Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Burning Bright

So how about those Tigers? I guess finishing the season strong is over-rated – Detroit seems to have shrugged off its sputtering September quite nicely.

The Tigers were so hot in the ALCS that not even Neifi Perez could stop them. Reports indicate that regular first baseman Sean Casey hopes to be well enough to play in the World Series, which would allow them to move Carlos Guillen back to short (where he belongs) and Neifi back to the bench (where he doesn’t belong, but it’s better than him being in the lineup). Or perhaps the Tigers will add a real first baseman to the roster for the World Series (Chris Shelton, anyone?).

Two things about the Tigers that impressed me while I watched the ALCS. First, their lineup doesn’t really have a big-name threat along the lines of Pujols or Jeter or Thomas. Maybe Ivan Rodriguez of Magglio Ordonez, I guess.

But outside of Neifi, was there anyone in the lineup that could be could be classified as an “easy out?” It seems counter-intuitive to me, as I’m a believer in being patient at the plate, that so many free-swingers can be so efficient when it comes to scoring runs. But the Tigers have done it the last eight games.

Oh, and it’s good to see that Placido Polanco and Carlos Guillen got some time on a national stage. I’ve always liked Guillen, and while it took me longer to warm up to Polanco, I think he’s a terrific player, too. Seeing guys like that play great ball in the post season is a nice reminder to the punditocracy that not every good player resides on the east coast.

The other thing that impressed me was the Tigers’ pitching. Great googaly moogaly, those guys can air it out!

I could tell from the box scores that Verlander, Bonderman, and Robertson were good young pitchers. But because they don’t play on the east coast, I didn’t get many chances to see them pitch. It’s been fun for me at home watching these guys.

It most definitely wasn’t fun for the A’s trying to hit those guys. Some writers have again fallen into the trap of blaming the A’s for failing instead of praising the Tigers for succeeding. The A’s looked shaky at times during the series (including a few puzzling fielding plays), but let’s face it – the A’s just got rolled by the better team.

Speaking of better teams, the Cardinals have looked like the better team the last two games in the NLCS. I know there’s a long way to go in the series, but the Cards’ staff looks to be in better shape than the Mets’ right now. I mean, the Mets might be scrambling to replace Steve Trachsel, which is not a situation that many teams in the NLCS find themselves in.

And the Mets’ lineup has been shut down by Jeff Weaver (he took the loss, but gave up only two runs) and Jeff Suppan. That doesn’t inspire much confidence, does it?

Of course, the Redbirds were shut down by Darren Oliver, and that doesn’t inspire much confidence, either. The NLCS has become a war of attrition. The lucky team left standing at the end wins the chance to get mauled by the Tigers. Good luck with that.

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