By: Mike Valenti
Well today ought to be fun. The Tigers lose again to the hapless Mariners and there are several people who can play fall guy. Perfect. Take it away Terry…
First and foremost I’m blaming Octavio Dotel. Simply put if he does his job there is no more than mild grumbling on the other issues we will discuss below. Dotel comes in throws 2 strikes in his first 13-pitches and airmails two balls (second one was cross up between Avila and Dotel on 2-0 slider to Montero, might be both guys fault). No, Dotel is not the closer but last night with Valverde and Benoit unavailable he had to do the job. He failed miserably.
Second in line has got to be Jim Leyland. I HATE how he pulls certain guys on tiny pitch counts while letting others, like Verlander, throw a million pitches. Fister was dominating through 7 innings on 73 pitches. If you believe the reports that Fister was on a count of “around 80” then so be it. I just hate seeing a guy pulled like he is in the National League and set to lead off the bottom of the 8th down 2-1. Even if Fister could only go one more, let him. Mariners hadn’t gotten a guy to third all night and Fister was dealing around 10-pitches per inning.
The real issue I have is Raburn still playing along with Leyland’s vote of confidence in todays’ paper. Raburn has been absolutely horrendous this season. His numbers make Inge look like Mays. Want to get geeky? How about a guy whose OBP is a delightful .192 and is slugging .169? Put those together for the new hot metric OPS (Slugging+On Base) and you see the true horror…361. Now what does that mean? Simple. If a guy has n OPS of .700 or lower he is utterly brutal. Average is .800+, 900+ means you are very good and guys who go 1000+ are the elite. Ryan Raburn is at 361. That is simply atrocity at its highest level. At a minimum you shouldn’t play other than being an Ozzie Smith caliber defensive replacement and at its worst you should be staying at the Motel 6 off Exit AAA. This one makes the Inge saga look totally sensible in comparison. Leyland continuing to back Raburn is inexplicable. There is no way Worth could be worse. Can there? Why bring back Santiago if you won’t play the guy? The Raburn issue is far greater than Inge was because Raburn is getting daily AB’s.
One last piece of blame, the offense. It has been awful. Last night featured another thirteen runners left on base and another 3-2 game. The offense is now averaging 3.2 runs per game since the hot 6-game start. This isn’t the Houston Astros. Unacceptable. This team has zero clutch moments, doesn’t do the little things right and overall only has 3-4 guys a night who seem to belong up in the show based on their offensive approach. Is it good old Lloyd? Not sure. What is he supposed to do with loose swingers like Boesch, Young and Peralta and AAA-players like Raburn? Fact is, and I’ve harped on it for weeks, this team needs another bat and maybe need it more than another arm at the deadline. This lineup is very troubling.