Archive for November, 2007

Tigers Sign Kenny Rogers

The Tigers have Kenny Rogers for one more year and that pretty much takes care of four of the five rotation spots.  I haven’t seen the numbers yet so I’ll hold judgement as to how good of a deal it is but having Kenny Rogers in the rotation is a solid option and I’m glad they were able to get the deal done.  The Tigers just need to decide on who their fifth starter will be but that probably won’t happen until spring training.

The Tigers also signed minor league pitcher Francisco Cruceta.  The right hander put up solid numbers last year for the Rangers Triple A affiliate but he’s been lights out in the Dominican Winter League.

To make room, the Tigers made two kind of surprising moves.  They designated both Chris Shelton and Timo Perez for assignment.  Shelton I can see because if he clears waivers the Tigers can push him back down to Toledo but Perez I figured might make a solid fifth outfielder.  They must be set on Ryan Raburn filling the super utility role and that pushes Perez out.  Regardless, I’m sure Dave Dombrowski will try to swing a deal for one or both for a fringe minor leaguer or something.


The deal is for $8 million.  A little high but if Rogers can come anywhere close to his 2006 production, it’ll turn into a bargain.  There are some performances bonuses and you’d have to hope if he hits those, the deal will still be worth it.

That leaves on spot in the rotation left.  Andrew Miller could be the guy as could Yorman Bazardo.  It’ll also be interesting to see if there’s a darkhorse candidate who steps up in the spring like Dallas Trahern.  Still, the rotation looks solid heading into 2008.

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Tigers Make Contact With Latroy Hawkins Agent

It looks like Latroy Hawkins is that latest player to enter the Tigers sight.  The Tigers have started talking to Hawkins’ agent but it looks like the right hander is interested in coming to Detroit.  He’s a former closer and while he’s not a big strikeout guy anymore, he can still punch them out at about a half strikout per nine inning clip.  He was mediocre for the Orioles in 2006 but then very good for the Rockies in 2007.  Age is a  concern (he’ll be 35 in December) but you’d think the Tigers wouldn’t be signing him to something more then a year or two.  I wouldn’t neccesarily want Hawkins as my number one or two guy out of the pen, but he makes a nice addition to the middle of what was a rough relief corp last year.

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2007 DIBS Awards

For the third straight year, Tiger bloggers have voted and this year, the results for the three DIBS awards were pretty much unanimous.  Magglio Ordonez was player of the year, Justin Verlander was pitcher of the year and Curtis Granderson was breakout player of the year.  The only close vote was breakout player of the year where Ryan Raburn gave Granderson a run for his money.

Heading Into the Winter Meetings

The Winter Meetings kick off next week in Nashville, TN and the Twins and Rays completed their big deal prior to the winter blowout.  A lot of bloggers have gone to past winter meetings but to date, I haven’t had a chance to go down to one.  Hopefully in the next couple of years I can swing a trip and check out the action.  I know it’s going to be in Vegas in the next couple of years and that would be a neat trip.

While the Tigers haven’t signed Kenny Rogers yet, if I were a betting man I’d say he’s going to be back with Detroit.  That puts the focus on getting some bullpen help next week.  I know Octavio Dotel’s name has been thrown around but it looks like, with the way prices have been lately for relief pitchers, that picking one via trade could make more sense.  In a cool column, Jason Beck also provides us with a Tigers Winter Meeting Checklist.

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Leave it to Jason Beck to fill in a gap in Tigers news with another cool mailbag column.  He talks about why Curtis Granderson didn’t get the respect that Jimmy Rollins got with the MVP voters as well as what he thinks about the Johan Santana sweepstakes.

Tigers Prospect News

The Tigers got some bad news yesterday when the Tigers fifth round draft pick, Casey Crosby, found out he was going to need elbow surgery and he’ll likely miss the 2008 season. Crosby was one of those steal picks in the 2007 draft and he dropped all the way to the fifth round because of signability issues.  He tweaked the elbow pitching in the instructional league and there’s a good quote in the story from Dan Lunetta, the team’s director of minor league operations.  He seems to think Crosby will be ready by August but they won’t let him throw just one month of minor league ball.

Also, put out their organizational review for the Tigers.  Jeff Larish and Burke Badenhop were the team’s post season minor league offensive and pitching players of the year.  Brent Clevlen, Kyle Sleeth and Kody Kirkland all were players they have slipping out of “prospect” contention and they have a recap of the Tigers 2007 draft.  There’s a lot of stuff here so be sure to check it out.

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving. 

Kenny Rogers and Iron Man

Apparantly, being your agent isn’t all that easy and Kenny Rogers is now asking Tiger fans to be patient because he’s getting used to his new job duties as a self represented agent.  Rogers did say he’ll be back in contact with Dave Dombrowski soon though and it’s looking more and more likely that the veteran lefthander is on his way back to Detroit for 2008.

I get requests to help with websites all the time, and the newest one I helped start up is pretty cool.  Tony Tucker has started a blog devoted to his favorite comic book character, Iron Man. If you haven’t seen the trailer for the Iron Man movie, it looks pretty cool (there’s a link on the site to the movie page).  Robert Downey, Jr. looks like he’ll play a pretty cool Tony Stark.  Anyway, I have a friend who was an avid comic collector and I know enough to be dangerous.  My favorite comic was the Fantastic Four with the Thing as my favorite character.

Magglio Ordonez and Joel Zumaya

It seems just about anything can upset a Yankees’ fan.  Magglio Ordonez finished a distant second place in the American League MVP race and he even picked up a couple of first place votes.  Of course those votes came from a pair of Detroit writers  and that’s what has everyone all up in arms.  Regardless, Ordonez had a monster season and had it not been for an even bigger year by Alex Rodriguez, he would have walked away with the title.  Kind of like those solid years Albert Pujols had when Barry Bonds was going nuts with some of those seasons he had earlier in the decade.

Jason Beck also did a new mailbag column where he addresses Joel Zumaya’s post-surgery velocity as well as the Scott Boras/Kenny Rogers split.  Good stuff as always from Mr. Beck.

Kenny Rogers Fires Scott Boras

I think this is a positive sign for the Tigers.  Kenny Rogers ended his relationship with Scott Boras and he’s said he’ll represent himself in contract negotiations.  He also reiterated how he’d like to come back to Detroit and that also mirrors the Alex Rodriguez situation, who has all but re-signed with the Yankees.

It’s interesting seeing these players show a little bit of loyalty to the teams that they’d prefer to play for.  Boras’ incentive is to look for the biggest deal but it looks like some players are lashing back in order to play for the teams they want to, not neccesarily the ones who throw around the most money.

Kenny Rogers, Livan Hernandez and Tom Brookens

Kenny Rogers announced in an email that the Tigers are still his number one choice but that’s still not stopping him from testing the market.  You wonder if this is some backtracking ala Alex Rodriguez.  In the meantime, the Rangers appear to be the team pressing for Rogers the most and it’ll be interesting to see if he heads back to Texas.

In lieu of Rogers, the Tigers have expressed an interest in Livan Hernandez.     I didn’t realize it but Hernandez is only 32. It just seems like he’s been around forever.  The downside of Hernandez is that he’s had some really bad seasons recently.  At times he looks like a potential number two or three starter and at other times he looks like he shouldn’t be pitching at all.  One thing he is good at is eating up innings and if he can do it with quality starts, I think he’d make a solid fifth starter.  I wouldn’t want him at the front of the rotation but to have an innings eater like this on the back end would go a long way towards helping out a shaky bullpen.  Plus, you have the whole Jim Leyland/1997 Marlins connection coming back up.  It’s turning into a reunion of sorts for that team.  And in the Jason Beck piece, the Tigers have apparantly also talked to Carlos Silva.

Former Tiger Tom Brookens got a promotion and he’ll manage the Tigers Double A affiliate in Erie.  He managed the White Caps to a Midwest League title in 2007 and prior to that, he coached the Oneonta Tigers for a couple of years.

Tigers Top Eleven Prospects

Mike Cassidy at Tigers Minors provides some commentary on the recently unveiled Top Eleven Prospects column by Kevin Goldstein.  Things are a lot thinner after that trade with the Braves for Edgar Renteria but there’s still some interesting names to keep an eye on down on the farm in 2008.

Tigers Get Danny Christensen From Royals, Rogers Doesn’t Sign Before Deadline

The Tigers picked up Danny Christensen from the Royals as the player to be named later in their trade of Roman Colan last summer.  Christensen had a tough season last year at the Royals Double A affiliate and he doesn’t show up as even a top 20 prospect according to John Sickels so this isn’t something to get too excited about.  The Tigers designated him for assignement upon getting him so he either has the choice to report to the minors or become a free agent.

Also, the Tigers couldn’t sign Kenny Rogers before the Tuesday deadline so he can now talk to any other team in the majors.  It looks like a return to the Rangers is a possibility but my guess is, the Tigers give Rogers enough of what he wants to bring him back into the fold. 

Tigers Re-Sign Todd Jones to One Year, $7 Million Deal

A lot of people, myself included, tend to get attached to players from successful teams.  Todd Jones was one of the guys who helped get us there in 2006 and it’s easy to look past a player’s fault and want to relive a great season like the Tigers World Series run.  So I firmly believe that just about anyone who’s excited about this deal is one of those people who are clinging to that near championship season.

I think the Tigers overpaid quite a bit for Jones here.  I know he’s a “closer” and guys like Mariano Rivera will command $10+ price tags but Jones isn’t your stereotypical closer.  He pitches to contact and while he doesn’t give up many walks nor does he give up many homeruns, he also doesn’t strike many guys out.  The strikeouts in and of itself aren’t that disconcerting but Jones just has these times where he melts down.  In looking at his splits after the fact and Jones is quite good where he picks up a save (.195/.236/.233) but downright horrible when he took a loss (.625/.690/.917).  So you have a pitcher who, with four losses and three other blown saves (he had six total, but three of those he also took losses), will come out and give you a rock solid outing six out of seven times and blow the game the seventh.  If you can live with that (not sure how that compares to other closers), then maybe the $7 million is warranted.  I just think $7 million for 70 innings is a but much.

I still take heat for this, but I still feel that if Jones were made for any role, it’s closer which is why I would have been critical of a guy like Joel Zumaya taking over the role with Jones still in the pen.  Having Jones come in with a lead and nobody on base is preferable to having him come in with the score tied and runners on base.  If Jones gives up a hit or two (like he has a tendency of doing), it usually won’t hurt him.  So in short, I’m not disappointed the Tigers signed Jones, I just think they gave up too much for him.

Omar Infante Traded to Cubs for Jacque Jones

I picked this up from The View From the Bleachers but it looks like the Tigers shored up their outfielder by trading Omar Infante to the Cubs for Jacque Jones and cash.  Jones looks like he’s on the downswing but he’s also been sort of the odd man out in the Cubs outfield.  He’s been surrounded by trade rumors pretty much since he got to Chicago.  He had an off year in 2007 but he was a solid 20 homer/75 RBI guy orior to that and he’s a career .280 hitter.  His upside is probably his 2006 season but I’d be happy with what he gave the Twins back in 2005.

I’ve always been a big fan of Omar Infante but it just didn’t seem like it was going to work in Detroit.  He had a breakout season in 2004 when Fernando Vina went down with an injury and he earned the starting second base job in 2005 but he struggled early.  He then lost his job when the Tigers traded for Placido Polanco and since then, he’s spent time both in the minors and as a utility player (he can play outfield and infield).  He fell out of favor last year and the Tigers eventually went with Ramon Santiago down the stretch and after they signed Santiago yesterday, it was probably just a matter of time before Infante was gone.

Still, Infante is only 25 and while that breakout season is three years removed, it’s there.  I don’t know what the Cubs have planned for Infante but you wonder if Alan Trammell’s presence on the team had anything to do with this deal.

Tigers Re-Sign Ramon Santiago

The Tigers inked Ramon Santiago to a one year, $575k deal this year and it’s expected that Santiago will provide the Tigers with a decent late inning defensive replacement in the infield.  Santiago’s infamy has nothing to do with his weak stick but more to do with who the Tigers got for  him in a trade.  Back in 2004, the Tigers trade Santiago to the Mariners for Carlos Guillen after the Mariners stole Rich Aurilia from the Tigers on the free agent market.  The rest is history and Santiago rejoined the team in 2006 as a free agent.

With Santiago in the fold, it’ll be curious to see what happens to Omar Infante.  Omar is a better hitter but he fell out of favor late in the year in 2007.  They might keep him around because he can also fill in out in the outfield but that spot is getting crowded too.  Jason Beck speculates in his column that Infante might be dealt because of his arbitration eligibility.

Magglio Ordonez, Placido Polanco Walk Away With Silver Sluggers

Magglio Ordonez and Placido Polanco both won Silver Slugger awards this year.  I’d have to check and see how rare it is, but Polanco’s season was particularly impressive because he won both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove.  It’s the first time two Tigers have won the award since Mickey Tettleton and Travis Fryman won it in 1992.

I thought Curtis Granderson made a stronger case for a silver slugger then Ichiro did but outfield is one of those tough spots to call because you could probably find a handful more players who would in that class as well.   Granderson was third amongst American League outfielders in OPS but Manny Ramirez was right there as well.

Magglio Ordonez Named Tiger of the Year

No major surprise here considering Magglio Ordonez will probably finish second to Alex Rodriguez in the American League MVP voting.  We all know what Mags did this year.   First batting title by a Tiger since 1961 and more then 50 doubles for the first time since the 1950s.

Kenny Rogers Looks to Test Free Agent Market

Jason Beck reports that while Kenny Rogers has decided to pitch at least one more year, he’s not dead set on coming back to Detroit and his agent (yes, Scott Boras) has said that he’ll test the free agent market.  It’ll be interesting to see whether this is just Boras’ way to squeeze a little bit more out of Detroit or whether Rogers actually does go and talk to other teams.

In other news, the Tigers lost Matt Walbeck yesterday.  He was hired by the Texas Rangers to be their third base coach.  Walbeck led the West Michigan White Caps to a league title in 2006 and he put together a nice season in Erie as their coach last year.  You hate to see these successful guys go but if you remember, Alan Trammell left the Tigers for a while before coming back to be their manager.  It wouldn’t surprise me if, when Jim Leyland steps down, Matt Walbeck is on a list of guys being considered for the job.

Ivan Rodriguez, Placido Polanco Win Gold Gloves

Ivan Rodriguez and Placido Polanco walked away with gold gloves today.  While neither was a surprise, it’s the omissions from the Tigers that are somewhat glaring.  Still, Pudge is Pudge and he’s going to win gold gloves until he shows serious signs of deterioriation while Polanco went the entire season without making an error while posting the second best zone rating in the American League.  It’s hard to argue about either one of these guys.

Things get odd when you look at the outfield.  Ichiro won and he was probably the best fielding outfielder in all of baseball so there’s not much of an argument there.  Torii Hunter won again and while he was only decent this year, he had six gold gloves prior to this season and he was good enough to where, like Pudge, he’s going to win an award or two well past his prime out in the field.  The oddity is Grady Sizemore.  Sizemore, who was eighth in the American League in zone rating which is hardly spectacular and the only thing you can really say about him is he led the league (tied) in plays.  And if you don’t like zone rating, Baseball Prospectus actually has Sizemore at 7 fielding runs below average so Sizemore actually cost his team almost a game compared to what an average centerfielder would have given his team.

Curtis Granderson’s season in center this year was nothing short of spectacular and in my opinion, he got robbed.  He led the league with a .921 zone rating and his 85 plays outside of the zone were second to Ichiro and almost double the amount Sizemore had (45).  Baseball Prospectus had Granderson at 26 runs above average so the difference between Sizemore and Granderson was more then three wins in favor of Granderson.

The other guy who probably got the shaft was Brandon Inge.  Adrian Beltre walked away with the award and he probably should have won it last year.  Instead, the managers punched Eric Chavez’s ticket again so Beltre lost out.  In what looks like an attempt to make up for it, they gave the award to Beltre this year.  Inge was second in the American League with .712 zone rating (Beltre was seventh with .668) and Inge made just one play less then Beltre did outside of the zone.  Inge finished the season with 16 fielding runs above average  where as Beltre had just two fielding runs above average.  So while we’re not talking about as significant of a difference between Granderson and Sizemore, we’re still talking about more then one win between the two in the field.

I’m still convinced Inge will win a gold glove in his future.  Granderson might have a tougher time but you have to be impressed with a guy who was pegged as a corner outfielder just a couple of years ago.

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