I thought I'd take a look at former Tigers in this year's free agent group and where they've ended up (if anywhere). But before that, let me just say that I love the minor league contract signing of Scott Williamson. If he's healthy, I think he could be a steal this year. Anyhoo...
Brad Ausmus, C, Age 39: Signed a 1 year, $1 million deal with the Dodgers. I always liked Ausmus and hope he has a good year backing up Russell Martin in LA. It's just weird seeing him switch teams without them being Houston and Detroit.
Paul Bako, C, Age 36: Unsigned. Bako was in Cinci last year hitting .217 with 6 homers. He's basically lasted in the majors because he's a rare left-handed catcher. And as I've said before, the only foul ball I've ever caught was off of Bako's bat, so he'll always be cool with me. He'll catch on somewhere. (horrible pun intended)
Denny Bautista, P, Age 28: Re-signed with Pittsburgh to a minor league contract. Denny pitched in only 16 games for us last year before being traded to the Pirates for RHP Kyle Pearson. He still has a fastball that can get up to 100 mph, but can't control it. He did okay for us until Zumaya was ready to come back (before getting hurt again). I expect him to pitch in Pittsburgh this year... someone has to.
Doug Brocail, P, Age 41: Re-signed with Houston for one year at $2.75 million. Not bad for a middle relief guy in his forties. Doug had a 1.22 WHIP last year in 68.2 IP and can still get the job done. He was great for us from '97-'99 before having a rough year in '00. Sadly, Brocail's most famous moment was 2004 when some jerk fan in Oakland was heckling him about having a stillborn son. Doug's teammate, Frank Francisco, hurled a chair at the fan and broke the guy's wife's nose. Good luck to you, Doug.
Sean Casey, 1B, Age 34: Retired. Despite still being a guy that can hit .300 at will and six years from 40, Sean's calling it quits to go work for the MLB Network. "The Mayor" will always be welcome in Detroit for being the only guy to not suck at the plate in the 2006 World Series.
Tony Clark, 1B, Age 36: Re-signed with the Diamondbacks for one year at $800,000. Tony the (former) Tiger had a bad year in '08 hitting .225 with only 3 HR. Obviously, Arizona still thinks he can help a bit at 1B and pinch hitting. For more on Tony, ask Blake.
Damion Easley, 2B, Age 39: Unsigned. He hit .269 with 6 homers with the Mets last year. He might end up back there as he's helped off the bench quite a bit for New York after stints in Tampa Bay, Florida, and Arizona and being booed out of Detroit in 2002. But at his age, he's probably about done. Easley is the active leader for MLB players for playing in the most games (1,706) without ever playing in the postseason.
Kyle Farnsworth, P, Age 32: Signed a 2 year $9.25 million contract with the Royals. We traded Pudge for him in his latest stint as a Tiger and he pouted through the rest of the season getting pounded like the wife of a Mississippi NASCAR fan. I cannot wait for the first time he pitches in Detroit in a KC uniform. The fans are going to crucify him.
Casey Fossum, P, Age 31: Signed a minor league deal with the Mets. Casey wasn't that great for us in the pen last year, but he had nice things to say about his time in the D to his friend, Brandon Lyon, in the offseason partially leading to Lyon choosing to play for the Tigers this year. So, thanks, Mr. Fossum. He should see time in the Mets pen.
Freddy Garcia, P, Age 32: Signed a minor league deal with the Mets. Apparently the Mets were so impressed with the Tigers staff last year, they've decided to raid our cupboard. Good luck. Garcia and the Tigers used each other at the end of the year: Freddy to audition for MLB teams and the Tigers to limp to their last place finish. The Mets will find out if Freddy's healthy and he may pay off big for them if he's back to his pre-injury form.
Chris Gomez, IF, Age 37: Signed a minor league deal with Baltimore. Chris played in Pittsburgh last year hitting .273 in 183 at bats. It amazes me that the guy who replaced Trammell at short is only 37 and still in the league. But Chris is a solid player still and serves his purpose off the bench.
Luis Gonzalez, LF, Age 41: Unsigned. Gonzo played the leader role on a young Florida team last year playing in 136 games and hitting .261 with 8 home runs. We traded him for Karim Garcia in Randy Smith's dumbest move and he responded by putting up superstar numbers until age caught up with him. Will Gonzo play another year? Time will tell.
Jason Johnson, P, Age 35: Signed a minor league deal with the Yankees. I didn't know JJ was still in the league, but apparently, he is going 1-2 with a 5.22 ERA with the Dodgers in 16 games last year. With the signing of Andy Pettitte, I doubt Jason sees much, if any time in the Bronx this year. Jason was a disappointment in Detroit, but I was always fascinated listening to Rod talk about the insulin pump on his belt that controlled his sugar level due to diabetes.
Jacque Jones, LF, Age 33: Unsigned. Played a bit in Florida last year. Sucked. He's done.
Todd Jones, P, Age 40: Retired. Todd retired as the all-time save leader in Detroit. I've made a lot of jokes at Todd's expense over the years and he deserved every one of them. But dammit, more often than not, Jonesey got the job done. Enjoy retirement, Todd. Just don't get too much fatter...we might need you if the pen falls apart again this year.
Gabe Kapler, OF, Age 33: Signed a one year, $1 million deal with the Rays. Gabe played with the Brewers last year and is a solid backup outfielder. He has his best success in Boston and his best remembered in Detroit for his freakish build and being involved in the Juan Gonzalez trade. He never seems to stay with one team for too long, for some reason.
Wil Ledezma, P, Age 28: Signed a minor league deal with Washington. Wil played in Arizona last year and has never lived up to the promise that he was thought to have in the Tigers minor league system. I expect him to make the Nats roster and be solid out of the pen. I'll always remember Wil for bailing out Jason Grilli when he tried blowing a game in the 2006 playoffs.
Aquilino Lopez, P, Age 33: Unsigned. Lopez was released this offseason by the Tigers and will probably get a look somewhere. His numbers weren't that bad, but he hurt everyone else's ERA's by letting many an inherited runner score last year.
Trever Miller, P, Age 34: Signed with the Cardinals for one year at $500,000. Trever's a solid lefty specialist that will serve that role well in St. Louis. He appeared in 5 games for us in 1996. Oddly as it seems now, 4 of those games were starts...and he got shelled. He was part of the trade to the Astros that brought us Todd Jones for the first time.
Edgar Renteria, SS, Age 33: Signed a 2 year, $18.5 million deal with the Giants, proving that the Frisco GM did not watch one game of Tigers baseball last year. Renteria is Dave Dombrowski's biggest mistake as the Tigers GM as Rentererror was underwhelming as a Tiger, to say the least. More importantly, the Tigers gave up promising pitcher Jair Jurrjens for him and Jurrjens went on to be a contender for Rookie of the Year with the Braves. Renteria may rebound offensively back in the NL where he's more comfortable, but his defense is declining every time he takes the field.
Ivan Rodriguez, C, Age 37: Unsigned. Pudge was horrible after joining the Yankees in the trade for The Farns. But he was having a decent year in Detroit before said trade. Pudge can still be productive for a team in 2009, but his unwillingness to take a reduced role and his money demands will make it hard for him to find a team until reality sinks in for him. Like most of the guys on this list, I wish Ivan nothing but the best for all good he did for our franchise.
Kenny Rogers, P, Age 44: Unsigned and probably retired. Rick Knapp says that Kenny's done, but the official announcement still hasn't been made. Love ya, Gambler...thanks for the memories.
Jason Smith, IF, Age 31: Signed a minor league contract with Houston. Jason's another guy that I thought was much older than this. He's a left handed infielder that's a career backup and played for us in '04 and '05.
Vance Wilson, C, Age 35: Signed a minor league deal with the Royals. Vance hasn't played in two years due to injury, but was a good backup to Pudge in Detroit and a great guy in the clubhouse. Hopefully, Vance can make a comeback and contribute for KC...just not against us.
I think that's about everyone. Enjoy the snowstorm, fellow Detroit area dwellers.