Sunday, May 13, 2012

Are We Seeing the Real Tigers?

It is May and the Tigers are 32 games into the 2012 season with a far from acceptable 16-17 record.  The bats have been anemic, the bullpen has been shaky, and, of course, we had to deal with the Delmon Young controversy.  So even though it is early, we have to start wondering, are we seeing the real Tigers?  Is this truly the team that the fans in Detroit will watch all season?  Are they a team that will hover around .500, struggle to win close games, and hit more like the Motor City Kittens?  Too early to tell...hopefully.

The most obvious problem thus far is the offense, or, lack thereof.  Let's face it, it has been horrible.  I do not buy the cold weather leading to cold bats excuse.  They are professional ball players.  They should be able to hit in a blizzard.  To be nice, let's just call them inconsistent.  When I look at the box scores, 3-2, 2-1, 4-2, I have to remind myself that the Red Wings are out of the playoffs and I am not reading playoff hockey scores.  Nobody on the roster is producing nightly.  Even Cabrera.  Fielder is hitting for average but the power numbers are down.  Don't get me wrong, I have complete faith both Cabrera and Fielder will be fine.  Jackson has been pretty good but still not the ideal man at the lead off position.  The gaping hole at the number 2 spot is crippling the offense as of now.  Dirks has been good when called upon.  The issue is why does Leyland refuse to call upon him there EVERY NIGHT?  His constant shuffling of the lineup to get match ups is not helping.  I am of the opinion that a consistent lineup will lead to more consistent production.  We're not playing well enough right  now to worry about righty/lefty match ups.  Back to the basics Jimmy.  Fielder as the cleanup hitter needs actual runners to clean up.  He's not getting those. 

Another big reason the offense has been anything but vaunted is the 5-9 hitters are providing next to nothing.  Raburn has been a disaster (Leyland insists he will break out), Boesch almost equally as bad, and the rest (Peralta, Young, etc.) have been horrendous.  Basically, if Jackson, Miggy, or Prince do not hit HRs the Tigers do not score.  That can't continue to be the case if they want to be playing October baseball. 

The bullpen has been a shaky (again, being nice) as well.  The team has already lost 6 games in which they have led after the 7th inning.  They lost zero last year.  Benoit and Valverde in particular have been unreliable at best.  Both have struggled mightily to find the strike zone.  Papa Grande is automatic to have at least 2 base runners every time he takes the hill.  I am getting to the point where I am longing for the days of Todd Jones.  Okay, maybe not, but it's bad and tough to stomach.  In their defense, it is unfair to constantly only provide 1 run cushions (sometimes only 1 run total).  It still must get better.

The scary reality is Peralta, Avila, and Valverde all had career years last year and Young got hot in the post season.  What if their production this season is what they really are?  If that is the case, what are we left with?  A lineup that consists of 2, maybe 3 hitters that can produce (Jackson, Cabrera, and Fielder) and the rest simply lineup fillers.  Scary indeed.

The silver lining: the starting pitching as of late has been outstanding.  We knew J.V. and Fister would be great but all of the sudden Scherzer looks capable, as does Porcello, and Smyly is looking like the real deal.  If I were them I would be a tad peeved with the boys swinging the bats that are completely wasting their efforts.  If the bats do indeed get hot, or at least look like they belong at the MLB level, the Tigers will start going on much-needed winning streaks.

In conclusion, we hope that what has transpired so far is not the real Detroit Tigers.  We hope the bats start resembling what we expected when Mr. Illitch signed the massive check for Prince and that the bullpen becomes serviceable.  The AL Central is the worst division in baseball.  The fact they are only 2 games back with a 16-17 record is proof of that.  If they can right the ship, the title is theirs for the taking.  If not, we will be forced to watch a .500 club when we had dreams of a World Series.  Is it time to panic in Tiger Town?  Not yet.  Is it time to be concerned, uneasy, frustrated, nervous, apprehensive, annoyed, and little angry?  You bet.

No comments:

Post a Comment