Liriano back in Detroit?

It at least appears to be a possibility with the Twins rained out today at Chicago. What had been an opening in Minnesota’s rotation on Sunday is now pushed back to Tuesday’s series finale against the Tigers at Comerica Park. That doesn’t make the decision any easier on Liriano, who has struggled in two minor-league starts.

If Liriano does start on Tuesday, it would be at the place where he made one of his final starts in 2006 before being shut down and diagnosed with a torn ligament in his elbow.

31 Comments

All the walks our pitchers are giving up are biting us in the hind end tonight. Five of them have come around to score. Not good if you ask me.

bases loaded no outs, ‘heart of the lineup’ coming up…
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good for inge.
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polanco…. DP i bet.
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prove me wrong polly. someone get him a cracker.

oh good he proved me wrong :)

dont swing for the moon maggs, put the ball in play. make it a one run game…….
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i might be asking to much though…
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like i said, put the ball in play maggs, dont swing for saturn.
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i’m one-lining this blog. oh well. 2 runs is better than 5 runs, cabrera needs to hit. not kill the ball, hit the ball. give guillen a chance to bring him home….
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there, not a oneliner
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mike………

Bazardo is impressing me………………………………….

Well I think that this game can be summed up very simply. When we had the Wakefield on the ropes early we stranded a lot of guys and didn’t take advantage of a lot of walks and hit batters. Really, as weird as it seems to say, Nate pitched better than Wakefield. He had only one bad inning.
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Secondly our relief pitching today was just plain aweful. Really it couldn’t get much worse than it was tonight. Soxs took advantage of their walks and we didn’t. Although the hitters showed me something in that they didn’t give up tonight we scored some late runs. Although Sheffs double play was a killer. Middle relief absolutely stinks in Detroitl.
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Very frustrating game for me. At least the Red Wings won tonight.
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I will now say something that I am thinking. A part of me was is hoping that a game or two of this next series will get postponed so maybe we can make them up when they are doing a little better. Is that crazy. At least if you aren’t playing you can’t lose.

A few rainouts now would definitely not hurt. This bullpen will look a lot different if Rodney and Cruceta show they can throw. That plus a lefty (though I don’t see where we have a legitmate one in Toledo) and a reduction to 12 hurlers, (They had me hurling tonight) means bye-bye for Bazardo, Grilli, Miner and Beltran. So far they look like they deserve that outcome..
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Didn’t realize there was a now BLOG entry Mike. While you were talking to yourself here I was talking (and whining) to myself on the previous entry.
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We’re about as co-ordinated as the ball club!

Not much to say regarding tonight’s outcome. We’ve got pitchers who really shouldn’t even be up with the big club yet, so I can’t rank on them. After Wakefield walked Polanco, hit Sheffield, and walked Maggs, Cabrera came up there swinging which wasn’t smart. He’s pressing more than anyone on the team right now. He’s still young.
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I’m more concerned with the state of baseball itself right now. The length of last night’s game was 3:45 and we pretty much matched that tonight. There were what, 16 walks in the game? This is horrible horrible baseball and nearly too tedious to even watch. If this was an anomaly, it would be no problem, but it isn’t. The Red Sox (and Yankees) have, with their success and method of achieving said success, turned what was once a spirited contest into a study in boredom. The very fact that they’ve had great success in their approach to the game makes me believe that, within five years, every game you see will mirror what we’ve witnessed the past three days. Proof; what do we urge our own guys to do? Work the count, run up the pitch count, get into their bullpen, get on base. In other words, drive everybody crazy. This is not the baseball I’ve learned to love.
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This can be fixed, and easily, but I doubt it will happen. The fix is in the rules of the strike zone, and the way they’re enforced. What is a strike these days, anyway? Somewhere around the belt, extending downward to a point about two inches above the knees. Width-wise, it’s looking like pretty much on the white, forget about “painting the black.” The strike zone, as it’s interpreted today, is too small and smart managers and hitters know that. With the keen eyes of a hitter, they’ve learned to lay off pitches they can’t clobber, taking comfort in the fact that most of those won’t be called strikes by today’s tentative umpiring. Yes, I realize the goal was to increase offensive output to make the game “more exciting” for young fans, but the end result is becoming an endless parade of athletes trotting down to firstbase until the panting pitcher finally comes in with a fat one, then the one big blow.
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Sure, I realize not all games are like this but baseball, like most things, will copy what’s successful and we will be seeing more of the pitiful exhibition of an athletic encounter that we’ve witnessed these past three days.
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Men in blue, call some strikes!
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–Rich

i agree and disagree at the same time rich… while the strikezone is certainly ‘weird’ at best, its absolutely insane at worse. same pitches for tiger pitches get called ball, while boston (or KC or CWS) get those pitches for strikes.
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consistancy in the strike zone i would prefer over a revamping of the rules. i hate when rules get changed over and over and over again. (ala NFL when EVERY year there’s new rule changes)
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btw, i’m getting real tired of this period paragraph separator. a little ADD, probably. but i felt the need to bring it up again.
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IMO, bazardo should not have pitched in this game. bautista has been on fire, why not put him in. he was warming up. build that kids confidence, let him play. the flip side to that is his ‘inning count’ down the stretch. but i still think bautista should’ve been put in. but hey, at least it wasnt freakin’ girlli. not that it mattered much, cuz bazardo blew up anyways.
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all in all, the tigers were dealing with a slump, and they got their first win, and boston, well, is boston. they’re going to win games, and they’re going to slump too. lets hope this slump is the primary slump for the year, lets get cruceta looked at, send bazardo down, ASAP, cut grilli, who cares, bring up cruceta and one of these lefties they’ve been stocking as of late (can’t possibly be much worse), and lets take it the AL the rest of the year.
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i’m not worried about cabrera, he’s got the weight of the baseball world suddenly upon his shoulders. i’m not worried about maggs or sheff, as they didn’t get REALLY going until early may last year.
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polanco hit well. pudge hit well. guillen hit well. all around, i’d grade it a C+ effort, the bullpen of course, drove down a B or B+ to a C+…. lol… as they say in school, its the ‘learning curve.’ bottom line, is that its April 10th, 2008. last i checked, the season ends end of September. thats a long time from now. i dont even make weekend plans 2 weeks in advance.
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ekim….

If I am remembering correctly Bazardo is out of options. I am fairly certianly about Grilli, not sure about Miner. Miner who was decent last year cannot put anything together this year and cannot be trusted. And with so many of these guys out of options, I think that they are afraid to send them down as is a weird way they cannot afford to lose them either???? As we have said pitching is thin.
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If Leyland and Dobrowski cant figure out what to do, I sure as heck can’t. One thing that I know for sure is that you may as well consider Rodney gone and never plan on him coming back. Figure out this Cruceta thing quick and start hitting a little more timelyl. Wakefield threw over 94 pitches in the first four inning and they completely had him on the ropes with all the walks. They didn’t do it, I was almost embarresed for them, it was pitiful.
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GO TIGERS, GO WILLIS, GO HITTERS, GO BULLPEN

Bazardo and Grilli are both out of options. Miner is not.

dont fully understand the options and all that, but if they’re out of options, they go on the waiver line, right? then when no one picks up those 2 gems, they can be reassigned?
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though with grilli, and outright CUT should be issued. bring up some guy from jr high JV baseball, he’ll throw better.
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Just out of curiosity after my outburst last night, I checked the length of the Boston games played in Detroit last July. They were 30 minutes to one hour shorter, although I couldn’t include the 13 inning game. Boston still got about six walks per game.
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In one respect, you could look at the Tigers as “lying in the weeds.” They’ve played about as badly as they can play, and there are guys coming back from the DL. This should still get very interesting. I would like to see them take a series from the White Sox, though.
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–Rich

i think they just need to play with fire. all you have to do is look at the pitchers eyes. the tigers look nervous and afraid. just look at someone like papplebon, he looks like he want to kill the hitters. pitch them like they stole somthin

I unlike some didn’t have a huge problem with the strike zone. However there were two key spots in which the umpire really screwed up, and it of course really hurt the Tigers. In the 7th Ramirez got a double and two RBI’s when in fact the second and fifth pitch of the at bat were called balls, and let me tell you if those were balls, I am the queen of England. He should of been called out on strikes. If he would of struck out as he should of they don’t score any runs that inning.
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Then in the 8th Ortiz should of been called out on strikes, instead with one on and two outs there is one out and the bases eventually become loaded, and we all know what happened after that. Now I am not saying that the relief pitching was perfect, but Miner was a lot screwed and Bazardo was a little screwed. I know it is an excuse and I am not sure that we would of won this game anyway, however it at least tacked on 5 extra runs (4 in the 7th and 1 in the 8th would off not have scored. So at the very least it would of been a 7-6 to game instead of the 12-6 game it was.????? OH well when it rains it pours.

its more than just scoring, it kills momentum for the sox, and it amps our guys up. not getting those critical strikes, instead having the hitters (manny and ortiz) get hits, drive in runs, keep the inning alive, is a huge disappointment and frustration for the tigers, while building momentum for boston and their relief pitchers…
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Your absolutely right Mike.

I think Rich is right about the strike zone. On top of it shrinking (in terms of the target the pitcher looks at) you can add the inconsistency factor AND the variations of individual umps interpretation of what it is. It all adds up to making life as a pitcher in the AL a very challenging one. As an older fan (pains me to say that), I remember the bottom of the knee to the armpit strike zone fondly. Think there is a correlation to the 4 starter rotation and double digit complete games per starter?
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I railed on Sheffield yesterday and previously. If it were in my jurisdiction I would make him available to another club. Because he is hurting ours and the upside for him is limited and if it ever does materialize, will be short lived.
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My approach to a DH is not to get a pure DH but rather a good, solid power hitting position player that can be rotated in and out of the DH spot to offer other players on the roster a respite from the grind of everyday playing.
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Not sure who would be interested in Sheffield but I would trade him in a NY minute for Huston Street. The A’s could use him as a DH and free up Cust to play somewhere.
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Sheffield’s stubbornness hurt us badly last year. I did not see him playing with a shoulder injury to be courageous or selfless. Actually I saw it as quite the opposite. The same thing is happening this year. Sheffield must think he is Hans Brinker. I assure you though if the finger is pulled from the lineup, our club will not be destroyed.
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I would much rather see Thames, Guillen, Cabrera, Jones and Renteria fill the DH slot.
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I read some comments from JL in the Detroit paper this morning that sounded like subtle criticism of Nate. I think he is right too. That he may have been a bit shaken by not getting his way with a couple of calls. You gotta get over that stuff and not let it be affect performance.
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I think JL is trying to justify the poor bullpen by distributing blame over the entire staff and suggesting it is the starters that put the pressure on the pen. Much like he did last year. The difference though, is that last year the pen was in the middle of the season and it was getting tired and overworked. Presumably they aren’t too tired yet are they?
The root word of reliever is relief. That’s what they are paid and expected to do. We aren’t even done with 2 rotations of the starting staff yet. The pen is not tired or overworked. They just aren’t very good. That much is abundantly clear.
That doesn’t mean the starters have been OK–they have not. But even if they turn things around and we start getting quality starts from all 5, this bullpen will still not be able to handle their end.
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Dombrowski is going to need to do something about this.
And very soon.

I’m not sure how many options the Tigers have in bringing in help for the bullpen. The best options are probably going to come from within: Rodney, Cruceta, and Zumaya. I do think that Leyland is right: the starters are going to be the key to success. Compare the previous two seasons and that is the biggest difference between the clubs: the starters were great two years ago and– outside of Verlander– were just so-so last year.
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I’ll go back to one other idea that I’ve posted before: If we need a second lefty in the ‘pen, there are many worse options than moving Robertson out there– I just think he’d do better as a reliever than as a starter. We’d have a hole to fill in the rotation but I think that Vasquez could fill it. They could also just go with a four man rotation and add someone whenever the fifth spot comes open. I know this is very unlikely to happen but I think its a good idea.
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As far as other roster moves, I think the Tigers have some pretty easy decisions. Grilli and Bazardo aren’t getting the job done and should be sent down/released. Beltran shows some promise but again, nothing great. Ideally, in a few weeks, the Tigers will recall the following folks: Granderson, Wilson, Cruceta, Rodney, and another lefty from Toledo (Rapada, Fossum, someone?). With those five coming up, I think you have to send Miner down (perhaps prep him to be a starter replacement) along with the aforementioned Grilli, Bazardo and Beltran. The fifth person to send down will be difficult: Clete has played great but I don’t see anyone else that they’d send down. I”d prefer to keep Thomas and jettison J. Jones but I doubt that is going to happen.
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Dan, as far as Sheffield is concerned, I agree that he’s not really panning out and I’m concerned about his finger. I don’t think he has much trade value due to his contract but I do think he could be one heckuva leadoff hitter. I know it sounds crazy but the guy is still intimidating the batter’s box and while he hasn’t hit for power, he still sees a ton of pitches and draws a lot of walks. With his legs still in decent shape, there are many worse options, especially until Granderson returns. Again, I know its unlikely that it will happen but I think it is a good idea.
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That’s all for me– I’m expecting to see the Tigers rip into the White Sox this weekend, regardless of their past struggles. Its about time we win a game 10-1 and then follow it up with a 2-0 victory. Good hitting can lead to good pitching and vice versa…

Interesting points Brent. Robertson as a reliever in particular. This might preclude the one bad inning syndrome he falls into around the 3rd or 4th inning of every start. My only problems with it are:
1) Would Nate be willing to make that adjustment
2) Can he shut the door on those tough LHB that he seems to let up on?
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Vasquez will probably be a decent MLB pitcher and he has shown he can throw strikes. He would not be embarassing as a starter for us, even this year.
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Sheffield leading off makes some sense but is far too much of a compromise when you remember the reasons the Tigers traded for him. His value is as a fence buster and if he ain’t busting fences then you end up placating him on your roster. I would realy like to see him go. We have been very lucky with him so far in the clubhouse too. He has been pretty good in that regard here in Detroit but he has the potential to be a divisive force too.
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Looks like Raburn is starting to hit again down on the farm and Larish has been jackin’ a few out down there. Interesting!

Good comments here, where to start………….
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GK, you said you didn’t have a problem with the strike zone then went ahead and made my point for me. That’s exactly the stuff I’m talking about. If it’s a strike, call it a strike and let’s move on. Doesn’t matter if it’s Ramirez or Ortiz or the lord almighty. Besides, Pedro Cerrano said the lord almighty couldn’t hit a curveball (paraphrased). :-) Those pitches would have been called strikes as recently as ten years ago.
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Dan, I agree with you agreeing with me. :-) I’ve also had the same thoughts about Sheffield, but since he had a bad April last season too, I’m going to hold out a little longer on that one. He sure has been looking like last year’s injured hitter, though, I’ll say that much. Something to watch. It’s a bad time of year to look for trades, however. I also agree about the use of a DH. I seem to remember that being the goal when the DH was first created in 1973, then along came the ageless Tommie Davis.
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End result of the Boston series: I’m hoping our pitchers haven’t been mentally scarred, or whatever you want to call it, from all this. I’m still thinking of Nate last year.
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Brent, good pitching analysis. I’ve liked that Nate in the pen idea when you posted it before. And a good 10-1 game would work wonders. For us, if not for anyone else. :-)
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One comment on Clete Thomas. He starts out great, he’s still good when he gets in there, but his playing time is becoming non-existent. JL has done this before, not playing a rookie off to a good start. Remember Raburn last year? I think he did it with Clevlen too. If Dustin Pedroia had played for us last year, he’d have been on the bench most of the time.
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–Rich

Rich, I thought it was pretty consistent stike zone all night. Those two particular at bats, those were strikes yesterdays strike zone, last year strike zone or, 100 years ago. Our pitchers were screwed in those two particular at bats. Those particular pitches were right down the pipe and were not called strikes but balls. There were a few other pitches on both sides that I disagreed with but for the most part I thought it was pretty consistent and fair. Just my opinion.
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But in this way I agree with you the strike zone now is called at the waist to the knees or wherever the umpire I guess feels like having it. When I played ball as a kid (mind you I was horrible) The strike zone was letters to knees, and your right over the years it has become very different. And you are probably right that it has a lot to do with pitchers not being able to pitch for that long. But it is what it is and for me as long as it is fair and even for both teams, I don’t have a problem with it.
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For instance when Rogers pitched the other day, I think it was one of the first few pitches that Dice-K threw, I said no way was that a strike, but if Kenny gets the same call I am okay with it. Well Kenny didn’t get anywhere near as liberal of a strike zone as Dice, he was not getting the corners like Dice. That is when I have a real problem. Pitchers, Batters, and so on need something consistent at least within that game. Umpires are not perfect, and he certianly proved that last night and cost the Tigers probably, maybe the game.

One final comment on the the Sheffield. My grandpa has a great saying that goes “You can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fills up first.” He’s quite a philosopher isn’t he?
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I know Sheffield is supposed to hit homeruns, but if he can’t but can still get on base, he’s a leadoff hitter in a power hitter’s body. I think Rich and others are correct to hold out hope that he can warm up, but until that happens– and especially until Granderson gets back– the Tigers could really use a spark at the top of the lineup and I don’t think there’s a better option on the team. As far as Sheffield being a disruption, the one ace in the hole is that Leyland and he seem to get along very well. I know Gary can be abrasive but, in my eyes, he has bristled in the past when he’s been coddled and/or he feels like his manager doesn’t support him or can be easily intimidated. We all know that Leyland has some faults but I think everyone would agree that he’s not intimidated and treats players respectfully but firmly. With that in mind, I don’t think Sheffield posing as great a distraction as he might on other teams.
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In terms of Thomas, I think there is a distinction between his situation and Pedroia and others: he’s batting behind an established incumbent. I know that Jones hasn’t shown us much yet but I can understand Leyland’s patience with him. That being said, if June rolls around and Jones is still flirting with the Mendoza line, I’ll be the first to start the “Play Clete Thomas” drum…

yeah see i’ll take direct credit for this sheffield leading off business. as i suggested it first! HA! :)
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its a good idea, especially in granderson’s stead. i’ll give sheff til mid may before i start screaming for him to be traded. but by then, his own trade value might be reduced to a ML pitcher. if that. who knows.
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Intersting fact from down at the farm, the Houston farm that is. I was curious on how Byrdak was doing. While pitching in 4 innings he has struck out 5, allowed 3 hits and hasn’t walked anyone. He as an ERA of 0.00.
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I wasnt exactly upset when he was let go other than I felt bad for him. He was a good story from last year. But it sounded like all he needed to do was get into a situation where he had to prove himself again. I dont know. Interesting huh???

maybe we can trade grilli for him? haha

Jason, if you are in Chicago, what does the weather look like for the game. Do you think that they will get it in???

gk-
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this is from my inside source at the weatherbug :)
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Tonight:
Windy. Light rain showers likely. Colder. Lows in the upper 30s. Southwest winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph at times in the evening decreasing to 10 to 20 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation 70 percent.

Hey, I’m just catching up on recent blogs. I have to give high kudos to all. Well thought out points. I swear, the worse the Tigers’ situation gets, the better the blogs.

.Rich, you are right on concerning the strike zone. At some point in time it was reduced to the size of a box of Wheaties. I have a conspiracy theory about the strike zone, because it in no way resembles it’s official rule book description. Actually I’m just making this up, but I think owners got together some years back and decided to agree upon a “tiny”, “diminutive”, “carnival-midway game” version of the original. Why would they want to do this you might ask? Well it would certainly inflate the offense not to mention lengthen the games, where more beer and food could be sold at the park, plus more commercial air time. Just a thought.

.Poor Zack Miner could have used a fairer zone. I don’t put him in the same category as Bazardo, Beltran, and. Yes he nibbles, I think with his style of pitching he has to. I do think he shows more of a variety of pitch movement and speed than the other two. What are you gonna do. It’s Boston at home with a packed house, and then you got the intimidation factor with Ortiz and Ramirez. They get the close calls at home, every time. Then Ramirez whiffed but Zack didn’t get the call. Amazing…..

.The pen is real shallow. But where are they going to get a quality relief guy at this point? Those guys are gold right now. Any owner willing to give one up EVER is foolish. Something’s got to happen from within. Rodney, Cruceta, Zumaya….maybe, one of the left handers. Nate movingto the pen actually sounds like a good experiment worth trying at least, Brent. You’ve made some very good points.

.Dan, I agree with your thoughts on the DH. I’ve always thought the DH should be by committee. Why not. I mean why does a team have to have a pure DH. Waste of a position player I think. Course I think Shef could play in the field if he was asked to, but point is, it just makes you stronger to have 13 guys all field ready, to build your team that way.

.Having said that, I’m not ready to give up on Shef yet. Some patience is needed here. But if things don’t change by June, you have to begin to wonder. I think it makes sense to bat him lead off considering the type of hitter he has morphed into. And he can get things going on the base paths as well.

.The pressure rests heavily on the starters right now. Good pitching trumps good hitting. They have to aggressively throw strikes, get their pitch counts down and speed up the games.

.Nothing like a 1-8 start to really bring out great (and tough) discussion. Good job everyone.

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