Last year was a recipe for disaster. A young team with mediocre talent and a rookie manager. The Tigers had to go through growing pains with a number of youngsters (some panning out, some not, some still up in the air), but not having the veterans to carry the team like on a typical club. Alex Sanchez was hitting leadoff, Carlos Pena was always around the heart of the order.
The offseason brought on new additions, veterans to help carry the load and make the team competitve once again. With these new additions came a new attitude of managing. Trammell would no longer play someone simply because they played last year or thought they deserved it - it was time for players to earn their playing time. Yet in the process, Trammell could be sacrificing the development of the youngsters the Tigers have been banking on to help carry the team.
First his lineup juggling is a serious issue. It is important to get bench players into games, as you never know when they'll be needed. But, that doesn't mean Trammell should be running a completely different lineup onto the field each night. With the team healthy (for the most part), there is no reason the top 5 in the order should ever deviate from Alex Sanchez, Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez, Dmitri Young and Rondell White. Those 5 have proven to be the Tigers 5 best hitters, and should likewise hold those spots.
Meanwhile, claiming young players need to put up or shut up is nice, but you have to give them a real chance to do something. Carlos Pena and Eric Munson have continued to struggle and show glimpses, but neither have been given a full shot. Munson now has 30 Home Runs in 603 career at bats, which amounts to about one full season - not a bad output for a first year. Pena has had more opportunity - and while inconsistent, is still tied for the team lead in Home Runs and is 3rd on the team in RBI.
And possibly the best example of how young players need time is the reason Munson hasn't been playing every day; Brandon Inge. Inge came into the season with a career batting average of .198. Yet he was given another opportunity to contribute, and finally made good on the potential he showed. But why hasn't Inge been taking playing time from Craig Monroe or Bobby Higginson, who combined have less than half of Munson's Home Runs, and neither have a slugging percentage over .400.
One final issue is of course game management, the part of Trammell's management that has been most questionable. The Tigers are now 5-12 in one run games (that supported by 2 one-run wins this past weekend), no well-managed team ever should sport such a record. A weak bullpen has obviously not helped the situation, but it seems as if Trammell always focuses on getting a favorable matchup (righty-righty when on the mound, etc) as opposed to playing the numbers and looking at the players past. In a game against the Mets two weekends ago, Trammell inserted Esteban Yan into the lineup, despite Floyd having gone 4-for-5 against Yan in his career. The result? A game-tying single on the first pitch. Numerous other times, Trammell has either let a starter go too long and seeing him tire at the end, or pulling the starter too early only to bring in a bullpen that has been unimpressive at best.
New year, new team, new rules. For Trammell, it's time to play by them too, if he wants to enforce them.