Archive for January, 2010

Quick Hit: PECOTAing the Tigers

Is it going to be long before PECOTAing is a word.  Anyway, Billfer does a nice job of not only mentioning the fact that the mean averages are out for PECOTA, but he gives us a few Tiger specific nuggets.  Namely how good people expect Max Scherzer to be as well as how things stack up behind the plate.  I’m a huge fan of the PECOTA cards so I’m anxiously waiting for their release.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about doing is going back into the older BP Annuals and seeing what they had to say about Tigers’ past.  I still need a few more to fill in my collection but I have their first mass release edition from 1997.  They published a 1996 annual but it was self-published and I’ve never seen a copy pop up on ebay.

Quick Hits: Hating on Brandon

Brandon Inge’s contract with the Tigers is finished at the end of the 2010 and this fan can’t wait for him to go somewhere else.  One interesting not on Inge in his defense is when you look at his splits, he’s a much better career hitter when you carve out his time at catcher.  Those catching days are probably long behind him and he’s always talked about how being behind the plate hurt him at the plate.

Quick Hit – Tigers and Verlander Talking Long Term Deal

It looks like the Tigers and Justin Verlander are getting closer to a long term deal that will lock up the franchise pitcher.  The current deal on the table is 5 years, $75 million with the Felix Hernandez contract as the bench mark.  Rosenthal and Morosi say in their piece that if there’s a sixth year at the right price, it’ll probably be a done deal.  Good news for Tigers fans, although the Tigers record on signing arbitration eligible pitchers to longer term deals isn’t a good one.

Quick Hit: Jeff Larish Outrighted to Toledo

The Tigers sent Jeff Larish outright to Toledo today and he’ll be a non-roster invitee to spring training.  Larish is one of those guys who mashed in the minors but has problems in the majors catching up to pitches with that long swing.  I hope this isn’t Ryan Strieby’s fate (i.e. a career AAA guy) a couple of years from now because there are some similarities, outside of the fact that they’re recognizing Strieby has no where to go at first so they’ve made early plans to play him in the outfield.  The move was made to make room for new closer Jose Valverde on the roster.

Putting it All Together

I’m confused.  Very confused.  Unless you’re the Chicago White Sox, you usually determine whether your team is a buyer or a seller and you react accordingly.  The Tigers appear to have an identity crisis because with each move they make, it appears they swing from one side to the other.  At the end of the day, some of the Tigers moves make sense while others don’t but when you take them all as a whole, the strategy just doesn’t make sense to me.

I feel the first big move wasn’t what the Tigers did, but what they didn’t and that was to offer Placido Polanco arbitration.  I still think this was a no brainer but the Tigers defied my expectations and let him loose without any compensation.  Polanco was the first guy to sign after the arbitration deadline and the end result was the Tigers get nothing for their troubles for the second year in a row (i.e. Edgar Renteria, although I think they made the right move by not offering him arbitration).  I thought this was a no-brainer because I could have lived with another year of Polanco at second.  They could have always traded him (although he may be a 10/5 player so I’m not sure if he could block it.  He spent his fifth year with the Tigers in 2009 but his first year was only half a season and I don’t know well enough how those rules work) to get compensation.  I also just don’t know if Scott Sizemore is the answer this year.

Then they made the big trade.  The Tigers went in looking to dump some salary but they resisted a fire sale and put together a nice little three way trade.  They save some money, but they also got some nice parts.  When you take these two moves together, the Tigers appear to be in a little bit of a rebuilding phase and you could hope they were freeing up money to sign Justin Verlander to a long term deal.

Then they go sign Jose Valverde to, in my opinion, an overpriced deal.  They also lose their first round draft pick and they go full circle and put themselves into the buyer category.  My concern is they saw what was going on in the division, saw they can still compete, then reacted to show that they were still trying to contend in 2010.  I still think the Tigers have the arms to where they don’t need Valverde but someone must have wanted that closer bad for the amount we’re paying.

Of course there’s always the TBD (to be determined) because the Tigers may not be done.  Spring training is about a month away so it’ll be interesting to see how things go down.

Signings and Spring Training

The Tigers were busy locking up a bunch of players prior to actual arbitration throughout the past week.  Gerald Laird signed for $3.95 million, Zach Miner is in for $950,000 and Bobby Seay signed for $2.475 million.  That leaves the pink elephant in the room in Justin Verlander.  The Tigers and Verlander look to be $2.6 million apart which is interesting.  My guess is if this does go to the table, that Verlander wins.

The Tigers also finished up their deal with Jose Valverde.  It looks like my negative opinion is the concensus.  I still don’t know why they signed Valverde for around the price they could have signed Polanco but I guess we’ll see.  I’ve been proven wrong (thankfully) before.

The Tigers are about a month away from spring training and there’s already some interesting news on the bottom half of the roster. Phil Coke is being talked about as the team’s fifth starter.  Not a bad idea but then you wonder what happens to those big contracts (i.e. Nate Robertson).  Jeremy Bonderman is already being tagged as the fourth starter and if he can succeed there, it’ll go a long way towards the Tigers having a successful season.

Finally, Dombrowski has talked about using Raburn as a floating outfielder and getting him time everyday.  Not a bad idea with Magglio Ordonez’s and Carlos Guillen’s advanced age.  Still, I wonder if Raburn will be able to repeat his breakout season from 2009.

Tigers Sign Jose Valverde to Two Year Deal

The Tigers locked up closer Jose Valverde to a two year, $14 million deal and there’s a $9 million option for 2012.  I’ve said this before, but I thought relief was one of the few spots where the Tigers should have just looked from within.  Instead, they’re overpaying, in my opinion, for a good but not great closer and in the process, they’re giving up their first round draft pick.

One thing you’ll get with Valverde is strikeouts.  He has 470 career strikeouts in 386 innings.  Another thing he’s been good at is racking up saves.  He led the league in 2007 with 47 when he was with the Diamondbacks and then in 2008, he once again led the NL with 44.  He’s had some injury problems but those are hopefully in the past.  He missed a big chunk of 2004 and decent portion of 2005.

I guess the big problem I have is the dollar figure.  For that amount of money, the Tigers could have kept Placido Polanco and had some money left over.  Sure you’d have Ryan Perry closing games as a sophomore but you wouldn’t be out $7 million a year for a guy who at best logs 70 innings.  It just seems like an odd signing after the Tigers have been giving out signals that they’re sellers in the market.

Quick Hit: Tigers Sign Jose Valverde?

Tim Brown is reporting on Twitter that the Tigers have signed Jose Valverde to a two year, $14 million deal.  If this is the caee, I’m pretty disappointed.  I put a question mark next to it because it was Tweet and I haven’t seen anything official.

Baseball America’s Top Ten Tiger Prospects

I’m a little behind on this, but with all of the prospects lists that have already been put out, Baseball America’s list almost seems late by comparison.  BA’s is probably the least Sabermetric friendly but the list is still pretty useful when you compare it other prospect analysts.  There’s no surprise that Jacob Turner comes in at number one so like those before him (Rick Porcello), he’ll have to live up to the hype when he eventually gets to pitch.  Casey Crosby comes in at number two and I’m very interested in seeing what happens to him.  The safe bet is to keep at Lakeland but it wouldn’t surprise me if they try to skip a step for him and try to start him at Erie.  Of course nothing is set in stone so the “wait and see” attitude could take place where he starts at Lakeland and ends up at Erie by midseason.

Probably the biggest ommission was Ryan Strieby, who didn’t even make the top ten.  Strieby is finally getting some respect after a couple of solid seasons but BA decided he wasn’t in their top ten.  The two guys the Tigers traded for, Austin Jackson and Daniel Schlereth came in at three and five respectively.  Andrew Oliver, the Tigers second round pick in 2009, rounds out the top five at number four.

There’s also not a lot of love for Scott Sizemore, who just made the list at number ten.  I have some reservations about him being the starter out of camp this year so we’ll see if this low ranking validates that thinking.

Tigers Sign Joel Zumaya to a One Year Deal

The Tigers inked Joel Zumaya to a one year, $915,000 deal today and in the process, they avoided arbitration with the hard throwing right hander.  Zumaya has had his share of injuries the past three seasons but at less then a million, the team should get a bargain assuming Zumaya can pitch most of the season.  He’ll probably be the odds on favorite to be the closer, at least heading into camp.

The Tigers still have to keep busy because they still have Gerald Laird, Justin Verlander, Zach Miner and Bobby Seay to sign.  Of course it’s Verlander who will be the most interesting so stay tuned.

Closers, Arbitration and Hall of Fame Thoughts

In one of his latest columns, Jason Beck ponders the Tigers choice of closers.  Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon are gone so that leaves a laundry list of potential closers with Ryan Perry and Joel Zumaya probably heading the list.  The Tigers are still being mentioned in the talks for Jose Valverde but in my opinion, the Tigers should probably look within to fill the spot.  They have several solid relievers (Perry, Seay, Zumaya if he bounces back again, Ni, Daniel Schlereth) with big league experience and a couple of guys (Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt) who are coming up through the pipe line.  Adding an injury prone Valverde for the money he’s asking for seems a bit much.

The salary arbitration period has begun with the deadline sitting at January 15th.  No Tiger has ever gone to the arbitration table since Dave Dombrowski has took over but this year, there’s the whole Justin Verlander situation.  It’ll be interesting to see if the Tigers lock him up long term.  Verlander looks like a keeper, but the Tigers have been burned before in signing pitchers to longer term deals during their arbitration years (i.e. Bonderman, Robertson and Willis).

Congratulations to Andre Dawson for getting into the Hall of Fame.  Bert Blyleven just missed and fell five votes short and Robbie Alomar was right there as well so I’d expect both to get in next year.  Jack Morris came in fourth place with 52.3% while Alan Trammell continues to get no respect with just 22.4%.  My guess is Morris squeaks in the next few years (being the top pitcher not in once Blyleven is finally inducted) while Trammell falls off after 15 years.  Kind of sad.

Edgar Martinez only got 36.2% and that was a little surprising.  I know he was mostly a designated hitter but he did he have some awesome seasons.  He’s also hurt because he didn’t hit some of the big milestones but you have a guy with a career .312/.418/.515 line and his .933 career OPS is good for 34th all time.  Tim Raines also appears to be getting little play, which is too bad because he’s also Hall worthy (more so, in my opinion, then Andre Dawson). 

Probably the biggest travesty is Dale Murphy, who got just 11.7%.  Murphy had an .815 career OPS in 9,040 plate appearances while Dawson had an .806 in 10,769.  Murphy didn’t last as long but he was just as productive, won back to back MVPs and won six straight gold gloves.  I’m not saying Dawson doesn’t deserve to get in because he had a very good career, I’m just trying to say there’s not that big of a difference between some of these guys at the bottom and they players at the top.

A Tigers New Year

It’s now 2010.  The free agency season is winding and spring training is less then two months away.  The Tigers made one of the biggest trades of the offseason and the question is, “now what?”

Jason Beck is a little optimistic.  Or at least he’s conveying what the Tigers have told him.  He also talks about the back end of the rotation (looks like it’s Jeramy Bonderman’s time to shine) as well as Curtis Granderson’s replacement (both in center and leading off). 

Gerald Laird was arrested yesterday after his involvement in a brawl at basketball game in Phoenix.  Laird seems so laid back on the field.  Guess you never know.

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