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 Report card: Grading each Tiger after the first half 2008

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PostSubject: Report card: Grading each Tiger after the first half 2008   Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:37 am

JON PAUL MOROSI
Report card: Grading each Tiger after a disappointing first half

July 13, 2008

When asked to assess the Tigers' up-and-down first half, reliever Bobby Seay quickly found the right words.

"We just got off to a bad start," Seay said, "and we're playing well as a team now."

The first 15 weeks of this topsy-turvy season have included all the drama of a three-act play.

There was the comedic/pathetic entrance, when the Tigers started 2-10.

Then came the period of plot development, during which star Miguel Cabrera switched from third base to first. Cabrera ultimately found his identity, while the team went a mediocre 24-27 between mid-April and early June.

Most recently, the main characters have coalesced. The Tigers are 20-10 since Dontrelle Willis' disastrous outing in a rock-bottom loss to Cleveland on June 9.

They are in third place entering the All-Star break, but a postseason berth is possible nonetheless.

"We've got a good shot," Seay said. "We put ourselves in a bind with our slow start, but nothing's unattainable."

---

Free Press sports writer Jon Paul Morosi grades the Tigers' first half, assigned in accordance with each player's expectations and relative performance:

All statistics entering Friday's game

Jim Leyland
MANAGER

The team has not won as many games as expected, and Leyland has publicly taken his share of the responsibility. Yet there was little or nothing Leyland could do about many of the Tigers' woes. Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordoņez, Gary Sheffield, Jeremy Bonderman, Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya all spent time on the disabled list. Miguel Cabrera had a lengthy adjustment period, Dontrelle Willis has been a major disappointment, and shortstop Edgar Renteria is not the player he once was. All things considered, Leyland has done a very good job. A-

Miguel Cabrera
1B

Day by day, he's growing more comfortable in Detroit. Cabrera's natural ability is starting to take over, after a period in which he adjusted to a new city and league. Cabrera is a better fit at first base than third. He's playing with an injured hip flexor, the effects of which likely will linger all year. B

Carlos Guillen
3B

He's the team's lone All-Star who has a presence about him and commands the immediate respect of teammates. He showed his selfless nature by switching positions twice -- from shortstop to first base to third base -- since September. His offensive numbers are a little behind last year's pace.
A-

Jeff Larish
1B/3B

His fierce swing tends to yield strikeouts and extra-base hits. Larish prides himself on a consistent approach, and Leyland likes his calm demeanor. He could be ready to play in the majors permanently soon, although he's blocked at first base, third base and designated hitter. B

Placido Polanco
2B

A horrific April had some observers wondering if Polanco, 32, was starting to decline. He has hit .335 since May 1, according to STATS LLC, and looks like the tough-out No. 2 hitter that he has perpetually been. He's also one of the league's best defensive second basemen. A

Edgar Renteria
SS

Renteria has not looked like the player who contended for the NL batting title last year. He's hitting below .260 with little extra-base power, and his fielding range is limited. Renteria is a tremendous professional, but it looks as though the Tigers gave up too much (Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez) to get him. C

Ramon Santiago
INF

If the Tigers believed Santiago could play every day, they would not have traded for Renteria. Still, Santiago has performed when called upon. With Renteria struggling, it will be interesting to follow how much Santiago, a standout defender, plays during the second half. A

Curtis Granderson
CF

Is it any accident that the Tigers began their ascent once Granderson returned to form? Simply put: He makes them go and was almost selected as an All-Star. He's an elite defender and offensive catalyst, to go along with strong leadership skills. He's hitting against left-handers now, too.
A

Matt Joyce
OF

At 23, he already possesses one of the smoothest swings on the team. He needs more seasoning, but he has very good power (seven home runs) and has filled in capably for injured star Magglio Ordoņez. He looks like a solid platoon outfielder at the very least. A-

Magglio Ordoņez
RF

One year removed from finishing second in MVP balloting, Ordoņez remains one of the league's most adept run producers. His absence due to an oblique injury has had a noticeable effect on the team's recent play, as the offense has sputtered at times without him. He's due to return after the All-Star break. A

Ryan Raburn
OF/INF

His at-bats have been limited by the emergence of Matt Joyce and Clete Thomas, but good versatility has enabled Raburn to stay in the majors for all but a brief period this season. He has hit some big home runs for the Tigers, but he would be an even bigger contributor to a National League team. B

Marcus Thames
LF/DH

The statistical comparisons have become almost comical: Thames leads the team with 17 home runs, despite the fact that Cabrera, who is No. 2 on the list, has roughly twice as many at-bats. Thames is playing more often now but is not in the lineup every day. A

Clete Thomas
OF

A surprise inclusion on the Opening Day roster, Thomas' versatility could make him a fixture in Detroit. Leyland said he needs to refine his routes in the outfield and relax at the plate, but added, "I love him. I think he's a ballplayer. I think he's one of them dirtballs that's talented." B

Brandon Inge
C/IF

Inge is not playing as much as he would like. The Tigers were unable to trade him before the season, and he has spent much of the year as a backup catcher and super-utility player. He's in line for an expanded role next season -- if he's not dealt before then. B

Pudge Rodriguez
C

A free agent at the end of this season, Rodriguez has been revived by Leyland's plan to get him more rest. It's difficult to imagine this team without him, or count him out from returning next year -- he's hitting near .290 and still controls the running game exceptionally well. B

Gary Sheffield
DH

Sheffield has looked better at the plate after returning from an oblique injury last month. Sheffield made 14 starts in a 15-game span and batted .259 (14-for-54) with four extra-base hits and six RBIs. His bat speed is returning, but he's not the force he was at this time last year. C

Jeremy Bonderman
RHP

It's tempting to wonder how formidable the Tigers would be if Bonderman were still in their rotation. Instead, he's recovering from season-ending surgeries related to a blood clot. Bonderman was effective when healthy, but not as dominant as he has been. B

Eddie Bonine
RHP

Like Zach Miner in 2006, Bonine was not invited to major league camp but joined the rotation after a starter was injured. His first three starts were impressive, but his last two were not. He's back in the minors, but could return to the rotation as early as next week. B

Armando Galarraga
RHP

Let's be honest: The Tigers had no idea Galarraga would be this good. Jettisoned by Texas shortly before spring training, Galarraga was acquired for a low-level prospect. Now he leads the team in wins and looks as though he could be a low-cost member of this rotation for years to come. A

Nate Robertson
LHP

An effective Robertson could be the difference between the Tigers having a very good rotation and a mediocre one. After an inconsistent first half, he pitched superbly last Sunday in Seattle. If that was any indication of what's to come, Robertson is due for a big second half. B-

Kenny Rogers
LHP

Detroit's decision to bring back Rogers, 43, for one year at $8 million looks like one of team's best moves last off-season. He has been brilliant over his past nine starts, with a 2-2 record and 2.76 ERA. Fans have a lot of reasons to like Rogers, a reliable hand who genuinely appreciates the organization. A-

Dontrelle Willis
LHP

He has been the team's biggest disappointment. He has a 10.32 ERA and has appeared in one game -- with the Tigers' Florida State League affiliate -- in the past month. His three-year, $29-million contract looks like one of the worst deals in team history. F

Justin Verlander
RHP

He was 2-9 after 13 starts, which put him on pace for a 20-loss year. He has turned his season around admirably, going 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA since then. "You have to go through these things," Leyland said. "He'd never struggled before -- anywhere, probably." B

Freddy Dolsi
RHP

The 25-year-old rookie had pitched only one game above Class A before this season but has become one of the Tigers' most reliable relievers. He throws a hard four-seam fastball, along with a two-seamer and developing slider. As Leyland has pointed out this season, Dolsi is not afraid of anything. A

Casey Fossum
LHP

His ERA is never going to be pretty, due to the thankless nature of his role as a lefty specialist and two bad outings last month. But Leyland likes the fact that Fossum can get right-handed hitters out and pitch multiple innings. His effort Wednesday enabled the Tigers to claw back and earn a big win. B-

Todd Jones

RHP

Thursday's loss marked the first time all year that Jones blew the save in a game the Tigers ultimately lost (with an error and unearned run involved). Jones has been much more effective than some observers might think. Converting 16-for-18 save opportunities is very good for any closer. B

Aquilino Lopez
RHP

Overlooked by some in spring training, Lopez earned a job when left-hander Tim Byrdak faltered in the final days of camp. He throws a lot of strikes -- which Leyland loves -- and has an effective breaking ball. A-

Zach Miner
RHP

The Tigers have shown faith in Miner, preferring to trade relievers Jason Grilli and Denny Bautista rather than send Miner to Toledo earlier this year. But Miner tends to overthrow in tight situations, was optioned to the minors recently and is now working on his command as a starter. C

Fernando Rodney
RHP

Rodney has regained his health and velocity but has yet to reclaim his dominant form of 2006. He still throws a lot of pitches outside the strike zone. After an uneven outing in Thursday's loss, it remains to be seen how often he will pitch when the Tigers are ahead in the late innings. C

Bobby Seay
LHP

One of the bullpen's biggest contributors last year, Seay has not been as effective in 2008. He is allowing a .309 batting average to left-handers. That is not very encouraging since his primary job is to get those batters out. B-

Joel Zumaya
RHP

The Tigers' hard-throwing setup man is gradually returning to form. He's throwing high fastballs again, which he did with great success in 2006. All things considered, team officials have to be very pleased with what Zumaya has done after undergoing major shoulder surgery last fall. A-

The others
(players now in the minors)

Brent Clevlen, OF; Michael Hollimon, INF; Dane Sardinha, C; Yorman Bazardo, RHP; Francis Beltran, RHP; Francisco Cruceta, RHP; Clay Rapada, LHP; Denny Bautista, RHP; Jason Grilli, RHP; Jacque Jones, OF
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PostSubject: Re: Report card: Grading each Tiger after the first half 2008   Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:57 am

Umm....is this guy a high school teacher or something? I think the team has like a 3.8 GPA and it's in 3rd place confused

Grade inflation is ruining America.


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PostSubject: Re: Report card: Grading each Tiger after the first half 2008   Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:48 am

catbox_9 wrote:
Umm....is this guy a high school teacher or something? I think the team has like a 3.8 GPA and it's in 3rd place confused

Grade inflation is ruining America.

Well, we don't want to crush any tender egos Rolling Eyes .

(Is it just me or do most kids nowadays need their egos stomped all over at least one or twice? ... a month?)
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PostSubject: Re: Report card: Grading each Tiger after the first half 2008   Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:18 am

My grades:

Jim Leyland - MANAGER
C

Miguel Cabrera - 1B
C

Carlos Guillen - 3B
B+

Jeff Larish - 1B/3B
C

Placido Polanco - 2B
A-

Edgar Renteria - SS
C-

Ramon Santiago - INF
A

Curtis Granderson - CF
B+

Matt Joyce - OF
A-

Magglio Ordoņez - RF
A-

Ryan Raburn - OF/INF
B

Marcus Thames - LF/DH
A-

Clete Thomas - OF
B+

Brandon Inge - C/IF
B+

Pudge Rodriguez
- C
B+

Gary Sheffield
- DH
D

Jeremy Bonderman - RHP
B-

Eddie Bonine - RHP
C

Armando Galarraga - RHP
A

Nate Robertson - LHP
B-

Kenny Rogers - LHP
A-

Dontrelle Willis - LHP
F

Justin Verlander - RHP
B+

Freddy Dolsi
- RHP
A-

Casey Fossum - LHP
B-

Todd Jones
- RHP
B+

Aquilino Lopez
- RHP
A-

Zach Miner - RHP
B-

Fernando Rodney - RHP
C-

Bobby Seay - LHP
B-

Joel Zumaya - RHP
A-


Last edited by GoGetEmTigers on Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:54 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Report card: Grading each Tiger after the first half 2008   Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:03 pm

I think Cabrera should have a B or B-
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PostSubject: Re: Report card: Grading each Tiger after the first half 2008   Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:04 pm

good revamp, Gogetem! I was rather astounded when I read that on the Freep. Did the Tigers' front office pay him to write that article?
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PostSubject: Re: Report card: Grading each Tiger after the first half 2008   Mon Jul 14, 2008 4:22 pm

My grades:

Jim Leyland - MANAGER
C-

Miguel Cabrera - 1B
B-

Carlos Guillen - 3B
B

Jeff Larish - 1B/3B
C

Placido Polanco - 2B
B

Edgar Renteria - SS
C-

Ramon Santiago - INF
B

Curtis Granderson - CF
B

Matt Joyce - OF
B+

Magglio Ordoņez - RF
B

Ryan Raburn - OF/INF
D

Marcus Thames - LF/DH
B

Clete Thomas - OF
A

Brandon Inge - C/IF
C+

Pudge Rodriguez - C
B+

Gary Sheffield - DH
F

Jeremy Bonderman - RHP
D-

Eddie Bonine - RHP
C

Armando Galarraga - RHP
A+

Nate Robertson - LHP
C-

Kenny Rogers - LHP
B-

Dontrelle Willis - LHP
F-

Justin Verlander - RHP
C-

Freddy Dolsi - RHP
B-

Casey Fossum - LHP
C-

Todd Jones - RHP
C-

Aquilino Lopez - RHP
B

Zach Miner - RHP
C-

Fernando Rodney - RHP
D-

Bobby Seay - LHP
B-

Joel Zumaya - RHP
C-


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