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7/7 Tigers Preview from Bless You Boys

DRays Bay is bringing you its first View from the Visitors Dugout feature for the upcoming series with the Detroit Tigers that starts tonight at 7:15.

Lets welcome the Tigers to Tropicana Field courtesy of Jeff from Bless You Boys of the Sports Blog Network. Be sure to stop on by Bless You Boys and see what the Tigers think of our franchise. I have written a preview on the series over there from the Rays perspective.

Well, here is Jeff from Bless You Boys

Scratching Towards .500. Two years ago, Detroit was 43-119, and hadn?t mustered a winning season since 1993. That sort of consistent failure makes Tiger fans greedy for success, and with a team that looks a little better this year, hopes have been raised. This season, debates raged in the dwindling ranks of the Tiger faithful about whether or not .500 in 2005 will constitute success, and, accordingly, whether or not the Tigers should buy or sell at the trade deadline. Then the Tigers went out and got creamed by the White Sox, Yankees, and Indians last week, as their bats went on their own All-Star break a week early. The general consensus is that Detroit can?t compete with the big boys this year, but that staying competitive would sure be a welcome change. The series in Tampa is a must-win as the Tigers teeter on the fringes of contention.

Prospects. The real nasty part about 2003 was that while there were almost no legitimate major-leaguers on the big club, there also weren?t any reasonable-looking future major-leaguers in the minors. That?s beginning to change now. Justin Verlander, touted in some circles as the second-best pitching prospect in the minors, got a cup of coffee on Independence Day. Joel Zumaya is also striking everyone out in Double-A. And Curtis Granderson, currrently in Triple-A, looks like he might turn into a Rocco Baldelli-type someday, hopefully without the major bodily trauma.

Patience. The Tigers are a sight for sore opposing pitching arms, ranking dead last in the majors in walks, walks per plate appearance, and walks per strikeout. The poster child for all that impatience? All-Star Pudge Rodriguez, who has three unintentional walks this year.

All-Stars. The All-Star Game is in Detroit next week. The Super Bowl will be there next winter. They?re just glitzy band-aids for a beleaguered city, but some band-aid is better than no band-aid. We can also be sure that Rodriguez will be the only Tiger or Lion that will be participating on the field.

A Name to Know. Chris Shelton. A Rule 5 pick who languished on the bench last year, Shelton is now thriving in Detroit after a Memorial Day call-up. In the Tigers? 1B/DH derby, Shelton is clearly ahead of the more-famous duo of Carlos Pena (demoted) and Dmitri Young (1-for-his-last-26). Expect to see Shelton batting third for much of the weekend.