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Steve Yzerman and the Tiger’s Starting Rotation

I know this is a baseball blog, but Steve Yzerman sort of transcends the whole sports blogosphere.  Steve Yzerman announced his retirement today and I have to say it was an honor and a privelage to have him as a player in Detroit.  He’s a class act and will go down as one of the top ten athletes to ever play for a Detroit team.  He played for the Red Wings since he was drafted in 1983 and he was the cornerstone of three Stanley Cup championships.  I wish Mr. Yzerman the best in the next stage of his life.

A lot of people, including myself, are worried about the Tiger’s rotation in the second half.  Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson have had poor second halfs the last two seasons and both Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander were shut down in September last season.  Outside of Rogers, the only Tiger to ever log 200 innings in a season is Mike Maroth, and he’s sitting on the disabled list.  If the Tiger’s rotation does as well in the second half as it did in the first, it will be the miracle the likes of, well, the Tigers having the best record in baseball in July.  I guess ANYTHING can happen, but there is some good news.

Probably because of the strength of the Tiger’s pen, Jim Leyland has been able to save the starter’s arms.  A case in point was last week when Justin Verlander had a shutout through eight innings.  Rather then bringing him in for a ninth inning to notch a complete game shutout, he instead went to Jason Grilli.  This was smart baseball.  Each of these guy’s arms have limits.  So far we don’t know what those limits are because you never know until you get there.

Baseball Prospectus has a measure called Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP).  Here’s a column on it’s history although this was written in 2004 so it could have been refined since.  Basically it works just like it sounds and it’s a measure of a pitcher’s usage.  Higher PAP, more abuse and the more chance of a breakdown in the near future.  There are guys like Livan Hernandez who seem to defy the odds.  So it’s interesting looking at this to see which manager’s are riding their starters or to see where the Tiger starters are at.

And this is where the good news is.  The first Tiger is Nate Robertson but he’s way down at 37.  He did max out in one start at 120 pitches, but his average per start is only 95.  Since he’s had a number of quality starts, that means he’s going later in the game yet still not throwing an exorbiant number of pitches.  I think this qualifies as good.

Next on the list is Justin Verlander at 41.  Now here’s where I lose the logic because his average number of pitches is great then Robertson as is his total number of pitches.  Yet Verlander is a few notches below Robertson.  Jeremy Bonderman is way down at 59.

So my point, without knowing exactly how PAP works, is that the Leyland has done a pretty good job with his starters.  We’re in first place and it doesn’t seem like he’s had to ride his starters.

Sorry that this doesn’t have anything to do with Steve Yzerman, but what the hell are we doing green lighting Brandon Inge with men on 1st and 3rd and Curtis Granderson on deck? Why are mistakes like this made? I don’t understand what is so difficult about simply tactically managing a baseball game. It’s not rocket science. Inge should be taking all the wway there. Granderson flew out to medium right to end the inning, and that would have been a sacrifice fly if Inge had coaxed a walk, which I’m certain he could have done the way Blanton is throwing. What the hell is wrong with these people? Inge is a guy who does nothing but strike out and pop out. Just idiotic. How much you want to be that the one run we lose by tonight?

Posted by Dan on July 3rd, 2006 at 6:34 pm

The hone plate umpire is completely killing us in this game. The A’s announcers just refuse to talk about it, but Robertson has been jerked around all day. Blanton is getting every call, while Robertson hasn’t gotten a single close pitch called for a strike. Not one. There have been several that were not even on corners, but rather on the fatter parts of the plate, that were called balls while Pudge held his glove right there, without framing. This game is acomplete bullshit. Robertson has no idea what a strike or a ball is tonight, and it’s the home plate umpire’s fault. It’s one thing if the Tigers get beat fairly, but this game is utter robbery.

Posted by Dan on July 3rd, 2006 at 8:01 pm

Leyland is a goddamn moron.

First, Shelton gets thrown out on a hit-and-run play, and then Wilson goes to deep. Perfect example of why the hit-and-run play is a complete waste of time, a stupid play. It’s just dumb that someone whose job is to know these things still uses a play that was only useful when Bobby Veach was still in the league. Shit like this just kills me. Stupid. Brian, please write something about how stupid crap like this is.

Posted by Dan on July 4th, 2006 at 2:08 pm

My 4th unanswered comment in a row. I’m on a roll!

1-1 in the 7th now. As of right now there’s a 50/50 chance Leyland has cost the Tigers the ballgame. Will anyone mention it? Will anyone say, “Leyland has done a decent job so far, but he should be doing better.” Right now the White Sox are up on the Orioles 12-0. If they pick a game up on us the blame is squarely on Leyland’s shoulders. No one will say a single thing about it in papers or anywhere else because no one wants anything to change. For things to change for the better, people need to think, and they don’t want to do that, by and large.

Posted by Dan on July 4th, 2006 at 2:36 pm

The Tigers deserve to lose today. First of all, why are we not pinch running for Vance Wilson in a 1-1 game in the 8th inning? Maybe there’s a reason, but probably not. Secondly, how does he get picked off on a 2-2 count? Just stupid baseball with a team trying to be “aggressive”.

Posted by Dan on July 4th, 2006 at 2:56 pm

Well, there it was, the third out in the bottom of the ninth. If Leyland wasn’t managing in the dead ball era we’d have just won the game.

Posted by Dan on July 4th, 2006 at 3:28 pm

Why are the Tigers not scrifice bunting with Guillen on 2nd and none out in the 10th? We have 21 sacrifice bunts this year, and now we’re not going to do it? When it actually finally makes sense to do it?

Posted by Dan on July 4th, 2006 at 3:37 pm

Monroe is a useless ballplayer. Totally useless. There is not a single aspect of the game that Monroe is good at. Not one.

Posted by Dan on July 4th, 2006 at 3:38 pm

Why is Vance Wilson hitting for himself in the 10th with the go-ahead run on 2nd? Wilson is a career .249 hitter, and we have a Hall of Famer with a .304 career batting average on the bench. Is Pudge hurt? I understand you want to give guys days off, but he can’t come in and hit? We are trying to win a division here! Why the f*** are we not bunting with Monroe in the first place? What the hell is wrong with the managment of this baseball team? There have been about a half dozen glaring errors by Jim Leyland today. What the f*** is going on?!

Posted by Dan on July 4th, 2006 at 3:46 pm


Posted by Darryl on July 4th, 2006 at 4:59 pm

What the #$@$$!!! Why isn’t Dan putting a cover sheet on his TPS reports? Didn’t he get the memo?!

Ditto on the hit and run. As soon as I Wilson hit the dinger, I knew that would come back to bite us.

Posted by Jeff H on July 5th, 2006 at 4:20 am

The hit and run is deadball era lunacy. yesterday was a classic example of how it kills a game. Shelton gets thrown out easily at second on the failed hit and run. next pitch, Wilson hits a solo homer…we lose by that 1 run. lunacy! by the way Monroe sucks! if the tigers are serious about this year they will go get Abreu. enough yammering in the paper about how they arent going after Abreu! go get him! send monroe to JC Penny to sort belts in the men’s department.

Posted by Michael on July 5th, 2006 at 8:23 am

I know I seem crazy, but I am trying to make this site as busy as possible because the other ones are intolerable.

It’s just one game, I know, but it’s another loss because old baseball men refuse to understand simple concepts that were born within the last 40 years. Earl Weaver, perhaps the best manager of all time, did not have a hit-and-run sign. It’s a play that old managers think they have to use in order to “make things happen”. It made something happen alright.

When the Tigers miss out on the playoffs by one game, think back on this one and on each game blown because Todd Jones was brought in for a high leverage situation. Then tell me I am crazy.

All of these wins, which we are getting because of an okay offense, great pitching, and excellent defense, are obscuring the facts that there are a lot of mistakes being made and that the Tigers have some gaping holes in the team. We are not winning because Leyland is doing the hit-and-run play or bunting at the right time. He’s demonstrated that he is going by gut, which is to say he’s being arbitrary.

We are at least one hitter short. We cannot survive a slumping Chris Shelton, a horrible Monroe, and a godawful Inge. Inge does a lot with the glove, but his bat is so bad that it vastly outweighs his value as a fielder.

Shelton has been bad for a while now, but he’s always hit, and I think he’ll commence the hitting eventually. Either the pitchers have figured something out about him, or he’s simply in a funk. He has the track record to suggest he’ll be fine sooner or later.

What’s really killing us is the DH spot, or Monroe, most specifically. He has never hit well, and he’s never going to be a good major league hitter. Something needs to be done about it, because we can’t just keep throwing at bats away. A slumping Chris Shelton is a more productive hitter than Monroe. Plain and simple, something has to be done. The White Sox have a few wrinkles to iron out, but they don’t have any problems on the order of what we have. This is going ot be an issue, and the sooner the better. We will be left looking back at this season as a wasted golden opportunity, and the Tigers and thier fans will regret the fact that nothing was done. We have played over our heads, and we have to recognize that and try to get better while the getting is good. This season will go down the drain if we don’t. Mark my words.

Posted by Dan on July 5th, 2006 at 8:45 am

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