Saturday, January 30, 2010

Get to Know Luke Putkonen

Baseball America had interviews with prospects recently, and among them was Casey Crosby. Click over here to read the interview. Someone asked him what his best skill was, and he came back with:

"I got a lot of skills. nunchucking skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills."

Hopefully you recognize that as a line from Napoleon Dynamite. When asked what pitching prospects were flying under the radar a bit for the Tigers, he answered Jared Gayhart, Robbie Weinhardt, and Luke Putkonen. JAYRC gave us a nice look at Robbie Weinhardt, but I didn't know much about Luke Putkonen.

Putkonen (solidarity: a fellow Finn) went to school at North Carolina. He pitched in the 2007 College World Series championship (which North Carolina lost to Oregon State 9-3). He played Rookie Ball in 2007, spent 2008 at Oneonta, and last year he pitched for the West Michigan Whitecaps. He's a 6'6" 23-year old righty. In 2009, Putkonen pitched 149 innings, made 28 starts, had a 3.13 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, had one complete game, 6.93 K/9, 2.83 BB/9, .321 BABIP (Fangraphs). Fangraphs also stated that Putkonen is sinkerballer who was not known for the movement on his fastball at North Carolina.

Putkonen pitched well down the stretch last year. In his last four starts before the playoffs, he allowed only two earned runs (

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fever Pitch

Remember the scene from "Fever Pitch" after Jimmy Fallon's character and Drew Barrymore's character break up and it looks like the Red Sox are tanking? He is found by his friends sitting in his darkened apartment, watching the Bill Buckner error over and over again, while the Carl Yastrzemski song plays hauntingly in the background. He's unshowered, unshaven and sitting next to a pile of chicken bones stacked up on a newspaper.

I think I may have reached that point. You will find me sitting in my darkened living room, watching 2009 Game 163 over and over again, muttering, "Brandon Inge's jersey was hit by that pitch," and listening to "April in the D." I haven't shaved my legs in weeks, and the side table is littered with Thai take-out boxes. Too graphic for you? Sorry.

Thankfully, pitchers and catchers report in three weeks, so I may yet be saved from utter ruin.

So I took my son to basketball practice this week, which happened to be at a local elementary school, and lo and behold, what did I find on the hallway bulletin board? It was a public service poster featuring none other than Curtis Granderson and Paws. Curtis was running out of the center of the poster clad in his Tiger uniform (sob), and Paws was featured around him engaged in various fitness exercises: leg lifts, lunges, stretches and pushups, all set on the Comerica Park grass. Repeat after me, Opening Day is only two months away. Sigh.

What washed up player do you think the Tigers will target next? I was so thankful to see the Brewers sign Jim Edmonds to a minor league contract.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Can Laugh at Myself

I think every baseball fan has just about had it with the offseason. There is no baseball. We are sad shells of our summer selves. Even though many clubs just had their winter fanfests, we are pining away, perhaps with an intensified longing, since our baseball tastes have been whetted. I did not attend TigerFest this year, but I watched some of the live feed on It was quite entertaining. Justin Verlander and Gerald Laird were very funny, messing around, trying to one-up each other. Jim Leyland joked about Fernando Rodney faking his lack of understanding of the English language at times.

So, I'm about to offer myself up as a sacrificial lamb of sorts here. Everyone needs a laugh, a distraction right now. It could help some poor soul make it through the off-season. OK. I will provide the humor by admitting something REALLY embarrassing, which is sure to be used against me. I'm just that kind of selfless person, who is willing to help others in their time of need.

Here goes.

A couple years back, my husband, son and I were staying at one of those indoor water park places. So we're frolicking in the chlorinated humidity, and my husband decides to have a little fun with me. He says, if you go stand under the 1000 gallon bucket of water (that tips over once every fifteen minutes) four times in a row, I'll go to a Tiger game with you. I jump at this offer without a moment's hesitation. I may have mentioned before that I have no pride. So, every fifteen minutes, I have to drop what I'm doing, run over to the giant bucket, and endure a 1000 gallon deluge. My husband was rolling in hysterics that I would sacrifice decorum and abase myself so willingly. I laughed at him in turn, smugly thinking to myself that I scored myself a night at the ballpark with very little effort. See? We both walked away happy.

OK, you've had a chuckle at my expense. Now, use that to try and make it through to February 18, when pitchers and catchers report.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Games Attended 2009: The Final Chapter

I hear those sighs of relief that this series is coming to a close. I'm having a hard a time as you waiting for baseball season to roll around. It hurts doesn't it? Soon, soon, it will be here. I'm going to Spring Training for the first time ever this year, so I'm not going to have to wait as long as some.

This post will look at the performance of My Tiger Magglio Ordóñez at games in which I was in attendance. It's a very self-indulgent post, I know, but I couldn't help myself, and it's my blog, so you can stop reading now if you don't like it.

Magglio appeared in 15 of the 22 games I attended. Here are his numbers:

Mon. Apr. 27, 2009, 3 AB, groundout, K, HR, 3 RBI

Sun. May 17, 2009, 4 AB, flyout, double, K looking, fielder's choice, BB, 0 RBI

Fri. June 5, 2009 4 AB, groundout, double, K, single, 1 RBI

Sat. June 6, 2009 3 AB, single, groundout, BB, GIDP, 1 RBI

Tues. July 7, 2009 4 AB, groundout, groundout, K, K, 0 RBI

Tues, July 21, 2009 3 AB, grand slam, BB, groundout, FC, 4 RBI

Wed. Aug. 5, 2009 3 AB, single, home run, GIDP, defensive replacement Ryan Raburn in the 8th inning, 1 RBI

Sat. Aug. 29, 2009 4 AB, K looking, single, fielder's choice, single, pinch runner Clete Thomas in the 8th, 1 RBI

Tues. Sept. 1, 2009, 3 AB, BB, K looking, single, flyout, 0 RBI

Wed. Sept. 2, 2009, 4 AB, single, flyout, single, single, 1 RBI

Thurs. Sept. 3, 2009 pinch hitter 7th inning for Aubrey Huff, 1 AB, K, BB, 0 RBI

Mon. Sept 14, 2009, 4 AB, BB, flyout to left, single, groundout to short, single to left, 0 RBI

Fri. Sept. 25, 2009, 4 AB, GIDP, groundout, single, flyout, 0 RBI

Sat. Sept. 26, 2009, 6 AB, flyout, flyout, double, single, single, popup, 2 RBI

Sun. Oct. 4, 2009, 4 AB, double, single, home run, single, 1 RBI

Magglio's batting average at games I attended was .444. So glad to know I was a rabbit's foot for Mi Magglio too. Again, if you want to help fund season tickets for your team's lucky charm, feel free.

On a side note, I happened to be at the game in which Magglio hit two home runs in one inning back in 2008. It was pretty great, except for the fact that I missed the second homer. After the first home run, my son was begging me to go out to the ferris wheel, so I relented. Imagine my horror as we batted around that inning, hearing the cheers of the raucous crowd, stuck inside a giant baseball spinning around and around. Oh well.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Games Attended 2009: Part the Third

Well, here I am again to regurgitate some 2009 fodder for your reading pleasure (or pain as the case may be). Part three of this series looks at offensive performances. Not offensive as in repugnant, but you know, offense as in the boys who wield the bats. Well, I will cover the good, the bad, and the otherwise notable for games I attended in 2009, so I guess offensive does work in both senses, but I digress.

I saw the Tigers get skunked only once in 2009, and that was not even at Comerica Park. The game was September 25 in Chicago at the Cell. Poor Eddie Bonine pitched pretty much brilliantly for 6 2/3 innings, and we couldn't bring a single baserunner around to score. We got a man to second base in the second, third and sixth innings, but failed miserably at bringing them home. Jake Peavy was on the hill for the Sox, so that tells you a little bit. Polanco had three singles, and everyone else pretty much whiffed all day. Peavy ended up with 8 Ks over seven innings pitched, and our Bengals racked up 12 strikeouts for the game. Not exactly the road victory I was hoping for, but nobody poured beer on me, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

The Tigers score 10 runs or more three times at games I saw in person during the 2009 season. The greatest offensive outburst I witnessed last year occurred the day after the game I described above, again in Chicago against the White Sox (is this starting to feel like the Twilight Zone or what?). The Tigers whomped the Sox 12-5 on September 26, and after this game Ozzie Guillen got a mite testy, so I dug out the quote for you:

"If they think the season's over for them, yes," Guillen said. "If they think it's over for me, no. I want to make it clear: There's a bunch of [expletives] out there watching football games like a piece of [expletive] with no pride. By the way they [expletive] play, that's embarrassing. If you don't have pride about the way you play, get another job.

"I'm not in a pennant race, but at least I have some pride. When you get [to the clubhouse] and turn on a stupid-ass football game when those [expletive] football players don't give a [expletive] about you, that's embarrassing. We've got seven games [left]. They are going to pull their [expletive] together, period. I don't mind losing a game, but when you lose a game and you don't care about it, we are going to have a problem. To get your asses kicked like that and all of a sudden, you're watching football games? That's a bunch of [expletive]."

It's ALWAYS a barrel of laughs to hear Ozzie hold forth. Unfortunately, his scathing words on this occasion had the proper effect, because the Sox then proceeded to beat the Tigers two out of three in the final series of the season, and you know what happened after that. Sorry to break open old wounds.

Back to the game. Miguel Cabrera had a four hit, four RBI night, Curtis Granderson plated three, Polanco and Ordóñez each knocked two home, and Adam Everett got in on the action by bringing in one of his own. We batted around twice, scoring four runs in both the 7th and 8th innings. An entertaining away game to attend, no?

It's a little difficult to choose just one, but my offensive performance of the year (for games attended) goes to:

Ramon Santiago

May 17, 1009 vs. Oakland Athletics

Ramon had four at bats, four hits, four RBI, and his hits came like this:

2nd - triple, RBI

3rd - home run (to deep center field!), 3 RBI

5th - single

7th - single

One other notable performance that comes to mind is from July 21 vs. the Seattle Mariners. The rumors about the Tigers cutting Magglio were swirling so fast it appeared a tornado was imminent. He was embattled and beleaguered. My Tiger's future as a wearer of the Old English D was murkier than Lake Erie. On that day, Magglio swatted a grand slam in the first inning off Garrett Olson, and I felt that if he was going to be gone, that was the way to go out. Please don't point out (if you remember) that the blast came off of a 79 MPH curve. Such scoffing has no impact on me.

Have you got what it takes to stomach a fourth installment?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Games Attended 2009 Part Deux

Rewinding again to the season of 2009, I bring you more fascinating statistics from games I attended. I know, right, couldn't I come up with anything better to blog about in the offseason? Anyway, if you're up for it, here are some more useless facts.

Tigers starters lasted on average 5.9 innings at games I attended.

The dubious honor of the shortest start goes to Armando Galarraga with a sorry 2/3 of an inning on May 17. On the bright side, we won that game 11-7, so he didn't have to feel quite so dejected over getting the early hook. The Athletics sent ten batters to the plate that first inning, and scored 5 runs, all of them charged to Galarraga. Zach Miner came in and got a strikeout to end the inning. Miner stayed out there through the fifth, allowing two runs (including a solo shot to Orlando Cabrera in the fifth), Lucas French took the hill for the sixth and seventh, tossing scoreless frames, Perry set up in the 8th, and Rodney closed it out in one of his infamous non-save situations. Except that he was good in this particular non-save, allowing no hits, no runs, no walks--wow! Interesting about this game is a note scrawled across the bottom of my scorecard by my son stating "I want to go home, I want to go home." What kind of nine year old doesn't want to be at the ball game? What is wrong with my child? I'm still working on him. Sigh.

I did get to see a complete game by a Tigers starter last year, and it was thrown by Edwin Jackson on June 6 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That hilarious moniker is actually on the scorecard by the way. This game was a 2-1 affair, which should come as no surprise, given the paltry run support Edwin got all year. Edwin gave up one run in the first, was then very efficient (only in the 4th did he not face the minimum batters), and struck out the side in the NINTH inning, for a grand total of 109 pitches. Gerald Laird cut down Chone Figgins after he led off the sixth with a single (Figgins stole 42 bases in '09 and was caught 17 times according to Baseball Reference). Notably, ALL of the game's runs were scored in the first. Polanco singled, and Clete Thomas walked, then Ordóñez and Granderson (who was batting fifth that day--Josh Anderson led off and played left), singled and sacrificed Polanco and Thomas home.

More unbearable rehash is on the way.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Games Attended 2009 Part I

Ok, so I broke out the scorecards and began to sift through them. Here's a little of the early data.

I attended 22 Tiger games, 20 at Comerica and 2 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Get ready for it, the Tigers won 18 of the games I attended in 2009! I'm way ahead of you here. I must purchase season tickets for 2010, because clearly I am a charmed woman who conjures Tiger victories out of my magic giant yellow knockoff Dolce bag that I take to every game (because each item necessary to a prepared fan can fit inside its capacious confines). Donations may be submitted to fund the aforementioned season tickets. A worthy cause, no?

Here are the starting pitchers (and the corresponding Tiger victories):

Verlander: 6 starts, 5 victories

Porcello: 3 starts, 3 victories (the kid likes cougars, what can I say?)

Jackson: 4 starts, 3 victories

Galarraga: 2 starts, 2 victories (no doubt, Armando needs me at each and every one of his starts)

Robertson: 3 starts, 2 victories

Figaro: 1 start, 1 victory

Bonine: 2 starts, 1 victory

Washburn: 1 start, 1 victory

Yes I saw the one good Washburn start, yes, believe it, revel in it. AND Inge hit the walkoff winner in the bottom of the ninth, AND my friends surprised me with tickets and a group outing, AND put a birthday greeting on the CoPa scoreboard for me, it's beyond storybook, kiddies.

Now it all began on April 14, when the first game I was slated to attend got rained out, and I found myself in a rank mood for a couple days. I mean, the season started late because of the World Baseball Classic, I didn't go to the opening series, I was supposed to see Porcello's CoPa debut that day...the gripe list goes on and on.

My first game of the year would then be the Yankees on April 27, which I happened to attend with a couple blokes you might know, Blake of the Spot Starters and Rogo from DesigNate Robertson. Ian, distinguished Editor Emeritus over at Bless You Boys, was supposed to join us, but had a better offer. I assume it was the likes of Zooey Deschanel, because what other influence could cause someone to ditch three such illustrious bloggers? It was great meeting Blake and talking some baseball, but Rogo kept interjecting details about his mancrush on Derek Jeter the whole game. It got a little nauseating after a while.

Part II coming soon to a theater near you.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Upcoming Series

I finally came up with an idea for an off-season series that should prove interesting (well, interesting to me at least). I score all the games I go to with very few exceptions (like when my ten year old joins me at the park). For this series, I'm going to analyze all the games I attended during 2009 based mainly on my scorecards (supplemented with information from Baseball Reference).

My current estimate is that I went to approximately 25 games last season. We'll find out more specifically as I get into the scorecards. It should be interesting to see how many times I saw each starter pitch, and how they did at games I attended. If any trends emerge, I'll be sure to superstitiously follow along for next season. For example, if Justin Verlander pitches atrociously when I'm in attendance, I'll eschew the park on days he starts, promise. I'm all about superstition now that I've got a stash of unused playoff tickets stacking up in my desk.

Watch for the first installment of the series soon.