Archive for November, 2009

Get Out and Vote (and more)

Five Tigers are up for This Year in Baseball Awards.  You can run down all of the Tigers on the ballot thanks to the Free Press and you can vote at the Tigers Official Website.

The Detroit News is getting into the prospect game and Lynn Henning lists out his top 20 prospects.  There sure do seem to be a lot of top 20 (and ten or eleven) lists floating out there already.  He puts Casey Crosby over Jacob Turner and he has Ryan Strieby all the way down at eight.  Not sure why he left off Al Avila, unless he doesn’t consider him a prospect anymore.  Also at the Free Press is a solid column on baseball in Panama.

Also, I’ve gotten a couple of emails about my comment about Lou Whitaker getting the shaft.  Way back when Ryne Sandberg got elected, I ran down the numbers and to help back up my case, Beyond the Boxscore also picked up the fight.

The Arbitration Game

Alright, Tuesday is the arbitration and the Tigers, as highlighted by Lynn Henning, have some decisions to make.  Placido Polanco, Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon are all eligible and if the Tigers offer and they sign with someone else, then the Tigers get some draft picks.  Polanco, as a Type A free agent, is particularly juicy.  The problem is, one more of these guys, as Henning mentions, might rather take there chances with the Tigers then test what’s going to be a rough free agent market.

Polanco is the most interesting and in my opinion, is the guy we have the least to lose on.  If he takes up our offer, it means Scott Sizemore gets another year of seasoning and we have Polanco’s reliable bat and glove back at second base.  I can live with that.  Of course if he declines, then we’ll get a couple of nice draft picks out of the deal.

Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon are in similar boats.  I can live with both guys coming back for another year, so I agree with Hennings prediction.  You offer arbitration and then take your chances.  Of course I’m not the one paying the guys so a player like Rodney might get entirely cut loose because he has the whole closer tag attached to him.

Jack Morris for the HOF

With the winter meetings a couple of weeks away, there’s not a lot to talk about so I’m not surprised is rolling out a bunch of HOF information.  Jason Beck tackles the case for Jack Morris and how Jack has been lobbying for Bert Blyleven.  I’m kind of in the same boat.  I think Morris is HOF worthy, but not until Blyleven gets in.  I think this is finally Bert’s year so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Morris start making up some ground here in the next couple of years.

Of course I’m still bitter about Lou Whitaker getting bounced on his first ballot and Tram still wallowing with little chance of making up any ground.  Even Darrell Evans doesn’t get as much respect as he should have.  It’d be nice to see one of the 1984 Tigers get in the Hall.

Tigers Organizational Review and THT is going through their annual organizational reviews and yesterday, Jonathan Mayo worked up the Tigers review.  He’s very optimistic about the Tigers pitching prospects and one thing he points out that I didn’t know was that all of the Tigers affliates finished with an ERA under 4.00.  Not too shabby.  There’s also some good quotes in there from Tigers farm director Glenn Ezell.  Kudos to Mayo for also nailing the Tigers top pitching prospect.  He missed on the position player prospect and went with Cale Iorg in the preseason but went with Brennan Boesch in the postseason.

Also, my latest Business of Baseball report is up at the Hardball Times.

An Eye On The Competition

The White Sox have been busy here in the early stages of the free agent season.  They inked Omar Vizquel to a one year deal earlier in the week and then yesterday, the signed Andruw Jones to a one year incentive laden deal.  While neither are long term options, it does give the White Sox at least someone to plug at a couple of open spots for a pretty low price. You wonder if these kind of guys are really going to cash in this year with all of the teams looking for bargains.

John Lowe wrote a nice piece on Rick Porcello.

Trade Talk

There was plenty of trade talk over at the Free Press with Miguel Cabrera once again taking center stage.  John Lowe brings us all back to reality though and in his column he spells out why trading Cabrera will be so tough.  The contract is the obvious one.  He also discusses how the rumors may just be that and there’s not a lot of hard evidence that the Tigers are actively shopping the first baseman.

Kirkland Crawford then talks about how the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have more interest in Curtis Granderson then they do Edwin Jackson despite the Angels already having a centerfielder in Torii Hunter.  It’s good to hear the Tigers are asking for a lot for both these guys but you wonder if it’s more a matter of “when” then “if” we’re going to see some big names shipping out of Detroit.

Finally, Jason Beck did one of his mailbag columns and he talked about the chances of trading Miguel Cabrera.  He also talks about how we’re probably not going to see much in the way of change at the back end of the rotation.  At least he didn’t mention Dontrelle Willis as an option.  I also like his short but sweet answer to the guy who asks about moving Wilkin Ramirez back to third base.

Not sure why my latest BOB Report isn’t up at the Hardball Times yet.  Maybe check later in the morning if you’re interested.  And if you’re looking for a Christmas gift for a baseball fan, be sure to check out the book.

Miguel Cabrera’s Turn

First we had Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.  Now the trade talks surround Miguel Cabrera in what would be the biggest salary dump of them all.  Lynn Henning wrote this morning about how things have now turned to Cabrera and it looks like the Boston Red Sox are the team being mentioned.  While I like the idea of getting Clay Buckholz in a Tigers uniform, I still think Cabrera is a keeper and a guy the Tigers can build around.  Of course there’s that whole $120 million committment that’s left to deal with.

If the Tigers farm system were that good, I might be more into this but it’s spotty at best from all of the trades.  Of course I guess it depends who the Tigers get for all of these guys.  If they look for players that’ll be ready around 2012, then going the savings route might make sense it’ll just be a long couple of years.  I just hope that people have delayed making their season ticket deposits because at least for 2010, things could go south in hurry.

The Case Against Miguel Cabrera

I was surprised as anyone that Miguel Cabrera, of all people, got the lone non-Mauer first place vote for the AL MVP.  My guess is it might be the same guy who voted Justin Verlander first for the Cy Young but remember, two Detroit voters picked Magglio Ordonez over Alex Rodrigue back in 2007.  It’s just one of those quirky things that these guys like to do and you wonder why people don’t find these awards as credible anymore.

Anyway, Dave Cameron at Fangraphs runs down the reasons why whoever voted for Cabrera was foolish at best.  Even if you just look at the raw numbers, Mauer did just as much in a lot fewer games.

Now He’ll Do It?

It looks like Gary Sheffield wants to make one more run.  I think the whole thing about him reaching 3,000 hits and 25 home runs (much less 40) is a stretch but he did have a decent season last year while also playing in the outfield.  An .823 OPS, even in limited time (268 at bats) isn’t anything to scoff at but he did struggle after the All Star Break (0 home runs, versus 10 prior to the break).

One thing the story didn’t mention was that he now appears to be more open to being a designated hitter. It’s funny how when your back is against the wall, you’re willing to make concessions.  I just hope whoever signs him calls the Tigers front office before hand because I think I’ve heard the whole “I’m willing to play DH” thing before.

Is Now the Time to Trade Justin Verlander?

Alright, we’ve all heard the rumors that Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson are being shopped and both have quite a bit of value because they’re coming off of good seasons.  The question is, if you’re in a selling mood, is now the time to trade Justin Verlander?  His stock may never be higher then it is now for a few different reasons.  And just as a disclaimer, I’m not saying they should trade him or I want to trade him, I’m just working through the logic.

  1. He’s coming off of a Cy Young caliber season.  If not for Zach Greinke’s special year, Verlander would have been one of four pitchers in what would have been a tossup for the award.  His 269 strikeouts were the most by a pitcher since Randy Johnson struck out out 290 in 2004 and his 240 innings pitched is the most by a Tiger since Jack Morris in 1990, his last year with the Tigers.
  2. Whichever team has him can get him at a bargain for the next two years.  You have to assume whoever picks up Verlander is interested in inking him to a long term deal but even if both sides can’t agree, that gives the team some insurance that Verlander will be with the team longer then just one season.
  3. The Tigers appear to be selling mode.  If they do deal Granderson and Jackson, the Tigers probably won’t contend in 2010 or 2011.  That means you’re basically wasting Verlander’s cheap years, possibly alienating him by putting a mediocre team around him and pushing him out anyway.  If the Tigers can assure Verlander they have a plan to build around him, they might be able to sell him but we’ll see.  

Now the reasons to keep him

  1. We get him for two years at a discount.  Verlander has two more years of arbitration eligibility and that means the Tigers will get to keep him for two more years at a discounted salary.  That gives them two years to get the team back in order and to include him in the Tigers long term plans.  I know this was also one of the reason to trade him, but things kind of work out that way.
  2. Verlander, if marketed right, could put fans in the seats.  I know he doesn’t have Mark Fidrych’s personality, but he’s fun to watch.  Especially in the later months if the Tigers are out of contention (if, I’m being optimistic), you could even adjust the rotation so he pitches at home more.  Verlander might even like that too because he’s a better pitcher at home (.676 OPS against) then he is on the road (.719).

Just one more note, trading Verlander, while not an immediate benefit, might make the Tigers think twice about then trading Jackson and Granderson.  They still might do that and do a complete dump, but it would give them some long term flexibility knowing that big $20 million a year contract isn’t looming in the near future.

Missing the Connection

Alright, Drew Sharp penned a column this morning about the Tigers paying the price for their 2006 gamble and while he brings up some good points he’s kind of all over the place.  First off, what does 2006 have to do with it.  Outside of trading for Gary Sheffield, the Tigers didn’t do too much to their team.  I think 2007, when they came close but didn’t beat out the Indians, was the Tigers undoing because instead of building within, they went for the quick fix and also signed guys like Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis to multi-year deals.

He also mentions the salary cap a couple of times in passing, almost in reponse to something Ilitch.  Maybe I’m nitpicking though because I whole-heartedly agree with his final paragraph.

No Starlin Castro For Curtis Granderson

Phil Rogers at the Chicago Tribune struck down a trade for Curtis Granderson that would involve top prospect Starlin Castro.  The shortstop prospect had a solid season (.302 batting average) at High A ball and at Double A (.288 average, 12/10 strikeout to walk ratio) as a 19 year old and he raked in the Arizona Fall League (.376 in 101 at bats).  Curtis is of course Curtis and it sounds like it’ll be tough to make a deal with the Cubs that won’t involve Castro.

Tigers Draft Overview

Marc Hulet at Fangraphs gave a nice synopsis of the Tigers last few draft classes.  He says some pretty nice things about Jacob Turner, the Tigers first round draft pick this year, and while the Tigers minor league system was gutted with the pre-2008 season trades, the front office has been able to stock things back up in a hurry.

I was kind of out of it a few weeks back.  Did the Tigers offer arbitration to any of their unsigned free agents?  Just wondering if we might be getting an extra draft pick or two.

Tigers/Mariners Trade Speculation

Lynn Henning wrote today that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers ship a player or two to Seattle.  It still bothers me that there’s all this talk of the Tigers trading for prospects after such a close run last year but what happens in these next couple of months will show what the front office really thinks of the team.  Most of the season, the Tigers played like a .500 ball club and while that might be good enough to make a run in the AL Central, it’s probably not good for much more then that.  Just look at the Twins, who continually make the postseason only to get bounced in three or four games in the first round.

Some of the prospects he mentions are interesting though.  I’d stay away from Carlos Triunfel because he’s only 19, unless of course he’s part of a package.   I wouldn’t mind seeing Brandon Morrow come over either although he had a tough season last year because the Mariners couldn’t decide whether to start him or bring him out of the pen.  His last start was encouraging though (eight shutout innings, one hit, nine strikeouts).

The White Sox are close to making a move.  It looks like they’re going to bring in Omar Vizquel and his eleven gold gloves to fill in at shortstop.  Vizquel only played in 62 games last year and he turns 43 in April.

Tigers Set 40 Man Roster

The Tigers added four players to 40 man roster today in anticipation of the midnight deadline.  All four were position players and they included future second baseman Scott Sizemore.  Audy Ciricao (shortstop), Ryan Strieby (first base) and Brennan Boesch (outfield) were all protected as well.

That leaves quite a few pitchers unprotected heading into the Rule 5 draft at the end of the Winter Meetings.  DTW gives us the details on who’s left out there with Luis Marte being the most interesting name on the list.  Marte was lights out for Lakeland in 2008 but he struggled once he hit Double-A.  This year, he spent the entire season at Erie and he put together a good but not great season.

Facebook, Twitter and Free Agents

Tigerblog just entered the 21st century.  I finally figured out to how to set up a Facebook fan page so if you want to follow the site that way, sign up as a fan.  You can also find me on Twitter at @tigerblog.

Free agent signing season begins today.  I expect things will be rather subdued until the Winter Meetings when the general managers can collude coordinate.  Everything is going to be about the economy and Bud Selig is already crying about how an unspecified and unnamed number of teams lost money last year.  December 7th is when the Winter Meetings kick off.

Ron Bourquin Suspended

Minor League infielder Ron Bourquin got a 50 game suspension for testing positive for amphetimines.  What’s interesting is Bourquin could have been lost in the Rule 5 draft, but he’s now effectively protected because I doubt a team would want to scoop him up knowing he’ll take up a roster spot and miss 50 games. 

Bouquin was the Tigers second round pick in 2006, the year they took Andrew Miller in the first round.  He has a career .365 slugging percentage in four minor league seasons and that doesn’t bode too well for a corner outfielder.

Jose Valverde Projected As a Tiger

Paul White at the USA Today is projecting that the Tigers will sign Astros closer Jose Valverde.  He’s a little too injury prone for my tastes and my bet is his price tag will be too high.  The Tigers have some good young arms to use in the pen.  If they’re going to go for value, I think that’s where they should try to save money.

Billy Martin, Prospects and the Offseason

Just a few quick links.  First off, Chris Jaffe has written an excellent book (I’ve seen parts of it) on baseball managers. Evaluating Baseball Managers: A Comprehensive History and Performance Analysis, 1876-2008 goes way back into the 1800s and brings things up to present, analyzing managers along the way.  He wrote a couple of excerpts and one of them is on former Tiger manager Billy Martin.

Also at the Hardball Times, Matt Hagen lists out the Tigers top ten prospects.  It’s good to see Ryan Strieby is finally getting the props he deserves. 

Finally, Mets blogger Jay Flannelly is projecting out a bunch of teams post season plans and he looked at the Tigers yesterday.  I don’t agree with all of his moves but it makes for an interesting dicussion.

Catching Up

I shouldn’t complain too much because being busy isn’t a bad thing but I’ve been neglecting the site.  No promises, but I’m hoping to reverse that and while I want to touch on a few things that have happened since I posted last, way back when, it’ll probably be incomplete because of ALL the things that have happened.

First off, Kurt Mensching at Mack Avenue Tigers picked up the DIBS (Detroit Independant Baseball Scribes) ball and coordinated a set of postseason awards for the Tigers.  No surprises, but I definitely need to update my Tiger links for some of these newer (or not so new) sites.

Second, the 2010 Hardball Times Baseball Annual is out.  I did my usual Business of Baseball piece but it’s another great read.  I’m a little biased, but I think THT is the best free baseball website out there as far as content.  If you want to help out the site, pay a few bucks more and order directly through this link because the margins are quite a bit better then if you buy through a store or via Amazon.

The Tigers got a couple of third place finishes in the award voting so far.  Justin Verlander finished third in the Cy Young while Rick Porcello came in third for AL ROY.  It was nice to see the voters get it right in the AL Cy Young.  Greinke was hands down the best pitcher and I’m glad they looked past his win/loss total.  Somebody gave Verlander a first place vote but oddly, out of the five players who received votes, he was tied for last in overall votes received. 

Tom Brookens is your new first base coach.  I was always a fan of Brookens back in his time with the Tigers and it’s cool seeing another past Tiger get a job with the team.  Last year he coached Erie and he’s also spent time with Oneonta and West Michigan.

Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff’s time with the Tigers were both short ones as the Tigers said they won’t pursue either player.  Both were busts although fortunately the price tag (as far as we know) wasn’t all that great.  All of the crazy trade rumors haven’t been fun but it goes with the program.  The team collapsed and the Detroit economy is in the crapper so unfortunately, something has to give.  It’d just be nice if it wasn’t the face of the team in Curtis Granderson.

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