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Trouble Brewing?

As encouraged as I am by the single-game performance of Chris Shelton, his emergence is also a sure sign that the 2005 team has noticeably regressed. Carlos Pena, Omar Infante, and Craig Monroe were all young players who made significant contributions last season and were all expected to continue to improve and contribute more to the team’s success this season. All three have been mildly disappointing to downright bad, in Pena’s case. This regression along with a lot more injuries to major players (Pudge, Guillen, Ordonez, White) than they suffered last season all point to troubled times ahead.

In Bilfer’s entry today, he eloquently points out how thin a Tiger lineup will be if it features the extended playing time of a Jason Smith/Ramon Martinez platoon at short, Vance Wilson catching , and Marcus Thames playing on a more regular basis. Add a young Shelton to the mix, with the ups and downs he is due to face, this team is starting to take on a similar complexion to that of the poor ones of recent vintage. (Remember those lineups that featured Chris Truby, Kevin Witt, et al) As encouraged as we can be by the appearance of Craig Monroe’s bat starting to come to life in Baltimore this weekend, this team may have already achieved it’s high point to the season and we haven’t even reached the halfway point.

The performance of the pitching staff as a whole has been a pleasant surprise. But recent outings by Wil Ledezma and Mike Maroth give me the impression that the staff’s impressive run may not hold out for much longer. Is it reasonable to believe that the performances of Jason Johnson and Nate Robertson will continue with their K/9 being 4.07 and 3.88, respectively? If the starting pitching fails the team for any extended period of time, coupled with the team’s anemic run production, the team will certainly hit dire straits. I hate to make pronouncements of doom and gloom, but is becoming hard to expect otherwise.

I do strongly hold out hope that Carlos Pena will re-discover his stroke at Toledo and will be able to comeback and contribute this year. Pena seems to be a class guy. The downward trajectory of his career seems to be unavoidable, though and I expect him to be a spare part added onto a trade at the trading deadline. In regards to Monroe and Infante, the jury is still out, but they will remain with the club through the duration of the season. The injuries on the other hand, are part of the game. Every team suffers from them and must adapt accordingly.

I guess the only certitude that we posess to fall back on is that we aren’t in as bad of a situation as the Kansas City’s, Tampa Bay’s and Colorado’s of the baseball world, at least yet.

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