Archive for January, 2011

Vlad Guerrero Physical

This is a totally unsubstantiated rumor but I’ve heard that Vlad Guerrero is having a physic done for the Tigers. Anyone else in the know about this?

Ryan Strieby Profile

I’ve been a fan of Ryan Strieby for a few years now.  Way back when I was working on Tigers prospect lists, I took some heat for including him in there and was vindicated when he had a stellar season in 2008.  Injuries have plagued him though and this took center stage last year when he only played in 76 games.  His big problem are his wrists and after surgery and now rest, the hope is that the big first baseman will be able to get back on track.

Jason Beck’s latest is a nice profile on Strieby.  He still has work to do in his outfield conversion (hopefully Miguel Cabrera isn’t going anywhere for a long time) so hopefully 2011 will be a fruitful season for Strieby.

Tigers Close to Trading Armando Galarraga

Looks like he’s going to the Diamondbacks.  More to follow.

Tigers Sign, Then Designate Armando Galarraga

I only half the story this morning because the Tigers not only inked Armando Galarraga to a one year, $2.3 million deal, they also designated him for assignment.  I’ve had a few people ask me why they’d sign him then designate but it looks like the Tigers don’t really know either.  According to the quotes in Jason Beck’s piece, the spin is that they wanted to sign him to avoid arbitration, but when they came to work in the morning and the Brad Penny deal was done, they needed a roster spot so they decided to dump Galarraga.

The hope now is that the Tigers can ship him for at least something although the return on these kinds of trades is usually pretty small.  I don’t see him clearing waivers to sending him to the minors is probably a low chance idea.  I’m not totally surprised because the Tigers seemed luke warm about Galarraga most of the offseason then the Brad Penny signing was icing on the cake.  Still, keeping him around in the event something happens might have been a roster spot worth filling if he could work as a relief pitcher in the meantime.

Tigers Sign Armando Galarraga

My analysis is coming later but the Tigers signed Armando Galarraga to a one year deal. This also keeps Dave Dombrowski perfect since coming on board with Detroit because he’s never gone to an arbitration hearing.

Road Trip?

One of my plans for 2011 is, now that I have a little more freedom of movement, to hit up a new ballpark each month.  April will probably be tough with tax deadlines that month but beginning with May, I’d like to do some short road trips.  I’m planning on visiting both the White Caps and the Loons but I’d like to maybe venture out as far as Erie and Buffalo (maybe hitting Cleveland on the way back).  Most trips will be for just one night (hit a night game in one town, check out and then hit an afternoon game in another) and they’ll be somewhat planned on the fly (my schedule with my son is month to month) but that’s the goal.

So I’m looking for suggestions.  West Michigan is a must and easy.  I’m going to visit Dow Field and the Loons in July (this one is already set).  Louisville is also in the plans.  I’m thinking of doing a Fort Wayne/Indianapolis trip and a Erie/Buffalo or Cleveland Indians trip but if you have any recommendations, let me know.  And if you live in one of those areas, drop me a line and we can catch a game.

Timo Perez Back With the Tigers

A somewhat familiar face will be back in the Tigers minor league system this year because the team signed Timo Perez to a minor league deal.  If you’re into ancient history, Timo Perez was one of the stars for the Mets in their postseason run back in 2000.  As a rookie, Timo hit .304 and scored eight runs for the Mets in the NLCS against the Cardinals that year (although his World Series was less then newsworthy).

He played briefly for the Cardinals in 2006 but didn’t make the postseason roster for that heartbreaking World Series.  Then in 2007, he was a Tiger and in the middle of a division race, Perez hit .414 in the month of September (and the few games in October) mostly as the every day leftfielder.  He played all year in Toledo in 2008 and since then, he’s split time between playing professional ball down in Mexico and minor league ball in the Phillies and Dodgers organization.

Timo is a career .317 minor league hitter so he’s going to help out one of the Tigers affiliates, whether it’s the Hens or the SeaWolves (not sure who needs the body).

In other blast from the past news, Matt Anderson signed a minor league deal with the Phillies.  Once the Tigers closer and the top pick in the 1997 draft, Anderson was cut loose by the Tigers in 2003 and since then, he’s played in the majors only once (2005, tough season with the Rockies) and he hasn’t pitched in the minors since 2008 when he was in the White Sox organization.  Last year he was invited to spring training by the Giants but didn’t make the cut.

Tigers Sign Joel Zumaya to One Year Deal

The Tigers inked Joel Zumaya to a one year, $1.4 million deal today and in effect, allowed the team to avoid arbitration with the hard throwing relief pitcher.  We all know Zumaya’s story.  He had a come back last year before he yielded to yet another injury and having a full season of Zumaya will go a long way towards the Tigers having a dominant bullpen like they did in 2006 when they went to the World Series.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Tigers pitch Zumaya because they now have plenty of depth in their pen.  Ryan Perry (a favorite of mine) should make some gains and to go along with Jose Valverde, they have Joaquin Benoit.  The starting pitching has some holes, but I’m liking this bullpen more and more.

That leaves Armando Galarraga as the lone arbitration eligible player out there that the Tigers need to sign.  We’ll see how the Tigers handle that one.

For those of you who are around my age, you may remember Al Cowens.  Chris Jaffe at the Hardball Times tells an interesting story that involves Cowens (both before he was with the Tigers and during). It’s a solid read so be sure to check it out.

Tigers Sign Ryan Raburn to Two Year Deal

The Tigers locked up Ryan Raburn to a two year deal worth $3.4 million.  After a breakout 2009 and a very nice second half in 2010, Raburn is penciled in as the starting left fielder for the Tigers.  This was Rabun’s first year of arbitration eligibility so the Tigers get a little bit of cost certainty by locking him up for 2012 as well.

The Tigers now have only two more arbitration eligible players to contend.  Joel Zumaya and Armando Galarraga are the two and while I think we’ll get Zumaya at a decent rate without much trouble, Galarraga posses a more interesting dilemma now that the Tigers have Brad Penny in the mix.  He’s looking like the odd man out here and he’s out of options so the Tigers have to either make room for him or cut bait.  Jason Beck takes on this question in a well thought out piece. Odds are, Galarraga starts in spring training, but ultimately, it’s to give him some trade value.

A Penny For Your Thoughts

Okay, the Tigers shored up their rotation yesterday when they signed Brad Penny to a one year, $3 million deal.  Or did they? Penny started off the 2010 season with the Cardinals and he got off to a nice start before lat and back issues derailed his season in May.  The other knock on him is that his only time in the American League with the Boston Red Sox didn’t go all that well and in 24 starts, he posted a 5.61 ERA in 2009.  Oh, and his last really good season was way back in 2007 when he finished third in the National League Cy Young voting while with the Dodgers.

Still, even with those negatives, I like this signing.  The biggest reason is, you can’t get much of a lower risk then a one year, $3 million deal.  Even if he doesn’t work out, this isn’t going to be one of those debilitating multi-year deals the Tigers have gotten themselves into lately.  Another reason is, we’re talking about just upgrading over our fifth starter, which at this point is Armando Galarraga.  Even in 2006 when the Tigers won 95 games, the Tigers fifth starter (Zach Miner) won only seven games.  Their fourth best starter won 13 that year, which is Galarraga’s best win total.

So in order to evaluate this properly, it’s a Penny versus Galarraga discussion.  Penny has a better strikeout rate and a better walk rate and he’s also not as reliant on the ground ball as Galarraga is.  Plus it gives us some flexibility.  If Penny tanks, then Galarraga can move right into the rotation and if there’s a hole in the pen or the Phil Coke rotation experiment fails, we’re not left an arm short at a key point in the season.  So I like the move and a ten win Brad Penny would mean the Tigers are sitting pretty in the division.

Brad Penny Close to Signing?

I’ve been hearing rumors that the Tigers are going to sign Brad Penny to a one year deal.  More to follow.


Looks like it’s a done deal.  One year, $3 million with the physcial pending.

Who Needs to Step Up

Alright, the 2011 Tigers are pretty much set.  There may be a few tweaks along the way but the lineup is there, the rotation is pretty much set (at least the front four, I’ve heard some Brad Penny rumors) and the bullpen is in place.  The question now is, what is it going to take for the Tigers to win the American League Central.  While guys like Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander get the well deserved accolades, they are also the givens in the equation.  Most teams can’t have a team full of All Stars so they need a few guys to rise to the occasion.  Miguel Carbera should hit his 30 home runs (it’s what we’re paying him for) and Justin Verlander should win his 18 games (which is what we’re paying “him” for)  but you need those veterans with one last season in the tank to step it up or have that defensive specialist finally put something together at the plate.

In 1984, the Tigers had plenty of those guys.  Guys like Dave Bergman and Rupert Jones made major contributions as role players.  Willie Hernandez got the accolades out of the pen but Aurelio Lopez was nearly as good and he served as a great number two for most of the season.  Milt Wilcox was 34 and he had never won more then 13 games until he stepped it up and had a very solid season in 1984.

So these are the guys who I think are going to be the linchpins for the Tigers in 2011.  Not all of them have to step up big, but if two or even three do, it’s going to be a nice season in Detroit this summer.

Carlos Guillen – When the Tigers went to the World Series in 2006, Carlos Guillen was their best hitter.  Since then he’s played in more then 150 games only once and he’s bounced around the field as the Tigers have made an effort to make room for him.  Now with rumors of him being ready for spring training, Guillen should be penciled in as the everyday second baseman.  Whether he sticks there will go a long way towards the Tigers having a successful season.  He can take a walk and if he reinvents himself as a table setter, he’d make a nice option in the second spot in the lineup.  Of course to draw those walks, he has to pose a threat at the plate.  Out of the four, this is the least likely guy to step up but out of the four, if he does, I think it’ll be where the Tigers get the most bang for their underrated (if overpaid) buck.

Brandon Inge – This is more of a hunch, but I think Brandon Inge is poised for a breakout season.  We saw him succeed in the first half of 2009 and since then, injuries have slowed him down.  Still, even though he only hit 13 home runs in 2010, he hit for almost .250 (last time he did that was 2006), he drew 54 walks (the same amount in 2009 despite 57 fewer plate appearances) and he cut down his strikeout rate.  If that’s a trend, it’s a trend I like and he made up for the lack of home runs with 28 doubles.  I’m going to go out on a limb by saying Brandon Inge will keep this trend going and for the time in his career, finish with an OPS over .800.

Joel Zumaya – Another cornerstone of the 2006 season, Zumaya hasn’t been healthy since.  He’s also supposed to be ready for spring training and if he can pitch like he did last year for an entire season, the Tigers should have one of the more formidable bullpens in baseball.  At this point though, 40 innings is a stretch so we’ll see.

Rick Porcello – As the defense went, so did Rick Porcello in 2011.  Still, if you’re looking for positives, his walk and home run rates went down in 2011 with only a minor blip in his strikeout rate.  If Porcello is going to take the next step, he’s going to have to start striking guys out.  Being economical is great, but the infield defense just isn’t there anymore and it showed by Porcello having a .288 batting average against.  In order to get that down, he’s going to have to start punching guys out and pitching less to the contact.

If all four guys fall flat, the Tigers could be in trouble.  Probably the least important is Joel Zumaya just because there’s guys to fill in. Still, the Tigers have made some nice moves and while I wouldn’t say I’m totally excited over the Tigers prospects this year, I’m definitely intrigued.

Breaking News – Bert Blyleven and Robbie Alomar Elected to HOF

Just got this off of the video feed.  Analysis to come.

Quick Hit: The Tigers Weaknesses (FanGraphs Style)

There’s a piece over at FanGraphs about the Tigers weaknesses.  Like me, there’s a focus on the rotation and Armando Galarraga, Phil Coke and Andrew Oliver are all highlighted.

Real Life Stuff

Alright, with there being not much Tigers news out there, I figured I’d touch on some “me” stuff.  I don’t do this too often so bear with me and while I have a request, it’s free and I’ll get to that in a moment.

At one point in time, I had dreams of becoming a full time blogger.  Those plans fizzled a bit when one of the big search engines put a gigantic hole in my business model.  So since the beginning of 2009, I’ve been focusing on what I went to school for and I restarted my CPA practice.  2010 has been a challenging year for me but despite those challenges, I’ve been able to grow my business.  Now in 2011, I’m looking to take it to the next level and grow things even further.

That’s where my requests come in.  Let’s start out small with just checking out (and liking if you’re interested) my Facebook business page. There you can keep up with the latest tax and accounting trends as well as check out what some of my clients are saying about me.

The other thing I ask is that if you or someone you know might need my services, please let me know.  I’ve been doing this for sixteen years now and while I’m not cheap, my clients feel they get their money’s worth (I don’t even know what the big tax prep firms charge these days but I know I’m competitive with them).  I’ll even review your last few years tax returns for free to see if you missed anything and have the chance for an extra refund and I have a generous referral program so even if you don’t need help, you can benefit from helping me out.  And if you don’t live in the Detroit area, I have a bunch of experience preparing tax returns remotely.  Some of the people that reviewed me on my Facebook page are people who live in different states and one I’ve never met in person (although I need to fix that).  The phone and internet can be wonderful things.  Ultimately, this is who I’m doing it all for (not Spider Man, the other one).  Having my own business gives me the time to focus on my son when I have him.

Thank you for bearing with me. Now back to our regularly schedule programming.

Carlos Guillen’s Last Hurrah?

The Tigers are paying Carlos Guillen $13 million in 2011.  I’m going to go out on a limb by saying the Tigers probably won’t get their money’s worth on him (nor have they through his four year deal) but that doesn’t mean Carlos Guillen can’t be a major contributor in the upcoming season.  I’ve always been a Guillen fan and in a lot of ways, he (along with Ivan Rodriguez) were the guys that got the Tigers started on their way back to respectability.  Still, $13 million is a princely sum for a guy who’s OPS hasn’t breached the .800 mark since 2008.

In fact if we stick to OPS, Guillen’s has fallen in each of the last since he had .920 back in 2006 (yes, that 2006).  That’s not good.  With that, Guillen doesn’t have to be a superstar to help the Tigers in 2011.  They already have big bats in Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez so if he could become a decent table setter (think 2008’s OBP of .376) and he can play most of the season, he can make a huge impact in the lineup.

Of course for Guillen to have an impact, he has to play.  That’s what makes the latest story about his recovery and the increasing chances that he’ll be ready by Opening Day encouraging.  Of course also in the piece by Beck they ask the question as to how long Guillen will stay healthy and that’s probably the bigger question.

Hall of Fame Open Thread

Happy New Year everyone.  The Hall of Fame announces who gets in on Wednesday, so I’m curious as to everyone’s thoughts as to who gets in.  Not who you think should get it, but who the writers will vote in. My guess is Bert Blyleven and Robbie Alomar get in with no first ballot guys getting the nod.  And the stuff with Jeff Bagwell is a joke.  My hope is eventually he gets in, but I don’t see it happening on this first ballot.

In other news, it’s Hank Greenberg’s birthday today.  100 years ago the Tigers legend was born.  You can check out his Hall of Fame video bio here.

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