QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, KUDOS & CONCERNS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

After 120 games (53-67), the Tigers are beginning to play out the string, which is a painful predicament with still 42 games to 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

QUESTION

Do other teams switch their players around as much and after they have established their MLB careers and before they age necessitating a position change as the Tigers have? This week, the team announced that Nick Castellanos will be moving to his 5th position change – once again moving back to the outfield. This on top of Miggy’s move to third base to accommodate Prince Fielder and Anthony Gose transitioning from the outfield to pitcher’s mound.

QUESTION

Other than the young(er) and hungry newest members of the roster, the two players who have performed the best this year have been JV and Justin Upton. Two guys with 2 of the largest contracts – 1 who in his last 7 games (before this week) sported a 1.96 ERA and the other having the best year of his career. Is it a coincidence or have these two been trying to facilitate/explore a change in teams for next year?

COMMENT

As I expected, Ian Kinsler was not suspended and received a minimal fine from MLB for his comments about Angel Hernandez.  It is known that Hernandez has disliked Joe Torre for years, who ironically is in charge of addressing these issues for MLB.  And if Kinsler had received a notable punishment, it would have supported Angel in his lawsuit against MLB and potentially weakened MLB’s case given that Ian Kinsler is sure to be called to testify.

 

KURT

COMMENT

After we posed the same question to our readers yesterday, I would like to take a crack at what JV had to say about the potential core for next season. The same core was being referenced as something positive when it fact that same core isn’t winning. So, I am wondering where the positive is exactly.

QUESTION

Speaking of … was Justin Verlander insinuating that he would veto any potential trade, thus the confidence that he would be back in 2018? And, was he lobbying for Justin Upton to stick around instead of opting out of his contract? And why does he include Jordan Zimmermann as part of that great core when he has been nothing but a disappointment since he arrived in Detroit?

KUDOS

As I continue to watch games, it’s good that we can cling to and still gather excitement from watching how great Justin Upton has been this season. He has been one of the few claps of thunder on an otherwise cloudy day. And strictly as a fan, I have mixed emotions and am squarely on the fence when it comes to wanting him to stay or go.

FORUM FOR FRIDAY

microphoneHappy Friday! It’s time again to head into the weekend hearing from our readers.   You have the rest of the week to hear from Kurt and Holly, today is the day to let them know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Friday is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can get those juices flowing.

Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.

We can’t wait to get your thoughts on the following topic.


What is your opinion about the following Justin Verlander quote?   And if he’s right, what is your initial impression?

“I look around the locker room and I think Miguel will be back here, I’ll be back here, Kinsler will be back here, Justin Upton will be back here, and a lot of other guys. I think a lot of teams would say that’s a pretty good core. Fulmer, Zimmermann. That’s a pretty good corp of guys. There’s a brighter side to look at than there is right now, in my opinion.”   – JV


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UMPIRES PLAYING GAMES WITHIN THE GAME

By:  Kurt Snyder

“He is messing with the game, blatantly…” Ian Kinsler regarding MLB umpire Angel Hernandez


That’s it. That’s the only quote I grabbed. Kinsler had plenty more to say in the moments after being ejected Monday night and also the day after, on Tuesday.   But I am going to leave it at that.

But why so much disdain for Hernandez? Certainly, he’s had a good career as a Major League umpire, no matter how dotted it is with indiscretion.

2 World Series
3 All Star Games
7 League Championship Games
8 League Division Series Games

You don’t have those kinds of credentials if you are a bad umpire. But then there are the other things. The negatives. The things that puzzle players and managers alike.

On his Wikipedia page, he actually has a section titled ‘Controversies.’ What’s up with that? I wonder if I looked up every umpire in baseball, how many would have a section set aside for controversies. Well, Angel does.

Long before all the appearances in the World Series, playoffs and All Star games, he wasn’t viewed as one of the tops in the game. In 1999, he was ranked 31st out of 36 NL umps.

Then in 2006, a Sports Illustrated poll of major league players listed Hernandez as the 3rd worst umpire.

But his incidents with players have been going on for years. And there is a pretty sizable list. But this season, it has gotten dicey and he no longer has a chance of leaving baseball on good terms or with a positive legacy. Not by any means.

He filed a lawsuit against baseball alleging racial discrimination, claiming he has been rejected for World Series games and rejected for crew chief promotions. After filing the suit, he was named to the 2017 All-Star game.

So, that’s it. Those are your Wikipedia facts. A glossed-over version used to describe the ups and downs of one professional umpiring career.

And here ends any more mention of Angel Hernandez. If you want to read more, the internet provides you with endless information, if in fact your life hasn’t yet been consumed by the World Wide Web.

The bottom line is, umpires need to be careful. The world is changing before our eyes. Technology has no boundaries and will not be stopped. It has and will continue to affect almost everything we are exposed to in our lives.

In tennis, technology monitors the very lines the players play between and it has eliminated a lot of the controversy. Any question about whether a ball is in or out, is taken care of without the aid of the official monitoring the competition.

Instant replay has run rampant all over sports. Camera angles and close-up shots will give you viewpoints at any speed, all in the interests of getting calls right or corrected.

So, don’t you think that technology and instant replay and its impact on sports is beginning to make umpires and officials nervous?

Now I don’t think we are anywhere close to the point where we won’t need officiating in sports at all and that technology will take over the human element altogether. But I do think we are close to where sports will need fewer umpires and officials.

So how would you feel as an umpire today? Would you be annoyed? Would you feel threatened? Just questions, really. I have no idea what gets under the craw of umpires in baseball, over let’s just say, the last decade.

What seems to be getting progressively worse? When you think about the games within the game, umpires are certainly part of them. How they call a game. How big or how small their strike zone is dictates how that game is going to be played.

And an umpire knows if his particular strike zone makes it more difficult for a hitter or for a pitcher, and if it causes controversy.

Some players complain all game long and initiate a lot of the bad blood between an umpire and a hitter.   But I believe it is the umpire’s duty to have thick skin.  Players in the middle of a ballgame are at their height of competitiveness.

Umpires need to turn the other cheek every once in a while.  Imagine if an official in a hockey game ejected a player every time a player screamed an obscenity at them?  There wouldn’t be any players left!

But there is a fine line between a complaining player and the umpire that lives for making himself more a part of the game than they should be.

There are umpires renowned for throwing players out of games. And don’t think for a minute that they don’t get some joy out of it.  They have made themselves the spectacle.

I can’t help but think  back to a few years ago when Miggy was thrown out in the middle of an at-bat, just as Ian Kinsler was the other night.   These are players who fans have paid to see.  It’s my opinion that many umps, not all, crave that attention, just in case fans forgot they were there.

Last week, long-time umpire Joe West, was suspended 3 games for answering a question. Which player complains the most? So Joe answered it. Should he have? Probably not. But he did.

But why the suspension? Why did baseball choose this incident to punish? It’s my feeling that there are plenty of opportunities to suspend umps for making spectacles of themselves in an arena where they need to be nothing more than observers and rule enforcers.

Ian Kinsler made it perfectly clear that he has had enough of  one particular umpire and how he distracts from the game while performing poorly .

And us?  Don’t we just want umpires to find their place and stay there?


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ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

By:  Holly Horning

John Hicks, Joe Jimenez, Dixon Machado, Alex Presley, Jeimer Candelario – all players who should, and need, more playing time.

Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Nick Castellanos, Andrew Romine – the teammates who should have less playing time. But they won’t. And here’s why…

The Tigers are headed for a rebuild and balking at the process the entire way. But it’s not based upon the messy process. Right now, it’s all about the economics and egos instead of the obvious.

Those who are not casual fans understand the path the Tigers are on – for this year and headed into the future. But the fan who doesn’t keep track of stats and other timely details doesn’t – and the Tigers prefer it that way. Have you heard anyone within the organization even hint that the season is over? That they are now going into a rebuild? Of course not, and you never will.

What you do hear and read from just about everyone is “We are still trying to win games.” Hope springs eternal.

Right now, what the Tigers are trying to do is to squeeze as much attendance into Comerica for as long as possible. They’ve been fortunate, in a way, not to have lost more than 1 marquee name during the July trading. When it becomes apparent to fans that the season is over, they turn towards other interests.

And attendance has remained excellent so far – a true testament to Detroit’s loyal fan base and the Tigers’ powerhouse marketing department. During the last homestand, the Tigers easily pulled in over 30,000 fans for 4 of the 5 games, even during the weekdays. (The 5th game had over 28,000.) Pretty remarkable for a team 12 games under .500 and sporting a 2 wins/8 losses record in their last 10 games. Their average home attendance is just under 30,000 per game and they sit squarely in the middle of all MLB teams – even with that record.

And they are not going to mess with that. Fans who still want to see games come for Miggy and Kinsler – not Machado and Candelario. Until attendance falls, they will be sticking with the money-making formula. Or at least until the kids go back to school and the weather gets cooler.

But there are other reasons why the Tigers have not been offering auditions yet. Obviously, they are still hampered by the 25-man roster for another 2 weeks, but don’t expect playing time to be anything more than occasional once September 1st hits.

There are some awfully big contracts on that team. Contracts that dictate playing time is guaranteed. Both for the player and for ownership who don’t like to see their most expensive investments languishing on the pine.

And with those big contracts come egos roughly the size of those payroll checks. We’ve seen both Miggy and Martinez play in strings of games over the years where they could barely move. Yet, they played. And if they do this, don’t expect them to voluntarily sit while a youngster takes their place. Ain’t.gonna.happen.

These same egos – at least 6 non-pitching ones – also appear to call their own shots instead of the manager. Brad is only partially to blame for not inspiring the respect all managers deserve. A big heapin’ helpin’ of blame also needs to go to management for hiring a rookie with yet no cred to his name to oversee one of baseball’s most expensive, experienced, high-profile entitled rosters.

Let’s not forget that it took a personal visit by Mr. I to get VMart to go on the DL. And despite the Tigers’ regular insistence that Miggy is hurt, he’s been on the DL only once this year, back in April. And Nick Castellanos will never be benched even when he injures other players and makes stupid indefensible plays.

If the Tigers are really keen on getting playing time for their “younger and leaner” players, Al Avila is going to have to step in.

Let’s not hold our breath on that one.

But the final reason for maintaining the status quo could also have to do with the rumored preparations of a sale of the team. Now that the Marlins deal is all but signed, the Tigers will want to maximize their value and figures for the books by the end of the year. And they do that by filling the seats as best as possible, ignoring the talk of “rebuild” and putting their known “stars” on the field every day. The majority of fans come to the ballpark to see Miggy, even as disappointing as he’s been. They don’t come to see Machado.

And this is the concern when money and marketing become the priority over offering opportunities of experience and auditions. How will they know exactly what they have if they can’t evaluate players with more than a handful of games?

This is what potentially may happen when a conflict of interest pits this year’s payroll and financials against the promise and potential of the future.

TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Today, we address the Tigers’ most troubled reliever. The Tigers have waited years for things to begin to click for him. And they are still waiting; which brings us to an obvious question.

As is the norm, Kurt and Holly have not shared their responses to today’s topic. It’s the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.


Do you truly believe that Bruce Rondon will be a part of the Tigers’ future next season? Why?


KURT

Given the state of the franchise and how starved the team is for arms, Bruce will stay put for another year. And I say that with much apprehension. What I really believe is that Bruce deserves the same amount of commitment from the Tigers that he has given to the team. Very little.

A more successful franchise may have already sent him packing. A team in the hunt would not stand for all the distraction that Bruce brings to a baseball team. But a team in the hunt wouldn’t need to spend time and energy on a player like Rondon. They would have plenty of other options. However, the Tigers do not.

Until more pitchers begin to emerge who warrant consideration for a role in the pen, Bruce is sticking around, even though it’s against my better judgement.

His lack of maturity bothers me. His lack of discipline bothers me. His lack of composure bothers me. And in general, I despise the fact that he is wasting a God-given talent, an arm that every young pitcher would love to have.

But he is holding himself back. He is overweight and if he was in better shape, I believe he could achieve a level of dominance that could wake him up. But the motivation doesn’t appear to be there.

He doesn’t deserve another shot with this team. Overall poor effort and a lack of desire to achieve success don’t earn many chances. He has had plenty. And he is lucky to be a Tiger because not many other franchises would continue to put up with him.


HOLLY

Rondon is like a cat with 9 lives as I’ve learned, so despite his latest return to Toledo, I’m hesitant to believe that his time is officially over. If you don’t get released because of your bad attitude, significant weight gain or bad sportsman-like attitude with the opposing team, chances are that he’s got at least 1 more life left in him.

Besides, his return to AAA is not solely based upon his performance. It’s based primarily upon Michael Fulmer coming back from the DL and the need to send someone down. We’ve seen this happen to a number of pitchers this season who have pitched poorly but yet return to Detroit again and again.

But the clock is ticking. He’s entering his second year of arbitration eligibility after this season and has 2 years left before he becomes a free agent. Even if he gets an increase in salary, it will still likely be under the $1 mill threshold.

Keeping or releasing him really is dependent upon where the Tigers are headed, their payroll and what they have in bullpen wanna-be’s. And that’s why Rondon has the advantage here in all probability.

The Tigers have failed to cut even $5 mill in salary this year and have 7 players who will receive payroll increases in 2018. Their total payroll is still above $200 mill which means that any new players will have to come from trades exclusively. What are the chances they will be able to get a decent reliever from another team when they are being hoarded?

Currently, Rondon is untradeable and the Tigers will give him yet another option to at least earn some value. In 2018, he’ll be out of minor league options which means he’d have to make the active roster or be exposed to waivers. Some team will take a chance on a 26-year-old guy making less than a million and throwing 100 mph.

It’s hard to believe that the Tigers have anyone better in the minors this year or peering into the near-term future. Lack of depth, failure to build a stable bullpen – matched with a player who is young, controllable and inexpensive – will give him yet another opportunity to succeed as it has in the past. The Tigers aren’t in a position to make a statement based upon principle – or their farm system – right now.

After all this time touting him as their next closer, they aren’t just going to give up without getting anything in exchange, unless they have no other option.


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NICK IN RIGHT STILL NOT RIGHT

By:  Kurt Snyder

Nicholas Castellanos as a third baseman has been an interesting ride.

His outfield grooming in the Tiger system began because both corner positions in the infield were blocked upon the arrival of Prince Fielder.  Prince necessitated Miggy’s move to third and the roadblock was in place.  Nick’s opportunity in Detroit would have to come as an outfielder.

But the Prince Fielder experiment failed and in time,  Nick did get his shot at third.   And who we saw was someone who did not possess the athleticism for the position. His instincts were questionable and his arm was not that strong.  It has been a situation the Tigers seemed willing to accept in hopes that he would eventually improve.

Of course, that hasn’t happened, at least not enough.  The team has now made deals to strengthen their infield depth in the minor leagues and as a result, Nicholas, ironically has become a roadblock himself.  He has realized that his future may no longer include third base. He is playing himself out of the position.

It’s a tough situation, because even though Castellanos hasn’t had the greatest season from a batting average standpoint, his offense is escalating. He’s hitting the ball hard and with more power and he is finding the alleys in an outfield where you can make a big living hitting the ball in the gaps. The fact that he leads the American League in triples has proven that.

But where does the team put him on the field? Just because there is an apparent opening in right field, doesn’t make him a candidate. Typically, right field is where your best outfield arm resides. Nick doesn’t fulfill that requirement.

Once again, the Tigers are proposing to fill an outfield spot with someone lacking in athleticism and in this case, one who lacks arm strength as well.

Is it good for Nick’s career to continually shift from the infield to the outfield to the infield and back to the outfield? He’s just not the kind of player you can keep jacking around and expect him to perform.

We don’t know what the long-range plan is for right field. It could be this is a one-year thing for Castellanos, until VMart is no longer a Tiger. But if that’s the case, are we setting him up again for another move, potentially to first base in 2019? How much change can one guy take?

I do think it’s in the Tigers’ best interests to begin phasing VMart out of the DH position. I have been here before and thought I was done on this topic. But in light of this development with Castellanos, here I go again.

If the Tigers needed more clarity on when Miggy needs to begin putting down the glove, they have found it this year. More injuries this season have contributed to the worst year of his career at the plate.

They need to begin working on his replacement at first base. Not in 2019. Now! And if that’s Nick Castellanos, I don’t know. But let’s start looking at that option.

Your least athletic infield position is normally at first base. Your weakest infield arm is normally at first base. It makes all the sense in the world to try Nicholas there before anything else. It’s his best shot at success.  It’s his best shot at staying a Tiger.

The evolution of this Tiger team, in the words of Al Avila, needs to include players who are “younger and leaner.” But speed and athleticism need to find their way into the Tiger outfield as well, and must be part of the roster transformation.

Under that premise. Under that necessity; Nicholas Castellanos has no business in a future Tiger outfield.


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THE MIGGY MYSTERY

By:  Holly Horning

There have been a lot of disappointments in this 2017 season but none more so than Miguel Cabrera’s performance at the plate. It’s not just an off-season. It’s been a historic low for him going all the way back to his rookie year.

And it feels different, too. We’ve watched Miggy battle injuries through the years, but this year, we’re not seeing the same tell-tale signs.

What is frustrating about this current season is that inability to put a finger on what exactly is the culprit. There are a few hints but so many writers are each coming up with their own theories. Many of whom naturally default to the injury theory because there is a history and it is the easiest explanation available.

Let’s recap what many in the media are saying and why their theories are suspect….


It is injuries, esp. from his time in the WBC. Potentially there is something going on but is it enough to put him in such a dire slump? Especially when he’s played better with even worse injuries – a broken foot, hernia, etc. – through the years? If it is injuries, how then can we explain his surprising speed on the base paths the other night when he took extra bases, slid easily into home plate and jumped up immediately? Guys with serious injuries aren’t able to make moves like that.

He needs an eye exam and glasses. If only it were that simple. Even with the Tigers horrendous medical/training/conditioning staffs, they would have thought of this months ago. I’m pretty sure everyone has eye tests done in spring training.

He’s preoccupied over what is happening in Venezuela. Obviously, this is upsetting but Miggy has been dealing with the same issues for over the past 4 years. Death threats, kidnappings and paying for protection are unfortunately the norm for many of the wealthy in South America. The Tigers moved him permanently out of Venezuela back in 2013. There are 71 other Venezuelan players in MLB, including 5 other Tigers – 1 of whom comes from his own hometown. None of these players have even mentioned the home country crisis as a factor in their year, including Jose Altuve, close buddy and hometown friend of Miggy, who is having the best year of his career and likely MVP front-runner.

His old partying habits have returned. Not likely that someone battling the old demons arrives every day and on time. Or someone who has been organizing meetings with his teammates. And nothing we see in-game even hints of partying the previous night.

He’s having family issues. People who have speculated on this one obviously do not follow Miggy on social media. During the All-Star break, he posted extensive pictures of himself, wife and kids on vacation where everyone appears to be having a wonderful, happy time. Even Miggy.

He’s started the decline that comes with age. Most players experience a gradual decline in their skills, not a nosedive. And Miggy is such a great player of the highest level that his abilities are able to compensate in part and slow down the tell-tale signs of the aging process. Maybe a very small part of what is going on but a relatively insignificant factor nonetheless.


What few are discussing is the impact that originates from the cerebral, not tangible, realm. And in sports, there are many who feel that the cold-hard facts that can actually be documented are the only things that count. But with all great players, it is passion that drives their performance. And that passion is what makes the difference in winning.

It is well-known that Miggy loves this game. He loves to play it. We’ve always heard he is just a big kid when it comes to baseball. We’ve seen the joy in his face when he plays. We’ve seen him spread this joy through his interactions with both players and fans.

But we’ve seen none of it this year. And that’s the key point. Miggy has looked different most of this year. He hasn’t looked happy. He’s looked sad. His facial expressions and body language are very different. And if you look at his eyes, you’ll see the twinkle is gone and the eyes look dead. It is rather alarming. Check out some of the videos of his teammates trying to interact with him in the dugout and you’ll see.

So why would this be happening? Maybe for the first time in his career, he sees that the best days are behind him. Maybe he sees that he will spend the next 8 years with the Tigers with no hope of leaving. On a team with no stated direction and no concrete plan yet for the future.

Afterall, this will be the first year in his entire career where there is little hope of an organizational resurgence and potentially a number of years where there will be great struggle.

And maybe part of his change in demeanor is a result of trying to cope with the reality that such great Tigers teams of the past have now officially failed in getting the big prize. You know what they say about reality.

Maybe some of it is because of frustration over the manager. Uncharacteristically, but also following in the footsteps of some of his teammates, we saw Miggy get upset with Brad for wasting Fulmer’s pitch counts over pick-off throws – yelling “Let’s go!!” at him from first base. And on national tv no less. Maybe Miggy has finally run out of patience and no longer cares about supporting a manager he feels is not up to the task of managing.

It has been reported that Al Avila has sat in the clubhouse with Miggy for extended talks in which Miggy was described as being “inconsolable.” It’s hard to believe that Al would be talking about private personal matters with him in front of his teammates.

Could it be as simple as Miggy seeing this dream franchise come crashing down? A team turning into a rudderless organization?

Sometimes the biggest guys – the most feared guys at the plate – are the most sensitive ones. Especially if they live to play baseball.

In any case, we shouldn’t expect this mystery to be solved before the end of the year. We may never know. All we can do now is wait, watch and listen for any changes next year.

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, KUDOS & CONCERNS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

After 115 games (52-63), the Tigers are beginning to play out the string, which is a painful predicament with still 47 games to 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

COMMENT

Despite trading JD, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, the Tigers were only able to take just south of $5.5 million off this year’s payroll and remain stuck with $200+ million in players’ salaries. Because they also exceeded the luxury tax limit in 2016, they will owe a 30% tax on any overage and potentially an additional surtax on top of that. Despite the salaries of Pelfrey, KRod and Lowe dropping off next year, the Tigers will be paying more to Miggy, Zimmermann and 5 arbitration eligible players along with the annual $6 mill to Prince Fielder – unless they trade away either 1 big salary or multiple mid-range ones.

CONCERN

Despite having a poor bullpen, it’s always about maximizing how you use your resources which helps explain why MLB analysts have ranked Brad Ausmus among the bottom 1-3 managers in bullpen management for the past 4 years. Case in point is Joe Jimenez who has see-sawed from middle relief to 9th inning, blowout games to high pressure situations, pulled from games quickly when the Tigers had a big lead and inserted into 1-run games with RISP in the 9th when he hadn’t pitched in a week. There has been no attempt to formulate a plan for him, an attempt to help his development and zero instinct about how to use him as evidenced by Ausmus’ quote “Joe’s performance is going to dictate when he pitches…. The players determine when they play and when they don’t play.”

KUDOS

For all that is said about Al Avila being a poor GM, especially when it comes to trades, his forte has always seemed to be about spotting talent, especially that of under-the-radar players. He discovered Miggy and JD, of course, but add in Mikie Mahtook and Alex Presley as some decent low-cost solutions. He was also the one who pushed Dave Dombrowski to insist on getting Michael Fulmer in the trade with the Mets for Yoenis Cespedes.


KURT

QUESTION

With the season all but lost, are we all just yearning for September or do we just want it to be over? Well, September will be a valuable month for the Tigers and hopefully they treat it the way it needs to be treated. Starting to sit guys like Miggy and VMart and looking at some young players we see as part of our future must begin to take center stage.

QUESTION

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t your approach to base running change when you are trailing late in a baseball game? Shouldn’t you be more cognizant of the situation – where running yourself out of an inning could destroy your team’s ability to get back in the game? You could say that instincts and feel for the game are important traits to have in all phases of baseball, but maybe more on the base paths when indecisiveness can kill you – just my immediate thoughts when I see Nick Castellanos trying to advance to third with 2 outs when they are down 3, and tagging up twice while he tried to figure out what to do.

COMMENT

In a demented sort of way, I am finding value in watching the Tigers’ failures. As a resident expert for people who haven’t watched baseball in weeks because they have better things to do, I am constantly asked why the Tigers are losing. Luckily, as I continue to watch, I am continually reminded why; so, I can explain that although the Tigers have talent, they are not very good, collectively,  in any phase of the game – a simple but very disturbing conclusion.


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FORUM FOR FRIDAY

microphoneHappy Friday! It’s time again to head into the weekend hearing from our readers.   You have the rest of the week to hear from Kurt and Holly, today is the day to let them know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Friday is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can get those juices flowing.

Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.

We can’t wait to get your thoughts on the following topic.


If you are GM of the Tigers,  what’s the MOST important reason why JV shouldn’t be traded?”


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JV NO-HITTER MAYBE JUST A NICK AWAY

By:  Kurt Snyder

Every game he pitched in July, you wondered if it would be his last in a Tiger uniform. And after clearing waivers, we will continue to wonder all the way through August.

Justin Verlander is pitching better now than he has all season. Of course, his 8 innings of 1-hit baseball last night made that an easy statement.

For years, I excitedly proclaimed every game Justin was due to start – JV Day. Every start, you clear your calendar, sit down and watch him pitch. Just in case. Maybe that’s just me, but I doubt it.

A no-hitter always seemed to be a possibility. He has been so good for so long, except for the blip on the screen when everyone thought he was done.

The injury. The surgery. The loss in velocity. The down year.

All of this was followed miraculously by The Turnaround; a turnaround no one could possibly see coming. And it’s not just the return to effectiveness again. It’s not just the return to being able to compete again.

It’s the velocity. It’s the dominant stuff. How in the heck is JV back to pitching in the mid to high 90’s? How? It’s phenomenal!

And now, after a first half that was underwhelming for him, he is back to nasty. The big fastball in combination with the knee-buckling breaking stuff is fun to watch once again.

But in the back of my mind, I am one bummed out fan. Because this is the end for us isn’t it? The JV show in Detroit is in the final act, don’t you think? As enjoyable as it was to watch him have that look in his eye once again, staring another potential no-hitter in the face, you couldn’t help but wonder when it will be the last time.

Who knows, maybe this is it for him right now. If the Houston Astros are still interested and needed any more evidence that JV still has it, well, I guess he answered with an emphatic, “Yes”!

In the meantime, while we wait, fans need to cherish Vintage JV. Bittersweet? No question. Enjoy it while it lasts.


Now, let’s talk Nick….

When you look around the diamond, so many things are about to change. So many faces are going to depart. But some will stay. Go ahead. Scan the infield. Things should stay the same at catcher, 3B and 1B.

But when you look at third, are you entirely happy with the defense at the hot corner? Doesn’t that need to be addressed?

Nick had a great night at the plate on Wednesday, there is no arguing that. Other than the lower batting average, he has definitely been more of a force at the plate.

But he was unable to make a play defensively that would have kept the no-hitter alive for JV last night. It would have been a great play, but he didn’t make it. And he rarely makes the great play.

He hasn’t had a good week at third. He hasn’t had a good year at third. So why do people wonder why the Tigers have traded for guys who play the left side of the infield?

Nick’s Tiger future, assuming he is sticking around, is not going to be at third base. He just can’t stay there. If he has made any improvement, it has fallen off again in 2017. And maybe given their acquisitions, the plan will be within 2 years to move him to first when VMart leaves after 2018.

We saw in Baltimore how great defense at third base can affect games. We saw maybe more than we wanted as Manny Machado put on a show the whole series.

So, let me finish with this about Castellanos. What have you noticed about him this season? What changed? Are there changes that bother you?

The request to be called Nicholas instead of Nick was for what reason again? Was he signaling to fans that he was a new man? Bigger. Stronger. Ready to have a big season? All the new tattoos. The new swagger. Pretty wild stuff.

Normally I like a player who exudes confidence. But Nick, take it down a notch. Start making plays at third and you can be as cocky as you want. I know one pitcher who would appreciate it.


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