Friday, August 1, 2008

Tigers Blogging: Losing the Baby Fat

Right, so Ivan Rodriguez got traded at the deadline. The Pudgy One will always have a special place in Tigers lore for being the catalyst. That one star player who ushered in the transition from a team that lost 100 games to a team that, uh, lost the World Series. So, it's a bit of a shame to see him go. For the longest time he was the heart and soul of the team not to mention its best player. Now he's gone in exchange for some much needed relief pitching.

But it's not too much of a shame for me because, let's face it, this is a Tigers team that's been stuck in neutral since that marvelous 2006 season. Not getting any worse, but not getting any better, either, and that's a problem when several other teams around the league have been steadily improving. Rodriguez was part of the whole complacient mindset that, the seductive thought that they'd gotten there once and could do so again. Plus, word was he'd been having chemistry problems either with management or in the locker room. Then there's the whole steroids cloud which for whatever reason has not hung over him like a lot of other players - but it should. So maybe it was time to make a change.

The player he got traded for, however, makes me think that it's towel pitching in time. Kyle Farnsworth? A future Hall of Famer is only worth Mr. Bench-clearer? A hothead and a mediocre reliever? Who wasn't all that good in his last go-around with the team? And, not to mention that the Tigers just traded a key player to the hated Yankees, who might as well be in their division because they're certainly going to have to fight it out for a postseason spot. Compared with the deals that landed Man-Ram and Ken Griffey Jr, it's like an unfortunate joke.

Because, well, it's not going to change anything. Sure, the Tigers needed bullpen help now that the Jones rollercoaster has had its operations suspended but the real problem is with their starting pitching. Willis hasn't worked out and even their aces have looked mortal. Also, they've been shut-out more times than any other team in the league. Oh, and they can't win close games and they can't beat the teams they need to beat. That's a problem, too. They've managed to climb out of the cellar with some great ball but they dug themselves too deep of a hole at the start of the season and unless they can start beating teams like Chicago or Boston, they don't have a hope of making the postseason let alone advancing in it.

And after the disappointment of last year and the blockbuster, farm-emptying moves heading into this season, that had to be the goal. There's no certificate of participation this time around, no hearty clap on the back for a job well done, this team needed to win. And, now, it's looking ever more apparent that they won't.

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