Lynn Henning Has Guzzled Dombrowski's Kool Aid

This offseason, one of the things Your Party Host has been begging for is a quality bat to be acquired to come off the bench. Marcus Thames is the name I had in mind as none of the terrible-hitting clones from Dave Dombrowski’s “generic white guy” machine (Clete, Kelly, Casper, Rhymes, Worth, etc) is a guy I feel comfortable pinch-hitting or stepping up in case someone gets hurt. Instead, we have the same group of light-hitting “nice guys” that you all love so much.

Lynn Henning loves them, too. Ladies and germs, I present this gem from the Detroit News site.  Please follow me after the jump.

Lakeland, Fla. — Don Kelly is not only one of the most versatile of the Tigers roster residents.

Indeed. He is also the bane of my existence and one of the worst players in MLB history to ever spend an entire season in the bigs.

He is a surprisingly good historian.

Well, that’s a good thing to have around in a baseball clubhouse. We don’t need a guy that can supply a gapper in a key situation. We don’t need a “Dave Roberts” type base-stealer to pinch run late in games. We need a guy that can tell us when the f-cking Gettysburg Address was written after he goes 0-4 at the plate.

While walking across the practice field at the Tigertown complex this week, Kelly talked about the 2011 Tigers and how they might duplicate what the 2006 team did — play its way into the World Series.

Oh, baseball history. But wait a minute. He’s talking about 2006 and that makes him a “surprisingly good historian”? Five years ago? Fall into a pit of spikes, Lynn.

And by duplicate 2006, I hope he wasn’t talking about blowing the AL Central and then losing to a terrible ballclub in the World Series by making a bunch of stupid errors and not hitting.

"But it's all about health," Kelly said, striding toward the bullpen area where he was preparing to throw on catcher's gear and assist in warming up a couple pitchers.

If Don Kelly ends up catching even one inning for us this year, I’m personally going to punch Dave Dombrowski in the cock.

"That 2006 team really didn't have any injuries."

4/2/06-4/20/06, Closer Todd Jones placed on the DL.
4/15/06-5/5/06, DH Dmitri Young placed on the DL.
5/23/06-7/21/06, DH Dmitri Young again placed on DL.
5/26/06-9/6/06, SP Mike Maroth placed on DL
8/15-9/22, 2B Placido Polanco placed on DL
8/21-season, RP Roman Colon placed on DL.

So, yeah, other than the closer, the starting DH, the all-star second baseman, and one of the starters, no one important got hurt. Oh, and Polanco’s injury played into the Tigers having to settle for the Wild Card instead of winning the AL Central. You suck at history almost as much as you suck at hitting a baseball, Don Kelly.

Kelly, of course, is correct.

Sigh. God dammit.

It's not so much a question of whether the Tigers have the talent to win the division and reach the postseason for the first time in five years.

Yes it is. They have more question marks on this team than The Riddler has on his f-cking pajamas.

It's whether a team built impressively upon pitching depth can keep those pitchers intact.
 No, no, no! Bad form!

Captain Hook is right. This team has three good pitchers (Verlander, Scherzer, Valverde) and a bunch of “Gosh we hope so’s”. Lynn, you’re in position to be the voice of reason. Get your head out of Dave Dombrowski’s ass for ten seconds and be objective.

I’m sorry if my glass of Kool-Aid seems “half empty”, but I’m just not ready to drink it yet.

If so, manager Jim Leyland's squad has a splendid chance at stealing the American League Central

Because people from Detroit can only get things by stealing them? Way to go, Lynn. You sound like that dickface Dan Shaughnessy.

and taking its chances in October, even against a team that will be as prohibitively favored as the Red Sox.

All Boston fans should be spayed or neutered.

Remember, the 2006 Tigers made it to the World Series because of two core strengths:

1.  A superior Yankees team choked.
2.  Huston Street left one hanging.

* They had the best pitching in baseball (3.84 ERA).
* They also hit frequent home runs (203, third in the American League).

Holy crap. Good pitching and a lot of home runs helps you win baseball games. Why hasn’t anyone told the Royals or Pirates this?

But mostly, they were able to keep their starters healthy — starting pitchers, as well as their everyday lineup regulars (Placido Polanco missed a few weeks because of a bad shoulder).

There you go. But #5 starter Maroth and starting DH Young don’t count. And again, Polanco’s injury cost them the AL Central. But they were healthy.

I’ll skip over the cookie-cutter Victor Martinez “happy to be here” quotes to the part of this piece that made me bang my head into the wall for 20 minutes.

Depth, of course, is one way in which teams compensate for injuries. The Tigers could have as much as any team, at least at key positions.

The Tigers have average depth at exactly one postion: second base. And all three guys have questions about them. Can Guillen take more than six steps without snapping his leg in half? Can Sizemore’s offense in the minors translate to the big leagues now that he’s healthy? Can Rhymes get on a roller coaster without the presence of an adult-sized human being as his guardian?

They have an abundance of players who can play multiple positions (Brandon Inge, Ryan Raburn, Kelly, Casper Wells, Ramon Santiago, etc.).

Notice that he didn’t say that the can play multiple positions WELL.

They also have strong minor-league pitching, headed by starters Andy Oliver, Charlie Furbush, and even Jacob Turner, who at age 19 is not far from Detroit.

Who have barely more MLB experience than you or I do.

Their bullpen, too, should be in good shape even if Joel Zumaya has a recurrence of problems that have made a hash of his past four seasons.

I’ll say it again. It’s Valverde, Perry, and a bunch of question marks. What team are you looking at?

The Tigers are less sturdy at the infield positions and at catcher, but Will Rhymes and Scott Sizemore provide right-side depth, while Santiago and Danny Worth should keep the shelf full on the infield's left side.

What now?

The Tigers aren’t very good at infield or catcher, but they have these guys on the infield?

Did I misread that?

And since you brought them up…

Will Rhymes: 107 OPS+ in 191 career AB
Scott Sizemore: 72 OPS+ in 143 career AB
Ramon Santiago: 76 OPS+ in 1566 career AB
Danny Worth: 77 OPS+ in 106 career AB

You complimented the team’s depth. Yes, they have guys that can go out there. Sadly, these guys are all bad at hitting a baseball. Rhymes is the only one of them with anything close to league average numbers and he’s hardly the guy I want at the plate in key situations in a close game. I would pinch hit for him with a Thames-type player in a heartbeat.

And you fail to go into the outfield.  If Magglio gets hurt or Raburn hits like he plays defense, we have to rely on Casper Wells, Brennan Boesch, and uh...Clete Thomas?  With Wells and Boesch, we have no clue what we have yet.  And Clete Thomas is to depth as what Jim Leyland is to clean lungs.

Thus, we have no depth…that is the biggest problem I see with this team.

But mostly because of pitching that is impressive and deep heading into camp,

Impressive where, other than JV and Max? Porcello is Jeckyl and Hyde, Coke hasn’t started since years ago in the minors, and Penny gets hurt opening his car door. The bullpen is full of injury risks (Benoit and Zoom) and kids we can’t trust yet (Perry, Schlereth, Weinhardt). Oh, also Brad Thomas, who should have been eaten by a dingo as a child.

Can anyone tell me why Henning has such a boner for this pitching staff?  I'm begging you.

and which should remain trustworthy for the long haul,

Based on what? Does Dombrowski give you a bonus every time you speak the company line?

the Tigers have a chance to make it back to the postseason for the first time since their wild 2006 ride.

With a $105 million payroll, they’d better have “a chance”.

That journey ended just shy of a title.

Thanks for the reminder.

/drinks fifth of whiskey

The Tigers need not remember 2006,

Like local bad historian Don Kelly.

or last year's improbable victory by the Giants, to think they've got their own solid shot in 2011.

They have a chance. But for it to happen, enough miracles are going to have to occur to qualify Dombrowski and Jim Leyland for sainthood.

I’m just not seeing it with this team. I hope I’m wrong.