As Emerson said at the opening of the Divinity School Address, "in this refulgent summer, it has been a luxury to draw the breath of life." Its not quite summer yet, but the weather has taken a turn for the better, its Friday, and the Royals haven't lost a baseball game since Tuesday.
Earlier this week I did a little Q&A with Ian from Bless You Boys on the Tigers. While I decided to give NYRoyals's post on Bell a full day's attention, a little scoop on the Tigers isn't a bad thing, even though, for the moment, all our hate is directed at the Twins.
Not this season, barring an injury. Unless Casey just goes completely into the tank, Jim Leyland wants his left-handed bat in the lineup, and perhaps more importantly, appreciates his glove over at first base, which has already saved Brandon Inge from a few errors this year. Casey's struggled with the bat thus far, however, which has led some Detroit fans to call for Marcus Thames to replace him in the lineup. But I'd be surprised if Shelton isn't the starting first baseman next year. If not, then the Tigers might be done with him.
How do you feel about picking up Sheffield thus far? Right now, it's not looking so good. For what Sheffield's contributed so far, the Tigers might as well have Marcus Thames at DH. The most surprising thing is how often Sheffield is striking out. I don't know if that's an indication that he's trying too hard to make an impression on his new city or if his bat's slowing down, which is a concern at his age. I have to believe, however, that he'll eventually put up his usual numbers because he always has.
Which Tiger pitcher are you most excited about, least excited about?
hope you're okay with a multiple choice answer. Jeremy Bonderman doesn't have a win to show for it, unfortunately, but to this point, he's looked like the ace many people expected him to be. The only problem is that he's been facing the opponent's best starting pitcher, which means he's not getting any run support. But Joel Zumaya is the guy whose every pitch you have to watch. And he's developed a nasty curveball to go with that 100 m.p.h fastball, which almost seems unfair. I'm also looking forward to the arrival of Andrew Miller, who reminds me of Randy Johnson whenever I've seen him pitch. (I'm kind of afraid to say that, though.)
On the least excited side, it's Jose Mesa. That signing never seemed to make sense, but I was okay with it since he wasn't going to have a key role. However, he's been terrible and has an ERA that looks like a NBA team's scoring leader. Right now, it's difficult to imagine him sticking with the Tigers throughout the season.
In football, there's supposedly a hangover effect/curse for teams that lose the Super Bowl. Do you think it works the same way for losing the World Series?
In the Tigers' case, I don't think so. I admit I was a little worried about that because the fans seemed to feel like the team had actually won the World Series during the winter. Of course, the players are different. I don't think Jim Leyland will allow the team to have a hangover. And the fact that they not only didn't win the World Series, but didn't even with their division, is a point he'll be able to use as motivation. That is, if he needs to. Right now, the players seem to be policing themselves quite well.
How will things play out in the AL Central this season?
Well, at the risk of sounding biased, I think Detroit will eventually finish on top. They haven't hit very well, but are still winning games, which should worry the rest of the division. The competition should stay tight between at least one or two teams, however, just as it has so far this season. I feel like the Tigers' pitching will be the difference, but now I'm not so sure. Ramon Ortiz has looked great for the Twins, and if those older guys can keep them in the race until the kids like Garza and Perkins are ready, maybe they're the team to beat. The Indians could be there, too, but I'm wondering if the bad weather in Cleveland has already cost them, with the doubleheaders they'll have to play. That pitching staff was already looking thin to me.
On the bottom of the division, I'll get my first close look at the White Sox this week, but they look old and past their prime to me. In Kansas City, I really like what I've seen from guys like Teahen and Pena, but watching them beat themselves with largely unforced errors and a bad approach at the plate reminds me of the baseball we saw in Detroit up until last season. That usually doesn't end well. But things look really promising.
Other Morning Reading: