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2016 ALL-STIFF TEAM.....T, 7/12/16
Posted on: 07-11-2016

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>>caption:  TIGER RHP ANIBAL

    In a tradition dating back
to 1981 at Sports Phone, we
select our "All-Stiff Team" at
All-Star break.

    The dishonorable list
is littered with current
and former Tigers.

    These are the classic
underachievers, a drag on
their team's payroll and
won/lost column:

SP.....ANIBAL SANCHEZ/DET.....Perhaps the single biggest reason the
Tigers are six and a half games behind AL-Central leading Cleveland,
Sanchez is 5-10 on the season, 3-9 as a starter and 0-3 vs the Indians.
The AL ERA leader (2.57) in 2013, Sanchez can't locate his pitches or
end innings.  Example: All five runs he allowed in his 4-IP at Toronto
on Sunday came with 2-outs, not a rare happening.  Yanked twice
from the rotation and twice returned, Sanchez is as bad as before.
Sanchez has allowed 22 runs over 16.1-IP over his last four starts and
has a 6.75 ERA over 82.-IP overall this season.  Sanchez has lost his
last seven starts including his last five on the road.  The 17 homers
he has allowed are the third most in the majors for a pitcher with
under 85 innings.  Cost:  $16.8-million this year and under contract
through 2017.

RP.....MARK LOWE/DET.....Coming off a really good season with Seattle
and Toronto in 2015, Lowe was given a two year contract to be Detroit's
eighth inning set up man in a rebuilt bullpen.  However, 2015 was only
an unusual uptick in a 10 & a half year MLB career that has produced a
10-27 record with a 4.29-ERA. This should have raised a red flag before
he was inked for two seasons.  This season, Lowe's 10.05-ERA is a
staggering 576th among big league pitchers.  Let that sink in:  576th.
His 42-H, 11-W and 10-HR allowed in just 28.2-IP make Lowe a risk even
in his current mop-up man role.  Lowe has lost velocity and his slider has
no bite.  Time to bite the bullet and DFA Lowe to give somebody at Toledo
a chance.

CA.....HANK CONGER/3A.....Tampa Bay's platoon catcher hit a horrid
.194 with 3-HR & 10-RBI over the first half.  Combine that with a
stolen base success rate against Conger of .814% (8 caught stealings
in 43 theft attempts), third worst in the AL among regular receivers,
and he definitely earned his demotion.  The Rays began the All-Star
break by farming Conger to the Durham Bulls where he can still
platoon, this time with Crash Davis.  

1B.....RYAN HOWARD/PHI.....To say the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year,
2006 NL MVP and 2009 NLCS MVP is a shadow of his former self is
an insult to the shadow.  Howard's .154-BA is inexcusable for a bench
player but he's still a regular with 201-ABs.  Howard still hits the
occasional longball every week to 10 days with 12-HR at the break,
but has produced only 15 other RBIs and five other runs.  All at the
cost of $25-million/year.  The Phillies have been trying to dump him
for a couple of years but obviously there are no takers.

2B.....OMAR INFANTE.....3A.....The former two-time Tiger finally got
himself a World Series ring with Kansas City last fall but played himself
out of a job with the Royals by mid-June with 0-HR, 11-RBI and a .239-BA
in 39 games.  KC paid him $7.5-mil to go away.  Last week he caught on
with Atlanta's top farm club the Gwinnett Braves and is batting .318 in
five games.

SS.....TIM BECKHAM/CWS.....Rookie sensation?  Handed the White Sox
starting SStop job he sparkled defensively but couldn't handle the bat.  
He has more DNPs than games played.  Beckham is hitting .170 in an
even 100-ABs and is 0-for-July.  A hopeful sign:  Over half of his 17 hits
are for extra bases with 5-2B, 2-3B & 3-HR.

3B.....JHONNY PERALTA/StL.....Injured early in the year he lost his
starting SStop job to Aledmys Diaz (who was named to the NL All-Star
squad).  Shifted to 3Base upon his return, Peralta has failed to produce
with a .233-BA, 4-HR & 12-RBI.  Cost:  $15-million, more than a Mil per

LF.....HECTOR OLIVERA/ATL.....Another guy handed a starting job, this
31-year old Cuban import lasted just six games with a .211-BA and 2-RBI.
He was first placed on paid administrative leave and then suspended 82
games until AUG 1ST for a domestic violence incident.

CF.....BYRON BUXTON/MIN.....On a bad team loaded with prospects,
Buxton was considered their best.  He was farmed out to 3A Rochester
on APR 25TH after hitting just .156.  Buxton tore up the International
League and was brought back to the Twins to rejoin the lineup May 31ST.
He hasn't improved much.  At the break Buxton has only 1-HR, 12-RBI and
a .212-BA.  If things don't change by mid-August the question has to be
asked:  Is Buxton a Triple-A star but a major league bust?

RF.....RAMON FLORES/MIL.....Only in low-budget Milwaukee could a
corner outfielder with no power and little speed keep a starting job.
Flores has 1-HR, 17-RBI, 15-R, 3-SB and a .211-BA in 199-ABs.

DH.....AVISAIL GARCIA/CWS.....Labeled a five tool player during his
brief time with the Tigers, his erratic arm moved him from the starting
RField job on the South Side to the designated hitter position.  Garcia
is only the DH because Justin Morneau has been sidelined all year due
to elbow surgery, but that gig should end soon because Morneau began
an injury rehab stint in the minors on July 3RD.  In a bandbox home
ballpark, Garcia has just 5-HR with a .232-BA in 250-ABs.  At least he's
cheap at $525-thou.  

MGR.....BRAD AUSMUS/DET.....I was not one of those who quickly jumped
on the "Dump Ausmus" bandwagon.  I was willing to let him grow into the
job, but two and a half years is more than enough time to determine if
Ausmus is a major league manager and he isn't.  Ausmus doesn't know
when to pinch hit or pinch run or when not to, is afraid to play small ball
when one run is needed and can't figure out a lineup.  He resisted putting
Cameron Maybin in the #2 spot until injuries forced him to and Maybin
has been Detroit's hottest hitter since Ausmus relented to place him between
Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera.  He kept Justin Upton in the #2, then the
#5 spot even though J-Up had just three RBIs in April and three more in May.
When the Tigers started 3-0 by winning two games in Miami and then their
home opener, Ausmus made mistakes in each contest that could have resulted
in an 0-3 start had the team not masked them by otherwise performing well.  
Granted, Ausmus has had a flawed roster given him by two different GMs in his
three seasons.  Ausmus survived a 1-11 stretch in early May, so he's likely safe
for the season where the second half schedule is homestand heavy.  Still, his
option for 2017 should not be picked up.



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