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  Sorry to bring up those dark days, which have now been replaced by even darker days.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!

Monday, November 24, 2008

No Talking Tigers Over Thanksgiving

I'm traveling out of town over Thanksgiving, and my folks just moved, and don't have any Internet connection right now.  So, I doubt I'll be posting until Monday when I'm back.  I may give it a whirl over at my brother's if there is anything going on.  Enjoy your Turkey Day, and let's hope the Lions don't embarrass us any further...although is there any chance they can beat the Titans?

Go Tigers!

'Roid Rage

Barry Bonds is due to go on trial for perjury in March 2009.  In a report by the Mercury News, a judge has removed five of the counts from the indictment, still leaving 10 counts that could be pursued.  Federal prosecutors could also choose to recraft the dismissed charges.

Steroids have left an indelible mark on baseball.  Many argue that they don't care that players did steroids, as long as the entertainment factor was there.  I just can't see it that way.  I can't accept that players who didn't take steroids had their careers essentially downgraded because they couldn't compete with juiced players.  I don't like that many records are now tainted.  Sure, there has always been cheating in baseball (and other sports too) to varying degrees.  I don't care.  I'd rather see an un-enhanced home run champion who only hit 32 home runs, than a 'roided up Mark McGuire hitting 70+.

Now, our sport has a murky shadow cast over it by steroids.  I watched Josh Hamilton in this year's home run derby with awe, but also with a little suspicion.  Not that he's under suspicion per se, but I have to wonder now, because of the steroid era.

Magglio Ordóñez was implicated by Jose Canseco as a user.  There's no proof, but Magglio's silence made we question him.  Why didn't he sue Canseco for libel?  He chose to ignore the accusations rather than speak to them.  I realize that denying the allegations didn't work out so well for Roger Clemens (methinks thou protesteth too much).  However, now there's a cloud hanging over one of my favorite players.

We'll never know the truth about so many current and former MLB players.  That's the problem--everyone is now under the tainted steroid umbrella, because so many chose to ignore the problem for so long.  Sigh.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Prospects and Problems

You may have heard by now that the Mesa Solar Sox lost 10-4 in the AFL Championship to the Phoenix Desert Dogs, who garnered their fifth straight title.  Our Tiger prospects performed well, however.  Jeff Larish hit a two-run homer, and Casper Wells had an RBI double.

The Detroit Free Press has nice pieces on both Larish and Wells in today's paper.  

My resolution to remain unflappable in the face of troubling hot stove rumors has been tested early on.  Ian over at Bless You Boys reports that the Pirates may be trying to obtain catcher Matt Treanor from the Marlins and then package him with Jack Wilson in trade to the Tigers.

Um, why are we continually linked to players that do not fit the needs we have?

Lugo, Wilson?  Are the Tigers going to buy me a wig when I pull all my hair out?

I've posted this comment before, and I'll repeat it here.  I'm stating the obvious here, but apparently these facts are not crystallized in our management's mind.  WE NEED DEFENSE AND SPEED.  Since DD and Leyland are mysteriously hung up on Santiago's durability and refuse to give him a go, then in my mind, we should pursue someone like Cesar Izturis, who would be in our price range, and is stellar defensively and is speedy on the base paths.  I know his offense isn't much, but we aren't going after top tier SS free agents.

That's all I'm going to say on this subject, for fear of breaking my vow not to be caught in the malevolent rumor maelstrom.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Little Perspective

I admit that I've gotten more than a little riled up over hot stove rumors surrounding the Tigers this off-season.  That would be because the rumors have largely involved the Tigers making some very "unsound moves," to speak mildly.

There's nothing like a visit to one's 96-year old grandfather to put things in perspective.  I've heard my share of depression-era stories.  Not preachy stories about how we young kids don't know anything about sacrifice, hard times, etc., but interesting tales that bring the times to life.

My grandpa told me how at the age of nine, he was sent to live/work at a local farm because his mother died of TB, and there was no one to care for the children at home.  My son is nine, and he can't even make his own breakfast!  Maybe that's my fault and not his...hmmm.

Anyway, I'm going to try to insulate myself from the irritation of these pesky "what-ifs."  Whenever I hear a particularly vexing rumor, I'll think about my grandpa, who's happy just to be here, hoping to live to see 100, and enjoys simple things like coffee and conversation with his granddaughter. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

AFL Finale

The Mesa Solar Sox are playing in the AFL Championship game tomorrow at 2:30 pm Eastern.  The game is being shown on MLB.TV.  The lineup, which features three of our Tigers prospects, was voted on by the players. 

Jeff Larish is playing 1B and batting cleanup, Casper Wells is out in right and batting 7th, and Will Rhymes rounds out Tiger representation at 2B, batting 9th.  It's possible that Casey Fien would make a relief appearance in the game.  He last pitched Nov. 18, and allowed no runs, no hits over one inning, with 2 strikeouts.

The Sox are playing the Phoenix Desert Dogs, which are attempting to secure their fifth straight AFL championship.

The starting pitcher for the Sox is Braves youngster Tommy Hanson, who boasts a sick 5-0 record, with a 0.63 ERA, 1.05 opponent batting average, and 49 strikeouts over 28 2/3 innings.  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

So Many Questions Part II: Joel Zumaya

Joel Zumaya's young career has already had as many twists and turns as a carnival fun house.  He's gone from flame-throwing phenom to injury-prone question mark in a hurry.  He's on the verge of becoming this generation's  Mark Fydrich, and that's got to scare the tattoos off his forearms.  

In a Tigers.com article, Jason Beck tells us Zumaya has been cleared to begin rehab exercises on his stress-fractured shoulder.  Zumaya should be our closer by now, but his career has gotten derailed not once, not twice, but three times due to injury.

I was interested to see Jim Leyland tell in Jason Beck's piece how he didn't fear bringing Verlander and Zumaya up in 2006, because he felt they had both had a gritty mentality.  Specifically, he called Zumaya "macho."  I read an ESPN the Magazine article about Zumaya, and didn't really come away with that impression.  To me, it looked more like a put on bravado in some ways.  The article showed his vulnerability as a young hot-shot who had not reached his potential thus far.  Zumaya even went so far as to admit that there was a time after the shoulder injury when he didn't think he'd ever pitch again.  

The portrayal in that article, combined with his emotion-filled reactions to some of his performances hint to me that he might not (at least not yet) have the mindset of a closer.  We know it's a tough job, in which you've got to be able to "let it go" in a hurry so you can pitch again the next night.  I'm not sure if he's ready for all that comes along with the closer role.  I hope we get a chance to see him try it out, though.  Hey, we're used to roller-coaster rides here anyway.  I'm always standing up like the poker player who's all in when watching the ninth inning of close games.

One thing is sure.  I'm thrilled that Kevin Rand has emphasized ensuring that his shoulder strength is fully back before any baseball work resumes.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Little Thanks to Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers has yet to determine whether he's now a retiree, or a potential comeback player of the year candidate for 2009.  From what I saw of him last year, I do not believe he has anything left in the tank.  There's a limit to reliance on getting people to swing at junk out of the strike zone, and I think Kenny's beyond it.  I'm sure he was more than a little frustrated with the strike zone this past season--I could see it in his face at times--but, I still think he's done.  I wouldn't mind getting proven wrong, but it would be a great risk.

Having said all that, I was just thinking of how much I enjoyed watching Kenny field his position, even through his last appearance of the season.  I mean, it's really something to watch, in stark contrast to the pitchers who fall so far off the mound they can do nothing in the way of fielding, and those who can only duck or stick out a glove like a shield when a ball comes their way.  I appreciated watching him help himself out every game, whether it was making a slick fielding move, or picking runners off--hello, all time pickoff leader!   (I know, this stat has only been tracked since 1974.)

You can watch the double play he turned on August 30 in the Tigers' top plays archive.

Of course, there is his incredible 2006 post-season play (marred slightly by the pine tar incident, but not much, in my opinion).  I was at ALDS game 3, and as I was keeping score, I couldn't believe the strikeouts he was racking up--eight to be exact--for a pitcher who was no longer known as a strikeout threat.  It was great to see him pitch so inspired in the playoffs, despite never really having done so before.  I'm glad he did it with us.

I wanted to put all this out there before he makes his final decision.  If he wants to, I'm sure he'll have a nice career coaching.  The young pitchers could often be seen conversing with him during games.  Sure, they could've been talking about Big League Chew for all I know, but I think he made a great advisor.  If he walks away from the game for good, we'll savor some nice memories of him wearing the Old English D.

Female Drafted to Professional Club in Japan

An Associated Press report tells us that Eri Yoshida, 16, has been drafted by the Kobe 9 Cruise, a Japanese team in a new independent professional baseball league.

Yoshida throws a side-arm knuckleball, and is all of five feet tall, 114 lbs.   She threw an inning of no-hit baseball during her tryout.

As someone with zero athletic ability (I really do throw like a girl, and badminton is the only "sport" at which I can beat my 9 year old son), I'm so excited about this.  I would love nothing more than to see a woman compete successfully against male players.

The article didn't give any detail on her baseball experience thus far, though I'd be interested to hear about it.  I'll be keeping a watchful eye on this young potential phenom's progress.

Monday, November 17, 2008

AFL Player of the Week: Casper Wells

Detroit prospect and outfielder Casper Wells has been named Week 6 POTW for the Arizona Fall League.   He's also seen some time (5 games) at first in the AFL, although that isn't very relevant for the Tigers, since we've got a certain young slugger entrenched there already, along with an abundance of other first base "types," not the least of which is Jeff Larish, another prospect and AFL Solar Sox teammate of Wells.  Nice run-on sentence, and notice how I refer to the Tigers and myself as "we," as if the club consults me often on matters of great importance.

MLB.com reports that:

"The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Tiger prospect belted five home runs last week and drove in 12 runs while hitting .350 with seven extra-base hits and a 1.200 slugging percentage."

Wells average over 19 AFL games is .318, and he's got 7 HRs and 21 RBI.  Casper bats righty, by the way, so no lefty help for the big club there.

As for base-running, Wells swiped 25 bases last year (total between A West MI and AA Erie) and was caught 8 times.   In the AFL, he's got 4 steals, but has also been caught stealing 4 times.

Our Solar Sox prospects are shining.  Now if only we could charter a fan bus to Mesa for a fall league game.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Carlos Guillen a member of team Magallanes?

Carlos Guillen is now listed on the Venezuelan Winter Ball roster for Navegantes del Magallanes.  His position is listed as first base!?   Jason Beck had initially reported in his blog on November 10 that there was a story out in the Venezuelan paper El Universal that Guillen wanted to play winter ball.  I haven't seen any follow up on this, but his name is now listed on the Magallanes roster, but without a jersey number.   He also does not yet have any stats, so it appears he has not yet played.  According to Beck, the story was that Guillen wanted to prepare both for his (yet another) new position with the Tigers in left next year, and for the World Baseball Classic.  Also, Beck said that Dombrowksi hadn't heard from Guillen with a request for approval to play (he would need permission from the Tigers to play).

The Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional runs through December 30, so Guillen would be playing for just over a month.  If he's playing at first, this does nothing to help him prepare for next year with the Tigers.  The Tigers do not have control over the position played in a winter ball league, from what I can tell (I read this somewhere, but couldn't put my finger on it now). 

Side note, Freddy Garcia is also on the Magallanes roster, number 60.   No appearances yet as far as I can see.  The Tigers have had no talks at all with Freddy, so I guess they're waiting to see how he does in winter ball.    Other teams have expressed interest according to MLB.com (none specifically named).  If he does well, I think the Tigers should try to sign him to a reasonable contract.   We've got to get some bargains, and from what we saw of him last year, combined with a good performance in winter ball, I'd say he'd be as a good a gamble as any for the price.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Viva la World Baseball Classic

Ok, so Carlos Guillen has stepped in and whipped the Venezuelan WBC team management into shape.  There was much discontent about the handling/organization of the 2006 WBC Venezuelan team, and many Venezuelan MLB players had virtually decided against playing in 2009.   Carlos has shown himself to be an outspoken force, first after Gary Sheffield's comments about MLB "controlling" latino players.  Turns out he was right (although he spoke in a way that was offensive to many).   Carlos said he felt intimidated into not making waves, and others feared deportation if they spoke up over issues.  Now, he has stood up and affected change on his own national team.  Do you realize that half our team will now be playing for Venezuela in the WBC?  Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordóñez, Miguel Cabrera, and Armando Gallaraga will all most likely represent.  Carlos obviously has a great political future ahead of him.

I, for one, am desperate to score tickets to the first round of the WBC at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on March 7.  Venezuela will be playing Italy, and the tickets go on sale on Monday, November 17.  So, I go on-line to register for a ticket strip.  Alas, the deadline to register for tickets for the first round has passed.  (Aside while I sob inconsolably for a few moments.)  I need baseball in March, I need a respite from the relentless Michigan winter, I need to see my Tigres in action for Venezuela.

So, if anyone out there has the goods, let me know.  

I realize that MLB  has some legitimate concerns about injury during the WBC, but it's good for baseball, it's good for fans, so I support it, because I'm sorry, fans are often left out of the equation, when we're the reason for the sport's existence.  Excuse me, how do you expect to make money if you're playing to empty stadiums, not selling gazillions in fan gear, and losing fat tv contracts?  (Stepping off soapbox now.)

So let's soak up the World Baseball Classic in prelude to that summer classic we couldn't do without.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

So Many Questions, So Few Answers

We're still wringing our hands over the 2008 season, and chugging Maalox in anticipation of off-season moves.  A full buffet of names has been plated, chewed up, digested or spit out.  I guess we bloggers should be happy in the sense that it supplies endless fodder to fill our cyber-pages.  I'm weary already, and the winter meetings don't start until December 8.  I'm sorry that I'm so weak.  It's pathetic, I know.

Side note--winter meetings are in Vegas, so let's hope Dombrowski isn't tempted to do a lot of gambling.  Although, with our funds available, that may be a necessity.  Our player payroll was about $134 million in 2008, and it's expected to stay right around that level.  We've already got $100 million committed.  A lot of that is tied up in bad contracts (Inge, Robertson, Willis, Sheffield), further hindering our ability to do what we need to do.  This leads to the talk that the Tigers will have to listen to offers for Magglio Ordóñez.  A lot of folks have argued that he'll be difficult to move without eating some of his contract, so we'll see.  Marcus Thames and Jeff Larish (especially with his quality performance in the AFL) are also good bets for trade bait.

December 1 is the deadline for clubs to offer arbitration to their free agents.  December 7 is the deadline for the player to decline or accept it.  This deadline is right before winter meetings, so that may make things interesting for the Renteria scenario at short (as pointed out by Jason Beck in his Nov. 10 Tigers.com mailbag).

The hardest part for us (besides the limited payroll) is that we've got players who are very close, but not quite big league ready, so we're looking for short term solutions, while most free agents (who aren't older than dirt or coming off injury-riddled or underperforming seasons) are looking for long term contracts.   Farm talent ready to come in by about 2010 includes short, closer and starting pitcher.  Catcher Dusty Ryan may be ready this year, may not.  It all makes for gut-churning drama, which may not play out until the season is in full swing.  Better go buy more Maalox.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


This morning, Mike Greenburg of Mike & Mike in the Morning said that the AL MVP should go to CC Sabathia, since Albert Pujols will win the NL MVP, and there really is no deserving candidate in the AL.

Let's take a look at potential AL MVP candidates:

Francisco Rodriguez, 62 of 69 save opportunities, 2.24 ERA, 77 SO over 68.1 IP
Dustin Pedroia, .326 AVG, 17 HR, 82 RBI, 52 SO, 52 BB, .376 OBP, .493 SLG
Joe Mauer, .328 AVG, 9 HR, 85 RBI, 50 SO, 84 BB, .413 OBP, .451 SLG
Kevin Youkilis, .312 AVG, 29 HR, 115, RBI, 108 SO, 62 BB, .390 OBP, .569 SLG
Justin Morneau, .300 AVG, 23 HR, 129 RBI, 85 SO, 76 BB, .374 OBP, .499 SLG
Josh Hamilton, .304 AVG, 32 HR, 130 RBI, 126 SO, 64 BB, .371 OBP, .530 SLG
Carlos Quentin, .288 AVG, 36 HR, 100 RBI, 80 SO, 66 BB, .394 OBP, .571 SLG

I guess it is clear that none of these guys are a runaway like Albert Pujols (although he and CC would've really had a tight race if CC had spent the whole year in the NL).  To put it mildly, and to state the obvious I'm astounded by Pujols.  His numbers are absolutely crazy, and you gotta love him.

In looking over the stat lines for these AL players, it is really difficult.  I feel for Carlos Quentin, who's working against an incomplete season (although self-inflicted).

My vote goes to Kevin Youkilis, because he had a killer OPS, hit for average and power, had 115 RBIs, and plays stellar defense (and can play more than one position).  To be honest though, I almost felt like changing my answer, even after I typed his name.  His weaknesses (relative to these other MVP candidates) were baserunning and strikeouts.

Who is your 2008 AL MVP?

Norman "Turkey" Stearnes

Kansas State University hosts the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's e-Museum at:


It's a resource site for teachers, and has profiles of Negro League Teams and personal profiles of many Negro League individuals.

The Detroit Stars were organized in 1919.  The Stars became a charter member of the Negro National League on 1920, and remained until the league disbanded after the 1931 season.  The Stars reemerged twice as new leagues formed in 1933 and 1937.

Norman "Turkey" Stearnes hailed from Nashville, TN, and played for the Stars from 1923-1931, 1933 & 1937.  He was a power-hitting left handed bat, who also hit for good average.  He was a speedy outfielder and base-stealing threat.

Stearnes also played for the Kansas City Monarchs, the Chicago American Giants, and several other Negro League teams.

Turkey Stearns finished his career with 7 home run titles, and a .359 batting average.  Stearnes passed away on September 4, 1979 at the age of 78.  He was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.

(Source, James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, 1994.)

Very sad to me that many like Turkey Stearnes never lived to see their achievements properly lauded.  Although integration came shamefully late to the Detroit Tigers franchise, I'm happy to see that they now host Negro Leagues weekend annually, and make a concerted effort to reach out to African-American baseball fans.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Worse Off than the Tigers?

If you want to feel better about the Tigers, I've got the perfect prescription.  Buy a ticket to a Lions game.  I went today to the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Man, there's not much that's more depressing than four quarters of Lions football.

The bright spot of the game?  Barry Sanders and 0ther Lions past greats were in the house for the all-time team honors as the Lions celebrate their 75th year as a franchise.  Watching Barry come out of the tunnel during half-time was the best moment of the game.  That, and the cotton candy.

The despair is palpable at all times, and the fans left in droves from the third quarter on.  By the time the clock wound down, we were among the dozen or so fans left in the stadium.  Jacksonville lost last week to the Bengals, the sole other team without a win.  Not so today.   We saw a good old-fashioned beat-down.

So, although the Tigers were a giant bust last year, although it was an embarrassment of epic proportions, at least we have talent, and hope for the future.  What do the Lions have?  At least they DON'T have Matt Millen any longer.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Your 2009 Tiger of the Year - Miguel Cabrera

With the current dearth of baseball news, this item will no doubt be covered ad nauseum.  Even so, I'll add to the fray.

Cabrera was getting reamed early on due to poor defense and his quiet bat.  I'm inclined to give folks a little more time, maybe too much time sometimes (read Sheffield).  Anyway, I thought he came around swimmingly, swatting with more and more authority, and making some nice picks out of the dirt over at first.

One thing that just about drove me to the nearest asylum was Rod and Mario calling him Cabby.  What spawned that hideous corruption, and I hope he told them to cease and desist!  Miggy is much better if you want a nickname, in my humble opinion.  I  mean, I feel broadcasters should always check with the player to see if it's ok (don't forget those blockheads calling Roberto Clemente "Bobby" when he hated it, and Kirk Gibson's maddening overuse of "Higgy.")

It's a nice little piece of "Welcome to the D" hardware for Cabrera, and I think he'll impress us all even more next year, when he's not feeling all the pressure of the new digs, the big contract, and switching positions.

More Arizona Fall League

Some stats from our AFL players, playing for the Mesa Solar Sox.  Jeff Larish hit the spotlight in a piece on Tigers.com, trying to improve versatility so he can land on the 2009 big-league roster.

In his AFL blog, Zach Simons reports that Casper Wells must lead the league in HBP.  He also says that Jeff Larish has the hot stick after a bit of a slow start.   He now has 3 HR, and leads the league in RBIs.  Zach himself had 5 scoreless innings after his (not so great) first outing.


Jeff Larish:  playing 1B & 3B, 19 G, 81 AB, 21 RBI, 10 BB, 15 SO, .309 AVG, .494 SLG, .376 OBP, .870 OPS

Will Rhymes:  2B, 16 G, 71 AB, 7 RBI, 4 BB, 9 SO, .296 AVG, .310 SLG, .329 OBP, .639 OPS

Casper Wells:  CF, 13 G, 42 AB, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 13 SO, .286 AVG, .452 SLG, .455 OBP, .907 OPS


Luis Marte, 2-1, 6.00 ERA, 4 G, 12.0 IP, 4 BB, 16 SO, 1.83 WHIP

Casey Fien, 2-0, 0.84 ERA, 8 G, 10.2 IP, 0 BB, 11 SO, 0.75 WHIP--no walks, he might deserve a shot based on that alone!

Zach Simons, 0-1, 3.86 ERA, 8 G, 9.1 IP, 5 BB, 4 SO, 1.50 WHIP

Rudy Darrow, 1-0, 2.89 ERA, 8 G, 9.1 IP, 4 BB, 13 SO, 1.29 WHIP

Again, it's difficult, because this remains a small sample size, and the season ends Nov. 20, and these numbers aren't put up against current big league talent, but it's still fun to check in on these youngsters.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Great Boras Has Spoken

Agent Scott Boras has made an Oz-like declaration that he doesn't believe Magglio Ordóñez will be traded.  Not sure why he felt the need to make this decree, but make it he did.  Maybe he's just making it known that Ordóñez does not want to be traded.  Maybe he just likes to hear himself talk importantly on topics of great concern.  We already know of the no-trade clause in Magglio's contract, which for 2008 had made all but 10 teams off limits without approval.  This news was reported by Jon Paul Morosi of the Free Press.  Anyway, it all adds to the drama of Tigers' pending off-season moves.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Winter Ball Update

The Dominican Winter League, or more properly (and way more fun to say) Liga de Beisbol Dominicano, features several of our own:

Timo Perez - Licey, .407 AVG, .686 SLG, 1.162 OPS
Ramon Santiago - Gigantes, .353 AVG, .441 SLG, .905 OPS
Brent Clevelen - Escogido, .256 AVG, .316 SLG, .663 OPS

Timo and Ramon are performing well so far over a small sample size (10-15 games appearances).

Pitchers Aquilino Lopez and former Tiger Francisco Cruceta are also in the DWL.

Cruceta:  2.89 ERA, 9.1 IP, 1.29 WHIP
Lopez:  1.13. ERA, 8 IP, 0.75 WHIP

All I can say is I wish I could travel to one of the winter ball league games (sigh).  Already pining for baseball, and it's only November.

Get Out the Vote! (for Armando Gallaraga)

Believe it or not, you have the opportunity to vote for a Tiger in the 2009 "This Year in Baseball" awards.  Armando Gallaraga is up for rookie of the year.  Alternately, you can vote for Jair Jurrjens as a show of protest over losing  him.  Here's the TYIB Awards site:


Don't get jealous, but I only spent about 10 minutes at the poll this morning to cast my vote in the "real" election.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Frenetic Free Agent Forecasting

It's a fun-filled, anxiety-ridden time of year for baseball lovers.  Watching the hot stove, monitoring desirable free agents, trying to protect favorite players from trade via mind control--you know what I'm talking about.

In a piece on ESPN.com, Tim Kurkjian counts down the top ten off-season story lines.  Francisco Rodriguez his the list at number six.  Kurkjian opines that the Mets and Tigers make the most sense, due to their mutual need for help at closer.  He then goes on to say that "it doesn't appear that the Mets are willing to give K-Rod the money and years that he'll be looking for."   He doesn't say word one about what I thought had been overtly iterated by Dombrowski--that the Tigers are equally unwilling to shell out the necessary cash on the free agent market this off-season. 

So I'll go ahead and give the rumor mill a big shove to get it going at warp speed.  Maybe we will be involved in the bidding war on K-Rod!

Really, this is speculation of gargantuan proportions, but it sure piqued my curiosity that Kurkjian didn't say the Tigers weren't interested.

Also, as a side note, and number three on Kurkjian's list, I'm intent on finding out CC Sabathia's new home.  It's hilarity to me that the Yanks are desperate to sign him (and they better well fail, or it'll turn from hilarity to blinding fury), despite the fact that he's indicated his desire to settle on the West coast nearer his California home, and despite his willingness to at least listen to small-market Milwaukee's offer.  My secret wish is that Illich would empty his pockets and sign him, but I know that's only fantasy baseball at its finest.  So, I'll be content to see him sign with anyone but the dreaded Yanks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where in the World is Freddy Garcia?

Jason Beck's blog reports that Freddy Garcia is not yet pitching in winter ball in Venezuela, but hopes to be by early November.  Wowee.  This is a bit of a set-back.  I hadn't realized the neck/shoulder injury from the Chicago make-up game was as serious as all this.  It makes it harder to evaluate him in my view, even though Beck thought clubs wouldn't be too put off by it, if it's a short delay.

It just goes to show how tenuous a pitcher's career is.  Not to over-react, but it seems a common problem that pitchers come back too quickly from injury, only to re-aggravate the existing injury, or cause an entirely new one due to compensating, favoring, tweaking mechanics to deal with the original injury, coming back before full arm strength is there, pitching too long too early on, etc.  I feel badly for those whose arms are burnt up before their time-- careers being cut short all tragically.  At the same time, there seems to be such a cowboy mentality out there.  Why in tarnation did Bonderman not disclose his injury earlier?  He was getting roasted alive for his nauseating performances, yet says nothing?  Come on! (Side note, Bonderman's a head case anyway, so maybe this was just more of the same bewildering psychological drama for him--like giving up three runs every first inning.)

Then we hear from Leyland about how everyone has been re-educated to report injuries immediately--to no apparent effect.   We've got Zumaya out there all jacked up, Kenny Rogers battling hip trouble, but not admitting to it, Garcia going out there trying to be a hero, laudably in some ways, trying to show his worth for next year, trying to stick it to the Sox, but ends up jeopardizing everything instead.

People, could we please not destroy our bodies and our ballclubs by reporting injuries early on, so you can maybe spend one short stint on the stinking DL instead of half the season or worse?  I mean, do you see the logic, ballplayers?  Or am I just such a non-athlete that I don't get some code of stoic, stubborn, misplaced pride?  Perhaps they fear being labeled not-durable, weak, injury-prone, but to me, if you're out there getting hammered every night anyway, it's so beyond not worth it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Justin Verlander's No Hitter

In homage to the Tigers' DVD voting contest for "Essential Games of the Detroit Tigers," I am relating my experiences from a couple of the featured games.  Today, it's Justin Verlander's no hitter.

To begin with, I never should have been at that game.  I had already purchased a gazillion tickets and it was only June.  Second, it was a Tuesday night game (although, to be honest, I like going to games during the week).  So, I was sitting at my computer one morning, and I received a new email.  Oh joy, it was a Detroit Free Press free stuff thank you e-mail (sent to subscribers every so often, and featuring fun freebies like tickets to area events, Caribou coffees, etc.).  Well, lo and behold, one of the offerings was two tickets to an upcoming Tigers game.  Naturally, my fingers flew like the wind as I made my selection and sent it through cyberspace.  You have to wait a while to find out if you were one of the "first to respond," as they only had ten pair of tickets available.

Fate smiled on me, and my tickets soon arrived in the mail--infield upper deck box, 16th row, third base side.  My mom was coming into to town, so I invited her to join me at the game.  Little did we know that we were about to experience a piece of baseball history.

I'll spare you the play by play, since you know what happened, but we began to witness Justin hurling some filthy stuff.   The Brewers were hacking away like Florida Southern against our Big League club each spring (no disrespect FS).  The fun stuff was Verlander walking the same guy three times (Hall), Magglio's sliding catch, Neifi Perez' wicked double play turn, and the nefarious sea-gulls, who flew in to gobble up hatchling moths.

I started to get really nervous, in fact, my stomach got all tied up in knots, and was aching like nobody's business from the fifth inning until about two hours after the game ended.  In the top of the seventh inning, Justin is pitching y'all, and the section next to ours tries to start the wave.  I wanted to stand up and shout at the top of my lungs, "Don't you know there's a no-hitter in progress here!?" but of course, I couldn't jinx it, so I scowled and grumbled under my breath a little about the oblivious masses at Comerica, who obviously don't know diddly about baseball.

Luckily, moms was there playing shutterbug, so I've got the Kodak moments all glossy, with my scorecard full of zeros, and my ticket stub to enshrine the game with all proper ceremony.   Now, this is a little small of me, I know, but in the days of heartbreak last year when we didn't make the post-season, I downloaded the no-hitter off i-Tunes and watched it, reliving the past glories of that game.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

1987 Division Clinching Game

MLB and the Tigers are compiling a DVD set entitled "Essential Games of the Detroit Tigers."  You can vote on-line now for your six favorite games from a preselected set spanning the 1960s through now.  Just go to the Tigers web site and then to Fans (in the orange bar), and then Fan Forums.  There is a link there for the contest, with video clips from each game.

There are a lot of good choices, no doubt, from the '68 series, to the '76 Fidrych game vs. the Yankees, the '84 series,  the '87 AL East Clincher, some dubious 90's fare, the 2006 post-season, and Justin Verlander's no-hitter.

I've got good stories from two of these games.   Today, I'll share my tale from the 1987 divisional clinching game vs. the Blue Jays on October 4.  Tomorrow, I'll fill you in on Justin Verlander's no-hitter.

 In 1987, I was a freshman at the University of Michigan (don't do the math, let's just say I'm right behind Sheffield, knocking on 40's door).  When we saw that the division was going to come down to the last day of the season, that it was between us and the Jays, and we were playing the Jays--creating essentially a play-in game situation, we knew we had to score some tickets to that game.  I even managed to hype up one of my best new friends from my dorm hall, who could have cared less about baseball.  We knew our only shot was at bleacher seats, which didn't go on sale until game day.  My friend's roommate had a car, and so the four of us set off--me, my friend, her roommate and the roommate's boyfriend.  We left Ann Arbor at about 7:30 am, and arrived at the Stadium around 8:30 to sit out for seats.  The line was already half way around the stadium.  Tickets didn't go on sale until 11:00 if I remember right.  We were pretty sure we were in a spot to get tickets, but anxiously discussed our chances as we waited it out.  As we got close to the ticket window, we tasted victory, and entered the stadium with near euphoria.

You know how rowdy the bleachers could get at Tiger Stadium, but it was all good, playoff-vibe rowdy.  Before the game even started, some Tigers fans tossed around a stuffed animal Blue Jay, disemboweling it as a symbolic gesture of what we were about to do to the real Jays.  Frank Tanana stepped on the mound, and into a pitcher's duel extraordinaire.   The game was in the 8th inning, 1-0, fraught with nervous tension, when my friend's roommate, our driver,  says we better get going to avoid getting caught in traffic.   I was so caught off guard, I could only stare blankly in stunned disbelief.  We could not be leaving this game, it's 1-0, we'll be going to the playoffs if we win, we CANNOT leave this game, is this some kind of demented joke?  Well, you can guess the rest, she was dead serious, and they dragged me out.  I remember looking bleakly through the fence at the action as we walked down the ramp.  Sitting in the back seat riding back to UM, I stewed and fumed, listening to us win the division on the radio.  I don't know why I didn't just take a taxi 45 miles back to my dorm.   I guess it just sounded too extravagant, too impossible for me to pull off by myself in Detroit.  My poor friend had to listen to me rant and rave for days over the incident, but she sympathized, though probably secretly thinking me a crazed zealot.

Perhaps this experience taught me to always drive myself to the game, issuing a stern warning to any passengers that we're not leaving early, no matter what.  I'll bet some of the Boston fans who left the ALCS comeback game against the Rays this year are living with massive guilt, shame and regret.  I'll always live with the pain of leaving that 1987 game, but at least I have the consoling thought that it was against my will.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Arizona Fall League

OK.  I know I said that I didn't count the Arizona Fall League, because you can't watch it except in person (as far as  I know).  However, it's important to keep up on Tigers' prospects, right?  Anyway, I needed a little education on the AFL anyway, so I did a little digging.

The Tigers have seven players in the AFL playing for the Mesa Solar Sox.  They are pitchers Zach Simons, Casey Fien, Rudy Darrow and Louis Marte, and three position players, Jeff Larish, Casper Wells and Will Rhymes.

You've probably already heard about how Casey Fien is tearing up the AFL.  He's now boasting a 0.00 ERA over 4 games, 6.2 innings.  He's got two wins, no losses and 8 strikeouts.  Last year he played for Erie and Toledo, and was 5-3 with a 2.82 ERA over 52 games, 60.2 innings, and a .231 average against.

I'm going to do some more stat work, but it's early in the season, which started October 7, and runs through November 20.  The Solar Sox are currently 7-5.

If you're interested in the AFL, or in checking in on Tigers prospects, here is MLB's AFL web site:


Pitching prospect Zach Simons is blogging for MLB/the Tigers during the AFL season.  Not only do you get an inside look at the AFL, you get to know a young prospect, and Casper Wells has already done a guest blog piece.  Zach's blog can be found at:


This is a veritable gold-mine of information that will keep me afloat during the dark, Tiger-less days of fall & winter.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pilfering from the Twins

As you know by now, the Tigers have hired Rick Knapp as their new pitching coach, and are likely to hire a bullpen coach from within the organization.   Knapp has been the Twins minor league pitching coordinator for the past 12 years.  Many others have covered this news already, so I'll just say this:

I like this move from the standpoint that I like what Minnesota does with its small budget each year.  I think it's largely due to Ron Gardenhire.  He's a terrific manager in my view.  During Twins batting practice at Comerica one game last year, I saw him in shallow outfield shagging fly balls.  I'd be beside myself if I had to lose my top talent every year or so and start over.  (Side note, I'd also be freaking mad if I had to play in a dump like the Metrodome.  Every time I see the stupid carpet and the baggie, I feel the chunks rising.)  So, if Rick Knapp is any part of what's been going on with the Twins, I'm happy as a clam.  And bonus, we take away from one of our top divisional rivals.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Evidence of Clubhouse Chaos

There was a lot of talk, and a lot of rumors about clubhouse malaise this past season.  I rather scoffed at the idea, and didn't really see any evidence of it.  Jim Leyland darn near bit Jason Grilli's head off for suggesting it after his trade to Colorado.

Now there's some pretty convincing evidence that the clubhouse was indeed troubled.

In an article in today's Freep, Jon Paul Morosi chronicled Jair Jurrjens' recent visit to his host family from his days with the West Michigan Whitecaps.  Jurrjens was quoted in the article as saying:

"When I came  up, the team was so united.  Everybody was getting along with each other.  I can't remember who I was talking to, but they said it's not the same thing (as) when I came up.  I didn't ask who--they just said it wasn't the same environment.  I think everybody was trying to press so much-- be the leader, be the superstar."

The scenario described by Jurrjens is very plausible to me.  I don't think guys were in there all disgruntled with each other, but I sure believe that many of them were trying too hard to do too much.

I think (no, hope) that after the past year of adjustment, the clubhouse will be just fine.  Guys will feel more comfortable in their roles, with their teammates, and positions (think of those shuffled mercilessly around the diamond).

It's telling to me that Edgar Renteria wants to return next season, despite a very sub-par performance, a lukewarm to angry fan reaction, and the rotten egg of a season overall.  There must be something there worth coming back for.  I believe it's there, too.  I'll be looking for it next year.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why is Willis NOT in Winter Ball?

This is a bit of old news, but I've really been wondering about it.  Near the end of the season, Jim Leyland said he'd like to see Willis pitch in winter ball.   Willis' outings seemed to confirm the need.  He didn't exactly perform in a way that inspired glowing confidence.

I was impressed that Willis very willingly went down to A ball.  It made sense to get him away from the media scrutiny, but he had to agree to do it.  It was the right thing to do, sure, considering his walk-tastic, wild beyond description performances.  But doing the right thing is no gimme with athletes.  It's so much easier to just do what suits them best, or what makes sense to their sometimes over-sized egos, especially when the $ are guaranteed.  So, he gets bonus points for manning up and playing A ball.

On September 23, in a piece written by Tigers.com beat writer Jason Beck, Dontrelle said he was open to winter ball.  Then, in a Freep article published on September 29, Dontrelle was quoted as saying he had no plans to participate in any winter leagues.  It was very cryptic, with no other information given.

I've seen nothing else on this.  No commentary from Leyland or management, zip.  I'm sorry, but could someone tell me what the crust is going on here?  I would like to know why Willis is not going to winter ball, and whether there was a big dustup within the organization over it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Offseason Anxiety

I've got a lot of conflicting emotions here.  On the one hand, I'd like playoff baseball to last as long as possible, because after that comes the dark time of year--the time when there is no baseball.  (I don't count the Arizona Fall League or winter ball, because there's no opportunity to see either one, unless you're there!)

On the other hand, I'd like to know what the Tigers are going to do already!  It's worse than a five year old waiting for Christmas morning.  Am I going to get what I asked for, or will I find a lump of coal in my Tiger stocking?

Let's home Davey Claus comes through.  Ok, enough with the Christmas metaphor.  It's too hokey for words.

Anyway, I'm pretty much on pins and needles here.  It's really hard for me to think about the possible loss of players like Magglio Ordóñez.  If it's going to happen, let's just get it over with, so I can move through the various phases of grief-denial, anger, acceptance, sadness!

Jason Beck over at Tigers.com looked into the possible catcher signings, throwing out Gregg Zaun's name, basically ruling out reobtaining Pudge, and mentioning the possible comeback for Vance Wilson.  It's all still pretty murky.

When I think about it, the speculation actually makes things worse, because then my mind will not stop with the endless possibilities, and which ones look good, and which stink it up, and who would have to go if we pursue so-and-so, and ...see how I'm going crazy here?

Guess I'm not cut out to be a GM.  I don't do fantasy baseball. 

Congrats to the Phils who won the pennant tonight!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Verlander & Skip

I'm wondering whether there's any friction between Justin Verlander and Jim Leyland after all that went down last  year.  Jim called Justin out a couple times for not owning up to bad outings.   Justin expressed surprise at said callings out.

I agree that Justin failed to come to terms with a poor season for him.  He really did appear to be in denial about some stuff.  Sure, the offense let him down this year.  He had incredible run support in 2007, and not so much this year, but it was a lot more than just poor run support.  This could all be a problem, in that if he doesn't see himself as having any problems, there would be nothing for him to work on over the off-season or in spring training.  Also, if he really believes there's nothing wrong, it could breed resentment against those who say otherwise.  He'd feel he was being unfairly targeted as a scapegoat for last year's abysmal performance.

I hope Jim and Justin got it all out behind closed doors, and have a good working relationship going into next year.  The last thing we need is ill will between our supposed ace and the manager, who is now a lame duck.  That could snowball into all kinds of bad clubhouse vibes, undermining Jim's managerial abilities.

There was some legitimate discussion about Jim leaving Justin in way too long in games, something he didn't do at all for any other pitcher.  I wonder how Justin felt about that.  Did he feel his arm was being burnt up, or was he cool with it?

We'll probably never know.  That's what's hard for fans--there are always so many unanswered questions.  We don't see what goes on behind the scenes, and players, coaches and managers keep all that stuff pretty much under wraps.   A lot of it is for good reason.  Things get blown out of proportion by media, stuff gets taken out of context, etc.  However, a little more transparency at times would be so welcome by fans.  That's why you have to like the honesty of someone like Gary Sheffield, even if you don't always like what he's saying.  At least you're not getting the "Bull Durham" clichés that Crash taught to Nuke.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Saving Tiger Stadium

I have such a sentimental fondness for Tiger Stadium, a feeling that is, no doubt, shared by countless others--the memories made there are indelible.  I also have a genuine love of the old girl herself.  That is, her seating was so intimate to the action.  If you sat in the upper deck box seats on the first or third base line, you were quite literally on top of the action--an unmatched game experience.

Now, I'm not bagging on Comerica.  It's a fine ballpark.  Rather cookie-cutter, but nicely done in most respects.  However, the seating is decidedly not fan-friendly.  It ranges too far back off the action.  I do like the right field grandstand and bleachers.  I like being in fair territory, and if you're in the rows near the front, it's quite nice, for a decent price.

I'm proud of the efforts the conservancy is making to save a portion of the ballpark.  It would be great if programs like Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities (RBI) could make use of the historic field.  However, I don't blame people if they donate money to more urgent humanitarian causes right now.  Especially with Michigan's current economic situation, there are many in dire situations, and they need help.  Real human crises should trump baseball history.

So, if she does vanish, I'll be sad, but not broken-hearted.  Perhaps she'll go down, but others may have a better shot, just like Oscar Wilde's Happy Prince.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Runs Allowed

During last night's Rays/Red Sox game, one of the announcers commented that the Rays had the third best one-year improvement in runs allowed (RA) in MLB history.  I looked up the information on Baseball-Reference.com, and they allowed 944 runs in 2007 and only 671 in 2008.  The announcer commented that they had improved defensively with Jason Bartlett at short.  He then went on to highlight the importance of defense in reducing runs allowed, effectively giving a leg up to pitching.

Let's look at the Tigers runs allowed over the past couple years:

2008 - 857
2007 - 797
2006 - 675

Obviously, both pitching and defense contributed to our unacceptable inflation in RA.  Lee Panas over at Tiger Tales has a great piece on our defensive erosion this past season.

Thinking about RA leads me to speculate that the front office has been mulling over things like our catastrophic RA also, and that may have precipitated the move of Brandon Inge to third.  Since we know we won't be a player in any big free agent pitcher signing, defensive improvement becomes more crucial.

Obviously, we will also be largely dependent on seeing comebacks from many of our existing staff--Bonderman, Robertson, Willis, even a significant rebound for Verlander.  We will be fervently hoping for the speedy development of young arms like Rick Porcello and Casey Crosby (who I know next to nothing about, other than that he's made a magnificent 9-month recovery from Tommy John surgery--thanks to info from the Freep).

In my mind, there's a lot of synergy between good defensive plays and good pitching, and even hitting at times.  The whole "pick -em up" mentality--I really buy into it.  Let's hope our guys will be picking each other up a lot more next year.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fever Pitch

My husband tells me I am exactly like Jimmy Fallon's character from the movie "Fever Pitch."

He claims that I act rational during the off-season--that's Winter Jen.

Then during baseball season, I'm obsessed, and I concoct no end of crazed schemes to go to the ballpark--that's Summer Jen.

Now, I admit that last season, I said I was going to purchase "x" number of games from a season ticket holder I know, and not go to any more.  My husband said at the time that it was Winter Jen talking, and he took no heed.  Sadly, he was right--I went to ten more games than "x."

I'm sorry, but there are times when Summer Jen will not admit rational, cool-headed thinking.  

Last year, I felt I had to go to Chicago for the last game of the year, so I could be there to see Magglio win the batting title.  I didn't matter that I was ill, that I would be out driving at all hours with our 8 year old son, that my husband had to work and couldn't come, that I  had nowhere to stay in Chicago, that I had no ticket.  I had a "perfectly good answer" to every obstacle--meaning, I had a wacked out, screwball notion that I could work everything out.  The clear-thinking minds in our house prevailed, and I had to watch them crown our 2007 batting champion from home.  It was great to see the Venezuelan announcers call each of his at-bats though!

The thing is, I'm not the only one who acts this way--look, there was a whole movie made about someone just like me.

I'm not embarrassed that I sometimes keep score when I'm listening to or watching the game at home.  I'm not embarrassed that I stay at the game no matter what.  I've stayed at many games that were total wash outs, and I got soaked from head to toe, and we were losing.  I wasn't the only one.  Actually though, I wouldn't care if I WAS the only one.

I simply cannot leave a game early.  If you come to the game with me,  you are staying until the game is over, or until the game is called.

Call me stupid, call me lunatic, call me whatever you want.  To me, it's all part of loving the game.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Little Bit of Everything

I've just got a bunch of short bits here today, so here goes:

Curtis Granderson must love to be busy, or else he doesn't know how to say no.  He's everywhere!  It was nice seeing him on TBS' division series coverage, though.

Both the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News did a piece on the 40th anniversary of Jose Feliciano's anthem rendition that rocked the nation.  I wasn't born until 1969, so I'd never heard it, although I had read Ernie's description of the incident.  Both articles linked to an audio of the anthem, and I thought it was incredible!  I loved it so much, I really can't understand what all the flap was about.  I guess that there were some major hang ups about traditional interpretation of the anthem at that time, but there is no denying the beauty of Feliciano's interpretation.  Here's the link, it's really worth a listen:


Also noteworthy was the 20th anniversary of Kirk Gibson's iconic, game winning, World Series home run as a Dodger.  I was a sophomore at the University of Michigan, and I didn't even see it live.  I was actually studying instead of watching the World Series--you can't get much nerdier than that!  My friends knew I loved Kirk Gibson, so someone ran to tell me what happened, and I saw the replays right away.  Now that home run has been enshrined as one of the most memorable, dramatic sports moments ever.  You go Kirk!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bright Spots?

I've been wracking my brain today trying to think of some bright spots from our failed season to cheer myself up.  It's been a little tough.  Most of the things I come up with fall a little short.

For example, Magglio Ordoñez "almost" won a second consecutive batting title.  Don't get me wrong, he had another very good year, and was one of the few players who lived up to expectations, but almost doesn't quite qualify for this little rah rah list.

Gary Sheffield "almost" joined the 500 home run club.  It got exciting, because he served a four-game suspension right at the end of the season.  Everyone was like, "there go his chances at 500 this year."  Then he steps in and launches two in his first game back.  I really thought he'd get there then.  Again, no, he fell short.

Even Miguel Cabrera's home run title has to be qualified, because Carlos Quentin of the White Sox went down with a broken wrist on September 5.  He already had 36 at that point, and Cabrera ended with 37.  That being said, Cabrera really smoked some balls this year.  Two of his massive jacks were caught less than a row away from me in right field behind the 365 corner -- impressive opposite field knocks.

Marcus Thames went on a tear, and hit eight home runs in seven consecutive games in June, a club record.  There's a bright spot for you.

Matt Joyce came up, showed us what he's got, provided a lefty bat, and rescued a black kitten from the batting practice cage.  If that doesn't cheer you up, stop reading now.

Todd Jones got demoted as closer, but still retired with class, and the organization gave him a worthy send-off during the second-to-last home game.  Jones literally and symbolically took off his jersey and handed it to Mike Illich to signal the passing of the guard.

Small things, I know, but I'll take a little solace from them and hope for a whole lot more in 2009.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Playoff Heartache

There's a lot of heartache going around the MLB playoffs right now, and a little left over for me, even though my Detroit Tigers didn't make the playoffs.

I'm not going to lie, I'm feeling for the lovable losers the Cubbies right now.  I'm really feeling it for their fans.  At least the current players haven't been pining for a World Series title these past 100 years.  I'm not sure who their oldest player is, but it's a safe bet he's not much over 40, if that.  And how many of their players grew up as Cubs fans?  I'm sure there are many elder Cub fans who have suffered through this drought with untold agony.

I also feel a slight pang for the Brewers, although they were always my arch-rival team in some respects.  I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and people there are either Brewers or Tigers fans, but never both.  So loved to loathe names like Paul Molitor, Robin Yount and especially Rob Deer.  Mostly, I feel for Corey Hart, who looked like he was going to burst into tears when the ball popped out of his glove last night after he banged against the outfield fence and then fell to the ground.  He hadn't had a good series at bat either, so it was all going so wickedly wrong for him.  There was no gloating in my heart over their loss.

Now, the Angels are still in, and have tied it up as I write this post (at least last I checked).  However, when three players converged and failed to catch the blooper off Ellsbury's bat, allowing 3 runs to score for Boston, the looks on their faces said it all.  Mike Scioscia had to send in some signs afterward.  The camera was zoomed in on his face and I swear the dejection was palpable.  His finger looked like it was in slow motion as it went through the crazy nose to ear to nose to chin movements.

Finally, to my little heartbreak.  This goes back to the White Sox/Minnesota play-in game.  After Thome's solo shot, A.J. Pierzynski stepped to the edge of the dugout, raised his hands in the air, and hyped up the crowd.  Something in that moment shot straight to my heart.  The jealousy and the heartbreak of "they are there and we are not."  The energy, the electricity, the jubilation of the Sox and their fans reminded me only too well of the taste of playoff baseball, while I sat with the bitter taste of what people are calling the biggest bust ever in the Michigan sports history.

Oh, well, all I can say is summed up in the clichéd baseball phrase "wait til next year."

Saturday, October 4, 2008


This season, Gary Sheffield fell one dinger short of reaching the career milestone of 500 homers.  I was at the last home game of the year, and I was hoping with all I had that Sheff would become the 25th player in MLB history to hit 500 home runs.

I have to admit, good will toward Sheffield was not the only motivation for wishing so hard.

I've been a pretty strong supporter of Sheffield throughout his thick and thin tenure here.  I've always admired him as an all-around hitter, and his base-running instincts are really something to behold.  Even now as he knocks on 40's door, he's a good baserunner.

One of the most entertaining things about Sheff is that he thinks his eye is flawless.  If he takes a pitch (other than the first pitch, which he almost never swings at), he figures it's a ball, and better be called as such.  No kidding, watch his at bats--if he takes a pitch and it's called a strike, he either turns away from the umpire to calm himself down and mask his disgust, or lets the ump know what he thought of the call.  It's a lot of fun to watch.

Anyway, back to 499.  I did want Gary to get 500 this year for the achievement, but I'm sorry to say more selfish factors played into it as well.  First, it would be great to see him do it in a Tigers uniform.  Second, and more importantly, it might cause him to retire, saving us $14 million off our payroll next year, and freeing up the DH spot for one of the many DH types still on our team (most prominently Carlos Guillen).  Finally, it would've been a great way to end a brutal season.

I'm sorry, but Leyland stayed with Sheff way too long this year, when it was obvious to me that he should've been on the 60 day DL.  He was clearly hampered with the shoulder, and simply should not have been in the lineup.

Like I said, I like Sheff, and his career has been incredible.  He did show some signs of being more back to himself at the end of the season, but at his age, and the history of shoulder trouble, and the many designated hitters waiting in the wings, it's $14 million too much on our payroll.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Inherited Runners

One of the maddening parts of last season with the Tigers was the inability to prevent inherited runners from scoring.  Each time a reliever came in with runners on, I cringed, because I knew what was coming.

To me, this statistic is crucial.  We've got to have some arms(minds) that can come in with runners on and prevent them from crossing the plate.  We were absolutely abysmal at this in 2008.  Look at these numbers, our five worst IRA (inherited runners allowed) offenders:

Aquilino Lopez - 29
Bobby Seay - 16
Freddy Dolsi - 12
Zach Miner - 11
Casey Fossum - 10

(Side note, Farnsworth had 7, and he was only a Tiger from the trade deadline on.)

Total for our top (bottom) five:  78 inherited runners allowed

I'll compare this to the totals of the four AL teams that made the playoffs:

Rays - 45
Angels - 48
Red Sox - 59
White Sox - 67

You can see from the list of offenders, these are our core middle relievers (with the exception of Miner who converted to starter.)  So not acceptable, so depressing, so mind-numbing, so making me lose my sanity!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Waiting Game

We've got to just wait and see what moves will be made during the off-season.  I'm already chomping at the bit to know what the organization is going to do, but I know nothing can be announced until after the World Series ends.

I would like to see the Tigers sign Freddy Garcia at a reasonable price.

I actually wouldn't mind seeing them sign Renteria if the price were right, since Inge can cover more ground at third.  I believe his offense will rebound, and Santiago can be used at short as well.

I have a feeling Thames is gone now that we've moved Guillen for the nth time.  He'll be sorely missed as a quality individual, and someone who can just crush the ball.  Maybe he'll get more playing time elsewhere.

Now, of course I'd love to see a hard run at Sabathia, but Dombrowski's squelched that already.  We won't be players in any of the big free agent signings.

I'll be very interested to see what they do at catcher.  I was disappointed to read Bill Madden's column (New York Daily News) saying that Pudge asked to be traded.   I wonder why there was not really any coverage of that on the Detroit end.  But, we've had enough of players who don't want to be here (Ruben Sierra, Juan Gonzalez).  It would be a real risk to put Dusty Ryan out there as primary catcher, as good as he looked in limited play this year.

There will be a lot of activity, and much to digest in a few short weeks.  Until then, enjoy October baseball.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The underratedness of Placido Polanco

As I watch Chase Utley and the Phillies in the playoffs, I can't help but smile with a quiet satisfaction.  Not satisfaction that the Tigers are not in the playoffs, mind  you, but satisfaction about a former Philly, Tigers second baseman, Placido Polanco.

No mistake, Chase Utley is a premier player.  It's just that the Tigers obtained Polanco by trading Ugeth Urbina and Ramon Martinez (played in 7 major league games this year) to the Phillies.  The Phillies had to move Polanco to make room for the young phenom Utley.  He's been more than great for them.  Urbina, however, is now not only not in baseball, but is in jail for murder--a grisly tale not fit for this post.

Anyway, back to Placido.  He's just such a quiet professional, it's like he's completely unnoticed, hardly  mentioned in fact, (other than some snide remarks about his oversized cranium).  Maybe that's just fine with  him, but I'd like to showcase him here for a moment.

He did get an all-star nod last year, and went more than a year without an error.  He hit .341 last year, with exactly 200 hits.  It's been said that his athletic ability is lower than average, but I see him routinely making plays that are far from routine.  He's on the small side, but his timing is great, resulting in many leaping grabs to save base hits.

He's hard to strike out, with that choked up, short swing.  You'd think with all the success he's had with it, some of the light hitters would adopt choking up.  Not everyone can control the bat with one hand almost off the handle like Magglio Ordoñez.  He uses the whole field--I mean his spray chart is just all over.

Polanco may not be the flashy headliner, but you can bet he's valued by his teammates, coaches, manager, and me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On Inge Back to Third

OK, I know this happened a couple days ago now, but since this is a new blog, I'm reserving the right to go back and comment on things not immediate.  

Why does Brandon Inge, with a final 2008 BA of .205, get handed the 2009 starting third-baseman's job, when just the other day, Leyland said everyone will have to earn his spot, regardless of name (and salary?)?


I mean, I love Brandon's defense, it is highlight reel every night at third with him, and he's a quality individual, and you can see he plays with a real joy at third.  But, I'm sorry .205 is not going to get it.

For Jacque Jones and Craig Monroe, a BA higher than that meant designated for assignment.  For Ramon Santiago and Marcus Thames, they hit better and don't even get a shot at being an everyday player.  Leyland said Thames would get a shot this  year, but never stayed with him for any length of time.  

Granted Thames' defense isn't like Brandon's, but Ramon's nickname is Pacman for goodness sake.

September 30, 2008 One last thing...

OK.  I was done with my new blog for today (I mean yesterday now that's officially 28 minutes past midnight).   However, I could not "put this blog to bed" without saying this:

I'm aghast at all the trade rumors surrounding Magglio Ordoñez.  

Here's how you reward a player that has done nothing but hit an ALCS-clinching home run, hit two home runs in an inning, vie for 2007 MVP with Alex Rodriguez, win a batting title, contend for a second straight batting title, and endow a college scholarship fund for needy youth in the city of Detroit. 

You trade him to another team.

Please, shoot me now before I impale myself.

I know, I know, baseball's a business and the Tigers need fixing.

Still, I don't see why Magglio and the fans have to pay for mistakes management made last year in putting this team together.

I had to say my goodbyes to Magglio at Detroit's last home game yesterday.  It wasn't easy, and if a trade goes down, I'll be bitterly expressing myself here and to anyone at the Tigers who will listen.  I think I'll bring some protest signs with me to Tiger Fest.

I'll say this.  If he does get traded, Magglio went out in style, hitting a two-run shot to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth to send us to extras against the playoff-bound Rays.  Gracias for the parting gift, Magglio, and mucha suerte y felicidades to you if you're not with the Tigers next year.

Monday, September 29, 2008

September 29, 2008 It's all over but the crying.

I'm already nose-diving into my post-season, no Tigers in the playoffs depression, but to combat it, I'll try to sum up this travesty of a season.  Actually, that will only make it worse, but here goes anyway (with hopes that a much needed catharsis will result).  

Pitching, pitching, pitching, pitching, bullpen, bullpen, bullpen.

Shutouts, defense, shutouts, defense.

Injuries--but every team has those, so no excuses there.

Players shuffling to various positions, learning new positions in season.

Under-performance by key personnel--notice that no names are mentioned here--is it because this post would become too lengthy?

Did I mention bullpen implosions so tragic and so prolific they nearly led to severe stomach ulceration?

Poor team speed, and lack of green light to would-be runners (Granderson).

OK.  I can't go on any further.  It's far too painful to relive the multi-faceted dysfunction that led to this season's monumental failure.

There has already been a lot of activity in looking forward to 2009.  More on that tomorrow.