Tigers, Mariners Series Recap; a look toward the future

The Detroit Tigers certainly had an interesting home stand this past week.  Coming off a successful west coast trip, the Tigers promptly swept the struggling Chicago White Sox. The team then took an off day, skipped Rick Porcello in the rotation, and was swept by the Seattle Mariners. The SEATTLE MARINERS!

The series with the M’s included five errors, 27 runs and a homerun off the glove of Ryan Raburn. The Tiger’s offense produced a total of 6 runs in the series. If you include Raburn’s play in the opener, that’s as many errors as runs.

Even the best pitching wouldn’t be able to overcome numbers like that. If a team isn’t going to be good on defense, they better be good on offense. This team is not good at either.

I was on twitter during the game yesterday, and noticed a few people were upset with the performance of Brad Penny. Sure the guy didn’t hold onto the two run lead he was given, but somebody signed for $3M in the offseason should be a fourth or fifth starter.

Given that, even against the anemic Seattle Mariners, seven innings and four runs is a solid outing. It’s not going to win any awards, but it certainly is a performance that gave his team a chance to win.

Leyland keeps saying this team is going to hit. I just don’t see it happening. Jim has forgotten more about baseball than I will know in my lifetime, but I strongly disagree with him.

The holes in this lineup include:

  • Austin Jackson: who will challenge to lead the league in strikeouts if he stays with the big club all year—a pretty good possibility because the farm system doesn’t really have another center fielder ready.
  • Magglio Ordonez: A guy who has very limited mobility on the base paths, and doesn’t seem to have much pop left in his bat. Until that ankle is fully healed I don’t know how much he is going to contribute.
  • Brandon Inge: His defense used to outweigh his ineptitude at the plate, but I think his range has decreased enough that he is no longer an elite defensive third baseman.
  • The second base position: Will Rhymes has struggled at the plate. Leyland apparently thinks Raburn does enough defensively to put his power in the lineup, but I’m not convinced. This is another guy who is going to strike out a ton. I still think Ramon Santiago or Scott Sizemore deserve a shot at second base.

Most of these problems the Tigers are going to have to live with all year. Maggs is getting $10M, so he’s going to play as long as he says he can. There isn’t really anybody who can play centerfield on a daily basis. Inge has around $10M left on his contract, so it’s not likely that he gets relegated to backup status anytime soon.

The Tigers play the first place Cleveland Indians this weekend in Cleveland. Even with all the struggles Detroit has had, they remain in second place, one game under .500. The AL Central has to be the worst in baseball. I still wouldn’t be surprised if whoever wins it finishes under .500.

Winning this series would certainly help Detroit’s chances in the division. The White Sox look like an even worse team than the Tigers, the Twins don’t seem to be able stay healthy, and the Royals have a $35M payroll (so I’d be surprised if they can compete all year). A little more than a month into the season, I might be willing to call the Indians the favorite to win the division. I’m not ready yet, but I am close.

I checked facts on Yahoo! Sports and Baseball-Reference.com