20 APRIL THOUGHTS

By:  Kurt Snyder

In the blink of an eye, the first month of the season is already in the books. And the Tigers are right back where they started at .500.

Before we put a bow on April, let’s get everything in order. You will notice that I have come to grips with the realities of our ball club after 1 month.


1. Jordan Zimmermann has not moved the needle for the Tigers. But he does appear healthy and is still getting the ball every 5th day, which we will take as a positive.

2. Victor Martinez raised some eyebrows the other night when he, almost in disgust, put the hammer down on Comerica Park. Paraphrased, Victor said this is the ballpark we have to play in and there is nothing we can do about it.

3. In the absence of Miguel Cabrera and JD Martinez, the Tigers unearthed some surprise depth in John Hicks and Jim Aducci. Both of these guys have grabbed their opportunities by the horns and have really produced at a time when we needed it the most.

4. In March, I watched an analysis of the Tiger starting rotation on the MLB Network. Words used: Deep and potentially dominant. When depth came into the conversation, Anibal Sanchez came up. He was then mentioned as a potentially late game bullpen piece. STATUS: Deep? No. Potentially dominant? No real sign yet. Anibal Sanchez? A depressing continued decline. No role in the pen without ‘mop-up’ in the description.

5. A word on defense. Deplorable. How do you like that one?

6. Under the category of Beating a Dead Horse: In May we will see 2 big cogs return to the lineup in Miggy and JD. Will we finally see VMart moved down in the order when they return? The vibes with Brad are leaning towards no. Has he not noticed I have been very nice to him this year?

7. The Tigers got a precursor of what life would be like at shortstop without Jose Iglesias. The answer: Not good. All the chatter about how Dixon Machado could easily step into that spot without a noticeable difference, is just flat-out wrong, based on his April performance. We even missed Iggy offensively who has been pretty productive this season with the bat.

8. Well hasn’t Alex Avila shut everyone up? Forget nepotism! We have a backup catcher who has been raking it for the whole month of April. I will swallow real hard when I say this: I am so glad he is back!

9. Rob Manfred, in his continued effort to speed up play and shorten games, may want to isolate a few teams and find out how they are messing up the curve. Well, he can start with the Tigers. The low point was probably the Tigers’ 19-9 victory last week. Here was Brad having to continue to stroll to the mound to bring in reliever after reliever to preserve victory. Yeah, it was an impressive, yet still embarrassing victory.

10. How’s the ‘Win for Mr. I’ battle cry going? So far, it’s only words. It’s been a poor brand of baseball in April. And I think it was determined (on this site) this week that the goals of the front office and the goals of the fans are completely different. Winning? Well, it will come by accident, because it appears the organization has no plan to help things along.

11. This is the Justin Upton we expected out of the gate last season. He was a completely different hitter this April than last. Strikeouts are down and home runs are up. And with a couple big boys out of the lineup in the first month, the Tigers could not afford for JUp to be in a funk on top of all of that.

12. I haven’t checked the stats, but how is Bruce Rondon doing in Toledo? Has he been pitching well? If he was, I think we would have heard. Has he lost weight? If he has, I think we would have heard. In this case, no news may be bad news.

13. Alex Presley is a great example of how you just can’t stop making an impression when you want to make the big club. After an encouraging spring where he could have easily come north with the team had there been room for him, he has not been good in Toledo. He picked a bad time to go backwards as the Tigers came calling early for more outfield help. As a result, Jim Aducci took the trip to Detroit in his place, and he is making the most of it.

14.  March thought :  Write it down. Nicholas Castellanos will be an All-Star this season. Oh, and he’s on my fantasy team. STATUS: He’s got a lot of work to do.

15. March thought:  Many undervalue Andrew Romine’s versatility and contribution to this team. You need someone to fill in at centerfield, hey, well there is always Romine. You can say that for first base, second base, shortstop and third base. And he can switch hit. There are no logical reasons to misunderstand his value. And let me repeat: Every team has a valuable utility player and few are better than Romine.  More true this season than ever.

16. So, how do you feel about the bullpen? Well, it doesn’t matter how we feel. There are no plans to improve it. So get used to it. It’s one hard pill to swallow knowing we can’t compete with the Indians under the current conditions in the pen.

17. I haven’t been to a game yet, but am curious about the Coney Pizza. Has anyone tried it? I gotta know!

18. Ever notice how Mario Impemba answers questions from Gibby with responses that he himself doesn’t even believe? I couldn’t get over the broadcast where Gibby asked Mario about his Little League days. He asked Mario if he liked the ball pitched over the heart of the plate or more inside. Mario after having to think, (why I don’t know), answered “inside.” But he then went on to describe how he put his foot in the bucket a lot. What?

19. I wonder where Kirk Gibson thinks the home plate at Comerica Park came from? He clearly doesn’t know about the flag pole.

20. The Tigers exorcised some demons in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago, winning 2 out of 3. Given the sense of urgency, only shared by the fans apparently, the team needs to continue the theme in the upcoming series with the Tribe this week.

PITCHERS, PENS, PAYROLL, PATIENCE & PROBLEMS

By:  Holly Horning

Thank goodness the Tigers took our minds off the bullpen by distracting us with their sloppy error-filled games this past week. Ah, but not so fast Front Office. This pen is soooo bad (ok, everyone, you know you want to ask that infamous question) that whenever we walk past a dumpster fire, we automatically think of the Tigers relievers.

In case you were wondering, the bullpen has totally bottomed out now and hit the very bottom of MLB teams in the majority of categories. Through the first 21 games, they have a collective 6.72 ERA and 1.73 WHIP.

Yet, the bullpen remains relatively the same. No fresh names or faces. And KRod will remain the closer until hell freezes over. But despite their constant “pay no attention to the kerosene and box of matches on the mound” spiels, all of those responsible for this mess know exactly what is going on. They aren’t ignoring it despite their Mel Brooksian excuses. And they really, really want to do something about it.

But in reality, they probably can’t.

Let’s look at the warm bodies. Logically, if the Tigers had someone capable in the minors, that person would have been brought up by now. Their best prospect, Joe Jimenez, arrived and it’s now apparent that he is not yet ready.

KRod remains the closer despite his 6.23 ERA, 1.85 WHIP and mind-blowing 87.5% ability to allow inherited runners to score. (We won’t even touch the subject of whether or not he should remain the closer – a subject that will take at least a week’s worth of blogs, several bottles of Grey Goose and an experienced shrink.) But the scariest point is a comment published indicating that he would remain the “9th inning guy” simply because, logically, there was no other place to put him.

Anibal Sanchez is still warming a seat in the pen. That’s the good news because when he gets up, that’s when the problems start. Fans universally feel that he should be released. They point to the sunk cost and a body taking up a roster spot. But truth is, he is still there because he still remains valuable in some capacity (still largely unknown) to the team.

The same with Bruce Rondon. A guy who goes through surgery, gets sent home due to his work ethic, gets into fights and shows up hugely overweight to spring training. Yet, he’s still with the team.

Sense a pattern here?

The reason these guys are still drawing breath wearing the Old English D is in part because the Tigers have no one else to replace them. Blame much of it on Dave Dombrowski who ransacked the minors system for trade chips but now, add Avila to the mix. He did nothing to improve the pen after another horrible 2016 year.

But as Deep Throat infamously said, “Follow the money.” It always goes back to the dollars in the end. The Tigers have already released Mike Pelfrey and Mark Lowe to the tune of $14 million.

Add in Sanchez’s $22 mill, KRod’s $6 mill and $1 mill to Rondon. Dumping 5 players to the tune of $43 million is, for some teams, half their payroll. And then there’s the issue of new payroll of some level to replace these lost souls. It would be a headline-grabbing move that would publicly make the organization look foolish and inept. And for some employees, enough to get them fired because someone will have to take the fall for a mistake of this magnitude.

Add to the argument supporting finances and lack of personnel is a new one. Chris Ilitch. Maybe the reason why Avila was unable to revamp the pen was because he was given no payroll. Maybe the reason why these under-performing players have stayed is because Chris won’t sign off on their release.

And that, right now, will be the biggest question going into the summer. A summer considered to be the last possible hurrah for this core before the team is forced to go into rebuild mode.

If the pen remains the same in personnel and performance, it means the priority for winning is no longer there because the focus has been put on the money.

And that’s because the team and its books are being prepped for sale mode, not playoff mode.

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, KUDO & CONCERNS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

After 22 games (11-11), the season is in full swing and plenty of storylines are playing out before our eyes during the first weeks of regular season play.

Saturday’s segment is a day to touch on as many issues as possible. Let’s see what Holly and Kurt have on their minds this week. They don’t share their Saturday topics and it’s only for the readers’ benefit. So, expect a wide array of thoughts.


HOLLY

CONCERN

In a radio interview earlier in the week, Al Avila was asked about Brad’s best qualities as a manager. He came up with exactly one – (sic) “always stays calm and never gets upset” as we saw during last weekend’s incident with Jones getting injured, Boyd getting ejected and benches clearing. What’s really concerning is that there was no mention of the skills that actually win games – like strategy, flexibility, or adapting to game situations.

KUDOS

Being a utility player gets no love and little understanding but where would the Tigers be without Andrew Romine? Named by some national media this week as the Tigers’ most athletic player, the man has earned his weight in gold by molding himself into any position or need created by injuries and lack of depth. And to “up” his hitting game because he wanted to make a bigger difference is even more value added.

CONCERN

The Tigers have been very sloppy in the field this year with the frequency of their gaffes gaining speed. A program recently on “clean play” discussed how errors don’t tell the complete story and every team needs to practice it if they want to win consistently. The analysts (including some Gold Glove winners) also said it is primarily the manager’s responsibility to ensure that “clean play” principles are preached, practiced and enforced.


KURT

COMMENT

I have been borderline insulted since the day Brad said it. When faced with questions about a very worrisome situation with our closer, Brad felt that people finding fault in KRod’s performance had “short memories.” Sorry, but in evaluating his current ineffectiveness, I find no value in considering that he used to be good. My memory is just fine and I realize that KRod has had a great career, but this part of his career is approaching the end for a reason.

KUDOS

We scratched our heads during the off-season as countless free agents were brought in to fill our minor league system. But it’s been refreshing to have 2 ‘veterans’ come up and contribute. Chris Ilitch is happy with the young guys (Jim Adduci, 31 and John Hicks, 27) but may want to check their birth certificates before considering them the next diaper dandies.

CONCERN

Are you getting tired of beating on the annual disappointments in the bullpen? Well, there is always the lousy defense to fall back on! Since the nightmare in Tampa, the Tigers only wish they could still blame a roof on their continuing troubles. But among others, ‘Nick’ Castellanos only has his glove to blame for 3, count them, 3 errors Friday night, in an ugly loss to the ChiSox.

OPEN MIKE!

microphoneIt’s Friday folks, which means it’s your day! This is the day for you to be heard. Today is the one day during the month where you get the opportunity to comment on the Tiger topic of your choosing.

This is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can really get those juices flowing. Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.  So, pick a topic and let us hear from you. We know there’s a lot on your minds…

 

 

 

 

RANDOM PEOPLE CAUSING DISPLEASURE

By:  Kurt Snyder

Let me just cut to the chase.  I am annoyed.  Here’s with who.

MARIO AND GIBBY

I know it’s not just me. It can’t be. But let me ask the question anyway. Does the duo of Impemba and Gibson drive you just a little bit nuts?

The game has become something to watch while these guys talk. Not really how a game is supposed to be called, is it?

I struggle to criticize Gibson. He’s my guy. He’s the Tiger I loved the most. I loved his grit, his fire, his fierce competitiveness.    But as a guy in the booth, he’s starting to wear on me.

He has a vast amount of baseball knowledge, wasted on mindless talks with Mario Impemba. In fact, it’s 3 hours of Gibby interviewing Mario. And when Mario gets battered with questions, he really does not know what to do. He makes up answers to make the conversation more interesting.   I’ve caught him,  describing how he liked the ball inside as a kid … but at the same time always seemed to step in the bucket.  Hmmm.

It’s really very strange. Mario will agree with Gibson on absolutely everything, sometimes before he’s even sure what he said.    Tough to watch a game with all that going on.

And please no more interesting “facts” like last night’s gem about the flagpole at Comerica.  No, Gibby, it’s not the one from Tiger Stadium.  You can still find it at The Corner.


ANIBAL SANCHEZ

Well, I guess Anibal Sanchez did his job last night. He pitched 3 innings, served up a bunch of extra base hits but saved the rest of the pen in the blowout victory for Seattle. Congratulations, here’s another million dollars!

Time and again, we have to continue to watch the sad decline of Anibal Sanchez. Time and again we throw a coin into the pond, and make a wish that never comes true. Sanchez is done.

He further solidifies it every time he pitches. But please, let’s not solidify a loss by bringing him in. People can literally get out of their seats and head home when he comes in, because the Tigers have given up.

People can grab the remote, head to bed and miss hanging sliders, 3-run shots and line drives to the gap. It’s over, folks. It’s just a matter of when the Tigers swallow really, really hard and pull the plug.

How about Toledo, Anibal?   Losing down there doesn’t feel as bad  …. for us.


ZIMM AND THE VAN MAN

After 20 games, what do you think of our starting pitching? Where are your concerns? Well, it starts with a guy we were already concerned about and ends with a guy we were encouraged about.

Jordan Zimmermann has been pitching like a guy on the verge of falling apart. There is no dominance in how he pitches. He doesn’t seem to be fooling a lot of batters. But apparently he’s healthy – news that does nothing for the people who were hoping he would be pitching consistently well as a result.

Daniel Norris. What’s your first impression of a guy who is constantly described as a battler? Does that mean he is a pitcher who throws a lot of pitches early and seems to get in a lot of trouble but generally finds a way out of it for a no decision? Because that kind of describes Norris right now.

Do you get the feeling he hasn’t seen the last of Toledo, Ohio?

AN EYE FOR AN EYE

By:  Holly Horning

I remember hearing a story decades old from an opposing player opining about brawls between two teams. He said that if a fight was about to break out, the opponents should be able to have the choice of fighting the entire Tigers squad or Willie Horton – but not both.

But maybe Willie should be sitting in the Tigers’ dugout more often given that the number of teams picking fights with Detroit has been on the rise over the past 3 years. Most of them within the AL Central with multiple incidences of “errant” pitches – and not initially started by the Tigers. Several of them going back a couple years and finding renewed life each season.

The latest obviously was this past weekend’s incident that saw JaCoby Jones go on the DL. But its roots can be traced back to a mere week ago and also last year.

The most significant brawl was last year in which Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer “lost control” and plunked 3 Tiger stars, including beaning Ian Kinsler. And if you’re waiting for a pitcher to admit he hit a player as “payback”, you’ll be waiting an awful long time. Even Justin Verlander talked about how a pitch of his “got away” from him last season.

Whether or not you believe in purpose pitches, sending messages, protecting your teammates or delivering “an eye for an eye”, there are 3 more important issues at stake.


1. Why are teams picking on the Tigers more? Do other teams see a less-aggressive (or passionate) team? Do other teams find them to be “easier pickings”?

a. Does the manager’s calm demeanor factor into any of this? Was Jim Leyland’s fiery response to seeing his players hit more intimidating?


2. Why aren’t the umpires proactive instead of reactive? They come into these games and appear surprised when brawls break out. Even those that just happened a week ago.

a. Why don’t they have records about teams and issues to observe when they come into a park to umpire? How hard could it be to know that certain teams have a history of bad blood?

b. When the Indians return at the beginning of May, will the umpires remember what happened last September and this month? Wouldn’t it be a better idea for them to warn each side before the first pitch is even thrown instead of waiting for both benches to clear?


3. Will the umpires association make changes in how they address questionable HBPs before something tragic happens? Throughout baseball over the entire weekend, there were multiple incidences of players being hit on purpose with a handful ending up on the DL as a result.

a. Can the Tigers afford to stay quiet about the risks posed to their players by the Indians, Twins, Rangers and others who have hit their players? Can they afford to lose any more guys to the DL?

More importantly, can they risk losing or jeopardizing the health of any of their players in what is expected to be their last viable year for October baseball?

TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

After a rough stay in Tampa, the Tigers recovered with a series win in the Twin Cities. But some performances just refuse to change. So we have a problem and we have a question.

As is the norm, Kurt and Holly have not shared their answers; the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.


With each home run allowed, Anibal Sanchez appears to be done. Do you think the Tigers will release him soon, despite the big-ticket salary?


KURT

I was so encouraged by the adjustments that Anibal made during spring training. He definitely appeared to have remedied what had been ailing him. Starting the season in the bullpen was the right move it seemed.

And assuming he would continue to progress, I could visualize a role for him being forged in the late innings. Yes, I had that kind of enthusiasm. It was guarded, but I was encouraged all the same.

But wow, once the bright lights went on, down went Sanchez. He hasn’t had anything since, which is so puzzling. Every outing it seems includes a long ball. He can’t locate. His stuff is very average and he just doesn’t seem like a major league pitcher any longer, and to be honest, it’s pretty sad.

He’s given this team so much over the years as he has been one of my favorite Tiger pitchers. He was a surgeon the way he used to carve up hitters.

But the doctor is no longer in. And I don’t see any scenario where he deserves a roster spot. Sure, if he would agree to a stint in Toledo, maybe he could get things together, but it may be pointless.

So I have 2 questions. How desperate is the Tiger organization about winning this year? How much more money are they willing to lose to get better?

This is a big dollar figure folks, and the Tigers will exhaust all other avenues before pulling the plug. In the meantime, expect to see him in more mop-up type duty.


HOLLY

It should be noted that I am writing this earlier in the day on Monday, when the team has the day off, has returned home and the perfect day for taking care of some “housekeeping.” But will this time be one of discussion between Brad and Al about the fate of Anibal? Most definitely, but it may not be as easy as we think.

Most fans who are waiting for something to be done are focused on the money aspect but they should also be considering another “d” word.

Depth.

Getting rid a player puts you in a tighter spot when, not if, the injuries continue to come and a long-reliever is a guy who does mop-up and pitches (hopefully) irregularly. In other words, you’re the least important man in the bullpen. However, he is a godsend when your bullpen is really taxed and you simply need someone to be the sacrificial lamb by eating innings which pays off more significantly in having a rested bunch of relievers for the next day.

Another question to ask is whether the Tigers have anyone else in the minors who can take over his role and would he be better? Given the current state of the bullpen, wouldn’t someone have been called up this past week if they provided a solution to the dumpster fire known as the bullpen?

Sadly, the Tigers simply may not have enough semi-capable arms to go around and if they do, the priority would be on someone who can pitch in the 7th inning or do short relief. In short, Anibal currently is simply the least important man on the current roster.

Add into this, the money factor. To release 2 players and lose $13 million is one thing but to let go yet one more player at $22 million is another. A salary that still contributes to the luxury tax and will require another salary of some level to fill the hole created. And it’s a decision that gets kicked upstairs to Chris Ilitch because of the money involved.

Yes, the money is a factor but also being considered is how likely another team will pick him for nothing. And the fact that Anibal did achieve some rather impressive results by changing his arm slot this past spring training, you can bet that another team will decide they have nothing to lose by signing him to a minor league contract in hopes that his skills will return.

The fact that Sanchez has remained with the team for so long now tells us that the Tigers want to try as much as they can to salvage something from this experience. Potentially, they may try to negotiate a win-win situation that would send him back to AAA to try to figure things out in a less-stressful environment. It would be a much easier and faster decision if they had enough arms to fill the various holes that exist in the system.

MESSAGES WILL BE SENT

By:  Kurt Snyder

Whether we agree with them or not, messages must be sent in baseball. It’s not hockey where there is physical retribution for someone harming a player unjustly. It’s simple. Five minutes for fighting, end of story.

In baseball, it’s different. An awkward slide by Manny Machado in a game against the Red Sox over the weekend ended with Justin Pedroia being spiked and injured.

It certainly did not deserve any kind of response from the Red Sox. But on Sunday, a pitch was thrown at Machado’s head in response – thankfully, unsuccessfully. The pitcher? Immediately ejected. Why? Well, why not?

On Saturday as you know, JaCoby Jones was drilled with a 90-mph fastball in the mouth. And I can’t believe he was not injured more than he was. Out with a lip laceration? That’s it? No dental damage? No jaw damage? His response: “I feel like I got punched in the face.”

Well, yeah that hurts, but if that’s all he feels, that’s just incredible.

So was there retribution? Well, of course there was. You would have to expect it, regardless of intent. Hitters have to expect it. But when a ball is thrown behind a batter, waist-high in response, is that really something to get excited about?

Apparently Miguel Sano thought so, as he somehow felt offended, by a no harm-no foul level of retribution. As Mario Impemba said, if Sano doesn’t respond, Boyd isn’t ejected. I would agree.

So what’s the unwritten rule in baseball? What angers players the most? Well, anything thrown at the head will get everyone’s attention; intentional or not. If a pitcher hits someone in the head or the face, well, you better keep watching, because something in response is bound to happen.

Today’s game is much different now than it used to be. Long ago, the inside of the plate belonged to pitchers not to hitters. If a batter is crowding the plate, they are in effect taking a portion of the plate away from the pitcher.

Under that circumstance, hitters often found themselves on their backs or ducking away from a pitch high and inside. It was just a message from the pitcher. Nothing more. Message sent and received.

Hitters react differently now. They feel they own that real estate. And personally, I don’t agree.

If you have been reading my stuff on this site for a while, you know how I feel about the moves that have been made with the game in the name of safety.  The new rules at second base and at the plate have negatively affected the excitement of the game.

However, if you want to make a rule in the name of safety, this is an area I would focus on; not the others. Knocking a guy off the plate is one thing. But when a batter gets hit in the head or the face, it’s a big deal. That game will change from there. It will be scrutinized differently, because the game just became dangerous.

If an opposing pitcher responds to the act by throwing at the head of a batter, he should immediately be ejected. I don’t care if there have been warnings issued or not. He needs to be gone. Accident or not.

Mark Teixeira, who now spends his retirement as part of the pre- and post-game analysis on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, says “something has to be done.” And he followed that up with a desire for a 10-game suspension when a pitcher throws at someone’s head in a move of retribution.

I tend to agree to a point. Not sure about the suspension, but ejection, for sure. What Matt Boyd did, throwing behind a hitter waist-high, is a  – ‘Heh, just so you know, we don’t like what happened to our player’ – kind of response.

But Miguel Sano, acted as if Boyd buzzed one by his ear. And his ejection was well deserved after shoving James McCann. But inexplicably, the umpire felt he needed to satisfy both sides by removing Boyd as well.

So yes, something has to be done.  We need some guidelines.

If you want to buzz the tower to knock a guy off the plate, well, that’s part of the game. But you darn well better not hit a guy in the head in the process. Because now you have opened the door. But it still does not give the opposing pitcher the right to try the same thing.

There is nothing more dangerous in the game of baseball than when a batter is hit in the head with 90-95 mph fastball.  Yes, it’s going to happen on occasion. But if you try to do it?  Oh, boy, you better pay!

CALLING DR. DYER

By:  Holly Horning

The Tigers have taken a beating in the national media this week and I don’t remember the last time analysts have shaken their collective heads so universally.

Was it because of their shoddy defense? No. The lack of offense? Not that either. The bullpen? Unbelievably, not even that (although it did get several honorable mentions).

It’s due to all of the excuses. Excuses meant to deflect blame and responsibility for their play. Excuses that are used on a daily basis after every game. And nothing was too silly to mention.

The Indians stealing signs but only from 1 pitcher.

– A pitcher who claimed the air was so cold and dry that he couldn’t properly grip the ball, but the opposing pitcher had no problems.

– The domed ceiling blamed for outfield misplays but selective in the players involved.

– The bouncy new turf used to explain balls bouncing over the head of only one player.

– The reliever who gained a significant amount of weight in a suspiciously short amount of time and on someone else’s watch.

– Fans yelling “I got it!” and players who thought it was their nearby teammate. (And if you believe that one, then Houston, we’ve got a real problem.)

And my perennial favorite:

– A team that uses “due to injuries” at the end of every year to explain the annual October disappointment.

Aren’t you tired of hearing all of this? I am.

The fact is that most of the team, as well as management, uses excuses to justify poor performance. You can literally count the ones who take full responsibility on one hand. One of them was just given his walking papers so now we’re down to 4.

And then there’s Terry Francona. After losing a number of crucial players last year, and then losing his first World Series ever, said this:

“We had injuries. We had you name it, and not once did we use it as an excuse.”

Do you think that Tito and his team would have gone all the way to the World Series if he allowed the excuse mindset to plant roots among the players? You already know the answer.

The fact is that when you are allowed to push the excuse button, you have a ready-made “out.” When you can blame someone or something, the desire to push yourself to take chances at being the very best is a little less. You now have something to use to explain away performance that is not your best. Your fear of failure now has an override mode.

And when you use excuses regularly, they only reinforce self-defeating patterns of thought that keep you from achieving your desired highest level of success.

Like playoffs. A World Series. A ring.

This brings me to mention another guy from Detroit. He never played baseball but the Tigers would be wise to read his book Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits. It is about how using and hanging onto excuses keeps you from fulfilling your dreams and relegates you to a life in which your top goals are never realized.

His name, of course, is Dr. Wayne Dyer. Professor, counselor, coach, writer and motivational speaker. He knew what he was talking about. And a number of baseball teams do have his books on their required reading list. I’m pretty sure the Tigers aren’t one of them.

And maybe the reason why is due to their corporate culture. It may not matter how talented your players are or how much money you spend if those in charge allow excuses to be a valid rationale for performance instead of enforcing accountability and changing mindsets.

A change in the corporate culture is sorely needed. But it never comes from the people associated with the old one. It has to come from an outsider who is brought in. Someone at the top who sets the tone and makes sure it trickles down. A new President. Even a new owner. Time will tell whether Chris Ilitch is that guy.

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, KUDOS & CONCERNS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

After 16 games, the season is in full swing and plenty of storylines are playing out before our eyes during the first weeks of regular season play.

Saturday’s segment is a day to touch on as many issues as possible. Let’s see what Kurt and Holly have on their minds this week. They don’t share their Saturday topics and it’s only for the readers’ benefit. So, expect a wide array of thoughts.


HOLLY

QUESTION

Why wasn’t Mikie Mahtook used at any point during the entire series with the Rays given that he played there for the past two years and has a solid .995-1.000 defensive record? Given that Ausmus spoke about the difficulties of being an outfielder in that stadium, why didn’t he substitute Mahtook for the rookie Jones? How many bad plays did Collins have to make in RF in order to be replaced?

COMMENT

Ever since Miggy was removed from the WBC game due to a “tight” back, the Tigers have said multiple times that Miggy’s recent flare-up, in which he was pulled from the game, had nothing to do with playing in the WBC. But several days ago, in an interview with Miggy, he specifically stated that his injury was tied to the one he suffered while playing for Venezuela. Several hours later, that entire paragraph was pulled from the local newspaper in which it appeared – just further evidence that certain individuals are vigilant about controlling the message and that some in the media appear to be willing to help them.

CONCERN

Through Thursday night, there was only 1-run separating first and last place in the AL Central with the Tigers tied for first with an 8-7 record. But run differential (a team’s stat combining offensive and defensive scoring in which runs scored are subtracted from runs allowed) shows that the Tigers are at a ghastly -21 (the Twins are +10, the Indians at +3, the Sox at 0 and the Royals at -6) and sitting second from the bottom in all of MLB. RD is used to give more clarity to the standings, offer hints as to the team’s success for the season and to help predict the number of wins for a team.


KURT

QUESTION

Sorry, but I can’t ignore what could be the game’s biggest story of the weekend. Madison Bumgarner has suffered bruised ribs and an injured pitching shoulder as a result of a dirt biking accident, which will put him on the DL for potentially 2 months. So my obvious question is: Why would arguably the best pitcher in baseball, go anywhere near a dirt bike?

COMMENT

Too bad it took an injury to Jose Iglesias to force the Tigers to fortify the bullpen. This hastens the promotion of Joe Jimenez back to the big club. Last season, the Tigers had no choice but to promote Michael Fulmer to the majors earlier than they wanted. This year, he’s back out of pure desperation; and this should be an extended honest-to-goodness shot at establishing a role for him in the pen.

QUESTION

Do we have to wait until JD comes back to move Vmart down in the order? Will he actually be moved down in the order when JD returns? Are you wondering what I am smoking if I think Ausmus will actually make the no-brainer of a move when he returns, if not sooner?