Greg Eno

Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco Giants’

Burning Questions: World Series Game 4

In Baseball on October 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Note: During the playoffs, Monday Morning Manager will be answering Burning Questions. The morning after every Tigers playoff game, come back here for MMM’s answers to the questions that many  of you have about the previous night’s game. Today’s BQ addresses Game 4 of the World Series.

Where did you go? We all missed you after Game 3.

MMM thanks you for your concern. A busy Sunday, which included watching the Lions nip the Seahawks, took MMM off the grid. Apologies.

So it’s over, just like that/ Did you ever in your wildest dreams (or nightmares) expect a Giants sweep?

Absolutely not. Funny, but MMM was rooting for the Giants; he didn’t want to see the Cardinals again, because (how’s this for irony) the Cards seemed to be the team sprinkled with postseason pixie dust lo these past several years. MMM clearly had no idea what he was asking for.

Getting swept in the championship round of any sport is humiliating. Will this have deep reverberations around the franchise?

It shouldn’t. As bad as this World Series was, MMM still believes the Tigers should dominate the Central Division for years to come. Their best players are all in their prime. Yes, there are holes but doesn’t every team have them? Plus, the Tigers get Victor Martinez back next year. There should be the usual tweaking and massaging of the roster, but this isn’t a time to panic and make crazy trades.

We’ll discuss potential offseason moves in a second. But back to the Series. The Giants won the old Dodgers way—with pitching and defense. Is that the new blueprint, making a comeback?

You mean like how the Pistons 2004 championship was supposed to change the way NBA teams won titles? Look, the Giants were the superior team, no question. They caught the ball (EVERY ball, it seemed), threw the ball and turned double plays like Trammell and Whitaker. They had timely hits, though not that many of them—just enough to win. MMM thinks you hit your way to the postseason and then pitch your way to the World Series. It’s been that way for a long time, and will continue to be that way. It might seem like the Giants are a pitch/defense/no hit team, but they really aren’t. They just played their best baseball after falling behind 3-1 in the NLCS, while the Tigers bats went into a deep freeze.

Was Jim Leyland outmanaged by Bruce Bochy?

MMM thinks if you lose a World Series, you’re out-everythinged. That’s why you lost. But Bochy didn’t really have to do too much in-game managing, frankly; that’s how good the Giants pitching and glove work were. If Leyland had a guy hit three homers in one game on his way to nearly setting a postseason record for base hits, then maybe this Series would have been different. MMM wasn’t displeased, really, with Leyland in the Series, with the exception of hitting Quintin Berry second instead of, say, Andy Dirks. But then again, nobody hit, so maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. But MMM knows one thing: Gene Lamont was out-third base-coached by Tim Flannery!

Let’s play word association. Prince Fielder. Go!

A lost soul at the plate. MMM was shocked at how stunningly bad Prince looked. Totally clue-free, and overpowered by average fastballs. It got worse as the Series went on. But this happens sometimes, even to great players. Still, this postseason will follow Fielder, as it should. If the Tigers make it back to October (and they should, given their talent) in future years, Fielder needs to atone for what happened in 2012. Mike Ilitch didn’t invest $214 million for that performance.

Speaking of Ilitch, many people were shocked at how frail he looked while receiving the American League championship trophy. Now another year goes by without a WS trophy for Mr. I. Thoughts?

MMM was taken aback, as well, at Mr. I’s physical appearance. The last time MMM saw Ilitch was at the Prince Fielder press conference back in January. The owner didn’t look great, but not as bad as he looked a couple weeks ago. MMM has heard through the grapevine that there might be an illness involved, but no speculating here about whether that’s true or not.

As for Ilitch getting his WS trophy, it doesn’t look good the older he gets. But 83 years old isn’t a death sentence nowadays, especially when you can afford the best health care available. Keep the faith!

Pablo Sandoval was the WS MVP. A no-brainer?

Definitely. In a sweep, that award should always go to a position player, or a closer. Sandoval was lights out, offensively and defensively. Just a great World Series. MMM has no choice but to give the guy his props.

As promised, let’s quickly discuss the offseason. Who is gone, in your eyes?

Delmon “I hold the Tigers postseason record for home runs” Young is gone, for sure. There’s nowhere for him to play, with V-Mart’s return next year and reclamation of the DH slot. You don’t dare play Young as an everyday left fielder. That said, Delmon probably earned himself a nice contract elsewhere, based on his postseason.

Anibal Sanchez ought to be re-signed, if the Tigers can fit him into their budget. But he’s another who picked the best time to pitch his best. We’ll see if he wants too much money for the Tigers liking. Jhonny Peralta might be gone; the Tigers may want to upgrade at SS. Jose Valverde is definitely gone. And based on what happens with Sanchez, i.e. if he stays, don’t be surprised if the Tigers package Ricky Porcello in a trade, maybe for a left-handed, second tier starter. Brennan Boesch’s future is uncertain (or it should be), as is Quintin Berry’s.

Wow. I thought you said don’t do anything rash.

I also said the usual tweaking and massaging will occur. Every team has attrition. But the core will stay in place, as it should. MMM thinks the Tigers should win three more division titles over the next five years.

OK, here’s a toughie. Describe the entire 2012 season, regular and postseason, in one word.

That’s easy: that one word is “constipated.”

That is, strangely…accurate!

That’s why MMM is MMM and you’re…not.
Thanks for spending time with MMM this year! See you in 2013!

Burning Questions: World Series Game 2

In Baseball on October 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Note: During the playoffs, Monday Morning Manager will be answering Burning Questions. The morning after every Tigers playoff game, come back here for MMM’s answers to the questions that many  of you have about the previous night’s game. Today’s BQ addresses Game 2 of the World Series.

As David Bowie once sang, “Panic in Detroit.” Correct?

Pretty much. Going down 0-2 takes your margin for error, which in the World Series is already narrow, and squeezes it. You can say whatever you want about the Giants merely holding serve at home, but the fact of the matter is the Tigers have to figure out a way to win a ballgame Saturday night. Period.

The Tigers haven’t caught a break yet. Are the Giants the team of destiny?

MMM still believes in the power of change of venue, especially with the Tigers, who play much better at home. Maybe an off day, some travel, and chilly Detroit will cool off the Giants and turn the tide. But the bottom line is you are not going to win too many baseball games by managing two hits.

Well, you called it. You said Madison Bumgarner was going to eat the Tigers’ lunch. Was his stuff that good?

No. MMM was appalled at the swings and misses that Mad-Bum got. Once again, a guy on a bad streak gets healthy against the Tigers. Has happened a lot this season. MMM almost would rather have seen Bumgarner’s ERA being 1.12 in the postseason rather than 11.25. Bumgarner got an amazing number of swings and misses with his high fastball, which is hardly explosive. Brutal offensive performance by the Tigers.

Twitter almost blew up when third base coach Gene Lamont sent Prince Fielder home in the second inning, trying to score Prince from first base on Delmon Young’s double. Prince made a bad slide, but how bad was the decision to send him?

MMM doesn’t have enough breath to tell you how bad that was. MMM played Little League ball, and even at age 8 he was told, “Never make the first out of an inning at third base or home plate.” That decision was rotten to the core. It wasn’t like the Giants had to make extraordinary effort; just a simple relay. Had Lamont done the right thing, the Tigers would have had runners on second and third with nobody out. Jhonny Peralta didn’t help matters by popping out on the first pitch after that play. So suddenly there were two outs and a man on second, just like that. Changed the inning dramatically. The Tigers could have gotten to Bumgarner very early in what was termed to be a bounce back start for him.

Playing Devil’s Advocate here, was Lamont merely trying to get the Tigers on the board early?

If that was Austin Jackson or Quintin Berry, maybe you send the runner. But again, there was nobody out. Chances are you’d get that run home sometime during the course of the inning; no need to push the envelope there. All that play did was rob the Tigers of some early momentum and get the crowd back into it. So, so wrong. What a time to be betrayed by your coaches.

Why can’t the Tigers score runs for Doug Fister?

That’s rhetorical, right? MMM has no clue. Fister just has had bad luck lately in that department. Unfortunately for him, the Tigers were facing a junkball lefty—the kind of pitcher who eats them alive.

Another key play and example of the breaks going the Giants way was the sacrifice bunt laid down by Gregor Blanco in the seventh inning with two men on and no outs. Catcher Gerald Laird elected to let the ball roll, and it stayed fair. Thoughts?

MMM was yelling for Laird to pounce on it and throw. It wasn’t THAT close to rolling foul. Never leave your fate to chance like that, especially in a series where you are starving for breaks. Laird should have fielded the ball, gunned Blanco out, and move on. It was very fortuitous that the Giants only scored one run in that inning, not that it mattered. But while that was a break for the Giants, it was the result of poor decision-making by the Tigers.

Kung Fu Panda, Pablo Sandoval, reared his head again, this time with the glove—robbing Miguel Cabrera of a double by spearing Miggy’s laser in the fourth inning. Why won’t he leave the Tigers alone?

How he made that catch is anyone’s guess. You can’t hit a ball any harder than Cabrera hit that line drive. Yet Sandoval, all 300 pounds of him, was able to flash some dexterity and make the catch. It was another head shaker, and MMM can only hope that those kinds of breaks stay with the home team in Detroit.

So here are at must win time; you said so yourself.

Thanks for the reminder. But it’s true. No other way to put it.

Is this Series reminding you of 2006?

Not until Lamont’s blunder. MMM wrote off Game 1 as just one of those bad nights that happen sometimes, even in the World Series. But after watching Lamont make love to the pooch on the send of Fielder, memories of all that bad baseball the Tigers played against the Cardinals in 2006 definitely came roaring back (no pun intended). In that Series, the Tigers were done in largely because their pitchers couldn’t field their position. Lamont’s blunder has put a new wrinkle on self-destruction.

Any final thoughts?

Last night’s game was everything we crabbed about during the season, in a microcosm. Lamont (who is no favorite in Detroit); paralyzed hitting against a hittable pitcher; no run support for Fister; an offense that goes into hibernation on the road. It was all there last night, shining its light directly into the Tigers eyes.

Anibal Sanchez to the rescue in Game 3? He has to go up against Ryan Vogelsong, who’s been very good in the postseason.

Wait—did you say the other team’s pitcher has been very good? Great!! MMM likes those odds. If you had told him that Vogelsong was 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA, like Bumgarner, then MMM would have squirmed. Bring on the guys with the good numbers!!

I have one word for you: cynical.

I have two words for you. Wanna hear them?

Come back here Sunday for BQ after World Series Game 3!!

Burning Questions: World Series Game 1

In Baseball on October 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Note: During the playoffs, Monday Morning Manager will be answering Burning Questions. The morning after every Tigers playoff game, come back here for MMM’s answers to the questions that many  of you have about the previous night’s game. Today’s BQ addresses Game 1 of the World Series.

“Legends are Born in October” is how the tag line goes. Looks like we have our first one of this World Series in Pablo Sandoval, huh?
Anytime your company includes ONLY Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols, you’re in rarified air. Sandoval’s three-homer game in a World Series has now occurred in consecutive years, but prior to that it happened in 1926 and 1928 (Ruth) and 1977 (Jackson).  That’s it. No one saw this one coming, from a dude who hit just 12 home runs all year. But Kung Fu Panda now has six homers in the postseason. Craziness.

How does Sandoval get on top of an 0-2 fastball from Justin Verlander and smack it 411 feet over the center field fence?
MMM hates to quote Fox’s Tim McCarver, but he will. “I don’t know,” which is what McCarver said when Joe Buck asked the same question. The answer, MMM guesses, is “That’s baseball.” Until Sandoval’s homer, Verlander had not given up a four-bagger on an 0-2 pitch all season. Again, craziness.

After just one game, who from the Giants has your shorts bunched in a knot?
Wow, such imagery. MMM already thinks Angel Pagan is annoying, and Marco Scutaro is giving MMM ghoulish nightmares of past pedestrian players like Brian Doyle (1978) and Gene Tenace (1972), who turned into World Series legends. Tim Lincecum looked like his old, Cy Young self. And what is that silly salute that Pagan and other Giants players do? That’s got to go, too.

Game 1 was all Giants, obviously. Care to guess why?
Verlander was due for a postseason stinker, and he had it last night. An ominous sign was the Tigers leaving men on first and second in the first inning, when they got those runners there with only one out. But when Prince Fielder, perhaps too anxious, popped up on the first pitch, MMM squirmed.

Aside from that, the Giants had it all going: the breaks, their bats, the crowd, Sandoval’s historic night. MMM doesn’t buy into the “too much rest” theory. The Tigers just got beat like a drum, period. That happens sometimes, you know.

Speaking of Verlander, what happened? And his career World Series ERA is now 7.20 and his record 0-3.
He labored like he hasn’t labored in weeks. Again, not a time factor; he pitched on just one more day’s rest than normal. He just couldn’t finish hitters, especially the “relentless” (another McCarver word) Scutaro. Verlander got two strikes on a lot of hitters, but to the Giants’ credit, they fought off a lot of good pitches and elevated his pitch count. That’s why Jim Leyland pinch hit for JV after just four innings (and 98 pitches) of work.

As for his WS numbers, they’re only based on 15 innings. And two of those starts came when he was a 23-year-old rookie.

So the Tigers didn’t look rusty to you?
Not really. They have typically struggled with lefty junkballers like Barry Zito, and last night was no exception. All everyone talked about was what Verlander was going to do to the poor Giants hitters. But nobody cared to mention that Zito is the kind of pitcher that typically gives the Tigers fits. We’re talking about a team (Tigers) that routinely makes Bruce Chen look like Steve Carlton.

Anything positive you can give us?
MMM is hoping that the Giants blew their wad of superlative performances and lucky breaks (read: Pagan’s double that caromed off the third base bag, which started a two-out, three-run rally in the third inning) in one game. MMM doesn’t see Game 2 as being anything like Game 1. The Tigers have a game under their belts and should have a better showing tonight.

Must win tonight?
No. But Game 3 will be, obviously, if the Tigers go home down 0-2. Certainly a win in Game 2 will calm everyone’s nerves and make Game 1 that much easier to forget, because last night’s game was, indeed, forgettable if you’re a Tigers fan. Sooner or later the Tigers will have to win a game on the Bay if they’re to be world champs. MMM would like to see it come sooner than later, but let’s not get into “must win” mode already. There’s enough pressure here.

One last question: Game 2′s Giants starter, Madison Bumgarner, has earned the first half of his surname in the postseason: 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA. What does this mean?
That Bumgarner will eat the Tigers’ lunch. MMM is only partly kidding. Seems these kinds of dudes give the Tigers all sorts of problems. So many times bad numbers for the opposing pitcher have equaled masterful pitching performances against Detroit. And Bumgarner is another Chen-like guy. This won’t be a picnic, but MMM foresees a Game 2 win by the Tigers and a 1-1 Series heading to Detroit.

A predicted win? This is going on the Internets, you know.
So doesn’t that make it automatically true?

Come back here tomorrow for BQ after World Series Game 2!!