Archive for the '2006 Tigers' Category


Jim Leyland Wins Manager of the Year

No surprise here.  Jim Leyland walked away with the manager of the year after leading the Tigers to a surprising 95 wins in 2006.  He joins Sparky Anderson and Tony LaRussa as managers who have won the award in both league and he’s the first Tiger manager to win it since Sparky Anderson won the award back in 1987.  Leyland receive 19 of the 28 first place votes and the remaining nine went to Twins manager Rod Gardenhire.



Closing the Books on 2006

In the past two days, at least a dozen people have asked me how bummed I am about the Tigers World Series loss.  In a lot of ways, I’m disappointed that the Tigers couldn’t seal the deal although it’s hard to be so down when this team did so many things for this year.

For the ten seasons from 1996 through 2005, Tiger fans haven’t had too much to cheer about.  You have ten losing seasons, eight 90 loss seasons and three 100 loss seasons.  Over those ten years, the team lost 966 games, or 97 games a season on average.  Everyone looks to 2003 as rock bottom for this franchise but in a lot of ways, 1996 was just as bad.  The team didn’t lose as many games (109), the team’s ERA (6.38) was the second worst of all time.  It was actually worse then the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, which is recognized as the worst team ever.  The worst team ERA was the 1930 Phillies at 6.71.  It’s also somewhat ironic that this is the first ten year stretch that we had where Sparky Anderson wasn’t at the helm.

Anyway, the Tigers have been bad.  And some seasons, they’ve been very bad.  And in other seasons, they’ve had some of the worst teams ever.  Maybe my expectations have been blunted from these bad seasons, but just making it to World Series and losing it pretty good in my book.

Of course, the second guessing has begun.  The biggest thing has been Jim Leyland starting Justin Verlander over Kenny Rogers in game five.  I actually thought it was the move to make.  You can’t expect to have Jeff Weaver do a Chris Carpenter imitation so saving Kenny Rogers to throw against Carpenter seemed like a sound move since that was a game we’d also have to win.

The other noise I’ve been hearing is how the Tigers need a big bat.  This is a natural reaction to the team’s offensive woes in the World Series but over the course of the season, the team was decent but not great with the bat.  The Tigers had an above average slugging percentage (.449) and ISO (.174).  If they make a move, I think it should be for a patient hitter who will take a walk instead of someone like Alfonso Soriano, who could just as easily flame out. 

The other question is, if we focus on picking up a big bat, what position do we shoot for.  First base is the obvious choice but this years crop of the free agents is pretty thin.  After Nomar Garciaparra, the next best free agent first baseman very well could be Sean Casey.  Replacing Brandon Inge at third base would also be an option but the third base crop is very thin.  Aramis Ramirez can become a free agent at his option but that seems unlikely because he’s set to make $11 million if he sticks with the Cubs.  After that, I can’t find anyone better then Inge.  I’m fine with Craig Monroe in leftfield and Marcus Thames at DH/fourth OF and all of the other spots have established players

So if anything happens, it will happen through a trade.  The Tigers have a surplus of pitching.  The rotation I’d like to see next year would be Rogers, Verlander, Bonderman, Robertson and Zumaya with Humberto Sanchez filling as the seventh or eighth inning guy in place of Zumaya.  Jamie Walker is a free agent and while I’d like to see the Tigers get him back, it’s not imperative because I could see Andrew Miller or Wil Ledezma filling that role for the Tigers.

The odd man out looks to be Mike Maroth.  I like Maroth and he’s a solid innings eater but if Sanchez is the real deal and Miller is as good as people expect him to be, Maroth could potentially be the ninth best starter on the team.  I could see putting him in the rotation at the beginning of the year to try to boost his trade value but that’s really about it.  Zach Miner could also be a guy we use to as trade bait

The other question that will be hanging out there is whether to sign Sean Casey or not.  My initial thought is we shouldn’t and try to make it work with Chris Shelton and use the money elsewhere.  Maybe to lock up Jeremy Bonderman.

The other bright spot on this team is Cameron Maybin, who lit the Midwest on first this season.  Maybin finished .304/.387/.457 with the Midwest League champion West Michigan Whitecaps.  He’ll see some time in Double A this year and if succeeds at that level at his age (he’ll turn 20 on April 4, 2007), you might see Curtis Granderon beginning to get some time at one of the corner outfield spots late in 2008 to make room for this kid.  And that’s if Brent Clevlan doesn’t do it sooner.

So even if this team stands pat, I can see this team contending in the next couple of years.  My biggest fear is that the Tigers could just as easily finish in fourth place next year in a tough AL Central as they could finish in first place.  And if they do, we can’t get too discouraged because I’d be willing to bet this team is back in the playoffs in the next few years. 



Marcus Thames Prospect Retro

For those of you who are fans of Marcus Thames, John Sickels recently wrote a prospect retro on him.  As always, it’s a great read from prospect guru John Sickels.  At one point in 2001, he had upped his rating to a B+, which is very good.  He also did one on Craig Monroe earlier in the week.



Tigers Run Ken Macha Out of Town

The A’s fired Ken Macha today after the Tigers swept them in the ALCS.  Macha had a pretty solid record in his four years with the A’s (368-280) and he did take the A’s further in the playoffs then any A’s team under Billy Beane although it looka like Macha and Beane never connected.  Lary Dierker would be an interesting choice for the A’s although he hasn’t been on anyone’s radar in a while.



2006 Playoff Predictions

Man, I love the playoffs.  Each game seems to be a nail biter and with the Tigers making the post season this year, it’s that much sweeter.  Who’s coming out on top in the 2006 World Series?  I’m not sure but I definitely have my opinion.

ALDS

Tigers vs. Yankees – Tigers in Five – You can check out both my series preview over at the Hardball Times and my comments in the AL Series Previews over at Baseball Anaylsts.

Twins vs. A’s – A’s in Four -  The Twins win game one with Johan on the mound but lose the next three to face the Tigers in the ALCS.

NLDS

Mets vs. Dodgers – Mets in Four - The Mets have been comfortably in first place for most of the season while the Dodgers have been fighting for their playoff lives for the stretch run.  Even without Pedro, I think the Mets offense will get things going and take this one in four games.

Padres vs. Cardinals – Padres in Three – I think the Padres pitching will carry them in this one.  Jake Peavy will have the best start of any pitcher in the division series and help carry the Padres to the only sweep of the playoffs.

ALCS

Tigers vs. A’s – Tigers in Seven – Kenny Rogers wins games two and seven to help carry the Tigers to their first World Series since 1984.

NLCS

Mets vs. Padres – Mets in Six – The Mets pitching costs them a couple of games but they do just enough to win some ugly games to pull this one out.  Carlos Delgado leads the way on offense and he walks away with the NLCS MVP.

World Series

Tigers vs. Mets – At the beginning of the year, I predicted the Yankees and the Mets would square off in the World Series and I’m half right.  The Tigers and Mets play a back and forth series comporable to 1986 but this time, the Mets don’t have Billy Buckner to bail them out.  Tigers in seven.

Wishful thinking?  Let’s hope not.  Let the playoffs begin.  I’ll have a playoff chat thread up later and I’ll actually be here for the game so I’ll be able to talk about the game.



Tigers Start Playoffs at Yankee Stadium After Five Game Skid

I went to two games this week.  One was Wednesday, which marked the beginning of the Tigers slide towards the Wild Card.  I also went to today’s extra inning extraveganza that marked the Royals (yes, those Royals) six run come from behind win that sent the Tigers packing to New York instead of hosting the A’s in the first round of the playoffs.  It turns out that all the Tigers needed to do was win one of the last five games and they couldn’t do it despite having three games against the second worst team in baseball.  Yeah, that’s right.  The Tampa Devil Rays lost one more game then the Royals while Kansas City was busy sweeping us.

There is one good thing that comes out of the Tigers playing the Yankees in the first round.  When you check the schedule, the Twins and A’s have two 1 pm games and then a 4 pm on Friday.  That would have been the Tigers had they pulled out the game today.  Instead, they get the Yankees and all of their games are on primetime this week.  So for someone who has to work and deal with quarter end, it makes me happy that I’ll least get to see the Tigers play in the playoffs, win or lose.

I think today’s game was one of the longest I’ve ever been too, and it was warm and sunny so by the end of the game, we were all beat.  My two year old son was a trooper and even held up to run the bases.  I could run through the ways the Tigers could have won this game, but we’d be here for a while because they blew a ton of chances.  I knew it was over when Neifi Perez came in to pinch hit for Matt Stairs in that twelth and final inning.

We already know who the Yankees are throwing out in game one and it’s Chien Ming Wang.  If I had to guess, I’d say Justin Verlander was going to throw for the Tigers.  Kenny Rogers might because he only threw two innings today, but I guess we’ll see. 

There’s no Sunday night game so it looks like the regular season is done.  Let the playoffs begin.  I’ll do my playoff predictions either Monday night or Tuesday morning and I have yet to decide whether I’ll go with my heart or my head.

***UPDATE***

I just heard on Baseball Tonight that Nate Robertson will get the game one start.  Interesting.  Bonderman won’t be ready until at least Friday although I’d expect him to go Saturday.  That means Verlander will probably throw in game two and Rogers will go in game three.  Then again, what do I know.



Tigers Could Clinch AL Central as Early as Tonight

Alright, I’m a glass half full kind of guy.  I know the Tigers lost to the Royals and they lost ugly.  The Twins lost as well though, so a Twins loss today (they’re way down in the seventh inning) and a Tigers win tonight give the Tigers the AL Central crown.

The downside to the Tigers latest skid is that there’s no way they can catch the Yankees now.  So assuming they play New York in the ALCS, the Yanks will get home field in that series.

I’m going to the game tomorrow with my family.  I’m curious to know if there will be a solid crowd if the AL Central is in hand.  Jeremy Bonderman is still set to throw, but you’d think he might sit if things are locked up..



All Tied Up With Three to Go

The Tigers enter their final regular season series of the season tied with Minnesota Twins after a loss to the Blue Jays and a Twins win yesterday.  The good news is, the Twins are no longer playing the Royals.  The even better news is, the Tigers now get to play the only team that has lost 100 games this season.

The Tigers got off to another bad start.  Two errors to the first two batters ended up resulting in two first inning runs.  From that point on, it just seemed like Kenny Rogers got unglued and never really got back on track.  He left the game in the fourth inning after giving up seven runs, five of which were earned.

Like Wednesday’s game, the Tigers did try to make a comeback. They pulled to within a single run after scoring two in the sixth and three in the seventh but Mike Maroth game up a run in the eighth that gave the Blue Jays a little cushion.  The one highlight on the pitching side was a good two innings by Fernando Rodney.

Sean Casey and Craig Monroe both drove in two runs.  Is it a coincidence that six of the last seven games that Neifi Perez has gotten the start have been losses?  Since trading for Neifi , the Tigers are 5-15 in games in which Neifi Perez got an at ba so that six of seven isn’t an isolated example.

Tonight we’ll see Wil Ledezma going up against Runelvys Hernandez.  I was hoping that the Tigers might lock up the division today, but that obviously can’t happen.



Tigers Magic Number Down to Three Despite Loss to Blue Jays

The game lasted until close to 11 pm and I didn’t get home until midnight so I’m running on fumes today.  This was a tough game for Nate Robertson.  Four homeruns although the Blue Jays are stacked with good right handed hitters so you’d expect him to have a tough time now and then against a team like this.

In all, there were seven homeruns in the game, all to left field.  The only run that didn’t score on a homerun for either team was the final run in the ninth inning when Troy Glaus singled home Alex Rios.

Placido Polanco drove in two more runs (on his fourth homerun of the seven) so he now has seven in his three games back from the DL.  Zach Miner looked solid in 2 1/3 innings of relief.  He shutout the Jays and gave up only two hits and a walk with one strikeouts.

The good news is, the Royals helped us out by beating the Twins so the Tigers could potentially clinch the division as early as tomorrow.  The Yankees won so that puts them a game ahead of us for homefield advantage and from what I heard on the radio, the tie breaker for that head to head, which the Tigers lost, so they’ll have to make up two games if want to start at home in the ALCS.  Yes, I’m an optimist.

You can find the game chat for this afternoons’ game here.  I’ll be working so I probably won’t get to check in much, but there was a little bit of activity (mostly from a Jays fan) yesterday.



Game Chat on The Scoreboards Sports Forum

I’ve recently partnered with a new sports forum site called The Score Boards.  I’ll be setting up a section for a game chat for each game so if you’re at your computer while you’re watching the game, stop by and we can talk Tigers.  Of course I won’t be around tonight because I’ll be at the game, but that shouldn’t stop you.



Tigers Fourth Straight Win Drops Magic Number Down to Four

Those Twins definitely aren’t making things easy for us.  They’ve matched the Tigers four game winning streak so while that magic number is coming down, it’s not coming down fast enough.  Even after the Tigers 95th win yesterday, the Twins still sit one game back of Detroit.

Placido Polanco was the man in only his second game back from a seperated shoulder.  He got the Tigers on the board with a two run single with the bases loaded in the second inning.  Then he gave the Tigers what ended up being their winning run by laying down a perfect bunt on a safety squeeze.  Polanco has five RBIs in the two games he’s played since coming back.

Jeremy Bonderman’s numbers looked good but he seemed to be struggling at times.  He walked three in the game and got into trouble in the fourth inning.  Then he got into trouble in the sixth and needed an inning ending double play to get him out of another jam.  Regardless, his ERA is now under 4.00.  Barely.  And he did hit 200 strikeouts.  The last time a Tiger did that (strikeout 200 batters) was 1987 when Jack Morris struck out 208.  Bonderman would normally be slated to pitch in the regular season finale on Sunday but I have a feeling if the Tigers have the division wrapped up by then, that he’ll sit.

I’m going to the game tonight and I’m also going Sunday.  I’m hoping the Tigers have things in hand on Sunday because I’m bringing my son and it’d be nice if the crowd wasn’t quite as bad.



Will the Tigers Win The World Series?

It’s time to think big.  The Tigers did what seemed near impossible just six months ago and made it to the playoffs for the first time since 1987.  Now the fun begins.  A lot of people enjoy the NCAA Tournament or the NFL playoffs.  Others enjoy the Stanley Cup playoffs.  To me, there’s only one thing better then playoff baseball and I’m getting it.  That’s playoff baseball with the Tigers in the mix.

So come Tuesday (according to the schedule, both AL series start on Tuesday), the Tigers will be going after eleven elusive wins.  They’ve won three straight and seven of their last ten games so the trials of late August and early September are behind them.  The question is now, can the Tigers do it?  Can they win the World Series?

Assuming they win the division, I see the Tigers having to face the A’s, the Yankees and then the Mets if they want to win it all.  If they slip up this last week and only get the Wild Card, they’ll probably face the Yankees, A’s and then the Mets.  Yes, I think the A’s will beat the Twins in that first round.  In fact the A’s really worry me because a lot of people are writing them off.  With Rich Harden back, they have one more weapon and that I think that puts them over the top.  We might finally get to that shit work in October.

Those are some good teams.  Very good teams.  There’s no doubt though, that I’m anxious to see how the Tigers stack up. 



Tigers Lock Up First Playoff Appearance Since 1987

The Tigers and Royals aren’t finished yet, but Detroit already has a 9-0 lead in the second inning.  A win here means the Tigers can do no worse then the Wild Card and assuming the Twins hold on and beat the Orioles, the Tigers will have a magic number of six for the AL Central.  Remember though, because the Tigers have the tie breaker (head to head) with the Twins, it’ll really mean they’re magic number is effectively five.  Regardless, they’re headed to the post season.

This series with the Royals was just what the Tigers needed.  The Tigers were down on Friday but came back to win it, then they blew the hapless Royals out over the weekend.

Placido Polanco made his return on Saturday and had a great game along with everyone else.  He went three for four with two RBIs and a run.  He was eventually replace by Kevin Hooper.  He had the day off today.

It looks like Justin Verlander is going to fall short of the 200 inning mark but assuming Kenny Rogers throws two more innings, the Tigers will have three guys pitch at least 200 innings.  The last time that happened was 1991 when Bill Gullickson, Frank Tanana and Walt Terrell all topped 200 innings. 



Tigers Can Clinch Wild Card With Win Over Royals Tomorrow

Alright, I know this game isn’t over yet, but the Tigers are beating the Royals 15-0.  The White Sox won today and snapped their three game skid but they’re pretty much done.  We’re a game and a half ahead of the Twins and they’ll take care of that half game on Monday.

If you’re 18 years old and a Tiger fan, you weren’t alive the last time the Tigers made the playoffs.  I was 16 at the time so this is a special treat for me as well.



Playoff Bound?

It’s not quite in the books yet, but the Tigers would not only have to have a monumental collapse in their last ten games against some pretty bad teams, but the White Sox would also have to win almost all of their remaining games.  Their magic number for the Wild Card is now five.

Jeremy Bonderman had his second straight quality start and Joel Zumaya appeared to be back to his old self.  And the Tigers bats go it done against the best White Sox starter in the second half.  Ivan Rodriguez led the way with two RBIs and a homerun.

The big inning was the White Sox second.  Bonderman walked Paul Konerko and then Bonderman miffed a slow grounder that put runners at first and second.  After a visit to the mound from Jim Leyland, Bonderman got Joe Crede to ground into a double play and then Ryan Sweeney flew out to end the inning with no damage.

The Twins came back to beat the Red Sox so they still sit just a half game behind the Tigers.  They have one more game against Boston before they play the Orioles after we leave town.

Now the Tigers shoot over to Baltimore for a makeup game before they head over to Kansas City for a three game series.  If the Tigers get the job done this weekend, they could wrap up that playoff spot by Sunday.



Justin Verlander, Placido Polanco and the Tigers Magic Number

Justin Verlander struggled for the second straight start last night.  He gave up a grand slam to A.J. Pierzynski and then back to back solo shots to Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome before getting pulled in the fifth inning.  The innings he threw yesterday put him over the 180 inning mark so we’re really in uncharted territory for Verlander.

Now it looks like Placido Polanco isn’t done for the season and might be back by the weekend series.  It sounds like he spoke out of frustration to reporters on Sunday.  This is definitely an odd story but it’s good news in the end, assuming Polanco is in the lineup this weekend against the Royals.

The Twins won yesterday so the Tigers magic number is still 12 for the division title.  It’s seven for the wild card which got me to thinking.  The Tigers have been just as good at home as on the road so taking home field advantage out of the equation for a moment, who would you rather play in the first round, the Yankees or the A’s?  I think most people would say the A’s but I think the Yankees are the best team in the American League right now.  So it wouldn’t hurt to have them in a five game series where you could cut them down a little more easily then in a seven game series where the cream has more time to rise to the top.  I know that’s a half glass full look at things with the Twins just a half game back, but I think it makes some sense.



Tigers Getting it Done With the Long Ball in Series Opener Against White Sox

This would be a huge win and the Tigers are up 4-0.  The Tigers scored two quick runs on Craig Monroe’s two run shot that also scored Curtis Granderson.  The Tigers continued to pummell Mark Buehrle and singled twice on him but the first inning came to an abrupt halt when Carlos Guillen lined into a triple play.

Now, Magglio Ordonez hasn’t just homered once, he’s homered twice to make it a four run game.  Neifi Perez is back over the Mendoza line with two singles.

Hopefully Rogers and the pen will be able to hold onto this lead.  Winning this first game would be huge.

***UPDATE***

The Tigers turned on the offense in the ninth inning and busted this game open. The big hit was a three run shot by Brandon Inge.  Kenny Rogers threw six shutout innings and while Fernando Rodney and Jamie Walker each gave up runs on solo homeruns, the game was already firmly in hand.



Placido Polanco Appears to be Done for the Season

Man does this hurt and I was pretty stunned when I heard about it after the game yesterday.  So get used to Neifi Perez because he might be playing come October.  I’m hoping Will Carroll will mention something about this in his Under the Knife.



Sean Casey and Neifi Perez

Sean Casey just hit a huge two run homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie up the Tigers’ game with the Orioles.  This team continues to amaze because I had pretty much given them up for dead.

Neifi Perez had two RBIs in 15 games so far for the Tigers heading into today.  Today, Perez had a bases loaded clearing double (his first extra base hit for the Tigers this season) and drove in three runs in a big five run fourth inning. I heard the call on this one on the radio and didn’t sound like a particularly well hit ball and I think it might have been some generosity by the score keeper.

Wil Ledezma was bounced early and now Todd Jones is in there to pitch the ninth.  We’ve already used Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya.  Zumaya made his first appearance since last week after coming down with elbow problems and while he struggled and gave up a run, it was encouraging that he struck out three guys.

Ninth inning.  Let’s pull this one out.

***UPDATE***

Todd Jones set the Orioles down in order in the ninth but the Tigers returned the favor.  Jason Grilli is now in there and it looks like Leyland is making sure his pen is at least somewhat servicable against the White Sox tomorrow.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Grilli throw as many inning innings in this one as long as he’s shutting down the Orioles.

***FINAL UPDATE***

Four runs in the tenth by the Orioles and this one is done.  Sigh.



Breathing Room

The Tigers have taken care of business so far this weekend and they’ve also got some breaks from both the Twins and White Sox.  The biggest of these breaks had to have been the Indians winning on Friday when Johan Santana got the start.  Santana of course didn’t take the loss, but the Twins lost the game.

Assuming the Twins hold and win their game, the Tigers will have a two game lead over the Twins and a five game lead over the White Sox.  The lead over the White Sox is particularly significant because while the Tigers magic number over the Twins is 13, it’s only 10 over the White Sox.  While you can never say any lead is insurmountable, that’s pretty significant with only 14 games left.  Of course next weeks’ series between the White Sox and Tigers will tell the story there.

Nate Robertson was awesome today.  He threw eight shutout innings with five strikeouts.  Matt Stairs came up with a big hit in the seventh.  His double put runners at second and third with nobody out.  The Tigers ended up getting their second run of the game in that inning and it was because of that double by Stairs. 

Tomorrow, we’ll see Danny Cabrera go up against Wil Ledezma.  It sure would be nice to get one more win before the team heads to Chicago.



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