I’ll be taking the next couple of days off, so I wanted to wish all my readers a safe and happy holiday. And for those going out of town and who won’t have internet access, have a Happy New Year as well.
The Tigers decided not to offer contracts to Andy Van Hekken and Ben Petrick, thus allowing them to become free agents.
Andy got off to a hot start by pitching a shut out in his first major league start in 2002. Unfortunately, he hasn’t pitched above AA since that season. I’m sure the guy in my sim-league regrets burning a first round pick on him.
And the only real deal the Tigers made around the trading deadline was trading Adam Bernero for Ben. At one time (showing how bad the Tigers were at times last year) Tram was batting Petrick in the leadoff spot, and had him playing centerfield. In my mind, Petrick’s value was directly related to how well, and how often, he played catcher. The fact that he only hit .225 didn’t help him either, since it was his bat that was supposed to be his greatest asset.
Of course they’re both expected to be offered minor league contracts, so we’ll see if they decide to come back.
And the rumor mill has quit stirring. Like some of the comments in my previous posts, there’s a very good chance the Tigers could be about $10 million lighter this year as far as payroll goes. The only thing more ironic then that has to be the fact that they’ll still be better.
God, I hope they’re better. Sigh.
And the last major deadline has come and gone. 58 Non-tender free agents were created. Some interesting names (wonder if Gabe Kapler or Randall Simon will find there way back). Scratch Redman off the list, since he signed a nice deal with Oakland. There’s definitely some interesting names, mostly second tier closers, like Mike Lincoln and Cliff Politte.
And the Tigers could always sign Lou Merloni, bringing the Lou chant back to Detroit.
Doesn’t look like the whole A-Rod thing will go through. I’m sure the Yankees are sighing in relief. Now you have two of the Sox best players, Manny Ramirez and Nomar, unhappy with their situations. Does anyone have the feeling that the Blue Jays are going to sneak up and win this division next year?
Tigers signed Al Levine. Not a bad pickup, as he had a decent year last year, and spotted at closer for Troy Percival the year before that. Like Vina and White, I’m not doing cart wheels, but Levine should be able to help us.
Rumors abound that Rich Aurilia wants to stay in the NL. Rich had one really good year, and little else. Of course anyone would be an upgrade over Ramon Santiago and his 29 RBIs in 444 at bats. I think I’d rather see Santiago and Infante square off again to see who plays short, then the Tigers signing Deivi Cruz.
Was Baseball Prospectus correct in predicting Pete Rose would be reinstated by the end of 2004? Things are pointing towards an affirmative. Rob Neyer is the latest to pipe in on this one, but it looks like Pete Rose’s book is coming out two day’s after the next Hall of Fame class will be announced. Rumor has it he’s going to admit he did bad things, and all will be forgiven.
It also looks like we’re going to have one more year of Brandon Inge, as the Tigers signed backup catcher Mike DiFelice. I think we can give Brandon one more chance, but I have a feeling that if he doesn’t show us something this year, he’ll be relegated to a career backup at best.
I’m going to see Return of the King tomorrow night. Very excited. Sandwiched between the two installments of Lord of the Rings was Pirates of the Caribbean, which was a great movie. Definitely Johnny Depp at his best.
One of the reasons I was down on the Vina pickup was his injury problem. Now the Tigers go out and sign another talented, yet injury prone player, to take over in a corner outfield spot.
Like Vina, Rondell White is a good player. Very good at times. When he plays. Only once in his career has he played more then 150 games in a season. He’s average in the field, and he’ll supplant Craig Monroe, who had a pretty good season last year, as the starting left fielder. In right, we’ll have Higgy, making a boat load of money, and platooning with Monroe in right. Unless they plan on moving White into right field.
Two decent pickups so far for Dombrowski, but there’s a ton of risk. Our upside is, these guys play the entire season, and the Tigers win 70 games. Downside is (Lions fan can appreciate this) they both get hurt, which is likely, and we’re as bad, if not worse then last year.
So I’m still not giving Dombrowski a grade yet. We still have to take care of shortstop and center field, and we could use a good pitcher or three as well. Probably won’t fill all of our needs this year, but if we don’t, then in two years, when White and Vina are gone, we’re going to have to do this all over again.
I was happy to see the Tigers picked up Chris Shelton in the Rule 5 draft. He’s put up pretty good numbers, but the problem is, he’s 23, and he just made it to AA last year. That’s not encouraging. And hopefully he doesn’t play catcher like Ben Petrick does, which is rarely. If he makes the team, he could see time spotting Inge, since he’ll have to stay on the 24 man roster.
Curt Schilling is very bright guy. And no, that’s not what I was alluding to as what we both have in common. But, in this article, I’m going to say some things that sound like, and are, bragging. But bear with me, because it’s all used to make a point in a round about way.
I graduated with my MBA when I was 23 years old. Not rare, but definitely uncommon. I’ve taken advanced economics classes, advanced accounting classes, and calculus in college, and did well in them all. I passed the CPA at the age of 24. All pretty nice feats.
None of these things are as difficult as one of the things I’ve been undertaking for the last three years. I’m a pretty big war game fan. I have a nice collection of old, out of print, very detailed war games all produced by the game company Avalon Hill, which has it’s license being used, but really no longer exists. If you’ve played the board game Risk, that’s like the pre-school of war games. Axis and Allies would be the elementary school. One game stands above all, and that’s the game I’ve been trying to teach myself for the last three years.
That game is called Advanced Squad Leader. The rule book is huge. And in trying to learn this game, I can honestly say that it’s more difficult then anything I ever did back in school. Calculus is cake compared to this stuff. Accounting was a walk in the park. But trying to teach myself the complexities of this game have been, well, hard.
Now what does Curt Schilling have to do with this? Curt has not only mastered this game, and is a spokesman for them, but he also does historical research for them. He knows how to play the game.
So when I read this by Jayson Stark, I chuckled. I know what Curt is capable of. And that’s possibly a contract that could go down as one of the most masterful, yet controversial, ever. I really hope this holds up, because it’s a masterpiece.
And Curt, if you’re reading this, maybe the next time you’re in Detroit, you can show me how to play this game right.
In previous posts, I’ve said I was against this signing. I still am to a certain extent with one exception. If the Tigers sign at least two more players who are better then Vina, and they make a serious attempt to make a run at an already weak AL Central Division Championship, then I’ll say it was a good signing. If Vina is the best guy we pick up, then it’s a bad move and he does us no good.
Addition by subtraction is the name of the game in the AL Central right now. The Twins have traded away Milton and Pierzinski, and have lost Hawkins and Guardado to free agency. The White Sox lost Colon, and I have a feeling Loaiza is going to have at least some sort of decline next year. Kansas City is relatively intact, but I still have the feeling they won more then was probably warranted. And as far as I know, they’re still trying to shop superstar Carlos Beltran.
So the division is ripe for the picking. I’m not saying the Tigers will compete, but if Ilitch allowed Dombrowski to raise payroll to around $75 million, allowing him to overpay and possibly sign Tejada and a top notch starting pitcher, they could certainly be competitive in the division.
The Angels are on their way to building a pitching staff. Washburn may be gone in a trade soon, but even if he’s gone, you’re going to have a nice rotation, with Colon, Kelvim Escobar, Ramon Ortiz, and John Lackey. If they keep Washburn, you could possibly see Oakland, who has been quiet so far in the market, finish third behind Seattle, who inked Eddie Guardado, and Anaheim.
The Tigers have yet to make a move. And I don’t count signing Dean Palmer to a minor league contract as a move. The other minor league deal they made, picking Cliff Bartosh off of waivers, was undone yesterday when the Indians picked him up off waivers. So to date, we have Dombrowski saying he’s offered Fernando Vina a contract, which I still think is a bad move, and Mike Ilitch making noise about Tejada, which is unrealistic, but would be a great move, assuming they don’t pay TOO much over Tejada’s market value.
As usual, we’ll see if all the talk is just that. Needless to say, this has to be one of the more interesting free agent seasons ever. Not exactly in a good way, but things are pretty dynamic.
And on a parting note, I have to give some credit to Frank Robinson. Talk about a mess in Montreal. The fact that he’s still the manager should garner him immediate recognition as a possible manager of the year candidate. First they trade away their best pitcher, and then they don’t even offer one of the best players in baseball arbitration. Add in the fact they’re still not even sure where the team will play their games at, and you have a travesty. Bud Selig should be ashamed of himself for his handling of the team.
Things have just been crazy around the household lately. I apologize for the lack of writing, but my computers been moved, we’re trying to finish up with some major renovations in the house (including a two foot hole that was put in our wall by the guys installing out carpet). For those of you looking for carpet, I’m not naming names, but the company I went through, let’s say they rhyme with Tempire, was major pain, even after the guys put a hole in my wall.
But, the free agent market has been heating up. It seems to be Red Sox vs. Yankees before the season even starts, but this is going to make for some great baseball next year. With the Red Sox getting Schilling, and assuming he bounces back from his injury, they’ll have one of the top staffs in baseball. Schilling/Pedro/Lowe brings back memories of the Braves’ staffs in the 1990s.
And I’m not quite sure what’s happening in Arizona. They’ve made two big deals, and neither one of them seem like they’re going to help them very much. They gave up way too much for Sexson inmy opinion.
And for now the Tigers are the sidelines. I’ve read about them offering a deal to Fernando Vina. I think this would be a bad move. Vina has only played in more then 150 games in his 11 year career 3 times. Granted in all of those three years he hit over .300. He doesn’t strike out much, but he also doesn’t walk much. He had been winning gold gloves, but those were in 2 of those 3 seasons where he played most the year. And only twice has he had an OPS+ of greater then a hundred, and one of those was 101. The thing that he seems best at is getting hit by pitches.
So this would be simply a stop gap. Not a bad move, but if the Tigers are good three to five years down the line, Vina probably won’t be there.
And that’s the dilemma. Tram and Dombrowski could be playing for their jobs. You just don’t know. Vina would be an upgrade at second base. Do we pay him, pray he doesn’t get hurt, and maybe lose 103 games instead of 105? Or should we be looking at throwing all of our money into one basket and taking a gamble.