As the Tigers get set to kick off their biggest home stand of the year to date — four games against the Angels, followed by three against the American League Central-leading White Sox — it seemed as good a time as any to share a few things that are on my mind:
* Give it up for the big, bad American League. After Sunday’s games, 11 of 14 AL teams were over .500 — for the first time ever. The lone exceptions: the Twins, Royals and Mariners.
* The lack of packing-it-in ballclubs should make for an interesting couple weeks leading up to the trade deadline. With so few sellers, prices will be sky high — and many contenders won’t be able to upgrade much.
* I expect the Tigers to upgrade, at least a bit. If I had to guess, I’d say they acquire Cubs starter Ryan Dempster and Rockies middle infielder Marco Scutaro. Not earth-shattering stuff, but definite help. As for rumblings the Tigers might be after Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney, I don’t buy it. If he becomes a Tiger, I suspect it’ll only be as part of a package that includes Dempster. I would imagine Scutaro, Jed Lowrie (even though he’s on the DL) and ex-Tiger Omar Infante are ahead of Barney on Detroit’s second-base wish list. That’s just a hunch, of course.
* Here are three guys I give the Tigers’ a 0-percent chance of acquiring: Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke and James Shields.
* Who else is bummed there won’t be a Justin Verlander-Jered Weaver rematch at Comerica this week? Of course, with six more games between the teams after this week, we’ll probably be treated to one at some point.
* Sadly, though, Carlos Guillen — whose out-of-character showboating had Weaver fuming last July — won’t be there. He’s retired (as Weaver snidely suggested he would be in 2012). But the Tigers are planning to honor him Aug. 4, as part of the seventh annual ¡Fiesta Tigres! celebration.
* Only 14 pitchers in 2012 have appeared in three consecutive games. One’s a starter: Greinke. How? He was ejected four pitches in to Saturday’s start before the All-Star break, so he took the mound again Sunday as well as for the team’s first game back, on Friday. His next start will be skipped.
* If you missed it, do yourself a favor and check out my colleague Karl Henkel’s piece on his recent ballpark adventure. I will be crossing two more parks of my list this month — the Oakland Coliseum next week, and Rogers Center later this month, when I’ll be pinch-hitting on the Tigers beat. Still a ways to go until I hit all 30. My favorite out of town, so far: Kauffman Stadium in K.C. That’s really stood the test of time.
* See who’s been firing up on Twitter? None other than Miguel Cabrera (ogundameyi24). He hadn’t sent out a tweet since April, until Monday — when he typed out eight in an hour before Monday’s series opener.
* This week is reunion week around Major League Baseball. Kevin Youkilis back in Boston, Ozzie Guillen back in Chicago, Johnny Damon back in St. Pete. Of course, as colleague Daren Tomhave told me, just about every series is a reunion for Damon.
* Stephen Strasburg’s batting .385. Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge are batting .370. Combined. Ho. Ly. Hell.
* Who’s your Tigers MVP? My top three would go: Cabrera, Justin Verlander … and Austin Jackson. Jackson makes a case for No. 1, though. He’s on pace for a career-best 119 runs, and has scored at least one in 12 straight games. Per Elias, he’s MLB’s first to do that since Rafael Furcal in 2010, and Detroit’s first since Rocky Colavito in 1961.
* Jackson did lose eight points off his batting average in Baltimore this week, from .331 to .323. Of course, he still had a better series than Billy Ripken, Fox’s pick for Game of the Week analyst Saturday. The loyal Oriole was blasted ’round here on Twitter for his homerish tone, and rightly so. You gotta play it down the middle with a national audience.
* Bill James defended Joe Paterno? Ugh. Stick to stats, man.
* Brennan Boesch shouldn’t have been sent. The end.