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Tigers a darkhorse?

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Tigers a darkhorse?

Postby moochman » Mon Feb 13, 2006 12:19 am

Dayn Perry wrote an article where he claims that the Tigers could be a surprise this season. No he doesn't go as far as to say they'll take the division, but that they could contend longer than thought. Here's a link:
[url]http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/5301350
[/url]

And some excerpts:
The Tigers have the misfortune of playing in baseball's toughest division — the world champion White Sox, hard-charging Indians and always-competitive Twins are all divisional label-mates. They're also all better on paper than the Tigers. However, given a few breaks and a handful of canny in-season moves, the Tigers could find themselves in contention much later in the year than you might think.
The team's strength will be the offense. This might seem like a strange assertion considering that Detroit ranked only 11th in the AL in runs scored last season. However, things figure to be different in 2006. First, they'll have full seasons of Placido Polanco at second (instead of a half-year of the vastly inferior Omar Infante), Chris Shelton at first (instead of a half-year of the vastly inferior Carlos Pena) and Curtis Granderson in center (instead of more than a half-year of the vastly inferior Nook Logan). Those are three substantial improvements
Overall, while the Tigers won't have a certifiable MVP candidate on the roster, they do have a shot at being above average at every position. That's a rare feat


Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? I never stopped crabbing long enough to realize the possibilities of the Tiger O this season. How much better can Shelton, Granderson, Maggs, and Pudge be this year? Has Monroe plained out, or can he improve? Should Guillen stay healthy all season...Well, you can see how much improvement is there to be had. Individually not a one player improving can be called a reach, but for as many to improve as will be needed is certainly a stretch.

Perry then goes on to speculate on the pitching:
The rotation figures to be solid — Kenny Rogers will be an adequate number one, Jeremy Bonderman should continue his skills growth, Mike Maroth and Nate Robertson are credible back-of-the-rotation guys, and Justin Verlander is one of the five best pitching prospects in the game — but the bullpen outlook is less certain. The Tigers did sign Todd Jones to be their closer, but Jones is ripe for a serious regression to the mean. Jones was outstanding last season (73 innings, 2.10 ERA), but he posted his first sub-4.00 ERA since 2000. New level of performance or fluke? Considering Jones will be 38 in late April, it's highly unlikely he's cultivated new abilities


Wow. If the young guys can improve a bit and the geezers can hold back the hands of time, the Tigers should stay in most games. Since we're being optimistic, with the improved hitting the Tigers should mean that more of those games will go our way. Funny how quickly things can turn, the bullpen that was seen as a strength entering last season is now looked upon as a real question mark.

So what do you guys think? Are the Tigers a dark horse? Are you in or out?
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Postby mcqfesijiba » Mon Feb 13, 2006 12:52 pm

I'm about as positive as any Tigers fan can be, and anyone that's seen me post here knows this, but I remember the Tigers were also popular darkhorses last year too. I stand by a previous statement I made that the Tigers are both more talented and/ or experienced in every area except arguably the bullpen compared to the team that started out last year. I see them as a team with all the potential to be an over .500 club, but with many more "if"'s than most other teams. The Sox, Twins, and Indians will all be tough foes making for a surprisingly tough division, so if they are going to show improvement, they will certainly have to earn it.
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Postby moochman » Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:57 pm

The closer it gets to Spring the more hopeful I get. I think Rogers can keep it together in a spacious ballyard and put a 16 win season in. Bonderman is the key. He has to make a big step up this year. He must establish himself as an ace. His stuff is good enough that if he can be consistant, inning to inning, I can see him wining 18 games. Maroth puts in another workmanlike season of 14 wins. Robertson has to get his head out of his rump and get over the hump. He's got good enough stuff to win 15. Verlander is as good as promised and puts together 12 wins.

That gives us 75 wins from the starters. Our bats should win enough games for the bullpen that the Tigers will finish over .500. 85-77. Good enough for a respectible third in a tough division.
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Am I out of my head or can this happen?
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Postby Dan Lambskin » Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:08 pm

4th place team...MAYBE a 3rd if the Twins have a bad year.

the hitting lineup is NOT as impressive as it looks. they have a bunch of guys 1-5 that hit for good average but with no speed or power. the rest of the lineup just isnt that good.

they arent a very good defensive team

their starting pitching could be OK, but it's middle of the road at best...and the pen, well, it scares me.

i'd say wins in the low 70's
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Postby mcqfesijiba » Wed Feb 15, 2006 1:01 pm

Dan Lambskin wrote:4th place team...MAYBE a 3rd if the Twins have a bad year.

the hitting lineup is NOT as impressive as it looks. they have a bunch of guys 1-5 that hit for good average but with no speed or power. the rest of the lineup just isnt that good.
To some extent, yes, but when the starters are out there, I think they will perform well.
No speed? Very, very true, but speed isn't all that important in modern baseball.
No power? Maggs, Shelton, Dmitri, Pena, Guillen, Monroe, Granderson all have excellent chances of hitting 20+ HRs (although I'm pegging Guillen a little lower than that). Right behind them will be Inge and Pudge with HR totals in the mid to upper teens. I'm expecting 10-12 from Polanco.

But yeah, the Indians and Sox will be hard to top. I'm actually thinking the Sox won't be too impressed with their new acquisitions, and the Indians pitching does not scare me one bit. The Twins have real good pitching, but their offense leaves quite a bit to be desired, so I'm pegging them to be right in there competing for 3rd place at the very least.

Dan Lambskin wrote:they arent a very good defensive team
They will be improved. Pudge is always a stud behind the plate. A healthy(ish) Guillen will be huge. A full season of Polanco will be a plus. And Inge should only get better as he reduces the bonehead errors on routine plays. Any scout or executive will tell you that Inge has the makings of one of the better defensive infielders in the league. Shelton will probably never be better than average, though, often being a bit below. Defensively, Infante will be fine as a backup infielder.

Having a full season of Granderson or sometimes Logan in the outfield will be a plus. Having Monroe play CF last year was awful. He's at least an average to slightly above average LF. I don't know what to say about Maggs. He was very tentative in the field last year, so hopefully another offseason of recovery from his knee surgery and hernia will help him.

Dan Lambskin wrote:their starting pitching could be OK, but it's middle of the road at best...and the pen, well, it scares me.

i'd say wins in the low 70's
To some extent I agree about the starters, but I think you underestimate their upside. I'm not high on the bullpen, but it doesn't scare me, either. Spurling, and particularly Dingman and Rodney showed lots of promise last year. Jones should be at least an adequate closer, but nothing too particularly special, unless he has a little more of that "magic stuff" or whatever from 2005 laying around. If things get real bad, Zumaya could be broken in to the big leagues as a reliever, ala Johan Santana.

I'm having trouble estimating how many games I see this team winning as of now, but I see very little chance that they don't improve over last year, when almost every aspect of the team is better or more talented, except arguably the bullpen. As of this minute, my best guess is an even 81 wins with upside to be a real spoiler in their division and sneak into the high 80s, however Guillen's status is a major factor for me.
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Postby fraquar » Tue Feb 21, 2006 3:20 pm

In essence the 2006 Tigers are going to try to live up to the potential the 2005 Tigers had - but couldn't get it done.

This is essentially the same ballclub - 1 year older. All of 2006 Opening Day starters were regulars in the Lineup that tanked in late August and early September.

We still have the same weaknesses - few if any Left Handed hitters (Granderson and Pena the only two on the 25 man roster), Lack team spped in a ballpark that demands it to get the most out of it, average at best defensively with a rotation that virtually demands above average defense (Rogers, Maroth and Robertson are all soft-tossers), hitters for the most part trying to swing at and pull everything that was in their peripheral vision, combined with the absolute worst bench in all of baseball last year.

What I take issue with is the approach we are taking - giving extended chances to players who have proven little and basically saying "we can make moves at the All-Star break should we be in contention" as a lot of the journalistic pundits try to spin this approach into a false sense of security. Basically a hope and a prayer we get to July approach with still something to play for. While we can't clinch a playoff spot by July we can certainly play our way out of contention by July. After all, it isn't easy getting good starting pitching during a season - if anything it is harder and more costly.

We should have done more to address some weaknesses on this team before Spring Training (where a team starts to gel and works towards finding an identity entering the season) - not hope we finally get solid performance out of guys we either have been expecting for 4+ years or expect career years out of over half our rotation (or our veterans to match their career years offensively to carry this team) as will be necessary for us to be in contention for a playoff spot.

IMO it's asking a lot for an offense to carry a team in a pitcher's park - just like it is asking a lot for a pitching staff to carry a team in a hitters park.
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Postby MotorCityKitties » Tue Feb 21, 2006 4:51 pm

fraquar wrote:In essence the 2006 Tigers are going to try to live up to the potential the 2005 Tigers had - but couldn't get it done.

This is essentially the same ballclub - 1 year older. All of 2006 Opening Day starters were regulars in the Lineup that tanked in late August and early September.

We still have the same weaknesses - few if any Left Handed hitters (Granderson and Pena the only two on the 25 man roster), Lack team spped in a ballpark that demands it to get the most out of it, average at best defensively with a rotation that virtually demands above average defense (Rogers, Maroth and Robertson are all soft-tossers), hitters for the most part trying to swing at and pull everything that was in their peripheral vision, combined with the absolute worst bench in all of baseball last year.

What I take issue with is the approach we are taking - giving extended chances to players who have proven little and basically saying "we can make moves at the All-Star break should we be in contention" as a lot of the journalistic pundits try to spin this approach into a false sense of security. Basically a hope and a prayer we get to July approach with still something to play for. While we can't clinch a playoff spot by July we can certainly play our way out of contention by July. After all, it isn't easy getting good starting pitching during a season - if anything it is harder and more costly.

We should have done more to address some weaknesses on this team before Spring Training (where a team starts to gel and works towards finding an identity entering the season) - not hope we finally get solid performance out of guys we either have been expecting for 4+ years or expect career years out of over half our rotation (or our veterans to match their career years offensively to carry this team) as will be necessary for us to be in contention for a playoff spot.

IMO it's asking a lot for an offense to carry a team in a pitcher's park - just like it is asking a lot for a pitching staff to carry a team in a hitters park.


I agree with most of what you are saying here. The all-star break spin is ridicoulous. They would have to mortgage the future (which has taken a long time to build up) at the one time chance of making the playoffs. Also, they haven't addressed the weaknesses of this team. Everyone is just hanging on the chance the offense stays healthy. That wasn't the only problem last year.

All that being said I love the tigers, I just dont see them as a darkhorse, just my favorite team.
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Postby fraquar » Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:10 pm

Yeah, every season brings new hope - but this offseason has had us hoping way too early (abusing the IF word all too frequently) as we have made almost no tangible improvements personnel wise.

The games still have to be played and we all know anything can - and sometimes does happen. I'd just like a little more to hang my hat on than that.
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Postby mcqfesijiba » Wed Feb 22, 2006 1:01 pm

fraquar wrote:This is essentially the same ballclub - 1 year older. All of 2006 Opening Day starters were regulars in the Lineup that tanked in late August and early September.
And a completely new coaching staff. How that plays out, we don't know yet, but it has to please the Tram-haters who blamed as many as 10 losses on him, and that was before September ever even came bringing basically the death of team morale.


fraquar wrote:We still have the same weaknesses - few if any Left Handed hitters (Granderson and Pena the only two on the 25 man roster)
And switch-hitters Guillen and Dmitri, who are usually better from the left side than the right. Not the greatest ratio though, as in Comerica a starting lineup including more lefties than righties would be ideal and Pena isn't really a starter, so we only have 3/9 projected starters that are left-handed.

fraquar wrote:Lack team spped in a ballpark that demands it to get the most out of it
Totally true, but to build a team too much around speed in today's game is highly unlikely. Too few players from all around baseball have both speed AND play the game well. Most teams are lucky to have even 2 or 3 at best. Sometimes I wonder which is a bigger problem. Not building a speedy enough team for one of the biggest parks in all of baseball, or having a ballpark that might just be a bit too big for today's game.

fraquar wrote:average at best defensively with a rotation that virtually demands above average defense (Rogers, Maroth and Robertson are all soft-tossers)I
We won't be seeing any gold-glovers out there, but I expect we'll be improved in defense. Not having to run Monroe out in CF and having legit options in his place (Granderson and Logan) will be huge. Pudge is still a stud, even if he loses a drop. Guillen and Polanco are very sure-handed, although their range tends to be a bit below average. Therefore, I think the defense up the middle will be solid. Inge takes a lot of heat, but he was BY FAR the most overworked 3B in all of baseball last year. He shows excellent potential defensively, but makes a some routine blunders, but is overall tremendous for a guy who hasn't really played over there that well.

fraquar wrote:IMO it's asking a lot for an offense to carry a team in a pitcher's park - just like it is asking a lot for a pitching staff to carry a team in a hitters park.
The White Sox were mostly carried by pitching in a hitter's park. There is a little more to it than that, but the general idea is there. We are not the White Sox of 2005, but I see the potential to be a .500+ team. Even for an injury prone team, last year was brutal with injuries. It was so bad, our bench players were getting hurt. Given those conditions and the few roster changes from last year's opening day team and a more experienced coaching staff, I just see much more likelihood for improvement versus last year than I see likelihood to stay the same or perform worse.

Playoffs? Umm.....ask me again in August, but for now I am only looking at a run to get over that elusive .500 mark with no thoughts about the postseason.
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