By Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
The Tigers return home with their tails between their legs after an excruciating trip to Anaheim.
The series sweep administered by the Angels opened some wounds even more for the Tigers as they continue to struggle. So let’s take on a couple of questions people surely have on their minds. Or maybe they don’t, but we do.
1. Knowing what we knew about the Central, is 3 ½ games out of first really much of a surprise on June 1st?
A little bit of a surprise but not much. However, there are two Tiger tails, er, Tiger tales to this story. The first is a team that came out of the chute in April and built a reserve of wins and good will. The second is the May team that used up this currency to mask a month of poor performance. If things don’t turn around, these 3 ½ games out will turn into much more.
The other factor is the manager himself. We saw Brad’s lack of experience last year and quite frankly, is there anyone who thought he would improve so significantly that he could compete with experienced managers this year? He was always the big question mark of this team. I’m hoping that Mr. I and Dave see the raw talent that isn’t being harnessed. There’s a lack of leadership, managing, coaching and motivation that needs to be changed while the season is still salvageable.
The Central Division had all the makings of the best in baseball coming into 2015. And it’s even tougher now that Minnesota has decided to throw their hat in the ring of division contenders.
To me, that leaves out no one, because before the season is over, the White Sox and Indians will eventually state their expected cases as threats in the Central.
The Tigers knew that the Royals didn’t get to the World Series on luck even though they got no credit from the critics as they assumed KC was a “one and done” baseball team.
So given the competition, the Tigers were not going to run away and hide. Even an 11-2 start didn’t distance themselves. And now certainly the way they have played the last month, they will have a real fight on their hands the rest of the way. Their prolonged offensive funk is going to test their resolve. Consequently, the biggest goal going forward is the challenge to keep grinding and staying in the race.
2. What player did you hope would compensate for VMart but is not?
I can’t name a player because I don’t think the Tigers seriously tackled the issue of anointing or adding a replacement. I think that VMart’s refusal to join the DL was the start of this, combined with Brad’s inability to get him there. It seemed to appear that everyone was praying that VMart’s back leg would get better and stronger, but instead, they were putting blinders on and not coming up with a viable plan.
This team is just the strangest when it comes to injuries and allowing visibly hurt players to perform. There’s nothing in print about how the team will handle VMart’s absence, or even how long he is expected to be gone. Are they simply believing this a short-term speed bump? Or do they realize that replacing a player of Victor’s caliber is impossible?
JD, Cespedes, Collins, Castellanos and McCann are hitters but that’s where any similarity to VMart ends. Who out there has his patience, work ethic, determination and ability to work the count like no other? And maybe that’s why the Tigers are trying to avoid addressing his replacement.
We discussed what this lineup was missing moving forward without VMart. And asking one player to compensate for him would be unfair.
What is required is a rallying of the troops. They have needed a little from everyone to compensate. Well, we are still waiting and the biggest question is where they will get their motivation? VMart tended to provide much of that.
The Tigers have just been easy to pitch to as they continually shoot themselves in the foot. Strikeouts and double play balls have both been products of poor at bats.
Kinsler seems to have found his upper cut swing again and the guys backing up Cabrera have continually put their hand in the mouse trap, not being able to layoff the cheese outside the strike zone.
Yes, it’s only the first week of June, but continued poor play can put you in a hole just as quickly as good baseball can build a lead.