What an interesting few years for Jose Valverde. In 2011, he has his “perfect” season. Then last year he was good but had a late season melt down and didn’t get the job done in some high profile games. Then the Tigers gave up on him until he was still available as a minor league signee and now he’s back as the team’s closer.
I know this is 2013 but I still think the “closer” is stupid. Why you’d want to advertise to a team when and how you’ll be using a particular player seems foolish but it’s something most managers buy into these days with Jim Leyland included. I didn’t like how he handled Valverde during the melt down and now to just throw him in there again seems a little desperate. I think Valverde can be a decent reliever but only if he got his velocity back. He pitched well down in Lakeland but that’s, well, Lakeland.
And it’s not even like the pen has been the problem lately but in this one inning at a time day and age, a guy like Drew Smyly can shine in a blow out loss then get buried back into the pen until another starter has a melt down.
With that, I hope Valverde does well. I’m not totally optimistic but I’m interested in seeing him pitch. I’ll also be interested to see over at www.topbettingreviews.com if the Tigers odds of winning go up or down after this weekends tough sweep at the hands of the Angels.
My tax season hangover is about over and as usual, I had the Tigers to keep me company through some of my work. After dropping that first series to the Twins, the Tigers have looked pretty sharp and sit in sole possession of first place in the Central. Everything seems to be working except for the pen, and this shows in the Tigers +24 run differential this year.
For a while, the Tigers were at the top in batting average but closer to the middle bottom in slugging but they’ve turned that around as well. Only the Athletics have scored more runs in the AL than the Tigers and they’re one of the teams we took care of earlier in the week.
Even the bullpen has gotten their stuff together. While the Tigers didn’t address much of what happened when they got beat down by the San Francisco Giants, this team is made for the regular season. Good starting pitching and some mashing at the top of the lineup means this team should, as people expect, run away with the division.
One of the guys I was worried about was Torii Hunter. He could still come back down to earth (his BABIP is currently .481) but whatever he was doing last year to get hits is also working this year. Throw in some slightly better than average defense and you have quite an upgrade over Delmon Young from last year.
As I thought, I’m going to miss the Kentucky Derby again this year. So it stays on my bucket list for one more year. I don’t usually bet on the Kentucky Derby either but always enjoy watching it.
Next up for the Tigers are the Angels. Just one more day of late baseball because the other two games in the series are this afternoon. Hopefully this isn’t the time the Angels get their stuff together and we can get out of this west coast swing with three series wins.
Teams don’t usually make coaching moves at this time of year but that didn’t stop the Tigers from making an adjustment. Longtime Tiger Brandon Inge announced his retirement today after the Pittsburgh Pirates placed him on the disabled list to start the season because of the shoulder that put him down for a good part of the season last year. His new job will be as the Tigers hitting coach.
A polarizing figure for fans, it’ll be interesting to see what the fan reaction is to this news. Inge did have some decent seasons, hitting as many as 27 home runs twice, but his lifetime batting average of .234 and a lifetime OPS+ of 83 makes him interesting choice for this particular spot. Inge is also the Tigers all time leader in strikeouts with 1,189. He left the Tigers for the Athletics last year after the Tigers granted him free agency but now almost a year later he’s back with the team. I also hope he spends some time with Miguel Cabrera at third base because Inge was known more for his fielding than his hitting.
Inge will replace Lloyd Mclendon and while there has been no official announcement, my guess is he stays on with the Tigers in some capacity. He’s been with the Tigers since Jim Leyland joined the team and the hitting coach for the last seven seasons. He’s had his share of successes (namely Austin Jackson last year) but we’ve also seen some guys who have had a hard time turning the corner like Brennan Boesch. I think the move will come as a surprise just because it came out of nowhere.