Archive for May 30th, 2006

Tuesday: 05.30.2006

Around the Minors

It has been a while since I last toured the minor leagues updating everyone on not only the best Tigers prospects, but also some of the most high-profile prospects around the majors. Once again, I will start with the best of those from Baseball America’s top 10 list for the Tigers that doesn’t include major leaguers Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya. Tomorrow, I’ll tour the rest of the minors and drop in on several of the best prospects from other teams.

1. Cameron Maybin, OF – West Michigan Whitecaps (A)
Maybin hit the disabled list on May 18th with a right index finger injury. Before that, he had exactly 100 at-bats in his 27 appearances. Of his 33 hits, 12 have gone for extra bases, though just one home run. He is hitting .330/.409/.510 with six stolen bases and a 2.5 K:BB ratio. With his placement being retroactive to May 16th, Wednesday will be Maybin’s 15th day on the disabled list. Hopefully he is able to come back soon and continue his torrid pace.

2. Brent Clevlen, OF – Erie Seawolves (AA)
Clevlen continues to struggle mightily. In 49 games, he is hitting a paltry .212/.311/.315 with three home runs and 18 RBIs. He has 61 strikeouts against 24 walks (2.5) and four stolen bases. A promotion does not appear to be anywhere in his near future.

3. Wilkin Ramirez, 3B – Lakeland Tigers (High-A)
Ramirez has not improved much since the last update through 11 games. He is now hitting .231/.266/.399, but 15 of his 40 hits have gone for extra bases including six home runs. He hasn’t improved on his already lacking plate discipline with just eight walks to his 48 strikeouts (6.0). He has been running well with seven stolen bases. At 20 years old, he is not out of place in High-A, but if he doesn’t start putting up better numbers, he could find himself stuck in High-A and growing stale.

4. Humberto Sanchez, SP – Erie Seawolves (AA)
Since my last look at the minors, Sanchez has raised his ERA just 0.19 to 1.84 and continued his domination of his AA opponents. In 63 2/3 innings, he has struck out 77 batters and allowed just 42 hits. He holds a sparkling 3.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio as he has won five of his eight decisions. A promotion to AAA Toledo may be in his near future.

5. Jordan Tata, SP – Toledo Mudhens (AAA)
Tata started the season with the big league club in Detroit before being sent down. He has been with the Mudhens since May 10th and in that time he has made four starts. His control has been a bit of a problem with 11 walks, but he is 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA. In 20 2/3 innings, he has 17 strikeouts and allowed 17 hits. If the long relief remains a problem in Detroit, the Tigers might look at bringing Tata back up.

6. Tony Giarratano, SS – Erie Seawolves (AA)
He has only slightly improved on poor numbers since the last update. He is still scuffling with just a .227/.271/.329 line for Erie. His speed has been his best asset so far with five triples and 12 stolen bases. He has a 3.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which hasn’t helped his problems at the dish.

7. Jeff Larish, 1B – Lakeland Tigers (High-A)
The hard hitting Larish has continued his hot start with six home runs through 50 games. Nearly half of his hits (25-of-51) are extra-base hits including 17 doubles. His 1.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio has contributed to an impressive .276/.382/.486 line. Larish should be promoted very soon with his performance given that he is a bit old (23 years old) for High-A as it is.

8. Kevin Whelan, RP – Lakeland Tigers (High-A)
Larish’s teammate hasn’t enjoyed quite the same success. Whelan started off the season with four perfect saves, but has since come unraveled a bit. In 18 games and 16 innings of work, he has managed 10 saves, but has walked 17 batters against 19 strikeouts (1.1). He is currently carrying a 5.63 earned run average as well. He obviously needs to work on his control to get back to where he started off the season.

Tuesday: 05.30.2006

Motown Meltdown

What started off very poorly, ended in the same fashion. The Tigers dropped their second straight game to the New York Yankees despite erasing a five run deficit late in the game. Roman Colon was rocked in his first start since substituting for Mike Maroth in the rotation, allowing five runs in 2 1/3 innings of work. After Ivan Rodriguez‘s 4th home run in the bottom of the third, the Tigers were down 6-1. Their comeback was spurred by a Derek Jeter error that led to two runs in the three run fifth. Runs in the 6th and 8th innings tied the game and sent it to extra innings. After a scoreless 10th for both teams, Todd Jones came unglued in the top of the 11th. A solo home run by Jason Giambi was good enough to seal the victory, but the Yankees piled on four more insurance runs. Mariano Rivera polished off the win in his third inning of work with a 1-2-3 11th inning for the 11-6 win.

I am very displeased by the back-to-back losses, as expected being that I’m a Tigers fan, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t even more angry because they have come against the Yankees. Though the team was able to come back, I had a bad feeling about the game as early as the first inning. It was during that inning that the first three batters got on against the Aaron Small and the Tigers managed ZERO runs! You simply have to convert that opportunity for at least one run and get your pitcher a lead. Despite posting three runs in the fifth inning with Pudge’s triple and Magglio Ordonez‘s RBI single, I’m still a bit miffed they weren’t able to have a real big inning considering they had no outs after Ordonez’s at-bat. Instead, it was three straight outs. Then in the 8th inning, they had the bases loaded with no one out and score just one run. That is abysmal and unacceptable for a team that strives to be one the league’s elite. The hitters left 22 men on base (8 left on as a team), which is actually fewer than the Yankees’ 23 and 12, but it was the situations that the Tigers did that cost them this game.

Fernando Rodney‘s control, or lack thereof, almost prevented this game from going to extra innings in the first place. After a walk to Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano grounded into a busted double play that ended up being a fielder’s choice with an error by Rodney that allowed Cano over to second. Bernie Williams was intentionally walked, a move I hate in general though it was at least justified because there were two outs. After reading Baseball Between the Numbers by the guys at Baseball Prospectus, I’ve seen that it is never a good idea to increase the expected runs of a team even to set up a force play. Walking a man to get runners on 1st and 2nd is especially bad if your pitcher throws a wild pitch to the next batter moving those runners to 2nd and 3rd. Not only have you eliminated the edge you aimed to get by walking that batter, but the expected runs for the opposing team goes from 0.457 to 0.661. Then, in an attempt to get me to throw my monitor out the window Rodney threw another wild pitch, but Pudge chased it down and threw a BB to Rodney to nail Cano at home. Upon further review, it was an excellent call by homeplate umpire, Tim Tschida.

Even with that great escape and the comeback to force it into extras, the Tigers were still dropped for their third straight loss. In terms of the big picture, they remain a game and a half ahead of the Chicago White Sox as they were dumped by the Indians, 4-3. On a smaller scale, the Tigers have started off a huge 13-game stretch down 0-2 to the New York Yankees and I don’t like the possible effects it could have on their confidence if they don’t grab the final two wins of this series. Not an easy task with Mike Mussina (6-1, 2.72 ERA, 5.4 K:BB) on the hill tomorrow against Nate Robertson (5-2, 3.02 ERA, 1.7 K:BB).

By the way, I’ve dubbed the nine games after the Yankees series as the All American Stretch. I realize it contains three against the Toronto Blue Jays, but it is against the Red Sox, the White Sox, and the Blue Jays in that order.