Saturday, September 27, 2008

Final Thoughts on the 2008 Detroit Tigers

74-88, .457, 5th place in the American League Central. Dead last, even behind the Royals. Thank goodness this nightmare season is over.

Position Players

Curtis Granderson—Curtis started off the year on the disabled list after suffering a fractured finger in the second-to-last spring training game. He rallied after that, especially improving on his strikeout numbers and his average against left-handed pitchers. Despite missing the first three weeks of the season, he still scored over 100 runs.

Placido Polanco—Normally sure-handed Polanco committed eight errors this season, compared to none all of last season. He hit .307, down from .341 the season before, but his numbers with runners in scoring position declined even more, down to .278. For the previous three years, he hit .364, .396, and .380 with RISP. This is a big reason for the Tigers’ poor year.

Gary Sheffield—Sheffield, who had off-season shoulder surgery, tried to stage a comeback after a dismal year last year. Unfortunately, he tore a tendon in the middle finger of his right hand sliding into second base, and re-injured his surgically-repaired shoulder early on. As a designated hitter, a player should bat higher than the .228 with 19 home runs and 56 RBI. His continued thuggish behavior, especially during the recent scuffle with the Indians’ Fausto Carmona, makes me want him gone. I don’t care if he ever hits 500 home runs.

Magglio Ordonez—The 2007 American League Batting Champion got lazy this year. His constant swinging at the first pitch caused him to ground into a staggering 27 double plays. He still hit .317 with 103 RBI, but his fielding and baserunning were just plain awful.

Carlos Guillen—Carlos moved over to first base because of his 24 errors at shortstop last year, but the move was short lived to make a position for the even worse-fielding newcomer, Miguel Cabrera. He committed 14 errors in 89 games at third, and he just didn’t seem to have much pop in his bat, with only 54 RBI compared to 100 last year.

Pudge Rodriguez—Pudge was hitting .295 for the Tigers this year, when they traded him to the New York Yankees for former Tiger relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth. It marked the end of the Tigers’ playoff hopes, as they were visibly shaken after the trade was announced. After that, they went right down the tubes. Thanks, Pudge, for coming to Detroit and putting us back on the baseball map.

Brandon Inge—Brandon suffered a displacement fracture to the ego this season. When the Tigers brought third baseman Miguel Cabrera over from Florida, Brandon found himself without a starting job. Even after Cabera proved to be as mobile as an oak tree in the hot corner, the Tigers put Carlos Guillen there instead. Brandon began the season in center field in the place of Curtis Granderson, and was actually one of the only hitters who didn’t fail in the first few weeks of the season. Brandon played in the outfield, at third, shortstop, and catcher this season. His batting average was atrocious, but he only committed one error the entire season, that one coming with only two games remaining in the season.

Marcus Thames—Marcus didn't show the improvement I looked for last year, keeping his long swing and hitting everything to the pull field. It scares me every time he goes after a ball in left field.

Miguel Cabrera--Leading the American League in home runs at 37, Cabrera got off to a very slow start. Once he got used to the American League, he hit like crazy. It was very exciting watching him in the second half of the season. He started out the season at third base, where he was a butcher, but converted quickly into a very good defensive first baseman.

Edgar Renteria--This was supposed to be the shortstop that we were looking for to shore up our infield, but Edgar's lack of hustle and production made him expendable. He hit .332 last year, but only managed .270 this season. The Tigers are not picking up his option for next season.


Justin Verlander—A nightmare season for Justin, as he struggled with control over his fastball in more games than not. It seemed like early in the season he tried to slow his pitches down, but all that did was give the batters more time to tee off. He ended up with the most losses of any pitcher in the American League.

Kenny Rogers—I said stick a fork in him at the end of last season and I was right. He just lost it this year. Retire, Kenny.

Jeremy Bonderman—Season-ending surgery took Bonderman completely out of the equation as he battled a blood clot in his pitching arm. He actually had to have a rib removed.

Nate Robertson—Nate collapsed completely, and his dominance over left-handed batters ended quickly.

Armando Gallaraga--What a bright start for a young pitcher. Armando came up to replace the injured Jeremy Bonderman and had a better season than Bonderman has ever had! He went 13-7 with a 3.63 ERA. By far the best pitcher we had this season.

Joel Zumaya—An off-season injury took Zumaya out and he never recovered.

Fernando Rodney—I would still pay money to see him shipped out of town. He still looks like a lost child on the mound and fields his position like a coachless little leaguer.

Todd Jones—The Roller Coaster knew this was his last year and he played hurt most of it. He's retired now.

I can't even describe the disappointment that this season has brought me. The Tigers had a lineup loaded for success. "Win now" was the philosophy behind the trades that brought Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, Edgar Renteria, and Jacque Jones to the Tigers. Instead it blew up in our faces. This season was harder to watch than 2004 (when I was first able to watch Tigers games on cable. Thank goodness I couldn't watch in 2003 when they went 43-119) and 2005 when they toyed with getting to .500. This team had all the pieces in place, but just played poorly. It was like they would try to find new ways to lose. When the starting pitching was good, the bullpen was bad. When the starters and bullpen were good, the defense or hitting would let them down. It was just like watching an orchestra, whose musicians all had different sheet music, trying to play all at the same time.

There's always next year, I guess.


KC Ryan said...

The Tigers started with such promise, Jim. Things will get better next year, I'm sure!


KC Ryan said...

A-a-a-a-nd the Cubs are sucking big time. Sigh. :)