Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Catching Up

I fell behind on my commentary this weekend due to my Cooperstown trip. So, I'll give my thought on some of the recent happenings. First and foremost, it's great see the Tigers doing some hitting again (except for tonight). In their last 4 games they scored 35 runs and some of the hitters who slumped during the 11-23 stretch played key roles:

  • Curtis Granderson - 6 for 18 with a double, a triple and a homer.
  • Magglio Ordonez - 5 for 15 with a double, 3 homers and 5 RBI.
  • Brandon Inge - 6 for 15 with 2 homers and 8 RBI.
  • Sean Casey - 7 for 14 with a double and a homer.
I said last week that they needed a few players to break out of slumps more than they needed Placido Polanco back and that seems to be happening.

Speaking of Polanco, after all the conflicting stories over the weekend, I'll no longer try to guess when he'll return. He did explain that his statement about being out for the season was made out of frustration and that he now expects to be back before the season is over. I think the impact of his absence has been greatly overstated by the local media. However, since Jim Leyland continues to play Neifi Perez over Omar Infante every day, I'd like to see Polanco back in the line-up sooner rather than later.

My first reaction to the Matt Stairs acquisition was a positive one. Considering that they got him for free, I figured he would be a good cheap pinch hitter for the stretch drive. After seeing that he has become the regular designated hitter against right-handers though, I'm no longer very happy with the move. I'd much rather see Thames playing every day. Thames has batted only .196 since July 1 but he does have 10 homers over that period. Stairs, on the other hand, has batted .232 with just 4 homers since July. Stairs is left-handed but he's not doing very well against any pitchers right now. On the season, Thames and Stairs have OPS's of .889 and .758 respectively against right-handers. I don't really see the advantage of playing Stairs.

As for tonight's game, Freddie Garcia and the White Sox shut out the Tigers 7-0. Garcia gave up just 1 hit and 2 walks in 8 innings and has allowed just 5 base runners in his last 2 starts. Justin Verlander, on the other hand, failed to make it through the 5th inning for the second straight start. He has been quite inconsistent the last several weeks and seems to be tiring a bit. The Tigers still look good for at least a wild card birth as they hold a 5 game lead over the third place White Sox with 11 games to go. However, the Twins cut the division lead down to a 1/2 game with their 6-2 win over the Red Sox tonight.

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