And there it was. After a semi-promising start to the season, the wheels have finally fallen off the Detroit Tigers and -- THUD -- they now find themselves in last place. Not only in their own division, but all of the American League.
There is little to suggest their lot will improve. In fact, it will likely get a lot worse as time goes by.
Justin Verlander, once an ace-pitcher, is plodding along at 4-4. Yes, he can still bring the heat on occasion, but for whatever reason JV no longer even attempts to throw his once devastating split-finger pitch. Nowadays, it's pretty much fastball and cutter. And the opposing batters have a way of working him deep into pitch counts, which means he usually can't last past the 6th or 7th inning. When the bullpen comes in -- well -- good luck with that.
Mercifully, the Tigers finally released Francisco Rodriguez, though they're still on the hook for his always ridiculous $6 million contract. So he can sit home and make more money than you ever did, or will, in your lifetime. Nice work -- or not -- if one can get it.
Only a couple years removed from his fabulous Triple Crown season, Miguel Cabrera has digressed horribly. He might still hit a "bomb" once in a while, but his overall stats have taken a nose dive. As he gets older, it is highly unlikely this trend will reverse itself.
Ian Kinsler remains a quality player, both with the bat and the glove at second base. But he's been around a long time and his biological clock is tick-tick-ticking away as well. His slide will likely come soon.
Can anybody even remember if and when designated hitter Victor Martinez ever played a position in the field? Approaching 40, he certainly can't now, is slower than the proverbial molasses on the basepathes, and is struggling to hit his weight. This is not a good sign for a guy whose only apparent job is to hit.
Third sacker Nick Castellanos has turned out to be a "journeyman" at best. He can be expected to hit somewhere around .230 or .240, and calling him an average defensive player would be a glass half full commentary . But he's the best the Tigers have at that spot.
Jose Iglesias at shortstop is slick with the glove, but a light hitter and always an injury waiting to happen.
J.D. Martinez can definitely hit, but is quite the defensive liability playing right field. JD shows little range, often misplays balls, and has a weak and erratic throwing arm.
Catcher Alex Avila started out with a bang hitting the ball. Yet in recent weeks his average is dropping faster than the stock market did in the great recession a while back. Nor is James McCann, when he can stay healthy, any improvement as a backstop.
Nobody knows who's going to play left field on any given day. B.J, Upton starts most games in center and has some speed. Alas, he's also quite capable of bungling routine plays as much so as the above mentioned JD.
Overall, the Tigers have little -- if any -- team speed on the bases. This is why you won't see many stolen base or hit-and-run attempts. They're just too slow.
Starting pitcher Michael Fullmer appears to be the real deal, but beyond him and the above-mentioned JV, their rotation is hit and miss at best. It seems when a Tiger pitcher has a good game, he can't get run support. When their hitters are smashing the ball, the other club is finding ways to outscore them.
And lame duck manager Brad Ausmus continues to spit through his teeth every 2 or 3 seconds. All that expectorating isn't going to save him from the inevitable. Color him gone at the end of the season, if not before, if the Tigers continue their woebegone pitiful play.
They're now a full 10 games under .500, and currently on an 8 game losing streak, This, against clubs that are hardly considered elite.
Worse, in past years, the Tigers have pretty well gutted their farm system trading them off for short-term free agent help in a go-for-it-now mode, while never getting there.
This would explain why they now have players on their major league roster than likely wouldn't be on any other team's. There's a reason why they give them uniform numbers in the 50s or 60s. Such numbers are usually reserved for scrubs -- short termers filling in -- that aren't expected to stay around long. But that would seem to be the sad future that is staring the Detroit Tigers in their face.
Detroit's one-time established "stars" are now very much on the back side of their bell curves and, as they fight the always losing battle with Father Time, things will only get worse.
Guys like Verlander, Cabrera, and Kinsler aren't even likely tradeable, due to their mega-contracts. What other team would want to give up promising young players, and/or draft picks, while taking a huge salary cap hit for a player clearly past his prime?
Unfortunately, the "brain trust" of the Tigers -- and I obviously use that term loosely -- has made their bed and now has to lie in it.
Things don't look good in the future. In fact, it would appear to rather bleak, and might stay that way for several years.
A once proud franchise, though they haven't won a World Series since Ronald Reagan's first term as Prez -- go figure -- but it's Detroit, so false pride is always front and center.
Nevertheless, in the whole scheme of things, as they likely continue to plummet even further into pitiful-land -- it's just sad.....
Then again, they DO play right across the street from the ever-hapless Lions.
Kind of goes with the neighborhood.......