May 18th, 2006

What about Guillen

Some people probably guessed we’d be looking at Carlos Guillen as a sweet-hitting, rough-fielding shortstop at this point in the season. But I imagine nobody thought it would have nothing to do with his knee.

Guillen’s fielding error Thursday was his 10th error of the season. He leads not only all AL shortstops, but all AL players at any position. It’s a statistical surprise who somebody with the track record of a solid defender.

If it was a matter of any one factor, especially positioning or range, one could blame his knee problems, though they seem to be a thing of the past. But Guillen’s errors have come in different shapes and sizes. He had problems with his throws early on and made some bad decisions on when to throw. He had problems trying to rush the exchange from his glove to his throwing hand last week in Baltimore. Lately, his problems have had more to do with fielding, including Thursday. Add it all up, and he’s had a knack for the highlight plays, but problems with other ones.

Guillen seems to be slumping, and it’s beyond being an early-season oddity. That said, keep a couple things in perspective. First, we’re barely a quarter of the way through the season, and there’s room for improvement. Leyland likes this guy in the field, both for his range and his leadership. Second, the way Guillen is hitting and the way the Tigers keep winning quiets the defensive concerns at the moment. If it continues into summer, then it becomes a bigger issue.

A couple other items from Thursday:

  • There wasn’t much Polanco could do once he was caught off third base on Magglio Ordonez’s fifth-inning ground ball to third. On that play, Leyland said, the only thing the runner can do is break for home on contact and try to force a play. Polanco hesitated before taking off.
  • Fernando Rodney walked Torii Hunter leading off the eighth inning, giving Rodney nine walks over 18 innings in 17 appearance. Six of those walks have come in his first 15 pitches of an outing. Leyland went out to the mound after Rodney threw a first-pitch ball to the next batter and told him, "Tranquilo," or calm down. Rodney laughed, Leyland said, then struck out the next two hitters on changeups.

White Sox lose

Tigers now own first place in the AL Central and the Majors’ best record all to themselves.

Leyland accused of jumping on bandwagon

I didn’t see this until this morning, but you know you’re getting attention when The Onion writes about you:

DETROIT — Friends and associates of the American League manager say that,even though Jim Leyland had never rooted for the Detroit Tigers prior
to this season, he "suddenly began following the team" once they
started winning in early April. "In all the years I’ve known Jim, I
don’t think I have once heard him mention anything about the Tigers,
but now that they’re good again, he’s walking around in a Tigers cap
every day," said Roger Lussier, a longtime friend who noted that
Leyland is not from Detroit and didn’t even know who Mike Maroth was
before he started the year 4-1. "Now he tells me he ‘truly believes’
Jeremy Bonderman is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s such a
fair-weather guy—I specifically remember him being a huge Florida
Marlins fan back when they won the World Series in ’97." Lussier
predicted that, should the 20-13 Tigers return to form and begin to
slide toward the bottom of the division, Leyland would quickly lose
interest in the team.

Before anyone writes in and complains, it’s a satire, folks.

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