Houston wrapped things up yesterday, so they now travel to Chicago to square off against the White Sox in game one on Saturday. With these two particular teams, we’ll either have the first World Series win in 88 years for the White Sox, or the first World Series win ever for the Houston Astros.
We should see some low scoring games as two of the best pitching teams in baseball go head to head. Throw in the fact that both teams have mediocre offenses, and it should make for some low scoring and close games.
I’m going to say Astros in six games. I like Clemens/Pettitte/Oswalt/Backe better then Contreras/Garland/Buehrle/Garcia. MVP of the series will be Craig Biggio as he adds another notch to his Hall of Fame career.
So far, I’ve been pretty happy with the playoffs. While the ALCS looks like it might end a little early, the NLCS is shaping up to be as good as it was last year. We’ve really seen some great pitching in both series.
Which got me to thinking about which Tigers could be playing a role in either of the league championship series if they played for any of the four remaining teams. Definitely Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez, but other then those two, it’s a little spotty. A healthy Carlos Guillen would be better then David Eckstein. And I could also see a guy like Craig Monroe possibly playing the role of a fourth outfielder. Jeremy Bonderman might be a fourth or fifth starter, and Fernando Rodney and Franklyn German could round out somebody’s pen.
The problem is, most of these guys would be more role players on one of the teams contending for the World Series, while on our team, they’re the best we’ve got. That’s why I think Jim Leyland has his work cut out for him, as Tram did the last three seasons. Throw in the fact that we have a light free agent market this year and it leads me to thinking the Tigers might be a few more years away then I initially hoped.
For now though, I’ll be enjoying the rest of the playoffs. Once things are over with, I have a laundry list of things I want to do on the blog. No diary for the Tigers next year, so I think I’m going to do a combination of season lookbacks like Black Sox Blog is doing, along with some All Decade Teams similar to what Blade over at Reds Cutting Edge has done. One of the things I didn’t get to last off season was a look at Norm Cash’s 1961 season, so I’m also hoping to do something on that. And of course we’ll be following the Tigers through off season along with my weekly Business of Baseball Report over at the Hardball Times.
In the mid to late 1980s, my favorite National League baseball team was the Houston Astros. Not sure why, but my cousin and I spent hours playing a generic baseball dice game. We eventually graduated to Pursue the Pennant (now Dynasty League Baseball) and while I got the Tigers, he always seemed to gravitate to the Astros. So in 1986, with the likes of Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan, and Glenn Davis, I began cheering for the team. And it’s probably why the last two seasons, once the playoffs were set, I’ve picked the Astros to walk away with the World Series.
Now I really find myself cheering for them. With guys like Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio getting one last chance at a championship, along with the likes of seeing the greatest pitcher of our lifetime get out there and not only strike batters out deep into extra innings, but who went to the plate and hacked away like he wants to win the game himself with a walk off homerun.
What a game though. I’ve always been a huge fan of a pitching dual. Since I didn’t tune in until the ninth inning, that’s basically what I got. I thought the fact that Roger Clemens was out there until he wore out and gave up a run made the game even more exciting.
And then it ended. Chris Burke lived the dream by going yard in the bottom of the eighteenth in one of the greatest post season games ever played. It won’t be “as” remembered as if it were a World Series game, but who cares. It was a pleasure getting a chance to watch it.
Screw football. If they kept playing baseball all winter, I’d be switching to the Lions game in between innings, and that’s about it.
Looks like the official press conference is this afternoon. Man, this was quick. One knock on Leyland is, when he didn’t have the talent, he didn’t have a great team. Now I guess you can say that about any manager, but based on the Tigers current talent level, I don’t see Leyland coming in as a major coup.
It’s that time of year. Prior to the start of the season, I predicted a San Francisco Giants/New York Yankees World Series. Barry Bonds didn’t make it back in time to rally the Giants, so only one of those teams even made the playoffs. Let’s take a look at the matchups.
American League Division Series
New York Yankees vs. LA Angels of Anaheim – This won’t be a repeat of 2002 as this time the Angels have home field, but can’t get the job done. Vladimir Guerrero is an exceptional player, but the Yankees offense is just too much for the Angels pitching staff. The Angels take game 2, and that’s it. Yankees win series 3-1.
Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox – It’s the first ever playoff meeting for these two teams. Anytime Boston is involved, home field is important, but it’s not enough to stop last year’s champions. I thought all season that the White Sox overachieved, and their mediocre second half kind of proves that. The series will be close, but the Red Sox will take it. Red Sox win series 3-2.
American League Championship Series
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox – This will be the third season in a row these two teams have gone head to head in the ALCS. The bitter rivalry will continue, and each team will take one road game. But the Yankees offense is a little bit better in my mind then the Red Sox, and having Randy Johnson in a seven game series really helps the Yankees out. Yankees win series 4-3.
National League Division Series
Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros – This is a tough one to call because while I’d like to see the Braves win another one just because they’ve been there so often, I’d also like to see Roger Clemens in the World Series one more time. I think the Pettite/Clemens/Oswalt triumvirate is just a little too much for the Braves to handle, so I think the Astros come out on top. Astros win series 3-2.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres – We have the best team in the majors against a team that probably doesn’t even deserve to be in the playoffs. Cardinals win easily with a sweep. Cardinals win series 3-0.
National League Championship Series
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Houston Astros – I didn’t intend for this to happen, but I have a repeat in the NLCS as well as in the ALCS. Both teams deserve to be there, so I don’t really care. Again, the Astros pitching comes through and carries them over the Cardinals. Pujols and company make the series close. Astros win series 4-3.
New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros – It’s the Astros first World Series, and the Yankees 40th. Roger Clemens goes against his former team, and if things work out right, he goes head to head with Randy Johnson. Seeing two of the best pitchers in my lifetime in the World Series would be a real treat. The Astros hitting is just enough to get them by with their awesome staff. Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell rise to the occasion (as does Roger Clemens) as they all know this could be their last chance. Astros win series 4-3.
I know I picked a lot of seven game series, but I think a lot of the teams are pretty evenly matched. Plus I like the drama and I want to see as many games as I can before the season closes out.
The writing was on the wall, and it became official today. Alan Trammell was offered a job with the organization as Special Assistant to the GM, but he’ll no longer be the skipper of the Tigers.
I know I’ve taken some heat for defending Trammell. While I know at times his decision making has been questionable, I never thought he was given the support and tools to win. Which is why I was calling for management to give him one more year at the helm.
Now the search for a new manager begins, with Jim Leyland being the odds on favorite. Although he’ll be courted by Pittsburgh as well, so we’ll see what happens. I wouldn’t mind Bruce Fields getting another shot as well.
Sigh, another Tiger’s season is in the books. With 71 wins, they finished a game worse then they did last year. Moving backwards is a bad thing, no matter how you look at it.
Dave Dombrowski has some tough decisions to make in the offseason. I think the starting pitching is the first place we need to start. Once again, we finished with an ERA that was worse then the league average (and in what’s considered a pitcher’s park). The Tigers also gave up an inordinate amount of homeruns for a team that once again, is supposed to play in a park where homeruns don’t happen as often. And the Tigers finished second to last (thank you KC) in strikeouts. All of that means a lot of balls are put into play, which is never a good thing when you’re defense is middle of the road.
I’ll throw out some playoff predictions tomorrow. Should be a fun October with most of the usual suspects (Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, Angels and Cardinals) along with some fresh faces.
The Tigers limped out of their final homestand against the White Sox with a split. Curtis Granderson’s walk off homer on Monday was probably the funnest part of the series, but the Tigers’ bats seemed to go south in the last two games. Now the Tigers head to Minnesota for a three game series that will wrap up their season. If the Tigers win two of three, they’ll exceed (barely) their win total from last season.
Billfer touched on this, but the Tigers topped 2 million in attendance for the first time since opening Comerica Park. ESPN’s numbers don’t appear to take into account yesterday’s 13,000 people, so if you add those, it puts us around 2,037,000 people, which is good for 21st in MLB. Attendance throughout the league set an all time record, so I’ll be taking a look at how this stacks up to the rest of the teams.
Local author Tom Stanton, who’s written some great books like “Road to Cooperstown” and “The Final Season” is going to be making appearances at local libraries to talk about his upcoming work “The Detroit Tigers Reader.” You can see where he’ll be by clicking here.
It looks like the Red Sox and Yankees will give us a bit of excitement this weekend and the series affects both the AL East and the wildcard. The only other playoff race not decided is the NL wildcard, but the Astros have a two game lead. The Indians and White Sox are tied, so whoever comes out of that Yankees/Red Sox series has to make sure they at least take a game, or they’ll be out of the race.
While 15 runs in two games is hardly an offensive onslaught, it was good enough for the Tigers to blowout the just as bad Seattle Mariners this weekend. We dropped the first game on Friday, but bounced back to win our last two games.
Jason Grilli made his first career start on Saturday and really shined. I know the Mariners aren’t great, but anytime you can hold a major league team to two hits through seven innings, you have to be impressed. Jason Grilli won the third and final game for the Mud Hens as they won the Governors Cup (International League World Series).
The Tigers would have to take all four against the White Sox to finish the season above .500 at home. They need one home win to match last years total of 38.
The Tigers signed their first round draft pick Cameron Maybin. Definitely good news, and it’s expected that he’ll play A ball next year. He got a nice chunk of change as his signing bonus was $2.65 million.
The Tigers have a chance to make an impact on the playoff picture this week when they square off against the White Sox. Heck, I guess no matter what happens, win or lose, it will have some kind of impact. The Tigers haven’t had much luck against the White Sox this season, so it’d be nice to see them turn it around now. Better late then never.
Talk about a tough stretch. While I didn’t hear the interview, I guess Tram sounded pretty demoralized before the game. I could just imagine how he felt after the game.
In case you missed it, the Tigers were swept by the Royals. The Tigers won the season series 10-9, but that’s not a good enough record against the worst team in baseball (minus one of their better players, David DeJesus). Now the Tigers have to play .500 ball the rest of the way just to match last year’s total of 72 wins.
Assuming the Tigers lose four more games (which is likely with a series against the White Sox and just based on the way we’re playing) it will be their 500th loss in the past five years. There’s no doubt this decade has been the darkest ever in franchise history..
And while I’m going to stick with Tram to the end, it’s now likely he’ll be gone soon. Jim Leyland is going to be courted by both the Tigers and the Pirates, and it will be interesting to see how things develop. If Dave Dombrowski does decide to change managers, next year will be his litmus test. If he brings in a seasoned manager like Leyland and we still flounder around the 90 loss mark, I think his days will then be numbered.
In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the final week and a half of baseball leading up to the post season. There’s some great races going on, and who would have thought at this time last month that the White Sox would be in trouble. The Tigers will have a chance to make a mark on that race early next week, and the final four game series between the White Sox and the Indians should make for some good baseball. Although it will have some solid competition as the Yankees and Red Sox square off. Only a 1/2 game seperate those two teams.
What’s sad is, that at this time next month the season will be winding down. Enjoy baseball while you can, because it’s almost over with.
I forgot to mention this the first time through, but Jeremy Bonderman has been shut down. His elbow has been bothering him, and it’s mostly due to learning a circle change this year (got this from Will Carroll’s UTK).
Alright, I’m in the home stretch of the 1935 Tigers diary, but I’ve run into a problem. If anyone knows the answer to this, I’d appreciate you passing it on.
According to my box scores, the Tigers clinched the penant on this day in 1935. But that didn’t match up with my running magic number (which was off by one). Anyway, I have them with a magic number of three after taking two games against the Browns in a doubleheader today.
Here’s where I’m running into a problem. If you look at the season ending standings, the Tigers were 93-58 with three games cancelled. The Yankees finished with an 89-60 mark with five games left. If the Tiger lose their three and the Yankees win their five, then the Yanks finish a game ahead of the Tigers.
The only thing I can think of was that those games were permanently cancelled, and in effect, shafting the Yankees. Is this the right answer? If anyone knows, either drop a comment or shoot me an email. I’d appreciate it. That way I can go back and fix my old entries and get everything up to date.
After taking the series opener against the Angels, the Tigers have now lost three straight. They’re 4-13 in September, but we’re not here to look at the bad. I’m putting on my rose colored glasses and looking for things to build on.
Unfortunately, I have to look really, really hard.
Let’s start with Friday. The Tigers came back from a 4-2 deficit to take the lead. Yes, they eventually allowed the Angels to tie the game back up and summarily win it in extra frames, but the team didn’t lie down. In that game, Fernando Rodney threw 1 1/3 shutout innings. Which leads us too…….
Positive number two. Fernando Rodney’s very solid season has been lost in the Tigers recent rut. Yeah, he blew a save the next day, but he’s thrown 38 innings and he has 39 strikeouts agaisnt only 11 walks. He has a .227 batting average against and while the five blown saves look bad, he’s better then anyone else we have and would make a nice cheap alternative as the closer for the entire season next year. I’m hoping Dombrowski doesn’t go shopping. I’d just as soon pick up a couple of good quality long guys then spend a large chunk of money on next year’s Troy Percival.
Curtis Granderson went five for five today and he’s now hitting .318 through 107 at bats. Positive number three is we now have our starting center fielder for 2006 and hopefully beyond. He also has three fielding runs above average in the short amount of time he’s played, so the fielding ability is definitely there as well.
I’ll throw in one more. Magglio Ordonez has quietly put together a nice second half (the only half for him) of the season. While the power isn’t there, we all expected his homer total to go down. But he has a rock solid .379 OBP and has 29 walks vs. 31 strikeouts. Expect him to improve on his numbers next year.
It’s tough being an optimist and a Tiger fan. But the good points are definitely there if you dig deep enough.
Congratulations to the Toledo Mudhens, who won their first Governors Cup since 1967. They swept the Indianapolis Indians in three games, so we should be seeing guys like Ryan Rayburn and Marcus Thames up with the big league club shortly (most likely Saturday I’d guess).
I’ve gotten enough email about this and heard enough about it on talk radio to figure out Ivan Rodriguez’s complaints about the team have taken center stage. In addition, Alan Trammell has come under fire for the cliff this team has fallen off of. The two go hand in hand, so they’re worth disecting together.
What Ivan Rodriguez is doing is wrong. Plain and simple. It’s one thing to try to call your team out and inspire them, but what Pudge is trying to do is bring the team down. I know he’s had a rough season, both on and off the field, but what he’s done since the Farnsworth trade (openly criticize teammates and his coaches) is inexcusable. More so because he can’t even back up what he’s talking about. Maybe when he says the team sucks, he should be looking in the mirror when he says it, because his season hasn’t gone as well as season’s past.
He does lead the team in hitting, but he has a grand total of 49 RBIs. And this is for a guy who’s hacking at anything. Eight more strikeouts and he has a career best, and his .759 OPS is his worst in over a decade. The only thing that’s improved of late is his defense. To date, he has 12 Fielding Runs Above Average, which is his best since 2001. Three more and he’ll have his best fielding season since 1999.
Not to mention how guys like Brandon Inge and Craig Monroe, who have been with the team all season (really the only regular starters besides Pudge who hasn’t missed some kind of substantial time or gotten benched), must feel when they’re told by a future Hall of Famer that they suck. I doubt if they appreciate being told they don’t play the right way.
So, either Pudge is trying to get Tram out (and he’s going about it in a poor way) or he’s trying to get out of Detroit. I think it’s the later, but he has to remember that two years ago, nobody wanted him. We were his only suitors. And now he’s biting the hand that’s fed him.
Which brings me to Tram. I still feel, because of some misguided loyalty to what he did for the team in the 1980s, that he should be given one more year. He’ll have to contend with Pudge because I doubt if we’ll be able to unload him. I think that will be as big of a test as any. I think managment has to address the team’s needs (starting pitching and a quality left handed bat) and give Tram the tools to win. Let him fail without excuses.
Toledo is playing game three of their playoff series with the Indianoplis Indians. They’re up 2-0 and a win tonight will give them the Governor’s Cup. Unfortunately there’s a rain delay, so we might have to wait another night.
My wife and I took our son, Devin, to his first Tiger game. While he’s not a stranger to major league baseball (he’s been to both the Rogers Centre and the Great American Ball Park), this was his first trip to Comerica Park. As usual, he was a trooper. It was pretty hot and we were right in the sun. To top it off, my wife was sick most of the weekend. In short, while it was a beautiful day for a baseball game, it wasn’t the best of conditions for a 15 month old and a sick wife.
The coolest part was being able to run the bases. Devin started out okay, then was annoyed that I was holding his hand so his usual reaction is to go in the other direction. I picked him up and rounded second (you start at first base), blowing by Paws, went to third, then gave him another shot. He did well, but again, seemed more interested in getting away from me, so he started to creep further and further on the grass. We both made it though.
The Tigers won (their second in a row), so that was also a bonus. We’ll try it again next year and I’m sure Devin will be more into it.
The Toledo Mud Hens advanced to the International League World Series by beating the Norfolk Tides today. They’ll square off against the Indianapolis Indians, the Pirates AAA franchise, most likely Tuesday (I haven’t seen a schedule). So it will be at least about a week before we see guys like Joel Zumaya and Marcus Thames playing as September callups. Lakeland looks like they’re going to lose their three game playoff series to the Palm Beach Cardinals. They’re down 4-1 in the bottom of the ninth. West Michigan also made the playoffs (Midwest League) so the Tigers are pretty well represented in the minor league playoffs.
The Indians are crushing the Twins tonight. Looks like the White Sox won’t be walking away with the division after all.
Nate Silver at Baseball Prospectus wrote an excellent follow up column today on the effect of the Tiger’s free agent pickups last year and this year and trying narrate the overall effects on the Tigers revenue. This then turned into a larger argument on a team’s decision to add free agents and evaluating where they’re at as far as expected records.
It’s a premium article so I don’t want to give too much away. If you don’t subscribe to BPs premium service, they really do great work on a daily basis. I for one have gotten my money’s worth out of the subscription.
I’m pretty excited about this. The 2006 Hardball Times Baseball Annual is now available for preorder. I’ll have a couple of columns in there, and this year’s annual should be just as good, if not better, then last years (not because I’m in, they have a great lineup of writers who are going to contribute to the book.
So head on over and pick up copies for everyone in your family. It’ll be the best Christmas present they’ve ever received.
You can click here to pick up your copy.
It was an ugly series this weekend against the Sox. We had friends in from out of town, so I missed Saturday and Sunday’s game, but six runs in four games usually isn’t going to do the trick. The Tigers followed that up by being shutout by the Indians today. And if you’re counting, that’s a five game losing streak and pretty much no chance at .500.
On a much nicer note, the Toledo Mud Hens had the best record in the International League and wrapped up their regular season today. With all four playoff spots locked up, the finals against Indianapolis gave the Hens a chance to have some fun. Kevin Hooper played all nine positions, drove in two runs in the eighth to give the Hens the lead, and then pitched a perfect ninth to preserve a win. If you haven’t checked out the site in a while, Minorleaguebaseball.com has a ton of minor league stuff, including live radio feeds. I’ll be sure to listen in as their playoffs start as they face the Norfolk Tides (Mets affiliate) in the first round.
Barry Bonds had a nice workout today in Los Angeles and there’s some speculation that he might play this week. While I know everyone will be locked onto his quest for the homerun record (and others will be locked in on the steroid controversy), I think coming back from three knee surgery’s is a milestone in and of itself. I for one am looking forward to again seeing one of the best players to ever lace up a pair of cleets and I wish Barry Bonds the best of luck.
There’s a ton of great playoff races this year. The Yankees are fighting for their playoff lives as are the Red Sox (in a manner of speaking). Both wildcard races are very tight, so it should make September an interesting month. This baseball fan could pretty much care less that NFL football is starting on Thursday.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, we had friends in from out of town. I’ve mentioned this before but I’m a board game nut. I got to play my first ever game of Advanced Squad Leader, and that in and of itself made the weekend a blast. I also got in a few games of Memoir ’44, Tigris and Euphrates and Through the Desert. While most of you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, the ones who do will know what I’m talking about when I said I had a fun filled weekend.
August 30, 1905 was the day Ty Cobb made his major league debut. For a great narrative (and a section on his biography of Ty Cobb) I highly recommend you check out Dan Holmes blog, From Cooperstown.
Fenway Park is a tough place to play. The dimensions and the wall make it especially unique. It’s even tougher to play when you spot the other team eleven runs. The Tiger’s pitching staff gave up runs in six of the Red Sox eight innings today.
With September coming up soon, it’ll be back to the AL Central. This week we have three against the Indians and four against the White Sox. The only two series that aren’t against AL Central teams are a four game set against the Angels and three games at home against the Mariners. I’m taking my son to his first Tiger game on September 11 so I’m really looking forward to that. Kids get to run the bases, and since he’s still pretty little, he’ll need help from dad. I was down on the field at Tiger Stadium, but I’ve never been down on the field at Comerica Park.
The final trading deadline is coming up, and I haven’t heard many rumors, so it looks like the Tigers will be sitting tight. The guys I’d like to see them deal don’t have a ton of trade value (it always seems to work like that) so in the end, even if we do make a deal, I don’t see it making a huge impact on the team.