Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week 1: In Review

The one thing I don't like about the beginning of baseball season is the multitude of day games. Well it didn't bother me so much when I was unemployed, but now that I work for an employer with an impenetrable web filter, it does get on the nerves. The only way to follow along with the Tigers is to keep refreshing on my phone.

I do appreciate the free preview of Extra Innings, and was able to DVR a few games including the Home Opener. The trick was getting home to watch it without the ending being spoiled. Last year's blow out was given away from a phone call from my dad. With family at game, and the added risk of unintentionally running across the score, the phone was shut off. Then I had to survive dinner at a bar. It must have looked weird to others, when I kept putting my hands over my eyes every time the score crawl popped up.

DVR helped over the weekend too, since it was probably one of the last weekends in Georgia before the weather turns from delightful to oppressively hot, I spent most of the weekend fighting clouds of pollen in the north Georgia countryside. I did make the mistake of not adjusting the time, so the recording stopped just as Carlos Guillen made Sunday's game a one run game in the ninth. A mad scramble to the computer confirmed the comeback was completed with a 9-8 victory on a wild pitch.

The win Sunday put the Tigers at 5-1 for the young season. 4 of those five wins the Tigers were trailing a good part of the game. Not the way you would plan it, but first place is first place. So let's take a look at the weeks that was.

The Good:
Magglio Ordonez - Maggs' hot bat from the end of last season has carried over the start of 2010. 12 for 26 with some power as well.

Miguel Cabrera
- staking an early claim for the AL MVP, with a 12 for 23 week and a pair of clutch home runs in the KC series

Jeremy Bonderman & Dontrelle Willis
- Yes it is only one start in for the both of them. I don't expect the same results each time they go out, but the fact both off them appear healthy and can pitch decent bodes well for the back of the rotation

Joel Zumaya - speaking of pitchers returning to form, Joel was lights out in 3.2 innings pitched this week. Allowing only two baserunners and striking out 2, and picking up the win on the season opener

The Bad:
Justin Verlander - 10 runs on 11 hits in his first two outings. Cause for concern? Well JV gave up 21 runs on 27 hits in his first four starts last year. He settled down and shut out the Yankees, for 8 innings to pick up his first win in his last start in April. And it turned out pretty good for him, so lets back away from the panic buttons for now

Jose Valverde - "Papa Grande" was anything but in his first week as a Tiger. A rocky yet scoreless 9th in the first game of the season, followed by a blown save to give the Tigers their only loss of the year so far.

Gerald Laird - Finally picked up his first hit of the year Sunday. Had a bit of an issue defensively with allowing 5 stolen bases in the KC series

The Odds and Ends:
- The Tigers scored 21 of their 35 runs in the 7th inning or later
- Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez are the only Tigers to have home runs
- Justin Verlander has walked as many (4) and Bonderman and Willis combined
- Both times the Tigers forced an opposing pitcher to blow a save, they were trying to get a 4 out save
- Max Scherzer, Phil Coke, and Joel Zumaya are the only Tiger pitchers to not have a run credited to them

The Week Ahead:

The Royals come in for three, and the Tigers avoid Greinke. Then the Tigers head out West for 11 straight. Get the caffeine ready, because if this week taught us anything, it's that it's not over until the 27th out.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Opening Day 2010

I can't believe this is my 3rd Opening Day in Georgia. It seems like yesterday I was watching Fernando Rodney blow the game in the 10th inning and lose to the Blue Jays. For the second year in a row, I was stuck at work constantly updating on my phone.

Lucky for me, I was able to hear from the 6th inning on thanks to the XM in my car. Not so lucky for the Kansas City bullpen. As I was inching along I-75 on my way home, Ramon Colon and Robinson Tejada were handing the game over to the Tigers pitch by pitch.

As for the big story going into the game, Justin Verlander vs. Zack Greinke, the two Cy Young contenders were pretty well matched. The only difference is Verlander's bad inning scored two runs, while Greinke's only allowed one.

The rookies for the Tigers played big parts, as they will need to do throughout the season. Scott Sizemore's walk in the 7th opened the floodgates for the 6 run inning. Austin Jackson drove Sizemore in on his first hit in the Majors, and saved a run with a perfect throw to home to keep the score 8-4 in the bottom of the same inning.

First game of the year and a win. Good start for the 2010 Tigers

Some more thoughts:

What I liked:
- 8 Hits from the 2-5 hitters
- Forcing KC to go to the bullpen, after making Greinke throw 96 pitches in 6 innings.
- Part of that was Austin Jackson seeing 15 pitches in his 3 at-bats, and Sizemore seeing 12 in 2
- Joel Zumaya with a 1-2-3 inning
- 8 runs on 12 hits

What I didn't like:
- Jose Valverde Rodneying up the 9th inning
- Brandon Inge's 5 men left of base
- A home run to Yuniesky Betancourt?
- Jason Kendall's fuglyness
- Billy Butler cementing his Tiger Killer status

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Ready For The Seaon

Well I figured I'd check in, if only for the benefit of those Asian spammers who will have a new comment section to terrorize. Not sure how regular the posting will be as the season starts as the weekends are the only real time I have more than 15 spare minutes to post. We'll see how it goes. As for that soon to be starting season, here's my take on all things Tiger.

Austin Jackson, Scott Sizemore and...Jimmy Howard?

To update the non-hockey fans, Jimmy Howard is the rookie goalie who has literally saved the Red Wings playoff hopes. Though, at 26 he's not a fresh off the farm newbie. The same can be said of Jackson and Sizemore who, like Howard, were biding their time in the minors while the logjam of talent in front of them (Chris Osgood, Dominik Hasek, Placido Polanco, and the Millionaires Club that is the Yankee outfield) cleared out. The slight difference being, unlike Howard, Jackson and Sizemore are asked to start from the get go. My point? Well, after being thrown in after Osgood struggled to open the year, Howard took over. After a few shaky starts he found his rhythm and is one of the favorites to win rookie of the year. I think a large part of that was the fact he wasn't 20 year old thrown to the wolves. He had talent and a veteran team in front of him, that let him do his thing. I think Jackson and Sizemore have the same type of opportunity with the Tigers.

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit's Superman

Like Superman, he had an issue with alcohol that served as kryptonite over the final series of last season. 0 for 11 and a ride in a Police car over that weekend, brought Miguel's off-field behavior into question. This offseason he vowed not to put him self in that kind of situation, and swore off the sauce. Will this make a more focused Miguel in 2010? I think so, and pitchers in the Al Central should be more than a little scared.

The Dontrelle Leap Of Faith

Actually its a bit more than a leap. Its a Evel Knievel rocketcar over Snake River Canyon kind of leap. The back-up plan is now wearing a Marlin uniform, so it's sink or swim for Dontrelle. A bit of hyperbole for a guy that's only supposed to be the 5th starter, perhaps? Maybe, but the D-Train's Tiger history is full of derailments. His spring that earned him the 5th spot, is a little hard to read. Yes he had 13 K's, but he walked 12. He's had 4 scoreless outings, but gave up 5 in 4 innings in his last outing. I really don't know what we'll see out of Dontrelle, i want him to do well but history shows that may be asking for to much.

Dave Dombrowski's Wild, Wacky, Offseason

The roster is finally set, thanks to the aforementioned trade of Nate Robertson. It was an offseason that left many a Tiger fan (including myself) scratching their heads. It saw veteran fan favorites leave in favor for youth, only to have other veterans brought in. Players were let go due to cost, then free agents were brought in with big paydays. Are the Tigers a better team than the 2009 version? I'm not sure. Are they worse? That I really don't know either. Talk has been about the money the Tigers will have off the books after this year, but if the Tigers aren't contenders this year, the 2009 Winter of Discontent will come back to haunt DD.

What I'm Thinking

Coming into Spring Training, I still thought the Twins were the team to beat. Joe Nathan's injury leveled the playing field a little. This Tiger team is a team of "ifs". If Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis don't implode...If Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore don't play like rookies...if Magglio hits the whole year like he hit in September...if the bullpen can reproduce results like the 2006 bullpen...if the team can avoid a rash of injuries...then maybe the Tigers will win their first division title since 1987