Before I write off my Mets, lets take a look at another teams misery and take this as a warm for the soon be Mets article in the making.
Well, that’s it. They’re done. Stick a fork in ‘em. And all those other cliches. The 2008 Detroit Tigers can no longer be considered a team with any chance of making a run to the playoffs.
This announcement has been coming for some time. Since Opening Day, in fact. There hasn’t been one prolonged stretch so far this year where this team has looked anything like the juggernaut that many, including myself, thought it would be.
And now, after a pretty disastrous west coast road trip, the only highlight of which came when the Tigers took two out of three from the lowly Mariners; and after splitting a four-game set with the Indians, the other major disappointment in the AL Central, it is official, we can now start throwing dirt on the grave.
I think the final blow came with the announcement that Jeremy Bonderman will be out for the year. It’s not that Bondo had been spectacular thus far, but he had been the most consistent pitcher out of anybody who was slated to start the season in the rotation. Without him, there is yet another hole to be filled with no one likely to fill it.
Dontrelle Willis certainly won’t be the guy to step up. After getting chased yesterday, tossing just 1 1/3 innings, it is apparent that Willis can no longer pitch in the Major Leagues. Every time he delivers the ball it is out of a different windup, with different mechanics, and a different release point. And by that description I don’t mean to paint the picture of a David Cone-like multiple arm angle deliverer, instead I mean to coax the vision of a little leaguer who has just begun learning how to pitch, and still hasn’t figured anything out.
Anyway, now he’s down in Lakeland, Florida, in A-ball, which is where he belongs.
As I look over the sinking ship that is the 2008 Detroit Tigers, I find myself searching for answers. What went wrong? How could a team that appeared, to me at least, to be a sure-fire playoff contender turn out to be such a dud? There are a number of reasons, of course. You don’t suffer a monumental collapse like this one without there being numerous factors at play.
For the sake of brevity, however, I will quickly look at two of those reasons. Both occurred last offseason. And both were hailed as triumphs, at the time.
The first is the trade for Edgar Renteria. Renteria has been one of the premier shortstops in baseball for a long time now and, despite his loss of range over the last few years, I thought he would be a huge upgrade, especially with Carlos Guillen moving to first base.
Instead, Renteria has been average at the plate and statuesque in the field. While Jair Jurrgens, the pitching prospect he was traded for, has been one of Atlanta’s most effective starters.
The second move that has killed this team has been the huge deal made with Florida. At the time the trade many thought this wasa killer trade for the Tigers, including myslef. Now I think it may have been the deal that will kill this franchise for years to come. As I’ve already mentioned, Willis, and the four-year contract they signed him to, now looks like a complete bust. And there’s no reason to think he will ever recover to become an effective pitcher again. Sorry Tiger fans but the warning signs were there. Cabrera, the more important part of that deal, has been pretty good, but nowhere near the player he is supposed to be. There is still plenty of time for him to turn things around, eight years to be exact, I just haven’t seen anything from him yet that makes me believe he will. Is it just a bad year, is it his weight issue, switching leagues, whatever he's been a shell of his old self.
Above and beyond the poor performances of the players the Tigers acquired, or the talented youngsters they gave up to get them, the Tigers went out and invested lots of money in these guys. There’s the long-term deals for Cabrera and Willis, plus Renteria is being paid 11 million this year, with an option for next year at 12 million.
This past offseason appears to have not only killed the team in 2008, but with the lack of flexibility it created for them going forward, it may have killed them over the long run, too.
Is There Hope on The Way?:
At least there was one bit of exciting news to come out of the Tigers organization over the past week. The first year players draft took place, and the Tigers seem to have done well. In the first round they selected Ryan Perry, a big, hard-throwing, right-hander who could be a major league-ready reliever by the end of this season. After Perry, the Tigers continued to stock the farm system with college pitchers, all of whom measured in over 6′2″ and 200 lbs.
You never really know what any of these guys are going to develop into. But with the misery that surrounds this team, Tiger fans need to take any hope they can cling to at all.