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2006 Detroit Tigers Preview

My Tiger preview is posted at the Hardball Times. I’ll be throwing out my annual predictions here soon.

Great preview of the Tigers, Brian. I share your relative pessimism for this year, though I don’t believe they’ll improve by quite as much as you’ve predicted.

There’s no reason to think Kenny Rogers will be better than Jason Johnson, roughly league average, and I fear a Bonderman injury. We disagree on Todd Jones, in a way. I think he was an utter waste of money, and not only is he not better than a half season of Farnsworth and a half season of Rodney, he isn’t likely to be better than a full season of Rodney.

Also, I know I am nit-picky, and I don’t do it to call you out but instead to highlight how incompetent this organization can be, but Troy Percival was not “a premier closer who appeared to be on the decline”. I can’t stress this enough. Percival was a bona fide EX-premier closer well into his decline.

Overall it is a good preview and a fine summary of what the Tigers are looking at. The Tigers don’t know what to do with what they have and are very prone to making major misjudgments, and that has to be factored in. Furthermore, there is bound to be injury issues larger than you’ve predicted. I’ll throw a number out there:

Posted by Dan on March 22nd, 2006 at 12:18 pm

Come on, guys, if you can’t have a little blind optimism at this time of year, when can you?

That said, I’m going to proudly don my rose-colored glasses and predict…. 81-81. I just can’t see anything much better. What particularly irks me about this team is their nearly complete inability to beat teams in their own division, and with the unbalanced schedule, this is not a good thing. The off-season moves, such as they were, don’t do much to significantly improve the Tigs in this area.

As a long-suffering Tiger fan, I just can’t bring myself to be any more optimistic than straight-up .500. And, to boot, I full well admit that I’m probably reaching.

Posted by jeff k on March 22nd, 2006 at 3:39 pm

Fair enough, Jeff. You have a point. You might be reaching, but this sort of blind optimism is a tradition probably as old as the game itself.

It does seem like we just get knocked around by everyone in the division. I’m not even certain we’ve beaten up on the Royals that badly in the last couple of years. You figure we should at least have that. The Indians and the White Sox figure to be pretty tough this year, and the Twins could be pretty good if they can figure out a way to score some runs.


Posted by Dan on March 22nd, 2006 at 6:08 pm

I just cant get past that bullpen. I say 5 games under at best this year…

Posted by Darryl on March 22nd, 2006 at 6:20 pm

Well, here are those records for the last 5 years… Single asterisk indicates a 90+-win team, double asterisk indicates a 90+-loss team:

2005 v CHW*: 5-14
2005 v CLE*: 6-12
2005 v KCR**: 10-9
2005 v MIN: 8-11

2004 v CHW: 11-8
2004 v CLE: 10-9
2004 v KCR**: 8-11
2004 v MIN*: 7-12

2003 v CHW: 8-11
2003 v CLE**: 7-12
2003 v KCR: 5-14
2003 v MIN*: 4-15

2002 v CHW: 7-12
2002 v CLE: 9-10
2002 v KCR**: 9-10
2002 v MIN*: 4-14

2001 v CHW: 6-13
2001 v CLE*: 6-13
2001 v KCR**: 8-11
2001 v MIN: 4-15

5-Year Total:
CHW: 37-58, .389
CLE: 38-56, .404
KCR: 40-55, .421
MIN: 27-67, .287

Recall that the Tigers’ winning percentage overall during these 5 years is .379, and they would get the double-asterisk in every dang year.

Posted by jeff k on March 23rd, 2006 at 9:55 am

I didn’t realize this until after it had posted… If the Tigers’ winning percentage for those 5 years is .379, then we have actually done *better* against the Indians, Royals and White Sox than against the rest of the league… It was only the Twins who were truly wearing us out.

Posted by jeff k on March 23rd, 2006 at 9:58 am

Great preview Brian. Two other sources of optimism offensively are Granderson and Shelton. I’m expecting solid seasons from both of those guys. I think their offense will improve significantly this year. I’m less optimistic about their pitching for 2006 but like you said wait until 2007 or 2008.

I can’t give my predicted win total yet. That will come in part 4 of my own preview. I’m in a fairly optimistic frame of mind though.

Posted by Lee Panas on March 24th, 2006 at 10:54 am

Enjoyed the preview, Brian. A couple of reasons for more optimism, though, are (1) Bonderman’s age, and (2) a full season of Chris Shelton. I also can’t stress enough how terrible our production was from the shortstop position. Without Guillen in the line-up, our shortstops put up these numbers: 323 AB’s – .204 BA – .251 OBP – .316 SLG. Either by a healthier Guillen or an improved Infante, those numbers have to improve.

Regarding the “…is so-and-so player worth the money” discussion: I share the general feeling that Ordonez got an excessive contract…But whenever folks are making these evaluations they tend to simply compare the numbers the player puts up to the money he’s making, and fail to account for the reversion players numbers – or provide a realistic usage for that money.

Posted by Tony on March 26th, 2006 at 8:52 am

I have a realistic usage for the money. How about saving it for when it will push you into contention? There is no reason to make such a long commitment to a player like Ordonez even if he HADN’T had experimental surgery in Europe. Why do I have to have another player who I suggest spening the money on? Look, I understand that you’d rather go 75-87 than 70-92, but I don’t give a damn myself because I want to watch a contender. The money was flushed down the toilet. I hope I’m wrong, but I’d bet you anything I have that I am not. You save the money. As we speak the Indians are demonstrating fruits of reasoned restraint.

Ordonez will be barely good enough to play right field very soon, he’s in his decline years, he could have knee complications, and we’ll be on the hook for years. Did you learn nothing from the Higginson, Easley and Young debacles? Where did that get us, Tony? Who should we have spent the money on to try to spend our way to .500?

In three years when we’re all pulling our hair out over this Ordonez contract, won’t we be glad he pushed us to 76 wins back in 2006?

A better use for the money, aside from sitting on it, would be to pass the savings along via beer prices.

Posted by Dan on March 29th, 2006 at 10:21 am

Dan brings up a great point. Too many people make a point of .500 or some artificial goal. In fact I even did it in my preview, just because it’s been so long since they did it. But I could honestly care less if they finish above .500 and it really seems like that’s all this team is striving for.

There’s also deal out there at the trading deadline, but a lot of times they require money. With our money tied up with contracts like Ordonez, it gives us no flexibility when want to make a trade. We would have been better off sitting back and then picking a player from another team and have them take on some of the payroll in exchange.

Posted by Brian on March 29th, 2006 at 10:28 am

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