid for an ace like the Giants did for Barry Zito. We've overpaid for a lot of guys, but not an ace pitcher.
Those three must rise to the level of their expectations. If they do then the Tigers are once again a genuine playoff contender.
No they're not, dammit. No one is worried about Cabrera and Granderson except for you. Yes, Verlander needs to rebound. A better defense will do that. But it's the OTHER guys, mainly the pitchers that will decide if we make the playoffs. It's up to Bonderman, Robertson, Guillen, Sheffield, and whomever Double D finds for the bullpen to get us to the playoffs. Granderson and Cabrera are the only sure things we have now. Even Maggs is getting older. But leave these two guys alone. They aren't going to be the reason we don't make the playoffs unless they both get hit by a bus in the offseason.
They have enough stars. What they need are more ballplayers, and Laird and Everett satisfy that specific criteria.
Holy hell. No. I will take "stars" over "ballplayers" any day of the week. Tell you what...I'll field my team of "stars" like Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Manny Ramirez, and CC Sabathia. You put out a team of "ballplayers" like Adam Everett, David Eckstein, Darin Erstad, and Jeff Suppan. We'll play a best of seven series. If my team doesn't sweep, I will come to your house wearing a tutu and make out with your dog while you film it for YouTube.
Running lock step with the big boys proved disastrous last season. The Tigers couldn't handle the enormous expectations that came with pumping up the star power and subsequently the payroll.
THAT was it! Expectations! Not injuries. Not aging veterans. Not bad pitching. It was the expectations! Damn you, liberal media!
They basically choked.
No. To choke is to be in the lead, look like you're going to win, and then blow it. Ask the Mets about that. The Tigers started 0-7 last year. They didn't live up to the enormous expectations that you mentioned, but they didn't choke.
But now the Tigers are back where they're most comfortable.
Nobody's talking about them. Even fewer are thinking about them as baseball's winter meetings resume in Las Vegas.
Are you kidding me? I think the Tigers have been mentioned in EVERY rumor I've heard this offseason except for maybe the signing of Casey Blake. Jack Wilson, Trevor Hoffman, JJ Putz, Khalil Greene, Derek Lowe, Brian Fuentes, Kerry Wood, etc, etc, etc. Drew, just because Detroit has a stereotype for having a lot of crackheads in the city doesn't mean you have to smoke the stuff, okay?
They can sneak up upon the least expecting.
Who the hell is that? The Boston Celtics? They'd NEVER see us coming and we can get Kevin Garnett to be our fifth starter! Brilliant, Drew!
But the moves that brought Laird and Everett are arguably more important than a year ago when they shocked the baseball world acquiring Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
Show me a person that argues that getting Adam Everett and Gerald Laird is more important than getting a young franchise stud like Miguel Cabrera, and I'll show you a person that should be locked in a padded cell and receiving shock therapy. I hate the Free Press.
Those bold moves coupled with a payroll that ballooned to $138 million turned the Tigers into a serious championship player. But it created a fractious environment last season. Everybody looked for blame. It was the offense's fault one minute, the starting pitching the next and the bullpen the next.
What does this have to do with Cabrera or the payroll? And for the minute to minute thing...I'm pretty sure that the starting pitching and the bullpen sucked pretty much all year. The hitting wasn't the problem. We got shut out a few times, but more often than not, we scored runs. When teams don't perform to expectations, people look to blame something. And the blame goes to injuries to Bonderman and Zoom, as well as terrible performances by Robertson, Willis, Rodney, Jones, and the rest of the joke of a bullpen.
But the problem was that they never assembled a true team, comprised of various talents responsible for satisfying their respective roles.
My bad...that was the problem last year. Not the pitching! It was Cabrera hitting those meaningless home runs when he should have been deciding what his role was. Maybe if the team holds hands before every game this year and chants together, they'll win 130 ballgames. Naw, I'm sticking with my idea. They need to pitch better.
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski learned his lesson and is working hard at correcting previous misjudgements.
He's burning the contracts of Guillen, Inge, Robertson, and Willis? Sweet! We got Jurrjens back? Awesome! Why didn't Randy Smith do this?
He has his everyday catcher and shortstop. The next objective is building up a bullpen that was one of baseball's worst. He'll choose a less exciting tract than a year ago, but it won't detract from the Tigers' most pressing objective this winter -- building a team rather than a sensation.
You see, this is why I won so much money on the World Series last year. The Phillies TI (Team Index) was 82.6. The Rays only came in at 65.9. And even through Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley are much more famous than any of the Rays, somehow their SI (Sensation Index) was narrowly lower than the Rays at 33.4 compared to Tampa's 36.5. Great job, Philly!
Contact DREW SHARP at 313-223-4055 or email@example.com.
Believe me, Drew...I'm thinking about it.