Archive for December, 2010

Pushed Too Far?

Baseball America’s latest is on the Tigers possibly rushing their top pitching prospects to the major leagues.  There’s a ton of great stuff in there by Rick Knapp and the focus is how Rick Porcello and Andy Oliver both struggled in their 2010 campaigns.

Will Rhymes Interview

David Laurila sat down with Tigers infielder Will Rhymes.  He talks about how he got started in the sport as well as his call up with the Tigers.  Of course Rhymes will be fighting for a job as a team’s second baseman, which is one of the Tigers more crowded (and open) spots.

The Starting Nine

With Magglio Ordonez in the fold, the Tigers now basically have their starters.  Yeah, I know there’s going to be a lot of days where the fourth outfielder (take your pick between Boesch, Kelly or Wells) is going to get some time and there are also the days where Victor Martinez will catch but this is what I think the Tigers starting lineup on opening day is going to look like as well as a few random comments.

1)  Austin Jackson CF – This isn’t going out on a limb, but I fear Jackson is set for a step back in 2011.  Most people will call it a sophomore slump but it’ll be more like him coming back down to earth from his near .400 batting average on balls in play.

2) Ryan Raburn LF – I don’t like Raburn here, but without Johnny Damon, I fear Leyland is going to drop him in the two spot. If Carlos Guillen were both healthy and effective, this is where I’d put him but he’s not so I won’t.

3)  Magglio Ordonez RF – Welcome home

4)  Miguel Cabrera 1b – Duh

5)  Victor Martinez DH – We’ll see if this gives Cabrera some better looks.  Cabrera had 32 intentional walks this year and some of those could be turned into productive hits.

6)  Jhonny Peralta SS – This is where things thin out pretty quick. If Brandon Inge has a resurgence, I could see him hitting sixth at some point.

7)  Brandon Inge 3b – I’m thinking Brandon has a good year this season.  Nothing to back it up, just a hunch that he’ll come close to topping his career best .793 OPS he had way back in 2004.

8)  Scott Sizemore 2b – I took Sizemore over Rhymes but I predict Rhymes will be the starting shortstop most of the second half because Sizemore stumbles again.  Sizemore needs a good start because there are plenty of options behind him (including Carlos Guillen when/if he comes back) so we’ll see if he can rise to the occasion.

9) Alex Avila C – This is time for Avila to step up.  He’s the catcher, but if he struggles, they might resort to Martinez getting more time behind the plate.

So there you have it.  The rotation is sort of set (Leyland seemed wishy washy with Galarraga as the fifth starter) and the pen is in decent enough shape.  From here on out, I don’t see the Tigers making any big moves but I like what they’ve done.  Now they can look towards locking up their arbitration eligible players so they know where they stand money wise.

THT Forecasts

Yesterday, the latest edition of THT forecast launched.  With lots of new features, THT forecasts is a must have for the elite fantasy player but it also has some outstanding benefits for just about anyone interested in the game.  Do you want to see what the Tigers can expect out of Miguel Cabrera in 2016?  It’s there.  How should we expect Justin Verlander’s strikeout total to progress over the next few years?  That’s also there.   What should we expect from Max Scherzer if we lock him up to a long term deal?  That’s also there.

Select players have commentary. I worked on the Tigers piece and I’ll be keeping the depth charts up to date.  Anyway, there’s a ton of other features so be sure to click on the link to see all that you get.

Magglio Ordonez Signs One Year Deal With Tigers

Now this is what I’m talking about.  Way back before the 2005 season, Magglio Ordonez didn’t appear to have any suitors.  Not only the Tigers step and take the risk on him, but they signed him to a big deal.  Now in 2011, Ordonez appears headed back to Detroit at a home town discount.  The price is high ($10 million) but it’s only a one year deal so there’s not a lot of risk there.

So now the Tigers lineup is relatively set and it’s not even Christmas.  If Ordonez can continue what he started in 2010, having him and Victor Martinez to back up Miguel Cabrera could be huge.  I still have some concerns about the pitching, but I like this move.

Transaction Analysis

Chris Kahrl’s latest at Baseball Prospectus is all on the Tigers offseason moves.  They’ve been busy and you have to think there’s a move or two left but it’s nice seeing things all in one place.  The first thing I noticed (because I missed it) was that Alfred Figaro was released.  The Tigers top prospects have had some interesting plights.  Jeff Larish was the top hitting prospect a couple of years ago and now he’s gone (minor league deal with the Phillies).  Now you have Alfredo Figaro, who started game 161 for the Tigers in 2009 when they were knee deep in a battle with the Twins for the AL Central title, is now also gone after a lackluster 2010 campaign.

Kahrl mentions how Benoit gives the Tigers pen a lot more flexibility (as well as adding to one of the hardest throwing pens in baseball)   Overall though, she seems to like the Tigers chances of competing in a usually weak AL Central.

Phil Coke – Starting Pitcher

Not too long ago, I talked about the Tigers starting pitching.  The winter meetings have come and gone and the Tigers didn’t make a move in that department so it looks like the Phil Coke experiment begins.  Coke was a starter in the Yankees farm system but since he’s been in the major leagues, he’s pitched out of the pen with the exception of his lone start in game 162 for the Tigers in 2010.  Now with Jeremy Bonderman’s departure (i.e. being pushed out), the Tigers are an arm short and it looks like the Tigers are relying on Coke to fill that hole.

Jim Leyland thinks the transition is going to be easy but aren’t things rarely that?  Still, Coke started 77 games in the minors but he’s never had a season where he “just” started.  With Dan Schereth coming up, the Tigers have some wiggle room and what I like best about this move is, Coke isn’t much of a lefty specialist.  In 2010, he had practically no platoon split and as a lefty specialist, your job is to get lefties out.   His career platoon splits are a little better but still, this is a guy who can get righties out too.

Endurance could be a problem and August is Coke’s worst month so far (7.08 ERA in 20 1/3 innings).  The flip side to that is September is one of his better months (3.09 ERA in 32 innings).  Since we’re having fun with splits, Coke is lights out in June.  In 20 2/3 innings, he has a 0.44 ERA and a 0.823 WHIP.  Overall, he’s a little bit worse in the second half then in the first so it’ll be interesting to see how things play out when he’s pitching 150 innings.  Of course he’ll be forced to pace himself better and that could be the big wild card.  If he can accomplish that, we could see a successful transition.

These are interesting times for Tigers fans. If Coke can pitch well as the team’s fifth starter, that would go a long way towards helping the Tigers make the playoffs.  The bad thing is, at least the moment, there’s no good option if the experiment fails.  Andrew Oliver would probably be next in line but I question whether he’s ready.  Should be a fun spring.

Winter Meeting Wrap Up

After making some major waves in two of the last three winter meetings, the Tigers were fairly quiet this time around.  The big players were the Boston Red Sox (who really set themselves up nicely for next year) and the Chicago White Sox (who re-signed Paul Konerko and locked up Adam Dunn prior to the meeting) this time around.  It’ll be interesting to see if the Yankees now feel pressed and make Cliff Lee an offer he can’t refuse.

A lot of people have asked me about the Jayson Werth deal and here’s my take.  Werth would have been stupid to turn the money down so props to him.  As far as the Nationals, I equate them to the 2003 Tigers.  in 2004 and 2005 the Tigers overspent (or so we thought) at the time for Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez but by 2006 they were playing in a World Series.  The Nationals had to overpay someone to get their ball rolling and as it turns out, that guy was Jayson Werth.  Yeah, it threw off a lot of other teams because it set an unusually high bar but they can take it up when they talk amongst themselves when getting ready for the CBA negotiations.

And with Werth and now Crawford out of the mix, it looks like Magglio is the guy the Tigers are targeting.  He held a private workout for the Tigers and you hope they’d get a little bit of a home town discount of course I’m not holding my breath.

The Tigers signed Chris Oxspring to a minor league deal.  He’s from Australia and he got a minor league deal.  Oxspring is playing in the Australian Baseball League with Brad Thomas and he’ll be competing for a shot in the Tigers pen.

The Tigers neither lost nor picked up a player in any phase of the Rule 5 draft.  It’s been a while (I think) since that happened.

It looks like baseball is going to lose another legend because Bob Feller is now in hospice.  The rivalry between he and Hal Newhouser made for a hot ticket back in the day (way back in the day).

Anyway, the meetings may be over but the Tigers still have some work to do.  It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the offseason plays out.

The White Sox Strike Back

The Tigers aren’t the only kids on the AL Central block throwing money around.  The Chicago White Sox made the first big move of the offseason by signing Adam Dunn to shore up their lineup.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Twins and now the Tigers respond.  Not only does this take one of the blue chip free agents out of the picture and reduces the supply but it also shold cause both the Twins and Tigers to respond in kind.

No Greinke Here

I mentioned Greinke in passing as a rotation option a while back but it turned out to be a pipe dream.  Jon Heyman tweeted today that the Royals won’t trade Greinke to another AL Central team.

The DIBS Awards

Forget all of those crazy awards the newspaper writers vote on.  The real Tiger awards were given out a couple of days ago.  Be sure to check out Bless You Boys complete coverage of the DIBS awards.  Most of my first place votes won except for best hair.  I voted for Magglio.

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