By: Kurt Snyder
Another month down and 1 month to go. There were players run through the revocable waiver wire shredder, and there were significant highlights and a significant low light.
Let’s look back on August while contemplating September and beyond. These are my 20 August Thoughts.
1. As I sit here at 8:30 pm on Wednesday evening, Justin Verlander was still a Tiger. August was a great month for JV and he did nothing but raise his stock to the highest of levels for a potential trade. But teams still did not bite. Meanwhile, JV is a dominant pitcher again.
2. So who else has had a great month? Jose Iglesias? Oh, you better believe it. Big hits surrounded by a couple dozen great plays at shortstop. Seeing him as an ex-Tiger next season would be one of my lowest moments as a fan.
3. So who else had a great month? Mikie Mahtook? Oh, you better believe it. It looks like regular playing time is all he needed. And he has taken advantage. He has raised his batting average into the .290’s, has shown power, speed and good defense in centerfield. He has to be the most pleasant surprise of the season.
4. So who else had a great month? Justin Upton? Yep, you bet! Another month of power like he had in August and he will have set himself up for the perfect opportunity to opt out of his contract and head to a contender. After believing for so long that he would never be in a comfortable position to do that, well, his bat is doing the talking now. The Tigers are likely to lose him.
5. Miguel Cabrera: the mystery of 2017. The injuries, the troubles in Venezuela, etc. It’s all a puzzle we can’t put together. Has he given up now that the Tigers are losing? Is his heart still in it? His numbers are saying a lot; we just aren’t sure what. (Carryover from July)
Update: Miggy’s back is not allowing him to do a thing at the plate. No extra base power, awkward swings and a lot of frustration because of all of it. I just don’t see Miggy getting into a scrum like that with the Yankees if he was having a good season. His season hit rock bottom when he “dropped the gloves.”
6. This month I became concerned about the long-term health of Michael Fulmer. Is a nervy elbow and numb fingers going to be a reoccurring problem for him? Because if it is, I would unload him. There is something going on there that as it continues will more than likely require surgery some day. After that, all bets are off when it comes to his continued value and effectiveness.
7. I believe, after a disappointing year, compounded by the 2 irregular heartbeat episodes, Victor Martinez will do the smart thing and retire at the end of the season. He’s a competitive guy and if his body doesn’t allow him to compete, I don’t believe VMart will continue.
8. I feel horrible for endorsing the re-signing of Victor Martinez to a painful contract that never seems to end. I am witnessing a point in his career where he is now hurting the ball club, with still one more year to suffer through. What makes me feel the worst is that he has been a great and very respected player for the Tigers, and yet, after 2018, he will have been here 2 years too long. (Carryover from July – Do the right thing Victor!)
9. What fancy name will the Tigers call the rebuild after this season?
10. The decline in the offensive production of Ian Kinsler has been a surprise this season. It came out of nowhere. But the mid 30’s for baseball players becomes a gamble for most teams. And this surely will be his last season of a great career in Detroit.
11. Shane Greene has eliminated the need to wonder about who will close next season for the Tigers. He seems to be a natural and appears to gain more confidence each time he heads out for the ninth.
12. Matthew Boyd has been a disappointment this season. Daniel Norris has disappointed as well. And I am pretty worried about Michael Fulmer’s future. The latest chapter of these 3 promising acquisitions has taken a turn.
13. The Tigers have much more patience with Bruce Rondon than I have. Ironically enough, I have supported him during the toughest of times mainly because I lived by my dad’s mantra of ‘never giving up on a good arm.’ The great arm though is being overshadowed by continued relapses of poor judgement and attitude. How many strikes does one man get? (Carryover from July)
Update: Bruce is back in Toledo, may be back in September, but wonder when he will be gone for good. I am done with Bruce.
14. Joe Jimenez has a real opportunity to audition for a shot at the closer role in 2018. He has a solid 2 months to show this team what he’s got. (Carryover from July)
Update: Well, one month in and things have not fared well. He has been mismanaged a bit, switching from one role to another. But darn it, he is meant to pitch in the back end of the pen. So, let him take his lumps and see how he reacts. We have to find out.
15. We have real trouble with Jordan Zimmermann. Since the discovery of his nervy neck issue in the spring, he has been more bad than good, and with plenty of years left on his contract. This is a rotation in potentially deep trouble if someone doesn’t begin to perform or prove that their injuries are behind them.
16. Well, it took me until August to step foot into Comerica Park. It may be the most memorable game I have attended since the team left Tiger Stadium. Yep, it was the brawl game with the Yanks. I won’t soon forget Miggy’s missed punches and Gary Sanchez’s cheap shots.
17. The team seems serious about moving Nick Castellanos to the outfield. I hope they think about it some more before they do it. I would like for him to try his hand with the big glove at first, after VMart retires. Miggy then moves to DH, and the new kid, Jeimer Candelario, gets the first shot at third, assuming he earns it in spring training.
18. Add James McCann to the list of players who have come on in August. He is showing now what I always thought. He is a good hitter and is showing impressive power to go along with it. We are set at catcher.
19. Dixon Machado will be a starter next season in Detroit. No way will the Tigers head into next season with both middle infielders intact. He will head into the winter knowing he is in the running for a starting role at short or second.
20. September ought to be shut-down month for the Tigers. Shut down VMart and Miggy for starters. And begin cutting back on Michael Fulmer’s starts and innings. It’s time to start thinking about next season.
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