WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TIGERS’ LACK OF DIRECTION? IT ALL STARTS AT THE TOP
BY SAM SCRIBE, TRIBUNE SPORTSBEAT
Owner/general manager Al Telgenhof has now been at the helm of the Charlevoix Tigers for two years so fans have the right to ask, what in the world is going on here?
Telgenhof took over a team that finished 81-81 in 2000 and his “rebuilding” program has led to 69-93 and 60-102 records. This year’s team looks markedly worse than its predecessors, if that is possible.
Mainstays like John Olerud and Ray Durham were shipped off, practically for peanuts, while prospects/suspects like Dernell Stenson and Ty Howington haven’t panned out as hoped.
Fans keep hearing the cry “wait ‘til next year” but there is no relief in sight. The pitching staff is pathetic, which in McCormick Park, is an issue since when the wind is blowing out, pop flies are threats to get out of the park.
Jeff Suppan, Jimmy Anderson, Dave Burba and James Baldwin would make a mediocre AAA staff but they are the mainstays of the Tiger rotation. Steve Kline would be adequate as a middle reliever but he isn’t up to the challenge of being Charlevoix’s closer. The question, however, is academic since there will be few save situations requiring his assistance.
Middle relief is a nightmare again this year with journeymen Nelson Cruz, Todd Van Poppel and Pedro Borbon playing major roles.
At least last year the team was exciting at times with the short fences and the Tigers’ sluggers. Lance Berkman hit 31 homers and posted a .330 batting average so of course, he was dealt to Metropolis. Brad Fullmer and his 28 homers return for 2003 but there is little else to cheer in the Tiger lineup.
The big free-agent signing of the off-season was Gabe Kapler who was a washout in Bloomington. Many in the game scoffed at the three-year deal offered by Charlevoix.
Last, but not least, the Tigers are managed by Greg Estelle, a no-name lackey of Telgenhof’s with no MLB experience. The failure of Telgenhof to disclose that Estelle was his high school baseball coach destroyed any shred of credibility he had hoped to gain.
Don’t be fooled by the talk of help down on the farm. If past history proves anything, Telgenhof will find a way to bungle away guys like Rich Harden, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Cuddyer, Brad Lidge and Carlos Pena.
Spend some money and put a major league team on the field, Mr. Telgenhof. Stop defrauding the fans.