I’m heading off to work soon but I wanted to pose a question to everyone. With Johan Santana’s departure from the division, that makes C.C. Sabathia the top pitcher in the American League Central. After thinking about it, does that make Justin Verlander the second best pitcher in the division? He’s had two solid seasons but this is probably the only division where he’d rate so high, at least as far as being a consensus number two.
Johan Santana is now out of the American League Central and good riddance. The Mets dealt four prospects for the star pitcher and that makes the Mets one of the front runners to win the National League pennant this year.
The decline of the Twins helps the Tigers but it also means a team like the Indians should be able to keep better pace with Detroit because they’ll be getting a break too. This just makes the division more and more of a two dog race.
Brandon Inge hasn’t backed off from his desire to find a team that would play him every day at third base but he’s now said that he’s preparing for a utility role with the Tigers for the 2008 season. At this point, Inge doesn’t have much of a choice because the Tigers have pretty much said he’s not going anywhere until spring training and even then, it’s probably more likely that he’s not dealt until closer to the July tradining deadline. Inge would be a nice guy to have and hopefully a hot start by the team will convince him that any role with this special team is better then a starting role somewhere else.
Andrew Miller isn’t a Tiger anymore, but here’s an interesting story about how he showed up to work out decked out in Tigers garb. Miller should be a middle of the rotation starter for the low budget Marlins next year and I’m a little interested in following that team because they have so many former Tiger prospects.
After a historic season in 2007, the Tigers may be looking to lock up Curtis Granderson to a long term deal despite the fact that he’s not even eligible for arbitration yet. This is one of those big win/potentially big loss kind of deals because while Granderson had the monster year last year, there’s not a long track record of success. Still, it looks like the team hopes to sign him to a deal that would take him through all of his arbitration eligible years and then his first year of free agency. I’ll hold judgement until it’s done and we see a number but I expect it to be a backloaded deal like a lot of these usually end up being.
Former Tigers radio broadcaster and Hall of Famer Ernie Harwell turned 90 today. The last time I talked to Ernie was over the summer about a book project I was working on and he’s still sharp. I still highly recommend his audio scrapbook. You get four discs of baseball memories that at least I’ve listened to over and over and over again.
Former closer Matt Mantei was one of 21 players invited to Tigers spring training this February as he continues his attempt at a comeback. The former Diamondback hopes to make an impact this spring after a couple of years off and while it’s not expected that he’ll make the team, it’ll be interesting to see if he can get anything done this spring to secure at least a spot at Toledo. Timo Perez and Aquilino Lopez were also given an invitation as were a variety of other minor leaguers.
Jason Beck addressed Dontrelle Willis’ spot in the rotation and I like his answer. The whole rotation order is a bit overrated and if the five starter does his job, he’s going to log as many innings as the number one starter. It all comes down to production and if Willis can get the job done, he’ll get his time out on the mound regardless as to whether he gets the ball in the fourth Tigers game or the second.
Once again, the Tigers avoided going to the arbitration table as they signed their arbitration eligible players. The big signing was a one year (yes, I the bet with myself when I said they’d sign a five year deal) contract for third baseman Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers will pay him $11.3 million. They must have thought with another year (Cabrera can’t file for free agency until after the 2009 season) that they could put off a longer term deal. Still, $11.3 million is one of the healthier deals for a player two seasons away from free agency.
The Tigers also signed Bobby Seay but I couldn’t open the press release to see how much they signed him for. Seay will join Tim Byrdak as left handers coming out of the pen in 2008.
The Tigers signed Marcus Thames to a one year, $1.125 million deal today and that gives the Tigers with an inexpensive homerun hitter coming off the bench. I like the idea of Jacque Jones/Marcus Thames platoon because it plays to both players’ strengths. There really wasn’t much urgency to sign Thames to longer term deal because he’s only eligible for arbitration in 2009 and 2010.
That leaves Miguel Cabrera and Bobby Seay as the lone arbitration eligible players to sign. My bet is, Cabrera gets a five year deal and he becomes a cornerstone for this team for a long time.
The Tigers and the Erie Seawolves came to a three year agreement that will keep the Seawolves as the Tigers Double-A affiliate through the year 2010. This came on the same day that the Seawolves agreed to a three year lease extension with the Erie County Convention Center Authority. The Tigers haven’t changed any of their minor league affiliates since 2001 when they took on Erie and they have three more years with all of their remaining affiliates.
The Tigers made a three year commitment to Nate Robertson today and in the process, they’ll avoid arbitration with the left hander. Robertson will make just over $21 million throughout the three year deal.
The Tigers now have four of their front five starters locked up for the forseeable future. Robertson, Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Bonderman are all locked up through 2010 and Justin Verlander won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2008 season. That leaves just Kenny Rogers who has a one year deal, who isn’t part of the Tigers long term plans, although that’s more because of Rogers’ advanced age and not because the team doesn’t like him.
At some point, you’d have to hope Rick Porcello fills in that final spot but I don’t see him even getting a cup of coffee until 2009. That means the Tigers have to hope either a guy like Yorman Bazardo or Jordan Tata steps up to fill in or the Tigers go out on the market to find someone. Still, the Tigers have at least a solid front four for quite some time and it’ll give the team some time to restock their farm system.
It’s funny because heading into the Winter Meetings, the primary concern for the Tigers was the bullpen. Now, with a bolstered offense and a solid starting rotation, Dave Dombrowski has come out and said that he’s content with the bullpen as is.
One big reason will be having an innings eater like Dontrelle Willis in the rotation. With him in there rather then whoever the Tigers would have chosen as the Tigers would have chosen as a fifth starter, we’re probably talking about 30-50 innings more of Willis. That’ll take the heat off the pen and the hope is, with this high powered lineup, that the Tigers have a lot of big leads and they can pick the spots where they use their best relievers.
Another big thing is, relief pitching is usually always available at the trade deadline. I find it hard to believe that the Tigers relievers are so bad that they’ll be out of it after one half of play so if the Tigers need some help, they can always pull a deal to get more help.
You also could have Joel Zumaya coming back in the second half. There’s no way to predict how well he’ll be throwing, but I wouldn’t count him out yet.
I feel like I’ve been living in a vacuum the last week or so (okay, I’m sure some of you will argue that I live in the vacuum all of the time) . I’m finishing up a project and it’s pretty much dominated my time and in the meantime, I’m also finishing up a contract job so it’s been an atypical week. And in the meantime, Bilfer goes and does an interview with Curtis Granderson of all people and I don’t catch wind of it until almost a week later. Anyway, great work and if you’re like me and didn’t find out about this until you’re reading about here, then be sure to catch it out.
Also at DTW, Bilfer brings us up to date on the status of Brandon Inge. Dombrowski is laying some hints that Inge could find a place on the team if he’d go back to catching or at least playing as a utility player.
I’m hoping to get back to a more regular schedule soon. I’m also hoping to write up another 1968 profile at the 1968 Tigers site.
In a Hot Stove report at MLB.com, Dave Dombrowski is quoted as saying that it’s unlikely that the Tigers will be able to deal Brandon Inge before spring training starts. The hope would be that he has a nice spring, turns some heads and the Tigers can then get some reasonable compensation for what looks like an overpriced Brandon Inge.
Also, MLB.com is beginning their series of weekly stories that take a look at each team position by position. This week is a look at each team’s catchers with Ivan Rodriguez and Vance Wilson getting the spotlight.
Yeah, I know it’s the fourth, but if they can play a bowl game in the second week of the year, I can be a little late with my New Year’s column. We were in Toronto for the our second straight New Year and while it was nice visiting friends, my wife and I have both been sick at various points in time in the past couple of weeks so getting home was somewhat of a relief.
From a personal perspective, you can sum up 2007 with one word, challenging. Both personally and professionally, it seemed like I was faced with quite a bit of adversity and while it’s early to say whether I’m through it all, I think I’m better off now at the end of the year then I was at the beginning of the year. As usual, it was getting there that was the challenging part.
What’s in store for Tigerblog? Pretty much the same stuff, which I think is unfortunate. It looks like I’m going to be working (my old profession as a CPA continually comes back to haunt me) through July so time will be short but this site, although you wouldn’t know it sometime, is one of my top priorities. I’ll also have the 1968 Tigers Diary going and at season’s end, that’ll leave me just the 1945 season to document.
I’m also going to do a relaunch of my Baseball Historians network here soon. As always, you get what you pay for and when you don’t pay anything, you can’t expect very much so by midseason, a lot of the activity on the blogs had tapered off. I’m hoping to find some new, enthusiastic writers, throw some incentives their way and hopefully I can make this a success.
In my abscence, not a whole lot has gone on. Both major papers are reporting that Brandon Inge’s days are probably numbered, the Tigers are just not going to get much for him. Jason Beck did a mailbag column and then Curtis Granderson is going to play basketball with the proceeds going to his foundation.