Archive for March, 2006

Tigers Waive Franklyn German

And then there was one.  Jeremy Bonderman is now the sole remaining player that the Tigers got from the Athletics when they traded Jeff Weaver.  Makes you wonder if they’re shopping him right now.  Although there’s also the chance that he clears waivers and we keep him.

No big surprise here.  German didn’t do much this spring, and he was out of options.


Alright, the radio story I got this from said that German was cut, which I guess wasn’t completely false.  It looks more like we’re waiting for him to clear waivers to we can send him down to Triple A Toledo.  So if looks like German isn’t gone.

Kirk Gibson’s Clutch Homeruns

Dem Bums, a solid Dodgers blog that started recently and who I’m helping with a Don Drysdale diary set to launch in April, has a solid column on the Kirk Gibson’s clutch homeruns.  Good stuff.

Back in Business

Alright, the site has now been moved over to WordPress, for the better in my opinion.  I’m now hoping to get the site cleaned up.  Links have been ignored and I have a ton of comment spam I need to clean up.  I even have some drafts of writing that I never posted that I wasn’t aware of.

One minor snag, and you should be reading this if you’re coming from an outside link to a specific post, is we never figured out how to match up those links so every single link I got from someone who sent you to specific story is going to come up with a 404 error and you’re probably reading this right now.  The only thing I can say is, if it’s subject related, do a search.  If you have approximate date, check the archives.  I apologize for that but it was an unfortunate part of the process.

Site Maintenance

My site is going to move over to new hosting sometime today so if you stopped by now and check in later, the site might not be up. Please be patient as I’ll most likely be up and running by tomorrow morning.

Carlos Pena – A Final Look

I was in Boston when the Tigers traded Jeff Weaver in 2002. In fact, Weaver was set to throw that day at the game I was attending at Fenway Park. At the time, it was Weaver for Carlos Pena, Franklyn German and a player to be named later. I hadn’t heard of German at the time nor had I heard of Jeremy Bonderman (who ended up being the PTBNL). I had heard of Carlos Pena though.

Earlier that year, Pena had opened the season for the A’s on a solid note. He hit seven homeruns in 87 at bats but his strikeouts were also pretty high (27). His May ended up being horrible though. He went four for 37 and struck out eleven times. By the end of the month, he was back in the minors.

In July, he was dealt to the Tigers and he had a solid second half. He hit twelve homeruns and finished with a .253/.321/.462 line for the Tigers. He was touted as being a gold glove fielder at first base and most expected that Pena would be the Tigers’ first baseman of the future.

In 2003 and 2004, Pena was the starter at first base. He showed some plate discipline in 2004 (70 walks) but his strikeouts continued to rise as well (146 in 2004). And the gold glove and smooth hands never really materialized. In all four seasons with the Tigers, he finished with a negative fielding runs above average. He did show some promise by hitting a team high 27 homeruns in 2004 but he was criticized for hitting .241.

2005 looked a lot like 2002 for Pena, except for the solid April. Pena spent more time below the .200 mark then he did above it and hit only three homeruns (two of those were in one game). By the end of May, he was playing for Toledo and he lost his starting first base job to the emerging Chris Shelton.

Pena found his swing in the minors and was called back up to play for the Tigers on August 19. He proceeded to six homeruns and had 12 RBIs in his next five games, four of which the Tigers won. He hit nine more homeruns the rest of the season and brought his batting average “up” to .235. His late season flurry was an encouraging sign and the only thing stopping him from reclaiming the starting job was an outstanding season by Chris Shelton.

In 2006, Pena had a horrible spring. He went eight for 50 with only one homerun and four RBIs and he was cut this morning. While I’m not completely surprised, I think the Tigers may have given up on him a season too soon. While he is 27, I would have liked to have seen him get one more season with the team and I think he’ll find time somewhere else. And I know there were money considerations, but I thought Pena had a better chance of having a solid season then Dmitri Young does.

Now we get to see where he ends up. The Yankees could use some help at first base. The Red Sox won’t be in the market because they just picked up Hee Sop Choi. The Reds could be an option and you could also possibly see him go back to Oakland.

Carlos Pena Released

I’ll comment on this more tonight or tomorrow, but Carlos Pena was released today. I find it hard to believe that he’ll stay available for long as someone will take a flyer on him. I know the Reds had Scott Hatteberg, but Pena might not be a bad pickup for them. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Yankees get in the mix either. Jason Giambi is penciled in as the starter at first base, but he’ll probably see just as much time at DH. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up back with the team that traded him to Detroit, The Oakland A’s.

Justin Verlander Named Fifth Starter

I know this is old news in the relative sense, but Justin Verlander was chosen as the Tigers fifth starter. I originally wanted to draw parallels between Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman in 2003, but the two don’t really match. Jeremy Bonderman had never played in college and the top level he had played was Single A. Verlander had a chunk of time at AA Erie and even two so-so starts at the big league level AND played college ball.

What I’m hoping doesn’t happen is something similar to 2005 and Wil Ledezma. Ledezma was hit hard and early and got sent down, where he continued to struggle (and developed, from what I understand, a little bit of an attitude). I’m not sure of Verlanders makeup, but in just looking at his numbers last year, he doesn’t have a ton to prove in the minors.

Joel Zumaya also appears to have made the cut and he’ll be coming out of the pen. Earl Weaver always liked to develop his pitchers by giving them a season out of the bullpen and he’s one of the masters so I like this decision. It gives Zumaya a chance to face some big league pitching and hopefully it will get him ready for a spot in the rotation in 2007. Regardless, a Zumaya, Franklyn German, Fernando Rodney, Jamie Walker, and Todd Jones bullpen doesn’t sound “that” bad to me.

Of course it’s only a little over a week until the season starts. You can wipe the slate clean beginning April 3.

2006 Detroit Tigers Preview

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

Brent Clevlen Sent to AA Erie

The Tigers sent a bunch of players down to the minors. None of them were too surprising except for one standout. Brent Clevlan really had a great spring. He was 10 for 31 with two doubles and three homeruns. While I didn’t expect him to play for the Tigers this year, I think we really have a solid prospect who I’m hoping to see as a regular some time in 2007. He makes Craig Monroe expendable for certain.

It’s just unfortunate that the Tigers have several “okay” corner outfielders that are in the way of Clevlan. Monroe’s decent but not great. Thames is just as good and it’ll be interesting to see if he gets a chance under new management. Speaking of Thames, he’s also had a great spring. 13 for 39 and he and Curtis Granderson lead the team with four homeruns. With Monroe on the shelf with a bad shoulder, my guess is the starting outfielders will be Thames, Granderson and Ordonez with Logan being the fourth. I’m not sure if they’ll keep a fifth because Dmitri Young is also supposed to get some time out in left field.

Also worth noting is Matt Mantei was released. Nothing earth shattering here as Mantei has never been able to stay healthy.

Carlos Pena’s fate hasn’t been decided yet either. He’s having a rough spring, although Shelton hasn’t really lit it up either. But Young’s only gotten seven at bats so far, so I have a feeling they’re waiting to see whether he’ll be ready for opening day or not.

And none of the Tigers starters have shined this spring. The fifth starter job is still up for grabs, but more troublesome is Jeremy Bonderman’s rough spring. I know spring doesn’t count, but you’d hope that he’d be doing okay especially with all of the split squad games and the dilution of talent because of the WBC. Kenny Rogers has been just as bad.

Justin Verlander gets the start this afternoon against the Dodgers so hopefully we’ll see him throw a decent game. We’re getting to the point where teams are narrowing things down so the Tigers will be facing teams that will more clearly reflect what they’ll go up against during the season. Also you should start to see the starters throw five innings. The seasons two weeks away, and now’s the time to get ready.


I might have been premature in my Marcus Thames/Craig Monroe arguement. Monroe played in his first game today as a DH and homered in his first at bat.

Jeff Passan and Jeff Bagwell

Earlier this week, I criticized Jeff Passan regarding his column on Roger Clemens. Since I highlighted that one, I should be fair and point out the fact that I really enjoyed his column on Jeff Bagwell. Good stuff.

Tiger Stadium Magic

I was a little sad when I read this story about the likely demolition of Tiger Stadium. While you hate to throw around the word “love” with an inanimate object, Tiger Stadium definitely holds some magic for me. While I vaguely remember my first game at the ballpark, I remember a little more vividly what I think was my second time there for a twilight doubleheader. We tried to leave early, but our car was blocked in so we went back to the park and watched the end of the game. I remember John Wockenfuss hitting a grand slam in that second game. I thought he had also hit one in the first game, but when I went to retrosheet, I couldn’t find a doubleheader where Wockenfuss hit a homerun in each game, but he may have hit two in that one game. The best I could tell, this is the boxscore of that game.

The oddest story has to do with the final time I was at the ballpark. It was the second to last Sunday game before the stadium closed and the Tigers were playing the Red Sox. My sister was nice enough to get four tickets from where she working, so I was set there. Then I ran into a problem. I made phone call after phone call and nobody could go. Even my dad had something going on that day. I was determined to go, and headed down to the ballpark, figuring I could give the tickets to a family of three.

So I got down there and hung out by the ticket box. I was kind of scoping out the crowd, trying to figure out who I wanted to sit next too. I probably took a little longer then I needed to, but this eventually turned into a blessing because out of the crowd walked my friend Dana. Now you’re probably wondering why I wouldn’t have called Dana to go since he was obviously interested in the game. Well….

Dana lives in Columbus, OH (or in the suburbs). On a whim that day, he brought his sister in law and her husband up to see the ballpark before it closed. They hadn’t bought tickets yet, so they obviously sat with me. But it was definitely one of the strangest moments I’ve had. Whenever Dana and I talk about it, the only word we use is “weird.”

The Tigers lost, but I didn’t really care. I was able to go down on the field to check it out. It was the first and last time I was out on Tiger Stadium’s infield. It’d be nice if they opened it up one last time for people to visit, but I don’t see that happening. But while they can take the ballpark away, they can’t take away the memories.

Dungeons and Dragons

Growing up, a played quite a few role playing games, and Dungeons and Dragons was what we played most of.  I’ve kept up with the hobby, yet I haven’t played in quite some time.  This is a cool site I’ve been using to keep up with Dungeons and Dragons.

Sam Walker and Fifth Starters

I had a chance to meet Sam Walker, the author of “Fantasyland”, this evening. Nice guy, and he gave a great presentation on his book at the Borders in Ann Arbor. If you haven’t picked up “Fantasyland” yet, I highly recommend you do so. Especially if you’re a fantasy baseball fan. You can read my review of the book at the Hardball Times.

The fifth starter spot for the Tigers is still wide open. Justin Verlander, who was probably the favorite heading into the spring, hasn’t exactly lit it up. And now after a solid outing by Jason Grilli, I see his name’s being mentioned as the potential fifth starter. Grilli threw four shutout innings on Monday and Jim Leyland has thrown his name into the hat. Grilli had limited time on the mound for the Tigers last year and made three appearances in September. In his best start, he went seven innings and gave up only one run on two hits. Grilli’s a Royal Oak native and he’ll be 30 in November.

Spring Training, Roger Clemens and the WBC

Nate Robertson was having a very good spring. In his first two starts he gave up only one unearned run in five innings. Yesterday against the Twins, he gave up eight hits and seven runs (four earned) in only two innings of work. If the Tigers are going to have any chance of being good this year, they need solid pitching up and down their rotation for the entire year. Robertson’s done well the last two years in the first half but then has dropped off in the second. Hopefully he can get over that hump this year.

Brent Clevlen has had an exceptional spring. While I don’t have the box score for this afternoon’s game (the Tigers just lost 3-1 to the Jays), Clevlen’s eight for nineteen with two doubles and a team leading three homeruns. He also has five walks next to five strikeouts. Not that we need yet another outfielder, but in a lot of ways it makes the Magglio Ordonez signing that much more excessive. Brandon Inge (.400/.478/.650 in 20 at bats) and Marcus Thames (.304/.360/.652) have also hit the ball well. Inge’s stats don’t include his first homerun of the spring, which he hit off of James Baldwin today.

First it’s Barry Bonds and now it’s Roger Clemens. I’m not sure who Jeff Passan is and I’m sure he’s a top notch journalist, but this column kind of irked me. Passan is basically telling us that the best pitcher of our generation, and possibly ever, should just “end the charade” and call it quits. I also thought that bringing Clemens wife into it wasn’t appropriate. And I don’t understand how it’s a charade. Maybe I’m missing the point so it could be me.

A lot of people tend to forget that the Astros started this by not offering Clemens arbitration. Had they done that, odds are things would have been resolved by now, but the Astros weren’t willing to play their hand. The way I look at it, if Clemens comes back, that’s great because I’ll get to see one of the greatest pitchers to ever lace them up pitch again, even if it is just on television. Although Houston comes to town in late June so maybe Clemens will make a curtain call. And I know he might not even travel with the team if he’s with the Astros, but whatever.

And if he decides to call it quits, that’s fine too. If he quits, then comes back, then that’s also fine, because who the heck am I to say what Roger Clemens should or shouldn’t do.

Today’s a fun day because the WBC is on all day (although I have to run out to get some errands done soon). In what could be a huge upset, Cuba is taking it to a stacked Venezuela team and is now on top 7-0 in the seventh. Omar Vizquel couldn’t convert a double play in the fifth that would have ended the inning with a 2-0 score. Then the next batter hit a three run shot and that was followed up with a solo shot. Costly error. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m really enjoying the WBC. There’s been some great games and they have drama. It’s not what I’m used to in March.

Spoke too soon. Endy Chavez just hit a two run shot and it’s now 7-2. Of course if you can’t get to a TV, you can follow the action at Baseball Musings. David’s doing a great job of commenting on the games as they happen.

Going to see some Detroit Tigers games!

Baseball season is upon us and I am headed for Comerica Park with my Detroit Tigers game tickets in hand. I got some great seats this year and I can’t wait to see the Detroit Tigers play the rest of the Chicago White Sox games at home. I’m pretty excited about the Tigers versus the Minnesota Twins series too. We started the season with six wins in a row which makes me think I am going to need to get tickets for Tigers versus the Los Angeles Angels at home to see how they kick off the month of May.

True fans attend at least a few away games each season. Since I am in Detroit, I can jet down to Chicago to pick up some Cubs tickets for the Tigers Wrigley Field games. I could also take a trip to Milwaukee to see the Tigers versus the Brewersfor a three game series at Miller Park. I have a feeling that this is the year to see as many Detroit Tigers games as possible, but I don’t remember a time when I didn’t attend at least six or seven Tigers home games a season. That’s not to mention all the away games I manage to grace with my presence.

I can’t wait to see some Boston Red Sox games and some of the New York Yankees schedule so I can scope out the competition. I think we have an edge over a lot of other teams with Chris Shelton and Curtis Granderson at the plate. They both have proven themselves in the short time we have been playing this season and I can’t wait to see how they improve as the season goes on. I was lucky I didn’t get Tigers Opening Day tickets because the White Sox beat us. But I am not going to just lose faith over one or two losses. This is baseball after all so we will have plenty more opportunities to redeem ourselves.

So whether you are traveling to see the Tigers versus the Cleveland Indians or sitting in the cheap seats at a Detroit Tigers home game, you should remember that supporting your team is an admirable thing that shouldn’t be done from the comfort of your couch. Get out of the house, buy some Tigers tickets and bring the family out to the ballpark for some Tigers baseball games this 2006 MLB season.

Barry Bonds, Steroids, Justin Verlander and Sam Walker

Just in case you haven’t heard, there’s a new book out about Barry Bonds and his alleged steroid use. I’m not sure if I’ll pick it up and read it or not, because it sounds more soap opera esque then anything. But of course I don’t want to pass judgement because I haven’t actually read the thing. I do have a few thoughts.

The whole steroids thing just feels like old news to me. If Barry Bonds began using steroids in 1998, that’s almost eight years old. This is hardly cutting edge journalism. Where was everyone five or ten years ago when steroid use was supposedly at it’s peak?

I also don’t like the self righteousness of some in the media. Dan Wetzel’s on our local radio station and he sounds like he really knows his stuff. Then he writes something like this. It just has the feel of kicking someone when they’re down. I know I’ve made mistakes and errors in judgement in the past, so I’m glad someone wasn’t there to write about it so everyone could read about my mistakes. I know that’s the job of the media, but again, where were these people back when this stuff was really going down. And not to pick on Mr. Wetzel, because there’s several people in the media who have been doing this.

I was listening to Pat Caputo yesterday on the radio, and I think he’s the most honest person I’ve heard speak out on this stuff. He’s said publicly that he suspected that something odd was going on, but everyone’s turned a blind eye. When it comes to pointing fingers, it’s easy to say Barry Bonds was a cheater. But if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And everyone from the media, to the owners, to the coaches and down to the players who were aware of all this should share the blame.

As far as Barry Bonds goes, he’s made his bed and now he has to sleep in it. He also doesn’t owe us anything, whether it’s an apology or an explanation. At least he doesn’t owe me anything. He has to live with his mistakes, not me.

Justin Verlander had a decent start yesterday after getting shelled in a relief appearance earlier in the spring season. He threw 2 2/3 and gave up a run on four hits. His primary competition for the fifth spot in the rotation, Roman Colon, hasn’t fared much better so things are still wide open.

Sam Walker, the author of “Fantasyland” will be at the Borders on Main Street in Ann Arbor this Tuesday. Fantasyland is a fantastic book, and I’ll be going out to meet Mr. Walker.

Dan Dickerson, Jim Price, the World Baseball Classic and Kirby Puckett

The Tigers split their two spring games this weekend. They lost to the Indians 11-8 on Saturday but they bounced back and beat the Pirates 4-1 today. The win today put the Tigers at 3-1 in the early, and less important, part of the spring season.

More important was the fact that both games were on the radio. Dan Dickerson and Jim Price shared the booth with Ernie Harwell, then got the job after Harwell retired. They’re beginning their fourth season in the booth together.

No offense to either man, but nobody in my eyes (or ears) can replace Ernie Harwell. Ernie Harwell’s voice is imprinted in my brain because throughout the summer, I fell asleep listening to his broadcasts with Paul Carey, another great broadcaster.

But I got to thinking the other day. My son, who will be two in a few months, will never get to hear Ernie Harwell. He will grow up with someone though, and I’d be happy if he grew up with Dickerson and Price. They call a great game and the banter between the two is enjoyable. I think Price adds a lot as a color man because he played the game and Dickerson really knows his stuff.

To learn more about Dan Dickerson, I highly recommend that you check out the interview he did for the Detroit Tigers Weblog. Great stuff.

The Tigers are losing ten players to the World Baseball Classic. Pool A was decided today with Korea upsetting the favorite, Japan. The two teams had locked up a spot in the next round but they were playing to see who would get the better seed and Korea edged Japan 3-2. The other three pools, in which all ten Tigers are playing, start on Tuesday.

Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett suffered a stroke today and the latest news was that he was having surgery. There’s no indication as to the extent of the damage, but I’m sure we’ll hear more on this tomorrow. I wish him the best of luck and speedy recovery. I know Puckett’s image was tarnished a bit when some domestic disputes came to light, but Puckett came up when I was in my early teens and I distinctly remember him taking the Tigers deep on more then one occassion. He was a solid fielder and a great hitter in his day.

Tigers Win First Spring Game

Man, is it nice that baseball’s back. I got to listen to the Red Sox/Twins game last night on the computer, and it’s close to 7 am now, and I’m watching Japan roll over China in the WBC.

The Tigers won their first spring game as they rolled over the Reds.
Ivan Rodriguez got off to a nice start as he went three for three with a homerun and four RBIs. The Tigers were up 5-1 and the Reds came back to tie it, but the home team scored three in the seventh to put the game away.

Nate Robertson threw two scoreless innings and he struck out two. You can read’s review here. And the Tigers square off against the Reds again today.

David Pinto, who’s Baseball Musings is one of the top blogs around, is having his second annual pledge drive. While I haven’t quite gotten the hang of the day by database (I know, I’m behind the curve when it comes to this computer stuff), Baseball Musings is probably the best one stop source for keeping up with the happenings in baseball. If you can afford it, please stop by and make a donation.

Tigers Kick Off Spring Season

Technically, spring is nearly three weeks away. For baseball fans, spring starts today as most of the teams, including the Tigers, begin their respective spring seasons. At 1 pm, the Tigers will square off against the Reds. I signed up for’s Gameday Audio but unfortunately, they don’t let us listen or watch streaming audio/video so I’ll be shutout from listening the game (assuming it’s even on, AM1270 isn’t carrying it). Nate Robertson is expected to start and he’ll most likely throw three innings. Roman Colon, Jason Grilli, Chad Durbin, Fernando Rodney and Chris Spurling are all expected to get some time out on the mound.

Of course nothing matters less (to a team) then early spring training games. If the Tigers lose their first seven spring games, it’ll get some press, but it won’t mean too much. Same goes with if they win their first seven. Teams rarely play their starters the entire game and pitchers usually throw no more then three innings. So if Robertson gets shelled, I wouldn’t look too much into just as much as you shouldn’t look too much into the fact that some career minor leaguer goes yard twice.

With that though, spring is important for rounding out a teams roster and then there’s always the hope you find that one gem. Position battles will be decided over the next month as well. The Tigers need to decide on a fifth starter and they also have to decide what they’ll do in centerfield (although to me, Curtis Granderson is a no brainer). Most other spots are set, but Jim Leyland needs (or wants) to find a spot for Dmitri Young so we’ll probably see him at third base and in the outfield just to see what he can do. The rumor is, he came into camp in better shape, which is definitely a good thing.

The first game that will be on local radio will be this Saturday.

Korea and Chinese Taipei kick off the World Baseball Classic tonight. Set your VCRs (I know, I’m behind the time and haven’t gotten Tivo yet) because the game’s going to be shown at 1:30 am on ESPN2. The first live game is Friday morning at 4:30 am between Japan and China.

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