Archive for September, 2003


After spending three hours out in the cold last night playing softball, I woke up last night feeling like crap, so I took the day off. And what a day to take off, as there was some good baseball on from 1 pm up until now. Looks like the Braves are up 1-0, and both the Twins and Giants won (as predicted).

Ironically, the last time I called in sick was opening day. These really are coincidences. Really, they are.

And outside of feeling like crap, I’ve been really busy, and haven’t had as much time to write as much as I normally would. But things seem to be calming down, so I’m hoping to get back into it soon.

And I added a link to my other site. I have a full-time job, but I also do taxes on the side during the winter. Mostly individuals, but a few small businesses as well. The bad part of it is, I don’t get to devote as much time to my clients as a person who has their own practice. But, on the good side, since I don’t rely on this to pay my mortgage, I usually charge considerably less then the people who do. So if you’ve used H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt (which I don’t recommend for many reasons), or are just looking for a second opinion, and you live in the Detroit area, drop me a line and we can do business. If it makes you feel better, I more know about accounting and taxes then I do about baseball.

Maybe that doesn’t make you feel better. Regardless, I have a website with information on prices (which are negotiable), and I even have a column I worked up on IRAs.

And also coming soon is a website related to my other passion, reading. So there’s a lot going on, but I promise not to let it get in the way of my Tiger writing, so make sure you come back once in a while.

NL Predictions

Eventually I’m going to write why, but I probably won’t get a chance to finish my column until after all of the NL series begin. So rather then getting blamed for knowing the outcomes of some of the games, I’ll post who I think will win each series, and explain probably Tuesday evening:

Giants over the Marlins 4-0
Cubs over the Braves 4-2

Giants over the Cubs 4-2

Gianst over the Athletics 4-3

UPDATE: Thanks Jay, I obviously did these in a hurry. Giants 3-0 over the Marlins, and lets say Cubs 3-1 over the Braves.

Tigers End Season on Winning Note, Avoid Infamy

I would have never thought it would happen, but the Tigers finish the season winning 5 of 6, and end up with a 43-119 record. Truly a poor season, but they managed to stay out of the record books (outside of AL and team records).

I got to listen to Dan Dickerson and Jim Price send everyone off. I truly think they did a good job of filling the shoes of somoene who can’t be filled. Dan and Jim will be the first to admit they’re not Ernie, but there’s no shame ending up second to him.

And with that, another Tiger season is in the books. Make sure you stop by the site on occasion, as I’ll be following the playoffs, and taking a pretty detailed look at what the Tigers have in their system. I’ll also mix things up, and write about some former Tiger greats. So even though the Tigers are done, I won’t be.

American League Playoff Predictions

The playoffs will be a special treat this year, simply because I’ll be able to watch them. Last year on this coming up Sunday, I got married, and a few days later, went to Europe on a wonderful honeymoon. While we had a great time, I was lucky to even get scores while I was gone, so when I got back, I had to piece together what happened at around game 3 of the World Series.

And with Boston comfortably in the lead tonight, I can write this knowing Seattle won’t be able to pull off a miracle and completely invalidate what I wrote. And since it looks like Houston is going to tie the Cubs for the division lead in the west, I might as well start with the league that’s all sorted out.

Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees

I definitely know the Twins better then Yankees, because they’re the Tigers division rivals (i.e. the Tigers are their doormat). The Yankees are the Yankees. Top notch pitching staff with established veterans like Mussina, Pettitte, and Clemens (not to mention Wells and Weaver. Yes, the Weaver thing is a joke). And their offense is formidable, with former AL MVP Jason Giambi, and one of the best lead off hitters in the game Alfonsio Soriano. The Yankees should finish with the best record in the AL, and have a solid shot at winning 100 again this year.

The Twins are a little more tricky to figure. On the one hand, if you were to swap either Toronto or Seattle with the Twins, putting either team in the AL Central, the Twins probably wouldn’t even be in this analysis. You can argue that they’re not only the weakest of the four teams, but you could also argue that two other teams that didn’t make the playoffs are better ball clubs then them.

But they’re there. And on the other hand, the Twins are simply the hottest team in baseball right now. I got in an arguement last year with a coworker who complained about OSU’s football championship ladt year, saying they didn’t play anyone good outside of UM. My arguement was, they won. Plain and simple. There’s something to be said about a team that goes out and wins every game, whether they’re playing the Tigers, or the Yankees. And that’s what the Twins have done. They’ve come out, and many more times then not, they’ve walked off the field a winner.

Statistically, the Yankees probably have a slight edge in hitting. They have a slightly lower batting average (.270 vs. .277), but they have a better OBP (.341 vs. .356) and a better slugging percentage (.452 vs .430). The Yankees have a large lead in home runs (222 vs. 150) and the Yankees have scored on average about a half run more a game.

The Yankees have a slight edge in pitching as well. Better ERA (4.09 vs. 4.36), and a marginally better WHIP (1.30 vs. 1.31). The Yankees also average around 3/4 of a strikeout more a game as well.

But, I think the Twins are going to ride their winning streak past the Yankees. I’m not a big proponent of momentum, but I think the Twins are winning for a reason. The Metrodome is always an interesting place to play, and I think the Twins will go down 2-0, win their two home games, then come back to Yankee Stadium and win the series in 5.

Oakland Athletics vs. Boston Red Sox

Another interesting series. The Boston Red Sox are an offensive powerhouse. They lead the major leagues in batting average (.288), runs (935, next closest is Atlanta at 890), OBP (.359), and SLG (.489). Oakland on the other hand, is near the bottom in some of those categories, and is no better then middle of the pack.

Pitching however, is another matter. Oakland has the best ERA in the AL (only the Dodgers have a better ERA), and on average give up nearly an earned less the the Red Sox (3.54 vs. 4.51). Oakland also has a large edge in WHIP (1.26 vs. 1.37). So on the face of things, it’s a classic good hitting vs. good pitching match up.

However, this is the playoffs. And although Oakland has one of the best rotations in the majors, Boston’s wild card is Pedro Martinez. You’d expect Pedro to pitch twice in the series, probably against Hudson. So, I expect Pedro to get the better of Boston in the first game, then Oakland will bounce back, win the next two, and go up 2-1. The Hudson will get the better of Pedro in game four, and the A’s will go on to face the Twins in the AL Championship, and the master (Beane) beats the student (Epstein).

Minnesota Twins vs. Oakland Athletics

I went through a lot of the numbers above, so this one will be shorter. Bottom line, Santana and Radke are good, but they’re not Hudson and Zito (at least Santana isn’t quite there yet), and the A’s, behind Eric Chavez (who I predict will be the MVP of the series), will go on to beat the Twins 4-2, and will go on to play…

Well, we’ll see when I write who I think will win over in the NL. Not as many surprises over there though.

And the Tigers have now finished off the Twins, and have extended their winning streak to three. Shane Halter hit a solo shot off of Brad Thomas did for the Tigers, as the Twins waste another great start by Johann Santana. Boston did end up winning, so they clinched the wild card.

Carlos Delgado became the 15th player in major league history to hit 4 homeruns in one game. Up until last year, when Cameron and Shawn Green did it, nobody had hit four since Mark Whitten did it in 1993. And it had never been done in back to back seasons, much less having it done three times in two years.

What the F#%@?

This was probably everyone’s intial reaction if the turned on the Tiger game at some point in the mid to late innings, as the Tigers turned the tables on Jose Lima, and destroyed the Royals, 15-6. The Tigers set season highs in runs and hits, the Tigers scored in each of their first seven innings, and all nine of the starters had at least one rbi. So the Tigers get win 39, and they do it in a big way.

Omar Infante got the nod at third base, only his second major league game there. In the seventh inning, he made a nice play down the line to get the out. You like to see guys open to new things like this. When they suggested Deivi Cruz move to third a few years back, he copped an attitude.

And at least the AL playoff races are winding down. The Twins clinched the Central, and the Red Sox have a 3.5 game lead for the wild card. The NL is a little less clear, with the Marlins holding a 2 game lead over Philly, and the Cubs now holding a one game lead over Houston.

Home Stretch

The Tigers enter the final week of a dismal season. Regardless of whether the win the rest of their games, or lose the rest, they’re going to down in history as one of the worst teams in the history of baseball. Whether they go 5-2, and are mentioned after the both the Cleveland Spiders and the New York Mets is just a formality. This team was, and is bad, and things have to improve.

Probably the most troubling is the silence from the front office. Other then rumors of Pat Hentgen possibly coming home to play for his home town team, everyone’s mum as far as who the Tigers will pursue in the off season. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I started this blog on April 4th. Entries were scattered and haphazard (you’re probably asking yourself, what has changed) to start, and then around the all star break, I started trying to write something consistently. Sometime’s it wasn’t much, and at times I tried to do a little more. So if you’ve stopped by to read what I have to say, you’re my kind of Tiger fan, because this has been one tough year. And I plan to keep going into the off season, tackling some Tiger history, and watching things unfold from the front office, hopefully being able to proclaim improvement.

And for all of those baseball fans who have teams entering the playoffs, cherish the season. For a lot of us, our season is done, and we’re limited to watching teams we like, or have followed, not OUR team. I’m truly jealous. And if you’re team wins the World Series, cherish it even more, because you never know, it might not happen again in your life time.

Tigers Swept By Twins, Lose 117th

Nate Cornejo did a good job of eating up some innings, but the Twins jumped all over him in the third inning, and the Tigers lost 6-4. And with that loss, the Tigers are one more step away from the record books.

The Twins pretty much dominated the Tigers, like they have the last couple of years. Brad Radke threw a nice game, and the Twins are in a good spot, peaking at just the right time. As sort of preview of my playoff predictions, Johann Santana and Brad Radke aren’t exactly Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling of 2001, but the Twins could end up riding these guys into the World Series. With the White Sox losing their game, the Twins magic number is now 3.

And Oakland held off the Mariners, and avoided a sweep, and are now a comfortable three games up on Seattle. And to round out the division races, the Cubs picked up a game and are only a half game back of Houston (although the half game is a loss, which you can’t make up).

Once the races are finalized, I’ll then post my predictions, and following what happens throughout the playoffs. I’m also going to take a stab, with some editorial commentary, at who’s going to win the post season awards.

Unfortunately I won’t get to see much of the Tigers final home stand. I could probably easily get tickets, but between a wedding, another party, and my wedding anniversary, I just couldn’t swing it.

Tigers Lose 8th in Row, 116th Game

For those of you who flamed me for my last column, I can answer all of your emails with one simple statement:

No, I don’t do drugs.

But with that out the way, the Twins now have pretty much locked things up in the Central. They’re 4.5 games up, and Johann Santana threw a decent game yesterday (that’s all he needed) to beat the Tigers yesterday. Their magic number is five, and they have five more games against us, so things are looking pretty secure.

And not that the Tigers have played well all season, but it looks like they’re having one of their late season melt downs. Since their 3 game winning streak against the Indians earlier this month, the Tigers have now lost 14 out of 15, and are now 4 losses away from tying the 1962 Mets loss record.

Nate Robertson, another starting rotation hopeful, has really struggled. His first three starts were solid, but since then, he’s been shaky, giving up four or more runs in five or less innings in three of his last four starts.

The hitting continues to struggle as well. Take out Dmitri Young’s .880 OPS, and the next best hitter is Carlos Pena who has a .780 OPS. Just to compare this to another team, the Giants have five players at or above that number, with three or four just behind. And the Tigers jump above the Dodgers as the lowest scoing team in baseball was a short one, as the Dodgers have scored 10 more times, getting across the plate 545 times versus the Tigers 535.

The Tigers have 8 games left, and need to win 5 to get their name completely out of the record books. If I were a betting man, I’d say they’d go 2-6 the rest of the way, and finish 40-122.

Despite Worst Team Ever Tag, Tigers Have a Chance to Have an Impact on Who Makes the Playoffs

In 1987, the Tigers had the best record in baseball, and lost to the Twins in the ALCS, 4 games to 1. In 1988, the Tigers finished 1 game back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East, and dropped 11 of 12 games that year to the Minnesota Twins.

This year, the Tigers are going to down in the history books as one of the worst teams in baseball history, if not the worst. And I know Aaron Gleeman is saying the race is over, and the Twins are going to take the division title. I happen to agree with him and would like to see the Twins come out as AL West Champs.

But. wouldn’t it be ironic if the Tigers managed to catch fire, take 5 of the 7 they play against the Twins, and cause them to lose out to the White Sox? Wouldn’t that be an interesting footnote to the season? “Yeah, we were bad, but Tram got a little revenge for the beating he took to the Twins in 1987.”

Two times in the late 1980s the Tigers had World Series hopes beyond 1984. Both times the Twins had some kind a significant impact on them not meeting those hopes.

Payback time?

Halladay Wins 21st, Tigers Shut Out

I had fun at the game last night. In the first inning, I sat in the outfield bleachers, and Fox Sports announcers Rod Allen and Mario Impebna were doing the game from out there. After that, I came and sat about 20 rows up just to the right of home plate. At 8:15, I called my wife and walked down there and waved to her, getting on television. Then I move to the other side of home plate and sat 8 rows back. From that view point, I wasn’t watching the game through the net, but was watching it through the plexiglass behind home plate.

Halladay was impressive. You could see how much his pitches were breaking from 20 rows back. The Tigers got to him early, with lead off doubles in the first and second innings, but never could get on the board.

One design flaw I never noticed at Comerica Park is right behind home plate there’s a tunnel where the grounds crew comes out. Those normally would be prime seats. Why they didn’t have the grounds crew come out of the side, like I believe they did at Tiger Stadium, is beyond me. You have around 8 seats missing right behind there where a lot of people would like to watch a ball game.

There were more people at the game then I would have thought for a Wednesday night. I don’t know if it was Halladay pitching or what. They didn’t sell the place out, but 11,000+ is better then the 9,000 they had the night before.

And with that, the Tigers lose 113. The find the last AL team to lose that many games, you’d have to go way back to the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, who lost 117 that year. The Tigers now need to win 5 of 10 to avoid any kind of distinction.

And the Twins take a commanding 2.5 game lead in the AL West. The final game in the AL west showdown between the Twins and White Sox is now almost a must win for the White Sox if they want to stay alive.

Tigers Down in Ninth, Look to Lose 112th

Talk about the train coming off the tracks. Nate Cornejo was pitching a nice game, and then things blew up on him, as Higginson gets ejected, and the Jays go onto to score four. The Tigers started the inning tied 2-2.

And now the score is 8-4. Cornejo is trying to be the lone Tiger starter to end the season with a sub-5.00 ERA. Looks like he’s going to make it.

I’m going to the game tomorrow. I called all of my friends, and nobody jumped at the offer. I have one other potential, but I very well could be going to the game by myself, which is fine with me.

The only other time I went to a game by myself has to be one of the most bizarre stories ever. It was the final season at Tiger Stadium. and my sister got four good tickets to like the fifth to last game (it was on a Sunday). I got the tickets last minute, and couldn’t find anyone to go with me, so I went down to the park by myself, looking to give away the other three.

So I’m standing by the ticket booth, trying to pick a family of three or something to sit next to, when I see a friend of mine walking towards the ticket booth. Now you’re probably wondering why I never called that friend to see if he wanted to go to the game, and the simple reason is, he lives in Columbus, Ohio. He came up with his sister in law and her husband on a whim to see a game at Tiger Stadium before it closed. Of course, I gave him my three tickets, and we all sat together.

Weird stuff.

But I do get to see Roy Halladay pitch, who’s helped my pitching staff in my roto team. If I do go, I might play scout and pick a Tiger to watch, and move around the ball park to see him play at different angles or something. Of course I’ll have my nonsensical write up of whoever the guy is up here Thursday morning.

Tigers Lose 111th game, Series to KC

As much as Bilbo Baggins’ eleventy first birthday was celebrated in the Fellowship of the Ring, the Tigers 111th loss wasn’t. The Detroit Tigers dropped their third straight, and now sit 10 losses away from the record set by the 1962 Mets.

Gary Knotts got beat up early, and couldn’t even last through the third inning.

Looks like the Tigers are interested in Pat Hentgen. Although hardly a top notch free agent, I think having a veteran starter in the rotation would be a good long term bonus, and hopefully Hentgen can get some of his form back.

I’m finding it hard to keep up with early in the week. Between my baseball league finishing up, my football league starting up, and still having softball on Mondays, it makes getting to a column tough. So I’m going to keep this one short

Tigers Tie Franchise Loss Record, Lose to Royals

Kansas City turned the tables on Detroit, and were on the other end of a 7-0 shutout as the Tigers lost their 109th game of the season, matching the franchise high set in the not to distant future, 1996.

Everyone’s been talking about the 1962 Mets, an their 120 losses. but with the Tigers on the verge of losing 110, I figured I’d check to see how long it’s been since that’s even been done. Well, I had to go back pretty far. The 1969 Expos and the 1969 Padres both lost 110 games in their first season of existance. The 1965 Mets lost 112. So once the Tiges lose 113, it’s just them and the infamous 1962 Mets.

What’s equally depressing is prior to the 1996 Tigers, you have to go all the way back to 1979 Toronto Blue Jays to find a team that even lost 109, so the Tigers have the worst record in the 90s, and will probably have the worst record in the naughts, if not ever.

The only redeeming quality is that Carlos Beltran had a good game, and he’s a starter on my roto team.

Tigers, Maroth Beat Kansas City

Mike Maroth pitched 6 strong shutout innings, and the pen came in and kept the door closed, as the Tigers won their 38th game of the season, and avoided, for now, losing their franchise worst 109th game.

A lot has been made about Brian Kingman, the last player to lose 20 in a season. As Maroth’s start came up, I thought about how long it’s been since someone lost 21, and I had to go back to 1974. Three players lost 22 in the National League that season, but one player lost 21 in the American League. That player was Tiger great Mickey Lolich.

Arguably a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher, Mickey Lolich is best known for his three wins in the 1968 World Series. Mickey won 217, lost 191, had nearly 3,000 strikeouts, and had some pretty impressive seasons. 1971 (the year I was born) and 1972 standout. He won 25 and 22 games, lost 14 in each, and pitched a mind boggling (at least if you’re used to current day pitchers) 376 and 327 2/3 innings. In those two years, he also had ERA+ of 124 and 126, which were his two best full seasons.

But just two years, and near the end of his career, things just didn’t work out. Mickey went 16 and 21 with an ERA+ of 92. He still pitched 308 innings, but he gave up 38 homeruns, and 142 earned runs, both of which led the league.

So, even if Maroth were to lose another game, or even two, he’d be in good company.

Tigers Down to Yanks, Clemens

In what could be Roger Clemens final appearance against the Tigers, the Tigers are down 4-2 in the seventh. Clemens pitched 6 2/3 solid innings, and now we’ll see if the Tigers can do anything against the Yankees bullpen.

Roger Clemens at this point, has to be one of the top five pitchers ever. Bill James ranks him 11th all time back in 2000 when he wrote his New Historical Baseball Abstract, but acknowledges that because he’s a modern day pitcher, he may deserve a higher rating. In fact he even mentions that there are good arguements that he is THE very best pitcher ever.

Clemens numbers speak for themselves. Through 2002, he has a career ERA+ of 142. For those of you unfamiliar with this statistic, essentially it measures a pitcher’s ERA as a percentage of what the park adjusted league ERA was for that player. If you have 100, you have exactly the park adjusted league average. 142 put him at 11th best all time.

His career numbers are daunting. He has 306 wins (307 if he wins tonight), 4089 strikeouts, a 1.18 WHIP, and a .231 batting average against. Six times he’s won 20 games. In fact, he’s had so many good seasons, that it’s hard to even say which one is best. 1986 stands out, and was the first year he won the Cy Young. 1990 also stands out when he had a 1.93 ERA.

Probably the most impressive thing about him is his winning percentage. Roger has won 306 and lost 160. That means in games where he got a decision, he won 66% of them. Five pitchers have won 300, and lost less then 200. Only one of those pitched after 1920, and that was Hall of Famer Lefty Grove, who won exactly 300, and lost only 141. Lefty is rated number two by Bill James, so we know Roger is in select company.

Twice this year I saw him in person; once at Comerica Park when he went for his 300th win, and then again at Yankee Stadium. Knowing I was seeing a part of baseball history was a special treat for any baseball fan.

Baseball Prospectus & Other Odds and Ends

For the first time this year, I purchased Baseball Prospectus, which is simply an awesome publication. I find myself going back to it throughout the season whenever a trade is made, or a player is called up from the minors, just to check and see what they have to say about them. I’d highly recommend this book as a “must read” for baseball fans.

With that, they also have a website where they have a premium service, offering up articles, analysis and interviews. This I didn’t subscribe to, but I was wondering of those of you who have, whether it’s worthwhile. I’m going to drop my Wall Street Journal Subscription, and can use the money I save to use in another place, and this is one of the things I was looking at.

Also, I still have some openings for a Detroit area Strat-O-Matic tournament. If you’re interested and live around here, email me for details.

Tigers Look to Lose to Yanks

Tigers are down 10-4 in the seventh. I’m not optimistic. Gary Knotts got roughed up early, only lasting 3 1/3. Jeremy Bonderman has pitched two innings of solid relief.

Probably the odd part of this game was in the the Tigers third inning, where they scored 4 runs, and did it all on only one hit. Santiago and Sanchez walked. Klassen then hit a grounder to Petite, who summarily threw it into centerfield, scoring Santiago. Higgy hit a single to drive in Sanchez. Monroe walked to load the bases, and then finally Pena reached first on an error by Nick Johnson, on which Klassen and Higgy both scored. To make the inning even more interesting, Pettitte, between all of this stuff, managed to strike out the side.

Yanks just got another one 11-4. So besides that big(?) inning, the Tigers haven’t done much, and look to drop their 107th.

The Twins lead the Sox 2-0 in the 6th in a pretty important game. Sox have the two game lead, so I’m sure Twins fans would like them to come away with this one.

I have four tickets to the Tigers game next Wed. against the Blue Jays, and have yet to find anyone else to go to the game with me. I still have some phone calls to make, but if any locals would be interested in sitting at the park and talking baseball, drop me a line.

And one treat I got this year was being able to sit in some good seats. What was equally frustrating was, despite the park being empty, how the ushers wouldn’t let even kids come down and sit down near the fence. Guess it’s their job, but still.

Tigers Drop First Game to Yanks, Lose 106th

The Tigers dropped a close one. Tied going into the bottom of the eighth, Fernando Rodney couldn’t get the job done. That’s now three straight sub-par performances since he earned his first career save. Nate Robertson pitched well, keeping them in the game, but again seemed to be inefficient. He only went 6 innings, yet, threw 103 pitches. The Tigers did walk 6 times, including 6 by Pena.

And in the AL Central race, the White Sox took their second straight in the series against the Twins, and now have a 2 game lead, with two games left in this series. The NL Central race is no less exciting, with the Astros and Cubs tied for first, and St. Louis only 2.5 back.

And with that, the Tigers lost their 106th game. Even if they won their remaining 19 games, they’d tie their mark for last year, which was considered pretty disastrous. And sometime this week, they’ll probably match the team record for most losses in a season, which was 109 back in 1996.

Things with my basement are FINALLY winding down, and my football leagues have all started up. By winter, without baseball, I won’t know what to do with myself.

Tigers Swept by Jays, AL West Race Heats Up

Another tough weekend for the Tigers, as they were swept by the Blue Jays, and were shutout twice. I didn’t get to watch much baseball this weekend, or football for that matter, but it looked like Halladay and Cornejo threw quite a game on Saturday.

And the AL West race is really heating up. The Twins and White Sox are tied, and they play each other in a four game series beginning tonight in Chicago. If one of them can come out winning 3 of 4, that would give them a huge edge down the stretch (duh). Then they play each other again next week in a three game series.

I’ve touted the White Sox, but the Twins also have seven against Detroit, and we know how the Twins have owned Detroit the last couple of years.

And the Tigers stand pat at 37 wins. I’d like them to win 6 more, but we’ll see. Things get more and more grim every day.

My wife’s birthday is tomorrow, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve been out of action for a while. Hopefully I’ll get back into the groove starting tomorrow when the Tigers take on the the Yanks.

Maroth Loses 20th

Yes, it’s finally happened. I’m sure Brian Kingman is disappointed, but he’ll have to deal and find a life now.

I’m keeping this very short. So everyone have a great weekend.

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