Archive for August, 2006

Thursday: 08.31.2006

What a Win!

I got off of work in time to watch the end of the Yankees-Tigers game on ESPN last night. What a huge home run by Craig Monroe. I can’t even explain how awesome it was and how important it was to the team. I haven’t been around in some time, but I’m off until Monday, so I should be able to post some regular updates starting later today when I wake back up. Until then, I’m going back to bed.

Tuesday: 08.22.2006

Rebounding Against Chicago & Other Notes.

After dropping three of four to the Texas Rangers, Justin Verlander snapped his two game losing streak in a 7-1 victory. He was vintage Verlander (can you be vintage in your rookie season?) going seven strong allowing five hits, two walks, one run and striking out two. The bats came alive ripping Jose Contreras for seven runs in five innings including three runs driven in by Sean Casey (who else?!). Casey has been excellent since coming over at the trade deadline with 16 runs batted in 20 games while hitting .286. He isn’t walking as much as I’d like (just three in 66 plate appearances), but it is tough to complain about the addition of his bat thus far. Not only has Casey been excellent since his arrival, but he also plays fantasy football, which is awesome!

As for additions that are complaint-worthy, the Tigers added Neifi Perez to shore up the Placido Polanco issue. He is a Jim Leyland favorite, which is why he brought in: “I loved him in 1999 (with the Colorado Rockies) and I still love him,” Leyland said. “He’s got energy.” Red Bull has got energy, too, why not get a can of it to play 2nd base while Polanco is out. Well Perez could outperform the can defensively, but at best he’d draw in terms of swinging the bat. Aaron Gleeman flawlessly outlined just how horrible Perez is with a bat in his hands. The article, written in April, chronicles just how bad Perez is at the dish and shows that he is arguably the worst hitter ever when judging by Runs Created Above Average.

Perez was acquired for 2005 third round pick Chris Robinson, a catcher at A-level ball right. It isn’t so much that Robinson was a big price tag, it’s more that ANYTHING is a big price tag for Perez. He is wildly overpaid ($2.5MM due next year) and has clearly lost a step defensively, his only positive. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox were offering Mark Loretta for some pitching help according to Gordon Edes. In fantasy terms, I will almost always move pitching for hitting whereas in real-life, I’m more skeptical. The names being thrown around included Wil Ledezma, Zach Miner and Jamie Walker, all three of whom hold significant value to the Tigers staff. However, given Loretta’s ability with the bat and patience at the plate (a glaring weak spot in this lineup), you would think that the team could have worked something out.

Overall, I’d have rather seen the team just stand pat and go with Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago especially given the prognosis on Polanco that Edes points out, “with their medical staff now saying Polanco could be back in 4-6 weeks (the team feared he was lost for the season), the urgency for making a deal became considerably less.” Basically, I just think Neifi Perez is garbage and completely worthless.

Tonight, Kenny Rogers will aim to stymie the Chicago White Sox once again as he is 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts against the Southsiders. The reason the Texas series didn’t set off panic alarms was the fact that the White Sox were busy losing to the Minnesota Twins at the same time and after Monday night’s win, the Tigers are 6.5 games up still. I was fortunate enough to see Mario Impemba and Rod Allen this morning when I watched the replay of the game, but I’m fearful that my luck will run out tomorrow when I watch the replay of tonight’s and get saddled with Hawk Harrelson and Darrin Jackson.

In the geek department, Madden 07 came out today and I cannot wait to start playing it. I’m on my lunch break at work as I type this, but rest assured that I will have it waiting for me when I get off of work tonight. I like the NCAA version that EA releases each year, but I really immerse myself in Madden 07 and basically use the NCAA version to import rookies. Like I said, geek department.

Finally, I had my fantasy football draft for work last night and I thought I’d share the results as if any of my readers really care. I had the third pick and here’s how I fared (round selected):

QB Jake Delhomme (5th)
RB Ladainian Tomlinson (1st)
RB Kevin Jones (3rd)
RB/WR Mike Bell (6th)
WR Anquan Boldin (2nd)
WR Roy Williams (4th)
WR Darrell Jackson (7th)
TE Randy McMichael (8th)
K Shayne Graham (10th)
D/ST Seattle (9th)
B Kevin Curtis (11th)
B Greg Jones (12th)
B Chris Simms (13th)
B Ernest Wilford (14th)
B Cincinnati (15th)
B Michael Turner (16th)

I homered it up in back-to-back picks with Jones and Williams, but I stand by each pick. Jones was a bigger reach, but Williams be a beast this season. Overall, I think have a pretty good team and was very happy to see Larry Johnson and Shaun Alexander go 1st and 2nd leaving me my top-ranked player in Tomlinson. The Simms pick can also be viewed as some homerism as he is from my alma mater, the University of Texas. Once again, I stand by it. It was late and he’s my backup. He could shock people this year. Sadly, I’ll probably keep you updated on the progress of this team throughout the season even though there might not be a heavy level of interest.

Thursday: 08.17.2006

Battle Won; Casualities Suffered.

With the way the season has gone, any Tigers fan had to love the idea of Justin Verlander taking the hill in the third game of a series when the team is going for a sweep. However, Verlander once again didn’t have his best stuff as the sweep was denied in Boston. He was reliant upon his fastball and it failed him to the tune of five runs over six innings along with seven walks allowed, a career-high. After allowing 13 hits to the Chicago White Sox on Friday, Verlander switched to a larger glove for this start for fear that he might have been tipping his pitches. I guess it wasn’t the glove. With two bombs in a row, Verlander is at a turning point with his next start. Did he just tip some pitches and “not have it” the past two? Or is he legitimately tired and in danger of doing serious damage each time he pitches from here on out? It goes without saying that the Tigers will have no chance of sustained postseason success without Verlander in the rotation. I think maybe another skipped start could do a rookie good.

The biggest casualty of the series win in Boston was second baseman Placido Polanco. According to Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus, Polanco should be out for about a month. Carroll writes the members-only Under the Knife column, so I’ll refrain from posting exactly what he says, but he mentions that Jim Leyland wouldn’t be definitive without advice from the medical professionals on the team and that when he does return, it will be his hitting that could suffer the most. Rumors of the team acquiring Mark Grudzielanek were squelched by a painfully bizarre contract extension for the aged 2nd sacker (credit: Mack Avenue Tigers). Ramon Santiago was recalled to fill the roster spot, meanwhile Omar Infante will play second base and Craig Monroe will likely bat second in Polanco’s absence. I’ll use Free Press writerJohn Lowe‘s description of what Polanco means to the Tigers because I think he sums it up very nicely, “As the second baseman and second-place hitter, Polanco is not the most powerful or spectacular part of the Tigers’ machine. He is more like the oil that keeps it going smoothly.” He rates as the toughest hitter to strikeout in baseball at one for every 17.4 at-bats, an asset on a team known for striking out.

Speaking of the team’s strikeout troubles, Buster Olney of ESPN.com blogged (Insider-Only) about the Tigers’ inability to work counts and wear out starting pitchers. Ranking 28th in walks and 6th in strikeouts, Olney suggests the team is not fit for October without some serious adjustments to plate patience. Frankly, he is right. I am confident that this team can get to the playoffs with the American League’s best record, but they need to stifle the free-swinging ways if they want to go deep into October. The power is there, the never-say-die attitude is there, but in an environment where things really tighten up, this team will need to take advantage of extra chances on base by drawing more walks and fanning less.

Staying with ESPN, a former favorite of mine that I believe fell off immensely is making a nice comeback. On the national scale, he didn’t fall out of favor, so it is more of a personal comeback. Bill Simmons‘ American League breakdown article from yesterday was vintage Simmons. He went away from his reliance on reality show/USWeekly jokes and droning on about a new ESPN 13 channel. Instead, he just broke down the American League with a delightful mix of well-done analysis and relevant humor. I was most impressed because I was not sure he would have a firm grasp of the goings-on of all 14 teams in the junior circuit, but he acquitted himself handily. He ranked the Tigers second, which I’m fine with and suggested that Joel Zumaya might be the league’s most intimidating reliever. He brings up something I never forget and that is the stroke of the luck the Tigers got when Juan Gonzalez said “no” to the ludicrous $150 million dollar offer:

“(Second-strangest thing about the Tigers: Six years ago, they offered Juan Gonzalez a $150 million contract that would have destroyed them for the rest of the decade if he wasn’t dumb enough to turn it down. It’s almost like the entire franchise had a near-death experience. Anyway, they took advantage of that second life and now they’re headed for 100 wins. … Meanwhile, Juan Gone is playing in the Independent League along with my buddy JackO’s pal from home, and after JackO drove to Jersey to catch one of his friend’s games, they stopped at a Subway for dinner afterwards, and who walked in but Juan Gonzalez? That’s right, the two-time MVP Juan proceeded to sit down at a table and eat a Subway sandwich by himself. These are the things that happen when you turn down a $150 million contract. I feel like you need to know these things.)”

There is no let up in the schedule for the Tigers after back-to-back series in Chicago and Boston. They are home for eight, but it is four apiece against Texas and then the White Sox again. The Rangers come in as winners of six of their last seven and feature a dangerous lineup. However, their staff is one that the Tigers can get to (and have, though back in April). The pitching matchups are as follows:

Thu, Aug 17—–6:05 pm CDT—–K.Rogers vs. E.Volquez
Fri, Aug 18—–6:05 pm CDT—–Z. Miner vs. K. Millwood
Sat, Aug 19—–6:05 pm CDT—–N. Robertson vs. J. Koronka
Sun, Aug 20—–12:05 pm CDT—–J. Bonderman vs. V. Padilla

According to Baseball Prospectus’ Stat of the Day, Todd Jones is the fourth most leveraged pitcher in the American League of those with 20 or more innings:

STAT OF THE DAY  
   
Top
5 Most Leveraged AL Relievers
Player Team LEV
Tyler Walker TBA 2.18
Jonathan
Papelbon
BOS 2.11
Mariano
Rivera
NYA 1.97
Todd Jones DET 1.94
Joe Nathan MIN 1.89

Given the way he has responded (or not responded), I’d say that this is a bad thing.

Tuesday: 08.15.2006

Dusting Off

After getting swept, the team bounced back to get a much-needed win in Boston. The sweep gets the critics swarming unfortunately, as they wonder whether this is the beginning of the end or a bump in the road. Not just because I am a fan, but because I’ve seen nearly every single game this year, I am inclined to believe the latter. It could not have come to a worse team, but it happens. The team needs to handle the sweep with poise and rationality realizing that it is not the end of the world. By the way, mandatory overtime is the devil. Much more, much later (maybe on lunch or after 10 hours of work or in September!).

Saturday: 08.12.2006

Check-In

It has been entirely too long since I’ve been by here, but such is life with mandatory overtime at work and then a weekend out of town for the graduation of a very good friend. The Tigers continue to play well, but are in danger of dropping the first two in the Chicago series. Before going out last night, I was able to watch most of the game. Thome and AJ got the best of Verlander, but the two pitches weren’t bad, they really weren’t. At any rate, I’m currently at a graduation party for the aforementioned friend so I don’t want to spend too much time in here playing on the computer. I’ll be home tomorrow and I’m starting to settle into the new schedule, which has me working 11:30-8:30 regularly, until 10:30 on the mandatory overtime schedule, with Thursdays and Fridays off. I’ll come with a full update on Monday, if not tomorrow after work. The partying will continue through the day, then I have to drive home around 6 AM tomorrow before working, so looking for an update tomorrow might be a bit much.

Friday: 08.4.2006

Andrew Miller Signed

First round pick, Andrew Miller, has been signed to a four-year deal with the Detroit Tigers. Miller, a star at North Carolina, had 13-2 record with a 2.48 earned run average in his final collegiate season. He won the Roger Clemens Award given to the NCAA’s best pitcher and set a school-best mark in strikeouts with 325 in his career.

Though the terms haven’t been announced, Jon Paul Morosi of the Free Press cites a source: “The Tigers did not announce terms; however, one source with knowledge of the negotiations said it included a $3.55 million signing bonus with a guaranteed value near $5.5 million. Incentives could bring the total value above $7 million.” He will be placed on the 40-man roster making him eligible for a September call-up. I don’t know if there is a precedent for a college pick getting much action in the thick of a pennant race in the year he was drafted, but we’ll see as he will almost certainly be part of the team in September.

Friday: 08.4.2006

Alas, An Update!

Welcome to the team Sean Casey. After being brought in from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, he did something he hadn’t done since May 31st. His fifth inning home run was his first in 169 at-bats, it was also his fourth of the season. Casey’s arrival signaled the departure of Chris Shelton to AAA Toledo. When thinking back to the April he had, it is tough to figure that Shelton was a candidate for demotion, but a quick check of his painfully bad numbers justifies the move. After a 1.186 April OPS, he has posted months of .703, .642 and .730. None of those even top his April slugging percentage let alone touch the OPS figure. I pegged Dan Johnson and Shelton to have similar seasons, but I didn’t mean they would both be demoted to AAA.

This year, it seems that when the Tigers bring someone in either from their farm or via trade, they immediately perform. Rookie hurler Justin Verlander notched his 14th win on Tuesday evening powered by Casey’s bomb and rookie Brent Clevlen‘s two home runs. Another rookie, Zach Miner, has filled in brilliantly for Mike Maroth (who is scheduled to make his first rehab start on August 9th) with a 6-2 record and 3.95 earned run average. Backup catcher Vance Wilson has hit .291 while giving Ivan Rodriguez a break in 37 games and more recently filling in for him while Pudge nurses a bruised right thumb.

Dmitri Young has continued his succesful return to the lineup with 16 hits in 37 at-bats (.432) including five home runs, 11 runs batted in and four walks against seven strikeouts. His resurgent partner in crime, Craig Monroe, is hitting .340 with six home runs in his last 100 at-bats. The two have squeezed Marcus Thames‘ playing time and it will continue if both keep hitting like this. Thames is one of my favorite players on the team, but he is just 14 for his last 70 (.200) in his first downslide of an otherwise great season.

So the 10-game road trip ended at 6-4 after a 2-2 split with the Devil Rays. Home for six against Cleveland and Minnesota before a socky road trip against Boston and Chicago. I have no idea what “socky” means, but it’s very early and I’m very tired. Though it goes without saying considering it’s August of a hotly contested pennant race, this month is very important for the team because they don’t get a break from here out. Cleveland has underperformed severely, but they will come to play and they represent the “worst” team they face all month. Seven against Chicago, four against Texas, three against Minnesota and New York fit in with the six against Cleveland.

As the season moves on and the Tigers continue to assert their will on opponents, talk has shifted to assessing their post-season ability. I am in no way going to discuss that at any length right now because there is far too much season left for it, but let’s just say that I’m saving every penny I can to make sure that should they find themselves playing in October, I will be there.

While I love my job, I hate that it has taken away from my ability to update daily, however as I get settled into the new schedule starting tomorrow, that should be less of a problem.