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Postby moochman » Sun Jul 10, 2005 11:17 am

cmchampa2 wrote:The Tigers are playing good baseball. Unfortunately they come out a little flat some days, but all teams have that problem. Managers make very little difference in the game-to-game decisions and usually just play the odds. No manager can win without talent (see Lou Pinella) and any manager can win with it (see the line of recent Red Sox managers, though Francona seems to be a decent one). Joe Torre, Tommy Lasorda, Sparky Anderson, blah blah blah ALL have had many bad seasons.

I just don't see what Tram has done to warrent a firing. He seems to plays the right guys. He seems to play the right pitchers. How many managers would have inserted Chris Shelton into the middle of the line-up? Sean Douglass has made great starts and has not been overused. The bullpen, considering the personnel, has been extremely good with only the overpriced closer being a slight disappointment. Tram has let Bonderman work through some tough spots when other managers might have yanked him too early and Bondy has proven himself a warrior.

If "sparking" a workforce is reason enough to fire someone, thank God for unions. It'd be more fair to ban members from the Cafe for making spelling errors.


True that all of those managers ahave had bad seasons, but all except Tram have had good seasons too. You say that managers don't make that much of a difference in game to game decisions but Tram's decisions are inconsistant and more times than not fail. Many more times than not. Look at yesterday's loss. Back to back HRs and a double to lead off an inning so the genius has Logan bunt. ??? He gives up an out to move a runner from scoring position to scoring position??? Of course they are rewarded when his hitters do what they have done all season-they strand the runner at third. Good bye momentum, hello no more runs and a 5-4 loss. But Tram had to make a move there because he doesn't get it. It was more about him making a move to prove he is a manager than to sit tight and watch his team roll.
And as for his personell decisions, he's been putrid. Higgy being on the team instead of Shelton (who had hit well in Spring) Sticking with Pena for so long, the juggling of his line-up on a daily basis. Even keeping their back up catcher on the roster when Shelton could fill in the odd days Pudge doesn't play. That's ridiculous.
No, I think that they need to let Tram and his bunch go and bring in some new ideas from a manager with real experience.
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Postby mcqfesijiba » Mon Jul 11, 2005 8:48 am

In response to Trammell's personnell decisions, I still wonder how much control he had over Pena and that other outfielder guy. The front office very well could have been deadset against the other outfielder guy walking and still getting paid. If he was sent to the minors and refused the assignment and he cleared waivers, that would have been the case, right? For now, we don't have to waste a roster spot on him, and we don't have to pay him to play elsewhere. And with Pena, a rare lefthanded bat for us, we banked on him being our first baseman this year by resigning him to a decent contract this past offseason(fortunately very short term) and therefore was probably given every chance to prove himself this season (although they probably could have made the switch a little sooner). Some of Shelton's necessary work in the minors was on defense, so don't base it all on his spring hitting. I really don't know where he was defensively in spring, but at this point, he is a considerably better 1B than Dmitri Young, although I don't know if that's saying a lot these days.

I'm not saying any of this is for certain, but I wonder how much front office influence there was, if at all, on either situation, particularly the first where a considerable amount of money was involved. I have trouble giving Trammell full blame for these decisions when there is the possiblity that he may have had his hands tied to some extent. There's sometimes more to a situation than just "this guy sucks so cut him/send him down/bench him.

As for Vance Wilson, I have no problem with that. He has proven in the past to be a pretty decent backup catcher, and has just had a slow start. Shelton has no future at catcher in this league, so I see no big deal with him playing every single day, mostly what could be his future position as long as he continues to improve defensively, 1B. Just my opinion and he's been starting to play a little better of late.

Some of Trammell's lineup juggling can get annoying, but usually I think the purpose behind it is simply trying to figure out what to do with some of our major players not producing. Dmitri was expected to be a run producer and was a temporary cleanup hitter on this team when Ordonez went down, but aside from having a rare big day against bad pitching, he pretty much failed. Pudge's worse than ever plate discipline and Guillen's injuries have also made it hard to find a stable lineup. Who thought entering the season Rondell White would be a successful cleanup hitter for a stretch? Was juggling him into that spot a mistake? And were throwing Inge into leadoff or Shelton into the #3 spot mistakes? I didn't agree with trying Logan at leadoff at any point, but I heard the desire to give it a try long before Trammell made the move by a portion of fans and the media. Trammell's trying to find what works amid some injuries and dissappointing play by some of our players. It's just my own opinion that I don't fault him for that.

Now that is a lot of Trammell defending. I didn't know it was possible. Bonus points to those that can read the whole thing.
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Postby moochman » Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:43 am

Yeah, I can see where Tram may have had no choice in the Higgy decision. But there also seemed to be a vibe on the team that his presence was not welcome. Him being left on the roster probably showed the team that Tram didn't have much say in it. And that's deadly for a manager. I could even concede that he has had to juggle his line-up more than most due to the injuries to Maggs and Guillen's injuries and the poor performance of others. But his insistance on having a back-up catcher who hits .100 is hard to defend. You just can't give up that many outs in a game.

The other things that point out how poor a job Tram has done is in the very things he preaches. Defense and competent play. The Tigers D is, once again, ranking toward the bottom of the league. This from a manager who every Spring vows the this is the year the Tigers will not tolerate bad defense. And then someone yells "Play ball"! and it's forgotten. Same with their woeful approach to hitting. Can any one bunt? Infante? No excuse for a quick, slap (or someone who should be a slap, hitter to be unable to lay a bunt down. And the baserunning! I kow that these are the result of a systemic problem left uncorrected in the Tigers farm. But it also shows that though Tram may value sound D and smart basic baseball, his team doesn't respect him enough to try to play that way. And that is as damning a statement as can be made.
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Postby mcqfesijiba » Tue Jul 12, 2005 9:40 am

They are toward the bottom of MLB in FP%, so I would definitely like to see more out of them defensively, but at the same time they have a lot of potential in the infield. You would like to see a better fielding % out of Inge, but at the same time, he leads all MLB regular 3B in Range Factor and has for pretty much the entire season. If he cuts down on botching the occasional routine play, we could be looking at a fine defensive 3B. We know what Guillen can do when he's near 100%. Polanco is very sure-handed. Pudge is still one of the best defensive catchers in the league, even at his advanced age. As for the rest, Shelton is hopefully going to get better with experience, but so far so good with a solid .995 FP% so far. The outfield is somewhat weak in my opinion. Rondell is below average. Monroe isn't too bad, but asking him to play center will probably not be a total success. Logan for all his great plays and range still is mistake prone. I don't know enough about Magglio defensively, but I'm sure before the knee injury he was at least a capable right fielder.

And since I believe that Trammell will be the manager for the rest of this season, and possibly next season depending on how this season plays out regardless of what us fans say, I will say one more thing about him before I back off a little. The bottom line of a manager's success or failure is in the wins and losses based on the given talent. Based on our Tigers' W-L record this year, I do not see a failure at all given some of the situations that have come up. In fact, I see it as a slight success. After Magglio went down, there was a lot of negativity around that this would be a lost season yet again, but this team has hung around. I think the fact that this team has teased us with .500 for almost the entire season has become frustrating for some, but I see it as a bit of progress. Let us stay relatively injury-free for the rest of the season and we are capable of taking the next step.
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Postby moochman » Tue Jul 12, 2005 11:57 am

The bottom line of a manager's success or failure is in the wins and losses based on the given talent.



You don't believe that a good manager get more out of the talent he has than a bed manager? You put together some real good arguements for Tram & Co., but a statement like that one must be an error. Don't forget the Tigers have squandered a great pitching effort in the first half. And I do believe that Tram's puzzling game day decision making, i.e. bunts, hit n runs, line up, ect. have been a factor in the over all lack of offensive production.
It's only a bitter fan's opinion but I think the Tigers should be no less than 6 games better at this point. They should be learning how to contend instead of fumbling toward .500. My point being that they are not just wasting this season but laying down the groundwork for next year. And at this rate next year's theme will be "We'll get over .500 this time" instead of "We can win this division" A significant difference.
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Postby mcqfesijiba » Wed Jul 13, 2005 12:05 pm

The bottom line of a manager's success or failure is in the wins and losses based on the given talent.
Yes, I totally believe it. It is to me a fact. If you have good players and your team performs poorly, the manager is considered a failure. But if a team performs well but has mediocre at best talent, then the manager is considered a success. Winning will make people overlook some of the questionable decisions that all managers make. while losing makes them stand out even more. I think you may have missed reading the "given talent" part, then I think it makes perfect sense.

I will say improved success for this team begins with middle of the order hitters who can drive in runs when the opportunity is there. Pudge, Guillen, and Young have been miserable at that this year. RonDL only plays 4-5 times a week. All of them being veterans, too makes it even more dissappointing. Have all the pitching you want, but if the middle of your batting order is ineffective when it counts, then your success will be limited. To me there are three fundamental parts of the game that need to be in place before a manager can/can't really have much impact during a game and that is scoring/driving in runs, defense, and pitching. Our pitching has been mostly there all year, defense is coming around, but driving in runs has been lacking due IMO primarily to the failures of our big hitters (not including the previously injured Magglio). If Trammell is responsible for as many as 6 games (I am reserving opinion on if it's true or not as promised), then the aforementioned middle of the order guys are responsible for as many, if not more.

I am done defending Trammell as indicated in my previous post, because there is lots of baseball left and I don't believe this team was in an ideal situation for much of the season, but I see it improving dramatically in the second half. With the return of Magglio, the up-and-coming Shelton giving some good production in the #3 hole, Guillen seemingly on the path to getting a little bit healthier, and Polanco adding an element this team has rarely seen, we are entering a "no excuses" phase. I think the 2nd half will show what this team, front office, and manager are really made of.
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Postby moochman » Wed Jul 13, 2005 12:53 pm

mcqfesijiba wrote:I think the 2nd half will show what this team, front office, and manager are really made of.


You could be letting them off the hook again. A lot of teams have a Carlos Pena attitude; once the season is lost they loosen up an play well. I do agree with your feelings that the Tigers are going to do better in the second half. I look for them to be about 10 games better than .500 should their pitching hold out. Shelton, Maggs, and Palanco have steadied the line-up and should equal more consistant run production. That would leave them at 85 wins, I think, a step in the right direction.

Now as a parting salvo, do really think that this team is only one game better than last year's? I think this team has underachieved. And that falls on Tram's shoulders.
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Postby mcqfesijiba » Thu Jul 14, 2005 9:00 am

moochman wrote:Now as a parting salvo, do really think that this team is only one game better than last year's? I think this team has underachieved. And that falls on Tram's shoulders.
Actually, in some ways, I believe the team we've seen most of the year was a step down from last year until recently. Let me make clear comparisons to last year, since many of the guys we've had throughout the year are the same, and I'll consider the pre-Shelton and Polanco period which was the majority of the season. Starting pitching - same guys, better results, still a lot of inconsistency particularly from Johnson and Maroth. Middle relief - much improved. Percival has been a bust so far, even worse than Urbina was last year. Urbina had a dominant stretch while Percival was down to ease the closer pain for a while.

On offense - Dmitri Young looks like he's slipping as a player. Pudge looks the like he may be starting to slip offensively, although the rest of his game remains good. Guillen has missed much of the season, and when he's been in there his average has been good, but he really hasn't been productive at all Pena was far worse than anyone could have predicted. Without Guillen for much of the year, we've had a serious hole at the very important #2 spot in the lineup, where he provided a .336 BA last year. We've had to start the likes of Marcus Thames, Tony Giarratano, Jason Smith, and Ramon Martinez each for good stretches this season (our reserves weren't better last year, but you'd hope we would have improved in that regard). Brandon Inge has been a little bit improved over last year, but the middle of the order guys have wasted his effort by being miserable with risp, which to me has been the achilles heel of this team.

A little supporting evidence:
Ivan Rodriguez - .240 this year, .361 last year!
Carlos Guillen - .192 this year, .311 last year!
Dmitri Young - .200 this year, .224 last year (we hoped last year was a slow year for him coming off of a broken leg, but it's looking like a trend)
Rondell White - .397 this year, .322 last year (our savior, but he was still getting it done last year as well; doesn't play everyday even when healthy)
Craig Monroe - .310 this year, .261 last year (a little further down in the lineup, but he has been forced to be our RBI leader due to Young/Pudge/Guillen's struggles)

Now the reason I say we are entering a "no excuses" stituation where we will see what this team can really do should be very obvious. Ordonez is healthy, Shelton is entrenched as a #3 hitter, and Polanco brings a special element to this team that we haven't had before. We have only had these three together for a short period, so we should be able to put a strong performance together if we can keep the top of our lineup in tact and void much juggling. There are still pieces to be added to the team, so the front office needs to go over their options now that we are closer to being buyers than we have been in quite some time, so it should be interesting to see what direction they choose to go in.

Sorry that's a little messy, but that's a lot of information there. In summary, our pitching has been easily better overall, but not without inconsistencies. Our hitting has been ravaged by a mix of injuries and dissappointing players. If your run producers don't get the job done more often, your pitching efforts will obviously be wasted. By your previous assessment that this team should clearly be 6 games better, that would make us tied for the wild card, maybe even in sole possession if one of those 6 games was against division rival Twins. I cannot see what we've had out there most of the season as playoff material. However keep the lineup we've got out there now (a good trade is perfectly acceptable) and our pitching doesn't fade/fades very little and things could happen.

By the way, keep it coming if you wish. I love debating this team.
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Postby moochman » Fri Jul 15, 2005 12:20 pm

mcqfesijiba wrote:Actually, in some ways, I believe the team we've seen most of the year was a step down from last year until recently...... I cannot see what we've had out there most of the season as playoff material. However keep the lineup we've got out there now (a good trade is perfectly acceptable) and our pitching doesn't fade/fades very little and things could happen.


How could you possibly think this year's team was worse than last year's?
The addition of Shelton is proof of Tram's poor judgement. Shelton was there at the start, Tram just chose not to put any faith in an unproven player. Instead he opted for the proven vet-Higgy. Proven to suck that is. At first base the production has been better than last year-Remeber Pena sucked last season in the first half. In the OF Higgy was sucking more than Logan did, Inge and Monroe didn't produce as much last season as Monroe and White. Pudge and Guillen have been huge disappointments this season. So I have to give you that the hitting has been let the team down more this season.
But the pitching has been so much better that there is no excuse for the lack of wins produced. No excuse except that poor managment of the team has ruin what should have been a step forward season. Your rebuttle that the Tigers being 6 games better than they are is exactly why Tram is still the manager: Nobody puts the pressure of expectation on this team. Given the strong pitching, why is it so hard to believe that the Tigers couldn't be a wild card contender? Just not sucking isn't good enough, it's time we stop cheering mediocrity.
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Postby mcqfesijiba » Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:27 pm

moochman wrote:The addition of Shelton is proof of Tram's poor judgement. Shelton was there at the start, Tram just chose not to put any faith in an unproven player. Instead he opted for the proven vet-Higgy.
We covered that. Trammell may have had his hands tied on that outfielder with such a poor contract situation left over by Randy Smith and sending Shelton down was the correct move. There was nowhere for Shelton to play right away at the MLB level. In AAA he was able to play everday and work on his defense. Riding the bench in the majors to start the season was not going to help him. Young was already guaranteed to be the DH and Pena had a great spring too cementing his spot at 1B. Beware of the hindsight bias. Just because it seems so obvious now that it's all said and done, doesn't mean it was so obvious at the time.

moochman wrote:At first base the production has been better than last year-Remeber Pena sucked last season in the first half.
But not even half as bad as this year. The Pena from last year's first half was superior to the one we saw this year. .590 OPS is a huge dropoff from his first half OPS of .752 last year. So the production from Pena was clearly better last year.

Our bench is as bad this year as last year, maybe even worse but it may only seem worse because it's been exposed due to more injuries/dissappointing vets. Resorting to calling up Giarratano was the epitomy of our bench being weak. Given that our AAA shortstop was Gookie Dawkins, we really had no choice.


moochman wrote:How could you possibly think this year's team was worse than last year's?
Just to clear what was misunderstanding, I said
mcqfesijiba wrote:Actually, in some ways, I believe the team we've seen most of the year was a step down from last year until recently
The "some ways" didn't mean as an entirety. I think the improvements were offset by injuries and dissappointment that I have mentioned to make this team about on par with last year's team as a whole. I probably could have chosen my words better.
It is inconceivable to me that this was a playoff team this season before Polanco and Ordonez and Shelton. No way were we as good as the Minnesota Twins. Given the turbulent first half for our offense, I believe this team is right about where they should be. Pitching's great to have, but you can't win have to score runs and that's nearly impossible when the middle of your lineup doesn't come through. Never mind that we are below average in closing out games at a slightly dissappointing 19/30 in save opps. These are two elements for disaster in losing one run games.
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