Friday, July 14, 2017

The Michael Fulmer hype

Sadly, fans in Detroit will believe just about anything when it comes to putting a positive spin on their sports "heroes".

Every year is going to be the one for the Lions, but never is of course. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is the best thing since Joe Louis Arena -- since rendered obsolete -- but knowledgeable football people grade him out to be slightly above average on the NFL scale of starting QBs. Matthew will soon be obsolete too, likely never having won a single playoff game.

The Pistons had a world-class arena in the Palace, totally bought and paid for. New ownership pumped somewhere between 10 and 15 million bucks into it to spruce it up even further. Then they turned right around and abandoned it to move back into the dregs of downtown Detroit where they'll have to pay rent. Does that make sense? But, by god, they just might make the playoffs this year.

The Red Wings have been long overdue for a total rebuild. Barely eking their way into the playoffs in recent years, only to be quickly blown away by vastly superior teams was somehow thought of as success in the Motor City. The proverbial piper has finally come-a-calling. They look to be a mess for the next several years.

As the trade deadline approaches, the Tigers don't know what to do. They've tried "buying" in a big way before for short-term talent, but could never make it to the finish line. Thirty three years and counting since their last World Series championship -- and it ain't happening this year either. Do they "sell"? Maybe, but what other teams would be interested in what they may have to offer? Guys on the backside of their careers with whopper contracts in tow? The Tigers have already looted their farm system for the above-mentioned short-term talent in the past.

And then there's Michael Fulmer. He is seen in Detroit as an ace pitcher. But is he really?

True, he garnered American League Rookie of the Year honors in 2016. Yet he sported an 11-7 record. Not bad, but certainly not eye-popping. The AL must have had an otherwise weak crop of rookies for him to walk off with the honors.

This year the Tigers and their ever-faithful media would have people believe he's become much much better. Yet after 21 starts, he owns a 9-6 record, Again, not bad, but hardly the stuff of your typical "ace".

The Tigers' hype machine would have people believing Fulmer, should he be dealt, is worth several good players, prospects, etc, in return. But is he?

Also true is he's only 24 years old. He could get better, a lot better. Or he could go the other way and flame out quickly. Nobody knows for sure.

[As an aside, former Tiger "ace" Justin Verlander just got clocked again by the Toronto Blue Jays. JV is now 5-7 with an ERA approaching 5.00. How many teams do you think are standing in line to pick up the remaining 80 million bucks of his guaranteed contract? But the Tigers still think he's "special". God bless em, but it doesn't make much sense.]

One thing that appears to be an absolute certainty is the Tigers, in their current state, don't remotely resemble a team capable of making a deep post-season run, if they even get there, which is also highly doubtful. They're only a game or two removed from the cellar of the entire American League. They'd have to play above .600 ball for the rest of the year to qualify. Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

But currently they're hyping Michael Fulmer like he's the next coming of Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Clayton Kershaw, take your pick.

And let's not forget who the Tigers -- in their infinite wisdom -- let get away in recent years. Max Scherzer, currently of the Washington Nationals, started the All-Star game this year. Rick Porcello, still a youngster himself, posted a 22-4 record last year for the Bosox and won the Cy Young. The seemingly ageless David Price is still cruising along.

Yet, by thunder, they still have Michael Fulmer, who's a combined 20-13 over his career with the Tigers so far. Pretty good, definitely better than average, and so far has come at a reasonable price. But that will change when talks of his next contract rolls around.

Because the Tigers have hyped him so much, they'll have no choice but to cough up the big bucks to keep him. This is what is known as strategy in Detroit. Talk up what talent you have, hope other teams buy it -- they won't -- and wind up getting cha-chinged in the end.

And the beat rolls on.

Hey, it's Detroit.

'Nuff said.

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