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Ken Rosenthal Predicts Tigers to Win it All

I just picked this up on the Tigers’ FSN telecast and Rod and Mario talked with Ken Rosenthal, who apparantly plans on picking the Tigers to win it all.  When this makes print, I’ll be sure to link to it.

And since I’m here, Tigers are up 3-0.  Gary Sheffield hit a no doubt about it three run homerun.  Nate Robertson is looking pretty sharp too.


Tim Brown at Yahoo also has the Tigers winning  it all.

PECOTA Projects the Tigers Third in the AL Central

Nate Silver used his projection system, PECOTA, to see how the AL Central (and NL Central) will turn out in the 2007.  Not good news for Tiger fans because they have the Tigers in third place with 85 wins.   It projects the Indians and Twins to come in with 90 wins with the White Sox at a disappointing 72 wins.  I’d be interested to see what they projected last year to see how close they came.  He does hedge himself because PECOTA isn’t looking for much from Gary Sheffield so if he puts in a full, 2005 like season, that’ll be worth a few more wins.   He concludes with some tweaks that the Tigers will actually win 88 games, which is pretty close to what I’m predicting.

Mike Maroth Hit Hard in Tigers Win Over Nationals

The good news is, Mike Maroth threw five shutout innings.  The bad news is, he ended up throwing six total and in the fifth inning, he was hit hard for five runs.  The big hit was a three run shot to Christian Guzman of all people.  On a good note, he didn’t walk anybody and he did strike out five.  Todd Jones pitched two scorless and Aquilino Lopez closed the game out with a no hit ninth.

At the plate, Ivan Rodriguez doubled twice and scorded a run in the 6-5 win.  Placido Polanco and Ryan Rayburn each had two hits a piece and they each scored a run.

The Tigers take on the Braves in the evening tomorrow and it’ll be on FSN.  Game time is 7:05 and I’ll probably get to catch the last half of the game.

Tigers Score Early, Often in Win Over Yankees

The Tigers scored all nine of their runs in the first four innings today against their 9-5 win over the Yankees.  Gary Sheffield had the big game at the plate.  He drove in four runs and homered while Curtis Granderson had three hits, two RBIs and two runs.  Brandon Inge had two hits and two runs while Placido Polanco had three hits.

Jason Grilli got the start and he gave up two runs in three innings of work.  Fernando Rodney was probably the most impressive of the Tiger pitchers.  He scored two scoreless innings and he struck out three.  The Tigers take on the Nationals tomorrow in a day game.

In other news, it sounds like Chad Durbin is going to make the team, and the final spot on the bench will go to either Chris Shelton, Neifi Perez and Ramon Santiago.  My bet is Santiago gets the job, but I’d much rather see Shelton make the team because he has the most potential.

Curtis Granderson Q&A

David Laurila at Baseball Prospectus caught up with Tiger centerfielder Curtis Granderson.  It opens with some talk about Granderson’s strikeouts and then it gets into how Granderson favors on base percentage as a measure of his performance.  He also seems to not apppreciate his own defense because only gives himself a six out of ten rating.  This is from a guy who finished with 18 fielding runs above average (nearly two wins) and who finished third in the majors in zone rating.

Speaking of Granderson, he just doubled to lead things off for the Tigers today against the Yankees.

Nook Logan Hurt Yesterday, Status Unclear

I know this isn’t the Tigers, but former centerfielder Nook Logan, much to the dismay of many Nationals fans, looked to be the lock for the starting centerfield job there.  I’ve always enjoyed watching Logan but I also felt his value was more in line with an Alex Sanchez type of player with a better feel for centerfield.  He’ll end up with a hollow .280 batting average and because he can run, he’ll probably misused as a lead off hitter.

Anyway, Logan strained his groin yesterday and the team should know more tomorrow about his status.  Anything that slows Logan down though severely diminishes his value though, because that’s about all he has.

A Vote for Kenny Rogers

Not everyone is happy with Jeremy Bonderman being picked as the opening day starter.  Honestly, I don’t know what the big deal is.  Game one counts just as much as game two, game three and game 100 so I think the whole “opening day” starter thing is a bit overblown and is more an event then anything.  In my opinion, Jeremy Bonderman is the best pitcher the Tigers have so there’s no shame in him being the opening day guy but in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter that much.  Each starter will get their 30-25 starts so the whole thing seems kind of moot to me.

Joel Zumaya Profile

Jason Beck profiled Joel Zumaya yesterday.  In the column, he talks about how Joel Zumaya is working on an offspeed pitch and he talks about all of the times Joel Zumaya touched or exceeded 100 mph on the radar gun.  It also goes into how he’s changed his approach to the mound since he began coming out of the pen (he started for most his minor league career).

So far, you can’t argue with Zumaya’s results.  He’s been lights out this spring and in nine innings, he hasn’t given up a run.  He’s given up only five hits and two walks and he’s struck out ten.  He’s even gone two innings once, which is something I hope Jim Leyland does more often during the regular season.

Tigers Win One, Lose One in Final Split Squad of the Spring

The Tigers won and then they lose today.  In the A game, Kenny Rogers threw six scoreless innings but they still lost to the Braves 3-1.  Preston Larrison gave up two runs in the eighth to break a 1-1 game and the only Tiger run came on Gary Sheffield’s RBI single.  Todd Jones was also true to form.  He gave up two hits and a walk but got out of his own jam.  Brandon Inge made two errors in the game.

In the other game, the Tigers beat the Astros 7-5.  Craig Monroe hit his second homerun of the spring and he drove in two runs.  More importantly, he was out in left field.  Hopefully that knee is holding up.  Outfield prospect Brennan Boesch had the big hit of the game.  His three run, bases clearing triple in the ninth inning put the Tigers ahead and the hit ended up being the game winner.  Chad Durbing threw four solid innings and he’s still making a case for the final spot in the pen while Zach Miner was knocked around for four runs (two each in the seventh and eighth).

And if you didn’t know who Brennan Boesch was, he was the Tigers third round pick last year.  He hit .291/.344/.435 in 292 at bats at Oneonta last year and we’ll probably get to see him play at West Michigan this year.

Tomorrow, the Tigers play the Yankees at Lakeland and it’s on FSN.  Game time is 1:05.

Nate Robertson Hit Hard in Loss to Nationals

The Tigers got bounced pretty bad today.  Nate Robertson gave up five runs in five innings and both Fernando Rodney and Jose Mesa were shelled as well.  Bobby Seay was the only Tiger pitcher to not give up a run as he continued his solid spring. 

Chris Shelton and Timo Perez both went yard and they each had good games.  Shelton was three for four while Timo Perez was two for four with two runs and two RBIs.  The rest of the team had three hits.

Jim Leyland said he wants to make his final cuts on Monday so the next couple of days could be huge for a few players.  There’s a spot in the pen still open as well as one position player spot in which guys like Chris Shelton are fighting for.  Regardless, some time Monday we should know what the Tigers 25 man roster is going to look like.

Also, here’s a solid story on Gary Sheffield.  He says he feels great, the wrist is fine and that he’s ready to go.  I can’t ask for much more there.

Ivan Rodriguez to Lead Off Against Lefties

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise because Jim Leyland was leading off with Ivan Rodriguez pretty regularly.  Regardless, it was made official and Ivan Rodriguez will bat lead off against left handed pitchers.

This isn’t a bad move because while Ivan Rodriguez doesn’t have a huge platoon split, Curtis Granderson does.  Granderson is a career .231/.293/.434 hitter against lefties while he’s .270/.341/.451 against righties.  In Ivan Rodriguez’s career, he’s hit .314/.366/.495 against lefties and he’s .301/.334/.479 against right handed pitching.  More recently, Pudge’s platoon split is a little more prounounced.  He hit .340/.385/.506 against lefties and .284/.310/.409 against righties.  He also had three games where he started in the leadoff spot in 2006 in which he was 5 for 12.  That doesn’t mean anything because of the sample size but I thought it’s worth noting.

My opinion is that Gary Sheffield should be leading off.  I know he’s a power hitter but with his career on base percentage of .398 (.413 against lefties), he’d be pretty much ideal.  Ain’t going to happen though as it’s a little too radical. 

Tigers Blow Lead, Then Win It In Ninth

Todd Jones is definitely the roller coaster.  He gave up two ninth inning runs to blow a 4-2 Tigers lead but fortunately he got bailed out in the ninth inning.  I was listening on the radio but missed it and I think Curtis Granderson drove home the winning run.  If I find out otherwise, I’ll let you know.

Jeremy Bonderman had a so so start.  He gave up two runs on four hits in five innings and he struck out four, but he walked three.  Wil Ledezma struck out the side but walked two in his one inning of work and of course Jones was knocked around for the two runs (and he picked up the win for his efforts).  To Jones credit, it was his first blown save of the spring.

Brandon Inge had three hits and both Sean Casey and Craig Monroe were two for two.  For Casey, it was his fifth double of the spring.  Carlos Guillen continued to struggle but he did get a hit to bring his batting average up to only .214.  No worries though.

Bad news for Edward Campusano.  He’s been shut down for the rest of the spring and he’s going to see Dr. James Andrews, which is never a good thing.  It looks like Chad Durbin, who’s also an interesting story in camp, may now be the final guy in the pen to make the team for Detroit.

The Tigers play the Nationals in a day game tomorrow and then Saturday will be the Tigers final split squad game of the spring.  Then from Sunday through Friday, four of the six Tiger games will be on TV.  Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be on FSN and then Friday’s game against the Yankees will be on ESPN.

Marcus Thames and Chris Shelton on Trading Block?

This isn’t a huge surprise because as of right now, they’re players who don’t have much of a role on the team (whether justified or not), but Jayson Stark commented that both Chris Shelton and Marcus Thames were Tigers’ players who are on the market.  I’m not sure if this is just speculation or whether he knows of something specific out there but I’ve also read that some teams are interested in Thames (as they should be).  Keep in mind that a trade isn’t out of the realm of possibility as spring training wraps up.  One of the greatest Tiger trades ever (Willie Hernandez and Dave Bergman for John Wockenfuss and Glenn Wilson in 1984) happened in late March.  In fact, Saturday is the anniversay of that trade.

Tigers Season Preview

Jason Beck previewed the Tigers yesterday and provided a bunch of useful information on the upcoming season.  He talks about the team’s strengths and weaknesses as well as some of the key series we won’t want to miss this season, including a May interleague series against the Cardinals.  Good stuff and there’s also links to some of the more specific Tiger preview columns put out recently (like their minor league preview).

Detroit Vintage World Series Films DVD Review

I got a sneak peak of the Tigers World Series DVD today and I have to say I’m impressed.  In short, it provides highlights of each of the three previous World Series wins for the Tigers (yes, it goes all the way back to 1945) and while that’s interesting by itself, there’s a certain “coolness” factor that goes along with seeing Hank Greenberg go yard, Willie Horton gun down Lou Brock at the plate and Kirk Gibson hit his big homerun against Goose Gossage.

The first video is of the 1945 World Series and this was the one I was most interested in watching.  Of all of four Tigers’ World Series wins, the 1945 season is the one I know the least about.  You get to see Hal Newhouser get pummelled in game one but you also get to see him bounce back in a big game five win.  Eddie Mayo gets some fielding highlights and they show him making a nice over the shoulder catch behind first base and you also get to see Hank Greenberg’s sweet swing.  He hit two homeruns in the series and he was the only Tiger to go deep in the World Series.

The 1968 Tiger season to me is what 1984 is to a lot of people born in the mid to late 1980s.  For thirteen years of my life, it was the last time the Tigers had won the World Series and I remember being up north at my uncle’s cottage in the early 1980s and I met a guy who was a big baseball fan.  It was the first time I found out about Strat-o-Matic baseball and he also had an old school video projector (remember these in school, it was before VCRs existed) and one of the “movies” he had was the highlights of the 1968 World Series.  I’m pretty sure the one on this DVD is the same thing and I remember Lou Brock getting a lot of hits and Bob Gibson striking out a lot of guys.  More importantly, you also get to see the Tigers come back from a 3-1 series deficit.  Some of the big parts include the game five gundown of Lou Brock at the plate by Willie Horton and the 13 run beatdown in game six.  You also get to see Bob Gibson make history by striking out seventeen batters.

The 1984 part of the video was also cool but rather anticlimactic.  The biggest part is the Goose Gossage/Kirk Gibson showdown where Gossage says he’ll strike out Gibson instead of giving him a free pass.  Of course Gibson makes him pay and the rest is history.  This is only a five game series while the other two were seven game series but there’s some neat extras here as well.  The neatest thing about the 1984 portion is that these were the guys I grew up watching and getting a chance to see them one more time was very neat.

So in short, I highly recommend this video if you’re a Tiger fan.  It’s about two hours, and it’s all good.

Justin Verlander Hit Hard in Loss to Pirates

Justin Verlander was touched up for three runs on five hits and two walks in four innings of work. He did strikeout four batters though and the even worse thing was, the poor outing actually improved his ERA slightly to 8.31. He’s got a couple more starts before the real games start so hopefull he’s getting all of these hits out of his system.

Jose Mesa threw two shutout frames and Preston Larrison and Tim Byrdak each pitched a scoreless inning.  At the plate, Ryan Rayburn and Brandon Inge each had two hits and Inge scored the only run of the game for the Tigers.  He was driven home by Rayburn in the ninth inning.  Ivan Rodriguez hit leadoff again and he drew a walk while Craig Monroe played left field and doubled in the game.

The Tigers get the day off tomorrow then they play a late afternoon game against the Indians on Thursday.  This is the Tigers first and only day off since they started playing spring games.

I’m bouncing the idea around of having a little meet and greet on next Wendesday (3/28).  The Tigers are on FSN at 1:05 (they’re only televised weekday day game) so I might try to find a spot with WiFi, grab some lunch and if you want to stop by, grab a bite and if people show up, talk some baseball.  If you’re interested at all, let me know either with a comment or an email and I’ll try to pick a spot that will allow the most people to stop by. And if nobody’s interested, I’ll just sit at home and watch it and we can try again later in the season.  No sweat.

More Mail for Jason Beck beat writer Jason Beck answered more reader questions in a mailbag column yesterday.  He spends the most time on why Andrew Miller was sent to Lakeland and he fields the question nicely.  I thought he’d start the season at Erie but his explanation for his Lakeland start is the best I’ve seen.

He also touches on where the Tigers offense is relative to the rest of the league this spring and he also fields a question from a guy from my hometown (Southgate) about whether Ivan Rodriguez retires if the Tigers win it all.

The Pirates are taking it to Justin Verlander.  It’s 3-0 in the third inning.

Gary Sheffield Homers in Spring Win Over Reds

The Tigers won again and they did it behind a solid game by Gary Sheffield.  The left fielder hit a solo homerun and he also walked twice and scored twice.  Sean Casey was two for two with a run and an RBI while Timo Perez was two for four with a run.

On the pitching side, Kenny Rogers gave up two runs on three hits and two walks with a strikeout in five innings.  Joel Zumaya pitched two more shutout frames while Todd Jones was his old self.  He didn’t give up any runs, but he gave up two hits.

Tomorrow, Justin Verlander throws for the Tigers against the Pirates.  Game time is 1:05.

Detroit Tigers Season Lookback – 1904

Record – 62-90, Finished Seventh Place in the American League
Pythagorean Record – 61-91


Hitters (BA/OBP/SLG)

C – Lew Drill (.244/.335/.294)
1b – Charlie Carr (.214/.245/.267)
2b – Bobby Lowe (.208/.236/.259)
3b – Ed Gremminger (.214/.257/.285)
SS – Charley O’Leary (.213/.254/.254)
LF – Matty McIntyre (.253/.310/.317)
CF – Jimmy Barrett (.268/.353/.300)
RF – Sam Crawford (.254/.309/.361)

Team Leaders

Homeruns – Sam Crawford, Matty McIntyre (2)
Batting Average – Jimmy Barrett (.268)
OPS – Sam Crawford (.670)
Best Fielder - Bobby Lowe (11 Fielding Runs Above Average)

Pitchers (IP/W/ERA)

SP – George Mullin (382.3/17/2.40)
SP – Bill Donovan (293/17/2.46)
SP – Ed Killian (331.7/14/2.44)
SP – Frank Kitson (199.7/8/3.07)
SP - Jesse Stovall (146.7/3/4.42)

Team Leaders

Wins – George Mullin, Bill Donovan (17)
ERA – George Mullin (2.40)
Strikeouts – George Mullin (161)

If 1903 was a step forward for the Detroit Tigers, 1904 was a step back. The team lost 90 games, a franchise record that would stand until 1920, and they were pretty pathetic at the plate even by dead ball era standards.  Probably the only thing that stopped them from being even worse was that the Washington Senators, who lost 113 games in 1904, were historically bad and it’s not ironic that the Senators were the only team that season that the Tigers had a winning record against (12-8).

At the plate, the Tigers hit .231/.278/.292 as a team, which put them in seventh place in the American League in each of those categories.  To put it into perspective, the Tigers slick fielding second baseman, Bobby Lowe, notched an OPS+ of 58, and this was a guy who played in 140 games.  Even Hall of Famer Sam Crawford had an off year.  From 1901 through 1915, his single season OPS+ dipped below 130 only one time and that was in 1904 when he came out at 114.  He did lead the team in slugging with .361 and RBIs with 73. 

The pitching wasn’t that much better.  The Tigers finished with a team ERA of 2.77 (ERA+ of 92) and that put them sixth in the league.  They finished with two 20 game losers (George Mullin with 23 and Ed Killian with 20) and only Wild Bill Donovan finished with a winning record (17-16).  George Mullin threw a ton of innings, but he also gave up a bunch of base runners and his 131 would lead the league (the second of four straight seasons he’d walk more batters then anyone in the AL).  The Tigers walked more batters then any other team  in the league (433) and they were only sixth in strikeouts (556).  Most importantly, the Tigers gave up more runs (627)  then every team except the Senators.

The 1904 Tigers actually got off to a decent start with an 8-7 record.   That would be the last time they’d have a winning record though and they lost their next eight games.  The made a decent run in August (their only month with a winning record, 14-13) but then they went 15-27 down the stretch.

1905 would bring new hope to the franchise.  Ty Cobb would make his debut and the Tigers pitching staff would put together a solid season but for 1904, the Tigers have the Senators to thank for keeping them out of the cellar.

Tigers Bounce Jays and Other News

The Tigers won their fourth straight spring game today with an 8-6 win over the Blue Jays.  Cameron Maybin proved why he’s one of the Tigers top prospects with another solid game.  He hit his second homerun of the spring en route to a two for four performance with three RBIs and two runs.  Magglio Ordonez had two hits and two RBIs while Ivan Rodriguez (batting leadoff) had two hits and two runs.

On the pitching side, Jeremy Bonderman (more on him) was roughed up.  He gave up five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in four innings of work.  The pen picked him up though and Preston Larrison threw two shutout frames and Todd Jones and Joel Zumaya each kept their scoreless springs alive with a shutout inning.

Jeremy Bonderman was picked to pitch opening day for the Tigers and he’ll most likely face Roy Halladay on April 2.  Also, the Tigers sent Yorman Bazardo and possibly Kody Kirkland down to the minors.  You can check out the details at Tigers Minors.

Tomorrow, the Tigers split up the squads with games against the Devil Rays and the Braves.  More important, the game against the Devil Rays will be the first FSN broadcast of the spring.  Be sure to tune it at one o’clock.

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