Archive for March, 2008

Ivan Rodriguez Belts Two Homers In Spring Win

Ivan Rodriguez appears to be getting used to hitting in the eight slot.  He led the way in an eleven run, twenty hit attack that saw the Tigers demolish the Astros 11-4.  Rodriguez finished with three RBIs and the two homers bring his spring total to six.  Carlos Guillen had a team high three hits while Placido Polanco and Edgar Renteria both went yard.

Kenny Rogers pitched five strong innings.  He gave up just one run on three hits with two strikeouts.  Virgil Vasquez was touched up for two runs in his two innings while Tim Byrdak gave up a run in the final two frames.

The Braves come to town this afternoon.  Jeremy Bonderman gets the start and with this being his fourth time on the mound, you’d expect him to go five innings like Kenny Rogers did.

Joe Bowen Singles Tigers to Win Over Nationals

Miguel Cabrera and Ivan Rodriguez both belted solo shots in the Tigers 4-3 win over the Nationals today but it was Joe Bowen who was filling in at catcher and who came up with the late inning heroics.  His ninth inning RBI single broke a 3-3 ties that gave the Tigers the win.  Cabrera finished the day with two hits and two RBIs while the Brandon Inge watch saw him getting the start out in centerfield.

Justin Verlander and Armando Galarraga both threw three shutout innings in the win.  Zach Miner gave up all three Nationals runs in his two innings of work while Freddy Dolsi threw a shutout ninth and he picked up his third save of the spring.

The Tigers split things up tomorrow.  Dontrelle Willis gets the start at home against the Reds while Yorman Bazardo hits the road to take on the Indians.  Rick Porcello is supposed to throw in that Indians game as well.

Nate Robertson Throws Four Strong Innings In Tigers Ten Inning Win

It took ten innings and nine runs but the Tigers walked away with a 9-7 win over the Pirates this afternoon.  Nate Robertson did his job and he gave up just one hit in four shutout innings but the pen was less then stellar.  Four of the six relievers used gave up runs with Todd Jones having another tough outing.  He gave up four runs in just 2/3 of an inning while Aquilino Lopez struck out two in a shutout frame in relief of Robertson in the fifth inning.

Freddy Guzman had the big hit with a walk off three run blast in the bottom of the tenth.  Carlos Guillen also went yard with his third of the spring.  He finished two for three with two runs and two RBIs.  Brandon Inge played both third base and right field and he doubled and drove in a run.

Justin Verlander gets the start tomorrow.  It’s another day game and their first night game isn’t until this Friday.  Their first televised game is a week from tomorrow but that week, they have three games on the tube.  Monday and Friday are on FSN while Tuesday’s is on ESPN.

I got my Baseball Book Blog up and running and I’d appreciate any comments.  There’s not much there at the moment but hopefully over time I’ll find the time to get some quality content up.

Bill James Goldmine

I just got my copy of the Bill James Goldmine and after flipping through it, it looks like a solid buy.  It’s supposed to harken back to his Baseball Abstract days and while I only have a few of those, it’s a welcome addition to a growing “Annual” book market.  There’s also a new website, Bill James Online.  I took the tour and for $3 a month, I’ll probably sign up and check it out this season.

I’m listening to the game.  Tigers and Jays are tied 3-3.  They’ve been held to just two hits both of which are solo homers.  Mike Hessman and Placido Polanco both hit their first homers of the spring.

Ivan Rodriguez Shines, Kenny Rogers Struggles In Tigers Win Over Braves

Ivan Rodriguez broked out of his spring slump in a big way with three extra base hits in the Tigers 9-6 win over the Braves.  He doubled twice, homered, drove in two and scored three times.  Brandon Inge got the start at third base and he homered for the first time this spring while Carlos Guillen, Ryan Rabun and Freddy Guzman all had a pair of hits.

Kenny Rogers had a tough start and he didn’t even make it through his three innings.  He gave up three runs in 2 1/3 innings while Virgil Vasquez both blew his second save and won his second game with 2 2/3 innings.  Tim Byrdak didn’t allow a baserunner in his inning of work.

The Tigers continue their afternoon games tomorrow against the Jays.  Jeremy Bonderman gets the start and with this being his third start, he should throw more then just a cursory three innings.  It’ll be on the radio.

It looks like quite a few Tigers have their share of nicks.  The leg injury to Gary Sheffield is particularly troubling.

Jair Jurrjens Leads Braves In Near No-Hitter

The Tigers split their pair of games yesterday but the big news was a near no-hitter by the Braves.  Former Tiger Jair Jurrjens led the way with three shutout innings and it wasn’t until the ninth inning when the Indians finally picked up a hit.

Tigers Drop Third Straight In Shootout With Astros

After winning their first three spring games, the Tigers have now dropped their last three with the last one being an 11-10 loss to the Astros.  Ivan Rodriguez and Wilkin Ramirez both homered and Placido Polanco and Freddy Guzman had three hits a piece.  Magglio Ordonez pitched in with two RBIs despite not getting a hit.

Nate Robertson threw three shutout frames in a nice start but it went downhill from there.  Todd Jones gave six runs in his one inning while Macay McBride gave up four.

This afternoon, the Tigers play split squad games with Justin Verlander getting the start against the Phillies and Yorman Bazardo pitching against the Pirates.

Brandon Inge has always been one of my favorite players but you wonder how many fans he’s going to keep if he doesn’t keep quiet.  He’s not helping his trade situation any and now he’s saying that, while he doesn’t want to catch, he actually does.  Or at least he’s willing to.  Also, Matt Mantei has ended his comeback attempt and he’s going to call it a day after another injury.

Also some book news.  I got two boxes yesterday and it turned out to be both my copies of Baseball Prospectus 2008and the 2008 edition of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia. I started flipping through both but that’s over 2,400 pages of baseball. Now I just have to make room for them on my shelf. My copy of the Bill James Goldmine is on the way. And with all of the baseball books I’ve been reading, I think I’m going to start a new blog about baseball books. Hopefully I’ll get it ramped up before the start of the season.

Finally, Tigers Corner 2008 is out.  I got to work with a lot of great people on this and I think the final product turned out to be a success.  You’ll notice some familiar names in the table of contents (not just mine) including several local bloggers.  Being on the inside of the process for a book like this was definitely a learning experience and if you ever plan on putting together a book like this, drop me a line because I can tell you both some of the pitfalls as well as the many pros.

Baseball Musings Fund Drive

David Pinto over at Baseball Musings is having his annual fund drive in the month of March.  David is one of the pioneer baseball bloggers and his website is an invaluable tool for not just me, but for a ton of fans and bloggers.

Rotation Concerns

It seems like everytime someone brings up the Tigers, the conversation steers to the bullpen.  Joel Zumaya and now Fernando Rodney are both out and Todd Jones, love him or hate him, is still the closer.  The Tigers have some guys who could step in to those vacant key roles, but for now, you have a lot of untested pen warriors.

I have a different concern though, and that’s the rotation.  In 2006, when the Tigers had arguably the best pitching staff in baseball, their starters threw 976 1/3 innings while their relievers threw 471 2/3.  That’s almost a two to one ratio.   Last year, despite a bullpen that didn’t perform as well as in 2006, the pen threw 515 innings compared to 932 innings for the starters so that ratio narrowed.  A less effective rotation means some back end relievers see more time then is neccesary.  Combine that with the injuries to the Tigers pen last year and it makes for a tough combo.

Anyway, if you’re a glass half empty kind of guy, here’s what the Tigers rotation looks like heading into 2008…..

1)  Two pitchers who had an ERA in 2007 north of 5.00 (Bonderman and Willis)
2)  One pitcher who logged all of 63 innings because of two stints on the disabled list (Rogers)
3)  One pitcher who’s had just one winning record in four seasons as a starter and has never had a WHIP lower then 1.300 (Robertson)
4)  Justin Verlander, who has had two solid seasons but has also thrown more then 200 innings in the past two years (counting the 2006 playoffs).   Verlander’s career first half ERA is 3.16 and is second half is 4.50.  If he ever gets off to a tough start to the season and shows the wear of a young pitcher in the second half, it could make for a rough season.

Not to get too negative, I just think way too many people are taking the rotation as a forgone conclusion.  Throw in the fact that we don’t have an established sixth starter to fill in if someone goes down and what should be a less effective defense then in 2007 and it makes for a brutal combination.

Will the Tigers a lot of games with that lineup?  I bet they will but what will determine whether they make the playoffs will not be the pen or the lineup, it’ll be those five guys throwing on a regular basis.

Kenny Rogers Throws Solid Twin Frames In Tigers First Spring Loss

Kenny Rogers gave up three baserunners but didn’t allow a run in his two innings of work as he finished off the Tigers rotation circuit today.  Four other Tigers threw shutout innings in the 3-1 loss and it was Matt Mantei who was tagged for a pair of runs.  Jason Grilli also had a tough time in the eighth inning and he gave up the final of the three runs.

Brandon Inge got the start at catcher and he also led off the game.  Matthew Joyce drove in the lone run and Michael Hollimon had the lone extra base hit with a double and he scored the only Tiger run.

Jeremy Bonderman gets the start tomorrow against the Rays.  The Tigers will still be playing in the afternoon so it’s a 1 pm start. 

Three Pitchers Throw Two Shutout Innings Each In Tie With Indians

The Tigers are still undefeated but they didn’t win today.  They finished a ten inning 3-3 tie that saw Dontrelle Willis get tagged for a run but Denny Bautista, Preston Larrison and non-roster invitee Chris Lambert each threw two shutout frames. 

I listened to most of the game on the radio and there was a little scare in the sixth inning when Miguel Cabrera came off the field gingerly.  The announcers didn’t think it was a huge deal because there wasn’t a mad scramble in the dugout to see what was wrong.  Jim Price seemed to think Cabrera was just annoyed because he shattered his bat on the swing.  Cabrera did double in a run in the contest.

Brent Clevlen and Ramon Santiago were the two Tigers with two hits.  I wasn’t able to see it (again, the radio) but Clevlen made a nice play out in centerfield.

Tomorrow is a rematch that’ll see Kenny Rogers make his spring debut.  Quite a few Tigers starters will be making the road trip to Winter Haven for the game.

The reason I was in the car during most of the game was I took my son to the Plymouth Historical Museum to see a neat baseball exhibit.  There was plenty of Tiger memorabilia as well as some information on a semi-pro team that played in Plymouth in the 19th century.  One of my favorite local baseball authors, Peter Morris, is going to be presenting at the museum on April 13th.  Morris has a new book out called But Didn’t We Have Fun which deals with the very earliest days of baseball.

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