The Season Is Over

I've been a very well behaved boy for quite a while.  But this gave me a screaming headache.  From Samuelsen at the Freep...

Tigers don’t look like a playoff team to me

That’s exactly the title of an article that I’m sure all Tiger fans want to see on March frigging third. Bring on the doom and gloom!

I could write a cogent, thought-out, long blog entry about how the Tigers are going to win the AL Central.

No you couldn’t.

I could write a cogent, thought-out, long blog entry about how the Tigers won’t win the AL Central.

Also doubtful.

That’s the thing about spring-training predictions, especially for a team with as many questions as the Tigers. Both arguments could make complete sense. But I'll reserve final judgment until Opening Day.

Indeed. Making predictions a month earlier would be stupid. But by the first week of April? It all becomes clear. Why do they even play the stupid games?

When the Nos. 4 and 5 spots in your rotation are comprised of two guys named question mark, I'm allowed to take some time to assess.

As opposed to last year when our 4th and 5th guys were named Nolan Ryan and Bob Gibson. We’re actually looking a bit better with the Bondo/Armando/Coke/Nate/Dontrelle group battling it out this year, methinks. And by the way, we led the division most of last year with guys named Figaro, French, and a broken down Washburn starting games at the back of the rotation. I hardly think our 4th and 5th starters are going to keep us out of the playoffs. The offense is what needed work.  But please, go on.

So with that as a disclaimer, I don’t see the Tigers as a playoff team this season. There are just too many questions for a team that had a lot of holes last season.

And finished the season tied for first with all of those holes. You’re right. No playoffs for us.

That’s the thing to remember about 2009.

That we forced a one game playoff with more exposed holes than Jenna Jameson?

Sure, the team should have won the division last year.

Holes, I tell you! Comerica Park looked like it was infested with moles!

But as the Tigers flailed down the stretch while trying to maintain that lead, there were reminders galore of how many flaws gripped the team. The rotation was incomplete.

No team has five All-Stars at starting pitcher. JV, Rick, and EJax did a great job last year. (Well, Edwin was good much of the year.) Of course, they're not going to win every time out.  And the four and five guys aren’t going to lose every game out. So, if you win an average of 3/5 games, you’ll have a .600 winning percentage (roughly 97 wins), more than enough to win the AL Central. The rotation wasn’t the problem.

The lineup was full of holes.

Holes! Swiss cheese, this team reminded me of!

And even the big guns had stretches during the season during which they struggled mightily. So when you subtract from that guys such as Placido Polanco and Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson and Fernando Rodney, it doesn’t make sense to me that a flawed team somehow will be better.

Polanco and Granderson were dog crap last year. Polly’s OPS+ was 88 and Grandy’s was 100. Those were the table setters last year. Jackson disappeared in most of the second half and Rodney was so impressive with his 1.47 WHIP that no one wanted him to be their closer this year. So these flaws that you mention, well, they are no longer there. Improvements were made. Make sense, yet? Okay…

Sizemore will be a step down in defense at second, but he should be able to top an 88 OPS+ with ease. Johnny Damon doesn’t have Granderson’s power, but he is better at everything else offensively. Max Scherzer is at worst, Jackson’s equal. But from everything I’ve read, he seems to be a big step up. And Jose Valverde is so much better than Rodney that it’s frightening. Even if are still crying yourself to sleep over Grandy leaving and think he’s going to rebound after the past couple years of suck, you have to admit that we’re looking up in your other examples.

We haven’t even touched on Miguel Cabrera’s new attitude and lack of booze, Magglio Ordonez reporting to camp in shape and without the distractions of his wife last year, Gerald Laird having some actual help behind the plate this year, Brandon Inge’s rebuilt magic legs, and Carlos Guillen being able to walk and not being counted on to play in the field all year. And speaking of health, a healthy Jeremy Bonderman is one hell of a #4 guy if you want to go back to your rotation stuff. I’d say we look a lot better than last year’s bunch of losers that led the division all season.

That’s the bad news.

Best bad news ever.

The good news is that the other two contenders in the division are the Twins and the White Sox, not the Yankees and the Red Sox.

I agree. We have a good chance at making the playoffs. Let’s stop this nonsense and go get a beer.  You buy.

So while the Tigers are not a perfect team, by any stretch, neither are their rivals for the crown. The Twins have to adapt to a new ballpark and, in the process, lose a great measure of their home-field invincibility. If the Twins were playing outdoors last year, you easily can make the argument that the Tigers would have won the division. Seriously. Do you think Don Kelly drops that ball in the Saturday game in September if he’s not staring at a gray ceiling?

Yes. Don Kelly is horrible at baseball.

I don’t.

Oh, well. By the way, you’re hurting your point that the Tigers won’t make the playoffs this year by pointing out how bad the other teams are. Is anyone else noticing this?

And the White Sox are clearly rolling the dice with players such as Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones, whose best years were five and six seasons ago.

Don’t forget Alex Rios, Freddy Garcia, Mark Kotsay, and Omar Vizquel. Paul Konerko’s an old man, too. The Sox are old and overrated. Well, except for one guy that I’m sure you’ll mention.

Maybe they pick up Adrian Gonzalez and start to look a little more formidable. But until they do, they have questions as well.

Oh, no mention of Jake Peavy?  One of the best pitchers in the game?  Ring a bell?  Good call, hopefully he dies in a bizarre gardening accident or something.

More good news is that the Tigers have this weird ability of defying expectations ever since Jim Leyland arrived.

Yeah, they defied expectations like a mother in 2007 and 2008.

I’m not sure if that’s on him, and I’m not even sure it’s a good thing.

It’s not. And it’s not even true. Even in 2006 they collapsed at the end of the regular season before catching fire in the playoffs…and flaming out against a clearly inferior Cardinals team in the World Series.

But think about the four-year run. Their best year was 2006, when nothing was expected of them. They followed that up with two disappointments,

I thought they kept defying expectations? Is Peter King ghostwriting your blog?

including 2008, which was one of the greatest duds in Detroit sports history. Both of those years, they were an easy pick to win the division or even win it all. Last year, they seemed to be retooling a bit, choosing defense over offense. And they came a day away from another postseason series against the Yankees.

Holes! Wait…holes? Were they good or bad…are they good or bad? What were we doing here again? Does anyone know?  I feel drunk.

This team reminds me a little of 2006, right down to the highly thought-of youngster in center (Austin Jackson this year, Granderson in ’06).

In 2006, Nook Logan was going to be our centerfielder. Grandy came in and took the job from him. Poor Austin Jackson has the weight of the world on his shoulders compared to Curtis in 2006.

If you believe in those things, maybe this is your team.

If a team reminds me of a World Series team, then yes, yes, a thousand times yes, it is my team.

But I’m also a big fan of what I can actually see (unlike Rod Marinelli, who is a big fan of the invisible).

You should write jokes for Leno. I think he’d like the cut of your jib.  Wait, aren't holes invisible?

And I simply haven’t seen it … yet. Certainly not enough to call this a playoff team.

Yes, but certainly enough NOT to call it a playoff team, either. It is the beginning of Spring Training.  And in this division, even the Royals have a chance. Let’s give it a few months before we start eliminating the Tigers from the playoff picture.

Pretty please? And let them play a few games before we start complaining about holes. No more about holes for two months, at least. No more holes! Okay?  A-hole?