Archive for February, 2007

Sean Casey’s Injury Concerns and Magglio Ordonez’s Arm

At this point in time, Sean Casey is the Tigers 2007 starting first basemen.  He’s had his share of injuries the past couple of years and in Will Carroll’s latest positional health report, Casey comes in with a high risk red light.  So the question is, if Casey is an injury concern how should he be handled day to day by Jim Leyland.  While it’s not a certainly, I tend to agree with Carroll that if Casey starts day and in day out, his chances of hitting the DL are pretty good.  So the question is, do we keep Chris Shelton on the team or do we shuffle things a bit and move Carlos Guillen to first once a week and then give Ramon Santiago, or even better, Omar Infante, some time at shortstop.  If the Tigers keep 12 pitchers, there might not be room for Shelton, which would force them to do the shuffling.  I’ve also heard they might try giving Marcus Thames some time at first base, which could be another potential solution.

I guess I never realized it, but Magglio Ordonez has a solid throwing arm.  His range might not be up near the top, but in a column at the Hardball Times, Ordonez came in with the third best throwing arm amongst right fielders.  His kill rating was a second best 164 although his hold rating was a slightly above average 106.  Regardless, his arm saved about five runs last year. 

While Curtis Granderson was near the bottom of the centerfielder list, Craig Monroe came in fourth place amongst left fielders.  His 187 kill rating was best on that list while his hold rating was an average 101.  Expect to see those numbers close on one another as more people respect Monroe’s arm in 2007.

More Tigers Stuff

I finished a brief Bill Freehan retrospective over at the 1967 AL Pennant Race site.  Things have been a little slow over there but I’m going to urge the other writers to ramp things up leading into the regular season.  It should be a fun site and I’m looking forward to the actual season diary kicking off.

Also, Mike started his top ten Tiger prospect series with a look at third baseman/OSU grad Ron Bourquin.  He doesn’t provide a ton of details but you’ll at least get familiar with the players.

Preston Larrison – Out of Options

Heading into the 2003 season, Preston Larrison was one of the Tigers top prospects and the teams second round pick in 2001.  In 2002, he had a solid season at Lakeland, and he even battled for a spot in the rotation in the spring of 2003 (yeah, 2003).  Not making the team, he then struggled in Erie.  He walked (59) more batters then he struck out (53) and while he did play in the Futures Game, it was more out of default because the Tigers farm system was so bad.  In 2004, he redid Double A and while he was better in 20 starts, he was shut down because of sore elbow and eventually needed Tommy John surgery.  He missed 2005 then attempted his comeback last year, once again in Erie.  He started slowly and he was eventually thrown into the bullpen, where he showed some improvement.  He continued to throw well when he got promoted to Triple A but a trip to the Arizona Fall League was humbling and the big right hander was knocked around (.327 batting average against) in thirteen relief appearances for the Desert Dogs.

Now Larrison is 26 and he’s out of options.  He’ll be one of the interesting stories this spring and with the addition of slider, Larrison could open a lot of eyes.  Regardless, the Tigers will have to make a decision on him.  If they don’t bring him up, then he’ll go on waivers and most likely lost.  If he makes the team, he could turn out to be an interesting story similar to Jason Grilli, who overcame an injury and eventually came back and contributed at the major league level.

Another Top Five for the Tigers

This time it’s starting pitching and with the Tigers coming off of a season where they led the majors in ERA, it’s no surprise that they’d show up in a list of the top five best starting rotations in baseball.

And they’re in some solid company.  The Red Sox are highlighted, but four of the five (Yankees, Angels, Tigers, Red Sox) are all in the American League.  Which gets me to a question.  Is this THE most anticipated Tiger season in the last 20 years?  You could make a claim for 1988 because they were coming off of a division title in 1987 but that team had a different makeup (mostly veterans well past their peak seasons).

It’s definitely fun to be a Tiger fan these days.

Justin Verlander – 20 Game Winner?

Jim Moloney at recently posted an article on who he thinks will win 20 games in 2007.  You’ve got the usual suspects like Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt and Roy Halladay, but in the mix of names is Tiger sophomore Justin Verlander.  As honorable mentions (which is a pretty long list), he mentions both Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman as well.

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Bonderman.  After two years of showing up on breakout lists, I really think this will be Bonderman’s season to shine.

Introducing Tigers Minor League Baseball Blog

One thing this site has always lacked has been adequate coverage of the Tigers minor league affiliates.  For the past couple of years I’ve been trying to find someone to write about the Tigers minor leagues for the website and I’ve gone one better with the creation of the Tigers Minor League Baseball Blog,  New blogger Mike Cassidy agreed to take on writing for the site and I’ll probably be making a contribution or two through out the year.  I met Mike via email recently when we got to talking about the Toledo Mudhens and how long they’ve been with the Tigers and I finally convinced him to give blogging a shot.  He’ll be starting off with his own hybrid list of the top ten Tiger prospects so stop by and give him a shout.

How Good is the Tigers Outfield?

This report speculates that the Tigers have the second best outfield in baseball.  While I like the Tigers depth (with Thames hanging on as the team’s fourth outfielder) and I like the starting three, I still think the Yankees and especially the Mets, with the addition of Moises Alou, have a better triumvirate.

Nate Robertson’s Military Experience

This is a neat story about Nate Robertson’s visit to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt.

Tigers Pen a Strength Despite Lack of Lefties

Jason Beck recently took a look at the Tigers bullpen and it’s hard not to like what the Tigers are bringing back.  It wasn’t that many years ago that the Tigers bullpen was a weakness, but not any more.  The Tigers boast a solid big three in Joel Zumaya, Fernando Rodney and Todd Jones and the supporting cast is solid as well.  I still don’t like the signing of Jose Mesa and I really don’t think he’ll be a factor by the end of the year.  I hope I’m wrong, but who knows.

Of course all the talk centers around a left handed relief pitcher with the departure of Jamie Walker.  Right now, Wil Ledezma will probably the primary lefty but his future is still as a starter.  I think a wild card will be Joey Eischen, who has something to prove.  Also don’t rule out Rule Five pick Edward Campusano.  He’s got a live arm but he’s never pitched higher then Double A.

Even with one lefty though, the Tigers pen will still keep them in games.  They’ll have some decisions to make after the 2007, but for now, I’ll just enjoy what the Tigers have.

Yorman Bazardo, Jeff Frazier and Fantasyland

The Tigers traded minor league outfielder Jeff Frazier for Mariners right hander Yorman liked the deal but it’s worth taking a look at both players.

First off is Jeff Frazier, who the Tigers gave up.  Frazier had a very rough year at High A Lakeland in 2006 and this was as a 24 year old.  And he didn’t even show up as an honorable mention in John Sickels top 20 Tiger prospects.  Because Bazardo was designated for assignment, it looks like Frazier was all the Mariners could get for him before somebody scooped him up on waivers.

Yorman Bazardo came in as the Mariners ninth best prospect and while his strikeout rate wasn’t great, he had a very solid season in the Texas League as a starter.  He was even better in winter ball as a reliever in the Venezuelan winter league and he threw five shutout innings in the Caribbean World Series.  He has an option left, so he’ll probably start 2007 in either Erie or Toledo.  This is one of those deals that could mean nothing but if Bazardo even turns into just a quality reliever, the time put into this deal will be worth it.

If you didn’t buy the book Fantasyland by Sam Walker last year, you now have a new reason to pick it up.  The book recently came out in a paperback and it’s only around $10.  This was one of the best baseball books I read in 2006 and it was picked as a top read in the Hardball Times Baseball Annual.  I reviewed the book last year and you can check it out here.

Tigers Swap Prospects With Mariners

The Tigers traded minor league outfielder Jeff Frazier for right handed pitcher Yorman Bazardo today.  Check back later tonight and I’ll take a look at both prospects.

Curtis Granderson Crystal Ball

John Sickels recently unveiled what he thinks Curtis Granderson should do through out his career.  Good stuff and no real surprises.  I agree that Granderson will be a steady, good but not great outfielder through out his career.  I could also live with that 2007 line assuming he brings the glove like he did in 2006.

His line at PECOTA is very similar.  His weighted mean average has him at .265/.342/.463 with 21 homeruns and his 75th percentile is .283/.362/.504.  So if you’re looking at Granderson, you should be looking for around 20 homeruns and a batting average hovering around .265-.270.  Good stuff for a guy who’s basically going to be a support player.  If he hits that 75th percentile, I think he’ll score a 100 runs if he continues to bat leadoff.

Fall/Winter League Roundup

A ton of Tigers and Tiger prospects saw time in both the Arizona Fall League and the various winter leagues.  With the action finished, it’s worth taking a look at how these players did and has a nice summary of the action.

Omar Infante had a particularly good season.  It sure would be nice if he could get some playing time and show some flashes of what he did for us in 2004.  I know Placido Polanco is very solid but having a good backup in Infante would go a long way towards having a solid season in Tigertown.

Wilfredo Ledezma, who could be vying for the fifth spot in the rotation, had a very rough time in the Venezuelan winter league.  In three starts, he lasted only eight innings and gave up twelve runs.  He threw better in the playoffs but that’s very encouraging.

And then there was Jordan Tata, who made a name for himself at the Arizona Fall League.  He posted a rock solid 2.63 ERA in six starts.  His strikeouts weren’t there (12 in 24 innings) but he walked only seven batters.

How Good is the Tigers Infield?

Sporting News recently ranked the infields in the American League and there’s no surprise that the Tigers found themselves near the top.  The Tigers ranked fourth and they were behind the Yankees, White Sox and Rangers and just ahead of the Mariners.  I don’t know, I like the Rangers better then the White Sox and think the Tigers are right there with the White Sox so I could have seen them as high as third.

Nate Robertson Sticks It Out In Michigan During Offseason

Tigers left handed starter Nate Robertson is the Tiger to stick around Michigan during the winter according to this Detroit Free Press report.  It’s nice to see someone sticks around.

In a lot of ways, Nate Robertson could be the most important pitcher in the rotation.  People expect a lot from Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander and I don’t think anyone expects a repeat from 2006 out of Kenny Rogers so having Robertson throwing like he did last year would go a long way towards another 90+ win season. 

PECOTA doesn’t seem to expect much from Robertson in 2007.  His weighted mean average is only a 1.40 WHIP with a 4.41 ERA.  They also expect a stablization in his strikeout rate (5.4/9 innings, which matches his 2005 total and is just under his 5.6/9 that he had last year).  If he could nail his 75th percentile though, which is a 1.34 WHIP and a 3.93 ERA and a 5.6/9 strikeout rate, I’d be pretty happy.  The one nice thing about his PECOTA card is he has a very lose collapse rate (8%) but a very high improve rate (60%) so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise if Robertson beats that weighted mean average line.

Robertson’s most comparable player is 1960s White Sox starter Gary Peters.   Not too shabby because Peters did eventually win 20 games with a pretty solid ERA but only a good strikeout rate.

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