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.