Monday, December 14, 2009
All I can say is, "Wow." Is this guy actually starting at safety for an NFL team? No, it can't be. I mean, have you seen this guy play? You'd have a hard time convincing me that Marvin White deserves even a spot on an NFL practice squad. And yet, here he is, starting at strong safety for our very own Detroit Lions. His performance yesterday pretty much sums up this putrid decade of Lions football. To say he was awful would be putting it lightly. The Ravens had countless explosive plays on offense, almost all of which saw Mr. White have a clear shot at making a tackle early in the ballcarrier's progress down the field. And almost every time he came up empty. He came up to "blast" Derrick Mason after a short completion. Instead, he wound up bouncing right off the former Spartan and had to watch from his backside as #85 in purple hightailed it 62 yards to the end zone for an early Christmas present TD. White was also victimized frequently throughout the day by little Ray Rice. Granted, there were times during the afternoon where Rice made special moves that almost no safety in the league would be able to counter. But there were also numerous occasions where Rice simply ran around or right through our "strong" safety.
White's atrocious play against the Ravens reminds you just how far this franchise is from even sniffing respectability. When I think of the strong safety position, I think of guys like Steve Atwater and Ronnie Lott. Locomotive trains with no intentions of stopping until the man holding the pigskin is either on the ground or completely unconscious...preferably both. But the Lions line up this NFL retread, Marvin White, at the position, who treats contact with opposing players like it is a jailable offense. Strong safety is a spot that is usually counted upon for an extra layer of run support, while reducing the amount of home run plays from the offense. With ol' Marv White overseeing the action, the normally offensively-challenged Ravens went off for 308 yards rushing on their way to an eye-popping 48 points. Coincidence??? I think not.
While Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson were undoubtedly the highest-profile players moved in last week's 3-team mega deal, let's not forget Mr. Maxwell M. Scherzer, the most important player coming to the Tigers from this blockbuster transaction. Scherzer fits the bill of almost all big-time Tigers starting pitchers over the last number of years, meaning he is a tall righthander with the ability to produce whiffs at a staggering rate. Heck, in Scherzer's first ever big league appearance, he retired all 13 batters he faced while striking out 7. So at the very least, he's no Beiker Graterol. In his first full year last season, Scherzer compiled a semi-respectable 9-11 record for a woeful Diamondbacks team, finishing with a very solid 4.12 ERA. And in more than half of those losses, his batters managed no more than two runs of offensive support. For a young guy going through his first full grind as a major league starter, it was a very encouraging season. He also only issued 63 walks on the year, which is the same number as AL Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander, and also the same number Dontrelle Willis allowed during his son's "coach pitch" Pinto season.
The loss of Jackson will be felt, but there is no reason Scherzer cannot turn into an All-Star caliber pitcher in the next couple of years if he is able to stay healthy. All told, the Tigers might have gotten worked over a little bit in the trade, and obviously, the motivations were largely financial. But if Scherzer can improve upon his steady '09 campaign and take advantage of pitching in a new league, the Tigers might have one of the top hurling trios in the circuit for the second consecutive year. Now as for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation...well, that's another issue for another time.
(Graterol famously started one game for the Tigers early in the '99 season. It happened to be the home opener for the Bronx Bombers in The Stadium. Not the best spot to put a guy in making his major league debut. Sure enough, Graterol was absolutely tattooed over his four innings of work, allowing seven runs and three gopher balls. To make matters worse, the last dinger Graterol surrendered was of the grand salami variety to a near 40-year-old Chili Davis. Yikes. After his four horrific frames, Larry Parrish gave Beiker the hook for the day, and as it turns out, for his career in The Show. One start. That was it. I'm still waiting for Disney to option the movie rights to his story.)
The departure of Granderson was shocking to many fans, but take a minute and flash back to this post from late August. Might help explain why this trade wasn't so crazy after all. Reach the High Socks Legend at firstname.lastname@example.org