Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mike Maroth Now Flying with the Jays

MLB.com reports that Mike Maroth has signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.  

Maroth is now 31, and only appeared in 3 minor league games last year (at AAA Omaha) due to a shoulder injury on his pitching arm.  Those three outings did not go well to the tune of a 12.91 ERA.

I'm wishing Mike all the best, since he endured a 21 loss season with the Tigers in 2003, and not just endured, but took the ball with class, not shying away from outings as the losses piled up, as he neared and ultimately eclipsed that 20 mark.  Sorry to bring up those dark days, which have now been replaced by even darker days.  At least in 2003, we were expected to stink it up.  The unrelenting shame of the 2008 season has not even begun to abate yet in my own heart.  I don't know about you, and I don't know about the players.  I hope each one is, as I blog, engaged in searing workouts, and probing searches of the soul.

Anyway, back to Maroth.  Mike has now spent six years in the majors, with really only the 2004 season standing out.  Best to him as he gets an invite to Spring Training with the Jay birds.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Rear View Rant

I wasn't blogging yet when the incident I'm about to write about occurred, but I was at the ballpark when it happened.

It was June 28, 2008.  Todd Jones had converted all 14 save opportunities so far in the 2008 season, and was 19 in a row going back into 2007.  Detroit was playing the Colorado Rockies, and Jones blew his first save by allowing four runs to score in the 9th, giving Colorado a 6-5 lead.  Todd Jones was roundly booed as he exited the game.

Miguel Cabrera bailed Jonesy out with a one-out, two-run, walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth to give the Tigers a 7-6 victory.

I was appalled at the fans who booed Jones.  It was his first blown save of the season in fifteen opportunities!  I wasn't sure whether the fans were ignorant of this stat, or just incredibly rude.  Maybe a little of both was the case.

Either way, I didn't think it was right.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've had my share of frustration with Jones.  I mean, his outings are mostly all kinds of ugly, but ultimately successful.  I personally resorted to chugging Maalox when the 9th approached in a save situation.  I cannot forget the night we gave up two four-run leads to lose to (Kansas City?).  I was watching on TV that night, and I couldn't sit down I was so jittery, and I remember yelling something like, "if Jones blows this lead, I'm gonna enroll in anger management classes tomorrow."  Sure enough, it happened, and I was madder than a Lions fan after 0-16.  Well, maybe not that mad, but...

Even given the blemish-filled nature of Jones' outings, I thought it was beyond ugly of the fans to boo his first blown save in 19 overall opportunities.  I felt embarrassed.

I realize that many people are simply at the game to drink some $8 beers, visit with friends, try to get on TV, pick up guys/chicks, eat some nachos -- basically do everything BUT watch the game.  That's OK with me, these people pay our players' salaries.  But if you know you're uninformed or drunk, please don't make all fans look bad with your loutish behavior.

Anyway, I know rude, ignorant fans can't be controlled, but doesn't Detroit have enough black eyes already?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

One Last Look Back (sigh) at 2008

As the new year approaches, I can't help but look in the rearview mirror one last time.  Let's hope the 2008 season vanishes quickly in the distance and in memory.  To say it was a disappointment is a massive understatement.   Many say the 2008 Tigers are the biggest bust ever in Michigan sports history.  I'm not inclined to disagree.  The season was so brutal, it spawned this blog.  I sorely needed an outlet for all my feelings of bitterness, letdown and embarrassment.

Our problems are far from over.  In 2009, we face some as yet unresolved holes in our roster (can you say closer?), a Yankees juggernaut of epic proportions (even though they're not in our division), budget constraints, ongoing question marks in existing personnel, and a continuing logjam at DH.

Still, I'm hopeful for a big improvement in 2009.  Surely it can't get worse.  I'm hopelessly devoted to the Tigers.  It's sappy, I know.  Sometimes I can feel that my judgement is clouded a bit.  I'm not impartial.  I'm a loyal fan.  So my analysis may not always be free from bias, try as I may.  

Here's to the 2009 Tigers, y'all!   See you at the ballpark and in the blogosphere. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

No, It's Not a Dream, It's Your Worst Nightmare Come True

I really did try to find some worthy Tigers news before turning to this, but there's not much to be had right now.

The Yankees have now reportedly signed Mark Teixeira to a 8 year, $180 million dollar deal.

I'll pause now for a moment to give you a chance to catch your breath after that swift kick in the chiclets....

Ready for more?  Add Teixeira to the Sabathia and Burnett signings, the Wang resigning, the "inevitable" (and that's a direct headline quote from MLB.com) Pettitte resigning (and could they possibly still pursue Manny Ramirez), and it all adds up to unparallelled carnage in a Tiger fan's mind, heart and soul.

Now, you might say it doesn't always work out to "buy" a championship by cobbling together a team of superstars (see the 2008 Detroit Tigers), and I'd agree, but I'm still hurting inside.  I didn't expect Teixeira to sign with the Nats even after they reportedly upped their offer, but this is unthinkable.  In addition, it's not only sluggers they've got, it's pitching too.

Thankfully, in baseball there are no guarantees, and many things can and do happen in a 162 game season.  The old cliché is really comforting--"that's why they play the games."  It's about all the comfort we've got right now. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tempering the Rants

Looking back at my last post, I think it may have been just a wee smidge over the top.  That's OK though, I can qualify all my remarks in another post, thereby attempting to undo the damage, and salvage my three loyal readers (even that may be generous).

In reality, I am happy that we've shored up our defense--it was sorely needed.  It's just the gaping 7-8-9 hole in our lineup that's a little disconcerting at times.  I mean, I know our top end is pretty well stacked, but we endured some curious dry spells last year, even with that stack, you know?  Remember all the shutouts, and how we surpassed our 2007 season shutouts total after the first month of the season? (possible slight exaggeration)

Also, Dusty Ryan, while performing well in limited big league time last year, will benefit greatly by getting some serious reps in at the minor league level.  By the way, Dusty's playing in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico, for the Leones de Ponce, and is struggling a little at the plate in 49 at bats over 15 games, .163 AVG, .268 OBP, .286 SLG, .554 OPS.   I did not see any defensive stats listed, so...that part's a mystery.

Adam Everett should bring some base-running pizazz and stellar defense, even though he arrives without a bat.

So, ok, it's not a total nightmare, but I'm getting a little jittery about our pen.  We do need someone.  I mean, I'd be so thrilled if Rodney and Zumaya outperform all expectation, but we can't sit here and rely on that to happen, you know?   DD's scaring me with all this talk like we might do nothing at that spot.  I hope that's all smoke and mirrors, I really do.  My stocking is all ready for the closer present on Christmas morning.  That's what DD's holding out for--he wants to make it special.   That's what it is, I've got it all figured out now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Feeling a Little Let Down?

I think we're all a little underwhelmed with the Tigers' off-season moves thus far.

Now we're on the verge of signing catcher Matt Treanor.  No offense Matt, but whoop-de-doo!

Geez, I can only hope that this means we're going to actually bust open the piggy bank eventually and spend it on a closer.  Sadly, that does not appear to be the case.

I know, the free agent market is slow, what with the economic woes of the country and all.  So, we're probably going to wait it out and see who we can get on the cheap.  Once again, majorly underwhelming!

In further non-news, Carlos Guillen has not yet played in the Venezuelan Winter League, does not yet have a number, and is listed as an infielder.  I sincerely hope that if he does see any time there, it's as an OUTFIELDER!

Despite all this disappointment and inaction, TigerFest sold out in three days.  I've never been to TigerFest, but I bought a ticket for me and my son.  I'm not into the autograph scene, but would like to tour the clubhouse.  I hope it's not sub-zero that day.  I've been to the Tigers' Winter Caravan at Eastern Michigan University, and let's just say I had a not so minor disappointment occur there.  Last year, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordóñez were supposed to be at the EMU caravan stop.  I bought a $50 ticket to the VIP meet and greet, and guess what, neither of them showed.  I got to meet Dontrelle Willis, Vance Wilson, DD, Rod Impemba, and Rick Porcello.  Again, no offense, but I'm going to have to give another big whoop-de-doo on that one.  I swallowed my bitter pill, but two little boys were all like, "where are carlos and magglio" to DD, and he didn't even apologize that they bailed, but just said, "this is everyone who's going to be here tonight."  Gimme a break.  TigerFest and the Winter Caravan last all of three days, and the players can't commit to three days for the fans?  We do pay their salaries, you know!

I will stop ranting now, but I must say it is so therapeutic to get all my angst out here in my blog.  I get it all out of my system, and can move on and treat my fellow man on the street well, instead of acting like a deranged, disgruntled lunatic!  Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nostalgia Alert

When I started this blog, I knew I would at some point write a post on broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell.   I'm letting you know up front that this will be a sentimental journey, filled with cornball memories and sappy reminiscing.  So, if that kind of thing makes you feel like you're gonna lose your lunch, read no further.

As I mention in my profile, I went to my first Tigers game in the summer of 1983.  It was love at first sight for me, who had never really taken an interest in baseball before.  I can't explain how or why, but I loved baseball and the Tigers from that day forward.  If you remember your first trip to the ballpark, maybe you can relate.  There's just something about spending an afternoon in the sun-soaked stands watching the Boys of Summer.

Anyway, I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and not just in the Upper Peninsula, but out in the sticks.  We could not even get cable where we lived.  Our TV reception included about four stations in total.  So, not too many Tigers games on the Tube, capiche?  I started listening to radio broadcasts right away.  I didn't know at the time how singular Ernie Harwell was, I just enjoyed listening to him and Paul Carey bring the games to life for me.  Baseball is a great radio game.

Many a night, I would fall asleep to their voices, as the west coast road games went into the wee hours.  Some summer nights I would sit in the living room by myself, after everyone else had gone to bed, and listen in the dark with the stereo on.  Those nights were just about perfect.  The windows were open, letting in cool, breezy night air, and a few night sounds filtered in to mingle with Ernie and Paul's voices.  I could just about see the action.

In 1984, Ernie and Paul were my lifeline to that amazing season.  I think I only went to one game at the ballpark that year (again, think of me pining away in the sticks up north).  It didn't matter much, because the games were just as riveting over the airwaves.  At the beginning of the season, I had created a little hand-made tally sheet to record each win and loss in blue and orange marker.  Imagine my glee when we started off 35-5, and never lost the lead the whole season.  We emerged World Series victors, and I'm grateful that so many of the moments from that season came to me from Ernie and Paul.

When I was in college, the unthinkable happened:  some idiot decided it was time for a change, and Ernie and Paul were shown the door.  I was ranting and raving (much like I do here in these posts) about the lunacy of this move, when my new husband walked in the door of our apartment.  He is from Wisconsin, and decidedly not a baseball fan, so he was a little more than mystified at all the hubub over a broadcaster's firing.  I tried to explain, but I think it was all lost on him.

Thankfully, our own Mr. Illich had sense enough to bring Ernie back so he could retire on his own terms when the time was right after the 2002 season.  If you have not heard Ernie broadcast a game, you must check out some of the audio archives here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Flaking Out

I hate to bring anything personal into this blog, and I really hate to flake out at such a critical juncture in the off-season, but I'm hosting a Christmas party on Saturday.  I'm more than a little behind on such things as cooking, baking, cleaning and decorating.  So....I won't be posting much here until Sunday when the tinsel settles.

I must make a quick comment on the most recent of Tiger moves.


I'm not happy to lose the services of young Mr. Joyce.   I think we'll be regretting swapping him away.  I don't know, maybe Clete Thomas will be great this year, but.....

I don't know a lot about Edwin Jackson, but several other bloggers have put up some good info, so see the blog links over at the right.

Enjoy the last of the Winter Meetings, y'all, and here's hoping we sign that closer--Brian Fuentes???  Don't you feel comfortable with DD saying we do have Rodney who could close?   I don't hate on Rodney as badly as most people do, but he's been injury-plagued and then had some spectacular implosions last year, so....

I'll just trail off into the snowflakes until Sunday.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Grinch Has Been Here

He's taken away packages, boxes and bows, he even took the tree, and Wood and CC!  I thought his heart grew three sizes?  Something's caused it to shrink back down, because he's downright nasty right now.

Actually, only Kerry Wood has been semi-offically taken away from the Tigers, but I'm still grousing over CC Sabathia signing with the Yankees.  I would have been very gracious to see him sign with the Dodgers or Milwaukee, but the Stankees?  I thought you wanted to go home to Cali, CC?  What's ten million dollars one way or another?  The rest of the country is in the toilet, yet you're signing the biggest deal ever for a pitcher.  Couldn't you have thrown me a bone and signed with someone other than NY?  Sigh.  Sean over at Trumbull and Michigan has a nice take on CC and the Yanks.

For a laugh, check out the action figure of Justin Verlander at the MLB.com store.  You could buy me one to enshrine with my ticket stub and score card from the no-hitter!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hey, My Present's in Cleveland!

I'm experiencing some rather serious delivery problems.  Last week, UPS misdelivered my package to a neighbor, and now Santa's on his way to Cleveland with my present.

Kerry Wood may soon sign with our divisional rival down the road.   

This is not making me very happy, because now we may have to trade the farm to get JJ Putz.  I'm not comfortable doing that.  It makes me downright queasy, in fact.  I was hoping to avoid all that drama by going the free agent route.  

I'm hoping Santa realizes the mistake before the ink dries, and brings my present back where it belongs.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Instant Infield and Closing in on Closer

Holy schnikies, I go to bed early and wake up to find that the Tigers have traded for Gerald Laird, then I go to work, take a walk with my son, pick up dinner, and voila, the Tigers have signed Adam Everett.  I can't wait to see what happens during the 15 minutes I'm gone to drop my son off at school tomorrow morning.  I guess the Tigers wanted to string us along for just about ever, and then blast off into a signing frenzy.

Now they turn their sights to a high profile, urgent need at closer.  And, what do you know, due to our value moves made so far, we've got a little cash to invest.  I like the sound of that (although still feeling a little Smoltzitis--we'll be watching Morosco and Melo's development over the next couple years).  The big present under the tree this year may be Kerry Wood or J.J. Putz.

Can someone please tell me why the sports talk idiots are so far behind the curve on breaking Tigers news?  They intro a piece like it's something brand new, and come to find out the story is about ready to fossilize.  I'm driving home from work today, and the guy's like, breaking news, the Tigers trade for Gerald Laird.  Uh, even I, the latecomer, read that at 7:00 am this morning, geniuses.  Isn't this your job??  Whatever--they're too hung up on Rod Marinelli's latest press conference where he's expressing how much he "believes in what he's doing."  Yeah, that's compelling sports news.  Actually, maybe it is, because the Lions are about to become the first NFL franchise to go 0-16.

I like to see that our defense is improving before our very eyes, but I don't relish the though of our 7-8-9 hole in the lineup.  Let's hope Lloyd McClendon can work some magic in the batting cages during Spring Training.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Visions of Shortstops, Catchers & Pitchers Dance in Our Heads

Tomorrow is the eve of baseball's Winter Meetings.  You can bet we Tiger fans have a lot on our wish lists.  Problem is, there isn't a high probability we'll get what we want, unless we've filled our lists with miniscule to modest requests.  That would include people like Adam Everett.  Sure, that wish could easily be fulfilled, but I'm sorry, I don't think he's on anyone's list.  We'd like his defense, yes, but his offense, um, could be worse, yes worse, than our own Brandon Inge's.  I was also trying to draw a bead on his baserunning.  Baseball Prospectus has his speed listed at nearly 80%, meaning it's better than almost 80% of other MLB players.  That hasn't translated into a lot of stolen bases, however.  He had zero attempts in last year's injury shortened season, and his high before that was 21 of 28 in 2005 with Houston (4 of 6 in 2007, 9 of 15 in 2006).  Not exactly tearing up the base paths, but I don't know Houston's running game, so someone feel free to jump in on that one.  In my mind, if we're going to sacrifice offense altogether, which it pretty much looks like we are (understandably for budget constraints), then we should focus on getting both defense and speed (I'm still riding my self-created Cesar Izturis train on this one).  Apparently, that's asking for a little too much.

Wouldn't it be nice, though, if at least one big wish were granted?   That would be Kerry Wood, who is now rather shockingly on our radar.   This is no time to question our belief in Dave Dombrowski, people.  Put the plate of cookies out tomorrow night, even if you've been doubting DD.

Then there's Gerald Laird, who would probably be just servicable for our short-term needs, but the question remains at what cost.  One report had us giving up "one of our top pitching prospects."  Uh, I'm feeling Jurrjens-y, with a touch of Smoltz-itis  here.  Scary--scary to think about. 

Anyway, a merry Winter Meetings to all and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

All Are Banished, All are Punished

Ok, I was out of town over Thanksgiving, cut off from the Tigers and the Internet.  So, I just now got around to reading Jayson Stark's lengthy Thanksgiving piece on the Tigers.  One comment jumped out at me.  Stark was mentioning our void at catcher, and referred to Pudge as "banished in mid-season."

Excuse me, banished?  If I'm not mistaken, he asked to be traded, because he was all malcontented over not playing every day, and because he "always wanted to play for the Yankees."  Now maybe it was just a casual way of putting it, but I take umbrage to Stark saying the Tigers banished Pudge.  Quite the contrary.

I guess it's just my "hell hath no fury like a Tigers fan scorned," but I was a little offended that Pudge wanted to high-tail it out of here.  I guess it just plays into my feeling that he really only came here for the big payday, and I didn't forget what a clubhouse cancer he was in 2005 (I know, we stunk and he was getting a divorce, cry me a river.)  I mean, it's not like he's gonna go into the Hall as a Tiger, you know?  I still give him mad props for all he did here, for his career as a whole, and I despised the deal that sent him to the Yanks.  I can't even say the other player's name without fighting the gag reflex.  No sour grapes, but look how well it worked out for him there.   Funny how the "dream team" NY doesn't suit everyone, huh?

Anyway, we're without a catcher, he's without a team.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chicks Dig the Long Ball

Just putting out juicy headlines to inflate my blog hits.  No, I'm kidding.  That was my favorite commercial of all time.  I still look it up on YouTube once in a while.  Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux looking the part all nerdy, trying to get pumped up to catch the eye of Heather Locklear, who only has eyes for slugger Mark McGwire (as if).  Anyway, if you need a laugh to distract you from the interminable off-season, which has been devoid of any real news for the Tigers, other than that we declined to offer arbitration to any of our free agents, and, oh yeah, Curtis Grandrson's charity hoops event will be held on January 17 , check it out.

In "real" (if you equate rumor with truth) news, the Tigers' Hot Stove Report blog reports that our talks with free-agent, lefty Beimel are heating up.  Beimel was in Dodger blue last year, and was 5-1, 2.02 ERA.  Also held lefties to .210 BA last 3 yrs.

In other mind-numbing non-news, we're still linked to free agent SS and former divisional foe Orlando Cabrera, who interestingly has a massive feud going with our former shortstop Renteria.  They're both from Columbia, and there's some squabble over youth league teams and Cabrera allegedly running one of the teams into the ground on purpose and then selling the club back to Renteria.  ESPN the Magazine reported that Cabrera tried to make nice and talk to Renteria when he was on second at a game at Comerica, and also asked to meet with him after the game, and got the icy frozen shoulder.  I'm not sure who's right or wrong, but "can't we all just get along," ballplayers?

Anyway, go string some twinkle lights or bake some ginger snaps, and quit wasting your time on my stupid blog, would ya?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ryan Perry, I Hardly Know Ye

In a comment to one of my recent posts, Sean over at Trumbull and Michigan mentioned what a tandem a healthy Zumaya and Ryan Perry might make.  I was aghast at my meager stock of knowledge about Ryan Perry.  I decided I needed a quick primer, and I'll share a brief bio here.  I don't have a subscription to any premium content, so I'll rely on one of my fellow bloggers to flesh this out.  Thanks to Sean for shining a light on my ignorance, and for not minding me posting a follow up to his comment.

Ryan Perry is a closer/relief prospect who mlb.com's draft report says could also be a starter.  He was drafted by the Tigers in the first round, the 21st overall pick out of the University of Arizona. where he's currently a junior.  Perry's a righty, 6'4" tall, 200 lbs.  He's bespectacled too--not that it's relevant, just wanted to say bespectacled.  He was born on February 13, 1987, which means I'm technically old enough to be his mother, although I would've been a teenage pregnancy statistic in that case.

Perry's fastball is good, running between 96-98 in relief, with good sink when it's down, again according to the mlb.com draft report.  Trouble is he's prone to leaving pitches up in the zone, and for that reason has been hittable.  A pretty good changeup is also in his arsenal.  His slider is inconsistent at this point.  You can see video of him on mlb.com  and on YouTube. 

Feel free to add more info to this mini-bio.

Also, it was strange to be away from a computer and the Tigers for all of five full days.  Luckily it was a slow time, or it would've taken me a long time to catch up, and I might've started hyper-ventilating had I missed something big.   I had a blast with my nieces and nephews, and playing Scrabble and poker with the adults, so it was well worth the risk.

Let the count-down to Winter Meetings begin!