Their has been some preliminary discussion in the local media about the Tiger’s placing some priority upon acquiring a bonafide #1 starter. Mike Ilitch has intimated that he has enjoyed this season and would strongly consider allocating additional payroll funds to continue to upgrade the team’s personnel this offseason. Many rumors have associated a return of Dearborn native, Derek Lowe, to the fold. Others have suggested that the Tigers make the moves necessary to re-acquire John Smoltz and allow him the opportunity to finish off his career as a starter (which Smoltz seems to desire).
I looked at the performance of potential upcoming free agents to get an idea where the Tiger’s may want to turn. I did this with the assumption that Dave Dombrowski would be looking to add a legitimate #1 starter. Also I assumed that he would not be in the market for a left-handed starter because it appears (prematurely?) that they will feature a 5-man rotation that will include three lefties. Jeremy Bonderman, is also a lock as a starter, should he remain healthy. The puzzling matter to address will be what the utility of inconsistent and frustrating starter Jason Johnson?
The Creme de la Creme
Player W-L ERA IP QS% hr/9 H/9 bb/9 K/9 oppOPS .BA WHIP
P. Martinez 16-8 3.78 212 61 1.1 7.7 2.55 9.42 .688 .232 1.15
Radke 11-8 3.48 214.2 73 0.97 9.35 1.01 5.91 .684 .265 1.15
Pavano 17-8 3.05 215.1 73 0.67 8.57 2.05 5.68 .681 .252 1.18
Clement 9-13 3.68 181.0 60 1.14 7.71 3.83 9.45 .692 .229 1.28
The Next Tier
Ru.Ortiz 14-9 4.19 197.2 58 1.05 8.7 4.96 6.42 .752 .258 1.52
Benson 12-12 4.33 195.1 57 0.69 9.08 2.67 5.9 .721 .263 1.31
Morris 15-9 4.55 198. 52 1.50 9. 3.38 5.86 .766 .264 1.38
Are You Sure?
Lowe 14-12 5.25 178.1 39 0.76 10.75 3.43 5.2 .780 .293 1.58
Lidle 11-12 4.95 205.1 48 1.18 9.42 2.59 5.48 .771 .269 1.33
Roberts. 12-9 4.80 185.2 53 1.36 9.4 3.15 7.03 .771 .270 1.39
Maroth 11-12 4.29 210. 53 1.03 10.16 2.49 4.46 .781 .289 1.41
The Tigers will be very fortunate to be in the running for one of the Top 4 I listed. As far as I am concerned, if they are serious about Derek Lowe, they will need to address their fielding. His success seems to be contingent upon excellent team defense.
September 30, 1984 Yankees 9, Tigers 2 (104-58)
Sparky rested most of his starters, and gave his pen a final tune up game before the playoff run. Starter Randy O’Neal was shelled for seven runs, and didn’t escape the fifth inning. Four of the five innings he threw in resulted in runs by the Yankees.
Doug Baker and Barbero Garbey drove in the only runs for the Tigers. The bright spot of the game were shutout innings by Bill Scherrer, Aurelio Lopez, and Willie Hernandez. It was nice to see the pen more calm going into the playoffs after a rough week.
With the loss, the Detroit Tiger’s regular season ended. They’d be playing in the playoffs for the first time since 1972 when they lost to the Oakland A’s in the ALCS.
Everywhere I read, it seems like the biggest fault of the Tigers season has to do with the bullpen blowing games. And those same people say the Tigers have to target their bullpen as the top priority in the free agency market next year. Chris Ziza, an excellent writer over at the Most Valuable Network, makes this the focus of his most recent piece.
In my opinion, the bullpen is the last thing we should target. I’m in agreement with Pat Caputo, who talked on the Big Show yesterday. We have arms. There’s no doubt about that. And hopefully there’s more good ones on the way, like Kyle Sleeth.
Plus, you can find good, quality bullpen options cheaply. The last thing I want the Tigers to do is go out and spend $4-5 million on a big name closer who’ll be lucky to pitch 80 innings.
In my opinion, and again, Pat Caputo stole my thunder here, we need to focus on centerfield, and picking up a top notch starter.
Having Pedro as an ace and Gary Knotts in the pen sounds a lot better to me then having Knotts in the rotation, and even having a closer like Eric Gagne. If we get a top of the rotation starter, then that means our now sixth best pitcher would end up in the pen.
I’ve also talked on this site about how the Tigers should go after Carlos Beltran. This time last year, I would have called that an impossibility, but with Ivan Rodriguez coming to the squad, I think it at least gives us an opening. I’m not optimistic, but Beltran would be the guy to build this franchise around. In my opinion, Alex Sanchez isn’t the answer.
Finally, I don’t want you to think I’m attacking Chris. I’m not. I enjoy his writing, he was just an obvious example of someone who wants Dombrowski to focus on the pen.
September 29, 1984 Tigers 11, Yankees 3 (104-57)
With a strong offensive performance, and with only one game left in the season, the 1984 Detroit Tigers won their 104th game, setting the franchise record. The game was actually close for a while, but with the game tied 1-1, the Tigers scored five runs in the sixth to bust the game open. They added five more in the ninth to seal the game up.
Juan Berenguer pitched another nice game to improve to 11-10. He went six innings, giving up only one run on two hits. His six walks were a concern, but he pitched out out of a bases loaded jam in the second and the third innings to walk away with a winning record on the season. Roger Mason finished the game off, going three innings and earning his first career save.
It was a historic day for the franchise, and fitting for what most people feel was the greatest Tiger’s season of all time.
With only one week left, I’m making an effort to catch as much Tiger baseball as I can. Like every season since 1987, as the regular season finishes, so do the Tigers.
But as a fan, for the first time in a long time, I think the team is headed in the right direction. I feel a little duped, because we’ve been spoon fed the “rebuilding” spiel for so long because here the Tigers go out and spend some money, and improve by nearly 30 games.
But at least they’re moving in the right direction. And it showed at the box office. It looks like they’ll finish the season with just under 25,000 fans a game. That’s only 61% capacity, but it’s a far cry from the 17,000 they pulled in last year.
Also, the fact that players like Carlos Guillen and, through the All Star Break, Ivan Rodriguez were being mentioned as potential league MVPs shows the team has gained some respectability.
Finally, they did it all with the injuries. Rondell White, Fernando Vina, Ivan Rodriguez and now Carlos Guillen all were down. Vina’s was the most serious, and not all of them made appearances on the DL, but they all played dinged up. And the fact that they still should win 70 games despite those injuries shows the Tigers have at least a competitive team.
So despite the season ending, I’m happy.
September 28, 1984 Tigers 4, Yankees 2 (103-57)
The Detroit Tigers tied the team record with their 103rd win of the season. Dan Petry pitched six solid innings before giving way to the pen with the game tied 1-1. The Tigers took the lead back in the seventh on an RBI single by Lance Parrish, but in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees tied it back up on a sacrafice fly by Bobby Meacham.
Doug Bair did the job in this game by pitching four shutout innings, giving up no hits and only two walks. It allowed the Tigers to finally tag reliever Joe Cowley for two runs in the twelth inning on a two run shot by Lou Whitaker to win the game.
The Tigers ended the game with sixteen hits, but only four runs crossed the plate. They left seventeen men on base through out the game. The Tigers had two more chances to set the franchise win record and it was too bad they had to do all this on the road.
September 27, 1984 Yankees 2, Tigers 1 (102-57)
The duo of Willie Hernandez and Aurelio Lopez lost four games all season. This same duo lost two of those game in a row in the final week of the season. Good from the stand point of how dominating they were for so long, but not good from the stand point of Sparky being worried about his best arms going out on him.
Jack Morris had one his best starts in a long time. Possibly his best start of the season outside of no-hitter. He pitched seven innings of two hit ball. Six walks came back to haunt him though, as the Yankees’ Bobby Meacham walked to lead off the sixth, and was eventually driven in by Dave Winfield to tie the game at 1-1.
Then with the game still tied in the bottom of the eighth, Bobby Meacham scored again on a single by Don Baylor off of Willie Hernandez. Darrell Evans had a chance to pull together a comeback, but he flew out with runners on first and second with two outs.
The Tigers needed to split the series to tie the 1968 Detroit Tigers mark for wins in a season, and they got off to a tough start. Now they needed to win two of three.
September 26, 1984 Brewers 7, Tigers 5 (102-56)
The Tigers would have to wait for another game to have a shot at tying the 1968 Detroit Tigers 103 wins, and the for one of the few times this season, it was the bullpen to blame.
Milt Wilcox cruised through first five innings, giving up only one run on four hits. Roger Mason gave up two runs in the sixth to narrow the Tigers lead to 4-3. Then with the Tigers up 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Aurelio Lopez gave up four runs on three hits and walk, which included a two run double by Ben Oglivie. After 68 games pitched and 136 1/3 innings, Aurelio Lopez finally lost a game.
September 25, 1984 Tigers 9, Brewers 1 (102-55)
Four runs in the first inning put this game away pretty quickly as Howard Johnson hit a grandslam, his twelth of the season. Lance Parrish followed this with a solo shot in the third, and the Tigers coasted to their 102nd win of the season.
Sparky went with the kids on the mound, and Randy O’Neal improved to 2-0 by pitching five shutout innings, giving up only two hits, and striking out three. Sid Monge, Bill Scherrer, Aurelio Lopez, and Willie Hernandez pitched an inning a piece, with the Brewers tagging Lopez for a run in the eighth. In total, the Brewers only managed six hits against the five pitchers.
And now they stood one win short of the record 103 wins set by the 1968 team. With five games left, the record was definitely within reach.
If they’re not down when you’re reading this, they will be shortly, but I’m taking down the ability for readers to leave comments. I’ve gotten a bunch of what’s essentially spam left on my site, and for now the only option is to get rid of the option all together.
If you’d like a comment, just send me an email, and I’ll periodically include the best of my mail comments in a mailbag column.
I’m sorry if this causes any inconvenience. I really did enjoy the comments people left about their 1984 memories.
Because of the problems related to Florida hurricanes (I can’t even remember which caused the scheduling problem, probably Frances), the Tiger’s schedule down the stretch is interesting.
They’re going to be playing in Baltimore this weekend. They’ll then come home for a three game series against the White Sox, before heading to Tampa Bay for one day to play a double header. Both teams then have to jump on a plane to Detroit, where they’ll square off in the final series of the season.
The Tigers lost two straight one run games against Cleveland earlier this week. They’re record in one run games now stands at 12-27, or 15 games below .500. Ironically, this is exactly how many games the Tigers are below .500 in the overall standings.
None of the teams the Tigers play down the stretch are in the playoff hunt, so we should see a lot of new faces. I always thought the expanded rosters in September made the final month of the season more fun for those teams that aren’t going to make the postseason.
The only division races that haven’t been tied up are out west. Oakland holds on to a two game lead over both Anaheim and a surging Rangers team. The National League race is a little more complicated because it’s almost turned into a three team race for two playoff spots. I’ll defer to the experts over at The Cub Reporter, because he wrote a nice piece on the ins and outs of what can happen there.
The Giants and the Dodgers square off this weekend, as do the Oakland and Anaheim. Some big series with some big implications.
September 24, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 3 (101-55)
Juan Berenguer joined fellow Detroit Tigers Jack Morris, Milt Wilcox, Dan Petry, and Aurelio Lopez as pitchers who achieved ten or more wins. He pitched five solid innings, giving up only five hits and one run, before yielding to the pen.
September 23, 1984 Tigers 4, Yankees 1 (100-55)
It seemed fitting that both Jack Morris and Willie Hernandez would be key in the Tiger’s 100th victory. Morris pitched six shutout innings of two hit ball before handing the ball over to Bill Scherrer. After he pitched a perfect inning, Willie Hernandez finished the game off pitching the eighth and ninth. He gave up a run in the eighth, but he earned his 33rd and final save of the season.
And for the first time since 1968, the Tigers won 100 games. Nearly 40,000 fans made it out to see the Tigers get it done once again.
September 22, 1984 Tigers 6, Yankees 0 (99-55)
Other then Jack Morris’ no-hitter, Dan Petry had probably the next five best pitching performances for the 1984 Tigers. And he saved some of his best stuff for last, as he went the distance, gave up only four hits, and struck out nine. He won his eighteenth of the season, and was his final start of the regular season.
Tigers won last night, and they face rookie Francisco Crueta in his major league debut. If the Tigers go 6-7 the rest of the way, they’ll win 74 games, which is exactly what I predicted back in February. I’ll write more on this if it happens.
First there was Tigerblog. Now there’s Lionsblog. Tigerblog writer Steve started a Lions blog, so be sure to check out. You’ll get some top notch analysis, and all the news you’ll need.
While watching tonight’s game, they flashed an interesting stat about Brandon Inge. While playing thirdbase, he’s hitting .339, which is even more impressive then his season total of .294. Combine that with an .883 OPS at thirdbase, and it makes for a tough call next year. I like Eric Munson a lot, but he’s really struggled this season. Brandon has proved to not only be a better fielder, but also a better hitter, and has earned the starting spot. Which leaves no room for Munson with the logjam at firstbase.
It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, is moved in the offseason. Dmitri Young probably has the most value, and he’s the oldest of the bunch, but he’s not “that” old (he’ll be 31 next month).
And in case you missed it the first time, Blade wanted me to remind you he’s up and running over at Reds Cutting Edge Reds commentary.
I’d like to make it out to one more game this year, but I’m running out of time. I was offered tickets for tonight’s game, but it’s hard getting away on no notice when you have a newborn at home. Maybe I can swing a game the final weekend of the season.
September 21, 1984 Yankees 5, Tigers 3 (98-55)
The Tigers got off to a hot start, scoring three runs on an Alan Trammell homer and a Ruppert Jones double. All three runs came off of starter John Montefusco, but that’s all they’d get the entire game as they’d only get three more hits
Milt Wilcox gave up three in the third and then two in the sixth. He gave up five hits, but walked five en route to the loss.
There’s fourteen more games left in the Tiger’s season. They’re off to a decent start tonight, with Mike Maroth pitching a five hit shutout through the fifth. Dmitri Young and Brandon Inge have homered to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. This is the third to last home series of the season, with the finale being next weekend against Tampa Bay. Two weeks left of Tigers baseball, so enjoy it while you can.
The 27 year old infielder, Jason Smith has turned some heads. Including today, he’s hitting .266, and more impressively, 16 of his 33 hits are for extra bases. He’s well past the point where he can be considered a prospect, but if this is any indication of what he can do, a utility infield/pinch hitting role could be in his future. With him and Brandon Inge, you have two players who can pretty much cover any position between the two of them.
Congratulations to the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Tigers A affiliate. They won the Midwest League Championship by beating the Kane County Cougars three games to two. With Erie making the playoffs (and eventually losing), it’s nice to see the Tiger’s pipeline doing well at their appropriate levels. The Tigers minor league system has been a mess for a while, and it looks like Dave Dombrowski and company have brought some respectability back to the Tiger’s minor league system.
I’m taking part in a forum on blogging over at MLB Center. You can see my post and a ton of others. It’s steering a little off course, but I was brought to the attention of a website I wasn’t aware of. The Business of Baseball is still being worked on by Maury Brown. Maury is a top notch person, and his website is impressive in it’s content. I’ll be checking this one out over the next several days to see what kind of goodies I can find.
September 19, 1984 Tigers 4, Brewers 2 (98-54)
Despite the rest of the regular season basically being meaningless, there were a few more things for the Tigers to play for. One hundred wins was within their reach. Only four times had the Tigers won a 100 games prior to the 1984 seasons, and they were all good ones. 1968, 1961, 1934, and 1915. They also had a shot at the 1968 Tiger’s record 103 wins.
Jack Morris took them one step closer to both of those marks with a strong performance. It was nice to see he pitched well down the stretch after an up and down season. Jack pitched six solid innings en route to his eighteenth win of the season untl the pen took over. Willie Hernandez pitched a shutout ninth inning to earn his thirty first save.
I was watching the Yankees/Red Sox game this afternoon, when they panned over to a shot of Stephen King. They (McCarver and Buck, I can’t remember which) proceeded to make fun of the fact he had like three pairs of glasses clipped to his shirt, and also talked about how he had recovered from a motorcycle accident a few years back.
Well, it wasn’t a motorcycle accident. He was hit by a van while out for a walk. I guess a motor vehicle was involved, but this about as far from a motorcycle accident as you can get.
And the reason Stephen King is there, besides being a big Red Sox fan, is he’s working on a book about the 2004 Red Sox season. Stephen King is one of the best writers of our generation, and is to the horror genre what J.R.R. Tolkien was to the fantasy genre. I’ll be checking this out for sure when it comes out, as I do everything Mr. King writes.
Between a cold, and little free time, I’ve been ignoring the present day Tigers. I got watch bits and pieces of the game last night, and was impressed with how they stayed in the game. This has definitely been a season of surprises. Omar Infante hitting two homers? His second multihomer game of the season? Who would have thought last year.
And Craig Monroe looked like he was destined for a season in Toledo after being the 2003 Tiger’s Rookie of the Year. But a few timely injuries, and the Cody Ross trade, opened the door for him. And he’s been one of the hottest players in the entire league in the season half.
Nate Robertson is another story. He really looks like he’s hitting a wall, and Tram and Cluck should thing about shutting him down. This is the third straight start he’s given up five or more runs. The strikeouts are still there, which is nice, but his ERA has ballooned from 4.40 to 4.86 during those three starts. He’s up to almost 180 innings, which I’m sure is the most he’s ever thrown. It’s time to start thinking about next year.
Barry Bonds hit 700th. The only thing that will be more impressive is when he hits 800, and I think he’ll do it. Ichiro had two hits last night, and is also one step closer to making history.
A good friend of mine has started a Reds blog. The link on the right isn’t up yet, and I’ve talked about this in the past, but he’s begged me to give him a plug, so here it is. Reds Cutting Edge should at least be a fun site for Reds fans to visits, knowing Gr…., I mean Blade.