Sunday, July 10, 2011

A look at the Tigers-Offensive Edition

So we’re 91 games into the season. If in April, someone had told me that Detroit would be .5 games behind Cleveland, I would have been fucking pissed. If they would have told me that we were behind Cleveland by .5 games, and were in second place? I would have offered to chip in on whatever it was you were on. Seriously, I got five on it. Add to that the fact that we are 4.5 up on the White Sox and 7 up on Minnesota, and….well, I dunno. I don’t think anyone knows what to think of the AL Central right now.

So how did we get 5 games over .500, and still have so much uncertainty? Let’s start with the offense. Seeing Miguel Cabrera and Verlander in the All Star game is pretty unspectacular. They are perennial All Stars, so it’s not that big a deal. I mean, congrats for sure, but hardly earth shattering news.

Well, the Tigers have 2 other All Stars on offense. Whoever had Jhohhnyh Peralta and Alex Avila playing or starting in the All Star game back in March, please raise your hands. Put your fucking hands down, liars. Granted it took a Twitter campaign from Verlander and an injury to Jeter, but here we are. Martin and Jeter did not deserve to be there, much less starting. Avila, Matt Weiters, AJ Pierzinski, Mike Napoli, and Carlos Santana are more deserving than Martin. And I won’t get into how over rater Jeter is now-a-days. But as long as MLB lets fans decide the home field advantage in the WORLD SERIES!!!!! and lets fans vote in guys like this, then I can’t take MLB serious. But anyway… Let’s take a look at the Tigers position by position.

CATCHER

Detroit easily has the best catching combination in baseball. How easily? Avila is  headed to Arizona for the All Star game. Martinez is hitting .316. Granted, Martinez is mostly a DH, but still. Avila has shut me up. I didn’t think he was an everyday catcher. Mea Culpa.

FIRST BASE

Another position of strength, as Cabrera joins Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira as the big three. This year, Teixeira drew the short straw. This also brings up another stupid fucking rule I hate about the All Star Game. The “Hippy, everyone gets a representative, as long as we all tried hard nobody loses “rule. Also known as the HEGARALAWATHNL. Teixeira is easily more deserving than….I just can’t do it anymore.

SECOND BASE

The positivity train has derailed. The Detroit second basemen are awful. How awful? I miss Scott Sizemore horrible. Raburn, Santiago, Rhymes, and Worth just aren’t viable major leaguers at this point. Whether it’s due to a down year (Raburn), youth/talent (Rhymes and Worth) or talent (Santiago) they have to have more production out of this position. This statement will become a disturbing trend in the coming positions. A trade has to be made. Soon.

THIRD BASE

Inge and Kelly have played like Inge and Kelly. Great defense and putrid offense. Binge is hitting .186, which is less than such stalwarts as Omir Santos, and well everyone really. No, I really mean really. He is last on the team among non-pitchers in batting average. He has hit one home run. Kelly is Ruthian by comparison. He is batting .247 with 3 bombs. But they at least provide plus defense. The offensive output can only go up, so the defense saves them. For now….

LEFT FIELD

I will list Boesch here, since he has the second most starts in LF behind Raburn.  Boesch is having another impressive 1st half offensively. He killed it in the first half last year before going all Inge on us. (Too soon?) .306 average with 12 jacks and 43 RsBI. (I hate when people say RBIs. Runs batted ins? Run batted ins? No. It’s Runs batted in. /Rant over) Let’s just hope he keeps it moderately up after the All Star break. Fingers crossed. Breath not held.

CENTER FIELD

Austin Jackson is playing like Willy “Mays” Hayes. Unfortunately it’s the Omar Epps/Major League 2 version, and not the Wesley Snipes. If there was a WMH in Major League 3, I have no idea. I went through years of therapy to suppress any memories of that movie. He just isn’t hitting. At least not like a leadoff hitter. He has 15 steals which ranks 13th is the AL, and is ironically tied with Granderson. Not bad. His OBP ranks 9th. Not in the AL, but on the Tigers. Not good enough for a leadoff hitter at any level. Add in his 100 strikeouts (2nd in the AL) and you are taking RsBI opportunities away from Cabrera, Boesch, and Martinez.
RIGHT FIELD

Boesch was covered earlier. Obviously his bat plays well in RF as well. I’m guessing, if Leyland had his druthers, Magglio would be the everyday right fielder, so I will focus on him. Fuck. He deserved the one year, $10,000,000 contract they gave him. He has done a ton for the Tigers. But he is no better than a pinch hitter right now. Why not let him rest until the playoff push?  Casper Wells can handle it defensively, and Andy Dirks deserves a shot. I would start Dirks 5 times a week until Maggs is ready or he proves he can’t handle the job full time. I am a big fan of Dirks if I wasn’t being clear.

BENCH

I covered almost everyone. Dirks, Kelly, Raburn, Wells…yep. They have a typical bench. Good defensive replacements, few good pinch hitters.

MINORS

Will Rhymes must have killed Dombrowski’s dog or something. He is hitting .321 with a .381 OBP in Toledo. He isn’t worth a shot at 2nd? That’s about it. There are a few 1B/DH candidates, but those positions are manned and manned well. At AA, Francisco Martinez is raking. Well, close. He is batting .286 with 7 HR, and plays third. That sounds so-so until you realize he is only 20 years old. It’s too soon to call him up, but he’s one to watch.

MANAGEMENT

Here’s where it gets fishy. I love Leyland. I love his arguments. I love his smoking habit. I hate his batting orders. He continues to bat AJAX leadoff for some reason. I never got the fastest guy has to leadoff. I am a big “put a guy with a propensity to get on base in front of the sluggers” guy. So who would I bat leadoff? I figured you would ask. I would bat Boesch at leadoff. He has a .362 OBP and can run a little bit. He could set the table for the Big Guns. In fact, my everyday lineup would be…
1.       Boesch-7
2.       Avila-2
3.       Peralta-6
4.       Cabrera-3
5.       Martinez-DH
6.       Ordonez-9
7.       Raburn-4
8.       Inge-5
9.       Jackson-8

It puts the best hitters in a position to get the most at bats. And it puts Jackson 9th, so his speed will be on the base paths in front of the sluggers.

OVERVIEW

There is a lot to like about this lineup. Cabrera is a Top-5 hitter in baseball. Martinez is a great hitter. Peralta and Avila are the best hitters at their position in the AL right now. Boesch is off to a great start again. Raburn and Inge have to hit better, right? Right? Please tell me I’m right. Ordonez, when healthy, is at the very least average. I’m Mr. Brightside.

But there is also a lot to not like. Jackson couldn’t hit a bad driver with a fire hose on an Ohio freeway. He strikes out too much to use his speed.  Inge and Raburn have done nothing to show signs of turning it around. Avila and Peralta are playing out of their minds. Can they keep it up? I am Jack’s pessimistic gall bladder.

I think come September, this team will fall short as it stands. Chicago and Minnesota had horrible starts, and they didn’t take advantage. And they also have those pesky Injuns to contend with. They should be leading the Central by 8 games right now.

SOLUTION

Well, trades have to be made. 2nd, 3rd, and CF are gaping holes. (Don’t Google image search that at work. Trust.) The defense at 3rd and in Center is enough to deal with the production. Second base is my bugaboo. If they don’t think Rhymes can do it, make a trade. Some candidates that may be available are…
(Note- I am listing good players on bad teams. I would love Rickie Weeks or Robinson Cano, but it ain’t happening.)
Ben Zobrist-Tampa Bay-Tampa is still in contention, but they are broke, and should lose ground on the Yankees and Red Sox fairly soon. He’s hitting .271 with 10 steals and 10 HR.
Neil Walker-Pittsburgh-The Pirates are surprisingly in the hunt, but it can’t last. Walker is young (25) and hitting .258 with 8 HR. Not great, but an upgrade.
Danny Espinosa-Washington-A leading ROY candidate in the NL, he probably isn’t available. But he has 14 HR. It would take a ransom, but I would consider it.
Ugh…That’s about it. But it proves my point. The good teams get good production at second base. So should we.
I will look at the pitchers soon, along with a look at the most valuable trade chips in the organization. So long.

EDIT-I for some reason had Martinez as an All Star. My bad. Fixed.

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