Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spinning a Royal Yarn

The Tiger's press conference announcing his highness Prince Fielder awaited me after I finished work. A whole lot of nothing gets said at these things, but it's fun to listen and watch for goofy moments, if you can avoid getting mesmerized by Mike Ilitch's hair/rug/whatever.

Here are a few items of which I took note.

Jim Leyland didn't look like he fancied the dress up duds much. You may say, how incredibly blunt, I wouldn't need to watch the presser to tell you that. He didn't visibly squirm or tug at his tie, but you know, the vibe was there. Jim had to tell us that he believes Miguel will do just fine at third, despite a deficit in athleticism, and he has the proverbial great hands and a stellar arm. I mean, there is some truth there, he played short once upon a time, so he must be able to throw. And of course, we were reminded that the bit lost on defense, is gained and then some on the other side of the ball. Yesindeedbecausedontmakemebringupbrandoningesnumbersdontyoumakemedoit.

Scott Boras is still a mighty smug guy, who holds the rabble at a fair distance, the better to cordon himself off in his self-edifying, lofty air. Unfortunately, Mike Ilitch bought into this with whatever's left of his fortune, and made Boras out to have Baseball-Reference-d the whole of the Tiger organization, right down to our last utility man. Sigh.

The Princely one himself is not especially fond of holding forth and analyzing a thing to death like we are. He's got a very comfortable way about him. I guess you would be comfortable when you can just flat out play, when you know you've got the goods, when there is just no question about your ability. Asked about the pressure of living up to the old "expectations" of a sizable contract, he appeared genuinely unfazed, and matter of factly stated he would go out and play hard and expected that all that stuff would take care of itself. He wasn't going to try to change his approach to the ball to hit the gaps at Comerica. He will go out there and hit the ball hard (meaning shred the cover off that orb) and try to hit line drives. He doesn't know AL pitchers that well, but then in the minors you don't know the pitchers either, and it all works out. This is a man who isn't going to get his jock strap in a twist over perceptions. And it's a good thing, too, as Lynn Henning straight up called him pudgy and asked Scott Boras if there was a weight clause in that there contract. I don't mind people asking the tough questions, because who wants a whole bunch of "how does it feel to be back in Detroit" swill," but Henning was just flatly rude.

Dave Dombrowski didn't wear a striped polo shirt, but suited up with the rest of the bunch in solemn acknowledgement of the coronation. He helped Prince into the home white jersey, and the awkward photo-op developed just as you'd expect, with Mike Ilitch crowing, "A Tiger!" It was adorable. As the GM, Dave has to become a veritable cardboard cutout cliché. He simply has to go down the line and thank the principal players, be deferent and executive all at once. Poor Dave. Ha.

Mike Ilitch was really the presser's show stopper, and it was hilarious and touching and quite appropriate. He spoke like a proud grandfather about Prince and hearing about him from Cecil, following his career, just missing him in the draft. He was a sweet old husband, calling his wife out to stand and look around at the crowd of media members who'd gathered to hear the tale of how Prince Fielder came to Detroit. He handed Chanel Fielder a bouquet of flowers in a courtly display of manners. He didn't come across as a pompous, fake, or heavy-handed. He looked happy, really thrilled to have this whole thing come together. A great moment of satisfaction. I must say that my own immediate reaction on Tuesday was just to be agog at this man's willingness to initiate such deals as this and the Cabrera trade.

I wish I could recreate for you my absolute frenzied astonishment on Tuesday as the news broke. It was incredulity, followed by a high brought on by being hammered from behind with the most joyous news. The wake we'd been holding for Victor was swept away, and a grand, raucous party broke out in its place. Sure, we'll come down eventually, and deal with a few realities. But for now, we dance!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Field

My previous post outlined my campaign for Vladimir Guerrero coming to the Tigers. Now, we'll take a look at the field and see how the competition fares against my pick. My analysis here is all straight up. No spin, no hollow rhetoric, no playing to your patriotic Tiger loyalties. I may have to break that last campaign promise right off the bat. That's ok though, you expected it. I wouldn't be politicking if I weren't going back on my words while they were still hanging in the air. No particular order, other than blatant, stone-blind favoritism toward the first man on the ballot below:

Magglio Ordóñez

Stop your eye-rolling scoffs right now. One of the largest oxymorons in sports is that fans want to win the Championship with seemingly every fiber of their beings, but at the same time harbor attachments to players that make them completely unable to view personnel transactions with impartiality.

Magglio has been working out with Miguel Cabrera this off season, and is reportedly at 70%. He won't be game ready by the beginning of the season, but neither will someone like Cespedes. After coming off consecutive ankle-breaking seasons, many say the man is just done. The truth is, you never know with aging players (hello, Lance Berkman!). It would be a low-cost move that would give the man his place in a Tigers uniform. It might not work out, true. I'm willing to take the risk, because Brennan Boesch is healthy, and there is a little something called the trade deadline at which we could make an additional move, if needed.

Carlos Peña

Sorry folks, this candidate has accepted an assignment with the Tampa Bay Rays. High on a lot of lists, I would have been fine with this move, but had a lingering uneasiness about his high strikeout rate.

Carlos Lee

Trade whispers indicate Andy Oliver might go to the Astros for Lee. Every trade rumor makes me cringe immediately, because our system is already so thin, and what do we have to trade away???? This move doesn't worry me so much, though. Although he is 35, Lee has been durable, playing in 162 games twice in his career, and consistent. I think he'd be a solid acquisition.

Prince Fielder

Sigh. I would not even list him, but since so many delusional fans keep clamoring for him, let us outline why Prince will not be coming here.

1. He's looking for a long term deal, and there is no reason to think he won't get one. His agent is Scott Boras. Do you really think Boras would even allow him to entertain the idea of a one year contract? Please awaken from this dream state and return to the realm of possibility.

2. He's famously estranged from his pops, and would face nothing but constant hounding about Cecil if he played here. Even fond memories of hitting batting practice home runs as a 13 year old at Tiger Stadium will do nothing to sway him.

3. He plays first base. Ahem.

Let's move on, shall we?

Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes is a high profile Cuban defector who is still trying to establish residency so that MLB can declare him a free agent. With many teams vying for his services, the Tigers would likely overpay. I'd love to have the guy, but I think Dombrowski will be more conservative, and the Tigers will not win the bidding. It's ok. Remember that we still need a fifth starter. (subliminal messaging--don't rush Jacob Turner, don't rush Jacob Turner)

Johnny Damon

I had to go back and completely change my stance on this candidate. I HATE that, because I really wanted to be dead set against Johnny. It's because I am biased. Yup. My prejudices wrongly influenced me at first. I have never cared much for Damon. If you want to be a hired gun and go where the money is, no problem. Just don't say stuff like "I could never play for the Yankees," and then go denude yourself of facial hair and sign with them five seconds later. Well, I looked at the numbers. Compared him to options like Rick Ankiel and J.D. Drew. We'd be MUCH better off signing Damon. That's what happens when you do the research instead of letting personal slant strap the blinders on. I feel so tolerant and large-minded now! We may still not be cosmopolitan enough for Mrs. Damon, but I know Johnny liked playing here, so who knows?

I could go on for days here, and we have a lot of flexibility, because we can get a DH who can't play a lick of D, or we could sign an outfielder and put Young at DH, which would suit me and a legion of others quite nicely. So, even though I mourn the fact that Victor will not be stepping into the batter's box any time soon, and want to sob every time I think about HIS loss, we do have some things that can be done to try to compensate until our man can return.

Who's YOUR candidate?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SuperPac: Guerrero Your Hero

I have decided to start a superpac to campaign on behalf of bringing Vladimir Guerrero to the D. I mean, it's the season for campaigning, so why not throw Vlad's hat in to the ring? I don't know about you, but every time I listen to debates or soundbites from politicians, I get a strange churning feeling in the pit of my stomach. The seemingly viral corruption there is very distasteful. Never fear, I pledge to run a clean campaign for Vlad. No smearing of the other candidates. Well, if something about one of the other candidates is true, it may be shared in the interest of full disclosure.

Here are some qualities that would make Vlad a good fit for Detroit:

1. He doesn't use batting gloves. This is just pure awesomeness, and there are very few people who bat without gloves these days. Because he doesn't use gloves, he uses a lot of pine tar. We want to help sustain the pine tar industry, so let's employ Guerrero. Maybe they'll build a pine tar processing plant in Michigan.

2. Vlad's mother makes an incredible spread for the clubhouse for every game. Guerrero is from the Dominican Republic. Word is his mother's food is super delicious. Who knows, you may have a chance to sneak into the clubhouse sometime and partake.

3. Vlad is a bad ball hitter. I love this. It's impossible not to love seeing someone swing at stuff above the letters and down on the shoetops and actually make contact. I am fully aware that Vlad is not in his prime any longer, but he would be more than serviceable.

4. His name is Vladimir. That is all.

5. Vlad has six kids. I don't know how he has managed his money. He may need the cash.

6. He was on the cover of TV Guide. TV GUIDE! You don't believe me? Behold.

Look, our campaign slogan is clear: "VIVA VLAD!"

So there you have it. My case for Vladimir Guerrero. I will be producing campaign video spots, buttons, yard signs, and more very soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tigertown in Shambles

Well, there's nothing to break a person out of writer's block like a horrific off-season injury to a key player. For some reason, I've just been completely void of post ideas for quite a while. Not the best thing for retaining readers. So, to the maybe one person left out there, I give you this: GAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I mean, this is just too much. I can't imagine how the man himself feels right now, when all of Tiger fandom is alternating between sobs, muttering and cursing. It's a blow not easily recovered from. It shakes a not so solid lineup. It exposes Miguel Cabrera to 50,000 intentional walks. I CANNOT BEAR THE THOUGHT OF THE BAT BEING TAKEN OUT OF MIGGY'S HANDS AGAIN!!!

Of course, this also comes at just about the worst possible time. Fans are literally broken out in baseball withdrawal sweats, and the Tigers have cancelled Tiger fest in a Grinchy move that is calculated to make me even crankier than normal. Could you not shell out a few bucks to rent out Cobo or Joe Louis you tightwads? I love the corporate line "TigerFest is best suited to Comerica Park." YOU MEAN YOU'RE TOO CHEAP AND LAZY TO HOLD IT SOMEWHERE ELSE, JERKS.

Sorry for all the caps lock, but it's been that kind of day. I hope these skinflint ways don't extend to finding a replacement for VMart. We need a bat for this season. We can't just make do. We are already making do with platoons of Raburn/Santiago and Inge/Kelly. UGH. Go get a bat, Dave, go get a bat.

I have always been a fan of Vlad Guererro. I know, he's diminished, but he may be a decent option. Of course, you know what I am REALLY hoping for:


Sorry. I am a little crazed at the moment. But really, we could do worse. He'd be inexpensive. He will probably hit for decent average. He belongs here. Accept it before it destroys you.

Also, let us not forget about poor Victor. Many get well wishes go out to you, fine sir. May you find comfort in the fact that so many people have gone absolutely certifiable over the thought of going a season without you. May the surgeon's hand be masterful, and your recovery be swift. May your family care for you in your recuperation. And may the Tigers win the Central so you can come back and be a playoff hero.