Although despite the victory, Jason Johnson left the game after only two innings with a blister. These things can linger (ask Josh Beckett), so stay tuned. Johnson is still set to pitch on Monday in the opener against the Blue Jays.
Bobby Higginson did the bulk of the damage today, hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning to give the Tigers the lead for good. Brian Schmack came in and pitched extremely well, throwing three perfect innings, and striking out four batters. It was also nice to see Danny Patterson back, as he pitched the eighth inning.
And three more Tigers were sent down to the minors. Erik Eckenstahler, Andres Torres, and Jason Smith will start the season down south. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Torres back up if Sanchez doesn’t show signs of improving.
For Tiger starters, this is the home stretch. The last time they get quality innings in a game that doesn’t count. And Nate Cornejo made them count, by throwing five innings, and only giving up one run (5 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts). An impressive performance against basically the Phillies starting lineup.
These last few games, although they never show up in the standings, still remain pretty important. You get to see how the guys you expect to play and start throughout the season actually perform under game time pressures.
The baseball season kicked off this morning in Japan, with the Yankees going up against the Devil Rays. As we speak, the game is tied 2-2 in the top of the sixth. Jason Giambi hit the first homer of the season, and Toby Hall has a two run single. In fact I have the game on my little TV right now. A-Rod just doubled with nobody out.
Jeremy Bonderman, who looked very sharp when he started his spring season, has stuggled a little as of late. In five innings today, he gave up 7 hits (including a home run to Henry Mateo) and only struck out one batter in five innings, en route to a 3-2 loss to the Expos. With that loss, the Tigers will drop to 11-15 with six spring games left.
The rough skid (5-12 in their last 17) isn’t really encouraging. With the way the Tigers have started the last several years, a good start would be a big boost, both with the players confidence and to fan interest. But their recent struggles along with a tough first week and a half (6 games against Toronto with a three game series with the Twins sandwiched between) might mean more of the same this year.
In fact, I went back the last few years on Retrosheet to see how the Tigers started the season after 10 games, and he’s what I found:
That’s a cumulative 19-51 record, and you have to go all the way back to 1997 just to get to a .500 start.
The Tiger’s also sent Franklyn German down to the Toledo, which based on how he pitched, wasn’t much of surprise. Last year at this time, I thought he’d have a shot at ROY, but it wasn’t to be.
It also appears that in the last few weeks, there’s been a consolidation for sorts in the baseball blog universe. Several writers have grouped up at All-Baseball, which orginally, and still is, the home of the Cub Reporter, an excellent Cubs blog. And The Hardball Times was started up, which includes Twin’s guru Aaron Gleeman. Both are great one stop sources with a wide range of baseball information.
I’m still not crazy about this deal, but at the time I wrote yesterday, I didn’t know about the deferals, so it’s not as much of a salary hit as I initially thought.
First off, the good. Urbina has 661 strikeouts and only 236 walks 563 2/3 career innings. That’s a pretty nice strikeout to walk ratio over a nine year career. But based on what I’m looking at on Baseball Prospectus, there has been a somewhat slight regression in both strikeouts per nine innings, and an increase in WHIP.
The bad news is, for a someone with the closer label, he lost 4 games last year, and blew 6 saves. That’s 8 games (two games he both blew the save and lost the game) where he was brought in to hold a lead, and didn’t. Fortunately in two of those blown saves, he also hung in there to pick up the win in the next inning.
The year before that, he lost six games, and blew six saves. Now I didn’t compare this to comparable relievers, but that’s a little disconcerting. I would have rather they went out and tried to spend this $3.5 million on an upgrade of a position player, as opposed to a pitcher who will probably pitcher somewhere around 60 innings this year.
With Estaban Yan struggling on Wednesday, and Nate Robertson throwing a mighty fine game yesterday, the race for that final spot in the rotation is still up for grabs.
Nate threw four solid innings. Although he did give up five hits, he also struck out six. The biggest thing in their favor is the fact that he’s a lefty, which means under most scenarios, he’ll make the team. It’s just whether he’ll be coming out of the pen or not.
I’m not as excited about the signing of Urbina, and I really hope they don’t throw a lot of money his way. Now I’ve never pitched, but paying a premium for a pitcher who comes into most games with no runners on base at the top of inning isn’t a good idea in my opinion. I know Rodney is hurt, but there’s no way Patterson couldn’t get the job done as well as anyone else. Urbina has lost 10 games the last two years. Not something you want to see from your closer.
Less then two weeks ago, I was writing about how the Tigers were tied atop of the Grapefruit league standings at a 6-3 record. Since then, the Tigers have gone 3-9, and now stand just above the last place Orioles. That’s a steep slide, and I hope the day off yesterday does them some good.
Brandon Inge is slowly making himself more and more valuable. If one guy can cover every spot on the infield like Shane Halter could, it gives your manager a ton of flexibility. Throw in the fact that they’re a gold glove quality catcher, and it’s manager’s dream. Yes, we all know he’s struggled at the plate, but wouldn’t it be cool to see Craig Monroe pinch hit for Mike DeFilice in the seventh. Put Inge in as a defensive replacement, and later in that game have Chris Shelton pinch hit for Inge and finish off the game behind the plate? Inge’s .370 spring is also opening some eyes.
And speaking of Chris Shelton, he’s put together quite a spring. He hasn’t hit any homeruns in going 9 for 19, but he does have two triples, and is making quite a bid to make the team.
Despite only pitching 3 2/3 innings this spring, Fernando Rodney looks like he’s won the closer role pretty much by default. Matt Anderson hasn’t gotten roughed up most times he’s gone out to the mound (13.96 ERA). Franklyn German hasn’t done much better (7.72 ERA).
ESPN has put together some great columns for you baseball history buffs, as they try to rank the best defensive plays at third and first base.
They also talk about the worst play. Bill Bukner’s 1986 play at first base in the World Series won that award. What they have to say about it is simply classic.
In a pretty solid pitching duel, Gary Knotts went head to head with last year’s Cy Young award winner, Roy Halladay, and actually got the better of him. Halladay pitched six strong innings, giving up only two hits, giving up a run, and striking out five. Knotts pitched five shutout innings, giving up only three hits. Unfortunately, the pen could seal the deal, and after tying it up against Erik Eckenstahler, got to German in the eighth, and took the lead for good.
And this makes Tram’s decision on who will be the fifth starter that much more difficult. Nate Robertson has struggled, and now Knotts throws a nice game. Esteban Yan is still in the mix as well.
I had my league’s fantasy baseball draft last night. This is basically the second year in it’s current form, and was scaled down to an AL only format, with an auction draft and a $300 spending limit (money not spent carries over and can be used to pick up free agents). I came in second place last year, which I equate to a failure, so I had to make sure I came away with a good draft this year.
And I ended up with a young, solid team. Great hitting, and but the pitching was questionable, especially on the back end. As always, a lot happens in these leagues, so just staying on your toes can make things interesting.
Here’s my team, for those of you who are interested:
Catcher – Jorge Posada
1st Base – Jason Giambi
2nd Base – Brian Roberts (I got stuck late in the draft without a 2nd baseman, and basically had to settle for Mr. Roberts).
3rd Base – Dmtri Young
Shortstop – Alex Rodriguez
OF – Carlos Beltran
OF – Mark Teixaira
OF – Kevin Millar
DH – Jose Cruz
P – Derek Lowe
P – Johann Santana
P – Rich Harden
P – Kurt Ainsworth
P – Cliff Lee
P – Arthur Rhodes
P – Brandon Donnelly
So basically if Santana can pitch as well as he did last year as a starter for the entire year, and Rich Harden shows some brilliance, I should be okay. My hitting is dominant, so I could see myself making a deal down the line for some pitching if I have problems.
Fun stuff though. As with a lot of the these leagues, the draft is the funnest part of the season. The next toughest part is sticking with things for the entire year (no problem for me).
Being an MSU grad, it’s hard to see the writing on the wall at times. The loss last night shouldn’t have come as a complete shock the way they played all year, but a lot of people, including myself, looked at MSU’s run last year, and expected more.
And since the Tigers were sitting on top of the standings a week ago, the Tigers have gone into a free fall of sorts. They’re now 8-7 after losing to Montreal 6-4. I caught the begining of this game on the radio, and it sounded like Cornejo was getting hit hard in the first inning. It looked like he really calmed down though, pitching four shutout innings after giving up one in the first. But four errors (three of them by players expected to be in the starting lineup) once again hurt them. Take away the three unearned runs in this one, and the Tigers win the game.
And in total, that’s 40 errors and 30 unearned runs in 17 games. If anything close to this happens during the course of the regular season, it’s going to be a long year.
Thanks to everyone emailing me their sleeper picks. I put them into my player evaluations. I’m also moving further into the technological age, because I finally graduated from dial up, and now have a cable modem.
Last week, the Tiger’s couldn’t lose. Since Saturday, the Tiger’s haven’t been able to win, as they dropped their fourth in a row to the Pirates. This gets a little disconcerting, because the further we move along into the spring season, the more the games resemble, well, actual baseball games, as starters go into the fifth, and starting lineups are being set.
The Tigers got off to a good start, getting two in the top half of the first, but Jason Johnson gave up three runs, and the Pirates pen held the Tigers scoreless after the fourth inning. Bobby Higginson had two hits, which is encouraging, but only Jamie Walker could come in and shut out the opponent in relief. Loux gave up a run, and German gave up a solo shot.
Still quite a few spring games to go, so as always, we’ll see what happens.
And if everything goes right today, my niece, Brook Goudreau should be born, one day before her big sister was born 10 years ago. Congratulations to Beth and Steve.
Jeremy Bonderman received his first taste of spring, and he came out looking pretty sharp. He only struck out one, but he threw three shutout innings en route to another Tiger’s win.
Rondell White started things off with a two run shot in the first inning, off of Tom Glavine. The Tigers never gave up the lead, and reeled in a 5-1 win.
Don’t look now, but they Tiger’s haven’t lost a spring game since last Sunday, and stand tied for first in the standings. Today will be their first televised game of the season. Be sure to check it out.
When I started this blog, I never did it to make money. In fact, it never even crossed my mind that I could. But recently I was approached by a gentleman and BuySellTix.com about advertising on my site. I have costs just like everyone else, so I took him up on the offer.
So if you need sporting, concert or event tickets, please be sure to check them out. They have a nice selection available for most games.
The Tigers played the Yankees in their first exhibition evening game. The squeeked out a win, 3-2, but there were a lot of firsts in this game.
It’s the first time the Tigers scored less then 5 runs, and it’s also the the first time they’ve given up less then five, I think. But two pretty good showings by the starters. Maroth pitched three innings of shutout ball, and Javier Vazquez (the guy I predicted to win the AL Cy Young), pitched four innings of shutout ball.
The Tigers then scored all three of their runs in fifth inning, to take a 3-1 lead. The Yanks added one more, but couldn’t overcome the final deficit. So the Tigers beat the AL champs 3-2.
One of the more impressive lines of this game was the attendance. The crowd at Legend’s Field drew well over 10,000 people. The Tigers were drawing a little over 3,000 in most of their games. Also interesing is the Yankees are 3-6 in the preseason.
In 1984, Ronald Reagan was president, George Bush was the VP. The then Soviet Union was in Afghanistan and were boycotting the Summer Olympics held in Los Angelas. Terms of Endearment won best picture. Desmond Mpilo Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against apartheid in South Africa.
I was 13.
And 1984 is the last time the Tiger’s won the World Series.
The Tigers set the modern day record for the best record over the first 40 games (in fact, it might be the best 40 game run ever. If anyone knows, feel free to post a comment and let me know), and it’s also the last year the Tiger’s had an AL MVP or Cy Young winner on their team. So along with my game updates most every day, I’m going to keep a running diary for the nostalgic on what happened that magical year. These posts will start on April 3, and go on through the end of the season and into the playoffs. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them.
The Tigers managed to pull off not, but two big comebacks yesterday in their two split squad games. I know it’s spring, and I know it doesn’t count, but anytime you have something to build on, it’s a good thing.
In the home game against the Indians, who took us to school last weekend, the Tigers were 4 runs going into the seventh, and scored one in the seventh, one in the eighth, and then three in the ninth to win it. Roney, Baugh, and Levine shut the door to help get the Tigers back in the game, and despite another three errors, they walked away with a 9-8 win.
In the road game against the Dodgers, the Tigers were down by six runs going into the eighth inning, and came back to score two in the eighth, and then five in the ninth to take home the win, and put the Tiger’s preseason record at 4-3. Two more errors.
And it looks like Jason Johnson is scheduled to be the opening day pitcher. I was hoping they’d go with a Tiger who had pitched for them prior to this season (Maroth), but Johnson is the guy we’re hoping is our losing streak stopper and ace, so he deserves it just as much as anyone else.
Actually, in this case, that’s not quite correct. This was a tough one to let go, and shows that what some people expect to be the top half of the pen still has some work to do.
The Tiger’s tied the Blue Jays yesterday. I was happy to get to catch some of this game on the radio (AM doesn’t come in at work, I was driving). The Tigers went down 3-0 early, then came back to tie it at 3 a piece. The Tigers the appeared to be in the drivers seat by scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the seventh, a lead they took into the ninth.
And then, the bomb dropped. Matt Anderson, after proclaiming the closer job to be his, got rocked for 2 hits, 2 walks, and 4 earned runs, getting only two outs. With that, the Tiger’s lead evaporated. They got the leadoff man on in the bottom of the ninth, bunted him over to second, but were unable to score him.
Hence, the game ended in a tie.
Brandon Inge appears to be coming into his own as a utility man. He made a nice play at third yesterday, and is even now being looked on to backup Alex Sanchez in the outfield. Of course we always knew he could field.
A lot of people comment to me that Spring Training “doesn’t matter.” In a way, they’re correct, because there’s not always a correlation between who finishes well during the spring season, and who goes on to do well during the regular season. But for a team that won 43 games last year, spring training is a great time to simply learn “How to Win.” And since their opener last Thursday, they haven’t been able to do even that. Until yesterday.
Nate Cornejo looked sharp in three perfect innings. Somehow, despite not having a strikeout pitch, he manages to get guys out (and he’s working on a splitter). He also struck out two.
The Tigers also got to Wade Miller early, tagging him for 5 runs in the second inning.
The bad had to be the six errors. The Tigers are making way too many errors (17 in 5 games). A good team can’t get away that, so the Tigers are in rough shape if they keep on making mistakes. Hopefully Tram will knock some sense into the guys.
Of course that doesn’t stop there from being snow on the ground this morning. The Tigers were busy this weekend, so let’s look at the highlights and lowlights.
Friday – Pirates 6, Tigers 5
You can’t them all. Probably the most embarassing moment of this game was when Chris Truby of all people took Al Levine yard. That’s never a good thing, regardless of whether it’s a spring game, or for that matter, a sandlot pick up game. Oliver Perez looked sharp for Pittsburgh, and I-Rod drove in a run.
Alex Sanchez was hit by a pitch, but it doesn’t look too serious.
Saturday – Indians 10, Tigers 8
Not much of a pitching dual. I got to listen to this game on the radio. Maroth did look well. Despite a strong breeze blowing out, Maroth gave up four runs in the second inning. Carlos Pena stayed hot by hitting another homerun. Looks like a rough pitching outing, unless you compare it too…….
Sunday – Indians 18, Tigers 10
And with this, the Tigers are mired in a 3 game losing streak, with each loss being more of a beating the previous game. They did score 10 runs, but the pitching has to improve. 5 errors and 8 unearned runs will never win you ball game.
One of the most encouraging lines in this game was Franklyn German’s. In 1 1/3 innings, he struck out 3 of the four outs he made, but he gave up a solo shot and another hit. No walks though.
And the Tigers go up against Houston this afternoon. Maybe Tram and the boys will be able to put together a win.
In two games that won’t count in the pre-season standings, the Tigers beat Florida Southern in what has become their annual innaugural game. Earlier in the day, they lost in a “B” game to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I couldn’t find boxscores, but the Free Press had a write up on them. I also found a better write up on the Florida Southern Game at Yahoo.
Also in the news, Chris Spurling is going to be out for the year. Spurling would have been little more then a decent middle reliever, so this doesn’t hurt us that much, but with a team that needs all of the help it can get, you don’t like to see things like this happening.
ESPN did a writeup on the Tiger’s Spring Training camp.
And if you haven’t checked it out yet, Bilfer completed his four part Tiger team analysis. A really great piece of work, I’d recommend you go check it out.
I may have spoke too soon in Sunday’s column. Monday morning I read that Jeremy Bonderman had been hit in the foot by a baseball, but fortunately, X-rays were negative.
And in the age of Amazon.com, people don’t wait at their mail box for packages, they wait to get the delivery confirmation via email. On Saturday I received mine telling me my Baseball Prospectus 2004 book was “In the Mail.” Thankfully, I got it yesterday, and I’ve been flipping through it ever since.
For those of you have never picked up a copy of Baseball Prospectus, you’d be doing yourself a favor by doing so. It’s reasonably priced, and the writing is exceptional. I picked up my first one last year, and while watching the Tigers on the tube, I was constantly referring back to it, checking on players I hadn’t quite heard of. And although it’s not geared towards building a fantasy team, it gives you a much better background on what the prospects are for a player then some of the more mainstream fantasy publications.
When I opened it up, I read the well written Foreward, and refreshed myself on the explanation of the advanced statistics. Then I went over to the Tigers section to see what they had to say. They did an interesting analysis on how long it takes really bad teams to get back into contention.
And the results weren’t encouraging.
But don’t take my word for it. Go to their website and pick up a copy. You won’t regret it.
And Baseball Primer kicks off their team previews with a look at Detroit.