McLain: Tigers need to shake up the lineup

So far there haven't been enough celebrations between Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Now that it seems apparent that four or five Tigers had career years last season, it makes this season very interesting. Did you know that Ryan Raburn is now riding the bench in Toledo? Who would have thought that before the season began? He’s on the Mud Hen bench because he has an injury, but hopefully he will be healthy again and back in Detroit sooner than later, but life is funny isn’t it?

Detroit needs Fister to get healthy
The Tigers really need to get Doug Fister back in the rotation and healthy. Without the tall, lean righty the rotation has been very uneven so far in 2012. With Justin Verlander and a healthy Fister, Detroit has two guys who can – and will in most cases – stop a losing streak before it becomes a losing streak. Without both of them, as we’ve seen, it can get really ugly. Only twice have the Tigs won two games in a row in the last seven weeks!

Prince before Cabby
I like Jim Leyland and I have never made a secret of that fact, but someone please tell Jim to have Prince Fielder hit ahead of Miguel Cabrera. Listen, if Fielder batted third in front of Cabrera, he could hit .400 with all the good pitches he’d see. It would almost be illegal if you think about it. Fact is, Cabrera doesn’t need anyone protecting him in the lineup cause he is such a great hitter – and I mean great. I don’t think that I have ever seen one like him before and I have seen some great ones. In the grand scheme of things, keeping the lineup as-is is okay, but folks I know it would be much more productive if Leyland would just listen to my suggestion for two weeks. In my next column I will tell you why Cabrera is the greatest hitter in the game today.

But that’s not the only shakeup this lineup needs. Brennan Boesch or Jhonny Peralta should hit after Cabrera. Whoever hits after Big Miggy is going to come to bat with lots of guys on base.  There is no way that will not happen.  Just take the hottest guy going at the time and let him hit after Cabrera. It only makes sense. Cabrera and Fielder will also get a lot more walks because the other teams will believe that Peralta or Boesch are easier outs (and they are) but with men on base all the time, Boesch and Peralta will get better pitches to hit because no one wants to walk the bases full at that point. The way the offense has sputtered this season, it can’t hurt to try these lineup changes, and Jim needs to do it now.

Berry needs to play every day, just not in Detroit
Now that Austin Jackson is back in the lineup, what to do about Quintin Berry? He has played well enough to play every day someplace, but is he ready to play every day in the big leagues? No, I don’t think so, and the worse place that you could place him would be on the bench sitting on his butt waiting to play. A kid like Berry needs to keep playing to keep his swing in gear and stay in hitting shape. He still has a lot of improving to do but he will be a solid major leaguer one day, and a stretch back in Toledo would be best for him.

Pitching must be more consistent
This pitching staff is really still unsettled and it’s late in the season for it to be this unsettled. Everyone is having issues, including Verlander. Is there an answer? Yes – the coaching staff needs to get these guys to be more consistent.  Every pitcher on the Detroit staff needs to concentrate more on getting ahead of the hitters – throw strikes, quit nipping at the corners and pitching behind all the time. Getting behind in the count only leads to disastrous innings, which leads to them backing up third base a lot – a really a lousy day for a pitcher.

Dump Porcello
I see Rick Porcello’s ERA is well over 5. When does he become a Big League pitcher who is consistent? Let me tell you one thing: back in 2006 the Tigers failed to take my advice when I told them to trade another young pitcher named Jeremy Bonderman. I said that Bonderman would never have more value than he did after that season, but they hung on to him and gave him a $40 million contract. How did that work out? Don’t make the same mistake twice, trade Porcello now! At best he’s a .500 pitcher and he’s never going to be a real consistent winner in the majors, in my opinion. Porcello doesn’t have great velocity and for some reason he continues to struggle at the big league level even though he’s had more than 100 starts in The Show. TRADE HIM. His value will never be higher, and maybe they can go out there and get a real second baseman in return.

Tweaks to delivery would help Scherzer
I swear I could fix “Mad Max” Scherzer. This this guy has good stuff but doesn’t understand the fundamentals of pitching. A pitcher’s motion is like a golf swing: “QUIT MOVING YOUR HEAD.” If Scherzer would concentrate on fixing his bobbing head, he will throw more strikes. We all know that he has a great arm — but I also think he tries to strike out everyone that comes into the batter box.  Not a good way to pitch.

Is JV tired?
Has anyone noticed that Verlander is getting more and more rest between starts? At least three or four times this year the MVP has pitched on five days rest. What is going on? Is something sore or is it taking that long at times for Justin to recover? If Verlander can start pitching solidly and consistent again (that is not a disparaging remark, but by his standards he’s a little off) the team could catch fire behind him.

Bullpen is busy
The bullpen is fine right now, with Joaquin Benoit doing well and Jose Valverde finally finding his groove, but man, the toughest job in the baseball world each day is for Leyland to figure out which four guys he’s going to use in each game. Think about it.  It now takes four pitchers to get through nine innings! That’s a lot of arms folks, and we wonder why so many arms are hurting?

To think that back in spring training I predicted (a little in jest, of course) that the Tigers would be 30 games ahead in June. But, I wasn’t the only one predicting a walk in the AL Central.  They were the 1968 Tigers, the 1927 Yankees, and the Big Red Machine all rolled into one. You can’t play the games on paper, you have to step onto the field, and so far this team appears lost. And too many games have also been LOST!

Lastly, I will be doing a Radio and TV show again in the near future. More details to come shortly, so keep checking back here for my columns for more information. Have a great one!

4 replies on “McLain: Tigers need to shake up the lineup

  • Garrett

    Wow. I honestly thought you knew more about baseball then that Denny.

    You talk of Berry like he’s a big-time 21 year old prospect. “But he will be a solid major leaguer one day” ?? Are you serious? Berry had 1 good week and you think he will be a solid major leaguer the rest of his career? He i 3 for his last 30, he has more strikeouts then hits. He is 27 years old for crying out loud, he has been cut by 4 organizations, 4!!! He is not good, nor will he ever be. Look at his stats in the minors, he K’s constantly. If he played every day in the majors he would K 150+ times. Yet people are ready to crown him an everyday player…I even read a few posts where people actually wanted Berry in CF and leadoff over Austin Jackson. Did i mention that Berry is statistically as bad as Delmon Young in the OF?

  • Lee

    Read your article and agree 100% on changing things around…Not happy with the lineup right now…It has me not watching a game because it gets so bad near the 9th inning it probably drives Leyland crazy too. Good article Denny….

  • Edward

    Great article Denny, I totally agree. If they trade Porcello though who would take his place? What do you think of Smyly, is he someone that has a future?

  • Dan Holmes

    I don’t think JV is tired, he’s just had a few extra off days when the schedule has allowed for it. Also, I don’t see how he’s struggled. He’s leading the AL in K’s, he is in the top 10 in ERA, and he leads in walks+hits per innings pitched. Still the same old dominant Verlander. He doesn’t have a lot of wins, but wins are an overrated stats for pitchers today.

    Besides that, Denny, I can’t disagree with anything you write here.

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