August 10, 2014

The Detroit Dilemma

It's where the bulls are penned 

Tigers bullpen issues go "way back…"

It's amazing the way the game has changed since the mid–70s. I believe it's because of the amount of money spent on both starters and relievers that baseball teams force pitchers to specialize. I remember when young pitchers would come up "back in the day," they would relieve a little bit, spot start, and over time determine where they fit in the rotation — if at all.

Back then, there weren't pitch counts — at least they weren't discussed publicly. Pitchers came out of the game when they were tired. It wasn't when they reached 100 pitchers, or 110, or whatever. Or they came out when they were in a jam and a reliever would come in with one out and the bases loaded. Then, that dude would pitch the eighth inning and ninth inning, too. Maybe throw 50 pitches. And do it again the next day. It was a different world.

I consider Rich "Goose" Gossage to be one of the best closers ever. But, early in his career he was a starter for a couple of teams before become an elite ballplayer.  

I've written before that I'm not a fan of the modern bullpen set–up. A starter throws a quality start through six innings; then, the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning guys pitch. The closer, the modern dude who comes in and is expected to throw 15 pitches and get a save, regardless, really, of the game situation. I am "old school," I suppose. I wish, no I love it when, a starter takes the mound in the ninth inning. I guess it's nostalgia.
I could see the 2015 bullpen as shaping up as tough: Jim Johnson, Joakim Soria, Joel Hanrahan, and Joe Nathan — that's a stable of closers for a bullpen.
The Tigers have an incredible stable of starting pitchers. Rarely, do they even pitch in the eighth inning. These guys should be pitching later into games, especially considering the shape of our bullpen. I won't fault Dave Dombrowski because I thought signing Joe Nathan was an incredible move and that it would be major part of the Tigers run to the American League Championship. In fact, with all the guys signed but not playing and the guys traded for and on the team, I could see the 2015 bullpen as shaping up as tough: Jim Johnson, Joakim Soria, Joel Hanrahan, and Joe Nathan — that's a stable of closers for a bullpen. That doesn't even include current guys Al–Al, Chamberlain, or the long–lost Rondon.

We could say the Tigers bullpen issue is their achilles heal; however, with Miguel Cabrera not hitting and that overall effect on the complete Tigers line–up, it's looking shaky that the Detroit Nine will even offer much in the postseason.

Papa Grandé was good, bad, and ugly during his tenure in the Detroit bullpen. 

If the offense doesn't perk up, the team start playing better overall, and/or the bullpen get it together, it's going to be an early fall of golf and such. Which would make Prince Fielder happy — but I suppose he's had the whole season off.

I don't know what moves Dombrowski can make at this point, but it's almost like something has to happen. The window of opportunity is getting tighter. The only negative comment I would even consider making about the David Price deal is that the Tigers don't necessarily need a starter — YET. We'll see what the off season holds for the Motor City baseball team.

Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers catalyst and two–time MVP. Prince Fielder protected him in the line–up last year but faded in the playoffs and decided he'd had enough. He alienated the Tigers fan base so much that Dave Dombrowski pretty much had to jettison him. 

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