TigsTown MLN: The Toledo Woes

How are the ‘Hens holding up after having lost a few games this past week in a season in which they've handled the competition rather easily? Plus, how's Curtis Granderson holding up after the sudden demotion, where's a third baseman when you need one, and where's Zack Miner headed?

Toledo obviously hasn't been used to losing this season, as they currently stand 18 games over .500 with a comfortable five game lead in the division. But that's exactly what has happened recently, coming up on the short end in two of their last three series (losing three of five to Louisville, then three of four to Norfolk).

However, no one within the clubhouse seems concerned, especially with the caliber of hitters the club currently possesses.

For an example of this, take Marcus Thames. While Thames arguably should get a chance to show what he has on an everyday basis in the big leagues, for now, he remains in Toledo, where he's absolutely crushing the ball. Thames slugged over .700 for the month of July, with 6 home runs and 21 RBI. Those statistics are impressive no matter what, but then throw in the fact that Thames actually missed five games in the middle of the month (for charging the mound) and those numbers become even more impressive.

Carlos Pena likewise has put up similar impressive numbers, again begging the question why he can't put things together in Detroit. Unfortunately for Pena, he may well never get another chance, so long as Chris Shelton continues to hit the ball like he is, because with Rondell White's shoulder injury likely relegating him to the designated hitter spot for the rest of the year, Pena remains on the outside looking in. Whether or not Pena ever returns to Detroit is anyone's guess.

As for Curtis Granderson, he was no doubt disappointed when he was given the news that he was being sent back to Toledo with the return of Placido Polanco. Granderson did everything that was asked of him and more, with two home runs and two triples to his credit. Granderson is carrying the company line for now (being the stand-up guy that he is), but it's fairly obvious that while he may say he's happy to be in Toledo working on things and helping the ‘Hens in their playoff run, he'd much rather be playing an hour north.

Third base has yet again emerged as a problem for Toledo, as last week Don Kelly went to the disabled list with a strained groin. Jack Hannahan also is still on the disabled list and has been for over a month now with a torn hamstring. Without a firm return date for either, Jason Smith and Mike Hessman look to be the men at the hot corner for the immediate future.

Kelly will obviously be out for at least a little while longer, while Hannahan is making progress, but not enough that the team is confident he'll be ready in the next week. So, for now, the Mud Hen infield is extremely thin depth-wise.

Finally, the recent Kyle Farnsworth trade means the Mud Hens have a new starting pitcher; Zach Miner. Of course, where that leaves the rest of the rotation is anyone's guess. With his presence, Miner likely becomes the top prospect in the rotation (or at minimum on par with Kenny Baugh), so someone will have to be moved out. That obviously doesn't include Joel Zumaya, the other rather recent addition to the group.

Currently, both Andrew Good and Jason Grilli are still scheduled to start in the next few days, and while that could change, it's very possible that Matt Ginter and his 5.44 ERA would become the odd man out.

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