so THAT'S what the lineup looks like without Polanco or Guillen or Pudge


a very :( Vance Wilson, photo by Samara Pearlstein

Hm. I don’t think I like it much.

Of course this game wasn’t REALLY the fault of absent-Polanco or absent-Carlos or absent-Pudge. The lineup held their own today, and it was the pitching that dropped the ball. Chad Durbin was not very pimp. I’m not complaining (yet); we still can’t expect too much out of him. Ledezma’s outing did not really inspire the greatest joy in my soul, but… such is our bullpen.

Still, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if Polanco and/or Guillen and/or Pudge were in there… I mean, that 9th inning comeback involved the middle part of the order. We ALMOST had them! Polanco and Guillen are both good solid hitters who are likely to make contact and get on base in a situation like that. A couple more guys on base in that inning and we at least tie it up. OH, THE MIGHT-HAVE-BEENS!

Everyone’s gotta rest some time or other, though. I understand that. I do not begrudge Polanco his rest (poor dude’s got a virus), I do not begrudge Pudge his extremely rare days off (his much-abused ancient catcher’s body!) and I most certainly do no begrudge Carlos Guillen, Carlos Guillen’s groin, or Carlos Guillen’s Surgically Repaired Knee their day off. And of course I know that this was just one game (actually, no, I’m having a hallucination that involves time expanding like an accordion, so this game was actually 250 GAMES IN ONE. Yeah, your mind is blown, I know). But… everyone with an off-day at once?

The attempted comeback in the 9th still gives you that ‘ehhhh, we could have HAD this one’ feeling, and that’s hard to shake.
Also hard to shake: Craig Monroe’s complete and baffling inability to make contact with the ball today. Five strikeouts in 9 innings… good lord. I’m assuming this was merely a freakish occurrence that WILL NOT BE REPEATED, DO YOU HEAR ME, CRAIG? but I’m more concerned that this freak thing will send Craig off some sort of mental cliff, and he’ll be too psyched out to play baseball effectively for a while. Hopefully I am as wrong as it is possible to get and tomorrow he comes out and hits two home runs or something.

Sigh. Anyways.

Bad news for the small but extremely dedicated Vance Wilson fan club. Tommy John surgery on his elbow knocks Vance out for 9-12 months. Ouch. That could very well cut into next year; in fact I expect that it almost certainly would. Due to his age and to the type of wear that a catcher’s arm undergoes (no ‘relief catchers’ after every 5-6-7 innings…), I’m guessing that Vance will be at the upper end of that recovery time range.

You’ve got to feel for the guy. He’s an eternal backup, he finally finds a team where he’s appreciated enough to get a multi-year deal, he’s finally starting to get his bat in order, people actually LIKE him, gosh darn it… and he goes and blows his elbow to smithereens. He’s also 34, and will be 35 by the time he comes back from this surgery. Bearing in mind that 33 is starting to get into the upper end of effectiveness for GREAT catchers like Posada and Varitek and Pudge, and you have to wonder if Vance will even be able to come back from this at all.

So, small but dedicated Vance Wilson fan club: does loyalty revert to Mike Rabelo, or do you start dredging the minors for The Next Big Backup?

Aaaaand don’t forget, Placido Polanco is still leading the polls, but he and other Tigers need YOUR support in the All Star game if they are to get the recognition they so very richly deserve. Vote early, vote often!

I admit to being a little more conflicted about Maggs… at least with Polanco, there is NO contest, he is the best second baseman in the AL. Ze end. There are lots of really good AL outfielders, though, and you can only pick three. Magglio has been hitting so well this year that you really have to take him into consideration, though, and add him to your ballot. It is only fair.

And you’re a fair person, aren’t you? Don’t you like… justice? And… freedom? If you are not a filthy terrorist, vote Magglio Ordonez!

10 responses to “so THAT'S what the lineup looks like without Polanco or Guillen or Pudge

  1. I didn’t care for Craig Monroe last year, and even less so this year. That said, he patrols the left garden quite nicely, thank you very much, and let’s remember that he went similarly 0-for-5 with 5 K’s on Opening day just a little over 2 months ago, and I think he may have gotten some hits since then. In fact, his mythical “clutchiness” continues, as his OPS in “>= 7th Inning” currently stands at 838, as compared to his overall OPS of 726. I did the math on him last year, and his OPS in that “>= 7th inning” category, when placed among the OPS leaders for overall hitting, would have made him something like the 15th-best hitter in all of baseball. Unfortunately, subtracting that out and getting his OPS in “

  2. Oops… One shouldn’t use the less than sign, apparently. Let me continue that thought: Subtracting out his “greater than or equal to 7th inning split” from his overall numbers, giving you his “innings 1 through 6” split, gave him about the 15th-worst OPS in all of baseball. I’m looking forward to road interleague play with Sheff in LF so we can see C-Mo doing what he does best: grabbing some pine (because grabbing that ash or maple isn’t quite working out for him). In fact, it even made me wonder what Brent Clevlen is up to in Toledo… Avert your eyes, he’s batting 207/296/296. Ouch.

  3. My bad, it was 0-for-4 with 4 K’s on Opening Day for C-Mo. Still.

  4. I voted for both Maggs and Polanco 25 times! And I wrote in Curtis Granderson on every ballot instead of Sheffield (yes I’m one of those biased fools who only votes for Tigers).

  5. ivantopumpyouup

    I’m not yet sold on Rabelo. He’s a decent enough hitter, but his defense kind of makes me a little nervous. There was a play in his last game where he didn’t get down to block a ball; it looked like he was trying to catch it as it was hitting the dirt. I kinda just cringed and tried not to yell at my TV, “BLOCK IT WITH YOUR BODY! NOT THE GLOVE!” So, yes, I think his defense needs work.
    I hold out hope Vance will make a stellar comeback. He’s said he wants to play two more years and I hope he gets a chance to. Of course if Rabelo continues to hit, the team might just decide to cut Vance loose. AND THAT WOULD MAKE ME CRY.
    But anyway to finally answer your question, my loyalties revert back to Pudge in the instance of serious Vance injury. Kinda like how my loyalties went to Vance when Pudge went nuts in ’05.

  6. Jeff, I think 5 Ks in the middle of the season (no ‘special’ reason to be pressing extra-hard at the plate or anything) is more psychologically damaging than 4 or 5 Ks on Opening Day (‘oh, i was just pressing too hard because it’s opening day…’).
    Whitney, I don’t vote straight Tigers, but Polanco, Maggs, and Pudge all DESERVE to go, so I see no shame in drumming up as much support as possible.
    ivan, memories of Doug Pickens ‘catching instead of blocking the ball’ against Oregon State, yes? Hopefully that’s a young catcher issue. Pudge is beyond what we would expect from a defensive catcher, and Vance is old enough to have long since learned not to do that. Rabelo’s still only, what, 26 or 27 with very limited big league experience.
    Ah ha, so it was Pudge’s SCREW YOU ALL IMA GO TO COLOMBIA IF I WANNA attitude that formed the Vance Wilson fan club? :)

  7. “Ah ha, so it was Pudge

  8. “Getting him used to one catcher and one catcher only would have been a recipe for disaster further down the line, especially if he

  9. Such a moral undertaking, baseball fandom is, eh? :) I will just say this: thank cats Verlander did not have a personal catcher that early in his career. Getting him used to one catcher and one catcher only would have been a recipe for disaster further down the line, especially if he’d been paired with a catcher as old as Vance.

  10. ivantopumpyouup

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