Archive for August, 2005


Justin Thompson Completes Comeback

I was pretty happy to see this. The last time Justin Thompson threw for a major league team was in 1999 for the Tigers. He was part of the package that netted us Juan Gonzalez for a single season, but arm problems (I think it was his shoulder) appeared to have ended his career.

And now he’s back. He just got called up by the Texas Rangers and I wish him the best.



Bad Timing, Tram

Sigh.

Here I am defending Alan Trammell and he goes out makes me look bad. In case you missed it, the Tigers were up 3-2 heading into the ninth. Nate Robertson had held the Red Sox to two runs on two hits, and he did it all by just throwing 90 pitches.

Instead of letting Robertson throw in the ninth, in comes the so called closer, Fernando Rodney. He gets Edgar Rentaria for the first out, but gives up a solo shot to David Ortiz to send the game into extra frames. The rest is history as the Red Sox went on to win the game (by scoring seven runs in the 10th no less).

And there’s really no excuse. Yes, he went righty/righty for the first batter, but why not put in Jamie Walker to face Ortiz. Tram showed he once again was working from some kind of flawed cook book when he does this stuff. He put his “closer” in to “close” the game. Only thing is, Fernando Rodney, while he’s a quality arm, isn’t nearly as good yet as the guys we got rid of (Ugueth Urbina and Kyle Farnsworth) or the guy we have on the shelf (Troy Percival).

Which makes this loss even less excusable. He knows his pen is depleted and rather mediocre, so why not let Robertson throw the ninth. Let him win the game.

In a lot of ways, Trammell is a lot like Sparky Anderson. Very text book. This time it got him into trouble.

And for those of you who haven’t checked, when Robertson throws 91-105 pitches, he has a .225 batting average against and a 1.27 WHIP. Not too shabby.



Tigers Held to Four Hits, Split Series With Senators

August 16, 1935 Senators 8, Tigers 1 (68-39)

Elden Auker couldn’t even pitch through the fourth inning as he got hit hard in taking the loss. He gave up seven runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Hank Greenberg had two of the Tigers four hits and he drove in their only run of the game.

The Yankees were coming to town for a huge four game series. If the Tigers could hold off the Yanks, it would go a long way to helping them win their second straight pennant.



Marv Owen, Tommy Bridges Lead Tigers To Victory

August 15, 1935 Tigers 6, Senators 3 (68-38)

Tommy Bridges won his eighteenth game of the season and helped put the Tigers at 30 games above .500 for the first time this season. Bridges gave up three runs and eight hits through eight innings of work.

The Tigers were actually down 3-0 in this game but came back with six unanswered runs to pick up the win. Shortstop Marv Owen had a big day. He went three for three with two runs and two RBIs. Charlie Gehringer returned after missing two games and drove in the go ahead run.



More Alan Trammell and Some Good Reading

I took some heat for my last post on Tram when I said he should be given one more year. First off, I apologize about the error. They were 26-26 in two runs games, not in games decided by less then two runs. All I was trying to show here was one of many indicators that the Tigers have been “okay” in close games.

I guess the main reason why I think Tram should be given another year is, he’s never been given the tools to win. We’ve been trying to rebuild since 2002 (actually, it’s a lot longer then that, but 2002 would be when the “current” rebuilding began) and we were starting from rock bottom. Even this year, when many (including myself) thought the Tigers might get over the hump, the Tigers really don’t have what it takes to win in our division much less securing a playoff spot. It goes to show you when Chris Shelton is your best hitter. While he’s had a solid season, I just don’t see him more then a “good” player on any team that’s in the playoff mix.

And while our rotation has done better then anyone would have expected, it’s still not much better then average. Kyle Farnsworth still leads our team in Runs Saved Above Average (10), and unless Bonderman (7) has a strong finish, Farnsworth could end up the team leader at season end.

I’d just like to see Tram be given a chance with a playoff contending team. If he falls on his face and doesn’t get the job done (a la Larry Bowa), then I’d feel safe about replacing him.

Two managers who come to mind that I would consider putting in Tram’s place would be Davey Johnson (who looks like he’ll be heading up the Orioles again) and Jim Leyland (not sure what his situation is, but he’ll be 61 in December). Both are proven winners and each have World Series rings. One of the readers mentioned Larry Dierker and he’d also be a definite upgrade. I am curious to know why he hasn’t found work since leaving Houston though. He did suffer from a seizure in the dugout, but that was 1999. He went on to have a few more successful years after that.

But outside of securing a handful of proven commodities, I’d like to see Tram in the dugout, and I’d also like to see how he could a handle a more talented team.

I finished David Wells autobiography “Perfect I’m Not.” It really was a great read. Just a good baseball book. And I dare someone to read it and not come away a David Wells fan or (I can hear the groans already) a Yankees Fan. Yes, they have obnoxious fans, but David Wells really paints the team in a favorable light.

I’m also reading John Helyar’s “Lords of the Reams,” which is a fantastic look at the business of baseball. I’m also 200 pages into David McCullough’s tome/biography of Harry Truman. Finally, I started another good read called “Wedding of the Waters” by Peter Bernstein. It’s a look at the construction fo the Erie Canal and it’s effect on our nation.

The Tigers took two today at KC after a tough series in Toronto. The World Champs come to town next for a three game series.



Tigers Blast Senators With 18 Runs

August 14, 1935 Tigers 18, Senators 2 (67-38)

For the third time this season, the Tigers put eighteen runs on the board with their pitcher leading the way. Not only did Schoolboy Rowe throw a nice game (ten hits, two runs, two strikeouts) but he went five for five with three RBIs and three runs.

Hank Greenberg and Goose Goslin also drove in three runs. Five different Tigers scored three runs and five had multihit games. They scored all eighteen runs without hitting a homerun.

Charlie Gehringer was out of the lineup for the second straight game.



Senators Edge Tigers in Ten Innings

August 13, 1935 Senators 4, Tigers 3 (66-38)

Pete Fox hit a three run homer in the bottom of the third to put the Tigers up 3-0. Unfortunately, the Senators would put themselves back in the game when they tagged General Crowder for two runs in the fifth and a single game tying run in the sixth.

The game would remain scoreless until the tenth inning when both reliever Chief Hogsett and Jo Jo White made errors on a sacrafice bunt. A single later, and the Senators had the lead and the win.

Charlie Gehringer missed his first game in two years because of a knee injury he suffered a couple of days ago.



Tigers Win Ninth Straight Behind Elden Aukers Strong Outing

August 11, 1935 Tigers 4, White Sox 1 (66-37)

Elden Auker held the third place White Sox to a mere four hits as the Tigers won their ninth in a row and their fourteenth in the their last sixteen games.

Charlie Gehringer had three of the Tigers six hits, and one of those singles drove in two runs. Unfortunately he hurt his knee and he might miss some time. Elden Auker drove in a run with a double and Marv Owen had one RBI and one run.

The win gave the Tigers a nice six game lead over the Yankees. A lot would be determined in a week when the Yankees came into town for a four game series



Tommy Bridges Pitches Three Hit Gem

August 10, 1935 Tigers 4, White Sox 0 (65-37)

Tommy Bridges set the league on fire with his spectacular start, but faded around the All Star Break so it was nice to see him pitch so well. Bridges held the White Sox to three doubles and he earned his 17th win of the season.

Charlie Gehringer hit his sixteenth homer of the season. Marv Owen drove in two and Pete Fox scored twice.



On the Radio

I’m be doing my semi-regular spot on KRMS Radio AM 1150 tonight at around 7:40 Eastern Time. You can tune in by clicking the link.

Topics should include some of the things in my latest Business of Baseball Report and most likely we’ll touch on the Wild Card race as well.



Schoolboy Rowe, Hank Greenberg Lead Tigers to Seventh Straight Win

August 9, 1935 Tigers 4, White Sox 3 (64-37)

Schoolboy Rowe held off an attempted comeback by the White Sox and walked away with the win. He gave up three runs on eight hits and he struck out one.

Hank Greenberg had the big hit of the day. His two run homer in the fifth capped a three run inning that would be the difference in the game. Charlie Gehringer scored two runs and made a nice play on what looked like a line drive single to end the game.



General Crowder Pitches Tigers to Sixth Straight Win

August 8, 1935 Tigers 5, White Sox 2 (63-37)

General Crowder was very solid in his start agains the White Sox. He gave up a run in the first, but then held the Sox scoreless until the top of the ninth. He gave up ten hits and three walks but he benefited from four double plays.

Hank Greenberg had two hits and he scored twice. Goose Goslin drove in two runs.

The win extended the Tigers lead over the Yankees to a season high five games. While they couldn’t let up, they finally had some breathing room as they continued their quest for a second straight pennant.



Alan Trammell and the Detroit Stars

the Tigers have now lost eight of their last ten and nine of their last twelve. It’s definitely been a rough week for the Tigers, and I have a feeling we’ll start hearing (again) fans call for Trammell’s job.

Personally, I’d like to see what Tram can do next year. I don’t think there’s a likely replacement for him so there’s no sense in letting him go. The Tigers are 26-26 in games decided by less then two runs (through 8/6) so it’s not like he’s “blown” a lot of close games either. And while I know the manager is pretty much responsible for everything, it seemed like a tale of two seasons. In the first half, the pitching staff did well but the offense didn’t (give some credit to Bob Cluck). This half, the offense has done a little better, but the pitching has tapered off (which was somewhat expected, because none of our guys have really been tested as far as durability).

So I’m just as inclined to give him one more chance. Hopefully we’ll have a full season of Magglio Ordonez and a full season of Chris Shelton. Another good arm would be nice, as would Hideki Matsui (wishful thinking).

This weekend was the inaugural Negro League appreciation weekend. I went last year and it was cool watching the Tigers play in the old Detroit Stars uniforms. If you’d like to check out more information on the Stars, be sure to check Negroleaguebaseball.com.

The diary took a break because of some rainouts, and the Tigers will continue their pennant race tomorrow. A big series with the Yankees is coming up in about a week and a half.



Tigers Finish Sweep Over Indians, Extend Lead Over Yanks to Four

August 4, 1935 Tigers 7, Indians 0 (62-37)

Tommy Bridges was just short of perfect as the Tigers topped the Indians. It was the Tigers fifth straight win and Bridges threw a four hit shutout. He walked two and struck out four.

Bridges even helped out his own cause. He went two for three with two RBIs and a run. Backup catcher Ray Hayworth scored three runs.

The win put the Tigers four up over the Yankees, but they’d have to wait to pad that lead. They’d have three days off due to rain.



Evalutating Placido Polanco’s Four Year Deal

It looks like the Placido Polanco deal is a straight $4.6 million every year for the next four years. There’s no doubt that Polanco is a quality player. He’s a career .299 hitter and has absolutely tore things up since we traded Ugueth Urbina for him. More importantly, he’s done it at Comerica Park. Through 53 at bats, he’s put up an impressive .358/.407/.585. The problem of course is the sample size. 53 at bats is hardly telling.

He’s also an above average fielder. Last he posted 19 Fielding Runs Above Average and his fielding has accounted for more then half of his career 34.2 WARP.

So what’s the problem? One has to do with an established trend and the other has to do with more of a personal pet peeve. The established trend is that Polanco is going to be 30 in October, and second basemen seem to decline faster then players at just about ever other position (catcher being the exception). Billfer touched on this over at Detroit Tigers Weblog, but it bears repeating. Once again I think we signed a guy for a little to long into the years where he has a good chance of having declining skills.

The second problem is that I think they gave up on Omar Infante too soon. Infante had a great season last year, and although he struggled at the beginning of this year, I think it would have done the Tigers well to see what he could do next year. We’re not going to the playoffs, so there’s no harm. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Infante outplaying (for another team) Polanco two years from now.

I think a two year contract with an option for a third would have been more prudent. It just always seem like the Tigers sign players to long deals and catch them in their declining years. Bobby Higginson is a great example, and it looks like Ivan Rodriguez is becoming one. I know he’s hitting .299, but it’s a little hollow. His .737 OPS is his worst since 1993, the last season the Tigers had a winning record. And I also have a feeling we’ll be saying the same thing about Magglio Ordonez.

So while I think it’s a good short term signing, I just don’t see the long term benefit. My two cents of course.



Tigers Take Two Against Cleveland, Schoolboy Rowe Wins Two

August 3, 1935 Tigers 5, Indians 4 (60-37)

The Tigers started off their doubleheader with the Indians by giving up two leads, only to put the game away in extra frames. With the Tigers up 3-0 in the eighth, the Indians tied the game with three runs against starter Elden Auker. The Tigers took a 4-3 lead in the bottom half of the inning only to see Auker once again give up the tying run to send the game into extra innings.

Chief Hogsett threw two shutout innings before Schoolboy Rowe came in and pitched a shutout twelth and earned his first win of the day when the Tigers put the game away in the twelth.

Hank Greenberg hit his 29th and 30th homers of the season and Goose Goslin drove in two runs.

August 3, 1935 Tigers 7, Indians 3 (61-37)

The second game of the doubleheader went a little more smoothly for the Tigers. They scored two in the second and five in the sixth to push out to a 7-0 lead before the Indians finally tagged Schoolboy Rowe for three in the eighth.

Rowe went the distance and gave up three runs on eight hits. He struck out five and he earned his second win of the day.

The Tigers scored their seven runs on only six hits. They drew six walks and the Indians committed two errors. Jo Jo White drove in three and tripled and Billy Rogell scored two runs.

The two wins extended the Tigers lead over the Yankees to 3 1/2 games.



Tigers Resign Placido Polanco

Four years for $18.4 million. I’ll take a look at the particulars and do a more detailed report when I’m home tonight.

In the meantime, you can check out a review of Juicing the Game and my Business of Baseball Report over at Hardball Times.



Unraveling-What does the recent West Coast Road Trip tell us?

I am apalled by the performance of the Tigers in their recent six game road trip against the Mariner’s and A’s. They were coming off two very successful series against the White Sox and Twin’s and with the healthy return of Placido Polanco were about to feature their best and most ideal lineup for the first time this season. Yet, to use an euphemism, they pissed down their legs.

How else can you analyze the run of recent poor performances by their starting pitching? Or their fielding and baserunning errors? Or the complete lack of timely hitting? The team constantly gets shut down by pitchers like Kirk Saarloos, Shawn Estes and Scott Elarton because it has an absolute inability to refrain from swinging aggressively at pitches out of the strike zone, or to use Jim Price’s term, “pitcher’s pitches”.

The recent road trip doesn’t bode well for the future of Alan Trammell as the team’s manger in my opinion. The team should have been highly motivated and competitive for the duration of it’s west coast journey, but yet Trammell was unable to yield respectable results from their increasingly aging and high- priced roster. Trammell promised upon his hiring that the team would play solid baseball and throughout his tenure the team has been rife with poor execution on the base paths, poor situational hitting, fielding errors and a general inability to build upon their successes on the field.

Even if the team ends the season with a better record than last year, is it really a victory? Mediocrity would seem to be the worst curse to bestow upon a rebuilding franchise. It would be better for the team’s long term development, in my opinion, that they sacrifice the season (and a marginal record) to continue to advance the development of young players like Chris Shelton, Curtis Granderson, Roman Colon, Fernando Rodney, and Justin Verlander. This prospect probably would disappoint many fans, much like the trade of Kyle Farnsworth. I don’t blame the front office for waving the white flag at this point. The team could have either Kyle or Jeff Farnsworth as it’s closer and would make no real difference at this point. The last thing I want to see is a lineup filled with Dmitri Young, Rondell White, Jason Johnson and anybody else who no longer remains in the team’s long term plans playing in September as the team languishes to keep a .500 record. To me, neither the team or it’s loyal fans benefit from that ominous scenario.



Rafael Palmeiro Suspended

This is obviously the big news of the day as Rafael Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days for using steroids. While we’ll probably never know exactly what it was the Raffy got nailed for, it definitely will leave a stain, at least for now unjustifiably in my opinion, on his career.

I’ll touch on this a little more when I do my Business of Baseball Report over at the Hardball Times.



Tigers at Athletics 07/29/05-07/31/05

Game 1 (Final Score: 4-8, A’s win)

Someone finally got to Douglass and handed him his first loss of the season. The A’s started the second with a double and kept on trucking. Hatteberg singled, Kielty hit a groundout for an RBI, Johnson walked, Payton hit a sac fly, and Ellis hit a two run shot to left (0-4). The Tigers got a run back in the bottom half when Shelton singled Polanco home after he doubled and advanced on Guillen’s groundout (1-4).

The one run rally did nothing to stem the tide and Dingman came into the game after Douglass gave up a lead off double, sac fly, and two RBI singles in the bottom of the third (1-7). Dingman stayed in and pitched very well, shutting down the hot Oakland offense and giving most normal teams a chance to come back and make a game of it. The Tigers were putting the ball in play but it was mostly at Oakland’s defenders who fielded well and kept Harden propped up.

Finally some of the many base runners the Tigers put on came home in the sixth. Young took a one out walk, Monroe singled him to second, and Inge doubled him home with Monroe stopping at third (2-7). Polanco hit the inning’s second double and the Tigers were within three (4-7). Duchscherer quashed all Tiger notions of evening the score in this inning, earning a pair of strikeouts from Guillen and Shelton.

After the Tiger’s explosion they went back to stranding singles and walks and giving up runs. Kendall hit a sac fly to score Johnson from third after a pair of singles in the sixth and the game ended with the Tigers two games below .500 (4-8).

Game 2 (Final Score: 5-9, As win)

The game started out fantastic with the offense and Robertson producing. The Tigers scored twice in the first inning with Polanco again getting on base right from the start and coming home on Guillens two run shot (2-0). In the second Rodriguez hit a single, stole second, and scored on Youngs single (3-0). Robertson must have been really happy since he was pitching and he had an early lead. He pitched like it for three full innings before self-destructing.

Kendall worked a walk on a full count and was later joined on base by Crosby and Chavez who hit one out singles. The next man up made Robertson pay for crossing the bases on ball gods one too many times this season and hit a grand slam (3-4). It has been a while since Robertson combined the home run with his walk problem so I guess he was about due (Yes, I know thats not a sound statistical statement). The inning got completely out of hand with two extra base hits by Johnson and Hatteberg; Two for Johnson and all four for Hatteberg (3-6). Pudge threw a tantrum so Vance My Grandma Wilson was called on to catch the rest of the game. Of course, my grandma does a lot more for the team that Wilson does so thats not quite fair to her. Robertson finally escaped with another fly after giving up the second double of the inning.

The Tigers started chipping away in the fifth with Logan crossing the plate on the third single of the inning – by Ordonez – with two away (4-6). The As answered in the bottom half on their third single of the inning – by Payton – and only one out away (4-7). Spiting me for comparing him to an 80 year old woman, Wilson led off the sixth with a solo homer; the Tigers last run of the game (5-7).

A host of Tiger pitchers combined to ineffectively keep the team within two runs. Spurling gave up a lead of double in the eighth and Walker replaced him. Walker in turn gave up an RBI single after getting the first out and German replaced him once the next guy hit another single (5-8). Scutaro got some wood on the ball and plated Swisher from third (5-9). German proceeded to load the bases on a single and a walk before finally getting Crosby to hack away at strike three. Id like to say the Tigers closed the gap in the ninth but they went out like kittens. Cute kittens.

Game 3 (Final Score: 2-5, As win)

The Tigers decided to spot the As five runs and then try to mount a come back against an overpowering pitcher that averages about as many walks as strikeouts per game with only one out left. To be evenhanded, Oakland is playing special baseball lately; They were the first team to solve Douglass (its only his first time against most teams this year) and Dingman (ditto) and they beat around Bonderman, whos been good lately with an ERA of 3.40 and striking out 6.2 batters per nine innings in the last month.

The As scored four of their five runs with two outs, one courtesy of a Bonderman walk with the sacks stacked with As. Not much good to say here except that Ordonez is continuing his hot hitting to the tune of .343/.403/.956 and pairing well with Sheltons .350/.402/.952 in the month of July. Actually, check out the performance of all Tigers batters with at least 20 plate appearances in July courtesy of the Day-By-Database at Baseball Musings.

This series is a perfect demonstration of how far the team needs to come to be a serious playoff contender. Right now the Tigers are only decent; Good teams tear decent teams a new one like the As did the Tigers and go on incredible hot streaks that can resurrect a season. It is a fine goal to shoot for the playoffs in the form of a wild card but Id rather watch the team do something in them besides get swept in the first round. The playoffs were an enjoyable pipe dream and I wont fault anyone for optimism after the experiencing the recent Tiger history. Thats my two copper plated coins.










































































































































































































































































Hitters AB R H RBI BB TB AVG SLG
C Guillen 14 2 3 2 0 7 0.214 0.500
B Inge 9 1 2 1 1 3 0.222 0.333
N Logan 6 1 3 0 1 4 0.500 0.667
C Monroe 7 1 2 0 0 2 0.286 0.286
M Ordonez 13 1 2 3 1 5 0.154 0.385
P Polanco 13 2 7 2 1 8 0.538 0.615
I Rodriguez 10 1 3 0 0 3 0.300 0.300
C Shelton 13 0 2 1 1 3 0.154 0.231
R White 8 0 3 0 1 4 0.375 0.500
V Wilson 2 1 1 1 0 4 0.500 2.000
D Young 12 1 4 1 1 4 0.333 0.333
Totals

107

11

32

11

7

47

0.299

0.439

Pitchers IP H R ER BB SO ERA WHIP
J Bonderman 6 8 4 4 4 1 6.00 2.00
V Darensbourg 2.2 2 1 1 0 0 4.09 0.91
C Dingman 2.2 1 1 1 1 4 4.09 0.91
S Douglass 2.2 6 7 7 1 0 28.64 3.18
F German 0.2 1 0 0 1 1 0.00 10.00
N Robertson 6 9 7 7 1 2 10.50 1.67
F Rodney 1 0 0 0 1 1 0.00 1.00
C Spurling 1 1 1 1 0 1 9.00 1.00
J Walker 1.1 2 1 1 0 1 8.18 1.82
Totals 24 30 22 22 9 11 8.25 1.63



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