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Thursday, February 26, 2015

After tough loss vs Cavs, Pistons still show a changing of culture

Reggie Jackson huddles with his new Detroit teammates
Don't look now Pistons fans, but the Bad Boys are back! Well, maybe not the Bad Boys, but their certainly a lot badder then they've been in awhile.
After a dismal 5-23 start, the subtraction of disgruntled forward Josh Smith, additions of forward Anthony Tolliver, center Joel Anthony, guard John Lucas III and Reggie Jackson; the Pistons are only one game out of the playoffs at 23-34. Granted, yes this is the horribly weak Eastern Division, but any team that can recover from a 5-23 start and going from a destined lottery pick on Christmas day to a game out of the playoffs two months later, that's saying something.
Are the Pistons a title contender? Well let's not get too far ahead of ourselves now. Yes the Pistons have gone on a good stretch of late, beating two of the better teams in the East (Washington and Chicago), but they are far from competing against the best of the West. Now as far as the East is concerned, they aren't as far off as some of you may think.
With another devastating knee injury to Derek Rose, he may never be the same player when and if he returns. The feel good stories of Atlanta and Toronto may or may not last. Yes, there's always LeBron James and the Cavs to get through, but as the Pistons showed Tuesday night, they can compete. No, they aren't there chemistry wise or even talent wise yet, but they have determination and heart which can go a long way in this league.
The Pistons recent trades set themselves for a playoff push for this year, as well as to sustain success in the future. Jackson looks like he will be the point guard of the present and future. There are plenty of contracts coming off the books this offseason, with only $45 million in guaranteed contracts. That's well under the $63 million salary cap, which may increase this offseason. That's plenty of cap room to re-sign Jackson, or Greg Monroe, or both. Also plenty of room to try and sway possible free agents to come to a team with a young nucleus that could consist of Jackson, Monroe and Andre Drummond. Plenty of cap room to create endless possibilities, possibilities that didn't exist before.
They may not be title contenders, but this team is definitely relevant. And with a well needed change of culture with new head coach and President Stan Van Gundy will provide some exciting basketball in Detroit that hasn't existed this past decade.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Are the Tigers still a legitimate World Series contender in 2015?

Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez
As the baseball calendar switches from offseason mode to Spring Training many people pose this question, Do the Detroit Tigers still have a chance to contend for the World Series title? Many people say they don't. Many people say they do. You can make arguments for both sides of the coin. For the skeptics out there they'll point out and ask the following: Will Justin Verlander bounce back to his former (or close to) self? How healthy will Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez be? When can we expect them to come back fully healthy? May? June? Opening Day? Will Jose Iglesias be fully healthy? What about Bruce Rondon, will he contribute? How will the newcomers fare?

Those are only a few of the many question marks that this team has going into the 2015 season. Expectations have been so high for so many years, so many years they have fallen short of those expectations, that some people just assume the worst. This team is no longer the "preseason" favorite to be the last team standing in October, some people aren't even seeing them as favorites to win the AL Central. So why not just count them out already?

But when was the last time the "preseason" favorite won it all? When was the team that was expected to win it all, won it?

Were the San Francisco Giants the favorite to win it last year? What about the Royals to be the AL Champion? Anybody.....outside of the optimistic fan of course. The Royals "preseason" odds to win it all last year, they were 50-1 by Vegas. The Giants, not much better at 25-1. And to show you that anything can happen, look at the Texas Rangers. 2014 Spring Training odds at 20-1, they didn't even make the playoffs.

So what does this all mean to the Detroit Tigers? Well this means that anything can happen. Everything could go right, or everything could go completely wrong. New additions, Shane Greene, Yoenis Cespedes, Alfredo Simon and Tom Gorzelanny could make huge impacts. A full season of David Price, one of the best lefties in the game, could easily replace if not better the statistics of departure Max Scherzer. Greene could replace the production of Rick Porcello, or better it. Simon could replace the production of Drew Smyly, or better it.

With a lineup of 2-time MVP Miguel Cabrera, the Martinez bash brothers, and a rejuvenated Cespedes, that will strike fear into any pitching staff. And when they're all healthy, and hitting, this lineup could be just as good as previous years, or better. Even though the odds are stacked against them, with all the changing faces, all the question marks; but hey it's baseball and anything can happen.