The Detroit Tigers win! While, certainly, words dear to my heart, the latest victory does little to ease the dull ache of mediocre baseball we Tigers' fans have been struggling with, this season. Memorial weekend, the first true checkpoint of the season, has come and gone, leaving much in the way of disappointment. Fans are becoming disenfranchised and, undoubtedly, will soon begin to scale back their monetary support, choosing to forgo trips to Comerica Park, in lieu of more satisfying endeavors. Surely, this is not what owner Mike Ilitch had in mind when he unloaded his wallet and placed his bet for a 2012 World Series championship.
There's no single, defining issue that can be counted as the reason behind the lackluster play. Poor and head-scratching managerial decisions by Jim Leyland are a piece to the puzzle. So, too, is the perceived inconsistent offense, resting heavily in the hands of Lloyd McClendon. You also have to look toward the fact that the roster is predominantly Fielder, Cabrera, Verlander and a revised Toledo Mudhens' lineup. Now clinging to a 26-31 record, thanks to a 7-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians on June 7, there is no time to waste in bringing the team back from the brink.
The process needs to be simple and immediately effective in making the adequate changes necessary to facilitate a hasty turnaround.
Step 1 - Clean House
Like him or not, the fastest way to make a statement is to replace Jim Leyland. If it is true that a team takes on the personality of its coach, then Leyland, clearly, has to go. A fiery personality is needed to get the team attitude back to the aggressive, grind-it-out version; much like Kirk Gibson did for Arizona last season. Replace him with first base coach Tom Brookens. In my mind, Brookens and pitching coach Jeff Jones are the only ones worth keeping around. Brookens has shown the fire and determination the team needs in order to refocus.
Gene Lamont, well... He's Gene Lamont. There have been numerous poor decisions in his resume to warrant his dismissal, let alone his closeness to Leyland, which has, no doubt, kept him employed. Need we all remember the failure to send runners during a critical moment in the 2011 playoffs?
Lloyd McClendon, also, has run his course. Toledo hitting coach, Leon "Bull" Durham, has "fixed" the swings of just about every Tigers' player sent down to retool, over the last few seasons. Why couldn't Lloyd? Obviously, there is something he's missing. Why not have Durham fix them in Detroit?
Step 2 - Forget the "Future" Status
This team was build, and bought, to win championships now, not later. Everyone noting Jacob Turner as a future star has to realize that, to this point, he has not shown, at the big league level, much of that talent he is credited for. By packaging him with the soon-to-be-free-agent Delmon Young, they should be able to get a decent, serviceable, everyday second baseman.
Step 3 - Consistency is Key
This is, bar none, the most important issue facing the team. You MUST run out your best eight players more than one game at a time. With a lineup including Austin Jackson, Quintin Berry and Andy Dirks as a full-time outfield unit, Prince Fielder, a serviceable second baseman, Jhonny Peralta, Miguel Cabrera and the tandem of Alex Avila and Gerald Laird, there is no reason, save for injuries, that you should not have an identical card for five to seven straight games before handing someone a "rest day." Players need consistency to develop a rhythm and get into a groove. They cannot do that if they're "resting" every other game.
As I said, it's a simple, easy-to-implement plan to turn the Tigers' fortunes around. I am certain there may be other options but, as they stand at the present moment, Detroit needs a quick launch. This, most certainly, would do the trick.
The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur, personal trainer and published, freelance author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor" and writes on professional bodybuilding, the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.