Man, is it nice that baseball’s back. I got to listen to the Red Sox/Twins game last night on the computer, and it’s close to 7 am now, and I’m watching Japan roll over China in the WBC.
The Tigers won their first spring game as they rolled over the Reds.
Ivan Rodriguez got off to a nice start as he went three for three with a homerun and four RBIs. The Tigers were up 5-1 and the Reds came back to tie it, but the home team scored three in the seventh to put the game away.
Nate Robertson threw two scoreless innings and he struck out two. You can read MLB.com’s review here. And the Tigers square off against the Reds again today.
David Pinto, who’s Baseball Musings is one of the top blogs around, is having his second annual pledge drive. While I haven’t quite gotten the hang of the day by database (I know, I’m behind the curve when it comes to this computer stuff), Baseball Musings is probably the best one stop source for keeping up with the happenings in baseball. If you can afford it, please stop by and make a donation.
Jason Beck, the MLB.com’s Tigers beat writer, wrote a nice column on Carlos Guillen and Placido Polanco. His point is pretty valid in that the duo is one of the best in the American League as long as they’re on the field together.
Beck makes the point that the two players were actually the double play combo for a grand total of 21 games last year. If the Tigers are going to have any chance of improving in 2006, they’ll need Polanco and Guillen healthy.
I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.
I would have preferred White move out of the division, but I think the Twins made an interesting move. They were in need of a bat to fill the DH spot, and we all know Rondell can hit. Now we’re going to have to see him 20+ times, and I just have a feeling he’ll come back to haunt the Tigers.
It’s a pretty incentive laden deal, but no matter what happens, he’ll walk away with $3.25 million. At the end of the day, it he meets all of his incentive clauses, he’ll have a two year deal worth $8.25 million.
Alright, I’ve had a few days to think about the Ilitch interview. Probably the biggest thing that bothers me about the whole thing is how he seems to want to blame others while absolving himself.
I’m a CPA and I do quite a bit of work with start ups. One way to build a business is to buy your way in. This can be the easiest, but it’s also the most expensive. Another way would be to build it from the ground up. Here, it’s usually more of a time issue then it is having access to funds.
And while I know the baseball world doesn’t quite mirror the business world because you’re pretty much consigned to the team’s city, you can liken each of these approaches to particular teams. The Yankees (and now the Mets) would be the free spending businesses while the Twins would be the business that builds from within. In a lot of instances, they’re forced into a method based on their location. Then you have the teams in between that build from within, but when they think they’re close, they pull the trigger to make a deal. That’s what the 1984 Tigers did. They were on the verge of breaking through, and with some timely moves (Darrell Evans, Willie Hernandez) they bridged the gap between a team with the potential to a World Series Champion.
One of the Tigers problems the last few is they don’t appear to have a plan. One year we’re seeing what we have (which was a disaster in 2003) and the next we’re signing whoever will play for us (2004 and 2005). So while we’ve increased our payroll, the results have neglible. And in the process, we worked from a farm club that looked like it had a ton of potential, but never quite panned out.
Part of the problem is, we’ve never had a guy at the top who’s done a good job. Probably since Bill Lajoie. So we’ve had guys like Randy Smith who have set the team back on it’s face. But it also looks like Ilitch is willing to stick his nose into things to move things along (Juan Gonzalez trade and the Magglio Ordonez signing). For Dave Dombrowski, the verdict is still out there because we have to let his tenur run it’s course.
So for Mike Ilitch to get up there and say something about needing the team to show him something before he’ll spend, he also needs to hold himself accountable. He hired Randy Smith just like the Fords hired Matt Millen. He also hired Dave Dombroswki. So it seems like way too convenient of an excuse to just say that the GM hasn’t shown him anything when he was the one who hired him in the first place. And the fact that some of the worst teams in the history of the major leagues have taken the field in Detroit under his ownership has just as much to say about him then anything.
We then get back to the current Hot Stove excuse, and that’s the fact that players don’t want to come here. What’s interesting is, you never hear about an NBA player not wanting to come to Detroit and the reason is, they’re winners. If you show that you have a committment to winning, which at times the Tigers haven’t (i.e. the payroll freeze when Comerica Park opened, 2003), then things will take care of themselves.
And there is some optimism the last couple of years. While the results haven’t been good, we have made competitive attempts at bringing in some quality free agents. And it also looks like the Tigers are shoring up their scouting department. These are all good things, and the Tigers are fielding pretty much an equivalent team from last year, in which many people, including myself, expected them to finish with more then 80 wins.
Ilitch, and the people that he hires, have the responsiblity to keep it moving forward. No more excuses, because like you said, it’s been thirteen years.
I’ve read this story a few times now and my reaction goes from somewhat understanding what Ilitch is saying to just being pissed about him. Things are crazy with the holidays, but I’ll try to put my thoughts down tonight.
Jeff commented on Ilitch’s comments, so rather then pushing his thoughts down, I’m going to save my comments for tomorrow.
Another first round draft pick gone without making a contribution. Kenny Baugh got traded to the Padres for 22 year old right hander Ricky Steik. Baugh missed most of 2002 and 2003 after labrum surgery but he helped lead the Toledo Mudhens to the International League championship last year.
The deal was mostly done to clear a roster spot for Kenny Rogers. Not much on Steik, but he only struck out 53 in 60 innings of work at the Padres A affiliate, Fort Wayne. Not bad for a guy who will turn 22 next year, but nothing too special either.
If you have a baseball fan that you need to shop for this holiday season, there’s several books out there that I’d recommend (In no particular order).
Hardball Times Baseball Annual – Yeah, I know this is a little self serving, but this book is a gem. And don’t take my word for it, because it’s gotten some pretty positive reviews from less biased sources.
The Baseball Same Game – This has been out for a little while but it’s a fun book for baseball fans. And when I say fun, I don’t mean to diminish the historical aspects of the book, which are fantastic. I reviewed this book when it came out so be sure to check it out.
The Best of Dodger Thoughts – I’ve ordered this book and can’t yet give you a first hand account because it hasn’t arrived yet, but Jon’s a quality blogger so I have no doubt this book will be packed with useful information on the Dodgers.
Funnyball: The Art of Enjoying a Losing Season – When I did the 1975 Reds diary for Reds Cutting Edge, I made a point to keep up on the current day Reds as well. Red Hot Mama is an excellent Reds blog and this is her collection of posts throughout the year. Blade’s ordered the book and he’s promised to let me take a look at it, but I’m certain this one’ll be good just based on the quality of the blog.
John Sickels’ 2006 Baseball Prospect Book – Unfortunately this won’t be ready to put under your tree this year, but it’s available for preorder. This’ll be the first year I’ve purchased the book, but again, based on the blog, I know I won’t be disappointed.
Whenever I hear about a move the Tigers make, my initial thought is negative. Then I think about things and try to put myself in the shoes of the decision maker while thinking “what was Dave Dombrowski trying to accomplish with this.”
And then I usually get people asking me what I think of the move. By the time that happens, I have a typical response. And that’s…..
….it depends on what they do next.
So the Tigers signed, for two years and $11 million, a reliever coming off a career year who’s going to be 38 next April. They then also sign an aging starter who just turned 41 years old for two years and $16 million. What did Dave Dombrowski accomplish?
I know people will argue vehemently about this, but he made the Tigers better. That’s somewhat simplistic, but let’s look at it. First off, Kenny Rogers was way better then any Tiger starter last year. One of my favorite stats to compare pitchers is Runs Saved Above Average, which you can get from Lee Sinin’s Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia. Nate Robertson led all Tiger starters with a -5, and Jeremy Bonderman was a -6. For those of you who thought Jason Johnson was as good as Kenny Rogers, Johnson served up a -6.
Since Johnson is the guy who’s going out and Kenny Rogers is coming in, it’s best to compare the two of them. Kenny Rogers RSAA was 23, which is very solid, Prior to 2005, he had two rather mediocre seasons (8 RSAA in 2004 and 1 in 2003) but he had an even better year in 2002 when his RSAA was 28. All of those are better then what a Tiger starter has gotten in quite a while.
The other number I like to look at is pitching runs above replacement (PRAR), which is put out by Baseball Prospectus. Kenny Rogers had a 72 and Jason Johnson had a 41. Those 31 runs are worth about three wins.
Now lets look at Todd Jones. He had 15 RSAA and 59 pitching runs above replacement. The Tigers had a revolving door for their 12th pitcher, so if you assume whoever was there is of replacement quality, that’s another 5-6 wins.
Now I’m being optimistic up until now, because this all assumes that Jones and Rogers will perform at the same level they did last year. Todd Jones’ nickname was the rollercoaster, and he got it for a good reason. After having a solid 2000 season, he lost some face in 2001 by blowing some leads late in the game. He eventually lost the closer job to Matt Anderson (remember him) and was then traded for Mark Redman. And Kenny Rogers isn’t a spring chicken either, so you’d expect some kind of break down sometime soon (in years, not in days).
So we have two aging pitchers who “should” improve the team and Rogers is moving from a hitters park to a pitchers park, so I’m all for it. We would have had to pay Jason Johnson $5 million at least, so for another $3 million, we get a better arm. And with the price of closers this year, $5.5 million this year can’t be compared to the $6 million we paid for Troy Percival.
The final note is, we’re still having problems convincing free agents to come to Detroit. The only way we’re going to fix that is by the Tigers winning more games. If this time next year, the Tigers are coming off of a .500 season knowing they’re a player or two away from playoff contention with guys like Justin Verlander in the pipeline, you might be able to get a good player without paying a premium.
Finally, I have an idea. Why not throw a bunch of money at Roger Clemens? I know it’s not my money, but he might play for Detroit for $20 million for one season. He’s nine wins away from 350, so you’d get some hype there and while he wouldn’t completely pay for himself, it would create some excitement. And having a rotation of Clemens, Rogers, Bonderman, Maroth and Robertson doesn’t sound too shabby.
I know, it won’t happen, but a guy can dream.
An ancilliary benefit is we don’t have to rush Joel Zumaya or Justin Verlander.
If you’ve never stopped by Baseblogging, I highly recommend it. It’s a new site offering news and resources about blogs. There’s posts that’ll help you get your site recognized by the search engines, interviews with established bloggers and news on the blog networks out there.
The Tigers picked up Todd Jones and Kenny Rogers yesterday. I’ll have more on this tonight, but while my intial thought was a little negative (can you blame me, it’s the Tigers), I’m starting to warm up the signing. I’m also going to make an unrealistic plea to Mike Ilitch that could put the Tigers over the top, because sometimes it takes a Rocket to reach the stars.
Hmmm, this is interesting. Looks like it’s a two year deal, but I haven’t seen the terms, so I’ll hold judgement until then.
I don’t have Insider, but apparantly Peter Gammons broke the news that Javier Vazquez had aborted a trade that would have sent he and possibly Troy Glauss (again, there’s a lot of stories floating around) to the Tigers for Joel Zumaya and Curtis Granderson. While I like both Granderson and Zumaya’s prospects, what a lot of people lose sight of is that while Javier Vazquez was pretty average last year (0 Runs Saved Above Average) and that he’s three years from removed from one his best seasons he still would have been the best arm in the Tigers rotation. Nate Robertson led all Tiger starters with a -5 RSAA to put things in perspective.
Houston declined to offer Roger Clemens arbitration, so he either has to wait until May to sign with the team, go somewhere else, or retire. I was looking forward to one more year of the Rocket, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Be sure to check out Detroit Tiger Weblog’s two part interview with Dan Dickerson. Double D had some big shoes to fill, and while I’m sure even he’d admit he’s no Ernie Harwell, Dan Dickerson does an excellent job, along with Jim Price, doing the play by play for the games. It’s a great read, so be sure to check it out.
I started Tom Stanton’s “The Final Season” this weekend and all I can say is “wow.” I know it’s a little dated, but I have a habit of picking up books and at times they sit. In fact I’m sure I have books on my shelf that I picked up ten years ago that I have yet to read. My approach is pretty random, but I’m really glad I picked up this book.
And while I’d like to avoid cliches, the only way to describe it is to say the book has heart. Tons of it. Stanton lays it all out there as he talks about a magical season (1999, the final season the Tigers played at Tiger Stadium) with his sons and father and he mixes in a little Detroit history along with a look at his grandparents. This is a must read for Tiger fans.
Stanton also has a new book out, “The Detroit Tigers Reader.” This is another book I’m going to be sure to pick up.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you order a copy (or more) of the upcoming Hardball Times Baseball Annual. In my opinion, the Hardball Times is the best “free” site out there and while I know I’m a little biased but I said the same thing last year before I started writing for them. Anyway, here’s what you get.
The book is supposed to ship this week, so be sure to order your copy and help keep the site going.
The International League manager of the year, Larry Parrish, is going to return to Toledo to manage the Mud Hens again. Parrish led Toledo to it’s first International League championship since 1967. To manage a AAA team has to be tough, because at any given time, you could see that team’s hottest player simply disappear in a call up.
Both Jeff Jones and Leon Durham will also return to be on Parrish’s coaching staff.
I really got into Minor League Baseball last year. MinorLeagueBaseball.com now has live radio feeds (and in some cases, video feeds) of just about all of the minor league games, so I found myself with the Tigers’ game on mute while I listened to either the Mud Hens or the SeaWolves on the computer. They had Arizona Fall League games as well, but they were always on during the day so I never got a chance to listen in.
None of the Tigers really shined this year. While Chris Shelton won player of the year last year, no Tiger hit .300 this year. Don Kelly led all Tigers with a .294 average and Kody Kirkland was just behind them at .293. Humbarto Sanchez was solid on the mound. He was 1-0 in six starts and struck out 29 in 29 1/3 innings.
John Sickels did a brief run down of the AFL and is planning on doing something more detailed soon. He also had a nice thread about the Tigers farm system. John runs a great blog and his book is now up for presale.
The Tigers sold John McDonald to back to the Blue Jays just a week after they sent the Jays cash when they purchased him last year. McDonald played a lot of shortstop when Carlos Guillen was on the shelf.
This week, I’m going to take yet another look at the 35-5 start that the Tigers had, putting it in a perspective that I’ve never seen before. I’m going to pick a few of the all time great teams and compare when all of these teams were first 30 games above .500. I got the idea when I was helping the Tom Seaver Fan Club with some preliminary work for his 1986 Mets diary (and I saw when they were first 30 games above .500). I’ll be looking to wrap things up Wednesday, but I just got back in from out of town, so my schedule is going to be a little weird the next couple of days as I get caught up.
I’m also looking to get my first Detroit Tigers season lookbacks. If you want to check out the format, I’ll be following what Black Sox Blog has been doing for their White Sox Teams. Here’s a link to the 1901 White Sox season lookback.
Last winter, Ryan Sosin of Tigers Central and Billfer at Detroit Tigers Weblog and I had a chat one evening to try to lay out the groundwork to establish a network of sorts for Detroit Tigers bloggers. While things sort of sputtered during the season, Billfer did do a nice job of arranging a set of postseason awards that I and a bunch of Tigers’ sites took part in.
Placido Polanco took home player of the year as he put together a very nice season after the Tigers acquired him in a trade that involved Ugueth Urbina. It was a trade I initially felt we got the short end of, and I’m now eating crow about (while being happy about it).
Jeremy Bonderman won pitcher of the year. This was the one award that I deviated from the crowd as I picked Kyle Farnsworth. Chris Shelton was the consensus pick for breakout player of the year.
All this leads us to this years upcoming BBWA awards. Here are my picks for who’s going to take home their prospective trophies…
AL Manager of the Year – Ozzie Guillen – I know he had the rough August and September, but the White Sox came out of nowhere.
NL Manager of the Year – Bobby Cox – All he does is keep on winning, and this year he did it with a ton of rookies. It’ll be interesting to see how he does next year without Leo Mazzone.
AL Rookie of the Year – Robinson Cano – This is one of those things where I think the voters will go one way, when I could see a guy like Scott Kazmir walking away with the award.
NL Rookie of the Year – Ryan Howard – Filled in nicely after Jim Thome went down and helped the Phillies come to within one game of the NL Wildcard.
AL Cy Young – Bartolo Colon – I think Johan Santana should walk away with his second straight Cy Young, but Colon will nab it because he came out ahead in the more popular win column.
NL Cy Young – Roger Clemens – He just keeps on going, and going, and going…
AL MVP – Alex Rodriguez – I think he’ll edge Big Papi
NL MVP – Albert Pujols – I think you can make a strong case for Derek Lee, but the writers have been itching to give Pujols an MVP. The fact that he was the best player on a 100 win team will push him ahead of Lee.
The Tigers exercised their option on Jamie Walker and they’ll retain the services of the left hander in 2006. He’ll make $1.25 million next year, which is a pretty good bargain for a quality left handed arm.
Walker does his job, and that’s get left handers out. His split stats are a little extreme. In 26 2/3 innings against lefties, he has 23 strikeouts. In 22 innings against righties, he has had seven strikeouts. He led the team in games pitched (66) and I envision Jim Leyland using Walker similar to how he’s been used the last three years.
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops….And summer is gone.
– A. Bartlett Giamatti
I remember when Mr. Giamatti passed away. The networks played this poem and it was read by Ernie Harwell. It’s stuck ever since and whenever another season is in the books, I like breaking it out.
It’s funny how even on Sundays, with football, I find myself surfing the stations trying to find something to watch, knowing just a month ago I could hop on over to WGN to catch a Cubs game or knowing that Sunday evenings ESPN would have their game of the week. Baseball’s done, now I just have to cope with it.
Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox for winning their first World Series in 88 years. Jeff K and Dan threw out how much the 2005 White Sox resembled the 1984 Tigers, and I have to agree.
I’ll be doing my post season awards predictions this week, along with a few other odds and ends.
If the White Sox have their way, the 2005 baseball season will end tonight. Another season is in the books, and it’s always interesting to look back at what happened.
The White Sox season has to be the most suprising thing that happened in 2005. Back in April, the Hardball Times staff made their predictions, and not one person picked the White Sox to finish first. Three of the twelve picked them to finish second and three people, including myself, picked them to finish fourth. I also took part in a survey over at Baseball Analysts, and even there nobody gave the White Sox a chance. And here they are, one win away from winning it all, and going 11-1 in the playoffs no less.
So should this give Tiger fans hope or not? The Twins should bounce back and be in contention, and I think the Indians are for real. If the White Sox are as well, that means the Tigers have a LONG way to go until they’re at a point where they can contend for the AL Central.
Regardless, enjoy what little of the season we have left. It’s five long cold months until April and opening day.