Archive for December, 2004

Happy New Year

Rather then complain more, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Check back in on Monday, and I’ll the Jack Morris piece up for the 1975 Reds/1984 Tigers debate with Blade.

Addition by Subtraction

The Reds got Eric Milton, so yet another starting pitcher eludes the Tigers. Frankly, I’m not too sad about this one. Milton gave up a ton of homeruns, and shouldn’t have had the record he did in Philly last year.

So, I go to the free agent tracker for starting pitching to see who’s left. Derek Lowe is still out there, as is the one year wonder, Esteban Loaiza. I think at this point, it’s yet another guy who hasn’t been mentioned much that’s the most intriuging, and that’s Odalis Perez. He’s had a couple of nice seasons, and he’s still only 27 years old. Shawn Estes and Omar Daal are also still out there.

And then there’s Carlos Beltran. The Tigers are still popping up as potential suitors, and it’s probably just one big tease. By the end of the week, the Yankees could have both Randy Johnson and Beltran on their team.

Catching Up

Alright, I’m not one to normally make excuses, but I’ve had a really tough time keeping up the last couple of weeks. Between last weekend running right into Christmas, and shaking in a very busy time for me at work has left me running from one place to the next. I didn’t finish my shopping until late Wed. night, and we’ve spent most of the last two days away from home.

I was hoping to catch up on some things today (starting a nice year end piece, along with finishing my D.C. column for the Hardball Times), but now my wife isn’t feeling well, so I’ve had to take care of the little man all day, which is fun because he has a bunch of new toys, but also tiring and time consuming. He just went down for a nap, so this is my semi-daily diatribe.

Next weekend doesn’t look like it’s going to be much better as we’re busy every day from Friday through Sunday. I did make out nicely at Christmas with regard to my board game collection, getting both Axis and Allies and Axis and Allies – D-Day, along with Memoir ’44. I also got a couple of new additions to my Advanced Squad Leader collection as well.

Fortunately, little is going on. The headline story on Yahoo is about Olympic Stadium being gutted. Jason Varitek re-signed with the Red Sox, and the Tigers have signed nobody.

I’m playing in the Superbowl of my fantasy football league. The big game for both of us is the Pats/Jets game. He has Curtis Martin, and I’ll have Corey Dillon and Tom Brady. Go Pats.

Carlos Beltran

I read this story on Yahoo this evening. It seems like the Tigers have been mentioned as pursuing just about every major free agent this off-season.

To say it would be nice if Carlos Beltran signed with Detroit would be the equivalent of saying Ron Artest is a little unusual. Both would be major understatements. This would make the Pudge signing look like, well, the second biggest signing ever. I’ve been talking about the Tigers trying to get him for a long time on this site.

But they’ve been shot down by just about everyone else (outside of Troy Percival), so I’m not holding my breath.

Tigers Keep Sanchez and Inge, Let Munson Go

I really liked Eric Munson, but the more I saw, the more I figured it was time to let him move on. He actually made some strides at third base, going from a below average fielder to an average fielder. Unfortunately, his bat took a step back. Munson seemed to have a ton of potential, and you’d see this in brief flashes, like his monster home run into the deepest part of Comerica Park last year. But a .212 average and a .289 OBP doesn’t quite cut it for a guy who just turned 27. I wish him the best of luck wherever he ends up.

Which leads us to our new starting third basemen, Brandon Inge. Oh what a weird path some people travel. Brandon was left for dead after the Tigers signed Ivan Rodriguez, but he bounced back nicely in 2004, playing the role of utility man. With an OPS+ of 108, he sported his first season where he was above the 65 mark. Even if Brandon regresses a little to say .270/.325/.435, you still have a fine commodity in a guy who plays a good third base and catcher.

Alex Sanchez is the most frustrating of the moves. I’ve never cared for him, and he seems to make base running mistake after baserunning mistake (just from watching the games). The only thing good you can say about him is he hit .320. A very hollow .320. He stole 19 bases, but was caught 13 times, hurting his team more then helping them in those 32 attempts. His equivalent average was a poor .248, and his OPS+ was only 91 (actually a career high). Throw in the fact he’s not very good out in the field, and it makes me yearn for the signing of J.D. Drew.

If the Tigers want to make a big splash, throw 10 years and $210 million at Carlos Beltran. Mike Illitch proved he’d put good money out for a top notch player back when they were pursuing Juan Gonzelez, and he did it again for Pudge.

But all in all, none of this was unexpected. Nook Logan isn’t quite ready to play every day, so Sanchez was the cheap alternative for one more year. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll really start to see the 2005 Tigers team take shape, and it’s looking more and more like it did in 2004 then I’d like.

I’m feeling better, and I’m really trying to get back into the swing of things. It was interesting to see D.C. finally resolve all of their issues, and I’m hoping to have the second and final installment of that narrative done here soon. I’ll probably check in one more time before then, but if you’re checking out, have a safe and happy holiday.

The Weekend From Hell

I sit here with a fever, so hopefully I’ll keep this coherent. I’m trying to get caught up on all the baseball news, so I’m hoping to be up and ready tomorrow. In the meantime, chew on this story……

This weekend we celebrated Christmas with my mom’s side of the family. The four siblings alternate with my uncle having his turn this year. He’s the only who lives out of town, and he resides in Louisville, KY.

So Friday we made the trek down a little later then we anticipated. We got caught in Cincinnati during rush hour, and it slowed us down. Once we got into Kentucky, the change of altitude really hit my wife, who has problems with her ears. She basically rode the final hour and a half with a head ache. Fortunately my six month old son was trooper and held up well.

Saturday came and went. We went on a tour of the Lousiville Slugger plant, which was very cool, and my boy got to swin in a pool for the first time. We also got to spend time with the family, most of which I don’t see too often because I live an hour or so away.

Sunday was when the proverbial shit hit the fan. I woke up feeling like crap. By mid afternoon I knew I had a fever, and had eaten as little as I could for fear of getting sick. In the meantime, the windshield wiper fluid line froze, and we weren’t able to clean the windows. On one of our stops to clean the windows, we hit a curb, and flattend our tire in Troy, OH.

At this point, it was 1:30 or so in the afternoon. It was well below zero with the wind chill, and I had a fever. So I call AAA while trying to keep everyone calm. After being on hold for close to an hour, I finally got help with the spare, and we made our was to the closest Sears Auto Centers, about ten miles up I-75.

By this time it was 3 pm, thinking we’d get a tire, and be home relatively late. But our story doesn’t end. I have a Pontiac Aztec. Very inexpensive, and a pretty ugly vehicle. One of the reasons it’s inexpensive is because they’re not very popular. Seemed nice at the time, but when we got to Sears, I found out not only did they not have the correct tire, but no Sears within 100 miles had one. We tried Walmart as well, with no luck.

So we checked into a hotel in Piqua, OH. After more unloading of the car in subzero tempatures, I finally tried to eat something, and could only swallow down half of a Quiznos sub. We walked around the local mall, and by 6 pm, I was laid up in bed sweating out my fever.

I felt only marginally better today, but got up and started searching through the yellow pages for a 17″ tire. I finally found a place about twelve miles away in Sidney, OH. By 11 pm, I had my tire on, and by noon we were on the road home, only to find it snowing.

So that’s how my weekend went. We got home safe, which is always a bonus, but it was pretty trying. So I hope you can all be patient with me as I get back up to speed.

The Great Debate – 1975 Reds vs. 1984 Tigers – Rightfield

Kirk Gibson may not get into the Hall of Fame, but he definitely had some Hall of Fame moments. His monster three run shot in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series, and an equally impressive Game 1 walk off homer in the 1988 World Series are my two most memorable moments in all of baseball.

1984 was Gibby’s breakout season, and he was extremely consistent for the next five years. He hit between 24 and 29 homers in each of those five seasons, and he stole between 26 and 34 bases. He was plagued by injuries most of his career, and was only able to play in 140 games in three or more seasons.

There’s no doubt that Kirk Gibson had the most potent bat of all his 1984 counterparts. Gibson finished sixth in the MVP voting in 1984, and he was ninth in OPS+.

Let’s take a look at his numbers.

Runs 92
Homeruns 27
RBIs 91
Avg. .282
OBP .363
Slg% .516
Runs Created 98
OPS+ 142

Batting Runs Above Replacement 52
Fielding Runs Above Replacement -1
Equivalent Average .305
Wins Above Replacement Player 5.6

Gibson was never known for his fielding, but he could hit. Ken Griffey had a nice season, but Gibby had a great one. Blade says this one was close, and it might have been if we were comparing Gibson to the 1976 Griffey, but we’re not.

Scorecare – 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 3

You can read Blade’s analysis of Ken Griffey at Reds Cutting Edge.


While the winter meetings were exciting for some teams, they were downright boring for the Tigers. Carl Pavano is going to the Yankees, and Troy Glauss went to Arizona, so two of the Tigers top targets are out play.

Ken Rosenthal, in a recent column, projected that the Tigers would land……Adrian Beltre. This is a guy with six full seasons of major league experience, and he’ll only be 26 come April. Even his 2002 and 2003 seasons, where he struggled, were better then what we had at third base in either of those seasons. I say get it done.

The Free Press, on the other hand, are still saying we’re going after Rentaria. I don’t like this nearly as much. If you want a nice run down of what’s happened, and what’s on tap, you can check out Billfer’s piece over at the Detroit Tigers Weblog. He points out that Renteria isn’t much of an upgrade over Brandon Inge.

I’ll be covering this over at the Hardball Times, but the Expos/D.C. move took yet another twist. In what should have been the final chapter, the D.C. council passed a bill, but it deviates greatly from what the mayor and MLB agreed to. Should be interesting.

I’m out of town all weekend. Travelling to Louisville for the holidays. I am looking forward to a tour of the Louisville Slugger bat plant. I’ll probably get my installment of the debate piece up before I leave, but then I won’t be checking until late Sunday.

Winter Meetings and Settlers of Catan

No news is bad news. At this time, I haven’t heard anything with regard to the Tigers. No trades, and no signings, with a lot of players signing with other teams. I guess it’s better then making bad trades and bad signings, but it makes for a frustrating time. If Troy Percival is the best they can do, then I’m not too optimistic for next season.

And if you want a great look at what happens at the Winter Meetings, the guys over at All Baseball are actually there and writing reports. It’s great stuff, and I highly recommend you check out the write-ups at the Cubs Reporter, Rich’s Weekend Baseball Beat, Mariner Musings, and Dodger Thoughts. It’s all great stuff. In fact, I’m pretty jealous I’m not there as well.

I also bucked up and paid for premium access to Baseball Prospectus. I wanted access to some stories by Neil deMause for my Hardball Times piece, but I’ve found the other content to be well worth the price. Their book is also an annual buy of mine.

And if you haven’t gotten it yet, I highly recommend the 2004 Hardball Times Annual. It’s well worth the price, and it’s a great resource. And I bought it before I started writing for them, so I can say that objectively.

My son was teething, so it made for a rough weekend. I did get a chance to play Settlers of Catan again this weekend against some family members, and the game is really growing on me. I also finished in first place in my fantasy football league, so I’ll go into the playoffs as the number one seed with an 11-3 record.

Debuts and Rumors

After quite a bit of research, and quite a bit of writing, I finished the first installment of a historical look at the Montreal Expos for The Hardball Times. I appreciated Aaron Gleeman for inviting me to write for the site. Look for the second, and probably more interesting, installment in the next couple of weeks. I also appreciate the comments I received via email (which taught me even more).

A lot is going on in the free agent market, and so far, the Tigers haven’t been involved. But, apparantly Peter Gammons said the Tigers are the mystery team who’s heavily involved in signing Carlos Beltran. I’ll believe it when I see it, but Scott Boras owes the Tigers a little bit for taking Ivan Rodriguez off his hands when nobody wanted him, so maybe something can be worked out.

The other tidbit I’ve heard is the Tigers are looking at Edgar Rentaria. Not sure if this is true, but with Carlos Guillen on the shelf, this might not be a bad pickup. Guillen can play third, and a move over there would solve some of Tram’s problems. He’s got two gold gloves, but his Fielding Runs Above Replacement over at Baseball Prospectus puts him at a below average fielder. I’d save my money for some pitching.

And that gets us to Carl Pavano. At first, I didn’t like them going after him because I figured he’d be overpriced, but I’m rethinking that. Yes, he’s only had one good year. But he doesn’t walk many batters, nor has he given up a lot of homers the last two years. His strikeouts might not quite be where I’d like them either, but how about this for an opening day rotation:

1) Carl Pavano
2) Jeremy Bonderman
3) Mike Maroth
4) Nate Robertson
5) Jason Johnson/Wil Ledezma

If Bonderman, Robertson and Ledezma can all take steps forward, and Maroth can pitch solid like he did last year, that’s pretty nice, even if Pavano matches his 2003 numbers, and not his 2004 numbers.

Winter meetings are this weekend, so there should be quite a bit of news. Hopefully the Tigers will be in the thick of things.

Have a great weekend.

The Great Debate – 1975 Reds vs. 1984 Tigers – Centerfield

If there was one player I most tried to mimic as a kid, it was Chet Lemon. The way he’d casually go back, stand under the ball, and just sort of hold his mitt under the ball, letting it fall into his glove was classic. Rarely did he catch anything two handed, and rarely did I. In fact I still catch grief when I play softball, since I basically conditioned myself to catch the ball without both hands.

1984 was a great season for Chet Lemon. What’s funny is, I don’t remember him for a great catch. And I don’t remember him for a clutch homer. What I do remember him for is going back on a fly ball, losing it in the sun, and getting clocked in the head. I vividly remember sitting in friend’s basement and watching Gibby and a couple other Tigers carrying Chet off the field.

Chet Lemon didn’t set any career marks in 1984, but he probably had his best all-around season. His twenty homers were second best to the year before, and his batting average, on base percentage, and slugging were all above his career marks.

Here’s the numbers:

Runs 77
Homeruns 20
RBIs 76
Average .287
OBP .357
Slg% .495
Runs Created 88
OPS+ 135

Batting Runs Above Replacement 41
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 41
Equalized Average .295
Wins Above Replacement Player 9.0

Chet Lemon had a WARP of 9.0, which tied him with Tram for the team lead, so he was as much of an MVP on this team then anyone. Gibby had a monster season at the plate, but his defensive skills (or lack of) hurt when it came to WARP.

And it looks like Blade doesn’t have much to argue about here. In fact he conceded a lot more easily then I thought.

Scorecard – 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 2

You can read Blade’s analysis of Cesar Geronimo at Reds Cutting Edge.

Settlers of Catan and Some Other Odds and Ends

I’ve been busy this weekend working on a new project which hopefully you’ll all be able to see this week. I’m hoping you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

One thing I did have a chance to do is break out my new copy of Settlers of Catan, by Mayfair Games. I had played the game once, and nearly won my first time, but more importantly I had a blast playing. Along with baseball cards, I collect and play war games. I own a lot of out of print Avalon Hill games, and my ten year project is to learn Advanced Squad Leader.

Anyway, I set up a game and ran through it solo. Fortunately, I won. I just hope my six month old son grows up to like these games.

In the meantime, if you want to check up on the most current news and happenings, here some places I recommend you go.

Blade finished his analysis of Cesar Geronimo in our ongoing debate on which of Sparky’s teams was the best. You can check it out at Reds Cutting Edge. I’m hoping to get my response up in the next couple of days.

Billfer has done a nice piece on the Tigers of the future, as he goes through their top 10 prospects. As always, he does a fantastic job of breaking things down.

And if you haven’t had your steroid fix yet, I highly recommend you check out Only Baseball Matters. Not only do you get a ton of facts, but you get a ton of passion.

I’ve also been trying to figure out Diamond Mind Baseball. A reader bought me a copy of the simulation, and I’ve been having fun with that as well.

Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Steroids

This looks like it’s trumping just about everything right now. I’m going to opine on this over the weekend, but in the meantime, John Perricone has a nice running series of articles on the whole issue of Steroids and Baseball. Either you can click on the link at the top, or you can click here.


First off, I’m not an expert on any of this. I have no idea what falls within the realm of performance enhancing drugs or not. Or what’s considered a steroid or not. For most of my 20s, I was a gym rat. Most weeks I was at the gym 4 to 5 times, and I also did a lot of running. I tried a few supplements, most of which didn’t do anything for me. One did. I took Creatine for about a month, and even though it’s probably not considered a banned substance, it was definitely performance enhancing. So I’m not sure what qualifes and what doesn’t, or if it’s as arbritrary as what’s considered an “assault weapon,” but I do know the stuff gave me an extra push.

So what about Barry Bonds, and to a lesser extent, Jason Giambi. I’m going to assume that the leaks are in fact truthful, which is why Giambi got the “lesser extent” tag. He admitted he was a knowing user. So that leaves us with Bonds, and three different scenarios.

Scenario 1 – Barry Bonds never took steroids

I think it’s safe to say this is an unrealistic scenario. Again we’re assuming the leaks are factual, and from the sound of it, Barry admitted he took something. Which leads us to…..

Scenario 2 – Barry Bonds took steroids but didn’t know it?

In this case, Barry was misled as he admitted in his testimony. For a lot of people, this probably doesn’t sound like a viable alterantive, but Anderson was supposed to be a good, long time, so-called friend of Bonds. Is it unrealistic that his friend might try to dupe Barry for a few bucks? There’s a lot of greedy people out there, so that’s a definite yes. I know if a friend of mine handed me a pill and told me it was high powered vitamin, I’d probably take it. Of course, I trust my friends implicity.

Scenario 3 – Barry Bonds took steroids and he knew it

Now we have intent. Obviously, this would be the worst possible outcome, making Barry essentially a cheater. But as I stated before, what qualifies, and what doesn’t? Does that even mean anything? If he took Andro three years ago, which is now banned, does that mean he cheated?

So what’s my completely uninformed opinion? Basically I’ll go with 2.5. Anderson lied to him, but Barry, in the back of his mind suspected what he was doing wasn’t right. His punishment will probably be….nothing, other then all of his records from here on out will be under scrutiny. Steroids might not be able to help you hit a ball better, but it would definitely allow someone to perform better at an older age like Barry’s been able to do.

Tigers Going to the Hall of Fame

No, Tram or Morris didn’t get the nod by the voters. The Tigers will be playing the Red Sox in Cooperstown at the annual Hall of Fame game. I’ve been to the Hall of Fame once, about 12 years ago, and I’d like to go again. Probably once my son gets a little older.

And since we’re on the subject of the Hall of Fame, the new ballot was released the other day. Of the new candidates, Wade Boggs appears to be the only guy I’d consider for a first ballot election. He may not have hit a ton of homeruns, but he’s fifteenth all time in doubles. In his first ten seasons, he never hit below .302, and with a career OPS+ of 130 and 3,000 career hits. I think it’s hard sell not voting him in.

Jack Morris and Alan Trammell once again are on there as well. Morris is a lot closer then Tram as he got about twice as many votes last year. If Jack can pick up some support, he might have a solid shot in the next couple of years. Tram on other hand, isn’t probably going to get in. As much as he deserves to be in there.

Two other guys who I feel should get the nod, if not next year but soon, are Goose Gossage and Bert Blyleven. Gossage in my mind is the best closer ever. He had it all, and pitchers were afraid to face him. Blyleven was one of those guys who didn’t hit the magic Win number because he played on a ton of mediocre teams.

As always, the guys who vote on occassion can defy what most of us view as reality. To illustrate this, last year Terry Pendleton and Cecil Fielder got votes from someone.

If I had to make a prediction, I’d say Boggs and Ryne Sandberg get in this year. Bruce Sutter will miss by a small margin, and get in eventually.

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