Archive for October, 2003

Tigers Pick Up Cliff Bartosh Off of Waivers

The Tigers signed Padres’ minor league left handed pitcher Cliff Bartosh today. Not a bad pickup in my opinion. Bartosh has a wicked curveball, and posted a 4.29 ERA, with 51 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings for the Padres AAA afillitate, the Portland Beavers. One nice thing about Bartosh is he only gave up 4 homeruns in those 71 1/3 innings, very similar to the season before when he gave up the same number in 70 2/3 at AA Mobile.

He also improved on his control, walking 22 this versus 32 the year before. So at best, he makes the team next year and is used to spell Walker as a left handed set up man. Whoever does the best could possibly get the main lefty reliever job in 2005. At worst, he spends another season in AAA, and we have for insurance if we don’t resign Jamie Walker after this current one year deal expires.

Nothing major, but baby steps. This could be a good solid pickup, and the Tigers need a break. Lefties are never something to look past.

Tigers Make First Move During Off Season

Nothing too major, but they inked Jamie Walker to a one year deal for $775,000. Not a bad price. Walker was the only Tiger who was arbitration eligible this season.

Walker had a decent season for Detroit last year, used mainly as left handed specialist out of the pen. He got his batting average against left handed hitters down to .212 after a rough start, but gave up 6 homeruns in the equivalent of 32 innings against lefties.

Plus, Walker has some trade value. So come next year’s trade deadline, we might be able to use Walker to garner a prospect from a team looking for a lefty to round out their bullpen.

Free Agency Season Begins

With the end of the World Series comes new found hope for every team. Prior year records are wiped out, and each team starts with a clean slate and hopes to be able to build their team into the next Marlins.

And as every day goes by, more and more players file for free agency. Some are less spectacular then others (Steve Sparks), but there are some also some very big names. Kevin Millwood turns 29 in December, and appears to be well past his shoulder problems. Not a bad guy to anchor your pitching staff around.

But one name sticks out. Former Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen, while well past his prime, has been rumored to be a Tigers target this year. The Detroit area native looks to be coming back home. Hentgen didn’t pitch great in 2003, the closest he’s come to pitching a full season since 2000. He gave up a number of homeruns (25) in 160 2/3 innings, but he posted a modest 4.09 ERA with a .247 batting average against. Hentgen is hardly a star, but he would be the best pitcher the Tigers have, and would take some of the heat off of Maroth, Bonderman, and Cornejo. He would also provide some good veteran leadership that was missing from the starting rotation last year.

And wouldn’t this be a blockbuster? Alfonso Soriano for Carlos Beltran. I don’t have ESPN Insider to read the story, but this would be huge. Beltran in my view is one of the best players out there. Five tool, and coming off one of his best seasons as far as patience at the plate (72/81 BB/K ratio, vs. a career ratio of only 279/540). Beltran is on the verge of becoming the next superstar, and appears to have all of things Soriano doesn’t. Of course with the acquisition of Beltran, you wonder what the Yankees would do with Bernie Williams.

So baseball lives on. Just as interesting as ever. Just now it’s GMs wheeling and dealing, versus the players actually showing their stuff on the field.

The More Things Change…

…the more they stay the same.

I just finished a pretty good article by Rob Neyer. If you can get past the Yankee bashing, it’s pretty interesting. One thing he didn’t touch on was the brush back pitch, which hitters have been complaining about for the last century.

And for those of you who have made it over from my old domain, I say welcome. This should be the last move, as Tigerblog becomes about as official as it’s ever going to be. My thanks go out to Jay for making things very smooth as far as the transition.

The baseball season is completed, but baseball is definitely not done. Every day, more and more players file for free agency, have their options taken, or what seems to be even more likely, declined. And the Tigers, with Dave Dombrowski at the helm, have to build a baseball team for next year.

And for those of you who make it here on a regular basis, I’m going to be spending some time taking a hard look at each position, and what I think the Tigers are going to do to fill that spot. As the winter rolls on, I’ll update these position analyses so you can come back in February and have a pretty good handle the Tigers team as a whole.

And I’m hoping to learn a few things in the process as well. Maybe/Hopefully, there’s a hidden gem buried in the minors somewhere. The Tiger’s Hank Blalock, someone who comes out of nowhere and turns into a solid player to build a championship team with.

I’ll be looking at the catchers first, and then probably move my way around the infield. As always, your comments are appreciated.

Game Over

And the Marlins are your 2003 World Champions.

Decent series, but it didn’t hold my interest like a Cubs/Sox series, or even if one of those teams go in there. And this year, the player who made a name for himself was Josh Beckett. Josh was pretty good during the regular season, but injuries limited him to 23 starts. And although his 9-8 record wasn’t impressive, his 152 strikeouts in 142 innings were.

So now we fast forward to the playoffs, and Beckett was exceptional. His numbers look really good (2.11 ERA, .139 BA against, 47 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings), they’re even better when you take out his one bad start in game two against the Cubs, and they look even better. Two complete game shutouts in the post season is no small task.

And although I didn’t write this on my board, some friends can attest to the fact that I thought McKeon was making a good move starting Beckett on short rest (and we’re still arguing about it). I felt that whoever won game 6 would go on to win the series, and that the Marlins needed their hottest hand in there to shut down the Yanks. It worked grandly for McKeon, and he can add his championship to his resume, including most likely a Manager of the Year award. Not too bad for a guy who coached George Brett when he first started in the majors.

So now the season is done, and for the Tigers we have a few important questions:

Will Dave Dombrowski stay?

Probably, but not by choice. Rumors are flying about Dombrowski and his problems with Denise Illitch. Hopefully they’re just that, and Dave can continue/being working on rebuilding this team like he did the Marlins.

Will Mike Illitch stand by his word and spend some money to improve the team?

This one is the classic “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Bringing in a guy like Luis Castillo would be a coup, and would be an immediate improvement. If they do more “hole filling,” then there are going to be a ton of disgrunted fans.

Will the Tigers be better next year?

I can say this with 99% confidence that the answer is yes, but only because they can’t be any worse. Even if the fielded the same team, everyone has a year under their belts. I think they could field the team they have, and probably only lose 110 games.

But something has to change. Since the Marlins became a team back in 1993, they’ve had a record of 797-918. Hardly impressive, but not bad for an expansion team. And when you take into account the two championships, then it’s even more impressive.

The Tigers during that same period of time has been 707-1,008. That’s winning percentage of .412. So an average season over the last 11 years for the Tigers is 67-95.

The more you look at the numbers, the more depressing things appear for the team. Something has to change, and hopefully the Illitch family can finally right some of the wrongs.

Back to New York…

And the Yankees find themselves in a must win situation. Down three games to two, the Marlins are one win away from being crowned world champions.

The Yankees got off to a rough start last night when David Wells came out after an inning with back spasms. Forced to go deep into his bullpen, the only consolation is that Joe Torre’s team gets a day off to rest.

As usual, the Yankees made things interesting in the ninth, by getting two runs and cutting the lead to 6-4. They just didn’t have enough gas to get through one though.

Only two games are left, and only one might be played. It’s always sad to see baseball go.

The End of the Line for One of the Greatest

It’s always a thrill to see one of the greatest players of all time do his thing. This year I’ve had the great fortune to see Roger Clemens pitch twice in person, and it was a special treat.

Tonight, if he holds to his promise, Roger Clemens will lace up his shoes for the last game of his major league career. Definitely a first ballot Hall of Fame, Roger Clemens could possibly be given the tag as the greatest pitcher of all time. Hopefully he’ll be able to go out on top one more time.

Even Stephen

Let’s start with the controversy. Or the closest thing to it that I can get on this board. Last week, after the Yankees dramatic victory, I was one of the few people to come out and defend Grady Little’s decision to keep Pedro in the game. To further back up my statement, I’m going to give you a hypothetical.

Say it’s Game 7 of the World Series. It’s the top of the eighth, and it’s been a dramatic, scoreless pitching duel. Your starter gives up a single, then a double, to give the opposing team runners at second and third, with nobody out. You decide to stick with your starter, and he goes on to give up a two run single, and you lose the game 2-0. Correct?

Wrong. Very wrong. You get the next guy (who happens to be the number three batter, and the best power hitter on the team) to ground out to the first basemen, holding the runners where they’re at. You intentionally walk the next batter, so now the bases are loaded with only one out. Because you don’t go with your reliever and stick with your tired starter, the next guy hits a grand slam and you lose the game 4-0. Right?

Wrong again. The starter gets the next batter to ground out of the double play, getting HIMSELF out of a major jam. He then goes on to pitch a hitless ninth inning, and the game goes into extra innings at 0-0. Not wanting to get off your horse, you ride him into the tenth, where once again, he gets the opposing team to go out one-two-three. He’s all ready to come out in the eleventh, but your team scores, and he doesn’t have to. You win the World Series, and the pitcher who threw this gem goes on to be series MVP.

This is EXACTLY what happened in the 1991 World Series. The pitcher was Jack Morris. Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up watching baseball in the 70s and 80s, but I still expect pitchers to finish their games. Had Twins manager Tom Kelly gone to the pen, he might have lost the game, and the Series. But he rode the best guy he had, and he won.

Pedro Martinez had a chance to be a hero. Unlike Morris, he had a two-run lead. He just didn’t get it done. As for Grady Little and his deciding to keep Pedro in there, I agree that Matsui turned on one good, but it’s hardly like Posada hit the snot out of the ball as he blooped one into center.

Things are getting underway in Miami, and everything is tied up. I went back to see how important a game 3 is when the two teams have split going into it, and if history repeats itself, it’s critically important. Since 1983, surprisingly only 6 World Series have started 1-1. The seasons were 1983, 1984 (yes, the Tigers), 1992, 1993, 1997, and then last year. Of those 6, every team that won Game 3 went on to win the World Series. And the math supports it. You win game three, you can go .500 the rest of the way and still take it home. You lose, and you HAVE to win 3 of 4.

It should be a good pitching matchup as Josh Beckett tries to continue his run of good pitching by going up against the veteran Mike Mussina. Bottom of the first, and it’s 0-0.

The Curse of the Bambino Lives On

Plain and simple, what a game, as once again, the Red Sox fall short of winning their first World Series since 1918. To make matters worse, the team that beat them is the team that took the Great Bambino from them for cash that started the silly curse way back when.

I stayed up and watched this one, and despite hoping the Red Sox would win it, I wasn’t dissappointed. The Yankees had a ton of heroes. Jason Giambi, who was dropped to 7th in the lineup, kept them close with two solo shots. Jorge Posada came up with a big two run double to tie things up. Mariano Rivera came in and shut the door and turned the lock, pitching three shutout innings. And then finally, in his first at bat of the game in the 11th inning, Aaron Boone, with brother Bret Boone watching in the announcer’s booth, simply crushed a Tim Wakefield knuckleball to win the game.

I was terribly dissappointed in the announcing. 17 years to the day, Roger Clemens won game 7 of the ALCS for the Red Sox, and against the Angels, to put them into the World Series against the Mets. Roger Clemens is arguably the greatest pitcher of all time. He’s definitely one of the top 10, if not the one of the top five, greatest pitchers of all time.

And in what could have been the last game of his career, the announcer (I’m not sure if it was Buck or McCarver) doesn’t bring up all the Cy Youngs. He doesn’t bring up the 300 wins and 4,000 strikeouts. He brings up the fact that Clemens manager accused Roger of pulling himself out of a pivotal game 6 of the 1986 World Series because he had a paper cut. Clemens denies the story, but, even if true, this isn’t how you send off one of the all time greats.

I also didn’t like how they questioned Grady Little’s decision to keep Pedro Martinez in the game, and this is something they kept coming back to. “Why didn’t they put in Embree?” Simply put, Pedro is one of the best pitchers in the game today. They went out to see if he was okay, Pedro gave him the nod, and he kept them in there. He was still hitting the mid-90s when he wanted too, and his pitches were still moving well.

I was pleased when, in the 8th inning, they didn’t jump all over a fan who interfered with a Matsui double down the right field line. Had it not been interfered with, and if it didn’t bounce into the stands (it didn’t look like it would to me), Bernie Williams would have scored easily. Instead he was stopped at third base. Fortunately it didn’t matter, because Posada got the double in the next at bat. But, the Fox announcers didn’t even acknowledge that it happened, much less point it out 15 times like they did for the Cubs game.

The World Series starts on Saturday. At first I thought I’d have little interest in a Marlins/Yankees World Series, but with the dramatics of last night, I’m definitely going to check it out, and predict the Yankees in 7. Not only that, but after next weekend, this will be the last baseball until March. Sigh.

Marlins Win NLCS, ALCS’s Fate Determined Tonight

I was really rooting for the Cubs to get in, but it just wasn’t to be. And I hope they stop blaming this fan for the complete choke job they pulled two nights ago.

Kerry Wood, the man who helped get them here, fell apart last night. He tried salvaging things, even hitting a two run homer himself, but it just wasn’t to be.

I have no interest in seeing the Yankees play the Marlins in the World Series. No offense to either team’s fans, but that series just wouldn’t hold me. So I’m hoping Pedro gets his revenge tonight and takes home game seven.

You do have to give the Marlins their due. With no real, identifiable star power, they remind a lot of last years Angels for whatever reason. Not that their lineups are similar, but that they were a decent team that managed to find a way to win. And to think at the trading deadline they was talk of giving up and dumping players.

Everything’s Even

It’s less then 15 minutes before the Cubs and Marlins square off in game 3, and the Cubs chances sit right now with Kerry Wood. He’s been phenomonal so far, as has Prior, and you could be looking at two teammates who, from here on our, compete for the Cy Young like Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson have the past few years. If it goes to game 7, Wood will also get the call.

The Marlins remind me a lot like Anaheim last year. For whatever reason (and I’m sure Marlin fans would resent this) they seem to win, despite having an unspectacular lineup, and an only good but young rotation, they took out the Giants, who I felt were going to win it, and have whittled things with the Cubs down to a 5 game series.

And hopefully the first two innings of yesterdays game don’t come back to haunt the Red Sox. How you get seven men on base, and are only able to score one run is pretty baffling. Maybe we should be giving Andy Pettitte more kudos then he’s gotten.

I’m rooting for the Cubs. I predicted in March that Kerry Wood would win the Cy Young, and was wrong at least as far as which Cub would win the Cy Young. Wood and Prior are exciting, and I’d love to see these two bright young stars shine and bring home a championship most Cub’s fans have never known.

Marlins Take Game One, Win in Extra innings

Very exciting game last night. It looked like the Cubbies were going to coast to an easy victory after getting to Josh Beckett in the first inning, but Carlos Zambrano let the Marlins back into it with three homeruns in the third inning.

Both teams went deep into their bullpen last night, so the next few games could get interesting as far as what Baker and McKeon can do. Tonight you’ll see Brad Penny square off against potential Cy Young award winner Mark Prior.

The Yankees and the Red Sox also start up tonight. One of the most heated rivalries in baseball will definitely make for an interesting AL pennant series.

It’s funny noticing all of the former Tigers, and they’re not that far removed. Three of the four teams have at least one Tiger who played for us last year. Randall Simon for the Cubs, Damian Jackson for the Red Sox, and Jeff Weaver for the Yankees all donned the old english D last year. You have to go back a couple of years to find an ex-Tiger on the Marlins, and that’s Juan Encarnoncian, who hit a solo shot in last nights game.

One Swing of the Bat…..

Sometimes in the playoffs, that’s all it comes down to. Or one time you don’t slide into home. Or another time you don’t pay attention to the umpire and go after the catcher instead of going to home plate.

And when those mistakes are made, the team that makes them usually ends up going home.

Boston squeaked by the Athletics last night, riding a huge three run blast by Manny Ramirez and some good clutch pitching by Pedro and Derek Lowe to take the series 3-2. There was a lot of good stuff in this series, and also a lot of ugly.

And with that, in my divine wisdom, I now only have one team left that I predicted would win their series. So, my newest revised prediction is, the Red Sox vs. the Cubs, and before a winner is crowned, the world ends in a bizarre twist of irony for both ball clubs.

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