By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
This is when it gets tough. After enduring a beating at the hands of a legitimate World Series contender, we are painfully realizing how far the Tigers have fallen.
But we have to look at the big picture. Since we sold at the deadline and are enduring key injuries, the team has little ability to hold down their opponent. So September is going to be a very trying month.
But what positives can we draw from this? What questions should we ask? Here’s a couple.
With a month left to play, what is one goal you would like to see accomplished?
Holly – While I’m tempted to select Miggy winning another batting title, it would be an individual achievement and short-sighted. It’s always about the team for me and I want hope going into next year so I’d love to see some call-ups this week and prove they are ready or close to playing in the Big Show.
With some question marks in CF and LF, let’s see what the AAAers have before hitting the free agent market. And if one of them can also play first base in a pinch, all the better.
Huge needs in starting and relief pitching so the sooner Al Avila can sort this all out, the better. Hopefully Lobstein returns so the Tigers will potentially only need 2 more starters.
But the bullpen – oh, the bullpen and the source of my PTBS: Post-Traumatic Bullpen Syndrome (but I’m sure you can come up with another appropriate definition given this acronym).
Most of the arms called up should be young and healthy. Hopefully, Al can trade all those old, surgically repaired retreads to Dave up in Boston. The Tigers will need an astounding number of new relievers.
Kurt – The Tigers need to get their big boy pants on and finish strong. I don’t see them winning many more games because they have few bullets left in their guns, but they can at least drop the guns and put up their fists.
I want them to start putting up a fight again. They played so scared in Toronto, it was embarrassing. The Blue Jays were allowed to dig in at the plate without any fear of anyone pitching inside.
I want to see some aggression. I want them to fight through at bats and make pitchers work. I want to see pitchers back hitters off the plate, take a little control instead of letting them have their way with you.
The fans in Detroit have continued to fill the park. And the Tigers at least owe it to them to keep playing hard. I don’t think that is so much to ask of highly paid athletes, whether they are winning or losing.
What will motivate the Tigers to try to win games in September?
Holly – After this last series with Toronto, it’s evident that the only means of motivation will be an interim manager. Even after a shellacking, the team exhibited no fire the next day, progressively got worse with multiple examples of failing to run out hits and lack of focus in the field and on the base paths – all the while the manager and coaches were sitting silently together in the furthest confines of the dugout.
The only logical choices at the moment are Tram, Leyland and maybe Omar. The team needs someone they can respect and in turn, someone who can change the energy and attitude. Someone who won’t allow sloppy play and who will insert meaning into the last month of play.
This manager needs to break the bad habits of the past two years and start creating a higher level of play and expectations for next year. A guy who will tell the team that last place is totally unacceptable and will point to third place as the goal.
And this temporary replacement needs to use this month as a time to address the fundamentals and situational baseball. Overall, the players have done little to show fans they play as a cohesive team and this will be one of the biggest needs for any team wishing to play October baseball next year.
There’s a lot of work that can be addressed in September that will help them avoid the “first to worst” moniker – and help set the mindset for next year.
Kurt – What will motivate them? How about pride, and money and big league jobs? Shoot, there are roster spots to think about for some of these guys.
Our young pitchers, who are currently in our rotation, need to use this time to start learning how to pitch to big league hitters. They need to learn from their mistakes, learn that you can’t get away with throwing the ball right down the middle and not get hurt.
Winning starts with them and just a taste of success and the taste of winning could go a long way to building some momentum as they transition into next season. The Tigers aren’t just going to go out and sign 3 starters for their rotation next year. A couple of these young guys have to develop quickly and it all starts now.
I think our hitters are demoralized by the poor pitching and if we pitch, the hitting will come and then so will the winning. This is an important month for this team, regardless of how it looks in the standings.