Four quick fixes for the Detroit Tigers

With the exit of Brandon Inge, Ryan Raburn has become the lightning rod for criticism of the Detroit offense.

Let’s face it; the Detroit Tigers aren’t the juggernauts everyone expected them to be. Inconsistent doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word to describe them either – one game they put up 11 runs on an opponent, the next they are losing to the Seattle Mariners in the ninth inning while surrendering just one hit. This club doesn’t seem to be playing hard at all and the mismanagement at the helm by manager Jim Leyland definitely isn’t helping things. How do they right the ship? Here’s how.

Carry a standard bullpen

Leyland has carried 12 pitchers since the Tigers broke camp in Lakeland, Fla. after spring training, and in his latest incarnation of the lineup he has Detroit with 13 pitchers. Three of those pitchers are long relievers, now when would a team ever need three long relievers? Never. Having Collin Balester, Duane Below and Brayan Villarreal in the bullpen is just asinine. Not to mention, due to Leyland’s insistence on having a massive pitching staff, the Tigers are forced to carry only a four, and if Villarreal stays, three-man bench.

If that bench contained a veteran bat then it would be a different story but the Tigers sent down Danny Worth, the guy who they are supposed to be auditioning for the second base spot, and now sport Ramon Santiago, Don Kelly and Gerald Laird on the pine. Throw in the fact that Leyland assumes this is Little League and thinks everyone needs to play an at-bat and time in the field each game and the Tigers have zero consistency.

Detroit needs to send two relievers to Triple-A Toledo so that they can have an effective bench. Numbers would suggest that Balester and Luke Putkonen be sent to the Mud Hens to work on their pitches and to regain their composure. Balester could return to the pen later in the year, but needs some time where he can’t hurt the club right now.

Get rid of Raburn

Ryan Raburn. Did the name just get you mad? Good. Raburn has become the new Brandon Inge in Detroit, and for good reason. He’s terrible.

In the 31 games he has played for the Tigers as of May 17, he has a .157 batting average, .223 on-base percentage and a hilariously low on-base plus slugging of .459. If his standard numbers aren’t enough to justify his immediate expulsion from this club then a dive into sabermetrics will prove it. In his 31 games played this year, Raburn has a WAA, win above average, of -1.1, meaning that the average second baseman gives his team enough offensively to help them win just about one game a season. Raburn on the other hand, costs the Tigers a win per season.

His WAR, wins above replacement, sits at -0.8, which means that Raburn’s replacement, Danny Worth, would contribute just about a win for the Tigers while Raburn would cost Detroit that win.

If sports talk radio callers are to be believed, then the Tigers could package Raburn with Jose Valverde in a deal with the New York Yankees in return for Curtis Granderson. Well, sorry to burst that bubble but the Yankees aren’t the winningest team in baseball because they’re stupid. Detroit could probably trade Raburn for a bucket of baseballs or a bag or Cheetos (I would go with the Cheetos – they’re good.)

At any rate, Detroit needs to cut the dead weight and give Worth the 100 at-bats he needs to settle into the major leagues. Either he becomes the everyday second baseman or the Tigers figure out they need to acquire one at the trade deadline; win-win.

Fire Leyland

Not to sound like one of the same radio callers who has no idea how MLB trades work, but it’s time to send Leyland packing. Yes, he has a World Series ring. Yes, he has won more games than I will ever attend. But he has grossly over-managed the Tigers into the ground this season, and if that doesn’t deserve a firing, nothing does.

From his handling of the pitching staff (see carrying 13 pitchers) to admitting to mismanaging the second base spot when Inge was released only to continue to do the same thing, Leyland has lost his touch this season. Last season it took the firing of pitching coach Rick Knapp to get the Tigers going. There seems to be much more malaise this year and a bigger gesture is required.  Leyland needs to be the sacrificial lamb for the team that he has coached into oblivion.

Hire Mickey Hatcher or Terry Francona

There are two high quality replacements available to the Tigers right now; the recently fired hitting coach from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Mickey Hatcher and the former manager of the two-time World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, Terry Francona.

Francona is doing a fantastic job on ESPN baseball telecasts but he would more than likely jump at an opportunity to manage a team with the kind of talent Detroit possesses. Not only would he be able to turn around a team in a funk and restore his reputation in the process, he would be able to compete for his third World Series ring. Nostalgia may also help to lure Tito to Detroit, since he was the third base coach for the Tigers in 1997, and even threw batting practice to a young Prince Fielder in Tiger Stadium.

If Francona turns down the job, Detroit should pursue Hatcher, a mainstay on the coaching staff for Mike Scioscia’s Angels. Hatcher has played infield, outfield and been a designated hitter in his career and could bring that experience to the Tigers. And if he manages anything like Scioscia does, then the Tigers would become a team that moves on the base paths and pressures opposing pitchers into making poor pitches.

One thing is for sure, something needs to change quickly if this Tigers team is to make the post-season.

4 replies on “Four quick fixes for the Detroit Tigers

  • Cecilia

    First off, Collin Balester is out of options. The Tigers would have to allow any other team to acquire him on waivers before they could sent him to Toledo. That is, however, a minor consideration, as losing him on waivers would not be that bad a thing.

    Secondly, and more importantly, I don’t think that it would be wise for the Tigers to get too much more aggressive on the basepaths. Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, and Andy Dirks have some speed, but the rest of the team is not that swift afoot. Losing Ryan Raburn would actually rob the team of some speed, although that is not a good reason to keep him. Prince Fielder is faster than he may appear, but he certainly is not a speedster. Same for Miguel Cabrera and Delmon Young. It would be better not to give up extra outs by running men who are unlikely to make the extra base.

  • Karl Keene

    This article is spot on! Leyland needs to go so the Tigers can come back to life. I’m so tired of seeing him pull pitchers who are throwing gems and replacing them with the likes of an inexperienced guy with a sky high ERA. He manages like he’s a minor league manager. Send the minor league guys back to the minors, and let the experienced guys play with some consistency.

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