Archive for October, 2006

Closing the Books on 2006

In the past two days, at least a dozen people have asked me how bummed I am about the Tigers World Series loss.  In a lot of ways, I’m disappointed that the Tigers couldn’t seal the deal although it’s hard to be so down when this team did so many things for this year.

For the ten seasons from 1996 through 2005, Tiger fans haven’t had too much to cheer about.  You have ten losing seasons, eight 90 loss seasons and three 100 loss seasons.  Over those ten years, the team lost 966 games, or 97 games a season on average.  Everyone looks to 2003 as rock bottom for this franchise but in a lot of ways, 1996 was just as bad.  The team didn’t lose as many games (109), the team’s ERA (6.38) was the second worst of all time.  It was actually worse then the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, which is recognized as the worst team ever.  The worst team ERA was the 1930 Phillies at 6.71.  It’s also somewhat ironic that this is the first ten year stretch that we had where Sparky Anderson wasn’t at the helm.

Anyway, the Tigers have been bad.  And some seasons, they’ve been very bad.  And in other seasons, they’ve had some of the worst teams ever.  Maybe my expectations have been blunted from these bad seasons, but just making it to World Series and losing it pretty good in my book.

Of course, the second guessing has begun.  The biggest thing has been Jim Leyland starting Justin Verlander over Kenny Rogers in game five.  I actually thought it was the move to make.  You can’t expect to have Jeff Weaver do a Chris Carpenter imitation so saving Kenny Rogers to throw against Carpenter seemed like a sound move since that was a game we’d also have to win.

The other noise I’ve been hearing is how the Tigers need a big bat.  This is a natural reaction to the team’s offensive woes in the World Series but over the course of the season, the team was decent but not great with the bat.  The Tigers had an above average slugging percentage (.449) and ISO (.174).  If they make a move, I think it should be for a patient hitter who will take a walk instead of someone like Alfonso Soriano, who could just as easily flame out. 

The other question is, if we focus on picking up a big bat, what position do we shoot for.  First base is the obvious choice but this years crop of the free agents is pretty thin.  After Nomar Garciaparra, the next best free agent first baseman very well could be Sean Casey.  Replacing Brandon Inge at third base would also be an option but the third base crop is very thin.  Aramis Ramirez can become a free agent at his option but that seems unlikely because he’s set to make $11 million if he sticks with the Cubs.  After that, I can’t find anyone better then Inge.  I’m fine with Craig Monroe in leftfield and Marcus Thames at DH/fourth OF and all of the other spots have established players

So if anything happens, it will happen through a trade.  The Tigers have a surplus of pitching.  The rotation I’d like to see next year would be Rogers, Verlander, Bonderman, Robertson and Zumaya with Humberto Sanchez filling as the seventh or eighth inning guy in place of Zumaya.  Jamie Walker is a free agent and while I’d like to see the Tigers get him back, it’s not imperative because I could see Andrew Miller or Wil Ledezma filling that role for the Tigers.

The odd man out looks to be Mike Maroth.  I like Maroth and he’s a solid innings eater but if Sanchez is the real deal and Miller is as good as people expect him to be, Maroth could potentially be the ninth best starter on the team.  I could see putting him in the rotation at the beginning of the year to try to boost his trade value but that’s really about it.  Zach Miner could also be a guy we use to as trade bait

The other question that will be hanging out there is whether to sign Sean Casey or not.  My initial thought is we shouldn’t and try to make it work with Chris Shelton and use the money elsewhere.  Maybe to lock up Jeremy Bonderman.

The other bright spot on this team is Cameron Maybin, who lit the Midwest on first this season.  Maybin finished .304/.387/.457 with the Midwest League champion West Michigan Whitecaps.  He’ll see some time in Double A this year and if succeeds at that level at his age (he’ll turn 20 on April 4, 2007), you might see Curtis Granderon beginning to get some time at one of the corner outfield spots late in 2008 to make room for this kid.  And that’s if Brent Clevlan doesn’t do it sooner.

So even if this team stands pat, I can see this team contending in the next couple of years.  My biggest fear is that the Tigers could just as easily finish in fourth place next year in a tough AL Central as they could finish in first place.  And if they do, we can’t get too discouraged because I’d be willing to bet this team is back in the playoffs in the next few years. 

Marcus Thames Prospect Retro

For those of you who are fans of Marcus Thames, John Sickels recently wrote a prospect retro on him.  As always, it’s a great read from prospect guru John Sickels.  At one point in 2001, he had upped his rating to a B+, which is very good.  He also did one on Craig Monroe earlier in the week.

Sean Casey Goes Yard

If I ever said anything bad about Sean Casey, i take it all back.  Every Single Word.  Two run shot for Casey and it’s Tiger 2, Cardinals 1


Well, that lead didn’t last too long and Brandon Inge just struck out to end the game.  Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals on there series win.  The game recap will be up tomorrow at the Hardball Times and I’ll do a little retrospective most likely on Sunday.

Tigers Lose Game Four

I’ll have a full report over at the Hardball Times tomorrow.  This was a tough game.  Needless to say, you hear the words “must win” in a lot of situations where it really doesn’t apply.  This time it does.  The next TIgers loss will be their last of the 2006 season because their season will be done.

Man do I need some sleep.

Game Four Rained Out?

It’s ten o’clock and MLB is meeting with the teams.  I can’t see this game happening tonight.

Tigers Lose Game Three

Alright, they haven’t lost yet, but I want to get to bed so I’m writing this up as the Tigers bat in the ninth.  This is a pretty short story though.  It began and ended with Chris Carpenter.  The Tigers managed only two hits off of him and he needed only 82 pitches to get through eight innings.

A lot of people dislike Tim McCarver as an announcer.  Prior to tonight, I didn’t mind him too much.  I wouldn’t say I’d put him in my top ten, but I thought he did a good enough job.  That was until he decided to make the point, about a dozen times, that Joel Zumaya shouldn’t have thrown to third base when he fielded a comebacker with runners on first and second in the seventh inning.  The two runs that scored opened the game up but didn’t turn out as neccesary.  Regardless, we understood that he should have went to second base the first time.  And if we didn’t, we certainly got it the tenth time.

Tomorrow it’ll be Jeremy Bonderman against Jeff Suppan.  This is obviously a big game for the Tigers so hopefully Jeremy throws a solid game for us.  If not, we could be in trouble.

One-Two-Three in the ninth.  Tigers lose.  Sigh.  Good night.

Game Three Thoughts and Alan Trammell

The World Series starts back up tonight and the Tigers face Chris Carpenter, the Cardinal’s ace and last year’s Cy Young winner.  Have you noticed that Nate Robertson has faced the opposing team’s best pitcher in each of the three series so far?  Whether intentional or not, this isn’t a bad strategy.  While Robertson had a good season, I consider him our fourth best starter.  If he goes against the ace, it would normally give us a distinct advantage in each of the other three games.

I’d feel a lot better about this lineup if Sean Casey could play the field so Marcus Thames could then DH.  That’s a pretty big upgrade over Ramon Santiago in the lineup and it would probably give Ivan Rodriguez some protection as well.  Then again, I’m not certain what Casey’s condition is.

The Cardinals were a pretty good team in their new ball park this year.  They won 49 games, which was one less then the New York Mets to lead the National League.  Then again, the Tigers are the best road team with 49 road wins.

I did a very brief writeup on Alan Trammell’s new job over at the 1984 Tigers site.

Kenny Rogers, Carlos Guillen Lead Tigers to Game Two Victory

Alright, the Tigers took game two and things are all even.  Kenny Rogers threw eight shutout innings, Carlos Guillen hit the ball very well, and Todd Jones almost gave us all a heart attack. 

 I wrote up a decent review over at the Hardball Times so check it out tomorrow morning.

Tigers Face Uphill Battle in Game One

Alright, a three run third inning capped off by an Albert Pujols homerun has put the Tigers down 4-1.  The Tigers didn’t answer in the bottom of the third and Scott Rolen, who took Verlander yard earlier in the game is leading off the fourth inning.


Anthony Reyes just put the Tigers down in the fifth inning.  Still 4-1.  Verlander has looked pretty good since that third inning and now has struck out eight through four innings.  It looks like they’re going to get this one in before the rain starts.  They might not be so lucky tomorrow.


Three more runs in the sixth inning for the Cardinals and this one is now ugly.  The Tigers are hacking away and popped up twice in the bottom of the sixth.  Nine more outs and I don’t like the Tiger’s chances.


Ugly, ugly, ugly.  Anthony Reyes at one point put down seventeen straight Tigers and two big innings by the Cardinals were the difference.  Craig Monroe did give the Tigers a run on a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth but it didn’t matter much.  It’s just hard to believe that this is the first time the Tigers have lost in two and a half weeks. 

Tomorrow it’ll be the return of Jeff Weaver to Comerica Park as he’ll go against Kenny Rogers.  This will obviously be a pretty big game for the Tigers. 

World Series Predictions

It seems like the Tigers have just about everything going in their favor heading into the 2006 World Series.  They’ve gotten a week of rest while the Cardinals have been fighting for their lives in a tough NLCS.  The Tigers handled the Cardinals pretty easily when they came to Detroit, the rotation is set just like Jim Leyland wants it and Albert Pujols is nursing a hamstring injury.  The Tigers are red hot after winning seven straight while the Cardinals have been pretty much winning one game at a time.  The Tigers are heavy favorites and it seems like nobody is giving the Cardinals much of a chance in this series.  Most feel the Tigers should sweep while I’ve heard several people “hope” it goes to six just so the Tigers can win at home.  It’s like everything is in the Tigers’ favor.

Which is why I’m worried.  Nobody gave the Tigers much of a chance against the Yankees just a couple of weeks ago and nobody gave the Tigers much of a chance against the Cardinals back in 1968.  While it’s great to be optimistic, I think we shouldn’t be getting ahead of ourselves.  Anything can, and probably will, happen.

Justin Verlander will get the start in game one. I was a little surprised by this, and expected Kenny Rogers in that first game.  Maybe Leyland wanted Rogers in a game six if it goes that far instead of Verlander.  Another rookie will be on the mound for the Cardinals in Anthony Reyes, who has some very good stuff.  He didn’t have quite have the success that Verlander had this year but remember this guys’ name because he’s going to be a good one.

So, here’s how I think this is going to play out.  Tigers win game one.  Then Rogers finally hits a wall and loses game two.  The Cards get a strong and emotional outing by Jeff Weaver and he gets plenty of help from Albert Pujols, who has a monster game against Rogers.  The Cardinals will then throw everyone for a loop and take the series lead with a win in game three when Chris Carpenter outduels Nate Robertson, but the Tigers then win three straight to win the series in six.  The final game will see Carpenter throw on short rest and get shelled for his efforts.  World Series MVP will go to Justin Verlander, who will win games one and a critical game five.

Works for me.

And the Winner Is……

The St. Louis Cardinals.  The same team that beat us in the 1934 World Series and the same team we beat in 1968.  The same team that has former Tigers Jeff Weaver and Juan Encarnacion.  The same team who’s manager, Tony LaRussa, gave Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland his first big league job.  I know Fox is cringing at this, but we have an all midwest World Series.

Once I see how the starters are going to play out, I’ll do my predictions, most likely tonight.  Game one is tomorrow at 7:30.  I’m putting my bet down on Kenny Rogers as the game one starter.

The 1967 Tigers

The Tigers could find out who their opponent is as early as tonight although the Mets aren’t making it easy for the Cardinals.  They’re up 1-0 already on a Jose Reyes homerun.

1967 was a tough season for the Tigers.  They had the players, they just couldn’t pull it out in the end.  I touched on the 1967 season in the introduction to my Mickey Stanley column and to a lot of people, it was the greatest pennant race of all time.  Five bloggers, which will include myself, will do their best to document the 1967 American League Pennant Race in the first collaborative diary.  So over the course of the offseason, I’ll be writing season bios on some of the major players on the 1967 Tigers teams and the other bloggers will be doing the same for their teams.  Then when the season starts, you can follow the action game by game.  I think it will be a lot of fun and nice look back at a pretty famous season.  And then it will all wrap up at Gas House Gang, where Jeff Matthews will do a 1967 Cardinals diary.  So all bases will be covered.

I’ll let you know when I work up the bios but if you want to keep tabs on the other teams, stop by the 1967 American League Pennant Race website every week and you should find something new.

Tigers Run Ken Macha Out of Town

The A’s fired Ken Macha today after the Tigers swept them in the ALCS.  Macha had a pretty solid record in his four years with the A’s (368-280) and he did take the A’s further in the playoffs then any A’s team under Billy Beane although it looka like Macha and Beane never connected.  Lary Dierker would be an interesting choice for the A’s although he hasn’t been on anyone’s radar in a while.

Placido Polanco and Some Odds and Ends

Is it possible to hit a quiet .529?  I don’t know if I mentioned Placido Polanco much in many of write ups for the ALCS, but he definitely hit the ball well.  He was nine for seventeen with two runs and two RBIs and for his troubles, he won the ALCS Most Valuable Player award.  Polanco has only gotten a hit in each of the eight Tigers playoffs games and in six of those he had at least two.  He’s only struck out twice and he’s posting an impressive .514 OBP in the playoffs this year.

The Tigers have made only two errors this entire post season. Jason Grilli made in an error in game one of the ALDS and then Carlos Guillen made one in game one of the ALCS.  That’s some solid defense and just one of the reasons this pitching staff has done so well.

The Detroit Tigers Weblog did a nice job of rounding up all of the Detroit blogs’ thoughts on the ALCS win.  I thought about doing this myself, but he saved me the trouble.  It’s some great reading so be sure to check it out.

Now the Tigers have a week off, so I’m going to be working on my next big thing (at least to me).  I’m pretty excited about this project and it appeared almost too big at times and I went back and forth as to whether I’d even do it.  Fortunately, I have some help so I’ll probably announce it some time this week.  Think greatest pennant race of all time.

For your NLCS highlights, I recommend two Baseball Historians sites.  Both Gas House Gang and the Tom Seaver Fan Club are covering their respective teams.

If you’re a college hockey fan, a friend of mine has been blogging the Northern Michigan Wildcats hockey exploits.  He does a nice job of covering a niche that isn’t often covered and it’s some pretty good reading.

It’s hard to believe that at this time two weeks from now, the season will be over barring some sort of weather delay.  This is my fourth season blogging the Tigers and by far the best but even in the bad years, baseball’s finale always leaves me a little down.  So I’ll definitely be enjoying these last couple of weeks of the season.

The Tigers are Headed to the World Series

On several occasions, I’ve stated the Magglio Ordonez will never be worth the money we paid him.  Like a lot of things this season, I’m rethinking things.  Ordonez did his best Kirk Gibson imitation and hit a solo homerun in the sixth inning to tie the game up at 3-3.  Then he hit a huge three run walk off bomb in the ninth inning to win it.

Jeremy Bonderman got into trouble early and gave up two runs in the first and then he gave up a solo shot to Jay Payton in the fourth.  It looked like it might be an early night for Bonderman but he got through those rough spots and pitched very well in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings (getting two outs) before Jamie Walker came in to relieve him.

The other hero of the game was Wil Ledezma.  Jason Grilli got Frank Thomas to ground into a double play in the top of the eighth, but then he proceeded to walk the next three batters (on I think 12 straight balls, I have no way to go back and check.  I need to invest in Tivo).  Ledezma then came in to face Mark Scutaro and he got him to pop up and end the inning.  He then put the A’s down in the ninth and only gave up a single.  He was rewared by being credited with the win.

I was asked who I’d like to see the Tigers play in the World Series and I really don’t care.  The New York Mets are the best team in the National League so it’d be nice to beat the best (and both New York teams no less).  The Tigers and Cardinals do have some history.  They played each other in the 1934 (loss) and 1968 (win) World Series.  Regardless, the NLCS has a long way to go and the Tigers don’t play until next Saturday.  Hopefully Joel Zumaya will be ready and everyone will get some well deserved rest so they can be ready to win it all.

Magglio Ordonez’s Walk Off Three Run Homerun Wins Tigers the 2006 American League Pennant

What a shot.  More to come.

Kenny Rogers Pitches Tigers to Within One Win of World Series

What a start by Kenny Rogers.  He did it in game three of the ALDS and he did it here in game three of the ALCS and now the Tigers are one win away from their first World Series appearance since 1984.

I’ll have a full writeup over at the Hardball Times some time tomorrow.

Alexis Gomez Powers Tigers to Game Two Win

Alright, the Fox announcers made a big deal about this, but the Tigers became the ninth team in league championship history to win their first two games on the road.  The other eight all went on to win their series, so things are definitely looking good for Detroit.

What a game by Alexis Gomez.  I immediately questioned why Leyland would throw him in there, and then of course he started driving in runs.  He hit a two run seeing eye single in the fourth and then a he hit a huge two run homerun in the sixth inning.

The other questionable hitter in the lineup was Neifi Perez.  He was the only Tiger who didn’t reach base last night.  It was a big fat nothing.

Justin Verlander was off his game yesterday but he still picked up the win.  Wil Ledezma looked very good until he gave up a one run bomb to Milton Bradley and Fernando Rodney struck out the side in the eighth.  I’m not sure why Leyland went to Rodney and not to Joel Zumaya.  Maybe it had to do with the three run lead and he didn’t want to waste Zumaya and maybe it was that he wanted to get another player in there who hadn’t had much time in either of the series.

Todd Jones made things interesting in the ninth.  He struck out the first two batters then loaded up the bases on three straight singles.  He got Frank Thomas to fly out to Curtis Granderson though and that wrapped this one up with an 8-5 final.

The two teams have the day off today and tomorrow night it’ll be Rich Harden vs. Kenny Rogers in what’s expected to be some pretty cold conditions.  It’d be nice wrap this one up early and watch the Cardinals and Mets battle it out to see who comes to Comerica Park for game one of the World Series.  I have a feeling the A’s won’t be accomodating though.

Neifi Perez Hits Second Tonight

God help us.  And true to form, he struck out in his first at bat.

Tigers and A’s are tied 1-1.

Tigers Take Game One

Alright, the Tigers pulled this one out.  I wrote it up and it’ll be at the Hardball Times tomorrow so check it out.  I’m very tired, but I’m very happy.

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