Archive for October, 2008

Congratulations Phillies

It took only three innings of play yesterday, but with another win, the Philadelphia Phillies were crowned World Series champions.  Cole Hamels walked away with the MVP in yet another short series.  The last time we saw more then a five game series was the year the Marlins topped the Yankees in six games back in 2003.

With all of the talk about the Cubs and their streak, many people forget about the Phillies.  This is a team that’s just historically bad.  Up until 1980, they were worse then the Cubs because they hadn’t won a single World Series.  They’re the only franchise with 10,000 career losses and from 1918 through 1948 (that’s 31 seasons), the Philles had just one winning season and even then, they were just 78-76 in that one winning season.  They lost 100 games 12 times and keep in mind this was when just 154 games were played.  Twice they lost 109 and one of those seasons was 1942 when they played in just 151 games.  With a 162 game schedule, they could have easily lost 115+ games.

Of course at least this year, that all gets thrown out the window.  What’s also interesting is over the past few years, several teams have ended their World Series droughts and while I haven’t done the math, the Tigers 25 years is probably in or near the top five.  I know the Cubs, Giants and Pirates have all been longer and there’s probably a few expansion teams like the Astros and Padres but needless to say, it’s been a while for Tigers fans.

With the end of the season, we now have the beginning of the Hot Stove league.  Mike Jacobs has found his way over to the Royals, which makes them a bit stronger, and Freddy Garcia has filed for free agency.  Jeff Jones lost his job at the same time as Chuck Hernandez but new pitching coach Rick Knapp has brought him back as the bullpen coach.  And to round out the Tigers news, the team bought out Edgar Renteria’s option, which wasn’t a huge surprise.

Virgil Vasquez Cut Loose

After the Tigers put him on waivers, the Red Sox claimed hurler Virgil Vasquez.  While never a top five prospect, Vasquez put himself on the map with a strong finish to the 2006 season at Erie.  He got off to a nice start for Toledo in 2007 and then got five appearances at the big league level over a pair of promotions.  He would have probably competed for the fifth starter spot in spring training but then the Dontrelle Willis pick up happened.  He took a step back and had a pretty poor 2008 season with the Hens.

I’m not completely surprised the Tigers gave up on him.  He’s right handed, and he’s never shown a great propensity towards striking out hitters and we all know how Dave Dombrowski likes power arms.  He’ll be 27 next year and outside of 2006 and 2007, his minor league career was pretty unspectacular.

For now, it’s unclear what the Tigers are going to do with that final spot on the 40 man roster.  As Jason Beck talks about in the article, the Tigers need to find room for Jeremy Bonderman, Joel Zumaya and Vance Wilson but that will take care of itself when the free agents hit the market.

Pitching Coaches, Catching Up and Disney Land

It seems like I’ve had more then my share of off time this year on the blog.  This time it was a double whammy with work picking up and a big vacation down to Disney Land.  I hate advertising the fact that I’m going out of town since it’s not too hard to find me so I just live with the fact that the handful of readers I have are left wondering why there haven’t been updates.  The trip was a lot fun and my son Devin had a blast although I got the news near the tail end that my grandfather passed away.  It wasn’t a huge surprise so I was a little prepared but he was my last living grandparent.  Back in the day when I was growing up, Tigers games were on a lot less frequently with the bulk of them being on over the weekend.  We spent most Sundays at my grandparents so I have some pretty fond memories watching games over there.

Now it’s back to reality.  I still have some lingering projects I need to finish (yes, I’m talking about you, Dwight Lowry) and there’s a couple more on the horizon.  Work will be tough for a couple more weeks but as always, things will manage to get done.  I did wrap up my piece for the Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2009 before I left as well as a few other things. 

The Tigers hired a pitching coach and I like their choice.  I like the fact that they’re going with a rookie because the guy should work like he has something to prove.  The Twins have had a lot of success with home grown pitchers and at least some of that success can be pegged with Rick Knapp.  Leo Mazzone was out there and I wonder if he was even considered.  Anyway, he’s already been talking about what he wants to start doing with the staff.

I’ve missed most of the series so far, although I regret not turning on the television last night because I would have caught the tail end of a good game.  Hopefully the Rays will win tonight, and that will ensure the series will go at least six games and I’ll get my year end fix before baseball goes bye bye.

Jeff Larish, Mailbags and Tiger Stadium

Jeff Larish is in the spotlight right now as he begins a second stint in the Arizona Fall League.  I’ve always been a fan of Larish (235 career minor league walks versus 329 strikeouts in 1,377 at bats) but he’s always been an odd man out of sorts.  Now they’re saying that if he can pick up third base in the AFL, that he’s got a solid shot of seeing an extended stint at the big league level next year as a left handed platoon option.

Jason Beck had the unenviable task of answering the question of what will happen with the Tigers rotation next season.  I found it interesting that he talked about Zach Miner and Freddy Garcia (who’s not even under contract) before he mentions Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis.

Tiger Stadium fans got a stay earlier this week as the city decided to postpone the complete demolition of the ballpark.  The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy has been working hard but they’re still short of funding.  If you want to help out, swing by their site and if you can help out, please do so.

After a two day break, baseball is back.  Better get your baseball fix now, because there’s not too many games yet.

Matt Joyce and Eddie Brinkman

Matt Joyce made the BA Top Twenty International League prospects.  I’m not sure what the criteria is, but I’m surprised Jeff Larish didn’t make the list.  There were some 26 year olds on the list, but it looks like Joyce made it more for what he did at the big league level then anything.  He checked in at number 13, and it was Jay Bruce who topped the list for the second consecutive year.

I missed this on Friday, but it was announced that Eddie Brinkman passed away.  Brinkman was a shortstop who played for the Tigers from 1971 through 1974 and he was part of a controversial trade that sent Denny McLain to the Washington Senators after the 1970 season.  Brinkman played in his only All Star game and won his only gold glove with the Tigers in 1972 and he played in his lone All Star game as a Tiger in 1973.  Brinkman carved out a 15 year career despite having a career batting average of just .224 because he was slick in the field.  His best season with the leather was probably 1970, when (according to the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia) he led the league in Fielding Runs (31) and Range (117).  It was the only season of his career that he led the league in Fielding Runs and just the second time he led in range.  117 was his personal best though.  He also had a career high .330 on base percentage that season.

I also wanted to give a quick shout out to the guys at Baseball Rampage.  If you want some high quality service and you’re in the market for a baseball bat or baseball equipment, I highly recommend that you check them out.

Jim Leyland Left Hanging

This isn’t a huge surprise, but Jim Leyland wasn’t given a contract extension and in 2009, he’ll be managing in the last year of his current deal.  It’s interesting how much a difference a season makes because it wasn’t that long ago that the Tigers were trying to lock up Jim Leyland long term.  Now, he’ll basically be managing for his future job he seems up for the challenge.  My opinion is that 2008 is his free pass for helping bring us 2006.  Still, with the lineup he has, Leyland has to show some progress next year or we could be looking for a new skipper.

The playoffs are off and and the Phillies are the first team to come within a win of taking their series.  It’s always interesting how quickly this first series moves with just the five games and we’ll probably see at least one or maybe two series sweeps.

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