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 Three questions Tigers must answer

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PostSubject: Three questions Tigers must answer   Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:14 am

Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Lynn Henning
Three questions Tigers must answer
What's up with Renteria and will Miner, Verlander remain hot on the mound?

Three names, events, etc., that top one person's list of Tigers talking points 10 weeks before the 2008 playoffs begin:

1. Renteria's troubles at shortstop

Of all the failings that have marked the single worst trade of Dave Dombrowski's reign as Tigers boss, this statistic is the hardest to fathom:

In 63 games heading into Tuesday night's Tigers-Royals game at Kauffman Stadium, Renteria had four extra-base hits. Nearly half a season's worth of games had produced as many extra-base hits as quality big league hitters can amass in two or three games.

The trade has been the biggest surprise and greatest disaster of the season. Pitcher Dontrelle Willis and his terrible tumble is right there, but Willis carried less certainty coming into the season than Renteria.

Renteria was hitting .224 spanning those same 63 games and 223 at-bats. He had 46 singles among his 50 hits.

As disturbing as his inability to hit a pitch hard, Renteria limping around on a bad hamstring had a few folks wondering why he is in the lineup. Tigers manager Jim Leyland was asked before Tuesday's game about Renteria. In essence, why is Renteria starting if he's hurting at the plate and in the field?

"He's ready to play," Leyland said, firmly. "I wouldn't play him if I didn't think he was healthy. There are some balls he can't get to because he's afraid it (hamstring) might explode, but I think he gets better on a daily basis. I thought he was better (Monday night, in Detroit's 19-4 romp over the Royals)."

It is, to me, an astonishing case of loyalty. Renteria has had an abysmal season that is stretching into its fourth month.

You wonder how many baseball people would be surprised if he were released. It's difficult to believe the Tigers would fare as badly if Ramon Santiago and a trade-deadline utility infielder replaced Renteria.

I understand past performances and the need to believe in players, but this in one personnel issue that's thoroughly baffling.

2. Miner's big start

A thought occurred that wouldn't budge.

In 1972, when the Tigers won a playoff spot during the last week of the regular season, they had one pitcher in particular to thank for their second-half surge: left-hander Woodie Fryman, who won 10 games after the Tigers got him on August's waiver wire.

In 1987, it was Doyle Alexander who went 9-0 after the Tigers made a trade with Atlanta that sent a minor-leaguer named (gulp) John Smoltz to the Braves. No matter how short-sighted, Alexander pitched the Tigers into the playoffs.

I think Zach Miner has a shot at becoming this year's Fryman/Alexander story.

He is back doing what he does best, starting, which was clear Monday night. He is more relaxed as a starter and is better able to let off the throttle on his fastball, which gets him into control trouble when he overthrows it.

Miner also has a nice collection of pitches and uses them all when he starts. As a reliever, who typically trusts two favorite pitches, Miner is at a disadvantage when he gets stuck on his sinker and slider.

He has a chance to win a lot of games down the stretch. Miner on most nights can be expected to put together six decent innings.

With the offense Detroit is finally unleashing, that could make for a big finish for a pitcher who is more talented than is sometimes appreciated.

3. The making of an ace

Justin Verlander will pull it off.

A pitcher who started out 2-9 could win 15 games. And if he gets close to 15, which is the bet here, it will prove even more than his 2006 and '07 seasons (17 and 18 victories, respectively) that Verlander is an elite pitcher.

Prove that he could end up doing it all before he's finished: 300 victories, Hall of Fame -- you can't rule out anything when a pitcher has the superior talent Verlander owns.

Health is always the issue. Verlander has held up well -- to date. But his durability has plenty to do with his mechanics.

Right now, Verlander gives the Tigers what a team trying to squeeze into the postseason must have: an ace who, every five days, can shut the opponents down.

You can reach Lynn Henning at lynn.henning@detnews.com
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PostSubject: Re: Three questions Tigers must answer   Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:51 am

bow Z. Miner

And also, I knew Renteria was playing bad, but I hadn't noticed it'd gotten that bad :puke2:


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PostSubject: Re: Three questions Tigers must answer   Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:37 am

Fourth question Tigers must answer:

Sheff?

well, maybe not. But the other board sure thinks so.
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PostSubject: Re: Three questions Tigers must answer   Mon Jul 28, 2008 12:51 am

1. Crappy
2. yes
3. nope
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