What's Wrong With The Tigers?

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers wanted to evoke memories -- of 1968 and 1984, not 2003.
They added Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis during the offseason and boosted their payroll to $138.7 million, second only to the New York Yankees. And what did that get them?
An 0-6 start, the worst since they dropped their first nine games in 2003 en route to an AL-record 119 losses, that left the last-place Tigers four games back in the AL Central. They've been outscored 39-15 -- the fewest runs in the American League.
"Everyone in here is embarrassed," Ivan Rodriguez said. "We've got a day off, then we've all got to show up at Fenway Park on Tuesday more ready to play. It has to be offense, defense and pitching. That's the only way we're going to win games."
Detroit's roster includes former All-Stars Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez, Kenny Rogers, Carlos Guillen, Placido Polanco and Edgar Renteria. Still, the Tigers are the only major league team without a win. This from a club that entered the season as one of the favorites to win the World Series.
The busy winter got fans excited that Detroit could duplicate its championship seasons of 1968 and '84. But the Tigers opened with six straight losses -- all at home -- to Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox, the two worst teams in the AL Central last year.
"Frustrating might be a good word, but I think disappointing is more accurate," manager Jim Leyland said after Sunday's nationally televised 13-2 loss to Chicago. "Right now, we look like a bad ballclub. I know that people are expecting me to rant and rave, and that includes some of the players. But I don't buy that. This team has too many professionals to need that."
Leyland met with the team after Sunday's lopsided loss, and is quick to take most of the blame.
"We aren't prepared, and that's the manager's responsibility," he said. "This is the time when a team needs a manager. When teams are hitting .300 and pitching and winning, they don't need a manager. Everyone is cheering for them, and they have all the confidence. It's now when things are bad that they need someone."
Detroit's problems haven't been limited to one part of the team. The pitching has struggled, posting a 5.30 ERA and walking 27 batters, three shy of the big league high. The offense has hit into 11 double plays, tied with Minnesota for the major league lead after the opening week.
"You don't win games because you have a good team on paper," said Guillen, who made a key error at first base Sunday against the White Sox. "You have to win them on the field, and right now, we can't even win a single game. We've got to win a game."
While the problems are spread out, there are certainly individuals that stand out. Cabrera, Polanco, Rodriguez, Sheffield and Renteria are making a combined $51.9 million, but hitting just .160 with one homer and five RBIs. Ace pitcher Justin Verlander allowed 13 runs in two starts, and Dontrelle Willis walked seven batters in his five-inning Tigers debut.
"This is not a team full of guys who have only done things one time," said Leyland, who led the Tigers to a surprising World Series appearance in 2006. "This is a team that has a track record, and you expect more than we're getting from players like that."
Verlander isn't sure why, but he thinks the team has lacked intensity.
"I think we all need to do some soul-searching," he said after allowing a career-worst nine runs to the White Sox. "We've tried the laid-back approach, and it isn't working. We need to start developing a go-get-them approach."
That would please Leyland, especially heading into three games at the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
"For whatever reason, there is something of a lethargic approach," he said. "You almost sense that we're just coming to work right now -- I'm not sure what we are trying to accomplish. There has to be a sense of urgency. I don't mean about the whole season, I'm talking about when you go to the plate and try to grind out something against a tough pitcher. Right now, we're not doing that. We're just taking at-bats."
Leyland was asked if he thought the road trip might be coming at a good time, especially after the Tigers disappointed nearly a quarter-million fans who attended the opening homestand.
"I don't buy that at all," he said. "If you make good pitches and get timely hits, it doesn't matter where you are playing. You could play in a phone booth. We just need to stop making so many mistakes."


WILX.com is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic, be responsible, share your knowledge, and please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards.

powered by Disqus
WILX 500 American Road Lansing, MI 48911 517-393-0110
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 17360179 - wilx.com/a?a=17360179