Sunday, September 30, 2007

And the Detroit Tigers Had a Good Day Too; Plus: Pudge Done?

While a lot of the attention around Detroit is on the Detroit Lions victory over the Chicago bears, and the attention around baseball is focused on the historic collapse of the New York Mets (sorry Willy, Seth, and Alan, but congrats to Ben Wanger's Philadelphia Phillies) the Detroit Tigers finished their 2007 season today and despite not making the playoffs, and suffering through both a second-half slump and a rash of injuries, the season ended on a very positive note. Not only did the Tigers win their final game of the season (13-3 over the Chicago White Sox) but it was a banner day for a few individuals on the Tigers team.

Magglio Ordonez capped an incredible and MVP-worthy season by going 3 for 4 and winning the American League batting championship with a .363 average. It beats Norm Cash's amazing .361 season in 1961, and there isn't enough you can say about the season Magglio had. Neither can Curtis Granderson's season be properly praised. He finished his season with a 3-4 day, moving his batting average for the season over .300 (.302 to be exact) which is the holy line of demarcation in baseball, separating the men from the boys. He also added three more steals, giving him not only a .302 average, but 38 doubles, 23 home runs, 23 triples, 26 stolen bases, and 122 runs (3rd in the American League). He also knocked in 74 runs from the leadoff spot and played Gold Glove caliber centerfield. It will get completely overlooked, but it is not an exaggeration to say Granderson's year was one of the best all-around seasons in baseball history.

A few other Tigers hit milestones too, as Placido Polanco pushed his average above .340 (.341) and knocked through his 200th hit of the season. And Carlos Guillen had his 100th RBI of the season.

With such great individual seasons, it's really a shame the team's season has ended. But, the Tigers have a lot to be proud of this season. They fought through a lot of adversity, and individually, had some incredible seasons. Next year, though, it will be the team that hopefully is celebrating in October.

9:30 Update: Reading Kurt's great wrap-up of the Tigers season at Mack Avenue Tigers he noticed that Danny Knobler is reporting that Pudge Rodriguez has likely played his last game as a Tiger as the team is not expected to pick up his $13 million option for 2008. This stuns me, and I'll have more thoughts when it becomes official, but I think it's a big mistake. Yes, $13 million is overpaying Pudge, significantly. But there are no other options, no other good catchers available (at least not without a trade). And it's really only $10 million, because Pudge gets a $3 million buy-out regardless. Is Pudge the player he used to be? No. But he's still solid, he's great defensively (and still scares opposing runners even if he doesn't have a great arm anymore), and he's the best option the Tigers have. Especially when they have a huge void at shortstop, left-field, perhaps two spots in the starting pitching rotation, and perhaps closer to fill. Now we have to add catcher to the list. That's one too many holes for a team that's this close to being an elite team and making it back to the World Series. Maybe GM Dave Dombrowski will surprise me and acquire a solid replacement for Pudge, but at least right now, considering the other spots we have to fix on our roster, Pudge may not have been a superstar, but he was solid, which is a lot more than we can say about the position right now.

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