The Tigers signed Rays reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three year, $16.5 million deal earlier this week and if things go as planned, this should really firm up the Tigers bullpen heading into 2011. I already talked about Benoit and his sick numbers last year. He had rotator cuff surgery in 2008, took all of 2009 nine off and the Rays took a chance on him and got 60 innings of pretty much shut down relief (1.34 ERA, 75/11 strikeout to walk ratio) in 2011. Prior to that, his best season was 2007 with the Rangers when they converted him to a full time reliever after a few years of shuffling him between the rotation and the pen.
I have two general concerns. One, did he have a career year and how far will he come down if he does? His numbers seem to indicate (namely the strikeout to walk ratio) that this wasn’t a flash in the pan year though. Second, he’s 33 and he’ll be 37 when he finishes up the deal. The Tigers have made a habit of signing guys to a year or two longer then they should have so you wonder if this going to be the case here.
With that, if you have a bullpen of Jose Valverde, a close to 2010 equivalent of Joaquin Benoit and then a healthy Joel Zumaya (who’s said to be at 100%) then the Tigers should really be able to shorten how much their starters pitch. The Twins have made a living out of having good but not great starters and a shut down bullpen so maybe that’s what the Tigers are going after here.
The Tigers fine tuned their 40 man roster in preparation for the Winter Meetings. They signed Al Alburquerque from the Rockies system and he’ll probably be in the mix for one of the Tigers bullpen spots. This guy has 191 strikeouts in 174 1/3 minor league innings so he looks like another power arm that Dave Dombrowski usually brings in. Cale Iorg, Charles Furbush, Duane Below, Lester Oliveros, Jose Ortega and Brayan Villerreal were all added to the 40 man while Fu-Te Ni was removed. Ni had the nice 2009 campaign then he really struggled in 2010.
If you’ve been to Lions games this year, you’ve probably seen the Detroit Pride Cheerleaders outside of Ford Field. Since the Lions won’t have cheerleaders (yet?) the Detroit Pride Cheerleaders decided to just do it themselves and you’ll see them around town and outside of the field before games. Their visit to the VA hospital on Veterans Day looked particularly heartwarming. Since they’re not official yet funding can be an issue and they need your help. Their 2011 calendar is coming out soon so if you want to pitch in, pick one up. You can also find them on Facebook.
The link to order the Detroit Pride Cheerleader’s calendar is at the bottom of their website. The preorder price of $10 ends today.