Sunday, October 29, 2006
Wait 'til Next Year...
Well, that wasn't pretty. The post-season for the Tigers played out just like a condensed version of the regular season—the bats falling silent just like the last few weeks of September. Over the last month of the regular season, the Tigers had an annoying habit of scoring a few runs early in the game, very early, and that's it. Against even teams like Kansas City, if you let the opposition hang around, you're asking for trouble. Do that in the playoffs? You will lose most of the time.
The Tigers still pitched well, but holding the other team to three runs a game only works if you can score more than two. The Tigers couldn't. And to make it worse, the Tigers gave the Cardinals half their runs with Steve Sax throws to first and third.
The patience at the plate the hitters showed against the Yankees and A's disappeared. Credit is due to the Cards pitchers throwing strike one, but clearly the Tigers hitters were unable to adjust. It was late September all over again. They won't use it as an excuse, but I will. I was worried about the week off before the Series started, and I believe it had a lot to do with the problems at the plate. I thought the Tigers still pitched well, but their hitting was screwed. And the inexperience and youth of the team showed in the fielding miscues. Nearly every error by a pitcher was a straight-up yip due to nerves.
I don't have a lot of second-guessing. I thought pulling Casey for a runner would end up costing the Tigers last night, but in the end it didn't matter. Not starting Rogers last night? Irrelevant. I do think Bonderman and Verlander should have been flipped in the rotation, but over the Series, starting pitching really only cost this team Game 1. Leyland's lineups? Aside from the inexplicable lack of ABs for Marcus Thames, no complaints. Leyland did his job, the players didn't do theirs. The hitters didn't hit, and the defense was brutal.
The good news? This team is young. Very young. All of the pitchers except Jones and Rogers are under 30. Bonderman, Verlander, Miner and Ledezma are all 25 or under. Zumaya is 21. Most of the position players are between 27 and 32—the prime of most careers. Everybody but Casey is signed for next year.
I've been saying it all year, this team, with its pitching, has the makings of a contender for years to come. Yes, they have some holes, but the only glaring one is the lack of a lefty power hitter, but Detroit is now an attractive free agent destination, and they can now compete for those players.
They've had their taste, and next year they'll be hungry.
RANDOM SHOTS: Yadier Molina looks like some kind of a weird drag queen... I cannot stand Eckstein. I hate the whole forced hustle act and the oversized hat schtick. FireJoeMorgan is all over G. David Eckstein (the G. stands for Grit)... I've always really like Edmonds, and I am glad to see him get his ring. Same for Pujols. It would've sucked for him to become the next Marino, Bonds, etc.—great player who never won the big one... St. Louis fans are dorks, but they know how to make some professional-ass signs... The Tigers have the best looking road jerseys in baseball... Fernando Rodney is closer to taking over for Todd Jones than Zumaya... Billy Ray Cyrus? Are you kidding?... For some reason, the Ann Arbor radio station was giving me the ESPN radio feed, so I listened to a lot of John Miller and Joe Morgan. I enjoy those guys immensely. It's too bad I can't synch up the radio with the DirecTV so I don't have to endure McCarver.
photo: Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press