Saturday, September 5, 2015

The utter meltdown of the Detroit Tigers

It's really getting hard to watch. After so many years of being successful, the Tigers appear to be in free-fall. Granted, they haven't won a World Series since 1984, and have had their ups and downs since the Gipper was running for his second term in the Oval Office. But in recent years, they've at least been contenders. They've won several division championships, a few playoff series', and even made it back to the World Series. But they could never get over the hump.

And now they've become almost a laughingstock. Cannon fodder for most other teams to beat up on. Consider a couple things:

About a week ago, the Tigers went to Toronto for a 3 game series. The Jays would put up 5, 15, and 9 runs, for a total of 29 over those three games. On to Kansas City. The Royals put up 5, 12, and 15 for a total of 32 in a 3 game set. The Tigers went back home and just last night the Cleveland Indians hit them up for an 8-spot.

That's 69 runs over the course of the last 7 games their pitching staff has been pounded for. Just a tad shy of 10 per game. Hey, if you're giving up an average of a Hamilton every game, somebody's ERA is heading north in a bad way. And a team can't expect to win too many games when their pitching staff is getting hammered like that.

The Tigers' once-vaunted starting rotation has been reduced to a shambles. Scherzer left. Price was traded. Fister and Porcello were dealt. Sanchez remains on the DL. So what do they have left?

Justin Verlander. The former ace has good days and bad days, but his record is 3-6.
Thirty nine year old retread Ron Wolf. He's 0-3.
Kyle Lobstein. 3-6.
Alfredo Simon started off hot, but has been getting clobbered of late. He's 11-9.
Dennis Boyd. 1-5.

This starting quintet will hardly intimidate other teams. Quite the opposite. Opposing batters have come to think it's stat-padding time when facing Tiger pitching. And then there's the Tigers' bullpen. If the starters can't get through 6-7 innings, no given, the boys in the "pen" have long been little more than batting practice pitchers. When the Tigers wake up a member of the bullpen and bring him on to pitch -- it's pretty much party time for opposing batters. No Tiger lead is safe. These guys are not good. Maybe better than anybody that lives on your block, but hardly effective at the major league level.

Much of this can be laid at the feet of Dave Dombrowski, the former Pres/GM that was recently fired. For years, the DD man was in "win now" mode, likely with the blessing of owner Mike Ilitch. Nothing wrong with that -- to a point. Problem was, they came close, but never quite made it. But along the way, Dombrowski totally gutted the farm system. Top prospects were traded off to get "big time" players. Now, many of the "big time" guys are gone for various reasons, never having won a title in Detroit, and the Tigers are left with a sorry parade of not-ready-for-prime-time players. It's all they have left. True, David Price and Yoenis Cespides were likely going to leave anyway after this season for greener pastures, and D-ski got what he could for them while he could, but that doesn't make the bigger picture any more palatable for Tiger fans.

Also true, Miguel Cabrera will likely win another batting title, Ian Kinsler remains solid, and the Tigers have got good contributions from the likes of J. D. Martinez and Jose Iglesias. But beyond that, they look like a minor league team. Nick Castellanos is a liability at third base and fading quickly with the bat. There's a reason center-fielder Anthony Gose spent so many years in the minor leagues of other clubs. Rajai Davis is a joke. Who the hell is Tyler Collins? Their DH, one Victor Martinez, is barely hitting his weight, can play absolutely NO defensive position, and can be timed running the bases with a sundial. Let's just say he's pitifully slow. Grandma pushing a shopping cart with a wobbly wheel slow.

So while Dombrowski led the Tigers up, up, up, but never over the top with his moves, he also sold their future. There's no help on the way from their farm system any time soon, and they have precious few players with much trade value. Verlander? Soon to be 33, and spotty at best in recent years, he's got a guaranteed contract at $28,000.000 a year through 2020. What other team would take that on?

Kinsler could fetch a decent player or two, but that would leave the Tigers with yet another gaping hole at second base. Cabrera could be put on the block. Lots of teams would come after him. The dude remains a beast with his bat. The Tigers could probably get a good starting pitcher, a reliever, a position player, and maybe a top prospect or three if they offed Miggy. And it might not be such a bad idea. Cabrera is never going to win a championship in Detroit, given how bad the rest of the team has become. He'd probably welcome a change of scenery, especially going to a team on the rise, or a contender already there. Cabrera is a Venezuelan. What the hell does he care about Detroit?

Even with him, the Tigers aren't going to win anything any year soon. Though they will never admit it, the Tigers are in total rebuild mode. Trading Cabrera would not only free up a bunch of money, but if done prudently with forethought, could bring the Tigers much needed help for the future.

Yeah, it was time for Dombrowski to go in Detroit. He did OK for a while, but he left the club pretty much in a shambles. Know what's ironic? The Bosox snapped him up. And guess what? While both the Red Sox and Tigers are in the basements of their divisions, the Beaners recently passed the Puddy-Tats in the overall standings. To boot, if I'm Dave Dombrowski and get to move from Detroit to Boston while still making the same big-bucks -- I'm a happy camper. Boston may have their uppety schmucks that talk funny, but they have Harvard, the Cheers bar, the Bruins and the Celtics. The Super Bowl winning Patriots are nearby. One can walk the streets at night.

Detroit has their lowlifes that speak a street language civilized people can't understand, Wayne State, titty-bars, the Red Wings that are still trying to con the tax-payers into building them a totally unnecessary new arena, and the Pistons left town decades ago. The Lions have been a joke for over half a century and play right across the street from the Tigers in Detroit. One takes one's life in their hands if they wander a few blocks away from the Fox district in Motown after dark, or even in daytime.

Maybe the shrewdest move of D-ski's career to date.

But the fact remains, the Tigers are not only bad, but will likely get even worse before they get better again. It could be a while......

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