A lot of people were picking the Detroit Tigers to challenge the Eastern Powerhouses for the AL TItle this year. I also concurred with the notion, but it had nothing to do with their free agency and more to do with their coach and current pitching staff.
But look at their standings! Total opposite of where they are suppose to be. A lot of their hitters are struggling, their pitching is struggling, I haven’t watched enough of their games to look at their defense, but their ability to win is just not there.
If there is anything to blame, it is the fact that their pitching is still over-par in getting these games wrapped up. You have Willis, who won’t be back for a couple weeks, as the innings anchor for a team with an already talented starting staff. You have the Gambler Kenny Rogers, who has struggled in enough starts to ponder how much he has left in him. And you have Justin Verlander & Jeremy Bonderman, two hard-throwing-nasty-pitching hurlers who have no reason to be struggling in any stadium, let alone one of the biggest fields in baseball.
I think this team had touted too much of their “unbelievable” ( hahaha ) offense that this team is going to have. I believe their offense is pretty potent, but lets put some easy-bake oven facts here on why their offense isn’t going to be amazing: 1) Renteria is a line-drive hitter, and their isn’t any way he’s hitting more than 6 homeruns out of this stadium. Since this stadium has the same square-footing equivalent to the Roman Aqueducts, his hard at-bats of toughing out a pitcher by fouling off good balls will end up in a lot of foul-line outs, and his line-drives will be easily held to singles since no one places their fielders to close to yield those high-risk inside-the-park homeruns.
2) Players:Gary Sheffield is old. Ivan Rodriguez is old. Sheffield’s natural swing will keep him dangerous, but doubtfully I don’t see any more than 20-24 jacks this year. Ivan’s offense has been declining more than non-Opec oil production ( yea I did a Dennis Miller, read the f*@king link and get some knowledge). He is also old, and he has to catch, so if he doesn’t do well now, he will not do well come August.
Magglio Ordonez had an amazing season last year, but their is no way he is going to recapture that same streak that he did before. If anything, his stats will look more like 2006 than in 2007. It is hard to bat .360, and he did it once in the eve of his prime. I just can’t see him repeating that feat.
Polanco & Granderson are going to set the table again. I think both their years last year were a little over-the-top, but they are good hitters. I am just unsure whether the new lineup changes and the RBI machines will perform as fluid as they did a year ago.
3) The Field: The field is not meant for hitters to do well in. If you like hitting homers, than you would love to never play in Detroit. Your hitters will be the kings of spraying doubles & triples, but those four-baggers are just as easily available if you had to run the bases from a gap shot to get one.
I know the Red Sox got three yesterday ( Ortiz still looks uncomfortable if you ask me), but those are rare occasions that I will say will frequent the Detroit TIger lineups even on the best of days. Just ask San Diego, Ryan Klesko & Brian Giles how easy it is to hit one to right-center?
This team isn’t going to fade. Their offense isn’t going to carry them; it will have to be their pitching. If they can find a way to get Verlander some runs, get Dontrelle back, and keep Rogers healthy, they will stack up some wins and be back into this division by June.
PREDICTION: Look for the Tigers to go 21-9 in the next 30 games and all of this talk will be over. WIllis will be back, the luck of scoring runs during good pitched games will come into play, and the Indians will have some competition again.