What You Need To Know About the Tigers

With the Mets in Tigertown, and most of us Flushing fans unfamiliar with the teams playing in the Adulterated League (the one still experimenting with the designated pinch-hitter), I’ve called on fellow SweetSpot blogger and longtime internet friend Mike McClary of The Daily Fungo to answer a few random questions about his beloved Detroit Tigers.

My questions are in bold, his answers in the blue boxes.

1. The Tigers are a healthy 7 games over .500 but have a slim lead over the
surprising, but recently fading, Indians. Is Cleveland your main concern or
are you worried about the rising White Sox?

My guess is that if you ask most Tigers fans they’re just waiting for the
Indians to vanish from the race and expect to see the White Sox and the
Twins — yes, the Twins; Game 163 in 2009 still haunts us — make a
sustained run. The White Sox have more or less owned the Tigers in recent
years so they’re probably a bigger concern than the Indians. For now.

2. Rick Porcello is a ‘local boy done good’ for us New Yawkas. He had a great rookie campaign followed by a step back in 2010. How is he doing thus far in 2011, and what kind of changes — if any — has he made or does he need to make to get back to being the star on the rise he seemed to be two years ago?

Thank goodness for Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. With those two horses at the front of the rotation, a young guy like Porcello can pitch in less pressure-packed games (Game 163 notwithstanding, of course.) In some games Porcello looks like the whiz-kid the Tigers expected when they drafted him number-one in 2007. In others, well, he looks like the 22-year-old he is, getting hit hard and often — to the tune of a .283 average.

Long-term he should be fine. It’s _this_ year we’re worried about.

3. All the noise out of Detroit is centered around Miggy Cabrera, and to a lesser extent, Victor Martinez. But Brennan Boesch, Alex Avila, and Jhonny Peralta are all quietly enjoying stellar seasons. Can you give us some kind of explanation or theory on how these three “unknowns” are suddenly key cogs in the Tigers offense?

Last year the Tigers’ big — and only — Trade Deadline move was getting … Jhonny Peralta? Little did we know then how big an impact that would have on this year. We can’t explain why or how Jhonny is doing what he’s doing, we’re just delighted a Tigers shortstop has some pop in his bat and not in his knees (see Renteria, E., Guillen, C.)

Boesch? If you believe what you read and hear from Tigers fans, Brennan
Boesch is the second coming of Chris Shelton. Thankfully that doesn’t seem
to be the case. The guy’s just flat-out hitting — the guy’s hitting .338
against lefties. Go figure.

As for Avila, this is exactly what the Tigers predicted out of him when they
annointed him the Opening Day catcher. He’s got a compact swing that looks as if he’s chopping at a tree and it works. Here’s something you’re bound to hear on the Mets broadcasts this series: Avila’s dad is the Tigers’
assistant GM and he’s the godson of Tommy Lasorda.

4. A catcher who is the godson of Tommy Lasorda? Huh … where have I heard that one before …. Anyway … How is Miggy behaving? Any concerns about his attitude, effort, or off-field issues?

He’s been great, as far as we can tell. My armchair psycho analysis is that a player facing the issues he is probably does much better during the season with a big support system than he does in the comparatively lonely offseason.

5. Other than closer Jose Valverde, who are the main relievers we are likely to see in this three-game series? And be sure to tell us a bit about this Al Alburquerque guy — 14 strikeouts per nine innings????

The Tigers spent big money on setup man Joaquin Benoit last offseason and overall he’s been inconsistent though more reliable of late. Alburquerque is fun to watch. With him it’s the slider. Nasty. You’ll get to see lefties Daniel Schlereth (who has a penchant for walking the first man he faces) and David Purcey. If Ryan Perry comes into the game, things are looking good for your Mets.

6. Will you be scouting any Mets as possible “final pieces” for the Tigers’ postseason run? Do you think Detroit might make a deadline deal, and if so, for what, and what do they have to offer in return?

David Wright! I’m certain Tigers fans would take Ray Knight over Brandon Inge at this point, but I do think Wright (even with his back problems) is atop a Tigers fan’s wish list. If Peralta wasn’t hitting then I’d expect Jose Reyes would be a nice target.

What do the Tigers have to offer? Boatloads of top-tier pitching prospects
and maybe someone off the big-league roster: Casper Wells or, better yet,
Ryan Raburn.

7. Anything else to share?

One final thought: I love when the Tigers and Mets face-off in interleague play. Makes me think about what might’ve been had the 2006 NLCS ended differently.

Ahhh … 2006 … seems like only yesterday, yet it seems so far away …

Many thanks again to Mike McClary, who you know has to be a good guy if he honors one of my all-time favorite actors, the great Peter Falk (RIP) on his blog. Be sure to check out The Daily Fungo for Tigers news but also for enjoyable walks down memory lane — it’s one of my favorite non-Mets baseball blogs out there.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Jack June 30, 2011 at 9:38 am
    Janish, Mike Piazza is NOT the godson of Tommy Lasorda.

    Lasorda is the godson to Mike’s brother Tony.