The Tigers took care of business this weekend with a sweep over the Phillies. They did it in grand fashion with blowouts on both Saturday and Sunday. Since I got rid of my cable, I don’t get to watch the games too often but I was out yesterday and the Tigers just destroyed Raul Valdes. It was interesting seeing the Phillies pitching coach come out in the second inning and I’m sure he told Valdes he had to suck it up and pitch on whether he was getting hammered or not because they didn’t want to waste their pen. Toady is was mostly the Phillies pen that the Tigers knocked around.
With PED suspensions in the forefront, the Tigers have to figure out what they’re going to do at shortstop. Peralta looks like he’ll be serving some time which means the Tigers have a big hole to fill. Argenis Diaz is the guy playing shortstop in Toledo and he has an OPS of .679. So the question is, do the Tigers pull the trigger on a trade or roll with what they have. Or they could get a shortstop in the second trade deadline period. There’s a lot of Top Sports Betting Action going on but I doubt if management knows what do when they don’t know when a suspension is going to come down.
The Tigers other need is the bullpen. Unfortunately, they don’t have a ton of chips in the minors to nab one so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
It’s been a while so now it as good a time as another to get all nostalgic about the All Star Game. Most of my memories of the game are from the 1980s and my favorite game is still 1987. The Tigers had some solid representation (Alan Trammell, Matt Nokes and Jack Morris) and there are also some other interesting names on the rosters. Namely Larry Parrish, who’s managed for the both the Tigers and their minor league affiliates. Larry Parrish got a hit in only at bat as a pinch hitter and his only All Star Game was in 1979 where didn’t get an plate appearance and only came into the game in the ninth as a defensive replacement (so he’s a lifetime 1.000 hitter in the All Star Game, blame the sample size). Matt Nokes went 0 for 2 in his only All Star Game that year and Tram was 0 for 1 as a pinch hitter. Jack Morris threw two shutout frames and he was the second pitcher in the game after Bret Saberhagen got the start. And the game was 2-0, thirteen inning nail biter.
Now, the All Star Game doesn’t have quite the appeal. Back then, I hardly got to see National League players. Heck, you hardly got to see anyone other than your home team where you got to see 40 or so games on the television. The leagues weren’t so watered down either and with inter league play, you have National League teams playing American League teams on a regular basis. Some years I’ve watched the game, other times I haven’t. This year I probably will catch at least some of it because I’ll be up north and won’t have the work distractions.
Now on to the Tigers. Most of my conversations in the spring went like this. i thought the Tigers should run away with their mediocre division and probably won’t. I also thought the pen was going to be a problem and I’ve also gone out on a limb by saying we won’t win a World Series with Jim Leyland as the manager. This team is the Jekyl and Hyde that we’ve had the previous two seasons. They’ll look like world beaters and the best team in the league for a week or two then they won’t be able to beat even the standing’s bottom feeders for a stretch of time. So in short, the same old frustrating Tigers.
The emergence of Max Scherzer has been nice. Taking away the 13-0 record which is more of a novelty (like Jose Valverde’s 49 for 49 saves two years ago), Scherzer is tenth in baseball in WAR with 3.9. Chris Sale leads the AL oddly despite his 6-8 record but he’s not even a full win behind Scherzer. Only Yu Darvish has more strikeouts in the American League and he might top Justin Verlander for the first time since joining the team. More importantly, he’s pitching almost seven innings a game. Durability has always been a problem and he’s still never had a 200 inning season in the regular season. That should change this year if all things hold.
And the offense is the same as in years past. We have some studs (Miguel Cabrera) but the bottom of the order has some holes. The Omar Infante injury hurt and we also may have to deal with a Jhonny Peralta suspension. Keeping things together in the second half could be interesting.
I don’t do much gambling but I was bouncing around the Sports Geek Website and there’s some interesting content over there. If you want some winning betting picks, it looks like a solid site to check out. There’s even the sports geek youtube page.
What an interesting few years for Jose Valverde. In 2011, he has his “perfect” season. Then last year he was good but had a late season melt down and didn’t get the job done in some high profile games. Then the Tigers gave up on him until he was still available as a minor league signee and now he’s back as the team’s closer.
I know this is 2013 but I still think the “closer” is stupid. Why you’d want to advertise to a team when and how you’ll be using a particular player seems foolish but it’s something most managers buy into these days with Jim Leyland included. I didn’t like how he handled Valverde during the melt down and now to just throw him in there again seems a little desperate. I think Valverde can be a decent reliever but only if he got his velocity back. He pitched well down in Lakeland but that’s, well, Lakeland.
And it’s not even like the pen has been the problem lately but in this one inning at a time day and age, a guy like Drew Smyly can shine in a blow out loss then get buried back into the pen until another starter has a melt down.
With that, I hope Valverde does well. I’m not totally optimistic but I’m interested in seeing him pitch. I’ll also be interested to see over at www.topbettingreviews.com if the Tigers odds of winning go up or down after this weekends tough sweep at the hands of the Angels.
My tax season hangover is about over and as usual, I had the Tigers to keep me company through some of my work. After dropping that first series to the Twins, the Tigers have looked pretty sharp and sit in sole possession of first place in the Central. Everything seems to be working except for the pen, and this shows in the Tigers +24 run differential this year.
For a while, the Tigers were at the top in batting average but closer to the middle bottom in slugging but they’ve turned that around as well. Only the Athletics have scored more runs in the AL than the Tigers and they’re one of the teams we took care of earlier in the week.
Even the bullpen has gotten their stuff together. While the Tigers didn’t address much of what happened when they got beat down by the San Francisco Giants, this team is made for the regular season. Good starting pitching and some mashing at the top of the lineup means this team should, as people expect, run away with the division.
One of the guys I was worried about was Torii Hunter. He could still come back down to earth (his BABIP is currently .481) but whatever he was doing last year to get hits is also working this year. Throw in some slightly better than average defense and you have quite an upgrade over Delmon Young from last year.
As I thought, I’m going to miss the Kentucky Derby again this year. So it stays on my bucket list for one more year. I don’t usually bet on the Kentucky Derby either but always enjoy watching it.
Next up for the Tigers are the Angels. Just one more day of late baseball because the other two games in the series are this afternoon. Hopefully this isn’t the time the Angels get their stuff together and we can get out of this west coast swing with three series wins.
The official start to the season is tomorrow with the Astros taking on the Rangers while most teams, including the Tigers, kick off on Monday or Tuesday. First up are the Twins who should finish last in the division. We’re also catching the Yankees at a good time with our Opening Day on Friday.
Rick Porcello forced his way into the rotation with a nice spring so Drew Smyly will start the season in the pen. I like working younger guys in the pen for the first couple of years of course whats funny is, Porcello is only six months younger than Smyly. I like the fact that we have some depth so I’m glad we didn’t trade Porcello and I’m hoping this is the season where he finally turns the corner.
So far, there’s been no official announcement on the team’s closer, but Bruce Rondon was sent to the Mud Hens. My thought is this won’t last and I still think he would have been better served pitching for the Tigers in a non-closer capacity (think Joel Zumaya) for the season. He’ll be with the Tigers soon enough unless something weird happens in Toledo in April.
The Tigers inked Justin Verlander to a nice extension. That’s a lot of money and long term for a pitcher but Verlander is one of the best. I think we get our money’s worth early on but after that, it’ll depend on how Verlander ages.
Taxes are my life right now and I’ll be bogged down for a couple of more weeks. I’m thinking of going down to Kentucky for some Minor League games over Memorial Day weekend so we will see if that pans. I’ve always wanted to get down there to check out the Kentucky Derby but just haven’t been able to make it work. I’ll have to check Derby betting odds before I put down any money on a horse.
Some quick predictions. Tigers win 94 and run away with the division. The Royals should finish second. The Tigers will not regret keeping Porcello because one of the Tigers 2-4 will miss some time and that pitching depth keeps them comfortably on top.
It’s a new year and a new season and while pitcher’s and catchers reported yesterday, the first real day of spring training is today. To kick things off, the Cleveland Indians made things interesting by signing Michael Bourn and while that’s a nice long term move for them, I don’t see he alone making a huge impact on the race.
This sounds a lot like my prediction from last year but the Tigers are, on paper, the best team in their division and they should win the American League Central by 15 games. They should have done the same thing last year and while they managed to make things interesting, they still made it all the way to the World Series. With that, the Tigers didn’t fix any of the weaknesses they showed when they were man handled by the Giants in the World Series. Namely coaching (we still have the sames ones) and our bullpen (which could be really good, but a lot of things have to happen).
The big story this spring (hopefully because if it changes it means someone got hurt) will be who is the closer. Bruce Rondon looks like he has the leg up because of his minor league pedigree but he comes with some risk because of his high walk rate. The 100 mph fast ball is nice, but if he’s walking the leadoff man to start a lot of games, it’s going to make those saves tougher to come by. He also had his struggles this winter in Venezuela especially against lefties.
My choice for close is Rick Porcello if they’re not going to use him in a long relief role (a nearly non-existent thing these days, i.e. a reliever who throws more than one inning). He keeps the ball down, doesn’t give up a lot of walks or home runs and he’s pretty good the first time through the lineup. Let Rondon pitch earlier in the game when we need a punch out, let’s not waster him with nobody one and nobody out in the ninth inning.
College basketball is heating up. For those of you who remember, I’m an MSU grade and I’m hoping the Spartans take care of business tonight against UM. I don’t usually bet on March Madness but I like MSU’s NCAA tournament odds. They’re probably just as good as any other team in what’s shaping up to be a weird season.
Spring training is less then a month away and unless the Tigers do something unexpected, what you see is what you get. After making it to the World Series last year, expectations are high. Most of the pieces from last years team are coming back as well as a couple of newer additions.
The rotation is set. There’s been a lot of chatter about trading Rick Porcello but I’m hoping they hold onto to him. In fact I think the Tigers should give him a shot as the teams closer. Even as a middle reliever, he provides some value because his numbers are better the first time through the lineup. The pen still worries me and that’s even if Rondon pans out.
The lineup is there and it can go in a few different directions. Best case is Victor Martinez comes back strong and Peralta and Avila bounce back. Fielder and Cabrera will be there and it’d be nice to see Austin Jackson follow up his breakout performance with a similar season.
While I’m not going to be putting a bet on Superbowl XLVII, I think the Patriots are going to win it. If I were going to make a Superbowl 2013 prop bets, I’d bet that the NFC team would win the coin flip.