Game 1 (Final Score: 3-5, Mariners win)
The Tigers did most of their damage in the top of the fourth. Shelton singled; Ordonez and White took walks, so Rodriguez had a bases loaded opportunity with no outs. In a 1-1 count he hit a fly to center that advanced each runner one base (1-0). Monroe drove the 0-2 pitch to short so Ordonez came home and Infante struck out, stranding one (2-0). Two runs is nice but this was a bases loaded, no out opportunity against an average pitcher on a bad team and both runs required an out to score. These situations are indicative of the team’s current level of play.
The top half of the inning looked exceptionally bad compared to the bottom half. Seattle scored three runs on three hits: a single by Ibanez and homers from Beltre and Sexson (2-3). There were two more singles in the inning before Robertson finally got his game together and got some easy outs, two on infield flies. I don’t consider the Mariners to be a particularly strong team this year so it is disappointing to see them score more runs in a significantly less dangerous situation. I suppose they did perform just as badly in the same situation when it came up in the seventh.
The Tigers and Mariners both loaded the bases in the seventh. With two outs, Inge singled and Guillen drew a walk. Nelson relieved Franklin and proceeded to issue two more walks, tying the game (3-3). White had a bases loaded opportunity that he squandered when (a) Putz came in and finished him off. In the bottom half, the Mariners finally got Robertson off the mound when he gave up a single and hit Ibanez with a pitch. Rodney came in for relief and didn’t provide much. The first and second men he faced singled, the second one scoring a run, and Reed’s fielder’s choice was good for another run (3-5).
Robertson had only three bad innings: In the second when issued a couple of walks and allowed a stolen base, in the fourth with the homers, and in the seventh when he was finally replaced. He escaped the first one without casualties and might have escaped the third but he was pulled after only 88 pitches. Rodney was brought into a tough spot but most people would agree he’s pitched like the second best arm in the pen. Really, the offense should’ve completed more punches when they had the chance.
Game 2 (Final Score: 8-5, Tigers win)
This was a seesaw battle that really started when both teams traded runs in the third. The Tigers again scored first before promptly relinquishing the lead when Guillen singled McDonald home with two away (1-0). The Mariners went ahead in the bottom half scoring two on Beltre’s RBI single and Reed’s sac fly (1-2). Returning the favor, Pineiro allowed three consecutive base runners with two away in the fourth. The third runner was Young who smacked a double that plated White and Rodriguez (3-2).
Seattle came storming back in the sixth after spotting another run to Detroit on Shelton’s fifth inning two out single that scored a run (4-2). With one away, Reed, Bloomquist, and Lopez singled, scoring the first run (4-3). Johnson got Olivo to groundout, erasing the lead runner and bringing up Suzuki. Suzuki hit the first pitch he hit for a triple and the Tigers were in the back seat again (4-5). Johnson pitched two more scoreless innings before calling it a night and ended up with the victory.
Young hit a three run homer in the eighth with White and Logan on -replaced Rodriguez at first – in an attempt to dislodge the barbecue fork that has been visibly protruding from his back all season (7-5). The bases loaded opportunity in the ninth that was wasted ended up being just gravy since the team didn’t need the additional run that scored on Ordonez’s sac fly (8-5). I will mention that it was with none out, again. At this point in time I would like to congratulate Farnsworth for being effective and Rodriguez and Guillen for combining to make three caught stealing.
Game 3 (Final Score: 3-9, Mariners win)
Ick! I guess I have to write about this one. Moyer completely had his way with the team and its spouses for eight innings and the Mariners’ hitters beat the living day lights out of Maroth. I’ll stick to the highlights since that covers about all I can stomach of the lowlights.
Spurling was reasonably effective, allowing a third as many runs as Maroth in nearly three times as many innings and fewer pitches. German continued to not give up many runs, even though he threw only 21 of his 40 pitches for strikes, thanks to Ibanez getting thrown out at home. Polanco returned to the lineup and continued his torrid hitting. Maroth’s runs were scored on mostly weak hits, walks, and Monroe’s three run error with two outs in the second. The Tigers were effective at times hitting, stringing some together; The only problem was the hits were all singles. Seattle takes the series two games to one.
I really didn’t see this one coming. Kyle Farnsworth was traded to the Braves for Roman Colon and Zach Miner. Looks like the inability to lock in Farnsworth spooked Dombrowski, so he figured he should cut bait while Farnsworth’s stock is high.
As always, when I’m dealing with minor league players, I reach over to my book shelf and pull out my latest Baseball Prospectus. Roman Colon is in his second year, will be 26 in a couple of weeks, and to date hasn’t done all that well. His .272 batting average against isn’t too special. He did start four games, so he has that ability. He was the Brave’s AAA pitcher of the year last season and had a solid 64/32 strikeout to walk ratio in the minors.
Zach Miner wasn’t in the book but his AAA stats aren’t off the chart. 63 strikeouts through 89 1/3 innings, but he also has 45 walks. And while I don’t put too much stock in the win/loss record, it is only 2-7. His ERA isn’t great either (4.23). So if anyone knows anything about this guy, definitely drop me a line because I’m not seeing much.
I commend Dombrowski with trying to get something for a guy who didn’t seem like he was willing to sign with us next year. Hopefully Colon can fill a role in the pen. He did start in the low minors, so I could see him filling a spot starter/long relief role. Miner will probably be headed to Toledo.
With Oakland finishing their sweep today, I think we can put to rest the hopes of the Tigers backing into a Wild Card spot this year. They’re now eight games out with seven teams ahead of them. They’re closer to Seattle, who’s just behind them, then they are of making the playoffs.
Jeff has me covered. There’s reviews on both players over at Bless You Boys, so be sure to check them out.
July 31, 1935 Tigers 9, Browns 3 (58-37)
Lost in the Tigers offensive onslaught was a quality start by Tommy Bridges. He won his fifteenth game, giving up three runs on eight hits.
July 30, 1935 Browns 8, Tigers 6 (57-37)
Schoolboy Rowe once again struggled as the Tigers walked away with a loss against the worst team in the American League. The Browns scored their runs in bunches. The racked up four in the fourth and three in the seventh to put the game out of reach.
Rowe took the loss and while Joe Sullivan stopped the Browns from putting any more runs on the board, the Tigers failed to come back. Pete Fox homered for the Tigers and Jo Jo White scored two runs. Hank Greenberg had two RBIs.
I love Minor League Baseball.com. If you’ve never been to the site, they now (at least I’ve just noticed it) a great feature to where you can listen to just about any game live on the net. Right now I’m listening to Zumaya throw a gem. Twelve strikeouts and counting through six innings.
July 29, 1935 Indians 6, Tigers 5 (57-36)
The Tigers twelve game winning streak over the Indians ended as the Indians scored all six of their runs in the sixth inning. The Tigers had given General Crowder a 3-0 lead, but it went up in smoke after he was beaten down in that inning. The Tigers got runs in the seventh and eighth to cut the lead to a single run, but couldn’t manage to tie it despite having the bases loaded with one out in the ninth.
Marv Owen drove in two runs and Goose Goslin homered. Crowder walked away with the loss. The Yankees trailed the Tigers by 2 1/2 games, but they were tied in the loss column, so their lead was hardly comfortable.
I have been meaning to get around to concluding my series on why I thought the Tigers would stand pat at the trade deadline this year, and I had already covered the position players in two previous columns. But then work and annoying Yankee fans got in the way, and now I’m going to scrabble together a quick-and-dirty on the pitching staff, which I had previously hoped to do in two separate installments, the starters and the bullpen. Anyway, here we go:
Rotation (alphabetical order):
Jeremy Bonderman: Emerging ace, 22 years old, and not eligible for arbitration until Spring Training 2007. Not going anywhere.
Sean Douglass: Called up from Toledo after Wil Ledezma flamed out of the starting rotation, he’s been surprisingly effective in his starts, but I doubt he could bring us more than a fringe prospect or two… And who would replace him in the rotation as the Tigers try to roar to the front from the rear position of what seems like an ever-tighter cluster of teams in contention for the wild card?
Jason Johnson: Now, here’s a guy that could definitely be tradeable. Contract is up at the end of the year, he has learned the sinker under the tutelage of pitching coach Bob Cluck, and his opponents’ OPS is currently at 736 (for perspective, Mike Mussina is at 742 and Brad Radke is at 753). On the other hand, he may display some loyalty to the Tigers in the off-season because of Cluck and his improvement while he has been here. And then there is that thing I mentioned at the end of the Douglass paragraph, and all of the quotes in the papers coming from the team indicate we’re going for it with the crew we’ve got.
Mike Maroth: Soft-tossing lefty who does get battered around a bit (790 opponents’ OPS), but has games where he looks very Jamie Moyer-esque. Still, unless a contender is absolutely desperate for a lefty, I don’t think he’ll attract very much interest, plus he is eligible for arbitration for the first time this coming off-season, so he’ll be pretty affordable for next year. And I mention here again the desire of Tigers brass to see how far the current group can take us. Mike might be more of a trade target in the off-season than before the deadline.
Nate Robertson: It might surprise some to find that Nate’s opponents’ OPS is actually better than Bonderman’s (OK, just 704 to 705), but Nate does seem capable of dominating at times, despite the occasional one-pitch ejection appearance. And with one full year, one half-year, and a 6-game stint with the Marlins under his belt, he won’t be eligible for arbitration this coming year, but likely will be for Spring Training 2007. Though he is 28 years old, it’s probably worth it to keep him around and see if Cluck can help him to continue to improve his consistency.
Bullpen (alphabetical order):
Vic Darensbourg: Situational lefty recently called up from Toledo… But with the hideous numbers put up by Doug Creek (opponents’ OPS of 964), I have to wonder if a switch to Darensbourg earlier in the season wouldn’t have increased his trade value. One type of player that seems to be overvalued at the trade deadline is a left-handed reliever, and I think the Tigers blew it by letting Darensbourg stay down on the farm too long, thus unable to show his stuff at the big league level in time to attract some trade attention.
Craig Dingman: Also called up from Toledo not too long ago, Dingman has posted an impressive opponents’ OPS of 269 thus far, though that is only in 6 IP. He also earned an emergency save against the Twins when Kyle Farnsworth couldn’t find the plate one night. I don’t think Dingman will be garnering much attention on the trade market, but one never knows. Relievers always seem to be in short supply. Not to mention that Dingman is exactly the kind of player that could easily clear waivers and be traded some time in August.
Kyle Farnsworth: Newly minted closer since the disabling of Troy Percival, Kyle has impressed with his triple-digit fastball, which has led to an equally impressive 11.60 K/9IP and an opponents’ OPS of just 519, which would be the best season of his career if he can keep it up. Farnsworth is eligible for free agency after the season, and so far has indicated two things: (1) he likes it in Detroit, and (2) he’s going to wait it out and “see what happens” (generally this is code for seeing what he can get as a free agent on the market). Still, to trade away our current closer who is throwing lights-out… That just ain’t happening.
Franklyn German: Once thought of as a closer-of-the-future, German has suddenly been vaulted into a long relief role, as evidenced by his insertion when Robertson was ejected on the first pitch of the game down in Tampa. His big problem in the past has been the bases on balls, and at 20 in 38-1/3 innings so far, he still isn’t exactly stingy in that department, but has improved quite a bit. Let’s not forget that he likely won’t be eligible for arbitration this coming off-season, though it could be close. Again, the Dingman comments apply equally here as to his trade-ability.
Fernando Rodney: Coming back from Tommy John surgery and having spent the first half of the season resting and rehabbing in the minors, Rodney vaulted himself into the trusted “setup man” role (8th inning of a close game with the lead) with an outstanding 3-inning outing in the Nate Robertson ejection game down in Tampa. He currently has 11.17 K’s per 9 IP, but kind of average numbers otherwise (727 opponents’ OPS). Still, as to tradeability, he also will not be eligible for arbitration this upcoming off-season, and the Tigers like what they have in him, so I’d be utterly shocked if he was moved.
Chris Spurling: Everyone will want to focus on his horrible outing in Chicago that cost us a 3-game sweep of the hated White Sox, but even with that outing in his overall stats, his numbers look decent to average for a reliever (3.93 K/9IP is low, but a 772 opponents’ OPS isn’t horrible, especially considering that his one horrible outing probably is having a significant impact on that number). The Dingman and German comments on tradeability apply pretty well to Spurling, I would think.
Jamie Walker: Despite having a pretty good year (2.38 ERA, 575 opponents’ OPS, but a near-career low 5.03 K/9IP), Jamie is 34 years old. He has a very reasonable salary and is a left-handed reliever. While I believe the Tigers will hold onto him, he might fetch more than one would otherwise think he could. In a pinch, we might bring up Wil Ledezma for left-handed relief if someone bowls us over in an offer for Walker. Still, I doubt it will happen.
July 28, 1935 Tigers 14, Indians 6 (57-35)
The Tigers gave Schoolboy Rowe an early 7-0 lead, but in the bottom of the second, he ran into trouble. By the end of two innings, Rowe was on the bench in place of Chief Hogsett and the Indians had cut the lead to only two runs.
It didn’t take too long for the Tigers to put the game away. They added three more in the third to essentially put the game out of reach. Goose Goslin had a big game. He went four for six with five RBIs. Jo Jo White scored four runs and Hank Greenberg had four hits and two RBIs.
Hogsett walked away with the win, and the Tigers increased their lead over the Yankees to three games.
July 27, 1935 Tigers 6, Indians 2 (56-35)
The Tigers continued to roll and pad their lead over the Yankees as Tommy Bridges won his 14th game of the season. He gave up only two runs on nine hits, but those two runs were scored in the bottom of the ninth when the game was well out of reach.
The win was the Tigers fourth straight and with the Yankees losing, the Tigers now had a 2 1/2 game lead in the American League.
Game 1 (Final Score: 10-5, Twins win)-Johnson
Game 2 (Final Score: 6-12, Tigers win)-Maroth
Game 3 (Final Score: 1-2, Tigers win)-Douglass
Game 4 (Final Score: 5-2, Twins win)-Verlander
Game 5 (Final Score: 2-5, Tigers win)-Bonderman
It was a choice between writing and statistics so I chose everyone’s favorite.
July 26, 1975 Tigers 8, Indians 2 (55-35)
This game started out as a pitching dual between starters Elden Auker and Thornton Lee as the score was only 2-1 after five innings. In the sixth and seventh, the Tigers opened the game up with five runs to walk away with the win.
Hank Greenberg continued to mash the ball. He went three for five with three RBIs. Pete Fox drove in two runs and Goose Goslin scored twice. Auker went the distance, and despite giving up ten hits he only allowed two of those to cross the plate.
The win put the Tigers a game and a half up on the Yankees and for the first time were twenty games above .500.
Probably the only thing I love more then baseball is baseball history. I’d rather scan Babe Ruth’s statistics then I would Barry Bonds, and while I don’t read enough of them, I love a good baseball book.
While this list isn’t all inclusive, here are some websites that are doing some pretty neat historical columns:
The Hardball Times – Steve Treder’s column comes out every Tuesday and it’s a must read. This week he takes a look at the business of baseball back in 1954, but he’s touched on a variety of subjects. He’s not the only one who writes about baseball history, so it’s best you stop by there every day.
Black Sox Blog – This White Sox website has been taking a look at the early White Sox season. While the Sox aren’t a favorite team of mine these day’s it’s interesting to see the evolution of one of the storied franchises in the American League.
Tom Seaver Fan Club – This Mets blog is true to it’s word. While it focuses on the current day Mets, Jon also is doing a season by season retrospective of Tom Seaver. His latest was one of Terrific Tom’s best seasons of his career so be sure to check out the 1969 installment.
Reds Cutting Edge – Blade will be annoyed I put him last, but he’s been doing a series of Cincinnati Reds All Decade Teams. If you to read about how the Reds had a chance at nabbing Babe Ruth or how they lost out on both Christy Matthewson and Sam Crawford then be sure to check it out. You’ll also find the 1975 Reds diary I’ve been working on this year.
Justin Verlander made his second major league start of the season on Saturday. In the second game of their day/night doubleheader, Verlander started and lost his second game of the season. In the process, I hope he’s getting something out of all this. It was another big inning that did him in as he gave up three runs in the fourth. The Tigers offense was absent for this game and didn’t give him much help either. Hopefully next time he’ll be able to walk away with the win and a game ball.
The trade deadline (at least the first one) is coming up this weekend. I hate to be a pessimist, but I think the Tigers should be sellers. Jason Johnson, despite getting roughed up in his last start, has to be a guy a contender might be interested in for the back of their rotation. He’s done this well so far with his control. While his strikeout numbers are down (60 in 126 innings), his walk totals are even lower (20). A 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio and a guy who’s gone eight innings seven different times should be a guy who can net us some prospects or even better, a left handed bat. I’ve heard Anaheim might be interested in Rondell White, but I haven’t seen anything to confirm this. Finally, Dmitri Young is very expendable now that Chris Shelton has shown what he can do after an extended stay at the big league club.
Carlos Pena is a guy I’m on the fence about. Getting sent down to AAA when you haven’t been there in a while is pretty humbling. And he’s tearing things up down in Toledo (.326/.435/.541). Marcus Thames is also doing a number on minor league pitching (.378/..477/.782) but I haven’t heard much about the franchises plans for him.
The Tigers took three of five against the Twins this weekend. Despite the White Sox current success, many still look at the Twins as the bench mark of the division and to win a five game series is big. Now the Tigers head out west, so I’ll probably be missing some of the games.
The 1935 diary is caught up and the Tigers are now in first place. Can they remain there??!! Be sure to check back to find out.
July 24, 1935 Tigers 4, Yankees 0 (54-35)
For the first time this season, the Tigers found themselves atop the American League, sort of, as General Crowder threw a gem. He gave up four hits, walked none, and didn’t allow a single Yankee to cross the plate. All four hits were singles.
Jo Jo White gave the Tigers the lead for good with a lead off homer to put the Tigers in front 1-0. The Tigers scored three more in the third, all with two outs. Mickey Cochrane had a one run single and Goose Goslin drove home two when he singled with the bases loaded.
The reason the Tigers only sort of moved into first is they moved a half game ahead, but because they had played five more games, the Yankees actually had a marginally better winning percentage. The matter would be put to rest the following day as the Yankees would lose and the Tigers would not only be an entire game in first, but they’d have the better winning percentage as well.
July 23, 1935 Yankees 7, Tigers 5 (52-35)
The Tigers took an early lead in the first game of the doubleheader with solo shots by Mickey Cochrane and Hank Greenberg. The homer by Greenberg was his 27th of the season. The lead was shortlived as Lou Gehrig took Schoolboy Rowe deep for a two run shot to tie the game.
The Yankees took the lead in the third with a run and extended it in the bottom of the sixth with another to make the score 4-2. The Tigers stormed right back in the top of the seventh with two runs to tie the game, but the Yankees put the game away in the bottom half of the inning with three runs.
July 23, 1935 Tigers 3, Yankees 1 (53-35)
Vic Sorrell outdueled future Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez to move the Tigers back to a half game back of first place. The Yankees were able to tag Sorrell for eight hits and were able to draw six walks, but only one run crossed the plate.
The Tigers were actually outhit but they made good use of their seven hits. A Pete Fox double in the fifth drove in two runs, and the Tigers actually got an insurance run in the sixth without getting a hit. Charlie Gehringer drew a walk, moved to second on a passed ball, and then was sent over to third on a bunt. He was then driven in by Mickey Cochrane on a fielders choice.
The split kept the Tigers a game back. The third and final game of the series would determine who would walk away with sole possession of first place.
July 21, 1935 Red Sox 7, Tigers 6 (52-34)
The Tigers dropped out of first place by a half game when they came from behing to score three runs in the ninth only to see Tommy Bridges blow the come from behind win by giving up three runs in the ninth. Wes Ferrell had the big blast for the Red Sox as he hit a three run pinch hit walk off homer to end the game.
The loss put the Tigers a half game back of the first place Yankees and they had a huge three game series coming up against the Yanks.
Sorry I missed the KC series; I spent all of my usual Internet time doing work.
Game 1 (Final Score: 5-7, Sox win)
This looked like a pretty even pitching match-up on paper, which is why the games are played. Hernandez quickly made the game a mismatch when he gave Inge a delicious pitch to drive and Inge parked it in the left field seats (1-0). Douglass was successful once again on the mound and surrendered his only run in the third on a sacrifice by Podsednik. He surrendered a lead off double to Crede and had a runner on third with one out after Uribe’s groundout. So the Sox traded the second out to tie the game and Douglass struck out Iguchi (1-1).
Hernandez helped the visitors to a big lead in the fifth. Happily the Tigers did it with only one extra base hit; Sadly, they only had one extra base hit in the inning. Rodriguez got things started with a groundout but Monroe took first on a five pitch walk and third on Infante’s single. Logan’s single plated Monroe and he took second on the double steal with Infante (2-1). Inge’s deep fly went for a run, Guillen walked on four pitches, Shelton hit a big double that scored Logan but Guillen made the third out at home (4-1).
Douglass was relieved in the seventh by Spurling and he greeted Konerko with a fat pitch that went for a solo homer (4-2). With one out,
Spurling looked shaky after a double by Dye and single by Pierzynski but Trammell stayed with him. This will go down in history as a poor decision since Spurling surrendered the lead on back-to-back homers by Crede and Uribe; Then Rodney was put in as relief (4-6). The inning ended on Pudge’s second caught stealing of the game but the damage was done. Both teams added a run on solo shots in the eighth and ninth by Thomas and Rodriguez respectively (5-7). My hat is off to Rodriguez who continues to deliver extra base hits in the ninth inning.
OK, Trammell botched the pitching in the seventh. Yes, I realize he’s done it before and will continue to do so – judging from the number of times this comes up – and it will hurt the team again. However, the double steal call made a bad situation worse for the Sox in the fifth and he deserves credit for that as well. I’m still satisfied with his performance and not prepared to go looking for some schlub that probably won’t perform better, will cost more, and won’t bring the good feelings of nostalgia.
Game 2 (Final Score: 7-1, Tigers win)
This pitching match looked to and did favor the Tigers. Bonderman looked really good in the meager four innings I was able to watch; He worked both sides of the plate with all his pitches, kept the fastball low but snuck it up when needed, and had some very good hitters baffled. I especially enjoyed the high fastball he threw to Iguchi on a 2-0 count in the bottom of the third with two on and one out that moved away from him late. That Weaver trade is starting to look really exceptional and will only get better if German masters his control problems. It makes me feel giddy to think that Dombrowski pulled a steal like this off with the team’s only tradable commodity at the time and it involved both the Yankees and Athletics. All that has to happen now is have the team keep him when he comes out of arbitration and the big money comes calling.
After watching his team flail at the ball in the first (three strikeouts!), Bonderman got into a spot of trouble in the bottom half. Iguchi took a one out walk and third when Rodriguez’s throw to second went into the outfield on the stealing attempt. With the heart of the order up, Bonderman got the other two outs he needed and kept the game scoreless. The Tigers took advantage of Contreras and the scoreless game in the second with Ordonez starting the inning with a single. He watched the first two outs pass him by before Monroe lofted a soft single and Infante took both men home with home on his three run homer (3-0).
Bonderman and Contreras traded scoreless halves until the bottom of the fifth when Uribe had Pierzynski on third after a lead off double and groundout. He plated Pierzynski with the second consecutive groundout of the inning and Podsednik ended it with the third (3-1). The Tigers responded in the top of the sixth to this provocation and abused Contreras for four runs. Shelton and Ordonez went with back-to-back doubles, Young singled and took second on the throw, and Rodriguez and Monroe hit back-to-back doubles and the team had a huge lead (7-1). Bonderman dominated the Sox for the rest of the game and Dingman came in throwing fire in the ninth, striking out two to end the game.
Game 3 (Final Score: 8-6, Tigers win)
The starting pitching in the rubber match looked to favor the Sox since Garcia has been virtually unbeatable in day games and Robertson can only get runs when he bats them in. Instead, the Tigers scored plenty of runs with help from the Sox and won the series and moved one game closer to .500.
The Tigers produced two runs on three hits in the first: Two singles and a Shelton one out two run homer than brought Inge home (2-0). This bit of efficiency stands in stark contrast to the many other hits the Tigers produced and didn’t turn into runs. Iguchi cut the visitors’ lead in the bottom half and then the offenses took a couple of innings to rest up for the late game fireworks (2-1).
Two runs scored in the fifth and sixth due to White Sox errors. Inge scored from first after walking on Guillen’s single when Rowand’s throw from center hit him in the back (3-1). Rowand later earned the run back when he scored on Uribe’s single in the bottom half (3-2). Rodriguez scored from third after doubling and advancing on a groundout when Garcia bounced a pitch in front of Widger that went back to the wall (4-2). In the bottom of the seventh Widger picked up Garcia’s mistake with a solo homer off Robertson (4-3).
Rodney pitched a great half inning and the Tigers came up to bat in the top of the ninth nursing a one run lead. Infante smacked the second pitch he saw from Garcia for a solo homer and the inning was off at a run (5-3). Logan singled, Politte relieved Garcia, Inge struck out, and Guillen singled, setting the plate for Shelton to feast. Shelton hit the 2-0 pitch for an RBI single and Ordonez followed him on first with a walk (6-3). After another pitching change and with the bases loaded, Young finally did something for the first time in about a half dozen games, plating two runners with his single (8-3).
Farnsworth replaced Rodney even though this wasn’t a save situation to end the game in the ninth. Things didn’t go as planned. He walked the first two batters he faced and was staring down Rowand with runners on second and third and only one out away. Rowand used the second out to score a run so it looked like Farnsworth was in good shape but he walked his third batter of the inning (8-4). Uribe stepped into the box and Farnsworth blew him away, getting him to an 0-2 count, but Uribe smacked the third pitch for a two run single and I honestly wasn’t sitting comfortably any more (8-6). Crede singled, Farnsworth was relieved, and Dingman finally closed out the game, getting Iguchi to weakly hit the ball back to him.
July 20, 1935 Tigers 6, Red Sox 5 (52-33)
The Tigers almost gave this game away as they saw 4-0 and 5-1 leads disappear. General Crowder gave up three runs in the seventh and then reliever Elden Auker allowed the tying run to cross the plate in the eighth.
Fortunately, the Tiger’s bats had one more run in them. Charlie Gehringer singled, stole second and then scored the winning run on Goose Goslin’s single. It was Goslin’s second RBI of the game and Gerhinger’s second run scored of the game.
The win put the Tigers into a tie for first in the standings. They did trail the Yankees by a few percentage points because the Tigers had both won three and lost three more games then the Yankees.
Now, for the second in a mini-series. Personally, I think the Tigers braintrust should be in a “selective sell mode” at the trading deadline this year, by which I mean that we should be actively shopping some of our older, more established players, but holding on to a good portion of the core of the team – young players who we won’t trade away, almost no matter the return (but only almost… There is always the possibility of being “bowled over”). The problem is that a number of the older players, particularly guys nearing the end of their contracts, just aren’t performing up to expectations, and will therefore not bring much in return. So my personal prediction is that the team will mostly stand pat. Last week, I took a look around the Tiger infield, and the comments wound up mostly talking about outfielders. I’ll try to do justice to that discussion in today’s column:
LF: Rondell White – Now, here is Exhibit A of Veterans That Should Be Traded. He is entering the final few months of a very reasonable contract (2 years/$6 million), and is considered a “professional hitter” by traditional baseball minds. Of course, what that term usually means is a guy who mostly hits, and probably is at least somewhat lacking in the plate discipline area of his game. I think I have mentioned that I recently unearthed my 1983 Bill James Baseball Abstract, and one of Bill James’ recurring lines was what percent of a hitter’s value is attributable to his batting average (in other words, stripped of all extra bases on his hits and also stripped of walks, hit by pitches and other minor events that work into OBP). Rondell is currently at a merely “OK” 5.64 Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC27), and if I’m doing my math correctly, 3.68 of that (or 65%) is coming straight from his .307 batting average. That 65% figure isn’t ridiculously high, but it isn’t low by any stretch of the imagination (for an extreme comparison, Barry Bonds in 2002 – that’s the year his batting average peaked at .370 – created 19.17 runs per 27 outs, and 5.86 of that was attributable to his batting average, or 31%). In addition to this, Rondell now has an aching shoulder. If he stays with the team through the end of the year, this may actually help us in that he will take away playing time and plate appearances from the horrifically slumping Dmitri Young by dragging DH duties away from him. While I would love to see what we could get from a trade of Rondell, if he saves us having to carry Dmitri on the roster for another year, it will have been well worth it.
CF: Nook Logan – While Nook’s 3.98 RC27 are anemic and possibly bordering on pathetic, he is one of the fastest players in baseball. Tigers brass feels that this gives their lineup a dimension that it wouldn’t otherwise have, and the thought is that with other traditionally defense-first positions (catcher, 2nd base and shortstop) featuring players who they feel can be among the best offensive players at these positions (Ivan Rodriguez (slumping and currently 8th among AL catchers in RC27… and behind Bengie Molina, to boot), Placido Polanco (currently 2nd among AL 2nd basemen in RC27), and Carlos Guillen (currently 5th among AL shortstops in RC27), respectively), they can afford to have a defense-first Logan patrolling the middle garden. However, he has recently botched some plays and called into question his defensive skills. On the other hand, his speed makes up for whatever mistakes he will make more often than not. And let’s not forget, for purposes of this column, that he debuted last year and won’t even be arbitration-eligible until at least after 2006. We’re not likely to be trading him until we at least get a better feel for his capabilities.
RF: Magglio Ordonez – We can argue this free agent signing some more, and I’m certain we will come 2011 and 2012, when we will likely still be paying Magglio like he’s a near-MVP caliber player, whether he actually is or not. Currently, he is still shaking off the rust from his lengthy lay-offs due to knee surgeries and a hernia surgery, and he’s already up to 6.21 RC27, 3rd-best on the team behind Chris Shelton (8.18) and Polanco (6.71). Again, for purposes of this column, the main item is that Magglio isn’t getting traded anywhere anytime soon.
Corner OF/Dabbles in CF: Craig Monroe – I’m counting him as a starter, because he wound up playing a lot of RF while Magglio was out, and he’s been getting playing time in LF now that Rondell White is having shoulder trouble. Here is a guy who is creating just 4.91 runs per 27 outs, we have a center fielder who we like much better defensively, and yet he’s still getting playing time with regularity. One wonders if we can’t attribute the offensive problems of this season largely to this fact: In RC27 among AL outfielders, Rondell is 12th, Monroe is 24th, and Nook Logan would slot in at 33rd (amazingly, that’s higher than Sammy Sosa), if he had enough times at bat to qualify. Along with Carlos Guillen not being in the lineup on an everday basis plus Dmitri Young’s prolonged slump, it’s little wonder we’re 4th-worst in the league in runs scored. Will Craig Monroe draw any interest from other teams, especially when he’s due to be arbitration-eligible for 2006? We’d be lucky if his rotting carcass drew flies at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get non-tendered (a la Robert Fick in the 2002-03 off-season) over the winter. And let’s make this clear: If Craig Monroe were a valuable commodity, he could really bring something on the trade market since his first season of free agency is still a couple of years away. Big-spending teams wouldn’t mind his arbitration-eligible-level salaries for a few years. However, smart big-spending teams aren’t interested in his level of production (or lack thereof).
Well, there’s Dmitri Young… Who we discussed last week as a 1B/DH and whose RC27 is at a woeful 4.81 for that position… And there’s Kevin Hooper, a minor league call-up that was almost completely indefensible… But, really, it’s been those 4 guys sharing the outfield duties for the most part, with the exception of Marcus Thames and other temporary help that came up from Toledo in mostly brief stints. Speaking of which…
Marcus Thames, who is 28 years old, but is absolutely killing AAA pitching. That OPS is 1349. That is not a misprint. RC27 numbers are not figured specifically at Minor League Baseball’s site, but my quick-and-dirty figuring puts Thames’ RC27 at a ridiculous 18.98. For purposes of trade talk, I would say that here is a guy that a team like the Pirates or the Rockies should be clamoring for. I’m not sure of his arbitration eligibility (my “eyeball” guess is that he won’t be eligible until 2007 at least), but a low-budget team should covet a bat that is doing that in Triple-A, even if he’s a bit old to be a prospect. However, that is looking at things as if the Tigers are in full “buy” mode. At 2 games under .500 with almost 100 games under our belts and with 7 teams between us and a playoff berth, I don’t really think we should be. Look, Justin Verlander is coming up for a double-header start Saturday against the Twins, and the Tigers say he’ll be going right back down after the game. Kevin Hooper will likely go down to Toledo to make room for Verlander, and we’ll need to pluck someone else from the minors when we send Verlander right back down. I say let’s bring up Thames, plunk his name in the lineup for at least a month solid in LF (most of his slumps have been when he was asked to suffer through merely intermittent duty), have Rondell White play DH until his shoulder gets better or he’s traded, have Craig Monroe and Nook Logan share CF duties, and sit Dmitri Young on the bench for a while (with intermittent “Rondell needs a rest” DH duties until Rondell gets traded).
Curtis Granderson, who is, by comparison, 24 years old (it occurs to me now that I haven’t mentioned the ages of the others – Rondell is 33, Logan is 25, Magglio is 31 and Monroe is 28) and who the Tigers hope can handle center field duties. Let’s take a look at his Toledo stats, shall we? That’s an OPS of 876, sort of in the good-not-great category. And my quick-and-dirty of RC27 comes out to 7.12, also in the good-not-great range. In the realm of “is he up for trade bait”, I would have to say no. He is more in the category of a player that low-budget teams would be interested in if the Tigers would make a “buy veteran talent to win now” trade. Again, I don’t think we’re in that position right now.
I’ll be on KRMS 1150′s sports radio show tonight. The appearance will be sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 pm Eastern Time. While I’m sure we’ll touch a variety of topics, most of them will revolve around my Business of Baseball Report over at the Hardball Times.