After 3 months of the season and with the team floundering and spiraling out of the playoff picture, all signs point to some really tough and painful decisions coming up in July.
June’s 20 Thoughts demonstrate how the team got to this point. They will be random as usual. But together they tell the story.
1. Justin Verlander joined the ranks of the inconsistent, turning the perceived strength of the team into just another questionable part of the club.
2. Daniel Norris has a long way to go and Matthew Boyd already left for Toledo. Not what was intended for our starting 5.
3. When Anibal Sanchez returns from Toledo and becomes the good news story of the rotation outside of Michael Fulmer, you know things are messed up.
4. June continued the quiet season of Miguel Cabrera. And he’s continually criticized for his lack of enthusiasm, even after he admitted all the injuries he is playing through. In my eyes, it’s nothing to ignore or downplay.
5. Justin Upton is potentially putting together a career year, one of the few bright spots being overshadowed by the poor overall showing of the team.
6. It took VMart to get sick and have to spend a few days in the hospital, but his return finally brought a spot further down in the lineup. Unfortunately, the team was in such dire straits, the lineup changes were a necessity born from pure desperation.
7. The Tigers are slowly but surely introducing a new combination at 2nd base and short. Machado seems to work well with Iggy and makes you wonder if Iglesias will survive the trade deadline deals, but Kinsler won’t.
8. Justin Verlander has had an odd season. He has looked dominant on many occasions but has also pitched poorly enough in other outings to keep his ERA above 4.00. So we have to be careful not to gush too much over him. (Holdover from May – this continued all the way through June).
9. Michael Fulmer? Future ace of the Tigers. No sophomore slump. Improving every start. (Another appropriate holdover from May for the recently named Tiger All- Star.)
10. The bullpen really changed course in June, but unfortunately, middle relief began to get more attention. As the starters remained inconsistent, the later innings began to have less impact.
11. The proper segue, of course, is the departure of Francisco Rodriguez. He had to feel foolish to have made such a stink over his role as he continued to fail and prove his complaints to be rather silly.
12. With Ian Kinsler having a down year, he is a sure thing departure heading into July. He and Iggy has been a star-studded combination up the middle and they will go down as the best duo at those positions since Tram and Lou.
13. The demotion of Stephen Moya to Double A represents rock bottom for his career. But his appearances in the bigs over the last couple years exposed some real flaws from which he may never recover.
14. All year long, we have had to hear about how hard Nick Castellanos has hit the ball. There is even a stat for it, of course. But I couldn’t care less about how hard someone hits the ball if they don’t result in hits.
15. What are the chances that Anibal’s short resurgence will continue to the point where there will be interest in him at the deadline? A man can dream, can’t he?
16. I am going to assume that Justin Wilson will be part of a trade package at the trade deadline. Having said that, it would be interesting to see how Shane Greene would respond in the closer’s role.
17. It’s now July and the only baseball game I have attended was at Wrigley Field. Does this say a lot about our baseball team? Looks like I am a contributor in the attendance decline at Comerica Park.
18. It’s quite easy to see how close we are to seeing Miggy as a full time DH. Injuries continue to take a toll on him, and we need to get him off the field, and soon.
19. As poorly as the Tigers have played, they are fortunate to only be 4 games behind the Indians in the Central. A June loaded with home games will say a lot about their will to win and stay in it. (Carry over and update: A June loaded with home games meant nothing, the Tigers took no advantage and continue to fall in the standings.)
20. I am very concerned heading into July with Al Avila and Brad Ausmus representing a very underwhelming Tiger culture for any new prospects who come to the organization as part of any trades. As I have said before, the team is very poorly equipped for a very important month coming up. Getting good value in trades is one thing; exposing them to this culture is a double whammy of concern.