Archive for March, 2007

Nook Logan Hurt Yesterday, Status Unclear

I know this isn’t the Tigers, but former centerfielder Nook Logan, much to the dismay of many Nationals fans, looked to be the lock for the starting centerfield job there.  I’ve always enjoyed watching Logan but I also felt his value was more in line with an Alex Sanchez type of player with a better feel for centerfield.  He’ll end up with a hollow .280 batting average and because he can run, he’ll probably misused as a lead off hitter.

Anyway, Logan strained his groin yesterday and the team should know more tomorrow about his status.  Anything that slows Logan down though severely diminishes his value though, because that’s about all he has.

A Vote for Kenny Rogers

Not everyone is happy with Jeremy Bonderman being picked as the opening day starter.  Honestly, I don’t know what the big deal is.  Game one counts just as much as game two, game three and game 100 so I think the whole “opening day” starter thing is a bit overblown and is more an event then anything.  In my opinion, Jeremy Bonderman is the best pitcher the Tigers have so there’s no shame in him being the opening day guy but in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter that much.  Each starter will get their 30-25 starts so the whole thing seems kind of moot to me.

Joel Zumaya Profile

Jason Beck profiled Joel Zumaya yesterday.  In the column, he talks about how Joel Zumaya is working on an offspeed pitch and he talks about all of the times Joel Zumaya touched or exceeded 100 mph on the radar gun.  It also goes into how he’s changed his approach to the mound since he began coming out of the pen (he started for most his minor league career).

So far, you can’t argue with Zumaya’s results.  He’s been lights out this spring and in nine innings, he hasn’t given up a run.  He’s given up only five hits and two walks and he’s struck out ten.  He’s even gone two innings once, which is something I hope Jim Leyland does more often during the regular season.

Tigers Win One, Lose One in Final Split Squad of the Spring

The Tigers won and then they lose today.  In the A game, Kenny Rogers threw six scoreless innings but they still lost to the Braves 3-1.  Preston Larrison gave up two runs in the eighth to break a 1-1 game and the only Tiger run came on Gary Sheffield’s RBI single.  Todd Jones was also true to form.  He gave up two hits and a walk but got out of his own jam.  Brandon Inge made two errors in the game.

In the other game, the Tigers beat the Astros 7-5.  Craig Monroe hit his second homerun of the spring and he drove in two runs.  More importantly, he was out in left field.  Hopefully that knee is holding up.  Outfield prospect Brennan Boesch had the big hit of the game.  His three run, bases clearing triple in the ninth inning put the Tigers ahead and the hit ended up being the game winner.  Chad Durbing threw four solid innings and he’s still making a case for the final spot in the pen while Zach Miner was knocked around for four runs (two each in the seventh and eighth).

And if you didn’t know who Brennan Boesch was, he was the Tigers third round pick last year.  He hit .291/.344/.435 in 292 at bats at Oneonta last year and we’ll probably get to see him play at West Michigan this year.

Tomorrow, the Tigers play the Yankees at Lakeland and it’s on FSN.  Game time is 1:05.

Nate Robertson Hit Hard in Loss to Nationals

The Tigers got bounced pretty bad today.  Nate Robertson gave up five runs in five innings and both Fernando Rodney and Jose Mesa were shelled as well.  Bobby Seay was the only Tiger pitcher to not give up a run as he continued his solid spring. 

Chris Shelton and Timo Perez both went yard and they each had good games.  Shelton was three for four while Timo Perez was two for four with two runs and two RBIs.  The rest of the team had three hits.

Jim Leyland said he wants to make his final cuts on Monday so the next couple of days could be huge for a few players.  There’s a spot in the pen still open as well as one position player spot in which guys like Chris Shelton are fighting for.  Regardless, some time Monday we should know what the Tigers 25 man roster is going to look like.

Also, here’s a solid story on Gary Sheffield.  He says he feels great, the wrist is fine and that he’s ready to go.  I can’t ask for much more there.

Ivan Rodriguez to Lead Off Against Lefties

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise because Jim Leyland was leading off with Ivan Rodriguez pretty regularly.  Regardless, it was made official and Ivan Rodriguez will bat lead off against left handed pitchers.

This isn’t a bad move because while Ivan Rodriguez doesn’t have a huge platoon split, Curtis Granderson does.  Granderson is a career .231/.293/.434 hitter against lefties while he’s .270/.341/.451 against righties.  In Ivan Rodriguez’s career, he’s hit .314/.366/.495 against lefties and he’s .301/.334/.479 against right handed pitching.  More recently, Pudge’s platoon split is a little more prounounced.  He hit .340/.385/.506 against lefties and .284/.310/.409 against righties.  He also had three games where he started in the leadoff spot in 2006 in which he was 5 for 12.  That doesn’t mean anything because of the sample size but I thought it’s worth noting.

My opinion is that Gary Sheffield should be leading off.  I know he’s a power hitter but with his career on base percentage of .398 (.413 against lefties), he’d be pretty much ideal.  Ain’t going to happen though as it’s a little too radical. 

Tigers Blow Lead, Then Win It In Ninth

Todd Jones is definitely the roller coaster.  He gave up two ninth inning runs to blow a 4-2 Tigers lead but fortunately he got bailed out in the ninth inning.  I was listening on the radio but missed it and I think Curtis Granderson drove home the winning run.  If I find out otherwise, I’ll let you know.

Jeremy Bonderman had a so so start.  He gave up two runs on four hits in five innings and he struck out four, but he walked three.  Wil Ledezma struck out the side but walked two in his one inning of work and of course Jones was knocked around for the two runs (and he picked up the win for his efforts).  To Jones credit, it was his first blown save of the spring.

Brandon Inge had three hits and both Sean Casey and Craig Monroe were two for two.  For Casey, it was his fifth double of the spring.  Carlos Guillen continued to struggle but he did get a hit to bring his batting average up to only .214.  No worries though.

Bad news for Edward Campusano.  He’s been shut down for the rest of the spring and he’s going to see Dr. James Andrews, which is never a good thing.  It looks like Chad Durbin, who’s also an interesting story in camp, may now be the final guy in the pen to make the team for Detroit.

The Tigers play the Nationals in a day game tomorrow and then Saturday will be the Tigers final split squad game of the spring.  Then from Sunday through Friday, four of the six Tiger games will be on TV.  Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be on FSN and then Friday’s game against the Yankees will be on ESPN.

Kirk Gibson Catching On With Diamondbacks

I must have totally missed this.  I knew Tram was the bench coach for Lou Pinella and the Cubs but I didn’t realize that Kirk Gibson got a job as the bench coach for the Diamondbacks.  They bring up his time with Dodgers when during the spring season he had black eye put in his hat and they touch on Gibson’s intensity.

Marcus Thames and Chris Shelton on Trading Block?

This isn’t a huge surprise because as of right now, they’re players who don’t have much of a role on the team (whether justified or not), but Jayson Stark commented that both Chris Shelton and Marcus Thames were Tigers’ players who are on the market.  I’m not sure if this is just speculation or whether he knows of something specific out there but I’ve also read that some teams are interested in Thames (as they should be).  Keep in mind that a trade isn’t out of the realm of possibility as spring training wraps up.  One of the greatest Tiger trades ever (Willie Hernandez and Dave Bergman for John Wockenfuss and Glenn Wilson in 1984) happened in late March.  In fact, Saturday is the anniversay of that trade.

Tigers Season Preview

Jason Beck previewed the Tigers yesterday and provided a bunch of useful information on the upcoming season.  He talks about the team’s strengths and weaknesses as well as some of the key series we won’t want to miss this season, including a May interleague series against the Cardinals.  Good stuff and there’s also links to some of the more specific Tiger preview columns put out recently (like their minor league preview).

Detroit Vintage World Series Films DVD Review

I got a sneak peak of the Tigers World Series DVD today and I have to say I’m impressed.  In short, it provides highlights of each of the three previous World Series wins for the Tigers (yes, it goes all the way back to 1945) and while that’s interesting by itself, there’s a certain “coolness” factor that goes along with seeing Hank Greenberg go yard, Willie Horton gun down Lou Brock at the plate and Kirk Gibson hit his big homerun against Goose Gossage.

The first video is of the 1945 World Series and this was the one I was most interested in watching.  Of all of four Tigers’ World Series wins, the 1945 season is the one I know the least about.  You get to see Hal Newhouser get pummelled in game one but you also get to see him bounce back in a big game five win.  Eddie Mayo gets some fielding highlights and they show him making a nice over the shoulder catch behind first base and you also get to see Hank Greenberg’s sweet swing.  He hit two homeruns in the series and he was the only Tiger to go deep in the World Series.

The 1968 Tiger season to me is what 1984 is to a lot of people born in the mid to late 1980s.  For thirteen years of my life, it was the last time the Tigers had won the World Series and I remember being up north at my uncle’s cottage in the early 1980s and I met a guy who was a big baseball fan.  It was the first time I found out about Strat-o-Matic baseball and he also had an old school video projector (remember these in school, it was before VCRs existed) and one of the “movies” he had was the highlights of the 1968 World Series.  I’m pretty sure the one on this DVD is the same thing and I remember Lou Brock getting a lot of hits and Bob Gibson striking out a lot of guys.  More importantly, you also get to see the Tigers come back from a 3-1 series deficit.  Some of the big parts include the game five gundown of Lou Brock at the plate by Willie Horton and the 13 run beatdown in game six.  You also get to see Bob Gibson make history by striking out seventeen batters.

The 1984 part of the video was also cool but rather anticlimactic.  The biggest part is the Goose Gossage/Kirk Gibson showdown where Gossage says he’ll strike out Gibson instead of giving him a free pass.  Of course Gibson makes him pay and the rest is history.  This is only a five game series while the other two were seven game series but there’s some neat extras here as well.  The neatest thing about the 1984 portion is that these were the guys I grew up watching and getting a chance to see them one more time was very neat.

So in short, I highly recommend this video if you’re a Tiger fan.  It’s about two hours, and it’s all good.

Jair Jurrjens Interview

Tigers Minors recently discusses a great interview of Jair Jurrjens by Baseball America.  Be sure to stop by and check it out.

Tigers Rotation Profile’s Jason Beck recently profiled the Tigers rotation.  There’s no doubt that the Tigers’ rotation is their perceived strength and to win another pennant, they’ll have to ride those starters.  He touches on Kenny Rogers age, has some quotes from Jim Leyland and also discusses Justin Verlander’s spring struggles.

A Pessimistic Rockie Fan’s Look at the Tigers

Mark TR Donahue at Bad Altitude opines on the Tigers’ chances in 2007.  He brings up some good points although it looks like he still holds a grudge towards some of the vending employees at Comerica Park (I’m assuming it’s at Comerica Park, although he doesn’t say so specifically).  Just like my hotdogs, I prefer mustard on my pretzels so I’m not sure what the big deal is.  Nice read though.

Craig Monroe Looks to Improve Outside of Clutch Hitting

Whether you believe in “clutch” hitting or not, it’s hard to argue with the fact that Craig Monroe had some big hits last year.  With that said, I think Monroe’s clutch ability is a bit overstated.  He hit only .259 last year with runnners in scoring position and he was only a .225 hitter with two outs and with runners in scoring position.  His late and close average is a bit better (.294) but hardly spectacular.  It was the seven homeruns he hit in late and close games that Tiger fans remember.  Will he be able to repeat this in 2007?

Regardless, this profiles Craig Monroe and talks about how he hopes to become a more well rounded player.  This includes getting it done in non-clutch situations.  My opinion is, if he just works on becoming a better hitter, things will fall into place a bit better in every aspect of his game.

Justin Verlander Hit Hard in Loss to Pirates

Justin Verlander was touched up for three runs on five hits and two walks in four innings of work. He did strikeout four batters though and the even worse thing was, the poor outing actually improved his ERA slightly to 8.31. He’s got a couple more starts before the real games start so hopefull he’s getting all of these hits out of his system.

Jose Mesa threw two shutout frames and Preston Larrison and Tim Byrdak each pitched a scoreless inning.  At the plate, Ryan Rayburn and Brandon Inge each had two hits and Inge scored the only run of the game for the Tigers.  He was driven home by Rayburn in the ninth inning.  Ivan Rodriguez hit leadoff again and he drew a walk while Craig Monroe played left field and doubled in the game.

The Tigers get the day off tomorrow then they play a late afternoon game against the Indians on Thursday.  This is the Tigers first and only day off since they started playing spring games.

I’m bouncing the idea around of having a little meet and greet on next Wendesday (3/28).  The Tigers are on FSN at 1:05 (they’re only televised weekday day game) so I might try to find a spot with WiFi, grab some lunch and if you want to stop by, grab a bite and if people show up, talk some baseball.  If you’re interested at all, let me know either with a comment or an email and I’ll try to pick a spot that will allow the most people to stop by. And if nobody’s interested, I’ll just sit at home and watch it and we can try again later in the season.  No sweat.

More Mail for Jason Beck beat writer Jason Beck answered more reader questions in a mailbag column yesterday.  He spends the most time on why Andrew Miller was sent to Lakeland and he fields the question nicely.  I thought he’d start the season at Erie but his explanation for his Lakeland start is the best I’ve seen.

He also touches on where the Tigers offense is relative to the rest of the league this spring and he also fields a question from a guy from my hometown (Southgate) about whether Ivan Rodriguez retires if the Tigers win it all.

The Pirates are taking it to Justin Verlander.  It’s 3-0 in the third inning.

No Diagnosis Yet on Edward Campusano

This really bummed me out when I read about it, but it looks like Edward Campusano’s run for a spot in the Tigers pen might have been derailed when his elbow started bothering him.  There was an MRI yesterday, but there still hasn’t been a diagnosis so it’s probably a wait and see.  I’m pretty sure if he goes on the DL, we can still hold onto him under the Rule Five rules (I remember something similar happening with Chris Shelton) so he migth still have a future with the team even if it is pretty serious.  Hopefully it’s not and he’s back on the mound soon.

Craig Monroe’s Knee Injury

The Tigers have been pretty careful with Craig Monroe this spring.  He’s played in a lot of the Tigers spring games but he’s also had his share of time as the designated hitter.  Now Rick Wilton from the Baseball Injury Report sheds some light on Craig Monroe’s injured knee.  It appears to be something he can play through, but it’s also something that will bother him all season and limit his production.  While I’m sure the Tigers are entertaining offers for Marcus Thames, you wonder whether the Tigers might want to hang onto as insurance in the even Monroe misses a significant amount of time.  Then again, with the Tigers depth of outfielders, they could always just call up someone like Brent Clevlen.

Gary Sheffield Homers in Spring Win Over Reds

The Tigers won again and they did it behind a solid game by Gary Sheffield.  The left fielder hit a solo homerun and he also walked twice and scored twice.  Sean Casey was two for two with a run and an RBI while Timo Perez was two for four with a run.

On the pitching side, Kenny Rogers gave up two runs on three hits and two walks with a strikeout in five innings.  Joel Zumaya pitched two more shutout frames while Todd Jones was his old self.  He didn’t give up any runs, but he gave up two hits.

Tomorrow, Justin Verlander throws for the Tigers against the Pirates.  Game time is 1:05.

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