By: Jeff Riger
The Wings are on the golf course and it seems like only a matter of time before Tigers reliever Phil Coke will join them.
After the Wings were eliminated from the playoffs, fans had to decide who deserved the majority of the blame. Jimmy Howard didn’t play well nor did the kids. There were also many d-men who were lacking. However, it was Johan Franzen who continues to be the whipping boy after yet another disappearing act in the playoffs.
As far as the Tigers are concerned, they’ve been good enough to have jumped out to a 14-9 record, which is good for 1st place in the AL Central. The starting pitching is solid, the lineup seems to work for the most part and the team even wins close games. The only question mark is the bullpen — and the one member in that pen who is the most criticized is Coke.
The way I see it, Mule and Coke are two of Detroit’s new “public enemy number ones!”
So, if you could get rid of just one of them, who would it be?
To answer the above question I think you have to answer the following first…
What player is more detrimental to their team?
Let’s start with Franzen…
Mule has been a non-factor for quite some time. Now Wings officials will cite that his almost $4 million cap hit is well worth a guy that can consistently score 25 goals. They’ll say he’s worth fixing. They’ll say that if bought out, Franzen would be picked up immediately by somebody else.
They might be right.
But Detroit sure doesn’t agree. Franzen has been a ghost. He constantly pulls a vanishing act and when you’re lucky enough to spot him, he’s usually just floating on the ice, not really doing much. I had a chance to focus on #93 for the last part of the regular season and the two playoff games at the Joe. He very rarely moves with the puck and when he has it, it’s usually passed to him while he’s standing still. Franzen doesn’t create his own scoring chances like he used to. Instead he simply dumps the puck in and goes about his shift.
Where is the passion? Where is the drive? Where is that guy that used to be a scoring threat each and every shift?
Franzen is capable of so much more.
As for Coke, he’s got nothing left. At least that’s what it looks like. The only reason he’s on the team right now is because he’s a lefty and he’s not counted on all that much. Coke usually pitches in out of hand games. If the Tigers are way up or down there is a good chance you’ll see Coke; but never in a close game.
Of course every now and then he’s forced into a close one, like last Saturday when Anibal Sanchez was only able to give Detroit three innings of work before leaving with a blister.
As bad as Coke has been, he’s not costing the Tigers’ games for the most part. He just looks really bad on the mound which fans can’t stand. They also dislike his sprinting from the pen and constant pointing to the sky for every bell that’s lifted into the air.
It’s apparent to me that Franzen has been more detrimental to the Wings which is why he need to go.
If Detroit can trade him, they should. If not, amnesty, buy out, or whatever — He needs to be gone.
I understand goal scorers are hard to come by in the NHL and I also understand that maybe a concussion is to blame for his struggles. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is counted on to score goals and be good on the Power Play and neither has happened.
The reluctance by Ken Holland to buy out Franzen is obvious, however it’s hard not to believe that one of the many talented prospects or another forward from outside the organization would be a better fit. Franzen is also entering his mid 30s. Are we really supposed to believe his game will all of a sudden just come back?
Frazen is hurting the Wings more than Coke is hurting the Tigers. If it was my choice I would say goodbye to Franzen. Coke gets to stay, but probably not for long. What about you?
Of course if you want to get rid of another Detroit athlete not named Franzen or Coke, let me know. A couple of other names come to mind right away …