Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Worrying

I’m far from a perfect person, but everything that is good in me comes from my mom. The woman is as close to a saint as it gets. I can’t imagine what she ever did to deserve a psychopath like me as a son. But the one negative trait that I inherited from her is how I worry about things constantly. What if THIS happens? But what if THAT comes to be? It’s maddening. I can’t stop. And I know it came from her, as every time I speak to her she’s seemingly looking for doom around every corner. I sometimes suspect she spends an hour each day wondering if the sun will rise tomorrow.


/jumps out window

And this constant worrying I do is increasing as the baseball season winds down. A 20-4 drubbing by the Red Sox on Wednesday night didn’t help things. The following are a few things I’m terrified about as it relates to the Tigers down the stretch and into the playoffs. Let me know if I’m way off base here.

*Jim Leyland is going to kill Miguel Cabrera.

Leyland has a history of playing injured ballplayers until they completely fall to pieces. Remember Brandon Inge in 2009? He made the All-Star team by hitting 21 home runs in the first half. The he got hurt. And they kept playing him EVERY DAY to the tune of 161 games on the season. Inge hit .186 in the second half, yet Leyland kept trotting him out there without any rest as the team blew the division and the words “Game 163” entered our worlds. Inge was never the same after that.

Alex Avila was the walking wounded as 2011 wore down. Yet Leyland rode his broken body into the ground for 141 games that year. Everyone could see Alex needed a rest and the Tigers won the AL Central by an outrageous fifteen games. Yet Avila caught every game down the stretch while Omir Santos sat on the bench picking his nose. Like Inge, Avila hasn’t come close to the pre-injury form he once displayed.

Now we have Miguel. He’s the greatest hitter any of us have ever seen. He’s putting up MVP numbers again in 2013. But the guy is in so much pain that it’s hard to watch. He can barely walk. They can tell us all day that he can’t make his injury worse by playing, but the naked eye tells a different story. The man is in serious pain. Rest him as much as you can with your 6 ½ game lead. I’m worried about not having him ready for October as much as I’m worried about him becoming the next Inge/Avila story. These guys want to play through the pain and you have to admire that. But a real leader needs to have the courage to tell a guy to sit down and get better for the good of everyone involved. Fuck the Triple Crown. Screw the MVP or whatever. The World Series title is all that is important.

*Omar Infante and Jose Iglesias have legs made of a pretzel-type material and could lose the ability to walk at any moment.

Omar missed a month after a guy slid into him earlier this season and has never been the most durable guy during his career. Iglesias has suffered from shin splints all season, it turns out, and had to leave Wednesday’s game as a result. These guys are the best defensive double play combination Detroit has arguably seen since the Whitaker/Trammell days and I love having them both on the team. But I’m having night terrors about some dickbag from the Royals sliding into one of them and us heading into the playoffs counting on Ramon Santiago not to be fucking awful for a stretch of games.

*Prince Fielder sucks ass this season.

His defense has always been terrible. But the offensive woes are a surprise. Despite showing signs of life in the past month, the man is clearly having the worst season of his career at the plate. I read that Rod Allen said something the other day along the lines of it being a shame that Miguel’s awesome numbers are overshadowing the great year Prince is having at the plate. If I would have heard that, I would’ve finally gone through with my ill-conceived plan of beating Rod to death with a claw hammer that I’ve been kicking around for a while. Rod is a shameless team shill and an embarrassing buffoon. How sad is it that our team’s two top choices for a television analyst role are Sir Loves-The-Bunt and the stammering idiot shoplifter known as C-Mo?

Yes, Prince has 95 RBI. He’s also had 321 plate appearances with men on base. Prince doesn’t get a gold star on his report card because Austin, Torii, and/or Miguel always happen to be in scoring position when he wildly swings at any garbage the pitcher happens to throw in the vicinity of home plate. The guy hit 50 home runs in 2007 and 46 more in 2009. And we’re supposed to be giddy with him not supplying half that power this year to the tune of $23 million in salary? All of his numbers are down and hopefully, he’s beginning to put it all behind him. If not, injured or not injured, Miguel Cabrera won’t see a strike come October. And Detroit is stuck with this contract for another SEVEN YEARS.

*Leyland’s trust in Alburquerque, Rondon, and Coke will doom this team if the starters can’t go seven innings in the playoffs.

Jim Leyland has the bullpen management skills of a deranged mental patient. Ideally, you want Smyly, Veras, and Benoit closing out games for this team. However, Leyland has this odd tendency of using his best relievers with a 4+ run lead and then having them unavailable the next day when the team really needs them. That’s when we get these three clowns and their buddies Bondo and Reed entering games while I begin mixing sleeping pills with booze watching the game at home.

In Wednesday’s game, Leyland brought AlAl in with the bases loaded after everyone and their brother had already realized Rick Porcello had been left in for a dozen pitches too long. This is twice in the same week Leyland has done this with Al. The wildest reliever on the ballclub is brought in with the bases loaded. He walked in a run earlier in the week, I believe. I audibly said last night when Alburquerque trotted in, “Here comes a walk, a wild pitch, or a grand slam.” Then, boom. The same holds true of Rondon and Coke. Like Al, they are capable of being brilliant on the mound. The trouble is, you don’t know if you’re getting Jekyll or Hyde on any given day.

Maybe Leyland won’t use every tool in the shed during a playoff game. At least I hope not. How Dave Dombrowski went all of August without getting another arm for the pen, I’ll never know or understand. For now, we have to trust the mind of the manager that thought starting Alfredo Figaro in a must-win game at the end of 2009 was a good idea.

I need a beer and a ZzzQuil…

*Our catchers haven’t thrown out a stealing baserunner since Lance Parrish was on the team.

Well, maybe it hasn’t been THAT long. But it seems like it. I can’t hate on Brayan Pena too much for this. He was a below average catcher that caught 24% of runners last season and he’s putting up an identical number in 2013. Still, it’s below his career number of 29%.

Alex Avila is the issue here. Between his concussion and Leyland’s attempt to cripple him in 2011 that I discussed earlier, I hate to keep piling on poor Alex here. It’s bad enough that he’s hitting .202 with 93 strikeouts in 311 plate appearances. But the guy has only thrown out 16% of runners stealing this season. That’s beyond awful. In comparison, Avila threw out 30% of runners last year and 32% the two seasons prior. What happened? You can’t put the blame on the pitching staff. It’s the same group of guys as before. Avila has more issues than a Kardashian sister and I’m not sure anyone even knows where to start in fixing him at this point.

*Left field is a black hole of suck.

I prayed to every deity I could think of that the Tigers would acquire Alfonso Soriano at the trade deadline. And the Cubs were desperate to get rid of him, too. But no, the Yankees got him AND CASH for a 4th Round A-Ball pitcher. Since then, Soriano has hit 12 home runs and knocked in 40 runs in 37 games for New York.

Meanwhile, we have this:

Andy Dirks: .253/.322/.366, 8 HR, 31 RBI in 424 plate appearances
Matt Tuiasosopo: .272/.378/.463, 7 HR, 30 RBI in 172 plate appearances

Tui’s numbers don’t look too bad until you notice that in the second half he’s only hit .194 with 1 HR. So combined on the year, the pair have hit for only 3 home runs more than Soriano has slammed since joining the Yankees  at the end of July.

But have no fear! Sometimes Leyland decides to put his BFF 4 LYFE Don Kelly out there! Twitter’s favorite Tiger is having the best season of his career. Sadly, that only means he’s hitting .235 with an OPS+ of 85. Good enough to constantly hit 6th in Jim Leyland’s great offense that we always hear about. No wonder the Tigers have been shut out NINE TIMES this season. That’s only two less than the White Sox, who have an offense comparable to most Little League squads in your neighborhood.

Nick Castellanos will hopefully be the answer in the future. He can’t do much worse. That’s why I’d like to see what he can offer the team in the coming weeks as the team approaches the playoffs. We know what we have in Dirks and Tuiasosopo. Jack and shit, that’s what. But Nick could provide a lift. It appears we’ll never know as the guy has been put on sunflower seed duty, getting only two at bats since being called up.

*Other random things I’m worried about:

-Jim Leyland continuing to ignore basic mathematics in favor of “gut feelings”, small sample sizes, and often pointless lefty/righty matchups.

-SO MUCH BUNTING. Stop giving away outs, dickhead. You only get 27. Every time a Tiger that appears he’s never bunted before lays one down and screws it up, Rod Allen squeals “Not a bad idea.” And I die a bit inside. No Tiger should be allowed to bunt except Santiago, and I demand that written permission be supplied BY ME in triplicate before the bunt happens.

-Every other start, Justin Verlander forgetting that he’s Justin Fucking Verlander.

-Austin Jackson’s streakiness. One game he’s Andrew McCutchen. The next, he’s Brian Hunter.

-What if Joaquin Benoit gets another freaky boil on his face? I don’t want to see that in HD this fall.

-Even our fast guys seemingly aren’t allowed to attempt a stolen base.

-After 90 pitches, Rick Porcello turns into 2007 Jason Grilli. No one on the Tigers coaching staff has apparently noticed this yet.

-Tom Brookens continuing to coach third base like he’s blind, deaf, and dumb. How sad is it that fans are missing Gene Lamont’s decision making?

Am I nuts, everyone? Has a season of reading the insane ramblings in the Detroit News comments section finally fried by brain? WAS HUGE RIGHT ALL ALONG? Oh, the humanity…

Someone hold me, pet my head, and tell me everything’s going to be okay. All I want is one World Championship. Is that too much to ask?

All of this anxiety is my mother’s fault. Stupid genetics.


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