Author Archive

Craig Monroe

Craig Monroe’s recent performance tells me he deserves a chance next year at being an everyday outfielder. Early in the year, many people wanted to write him off because he had become so ineffective against left-handed pitchers (a strength last season) and his power numbers had dropped so markedly. His recent tear gives him a decent opportunity to approach or match last years output and he now appears to be a more complete hitter overall.

I am also glad that the Tigers were unable to pull off the proposed Cliff Floyd for Bobby Higginson trade before the deadline. In essence, the Tigers would have 3 or 4 of the same player had they pulled the trigger on that trade. (Dmitri Young, Rondell White and Cliff Floyd are quite similar as players and you could argue that Monroe is very similar to them except for the fact that is he younger and more versatile)

By refraining from that trade, I think Monroe has a better shot at playing outfield next year full time while the Tigers will have to evaluate what they are going to do at 1st base, the entire outfield and 3rd base. I hate to suggest it, but they can’t exactly be pleased with this season’s offensive production by Dmitri Young, even considering his injury. He is a large man and we have seen many players who are big begin to break down more frequently from injury as the rigors of the sport and betrayal by their own body cause their careers to tail off. Do the Tigers at this point need an every day DH, when they have so many players they can use their? I really love Dmitri as a team leader and he had an excellent season last year. In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of professional sports the Tigers will be faced with some tough decisions this offseason.

Bobby Higginson has admittedly been an albatross in recent years. The fans have been quite merciless at games I have attended this season. In years past, when he was still in good favor with the local media these same fans would have supported him as the only recognizeable “Star” the Tigers possessed in their everyday line-up. I often grouseded at how overpaid he is (and still is). I have reverted to coming to his defense this year. Even with the low batting average and power numbers, I think he has been as valuable this year as in any previous just by understanding his role with the team, playing good defense (he leads the league in outfield assists), and by not striking out so much. That being said, I think the Tigers will officially be able to move on from the Randy Smith debacle when he is no longer brandishing the Old English “D”. They have already released Danny Patterson and in weeks Matt Anderson will be gone. It is time to make whatever trade possible to end his career in Motown. If there are no prospective trades, it may be advisable to eat that remaining year and use that roster spot next year for a developing player or an even more productive player.


I went to yesterday’s doubleheader. Did you ever wonder what it might be like to sit through a 26-5 Tiger loss. I had in recent years been present while the Tigers got shellacked by Anaheim (end of last year) and watched Oakland buzzsaw (during their 20+ game win streak) through Jose Lima in short work, but yet yesterday was a low point.

Jason Johnson, who recently complained about being pulled too early from a start because he was supposed to be the Tiger number one starter, had absolutely no command. Any pitch he threw near the strike zone Kansas City was able to hit. Jason Johnson’s recent performance may be opening the door for a return by Gary Knotts to the rotation before the year is out. I certainly do not have great confidence in the Tigers ability to win ballgames with the removal of Wil Ledezma from the rotation coupled with more appearances by Johnson. Jason had a nice stretch near the middle of the season but he seems to have proved what many experts have said that he is missing something that would allow him to be a more succesful pitcher through a complete season.

Yesterday gave me opportunity to think more about the Jeff Weaver trade. Hindsight is clearly 20/20 but is interesting to ponder that trade while watching Franklyn German struggle so mightily and Jeremy Bonderman pitch so well. Weav, who was very immature, has become a staff ace in Los Angeles. It appears that the Tigers have gained a very capable starter in Bonderman-who with any luck will peak as an ace starter to coincide with a more completely constructed Tiger line-up that will be able to benefit from his development. Franklyn German is an enigma. Even yesterday, there were moments where you could see how he could become a dominant reliever. He often was ahead in the count. Batters seemed to have trouble with his splitter. It will be a matter of just how much patience the Tigers can exhibit with him. I believe that the Tigers will ultimately have the better end of this deal, because Weaver is in his peak as a player and at this time the Tigers are just not quite good enough for him to be able to succeed in Detroit.

This offseason will be critical in Bonderman’s continued development and for Dave Dombrowski to make the tough personnel decisions necessary for this team to push closer to being a contender in their division. Yesterday I finally caught a foul ball at a Tiger game for the first time in my life. I was elated and very surprised when someone offered me $10 for it.

Point of Contention

That last game versus Kansas City has been a major discomfort for me. I really didn’t like how they swung the bats and the overall malaise they seemed to exhibit in yet again losing another series to the Royals. At any rate, I had to question a Trammell decision in the 7th inning. When the first two batters got aboard with no outs, why bunt? Jaime Cerda had not been pitching anywhere near the plate so why give the Royals a sacrifice out in the inning when Cerda had yet to establish he might not walk Brandon Inge in that at bat. The inning fizzled from that point and I was disgusted. Nice pitching by Greinke, I don’t look forward to the Tigers facing him again this week. Our hearts and prayers should go out to all Floridians and the Tigers/D-Rays with the impending onset of the hurricane. I hope the Tigers remain safe.


I am practically speechless after last night’s performance. Their was a rising outcry that the Tigers screwed up by rushing him along. They still may have, but last evening’s performance was one for the ages. It adds to the building crescendo of hope to what may yet come with this organization and it’s young players. I am glad for young Jeremy because the media, who had high expectations fed to them, were starting to wonder if the emperor had any clothes. He had performed all right statistically but has suffered some hard luck and situationally had not pitched well. He has yet to arrive, but this gives us a clearer view of what many scouts, coaches, and scribes had suggested may develop.


It has been a wonderful season thus far and many players have had spectacular years. About this time of the season people begin to speculate who have been the best players for that particular season. This speculation precipitates an annual debate about determing the Most Valuable Player Award. In that debate, there is great divide over what determines who is the player who is most valuable and whether or not they should be a member of a winning team. I think there are 8 players whose performance stands out enough that they warrant consideration for this award.

AL MVP Frontrunners(as of 8/15)

Player G .BA .OPS HR RBI Runs RP(runs+RBI) %RP

Guerrero 113 .325 .941 25 89 89 178 15.5

Mora 94 .345 1.022 21 75 84 159 13.4

Ortiz 108 .311 .995 30 105 65 170 13.2

Hafner 108 .320 1.013 23 91 76 167 12.9

Guillen 115 .315 .926 17 83 83 166 13.8

Sheffield 113 .292 .928 27 85 91 176 13.8

Texeira 99 .265 .906 28 72 73 145 12.1

Ramirez 109 .317 1.024 30 87 73 160 12.4

The %RP is the percentage of the players runs + RBI/Team total of runs + RBI.

Runs Produced and the % of the teams total Runs Produced are a somewhat crude statistics but they are simple ways to make comparisons to the players values to their team. I believe the media would suggest Vlad Guerrero would be the frontrunner for the award and I would have to agree. I think Gary Sheffield is a very close 2nd. Unfortunately for Ortiz and Ramirez they sort of cancel each other out being from the same team. Guerrero has carried a team who has suffered from a number of injuries and has been very consistent all year. Sheffield is surrounded by a lot of good hitters but he has played through an injury all season and performed very well through it all. I like seeing Guillen’s stats in this, as a point of comparison. I think if the Tigers had a candidate, it would be Pudge but that would be based on sentiment and name recognition over actual performance. Melvin Mora continues to surprise people who doubted his talents and continues to prove he is among the best players in baseball.


Tonight was the third time recently that Bobby Higginson has been benched in favor of Marcus Thames or Craig Monroe while a right handed pitcher is starting. According to a article, Higgy had gone 9-16 with 2 Homers versus Ramon Ortiz in his career and Ortiz has had a poor season. If he is not hitting well enough to even platoon and Tram has apparently lost confidence in his abilities maybe he should go the way of other former Tigers Randall Simon and Robert Fick, and be released. He will have $8 Million in salary coming to him next season. Were he receiving a similar salary to that of Monroe or Thames this wouldn’t be an issue. Did the releases of Damion Easley and Tony Clark hurt the Tigers in the long run? Next to Juan Gonzalez, this just might be the most disappointing Tiger in the team’s history. Other than being a favorite of Mr. Ilitch I can see no reason he is still around.

Al Cy Young

By all indications, Mark Mulder will probably be awarded the Al Cy Young this season. Mulder has pitched very well and deserves consideration especially since has a league leading 15 victories. Michigan State University baseball fans would be very excited in the event that this would occur due to Mulder having attended Moo U. I think another lefty may even be more deserving of the honor of CY Young in the AL due to his recent performance. He is a Venezuelan who said that he intended to be an engineer had he not made it as baseball player and the Tigers division rival, Johan Santana.

Player CG SH W-L ERA WHIP opp. OPS Team OPS AVG R/gm

Santana 1 1 11-6 3.34 0.99 .622 .747 4.71

Mulder 5 1 15-3 3.49 1.22 .681 .779 5.05

Schilling 3 0 13-5 3.38 1.13 .677 .824 5.61

Martinez 0 0 12-4 3.94 1.17 .698 .824 5.61

Johnson 1 1 8-9 4.40 1.28 .717 .789 5.20

These stats are as of 8/6. I included Jason Johnson’s stats as a point of comparison. Team .OPS and AVG Runs/Gm are measures of what kind of hitting and run support the pitcher is receiving. The significant difference in run support and hitting along with Santana’s absolutely stellar performance and his league leading 183 strikeouts, I think it would be a travesty if he didn’t receive the award. Furthermore, the Twins better lock him up long term and pay him so that he doesn’t become a free agent. Otherwise, Boss Steinbrenner will back the Brinks truck right to Santana’s door and he will be fitted for pinstripes.

Dave Dombrowski Q&A

Dave Dombrowski was briefly interviewed on the local sports talk station (WQTX 92.7/92.1) today by local jock/author Rich Kincaid (“Gods of Olympia Stadium”, a Red Wings book). It occurred at 11:00 A.M. and Dombrowski was very open about several topics. Kincaid started by indicating that he had mixed feelings in regards to this season. He felt that that D.D. had made some nice moves in the offseason to strengthen the team up the middle and if the Tigers were to reach .500 it would be a nice improvement, but Kincaid felt that the elements were there to contend and since the All-Star break they haven’t been playing like contenders. Dombrowski replied “that their had been dramatic improvements” and that he would continue to take steps this winter to make the team a contender. Kincaid mentioned that he thought the starting pitching had performed well and that it was a bit of a surprise. Dombrowski stated that he was happy with their young pitching and that he felt that they had a lot of upside. He also said that the young pitchers would have to continue to improve and get to that 15-17 win level in order for the Tigers to contend. Kincaid then mentioned that he felt Jason Johnson had been a little inconsistent and had had an up & down year. Dombrowski talked about Johnson’s early blister problems and about the recent 10 start stretch where he had been very good and that his last couple had been difficult. They started discussing the pressures on free agents and how Kincaid noticed that the free agents would often struggle in their first year with a new team. Dombrowski replied that free agents were competitive individuals who often place tough expectations on themselves and that they often just need to settle in and return to the standards of performance that made them desirable as free agents in the first place. Kincaid then stated that if they made the 38 game improvement from last season to this season and finished .500 that this season would possibly be the greatest in Tiger history. Dombrowski stated that he felt that they had made dramatic improvements but essentially said that this season could not be a greatest anything unless they had one a World Series. Kincaid then asked some questions that had been submitted by listeners. He first asked Dombrowski about the play of Bobby Higginson and whether or not Nook Logan or Marcus Thames will be playing more in right field? Dombrowski stated that Higginson had struggled recently and would never be the player he had once been. He also said that he felt Higginson had been a steady, everyday type of player but they would like better numbers from the position and that Alan (Trammell) may have to make the decision to play Monroe or Thames in right field down the road. He also said that there could not be a lineup with Nook Logan and Alex Sanchez together. Another caller wanted to know if Inge of Infante would possibly be used as trade bait to acquire some more pitching. Dombrowski said that Inge in particular was very valuable with his offense and his “maneuverability” that he was definitely in their plans. He also stated that they aren’t thinking about next year yet and that they have year-in-review meetings in October and that’s where they begin to address the changes that might occur in the offseason. I asked if it would be possible that the Tigers will feature three lefties in their starting rotation next season. Dombrowski stated that as long as they are pitching well he would have no problems using three lefties. He said that Oakland has used three lefty starters the last couple of years and that one team had even had four (?). Another caller wanted to know when and if the Tigers may recall Matt Anderson? Dombrowski said that Anderson was suffering from some tenderness (?) and had not had a very good year in Toledo and if they did not recall him he would be a free agent at the end of the year. (He all but said he’ll be gone. Another first rounder bites the dust, Matt Wheatland) Another caller asked about the status of Fernando Vina and Dombrowki stated that between the knee and hamstring, he had to make some tough decisions whether or not he wanted a surgery. The surgery provides no guarantees of full recovery.

The Corners

The Tigers were very hopeful entering the season that Eric Munson and Carlos Pena would both emerge as consistent and productive contributors in their lineup and attain the stardom that scouts and “experts” projected that they might achieve. They both have had difficult and frustrating seasons. For every glimmer of hope that they are ready to meet expectations, they both seem to take a step or two backward. After reading Lynn Henning’s recent article in the Detroit News I decided to look at their output and gauge it as compared to the rest of the American League. In doing this, I selected the members of each team who played the most games at both 1st and 3rd base. In the process I eliminated Seattle, Minnesota and Boston from my comparisons because injuries, trades and other variables made it to difficult for my feeble brain to factor them into the comparisons. I also grabbed 3 high run producing 1st/3rd pairs from the NL just as another comparison. In all of this I didn’t factor in park effects. I also realized that the National League 1st/3rd pairs would be even more productive in their lineups due to the fact that the pitcher bats and the American 1st/3rd pairs would be less productive with the presence of a Designated Hitter in their lineups.

G HR RP(runs scored+RBI) RP%(RP/team RP) .OPS
1b Pena 87 13 97 9% .737
3b Munson 79 14 66 6% .751
166 27 163 15% (.OPS+.OPS)1.488

When compared to the eleven other AL teams in my comparison Munson/Pena were 7th in Homers, 10th in Runs Produced, 10th in .OPS+.OPS, and 11th in Runs Produced Percentage. The .OPS+.OPS number in itself is not all that meaningful,but it was another way to compare player production. When you consider that the Tigers have hit the ball very well this year and are 5th in the American League in Total Team Runs Produced, the performance of Pena and Munson can be seen as that they are less productive members of a very productive lineup and that they are at positions in the lineup where teams hope to obtain a good chunk of their production. Also effecting their offensive production would be the fact that they are both as of late part of a platoon and are losing a lot of opportunities to increase their production in the Tiger lineup.

Here are some of the gaudier pairings as a means of comparison:
Player G HR RP RP% .OPS
Texeira 86 25 129 12 .923
Blalock 103 24 138 13 .885
Team RP=1100 49 267 24 1.808

Pujols 99 29 164 15 1.038
Rolen 101 25 169 15 1.024
Team RP=1104 54 333 30 2.062

Also compare the Tampa Bay pair, who are playing on a team with an identical record to the Tigers and whose team produces less runs.

Tino 89 14 90 10 .845
Huff 104 19 129 14 .805
Team RP=896 33 219 24 1.750

If Dave Dombrowski chooses to keep both Munson and Pena as the primary players at their positions, they will need to contribute more or the Tiger’s will need for Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge and Omar Infante to continue to surprise with their offensice production.

It has become very apparent that it is time to “cut bait” with Ugueth U. Urbina. His overall value in the trade market is diminishing with each poor appearance he makes. Already, rumors suggest that the Tigers may have to part with a prospect along with Urbina in order to garner anything beyond a marginal prospect in trade for Urbina. Many will argue that the Tigers will have not have a Closer in their bullpen once they have traded Urbina. I agree that Urbina is well established as a Closer and any replacement will be temporary and unproven. I want to suggest to you that with their recent performances, Al Levine and Esteban Yan would be suitable, if not reliable replacements at the back end of the bullpen for Urbina.
2004 Season K/9 BB/9 H/9 HR WHIP IP G/F ERA
Urbina 10.75 6.18 7.09 5 1.47 39.1 0.42 4.58
Yan 6.42 2.63 9.88 5 1.39 54.2 1.46 4.12
Levine 4.37 3.23 10.65 7 1.54 47.1 0.89 4.75

Jun+July K/9 BB/9 H/9 HR WHIP IP ERA
Urbina 11.51 5.56 5.56 5 1.24 22.2 3.97
Yan 6.75 2.25 9.37 2 1.29 24 3.74
Levine 4.89 2.85 8.96 3 1.31 22.1 2.82

July 25 K/9 BB/9 H/9 HR WHIP IP ERA
Urbina 10.45 6.1 6.1 3 1.35 12 5.23
Yan 7.50 2.25 6.75 1 1.20 12 2.25
Levine 4.38 2.92 4.38 1 0.81 12.1 0.73

Many publications suggest the Tigers would need to turn to Danny Patterson or Jamie Walker as closer once Urbina is traded. I think the Tigers will elect to keep Walker in his designated Lefty speciallist role and possibly use Danny Patterson as a Closer/set-up man instead of Levine. My point is that there will not be that large of a dropoff, if recent performance holds true, between Urbina and Yan as Closer down the stretch.

Royal Pain

Can anyone possibly explain the Tiger’s difficulties facing Kansas City this season. At the time of this entry, they are trailing by two going into the top of the 8th inning. It’s becoming much clearer that this team will not be able to get over the hump and make a run at contention. That being said I want to sit back and enjoy their competitiveness and the continuing development of Inge, Infante, etc. I am glad that Brian made mention of Urbina’s poor performance. He has a high save percentage and maybe the only semblance of a closer that the team posesses. That being said, he has never really appeared to get into the groove and approach the dominance you would hope for in someone who is going to close the game for you. Excepting a major turnaround, such as making a big run at the White Sox (like winning 13-14 out of 19) the Tiger fans will have to prepare for the prospect that Esteban Yan will be the closer for the remainder of the season and Urbina will be traded. His recent performance may be enough to warrant consideration for that scenario anyhow. Riffing on a theme in one of Brian’s recent entries I have enjoyed reading recently: Diamond Gems by Ernie Harwell, American Dynasty by Kevin Phillips (almost finished) and a Warren Cromartie bio/diary of his experiences while playing for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan. Musically, I have particularly enjoyed the newest release by Bobby Bare, Jr. and Grey DeLisle.

What a Difference a Day (weekend) Makes

I visited Comerica Park on Tuesday, June 30th to watch the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians. The game was well attended coming off from the high of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Roar of ’84 and the buzz the current team was generating from it’s two successive nights ending in walk-off home runs. Those games restored some hope and excitement for local baseball fans at a time when the general sport’s public attention begins to shift towards baseball. That evening was another exciting display of offensive prowess and it’s walk-off ending in extra innings contributed even more to the local excitement. My counterpart and I listened to the Team 1270 on our ride back to Lansing and the post-game callers had elaborate visions of grandeur as to how this baseball club maybe able to make a run in the division and compete for the postseason playoffs. I have to admit to letting myself get a little caught up in the frenzy as well.

Three disappointing losses in Colorado to the lowly Rockies in heartbreaking fashion and cold-hearted whupping administered by the Yankees, one has to wonder if when we recollect upon this season if that three walk-off Hr weekend will be it’s nexus and the eventual turning point. The Rockies games exposed the Tiger bullpen for the fraud that it is and also showed that as good as the bats are in the lineup they may not be able to win slugfests when the pitching staff is ineffective. So if the Tigers are about to become “Sellers” as opposed to “Buyers” in the impending trade deadline market here are some things I would like to see happen:
1) I would hope the Tigers will at least top last seasons win totals before shipping off any players that may desirable to other organizations to assist them in their postseason runs.
2) I want to see what the dominant (at Erie at least) Wil Ledezma can do if he returns to the big leagues and has a few starts.
3) I hope they can establish a bullpen stopper who is capable of taking up some of Ugueth Urbina’s slack when he is eventually moved.
4) I hope they continue to see better performances from Carlos Pena and Eric Munson and see similar levels of performance from Brandon Inge and Omar Infante. The future of the Tigers is held in their development and continued improvement.

I don’t want have the tone of this article give the appearance of waving a white flag but the fact being that this team has exceeded our imaginations and yet hovers at it’s best just under .500 one can’t reasonably expect that it will rise above at this point. Factoring the lack of depth within the organization for future development, the pressures on Dave Dombrowski to improve upon it’s lack of big league talent will prevent him from mortgaging the future to acquire players for any sort of stretch run. I hope that Double-D is as succesful in his moves as some of the others he has made have been.

Carlos Guillen, All Star Shortstop!

Each year there are players who have wonderful beginnings to their seasons and their performance compels their local fans to lobby vehemently for their selection to the all-star team roster. In most cases, the player who is elected by the fans to play that position is a proven commodity who for one reason or another has not quite had the same beginning to their season performance-wise.

Carlos Guillen, beyond a doubt has been one of the wonderful surprises to this season and beyond a doubt has out-performed his peers at the position in the American League. Even Jim Price and Dan Dickerson have taken to referring to him as Carlos Guillen, all-star shortstop. He has been a breath of fresh air with his controlled, almost relaxed style of play. His ever present cud of chewing tobacco makes him appear to be a throwback type of player. I think many Tiger fans are just clicking their heels at the thought that a team so miserable one season ago could actually be so close to .500 ball at this stage of the season. Still I believe their should be an en masse campaign for people to stuff the ballots online and at the ballparks to help Guillen to overtake Nomar Garciaparra in the fan voting. Especially considering the fact that Garciaparra only had 34 AB’s going into Wednesday June 23rd.

Here are Guillen’s rankings among AL shortstops as of the 23rd.
2nd .BA .326
1st .SLG .558
1st .OBA .386
1st Runs 49
2nd Hits 83
2nd Doubles 17
1st Triples 7
2nd Homers 10
2nd RBI’s 47
1st BB’s 28
1st .OPS .944
1st Runs produced 96 (runs +RBI)

Even more importantly, Guillen was not even targeted by the Tigers in the offseason as a primary target at a position they deemed important to upgrade in the offseason. For significantly less money they have gotten more production than they would have received had they been succesful in signing one of their two primary targets, Rich Aurilia and Miguel Tejada. In the process, they have made a significant upgrade over last year’s shortstop, Ramon Santiago.

AL Shortstop .BA .SLG .OBA R H 2b 3b HR RBI BB OPS

Guillen .322 .558 .386 49 83 17 7 10 47 28 .944
Tejada .298 .454 .357 33 78 11 0 10 51 24 .811
Aurilia .234 .316 .300 22 49 11 0 2 23 18 .616
Santiago .200 .267 .294 4 3 1 0 0 0 2 .561

Santiago has had limited action so his stats look particularly bad. I have recently learned of another telling stat from reading Allen Barra’s books. It is called SLOB which means .SLG X .OBP. This statistic tells you the number of runs a team of for example, Carlos Guillen’s would score in 100 innings. Guillen would score 21.53 if he continues at this rate. While Tejada’s team would score 16.21 and Aurilia’s 9.48.

In all of this I am not arguing that Guillen is a future Hall of Famer, like Garciaparra possibly is, I just believe he is more deserving as an All-Star shortstop and has had a greater impact for the Tigers than their other more desired options going into the season. I just hold out hope that he can continue to play at this level or close to it and it is not an aberration of their sort we endured while viewing Damian Easley, Bobby Higginson, etc through the years. You can vote for Carlos at

Bullpen Woes

I believe it was Branch Rickey who stated that most teams can count on winning and losing 60 games and the relative success of their season is determined by the other 42. Thus far, the Tigers have been very competitive and quite enjoyable to watch. Most games have been close and has it has appeared that they have an excellent chance in any game until they have tendered their final out. On June 9, when I purchased my Pro Sports Weekly newspaper (published by USA Today) I was looking at team statistics for Detroit & Anaheim that I found interesting.

Anaheim .282 297 855 102 16 547 58 280 145
Detroit .284 296 856 101 17 553 56 287 197

Anaheims team OPS (On-base + Slugging) was .780 while Detroit’s was .791. I realize that Anaheim has suffered from a rash of injuries (Garret Andersen, Troy Glaus, et al) and the Tigers have benefited from the stellar performances out of Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge and Omar Infante, I was still surprised when I saw these stats especially after the way Anaheim had buzzsawed their way through the Tiger pitching staff earlier in the season. It also must be qualified that Anaheim consistently faces stiffer competition from the starting pitching of Oakland and Seattle as compared to the staffs the Tigers must face in the AL Central.

starting pitching W-L ERA BB SO IP
Anaheim 23-18 5.18 110 208 323.0
Detroit 20-21 5.19 119 217 311.1

I feel that the Tiger starting pitching has been better than expected and that Anaheim’s has been a slight dissappointment due to the less than spectacular performance of Bartolo Colon. On paper, superficially the two teams don’t seem too far apart although at the time Anaheim was in 1st in their division and the Tigers inhabited 4th place. The determing factor appears to be in their bullpens.

relief pitching W-L ERA IP SV BB SO
Anaheim 10-5 3.14 175.0 19 69 169
Detroit 5-10 4.61 179.2 11 88 134

Beyond these stats I looked at the Tigers and Anaheim bullpens excepting the swing starters (i.e. Ramon Ortiz, Aaron Sele, and Gary Knotts). Anaheim is missing setup man and former All-Star, Brendan Donnelly and have suffered from some poor performances by Troy Percival.

relief pitching WHIP H/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB
Anaheim 1.34 8.42 3.62 9.15 2.53
Detroit 1.52 9.58 4.10 6.70 1.63

The Tigers relievers are pitching more innings and putting more men on base. These statistics don’t account for many variables that depend on 8 other position players, but still is quite clear that this aspect of the game has hurt the teams overall performance. Hopefully, the Tigers will remain competitive throughout and the bullpen will remain the largest of their concerns and possibly their performance will improve.

Situational Leftist

On May 24th and 25th I was given the opportunity to view some Tiger prospects first hand. I was able to watch the West Michigan Whitecaps play our local Cubs class A affiliate in Lansing, the Lansing Lugnuts. It was also a great opportunity because on the 25th Mark Prior had his second rehabilitation start. It would also prove to be a very difficult test for the Whitecaps hitters as Prior held them hitless with no walks and allowed one baserunner on a fielding error in 4 1/3 innings. I realize that 2 games is a very limited sampling but I was left with good impressions from three Whitecap players and their overall performance in those games.
Tony Giarrantano was very good at shortstop. He exhibited good range and a strong arm. In particular, during the 2nd inning of the May 24th game he snagged a hard hit ball in the 5 1/2 hole between second and third and threw out a baserunner at 1st going away that was very impressive. He had a double with an RBI and also reached base after being hit by a pitch in the 9 at bats I witnessed. He looked confident and was very good at working the counts. He will need to develop a little pop if he will continue to move through the system.
Vincent Blue, is a lanky centerfielder who appears to have good range and really moved to get after balls hit into the rangy centerfield of Oldsmobile Park. He did lose one line drive that was turned into a triple but otherwise performed very well. He had 4 hits in his 10 at bats in the 2 games and had a RBI. He was an aggressive base runner which lead him to being thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple. As Blue physically matures I can see him develop some more slugging potential because he is very long and thin.
Kody Kirkland performed very well in the games I saw but appears to have had a rough time at the plate to begin the season. He had 4 hits in nine at bats but also struck out 4 times. He seemed to have his best at bats versus Prior even if he was only able to get on base due to a fielding error. Kirkland who two triples very deep in right center, one of which might have been a homer if it hadn’t struck a protective railing on the outfield wall. Kirkland was sure handed at third and seemed to have a good arm. Kirkland may have the most difficult path to the majors since he will have not only his own performance to be concerned with but the fact that the organization also has a former first round draft pick in Scott Moore sitting just one level above him in the organization.

My name is Steve Butts. I went to Michigan State University and got a B.S. in Pychology. I have been a baseball fan since seeing a 1977 Detroit Tigers baseball program. The first World Series I remember viewing was the “We are Family” Pirates. I have also been at times a Cub fan thanks to cable television and a late grandfather who grew up in West Michigan and was a lifelong fan. I am also a distant relative to Toledo pitcher Andy Van Hekken on my mother’s side of the family. I am currently employed in the Music and Video Dept. of a local Barnes & Noble.

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