Windy City chatter
Greetings from Chicago. It’s the Tigers and Sox in the series finale. Here are some general thoughts running through my head as they open the window in the press box and let every shred of air conditioning out into the scorching stadium. Thanks for that.
Magglio’s return to Chicago has been a positive one. On base six times in the first two games of the series, he’s has done a great job of quieting the crowd here. Speaking of the crowd, I was a little surprised at the frosty reception he got from the fans on the first night of the series. I realize the split was not a very friendly one, but that had more to do with Ozzie Guillen and the front office than the fans. You would think the Sox faithful would have been more appreciative of what Maggs did for them for eight seasons. By the way, I will admit I was wrong on how long I thought it would take Magglio to get back into the "swing" of things (pun intended). He looks like he is close to mid season for which really is remarkable considering he hasn’t played much ball in the last year and a half.
The news we received on Troy Percival is sad. It appears that he may be nearing the end of a long and fabulous career. I’ve already heard people calling him a bust and a bad sign by Dave Dombrowski. That is a short sighted view of the situation. Nobody can predict injuries. The Tigers were willing to pay him more than maybe some other teams, but that’s the situation they were in this past off season. The Urbina situation was far from being resolved (mothers kidnapping) and nobody knew how well Farnsworth, Spurling, German and Rodney would pitch this season. The Tigers needed bullpen help and Dave went out and got some. We all have the benefit of hindsight. In addition, it’s hard to place a value on the leadership Percival has provided in the clubhouse in the short five months that he has been with the team. He has impacted this team in a positive way. More than people realize.
I’m telling everyone right now that Crag Monroe is the most underrated outfielder in the American League. Entering Sunday’s tilt, C-Mo was hitting .283 with 10 homers and 56 RBI. Only Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield and Garret Anderson have knocked in more runs from the outfield position in the American League. But lets forget offensive numbers for a moment and talk about Craig’s defense. He struggled a bit with the glove last year, but this season he has been extremely versatile, playing all three outfield positions almost flawlessly. He has committed only two errors all season in 180 chances. The common perception is that all outfield positions are generally the same, but it’s a little tougher that most think to move from spot to spot. The angles are different and each position has it’s special challenges. Monroe has played them all extremely well.
Jeremy Bonderman again showed how special he is by slamming the door on the White Sox Tuesday night. He has 12 wins, and assuming he makes 33 starts this year, like he has the last two seasons, he has 13 starts remaining this season. He needs to win eight of those to get to 20 victories. Doable? Darn right. The Tigers have had only two 20 game winners in the last thirty years. Jack Morris in 1983 and 1986 and Bill Gullikson in 1991. Jeremy is now 6-0 in starts after he loses a game. That shows maturity and the ability to put a clunker behind him.
Several people have asked me recently about the status of Nate Cornejo. After winning 20 games at three different levels in 2001, Nate’s career stalled because of arm problems. He is currently pitching at AA Erie and his record is 4-11 with a 4.45 ERA. Injuries have robbed him of his velocity, and the power sinker he possessed when he was at his best, is not as powerful. He had shoulder surgery last July so he is still only one year out. Some guys take longer to regain velocity. Here’s hoping we see Nate back in the big leagues. He’s a quality guy.