Archive for ‘Detroit Tigers’

Sunday: 12.5.2010

The Nationals Land Their Whale

In recent winters, the Washington Nationals have thrown their hat into the ring for several big name free agents, most notably Mark Teixeira during the 2008-2009 winter, but in the end, they were left telling their fans, “Hey, at least we tried and that shows our commitment to winning, right? … RIGHT???”  A Nats fan honest with himself probably realized that while the effort was nice, it was probably for the better that they didn’t come away victorious.  After all, how much positive impact would big a signing like Teixeira really have on a team like the Nationals?

If anything, it may have been detrimental to the team as a whole as a few more wins could have cost them the chance to draft then sign two of the most highly touted prospects ever in the past two drafts, first Stephen Strasburg and then Bryce Harper; both #1 overall picks.  The world got a taste of what Strasburg could be this year before he was cut down with an injury that has led to Tommy John Surgery while Harper made the most of his limited time in the Arizona Fall League and continued to draw rave reviews about his potential.

Both of their franchise players are at least a year away (and Harper is probably two or more) so would it behoove the Nationals front office to again put their best forward with some of the winter’s premier free agents?  The answer for them was a resounding yes with the surprise signing of outfielder Jayson Werth to a 7-year, $126 million dollar mega-contract.  A jaw dropper to be sure.  I’ll say out front that I don’t much care for the deal and it is less about the money than the length and player.

As a Detroit Tigers fan, I’m well aware that sometimes teams have to pay a little more because of their situation and/or city (definitely both for the Tigers pre-2006, now just the latter), but I would have liked to see the Nats go for a more calculated risk.  In the winter of 2004, the Tigers signed Ivan Rodriguez to a 4-year, $40 million dollar deal on the heels of a disgustingly bad season during which they nearly set the MLB record for losses (43-119).  Though Rodriguez was 32 years old, he was coming off of a great year for the World Series champion Florida Marlins and had a lengthy track record of excellence behind him.

A year later they took a much bigger chance and signed Magglio Ordonez to a massive 5-year, $75 million dollar deal after a season during which he played just 52 games thanks a severe left knee injury.  They had protection built in just in case Ordonez didn’t heal properly, but it was still a big risk and they were betting that he would return to something close to the .300-30-100 level he’d established from 1999-2003.  I don’t think anyone expected Ordonez to earn 100% of the contract (and he didn’t, even with the MVP-worthy 2007 season), but the Tigers really just needed him to not suck and along with Rodriguez, create a culture that was conducive to acquiring even more of the many missing pieces.  He didn’t suck, hitting .320/.382/.495 with 90 HR and 422 RBI over the life of the 5-year deal.

The Nats need Werth not to suck more than they need to him to earn him 100% of his huge deal, but they made it that much harder by going seven years for a guy whose track record is just two *full* seasons deep (as well as an excellent 134-game campaign on his ledger).  He was riddled by injuries from 2003-2007 (and missed the 2006 season entirely) and though he has shown the talent in the last three seasons that led to four top 100 rankings by Baseball America (’99, ’00, ’02, ’03), he’s far from a sure thing going forward.

He can be a 2.5-3.0 WAR player (think Hunter Pence, Alfonso Soriano, Nick Markakis level from 2010) after the first year or two of the deal as long as he is playing 140+ games a season because at least then he is not dead money on the disabled list.  Sure, the Nats are hoping he can continue to pump out 5.0 WAR seasons as he has over the last three, but you have to be realistic about a 32-year old late bloomer.  The last thing the Nats want to see is Werth out of the lineup with injuries just as their core is coming together.  Given that there is a pretty decent chance that that could happen, I think the deal was altogether ill-advised.

I’d have rather seen the Nationals blow Carl Crawford out of the water with a 7-year deal than take the consolation prize before the grand prize has even been given out.  But if Werth had to be the guy, I’d have much rather seen 5-years, $95 million taking it from $18mil to $19mil per but slicing off two years.  I genuinely hope it works out for the Nationals, but the odds are stacked rather heavily against it.

Wednesday: 10.20.2010

Carl Crawford a Tiger?

Look who rises from the grave like a Phoenix after over 3 months of no posts. I’m not going to delve into why I fell off the map. The important thing is that I am back and I didn’t just use a fake catchy headline to get your attention. There is at least something to this. How much I don’t really know though we will know pretty quickly into the Hot Stove season following the World Series.

The notion of Tampa Bay Rays free agent leftfielder Carl Crawford coming to the Tigers came from Buster Olney during his appearance on the Bill Simmons’ podcast, the BS Report (10/11 episode). The two were discussing Crawford who is likely to be the most coveted hitter this offseason and of course Simmons was curious about Boston’s prospects for signing him. Olney mentioned that they would go hard for him and then mentioned three teams who would also be gunning for him: Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and our very own Detroit Tigers. He didn’t expound on the prospect of any of the other team besides Boston so there isn’t a ton to go off of and thus not a ton to get overly excited about at this juncture.

With so much money coming off of the books (Magglio Ordonez, Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, Jeremy Bonderman, Gerald Laird, Johnny Damon, Brandon Inge and Adam Everett), the Tigers should be able to get in on the best free agents, financially speaking. This isn’t a shmuck team they are trying to attract free agents too, either. Crawford is the type of game-changing signing that makes an entire offseason. He’d be a perfect fit for the Tigers given what ailed them during this 81-81 season of 2010.

He’s a defensive superstar out in leftfield and the combination of he and Austin Jackson would not only be a marked improvement, but it would also offer some stability out there coming out of a season that saw seven different guys log time in leftfield and six patrol rightfield. There were four guys who logged serious time at each corner outfield while the five remaining players played just a few games.

If Crawford were brought in, that would leave rightfield to Brennan Boesch for the most part (even if Magglio is re-signed, I don’t think it would be to be a full-time RF’er). He was a negative value fielder and though the hardcore sabermetricians suggest not putting too much stock into one year of defensive data, I’m not surprised Boesch came out with a negative rating. There were too many times he just made the wrong play. That said, I would be fine with him out there because a) I think you could reasonably expect improvements from a 26-year old and b) despite the second half collapse, I still want his bat in the bottom four of the lineup.

According to FanGraphs.com UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) for 2010, Jackson was the 4th-best centerfielder in the American League and 6th-best overall, while Crawford was the 2nd-best leftfielder in all of baseball behind only Brett Gardner of the Yankees. In fact, Crawford’s UZR was the 3rd-best in all of baseball, regardless of position (Gardner, Jay Bruce).

Crawford would already be a major addition before you even get into his contributions at the plate, which are vast & many. I consider Crawford a 5-tool player, though some overlook him because they don’t realize that he actually does contribute a decent bit of power. This past season he popped a career-high 19 home runs and he has been in double digits in 6 of his 8 full seasons and in the mid-to-upper teens for 4 of those. Everyone knows about his dynamic speed as he has topped 50 five times, four of which led the league. This year he didn’t reach the mark (47), but no one is complaining.

He would be a perfect #2 hitter behind Jackson who would actually do what we all expect Damon to do this year and much, much more (ed. note: no one was banking on Damon to steal or hit triples like Crawford does, not at 36, but I expected twice as many home runs as the eight he logged and a batting average better than .271). He could also hit 3rd if needed, though that would likely sap some of stolen base prowess with Cabrera hitting behind him. But let’s not put the cart before the horse too much more here and just settle on the fact that Crawford would be a MASSIVE addition, one that would make the offseason a complete success almost regardless of whatever other moves were made.

Luring him won’t be easy, but I certainly hope the Tigers are in on the bidding as Olney suggested.

Monday: 01.25.2010

Curtis Granderson Discusses Leaving Detroit; Gets Emotional

You rarely see this kind of genuine emotion when a player discusses his departure from one city to another. A lot of times, it is just canned lines about how he’ll miss it and how he thanks the fans, blah-blah-blah. This is why Curtis Granderson is awesome at life and worthy of being cheered by Detroit fans even in New York.

See his interview with Fox 2 here

Tuesday: 11.24.2009

They Called in the Bullpen

My editor from OwnersEdge.com emailed me asking if I could help out with the Detroit Tigers blog in the Fanball Sports Network, so obviously I jumped at the opportunity to help out. The original writer over there was apparently in an accident and is out of commission so I’ll be in for a little while. Check out my first post here.

Now, that won’t curtail production here. I have tomorrow off and should be able to finish the third basemen and hopefully get started on the shortstops before the holidays. You may notice there was no NFL whatsoever yesterday. This wasn’t entirely accidental. It’s really going to be more of a “when I have time” then a bankable feature. I put baseball material first so now with helping out at the Tigers site and my rankings here, football heads to the backburner. I apologize to those who enjoy that piece, but it isn’t my main passion–baseball will always be #1.

Monday: 06.8.2009

Roy Halladay: The Complete Picture

It wasn’t always bubblegum and lollipops for the American League’s best pitcher. Roy Halladay notched his major league-leading 10th win of the season on Sunday with a complete game shutout of the Kansas City Royals. The complete game was his third of the season and second of the week as he continues to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the junior circuit’s best pitcher. In fact he is right on the heels of Johan Santana for baseball’s best overall. It was an up-&-down path to stardom for Halladay, though.

He came to the majors for a cup of coffee in 1998 getting just two starts totaling 14 innings. He made the club the following season as a 22 year old and went 8-7 in 149 innings with an incredibly lucky 3.92 ERA. He had essentially a 1.0 K:BB rate with 82 strikeouts against 79 walks and allowed better than a hit per inning for a 1.57 WHIP. You can understand why I declared his ERA so fortunate. Things came to a head the following season as he maintained his 1.0 K:BB ratio and was decimated to the tune of a 10.64 ERA and 2.20 WHIP in 68 innings of work. He stayed down for the rest of the year save three relief appearances in September.

Then he had to work his way up from High-A at the beginning of the 2001 season. Toronto’s 1999 #1 prospect according to Baseball America was essentially in remedial classes as a 24-year old working his way back to the bigs from High-A, where he was a reliever. He made seven starts between AA and AAA before coming back up in July. In his first appearance (a 1st inning bailout of Esteban Loaiza, who had given up 5 runs in just 1/3 of an inning), he was destroyed, allowing six runs in 2+ innings of work and it looked like all of his hard work was for naught. But the Blue Jays stuck with him. He had come a long way having displayed the best control of his career during the minor league stints of 2000 and 2001. And though just 71 innings of work, his strikeouts were way up, too.

The rest, as they say, is history. He started 16 times the rest of 2001 and put together a 5-3 record with a 2.71 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 8.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 103 very strong innings. The next season he made the All-Star team and he followed that up with a Cy Young Award winning performance. His only hiccups in the run up to becoming one of baseball’s elite were a bum right shoulder in 2004 that limited him to 133 innings and a freak accident broken leg the year after that again held him under 150 innings (141.7). Since 2002, he has been the gold standard for complete games with his 40 (including Sunday’s) standing as a major league best in that timeframe (Livan Hernandez and CC Sabathia, 28).

Outside of just being fascinating on its own accord, I wanted to write about Halladay on the heels on my piece of patience that I wrote yesterday. I’m not suggesting you should’ve held over Halladay yearly since 1999 if you owned him, but rather that you can’t just write off young players at the first sign of distress. Halladay was a highly thought of prospect, but it took 336 innings spanning parts of four years for him to really break through. Today’s fantasy owner would’ve discarded him after the 2000 meltdown and then been baffled by his emergence two years later. In fact, it’s unfair to limit it to just fantasy owners. The baseball watching public and media would’ve behaved similarly on both fronts. This is speaking generally of course, as there are pockets of people and certain outlets that don’t hastily judge prospects on minuscule samples.

Brandon Phillips is another example. He was a highly touted prospect for several years ranking 9th, 2nd, 1st and 1st in his organization from 2000-2003. He was in the top 20 for all baseball in 2002 (20th) and 2003 (7th). After a 31 AB stint in 2002, he came up for over 100 games in 2003, but struggled mightily in 370 at-bats. In fact, he put up a .206/.246/.310 line in his first 432 at-bats spanning parts of four seasons, but 86% of those at-bats came in one season as a 22 year old. Alas, the Indians gave up on him and let him go in a trade at the beginning of the 2006 season. He finally got a full season’s worth of work at the age of 25 and performed quite well with 17 HR, 25 SB and a .276/.324/.427 line. He got even better in his age 26 season, going 30-30 and garnering a shred of MVP consideration. He had paid dividends on the prospects from the early 2000s and it’s not like he was a late bloomer at 25, just that the Indians were wildly impatient.

The latest iteration could be happening before our eyes in the form of Edwin Jackson. Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers at age 17 back in 2001, it feels like Jackson has been around forever. The Dodgers afforded him a whopping 75 innings in the big leagues before discarding him at the age of 22 to the Rays for Danyz Baez and Lance Carter. The Rays gave him a sample even larger than Halladay’s 336 innings as they saw him through 381 innings spanning three seasons with varying degrees of success. The only thing is, they didn’t stick around for the payoff. Instead they dealt him to Detroit for Matt Joyce. Jackson is enjoying a career year at age 25 (just like Halladay) thanks in large part to massively improved control (just like Halladay). In fact, Jackson has improved his walk rate four straight seasons going from 6.2 BB/9 in 2006 to 2.1 BB/9 through 83 innings in 2009. I’m not saying Jackson is going to be the next Roy Halladay based on 83 excellent innings of work, but there are some nice similarities.

In fact, when I started this piece, it was for the sole purpose of showing Halladay’s path and how it had bumps in the road to stardom. As many of you may know, I’m a diehard Detroit Tigers fan so I don’t want this coming off as a spin job to say my favorite team’s new shiny toy is headed towards the top 3 starting pitchers in all of baseball in the coming years. Jackson is just one of many examples that shows that major league teams are sometimes hasty in their judgment of youngsters and expect too much of kids that haven’t fully matured. That effect trickles down to the fantasy baseball community and creates these seasons deemed as “out of nowhere” that shock everyone even if the player was highly thought of coming up through the minors and is still very young. They are actually just breakouts due to the maturation of mid-20s players. Not everyone will come up and be Ryan Braun, Tim Lincecum or Evan Longoria.

Ervin Santana went through this last year. His breakout was seen as a “rising from the dead” because he had been solid if unspectacular in his first two seasons and then hit a major road bump in season three with a 5.76 ERA in 2007. That season included a trip back to AAA to try and “fix” him. The thing is, his skills hadn’t just fallen off of a cliff that year. He was actually striking out more than ever (7.6 K/9) leading to his career-best K:BB ratio of 2.2. The walks were up a tick at 3.5 BB/9, but he wasn’t nearly as broken as was perceived. Then last year, his control improved dramatically and he had a breakout season at age 25. So far this year he has stumbled out of the gate after starting the season on the disabled list. Two flameout starts have inflated his numbers, but he took a huge step forward on Friday with 8 and 2/3rds of 1-run ball against the Detroit Tigers. It was the first start I had seen of his all year and he looked so 2008 as he brought the boom, boom pow on the Tigers. (I really won’t blame if you stop reading and never come here again after that…)

Who will be the next player written off at far too young an age only to meet or exceed his prospect promise?

Monday: 05.25.2009

Team Bomb Pop

Per @DailyFungo on Twitter: “The Royals’ uniforms today — with the red caps — make them look like a team of Bomb Pops.”

Hilarious!! I couldn’t agree more, see below:

team bomb pop

Tuesday: 08.19.2008

Tigers Win!! Tigers Win!!!

After over 5 hours at the ballpark, I am beat. After threats of a rainout all day, the game went off without a hitch. We got there as soon as the gates opened and snagged a boatload of autographs! There was a huge play in the game where Chris Davis banged a double off the wall. Magglio Ordonez grabbed the ball and tossed a relay to Placido Polanco who promptly got it to Brandon Inge for the tag out at home of Gerald Laird. The best part of that play was that Inge tossed the ball to my sister on the way back to dugout. She has since given it to me.

I probably won’t post something in depth until Wednesday since we’re going to the game again tomorrow, but this picture sums up how amazing my night was:

Tuesday: 08.5.2008

I Haven’t the Words…

I hate this team right now….

I’ve never seen a bullpen this bad…
Nice play, Edgar Renteria… real sharp defense. I’m really glad my team gave up Jair Jurrjens & Gorkys Hernandez for you. You might be one of the top 5 worst acquisitions in baseball history.

I’ll post something tomorrow… I haven’t been this hot in awhile.

Wednesday: 07.30.2008

Player Focus: 7/30/08

I didn’t deliver on my promise to post something last night, but I was again just too beat. Things have been a whirlwind of late, but I wanted to at least get something going tonight.

Cabrera Showing Why He’s One of the Best
Chances are you know someone (or perhaps you yourself are the one) that traded Miguel Cabrera for around 75 cents on the dollar back in the early summer. After all, his numbers were downright pedestrian when compared against the backdrop of his career lines. His torrid July marks the billionth case of the baseball season being a marathon and not a sprint, thus requiring a great deal of patience. First of all, it’s not like he was ever in the midst of a BAD season. He wasn’t putting up the otherworldly numbers that many predicted him for, but he was a still a producer. His night is now over after being pinch-ran for, but he went 3-for-5 with four runs driven in and his eighth July home run.

Lately it seems that if someone is on base, then Cabrera is going to drive him in. He has 31 runs batted in during his past 24 games! He would need to stay pretty hot with the home runs to reach 30 for the season, but there is no reason to believe he can’t do it. He needs 12 in two months, but this month’s eight is twice as many as he has had in any other month. I think there are times where we as fantasy owners get a little nuts with our expectations of superstars. Anything other than improvement on the season before for first or second round picks is unacceptable and it really shouldn’t be that way. If the low-end of Cabrera is a .300-30-100 season, that’s still pretty darn good. With his hot July, he has set himself up to top both the 30 and 100 marks handily.

Shoppach Enjoys Career Night, Year
With a brilliant 5-for-6 effort against the Tigers tonight, Shoppach continued his solid, if unspectacular, career year going. I am not much for drafting/paying for catchers in my leagues unless I see someone great going at a bargain. Instead, I opt for the $1 route and usually look to find either diamonds in the rough that could emerge or guys I know won’t play too much but can do something when they do get an opportunity. Shoppach was a big target of mine in all leagues because I liked his potential to smack 10 home runs while spelling Victor Martinez for an off-day or catching when Martinez plays first base. It turns out I struck it rich (relatively speaking) with the Martinez injury that has led to almost 200 at-bats for Shoppach already with more on the way.

A day before the trade deadline, Shoppach has topped the 10-home run mark I had hoped for so at this point everything else is bonus. He has a terrible batting eye that hasn’t really improved, but he delivers exactly what you want out of a $1 catcher: power, without killing any other categories. Playing time will be a factor when (if?) Martinez returns, but he should end the season in the upper teens for home runs.

___________________________________

The trade deadline is tomorrow and there has already been a ton of action to this point. I can’t remember the last season with this many season-changing crossovers to spend FAAB on. First it was the pair of aces in C.C. Sabathia and Rich Harden and then the consolation prize of Joe Blanton to the Phillies. Then it was Xavier Nady to the Yankees followed by Casey Blake to the Dodgers. Now Mark Teixeira heads over to Angels while Casey Kotchman comes over for the Braves. The three-way deal being discussed right now would move Manny Ramirez to Florida and Jason Bay to Boston. For some reason, I get the feeling that the Ramirez-Bay 3-way will go down tomorrow. Here’s a look at the pitching and hitting numbers that have been available via FAAB this season so far. These numbers are the totals prior to the trade:

Wow, that is some talent!! Blanton severely skews the pitching data and it is still a solid stat-line. Included Bay and Ramirez wasn’t done to make the hitting numbers look better, they standalone just fine. I just feel like that deal will get done by the end of tomorrow so I went ahead and threw the tremendous lines of those two into the mix. Without them, there was still 1406 at-bats of .297 average along 56 home runs and 247 runs batted in on the move so far this season.

Saturday: 07.12.2008

ESPN MLB Standings

I wish I could customize the sizes of these!!

Edit to add: I CAN customize the sizes and even though it’s not the prettiest thing in the world, it is now in the sidebar, folks!!

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