Tag Archives: detroit tigers

Cabrera Outshines His Past

20120920-172240.jpg

A few years ago it looked like Miguel Cabrera was going to be that run of the mill athlete we all look at and frown with great disapproval.

He was an alcoholic, he was having personal life issues, he gave the normal spiel about how he was changing and was a new man. Then he relapsed.

The numbers didn’t matter, so what he was quite possibly this decade’s best hitter, so what he was one of the top 5 first basemen in the game? It didn’t matter because his negatives were starting to outweigh his gleaming talent.

I thought about this after watching Cabrera launch 3 home runs in the last 2 games as he has put the Detroit Tigers on his back and might lead them to a division title even though they are 2 games back with 15 to go.

Cabrera is putting together a monster season in one of the leagues toughest ballparks for hitters and after a position change that saw him shift from first to third base with the acquisition of Prince Fielder.

The numbers are awesome to us but the norm to Cabrera; .333 batting average, 41 home runs, 130 RBI. He leads the American League in average and RBI and is only 1 home run behind Josh Hamilton. We have had runs at the triple crown before but Cabrera’s run is very serious.

His performance has overshadowed a disappointing year for Detroit up to this point. With the Fielder transaction Detroit was supposed to run away with the AL Central and contain for the World Series.

If they didn’t have Cabrera they wouldn’t even be a playoff contender.

Cabrera is without question the league’s MVP. I know Mike Trout has been outstanding putting up historic numbers and Josh Hamilton has put together another outstanding year. However, Cabrera beats them both with his consistency, and clutch performance in recent weeks.

Cabrera hasn’t let the Tigers down in any situation that’s been placed in front of him this season. He’s picked up the slack for the early season loss of Victor Martinez, the loss of power in stretches from Fielder, and the loss of everything from Delmon Young.

Most importantly Cabrera has stuck to his word, he’s become the rare athlete that hasn’t let his demons consume him. As well as he’s performed on the field his biggest accomplishment has been not letting the Tigers down off of it.

Because of that we can now appreciate Cabrera for his great numbers that place him in the top five hitters of the last decade and had him on pace for a call to Cooperstown when it’s all said and done.

As the season winds down look for Cabrera to continue to pulverize pitching, carry the Tigers on his back and bring home a division title and mostly the AL MVP.

He deserves it. After years of watching athletes go back on their words and continue to travel down bad roads it’s good to see one that sticks to his words and lets his positives outshine the negative.

Hopefully Cabrera continues to reap the benefits of his good work on and off the field.


The End Of Joel Zumaya

20120227-133838.jpg

In 2006 I watched the Detroit Tigers eliminate my New York Yankees in 4 games in that year’s ALCS.

Of all of the torturous memories I have of that series (including A-Rod’s embarrassing performance) what really killed me was how helpless the Yankees looked against one man.

His name was Joel Zumaya.

Zumaya was Aroldis Chapman before he existed. Zumaya was a fireball throwing right-hander whose arms were covered in flames literally thanks to matching fire tattoos on his forearms.

My first memory of him was game 2 in Yankee stadium that year. After Justin Verlander pitched 6+ impressive innings and clung to a one-run lead Tigers manager Jim Leyland called on Zumaya to handle the middle of the Yankees order.

He did more than handle it, he dominated it.

He blew away Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez with ease as they looked helpless against his 100 mph fastball. As he walked off the mound I hoped to God that the Yankees would never run into him again.

Unfortunately I as well as many AL batters are getting their wish.

Zumaya ruptured another tendon in his pitching elbow yesterday ending another season in what has turned into a tragic career for him.

Zumaya hasn’t pitched a full season since his breakout year in 2006 and has missed the last two because his throwing arm can’t hold up.

What looked like the start of a promising career has turn into a repetition of setbacks that could end his career.

It’s sad because Zumaya had the kind of stuff that pitchers and coaches die for. The prospect of facing him in the AL for years and years in the seventh and eighth innings was a nightmare for me and any fan that watched their team play the Tigers.

Unfortunately for Zumaya and The Tigers that won’t be the case. His career likely is over before it ever really got started.

You always forget that the human arm wasn’t meant to throw that hard for extended periods of time. Zumaya found that out the hard way.

That ALCS performance will always be stuck in my head. I thought I was watching the next great reliever in the game who would dominate for years with an intimidating fastball that no one could hit.

I was… Unfortunately his arm didn’t see it that way.


Garza May Finally Breakthrough, With This Breakthrough

Matt Garza's Up and Down year gets a huge boost with his no-hitter

The no-hitter has replaced the home run as the most appealing sight in baseball. That’s what happens when you have 6 in less than 100 games (and yes I’m still counting Armando Galarraga’s thank you very much).

The latest comes from Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays who only allowed one walk over his 120 pitch gem in a 5-0 win against the Detroit Tigers. Garza has been considered to have ace potential since his arrival from Minnesota via trade, and his performance Monday shows why Tampa ponied up a few prospects to land him in the first place and make him a front of the rotation pitcher.

(It also makes you wonder what Minnesota’s rotation would be like with him there and how the current struggles it has with Nick Blackburn being moved to the bullpen would be a moot point. Sorry to pour salt in those wounds Twins fans.)

The great thing about Garza’s performance is that it was an awesome performance. Unlike Edwin Jackson and Ubaldo Jimenez’s walk fests of no-no’s Garza was in control for most of the night walking only one but getting a double play ball immediately after. He faced the minimum of 27 batters striking out six and over powering Tigers hitters with that huge fast ball of his. 101 of his 120 pitchers were fastballs sometimes hitting 96 or 97 on the radar gun. His performance last night was the high point in a year that has been filled with ups and downs.

Sometimes over the course of his tenure in Tampa, Garza’s focus and emotional restraint has been questioned. He is a fiery right-hander who listens to 2pac before each start and it shows in his emotions throughout the course of some of his starts. In June Garza had a complete meltdown against the Florida Marlins when he gave up 7 earned runs in 1 1/3 innings, against the Red Sox earlier this month he allowed 4 earned runs and threw 84 pitches in 3 innings which got him the quick hook. In his last start against Baltimore he allowed 7 earned runs and ten hits to one of the worst offensive teams in baseball.

Then this, this is the Matt Garza that baseball writers fell in love with during the 2008 ALCS where he made his presence known by winning the series MVP. This is the guy that came out this year with a 3-0, .75 ERA start to his season. This is the guy that was going to be the leader of a rotation with young flame throwers like David Price and Jeff Niemann. Garza himself knows what kind of year it’s been for him, “This year I’ve just been so rocky, just trying to find myself. Something good had to happen soon,” the right-hander said. “I’m trying to look for just a hint of consistency, and this should get the ball rolling in the right direction. I didn’t feel great. My mechanics felt off, but I was able to locate my fastball.”

Manager Joe Maddon agrees, “This is the kind of game that could catapult somebody like him who has this kind of ability. He has struggled at different moments this year. Hopefully this is one of those things that can really mentally get you over the hump.”

The Rays need it too. They’re in a pennant chase with the Yankees and have a huge series coming up this weekend against them. They would love nothing more than to have this carry over into the series and take over sole possession of the AL East.

What they would also love are more gems like these in their favor. The Rays before Monday had been no-hit 3 times in fourteen months. It’s about time one of these things went in their favor.

While we all marvel at Garza’s achievement, and Yankees hope that Saturday’s showdown against him is a little better than what the Tigers endured, his oldest son Matthew isn’t impressed. He told his dad after his historic performance, “You’re still not an all-star.” See, even in the year of the pitcher where a guy wins eleven games and throws a no-no you still can’t impress everyone. Hopefully this outing will change his dad’s fortunes and maybe this time next his son will be fully satisfied.