Archive for the '2004 Tigers' Category

Comerica Park Stadium Renovation

It looks like changes are a foot at Comerica Park. You can check out the Free Press article here.

I’m not sure what the advantage is of moving the pens over to left field. I know they need to do something with the dead space they created when they brought in the walls, but I guess I’ll need to see it to really opine. The article is pretty vague, and I’m not sure if this means the fences are being moved in more, or even if they’ll be moved back. If it creates more bleachers, I’m all for it, because I think they need more cheap seats.

My biggest gripe with Comerica Park has always been how the grounds crew comes out from behind home plate, creating this big gap in the seats. They basically took away several prime seats by doing this.

Other then that, not a whole lot is happening. I wish everyone a safe and happy holidays.

Troy Percival is a Tiger

Well, the Tigers made their first move of the offseason. They signed Troy Percival to a two year, $12 million contract. And I don’t like it. Check back later for the analysis.

AL MVP and NL MVP Predictions

This is it. The MVP voting pretty much signifies the end of the season. It’s our final look back at the 2004 season before the Hot Stove League really gets going.

Barry Bonds probably won’t sweep the first place ballots in the National League, but he should. It’s really hard to pick which of the last four seasons were Bond’s best (not too mention the best of all time). He won his second batting title in three years, and set single season records in walks (232), OBP (.609), and OPS (1.422). Throw in 45 homeruns in only 373 at bats, and it makes for another historic season.

The American League is a little less clear. Vladimir Guerrero had a fine season, and now that he’s out from under Barry’s wing in the NL, could walk away with his first MVP. But I’m going to make a pitch for Johan Santana. I normally wouldn’t throw a pitcher into the mix, but let’s take a look.

Forget about the stats for a second. Taking away his final start where he only pitched five innings, the Twins won 19 of Santana’s 21 starts from June 9th forward. The two losses were a 2-0 loss to the Tigers and a 2-1 loss to the White Sox. So better put, Santana put the Twins in a position to win each of those twenty one victories.

I think this will be close one though. I can see four or five players getting first place votes, none of which could go to Santana. I don’t think Johan will even finish in the top five, but he warrants being there.

Redbird Nation

One of the best baseball blogs out there, Redbird Nation, is closing up shop. I wish Brian Gunn the best of luck.

The 2004 Hardball Times Baseball Annual

I purchased the e-book version of the Hardball Times Baseball Annual today. I haven’t had a chance to read through the whole, but in skimming through the content, baseball fans will be very happy with this purchase. There’s literally something for everyone. If you’re a stathead, there’s tons of stats. You’ll also find some great articles, including one on how people will look back at the 2004 season fifty years from now.

These guys work their butt off during the season putting up free content, so this is a great way to support the site. Plus you get a great baseball resource. Not to mention most of the main stream publications don’t get their magazines or books out until Feb. This is a great way to get your baseball fix in early November.

Tigers Sign Urbina, Trouble in DC

The Tigers picked up Ugueth Urbina’s $4 million option yesterday. I have mixed feelings about this, because I don’t think he’s worth that much. A 4.50 ERA for a closer is high. Very high actually. The reason I have mixed feelings is because I know without a doubt that Urbina is our best arm in the pen, so we basically had to sign him. So Walker and Urbina at a combined $5 million is something I can live with. I just hope Urbina can improve on a mediocre season last year.

There is some good news about Urbina’s mother. Last I heard, they had confirmed she’s still alive. Outside of that, I’m unsure of the progress that’s been made.

It looks like there’s a lot of trouble with the Expos move to Washington. Since joining SABR and helping out with the Business of Baseball committee’s weblog, I’ve been digesting all that’s gone on, and if this kind of thing interests you, I urge you to visit that blog to read up on what’s been happening. If you enjoy politics along with baseball, you’ll find it fascinating.

2004 Free Agent Wishlist

Who should the Tigers go after in this offseason? I’m going to exclude some of the no brainers. We all know how well Carlos Beltran would fit on this team, and we know how much of an impact Pedro Martinez would make at the top of the rotation. However, I don’t think we’ll end up getting either of those guys, so I’m going to discuss a few players who not only would fill a hole, but might also come at a bargain.

Matt Morris – Despite winning fifteen games, the right hander posted his first sub 100 ERA+ of his career. He not only topped a 4.00 ERA for the first time, but he blew the mark out of the water. His 1.290 WHIP was respectable, but the 35 homeruns he gave up weighed on him during the season.

Someone could throw a pile of money at Morris, because he is only thirty. If they don’t, I’m hoping he’s wearing the Old English D.

Derek Lowe – This is a tricky one. After getting beat up during the regular season, Mr. Lowe had an outstanding post-season, raising his stock considerably. His outstanding 2002 campaign is now two years removed, and he’s regressed quite a bit since then. I’d like to see this extreme ground ball pitcher on the Tigers, but I hope they don’t overspend.

Troy Glauss – Definitely a wild card. The former homerun champ has been dinged up the last two years. He really struggled after coming back from shoulder surgery, but he’s still 27, and has the patience at the plate that I like. He’s probably not a lot better then Munson in the field, but at least he’s comfortable playing there.

So those are just a few guys. Wishful thinking? Yeah, maybe, but nobody ever thought we’d get Pudge last year.

2004 Free Agents

Alright, I started doing an op/ed on what I thought the Tigers should do, but my kid started screaming, so this will have to wait until tonight, hopefully.

In the meantime, Aaron Gleeman is doing a very nice series on the available free agents over at Hardball Times. I highly recommend you check it out.

Arizona Fall League Update has a nice AFL update. It’s worth checking out. You should be seeing these guys on the Tigers in the next couple of years.

Jamie Walker Signs With Detroit

Jamie Walker signed a one year, $900,000 deal with the Detroit Tigers yesterday. Walker was one of our more effective relievers, and showed some improvement in 2004. He gave up more hits, but his career 177/61 strikeout to walk ratio is nice. If Walker has a knock, it’s the long ball. He’s given up 37 homeruns in 233 2/3 career innings, which is almost 1.5 per nine innings.

But he definitely improved in what should be his primary job, and that’s getting left handed hitters out. In 2003, six of the nine homeruns he gave up were against lefties. That number droped to one in 2004.

$900,000 is a fair price. Walker has some trade value, and has a good arm. I’ve always liked watching his delivery. It’s not quite side arm, because his release point is up near his head. I can imagine lefties struggling against him, because the ball starts out coming right at them.

The Tigers also declined Al Levine’s $1.1 million option. Levine was pretty ineffective, as he barely struck out more batters then he walked, and gave up ten homers in just over seventy innings.

Both are good moves. They’re both no-brainers, but we’ll give management the credit they deserve for continuing to make good decisions.

IBWA Awards

The first annual Internet Baseball Writers Association awards were announced yesterday. Be sure to check it out.

I’d announce my ballot, but I don’t remember exactly who I voted for. The only major deviation was I voted Johan Santana as the AL Player of the Year.

Boston Red Sox – World Series Champions

Well, the curse of the Great Bambino is now over. Any team that rattles off eight straight wins against two 100 win teams is definitely a deserving champion.

Is there any irony that the World Series MVP, Manny Ramirez, could have gone to any team that was willing to pay him last off season? I guess all is forgotten.

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox.

Against the Wall

It’s funny how for such a long time, the Boston Red Sox couldn’t catch a break. Now it seems like they’re destined to win this thing. It’s not too often a team can make four errors in a game, and still pull it out. It’s even more rare to accomplish that feat in consecutive games.

In game three, it was the Cardinals making the mistakes. Larry Walker got thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the first trying to score on Manny Ramirez (usually a safe bet, and I can’t blame them for running), and then in the bottom of the second, Jeff Suppan failed to score on a deep grounder to second base. It might not have made the difference, but it would have put a little more heat on Pedro.

And speaking of Mr. Martinez, game three was all about him. In his most important game of his career, he gave the Red Sox seven shutout innings. And despite having David Ortiz at first base, the Red Sox went through the whole game without making an error.

So now it’s the Cardinals with their backs against the wall. Down 3-0, you have to wonder whether the second ever 3-0 comeback can happen, but I’m pessimistic. Tonight it will all be up to Jason Marquis. I’ll be watching because there’s a distinct possibility that this will be the last baseball I get until April.

Tigers Sign First Round Pick Justin Verlander, Finally

Justin Verlander signed a five year major league contract with the Tigers on Friday. After what appeared to be some hardball negotiations, the two side finally got the deal done. Because of the major league contract, I think Verlander’s time table will be sped up a little. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him playing for the big league squad as early as mid-2007.

Chris Shelton is tearing up the Arizona Fall League. After two weeks of play, Shelton is posting .439/.478/.902, and also was co-player of the week. If he can pan out, he’ll join Wil Ledezma as two guys with a ton of potential that were acquired via the Rule 5 draft.

Curtis Granderson is also playing well, hitting .370/.455/.444. You have to love that On Base Percentage.

2004 World Series Prediction – Red Sox Versus Cardinals

Well, we’re at the end. It just seems like yesterday when the Tigers took Roy Halladay to task, beating the Blue Jays to win the season opener. It’s been almost seven months since then, and for one more week, we have baseball.

The improbable Red Sox square off against the St. Louis Cardinals. Will the Red Sox be the third straight wild card team to win the World Series, and in the process, end an 86 year old curse? Or will it be the Cardinals, a franchise with nine World Championships?

In 1946 and 1967, these teams squared off in the World Series, and both times the Cardinals won in seven games. Can the Red Sox break the curse, or will history repeat itself?

Hitting – I give the edge to the Cardinals. Albert Pujols might be the best hitter in baseball that doesn’t have the last name Bonds, and he has a very solid supporting cast. Combine this with the fact that they hammered the ball while playing in a park that slightly favors pitchers, and there’s your edge.

Not that the Red Sox slap the ball around though. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are a potent combination, and I think Manny is going to make an appearance after a quiet ALCS.

Pitching – The Red Sox have two of the best starting pitchers in all baseball. Curt Schilling is the wild card though. If he’s able to pitch effectively in two games during this season, it increases the chances of the Red Sox taking home a championship considerably. Pedro will be Pedro, and if the Red Sox were to win it, I think he’d be your series MVP.

I do think the Cardinals have more depth. Once you get past Schilling and Pedro, the Cards have the edge. They can send three solid pitchers to the mound in Jeff Suppan, Woody Williams, and Matt Morris, but I think quality beats quantity. I give the edge to the Red Sox.

Bench and Bullpen – Also close, but Dave Roberts and Doug Mientkiewicz are two guys who are goog to have sitting on your bench. I’d also take Keith Foulke over Jason Isringhausen any day. I give the edge to the Sox, but I’m not as knowledgable on the St. Louis’ bench players.

Coaching – Tony LaRussa has been here before, and he’s won more games then all but five managers. Terry Francona has done a decent job, but I give the edge to the veteran here.

Overall – As much as I’d like to see Boston win, I just don’t see it happening. St. Louis proved they can beat a big game pitcher when they bested Roger Clemens in game seven of the NLCS . The Cards have no superstars in their rotation, but they were good enough to rack up 105 wins and make it to the World Series.

I think the Cardinals are going to win in six, and Albert Pujols will be the MVP.

There’s a First Time For Everything

Whoever coined the phrase “records are made to be broken” was on to something. It seems like every year, a new piece of history is made. In my lifetime, we’ve pretty much seen it all. Roger Maris’ single season homerun record stood for over 35 years, only to see his mark surpassed by two players in the same season. And then only three years later, Mark McGwire’s new record of 70 homers was surpassed by Barry Bonds in his monster 2001 campaign.

Even this year, we saw Ichiro break George Sisler’s 84 year old record for hits in a season, and Adam Dunn set a more infamous mark by striking out a record 195 times.

This might top every one of them. For the first time ever, a team has come back to win a series where they were down 0-3. Boston scored two in the first on a David Ortiz two run homer, and four in the second on a grand slam by Johnny Damon. Damon then homered again in the fourth to make it 8-1. In four innings, he went from series goat to series hero. Congratulations to the Red Sox on a hard fought victory to make it to their first World Series in eighteen years.

And to make things even more interesting, the Astros and Cardinals will square off in a game seven of their own. Jim Edmonds came up big in the twelth to keep the Cards alive. The Astros biggest concern has to be Brad Lidge, who threw three incredible innings, but has been worked to death in this series. If he comes out tomorrow and puts together more of what he’s given his team in the playoffs, he should be a close second to Carlos Beltran for the MVP.

But you have to love this. Great baseball no matter how you cut it. Let’s just hope the World Series isn’t anticlimactic. If it’s anything close to what we’ve seen in the ALCS and NLCS, we’re going to get a real treat.

Risen From the Dead???

I doubt if anyone but the most diehard Red Sox fan predicted the Red Sox to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS. First off, it’s the Red Sox. You know, the Curse of the Bambino and everything. If a team were to come back from 3-0, it would be against the Red Sox.

But this could be a story that would do even Stephen King proud (and he’s going to have a book out about the 2004 Red Sox). For the second straight night, the Red Sox came back late in the game to tie the game up, only to win it in extra innings. They still have a tough road ahead, needing to win two straight at Yankee Stadium. But winning two in a row is a lot more realistic then winning four in a row.

And the story continues tonight, and only gets better. Curt Schilling, who was shelled in game one after proclaiming he was going to shut up 55,000 Yankees fans, has another chance. This is also the guy who had it written into his contract that he’d get a bonus “when” the Red Sox won the World Series. Now is the time get it done.

Not to be outdone, the Astros/Cards game had it’s own drama. With the game scoreless going into the bottom of the ninth, Jeff Kent came up big with a three run walk off homer to end it. Brandon Backe, who had never started a game prior to this season, pitched eight innings of one hit ball, only to give it up to Brad Lidge, who earned the win.

The Astros and Cards get a day break, so tonight it’s game six over in the ALCS. To say this is good baseball would be a gross understatement. I hope everyone is enjoying this as much as I am.

Almost Half Way There

The Red Sox averted a sweep last night in a twelve inning thriller. Fox Sports has to be hoping the Red Sox come back and make this a tight series, but the Yankees send their ace to the mound this afternoon in a game that would have been played Friday had it not been for Mother Nature.

I’m one of those rare people who neither love nor hate the Yankees. I think they’re good for baseball and if they finish off the Red Sox, it’s hard to argue with seven pennants and four World Series Championships (and counting) the last nine years.

Over in the National League, things are lot less clear. I was glued to the radio driving home last night listening to game four. No matter how you cut it, we’ve gotten some great baseball this offseason. Let’s hope the World Series is just as exciting.

Former Tiger Ray Boone passed away this weekend. Jason Beck has a nice article on Mr. Boone’s accomplishments.

The Tigers claimed Byron Gettis and DeWayne Wise off of waivers. I’ll do a little mini-analysis of both later tonight, but this is nothing earth shattering.


Twenty years ago today, the Tigers won the World Series. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but a few of the players on that team are on the coaching staff of the current team. And I can only think of a couple of players in the entire league who played in 1984.

And with the anniversary comes the end of the diary. I had a lot of fun doing this, and it brought back some pleasant memories. Considering they’ve only made the playoffs one time since then, they’re cherished memories.

The Cards/Astros game started late and the Astros are up 1-0. Carlos Beltran homered, again. If the Astros make it to the World Series, he could set some records. Heck, even if they don’t he could set some records.

On the radio, everyone is writing off the Red Sox. It’s a whole new ball game at Fenway, but they’ll have to probably win all three to have a solid chance.

Someday, I’ll be sitting here in October watching the Tigers. Sooner would be preferable to later.

I’m leaving early tomorrow for Toronto. Another wedding. By the time I get back, the league championships should be winding down, if not over with. Have a great weekend.

Offseason Fun, and a Milestone

Yankees and Red Sox square off in game 1 in about a half hour. Outside of the Tigers making the playoffs, this is what I love about baseball. It’s the biggest rivalry in baseball, possibly all of sports, and the Yankees and Red Sox will settle things in a seven game series starting tonight.

For the first time ever, I picked all four division series correctly. I need the Red Sox and Astros to make it to the World Series to keep my streak alive.

The Tiger’s might be done, but Tigerblog doesn’t take a break. I’ll still be keeping tabs on the Tigers in the offseason, but I also have a few other things that hopefully will make for some good reading.

1935 Bios – Prior to the 1935 diary in April, I have to introduce the participants, so during the winter I’ll either be linking to whatever biography I can find, or writing one myself.

The Debate – Blade Stevens, the Red’s blogger over at Reds Cutting Edge, and I are going to have a back and forth, position by position debate of which team was better, the 1975 Reds, or the 1984 Tigers. Should be fun, especially because I’ll win.

Norm Cash’s Career YearNorm Cash is the last Tiger to win the batting championship. Back in 1961, he hit .361. The interesting thing is, he only had a career .271 average, and without the 1961 season, he hit .263.

So I’m going to examine how much of an anomaly this season was, and I could use everyone’s help. If you know of anyone who had a career year hitting, drop me a line and I’ll fit him into the analysis. The guy that first comes to mind is Darren Erstad.

So hopefully you’ll stop by and see what’s happening. I’m looking forward to it.

I hit a milestone today. I got my 20,000 visit. I know this is a modest figure compared to some of the other sites (Baseball Musings tops this every month), but it’s a big milestone around here. Thanks to everyone for stopping by.

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