Monday, June 29, 2009

So...What'd I miss?

Hey, kids. It's been a while. What happened while I was gone?

-The Tigers are 8-2 in their last 10 games, good enough for a 42-33 record and a 4 game lead in the Central. They're even getting a bit more national attention lately, however, it's usually joined by a comment from whatever snarky announcer saying to "keep an eye on the Twins". Wow...that's a reach. Just give our boys their due, please?

-Carlos Guillen's agent says that our oft-injured outfielder(?) may be back in July since he's finally feeling better. Um...is this good news? I'm enjoying seeing Marcus Thames play on a regular basis, as well as seeing DNR favorite Josh Anderson get playing time, whenever possible. Who is going to get screwed over when Carlos comes back? Newly short haired Ichiro Ordonez? No, probably Marcus. Poor guy...he at least should be used to it by now.

-Figaro sent down, French called up. Well, thank goodness. I dub French "The Tickler", giggle every time he throws a pitch, and the guy gets sent down. I want to see what we have in Mr. French, as Mr. Figaro became my enemy as soon as I found out he and Fernando Rodney were related.

-Speaking of which, how is Rodney still perfect in save opportunities? It's amazing...I go through Rolaids like Leyland goes through Marlboros whenever the guy pitches and he's 17/17 in saves this year. Todd Jones does a facepalm when Rodney pitches. I dunno...keep up...um...the good work?

-Finally, Our Hero has landed himself on the disabled list once again, this time with a cyst-like mass on his vagina, er, left elbow. After failing to record an out in his last two appearances, I was expecting him to disappear with a stress disorder, due to a contagious Dontrelle. But this will do, I guess. Nate thus far in 21 innings pitched has a 7.74 ERA, a 1.86 WHIP, and opposing players are hitting .287 off of him. The Tigers are 5-16 this year overall when Nate pitches. Take your time coming back, Mr. Robinson. Jesus loves you more than you will know...whoa, whoa, whoa.

Allrighty. The disappointing Oakland A's are next on the schedule. Lets end the first half of the season on a good note, shall we?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fun With VORP

I haven't done anything with VORP in a while, so here you go. VORP stands for Value Over Replacement Player, if you don't know. It's a stat invented by Keith Woolner that demonstrates how much a hitter contributes offensively or how much a pitcher contributes to his team in comparison to a fictitious "replacement player" who is an average fielder at his position and a below average hitter. It's usually very accurate, in my opinion.

This year's current leaders in VORP for offensive players are no surprise. Joe Mauer leads the pack at 44.8 and Albert Pujols is second at 42.3. Other notables are the next highest ranked guy from the Central, Victor Martinez, at 31.6, Mr. Perfect, Derek Jeter, at 23.8, and "He Who Kills Tigers", Luke Scott, at 21.8. How bad are the 2009 Tigers offensively? (through June 17th)

Miguel Cabrera: 19.8
Curtis Granderson: 18.6
Brandon Inge: 16.1
Ramon Santiago: 4.8
Marcus Thames: 3.3
Adam Everett: 2.2
Jeff Larish: 1.4
Ryan Raburn: 1.1
Magglio Ordonez: 0.4
Clete Thomas: 0.1
Placido Polanco: -1.5
Josh Anderson: -2.3
Gerald Larid: -4.3
Dane Sardinha: -6.6

Yep...not so good. But then again, the scoreboard should have told you that. And by the way, since no one loves beating a dead horse more than I do, Gary Sheffield's current VORP is 11.6. That's not great, but it would be 4th on our team.

As for pitching, our strength, the current leaders in VORP are Zach Greinke at 38.6, Jered Weaver at 37.6, Dan Haren at 36.5, and Roy Halladay at 36.1. The Tigers come in as follows.

Edwin Jackson: 31.2
Justin Verlander: 22.5
Rick Porcello: 15.8
Brandon Lyon: 6.0
Joel Zumaya: 5.5
Ryan Perry: 4.7
Fernando Rodney: 4.2
Bobby Seay: 3.4
Armando Galarraga: 2.4
Zach Miner: 2.3
Nate Robertson: -4.6
Dontrelle Willis: -5.7

Congrats, Nate. You're only the second worst pitcher on the team.

On an unrelated note, I probably won't be around for a week or two as we are moving the DesigNate Robertson office from Toledo to Maumee, Ohio. I thank those of you who check in on whatever dumb crap I'm babbling about and I'll see you in a couple. Hopefully, I have something positive to write about then. Seeya...

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Human White Flag

Hey, Nate. It's been a while.

I've given the inspiration behind this little blog some time off lately. Some time off for me to rattle on about other things. Some time off for him to figure out how to pitch again. And time for Nate to grow five more stupid facial hair designs. But, alas, we're back again. It's just time to designate Nate Robertson for assignment.

Nate has become the human white flag. He rarely pitches unless the game is already over. In his last nine appearances, the Tigers have lost every game. He personally hasn't lost them, but he hasn't done a whole lot to help. For the year, he's pitched 20.1 innings. His ERA's at 6.20 and his WHIP is 1.57. Balls have left the yard in two of the last three appearances of his, including the grand slam the other day. And Jim Leyland has lost all confidence in Robertson, if he had any at all in him to begin with.

Together, Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and Rick Porcello will make $7,970,000 this season. Nate will make $7,000,000 by himself and another $10,000,000 next year. But he's costing the team more than money by taking up a roster spot and pitching like he belongs in AA ball. Cut the cord, Double D. The man is done.

Thanks for playing, Nate. Take Dontrelle with out on the way out.

UPDATE: Today against St. Louis, Nate never recorded an out, allowing 4 earned runs. I rest my case.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Favorite Non Tigers

Watching the White Sox series and the Tigers' continued inability to go a game without giving up a home run to Jim Thome, I really wanted to dislike Big Jim. I mean, it's easy for me to hate Luke Scott, Kelly Shoppach, and other guys that just seem to pad their stats off Tigers pitching. But I like Thome. And that got me to thinking about the guys I've personally seen play that I've enjoyed over the years that never played for Detroit. Here's the top ten.

10. Bo Jackson
For those of you too young to remember the phenomenon that Bo Jackson was, well, you missed out on something special. Bo was one of the best running backs I've ever seen playing for the Raiders while also playing left field for the Royals. He didn't hit much for average, but when he made contact, it went as far as anyone in history. Bo was also famous for breaking his bat over his knee after striking out. In 8 seasons before injuries ended his career, he hit .250, 141, 415. But the numbers don't reflect what he meant to the sports world at the time. He was just a sight that had to been seen.

9. Dennis Eckersley
I don't know if it was the goofy hair, the silly mustache, or the unique sidearm delivery he had, but Eckersley was fun to watch. He had the best control I've ever seen in any pitcher and was the first guy I ever saw to make the transition from successful starter to elite closer. The Bash Brothers got all the headlines, but Eck was the guy that closed the door every night finishing with 390 career saves. Oh, he also provided the biggest thrill of my young life when he served up the Kirk Gibson game winning homer in Game One of the '88 World Series. Thanks for the backdoor slider, Eck.

8. George Brett
He's a former MVP, has over 3000 hits, and was a member of the '85 World Champion Royals, the first World Series I ever saw. But the thing Brett will forever be remembered for is the "Pine Tar Incident". If you've never seen it, look it up. The guy had the craziest eyes I'd ever seen and when I saw it for the first time as a kid, I immediately fell in love with the guy. Brett was the first non-Tiger that I ever rooted for. Today, George is the owner of the Tri-City Dust Devils, the A ball team of the Rockies...a fact that I find quite odd for a guy that IS the Kansas City Royals.

7. Kirby Puckett
Ex-Toledo Mud Hen, Kirby Puckett, was someone that I think everyone liked when he played the game. He was a chubby, stubby-legged guy that just did everything well. He hit for average, power, and played a great center field for the Twins. Puckett became a national star in '91 during the best World Series of all time, in my opinion, between the Twins and Braves. Kirby hit the walk off homer in Game 6 that set up the best day of Jack Morris' life in Game 7. In 1996, Kirby was coming off of a great Spring Training when he woke up unable to see out of his right eye. Glaucoma ended his career right then. Puckett died of a stroke in 2006 but will live on as the greatest Twin player of all time.

6. Dave Stewart
The stare. That's what I'll always remember about Dave Stewart pitching for the A's in the late 80's, early 90's. To this day, he's the most intimidating pitcher I've ever seen, even more than Randy Johnson. Justin Verlander's recent game day persona sort of reminds me of Stewart back in the day. Stewart won over 20 games four times and was named MVP of the '89 World Series. After baseball, he was the pitching coach in San Diego for a while and is currently a sports agent.

5. Jim Thome
Yes...here he is. Thome has over 500 homers, 385, I believe, against the Tigers. Well, it seems that way. But he's just so fun to watch swing a bat. He's like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, "Everything he hits...he destroys!" In 2003, a Cleveland Plain Dealer poll named Jim the most popular athlete in the city's sports history. Take that, Bob Feller and Jim Brown. But the main reason I like the guy is because he's just such a cool person. He's putting all 10 of his nieces and nephews through college. His one nephew, Brandon, was paralized in '06 and afterwards asked Jim to hit him a home run. And Babe Thome not only delivered, but he hit two out that day. And now a personal story, if I may. After a Tigers/Indians in game in Cleveland, my buddy walked into a bar in the flats wearing a Bobby Higginson jersey. Who does he see sitting at the bar by himself? Jim Thome. He walked up to him and asked Jim if he'd sign his ticket stub. Jim looked at him, gave him the once over, and said "You've got a lot of balls wearing that in here." He then signed the ticket and shook his hand. Jim Thome: Tiger Killer...and a class act.

4. Jose Canseco
Yeah, Jose's a punchline nowadays. But he's not on here because of the MMA, the celebrity boxing, the steroid book, or any of the other stuff. As a kid, I was just in awe of the guy and can't overlook that now. Along with Alan Trammell and Kirk Gibson, Canseco WAS baseball to me. Whenever he took a swing, whether he connected or missed, there was an "ooh" from the crowd. He was the '86 Rookie of the Year, '88 MVP, and baseball's first 40/40 man. It sucks to see your childhood heroes fall, but I'll never forget how much fun it was to see him play before he became a shell of his former self.

3. Cal Ripken
The Streak. What more do I have to say? Cal gets credit for "saving" baseball after the strike and I think he deserves much of that credit. He broke Gehrig's record for consecutive games played, won a World Series, won multiple MVPs, and always led the league in autographs signed. Cal was just a class act and one of kind. I resented him a bit as a kid for always getting so much attention as a shortstop while I felt Trammell was ignored. But as I got older, I realized that there was probably no better representitive for baseball than Cal Ripken, Jr.

2. Jeff Bagwell
His crouched stance, stepping backward, and violently uppercutting the ball...that's what made me a Jeff Bagwell fan. I loved his swing. It's the coolest swing in baseball histroy, to me. Bags hit 449 career homers, was the '91 Rookie of the Year, '94 NL MVP, and also won a Gold Glove. He spent his whole career in Houston after the Red Sox traded him for journeyman reliever Larry Anderson. Think the Sawx would like that deal back?

1. Craig Biggio
Why is Craig Biggio my favorite non-Tiger of all time? Probably because he reminded me of Trammell and Whitaker so much. He spent his whole career with the same team, the Astros. After converting from catcher, he was a Gold Glove winning infielder. He hit the ball all over the field, finishing with over 3000 hits. He had pop in his bat, too, ending with 291 career dingers. And he was a good guy, a family man, that was never involved in any trouble. He reminded me of MY guys in Detroit, or at least how I viewed them. The only baseball hat you'll ever see me wear other than one with the Old English D on it is an Astros one. That's because of Biggio and Bagwell.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Miguel Who?

I wanted to get to this sooner since I was so irritated by it, but in the May 25th issue of The Sporting News, they surveyed 100 "baseball people" to come up with a list of the 50 best players in the Major Leagues. There were 13 Hall of Famers, 13 Cy Young winners, and 12 MVPs among the panel. Guys with Tigers connections in the voting included Sean Casey, Eric Davis, Phil Garner, Bill Lajoie, Lloyd McClendon, and Frank Tanana. They also had insight from other current and former MLB players.

What gets me, is that we only have one player on the entire list: Miguel Cabrera. The insult to Cabrera, in my opinion, is that he came in 28th in the voting. Really? That's it? And no Curtis Granderson or Justin Verlander on the list? I'm amazed by this.

Captain Overrated, Grady Sizemore, the guy always compared with Curtis, came in 12th. Hell, Zach Greinke, he of two productive MLB months in his career, came in 25th! Lists like this are subjective, I know. But the lack of love for the Tigers' core is amazing to me.

Cabrera's a top ten guy, at least. I'll give you Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez, and maybe Hanley Ramirez ahead of him. But that's about it. I wouldn't include pitchers very high because they only pitch every 5th day. When I'm looking at valuable, I'm looking at an every day guy. And when I think of the best players in baseball, Miguel Cabrera's a name that has to come up right away.

Here's their top ten:

1. Albert Pujols
2. Alex Rodriguez
3. Johan Santana
4. Manny Ramirez
5. Hanley Ramirez
6. Chase Utley
7. Roy Halladay
8. Derek Jeter
9. Mariano Rivera
10. Chipper Jones

Jeter and Rivera? What is this, 1997? Mauer finished 39th, an even bigger insult than Miguel's. In their "Just Missed The Cut" section, Magglio (Ichiro) Ordonez finished 53rd. But no Granderson. No Verlander. What's the reason? Am I just biased? Was the panel blinded by the overwhelming "Yanks/Sawx" media coverage we're all subjected to on ESPN? You tell me.

I'll end with this bit of wisdom. One of the former players giving "insight" was our own ex-roller coaster of a closer Todd Jones. His pick as the best player in baseball? Derek Jeter, he of declining ability and lack of range. Todd says it's because when he looks at Jeter, he sees a champion. He blows a bunch more smoke up Jeter's behind after that. I find it sad that a guy that was in Detroit for so long would pick Derek Jeter, a sure Hall of Famer, but the most overrated player in modern times, to be the current best player in baseball.

What does a Tiger player have to do to get some national media love? Well, other than get traded to Boston or New York, that is...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tigers = Knicks?

I don't know how many of you follow the NBA these days. I know that my interest isn't what it once was. But during the Isiah Thomas days as GM in New York a couple years ago, he put the Knicks into a several year funk that they're just now starting to recover from, mainly by spending money foolishly and making bad trades. Guys like Shandon Anderson, Howard Eisley, Stephon Marbury, Tim Thomas, Nazr Mohammed, Jamal Crawford, and Steve Francis made it to New York, ate up the payroll, and won them very few games. The point of all this? I'm worried our Detroit Tigers are headed down this same path.

I got thinking about this with the recent rumors of the Tigers interest in (Never Surrender) Corey Hart of the Brewers. I don't know if he's the answer, but I do think we need to get someone that can contribute offensively. Cabrera and Granderson can't do it alone. But is it even possible for Detroit to get a guy that will make a difference with our current payroll and the Detroit economy? I mean, attendence is down and our payroll is sky high already. Here's where the Knicks comparison comes in. Look at these deals turning bad before our eyes.

Nate Robertson: $7 million this year, $10 million next year
Dontrelle Willis: $10 million this year, $12 million next year
Gary Sheffield: $13.6 million this year to hit homers for the Mets
Carlos Guillen: $10 million this year, $13 million next, and $13 million in 2011
Jeremy Bonderman: $12.5 million this year, $12.5 million next year
Magglio Ordonez: $18 million this year, and he's sure to hit his playing time kicker to invoke his $18 million option for next year and $15 million for 2011. The Tigers are also responsible for renting him suites on the road.

That's a lot of jack for a bunch of guys that are contributing little (Maggs) to nothing to this team (everyone else). Where is the money going to come from to add help to this team? Unless Mr. I starts selling pizzas at an astronomical rate, I don't see it happening. On top of these contracts, there's a bunch of other guys with expiring contracts this year that have serious raises coming in 2010.

Justin Verlander: $3.675 million this year. If he keeps pitching like he has, he's going to cost much more in 2010.
Edwin Jackson: $2.2 million this year. Ditto.
Brandon Inge: $6.3 million this year, $6.6 million next. Who knows where this one is heading. Maybe the 13 year olds can all pitch in their allowance in 2011.
Joel Zumaya: $735,000 this year. Next year? We'll see.

We do have a couple good deals. Granderson's locked up cheaply through 2013. Porcello's deal is peanuts through 2012. However, the best player of them all, Miguel Cabrera, great as he is, may end up hurting us as he jumps from $15 million this year to $20 million next year and 2011, $21 million in 2012 and 2013, and $22 million in 2014 and 2015. Where is this cash going to come from?

Placido Polanco, Brandon Lyon, Gerald Laird, Fernando Rodney, Marcus Thames, Bobby Seay, Adam Everett, Ramon Santiago, Matt Treanor, Zach Miner, Armando Galarraga, Ryan Raburn, and Dane Sardinha are all on one-year contracts. Do any of them come back cheaper next year? Anderson, Clete, Dolsi, and the other restricted kids are on one year deals, too, and will probably be due raises. What exactly is this team going to look like next year?

Taking ALL of this into consideration, is it worth it to Mike Ilitch to take (even more of) a loss on this year and just spend more cash to win now? Is it even possible? I'm no expert...just a moron with a keyboard. Maybe one of you can shed some light on the situation. But, that's why Double D makes the big bucks. But for how much longer considering he's the guy that got us into our Knickerbocker situation?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Always (And Almost) A Tiger Update

Another month into the season, another look at how past Tigers have done so far this year. I managed to find six more former Tigers that I missed last time around. I also took a look at how certain players the Tigers had been rumored to be going after in the offseason have done, too. That follows the ex-Tiger stuff. Anyhoo...

SP-Jair Jurrjens, Atl, 5-2, 2.59, 66 IP, 40 K
SP-Andrew Miller, Fla, 1-2, 4.55, 29.2, 20
SP-Brian Moehler, Hou, 2-3, 6.43, 35, 24
SP-Jeff Weaver, LAD, 2-1, 4.38, 24.2, 16
RP-Jamie Walker, Bal, 0-0, 3.97, 11.1, 9
RP-Kyle Farnsworth, KC, 1-3, 3.57, 17.2, 18
RP-Troy Percival, TB, 0-1, 6.35, 6/6 SV, 11.1, 7
RP-Jason Grilli, Col, 0-1, 5.89, 18.1, 21
RP-Doug Brocail, Hou, 1-0, 4.76, 5.2, 4
RP-Casey Fossum, NYM, 0-0, 2.25, 4, 3
RP-Chad Durbin, Phi, 1-1, 4.50, 26, 23
RP-Trevor Miller, StL, 1-0, 3.09, 11.2, 12
RP-Wil Ledezma, Was, 0-0, 9.53, 5.2, 8
RP-Roman Colon, KC, 0-0, 0.00, 2.1, 3
RP-Francisco Cordero, Cin, 0-1, 1.71, 13/13, 21, 21
RP-Tim Byrdak, Hou, 0-1, 3.50, 18, 13
RP-Eulogio De La Cruz, SD, 0-0, 5.40, 3.1, 2

C-Ivan Rodriguez, Hou, .264, 5, 22, .305 OBP
C-Brad Ausmus, LAD, .344, 0, 3, .400
C-Mike Rivera, Mil, .323, 0, 2, .313
1B-Carlos Pena, TB, .231, 17, 41, .367
1B-Tony Clark, Ari, .179, 2, 5, .258
2B-Omar Infante, Atl, .349, 1, 11, .389
2B-Jason Smith, Hou, .000, 0, 1, .000
3B-Jack Hannahan, Oak, .194, 1, 5, .265
SS-John McDonald, Tor, .211, 0, 0, .211
SS-Edgar Renteria, SF, .247, 2, 23, .335
OF-Gabe Kapler, TB, .178, 0, 5, .274
OF-Matt Joyce, TB, .231, 2, 2, .333
OF-Cody Ross, Fla, .254, 7, 28, .307
OF-Cameron Maybin, Fla, .202, 1, 3, .280
OF-Gary Sheffield, NYM, .292, 5, 19, .433
OF-Matt Stairs, Phi, .281, 3, 8, .465
OF-Craig Monroe, Pit, .235, 3, 15, .278
OF-Andres Torres, SD, .250, 1, 2, .400
OF-Frank Catalanotto, Mil, .250, 0, 2, .250

All I have to say about this is...Gary Sheffield...I TOLD YOU SO, I TOLD YOU SO, I TOLD YOU SO!!! Ahem...okay.

Now, in the offseason, we were supposedly looking to address three places: catcher, shortstop, and relief pitching. Oddly enough, our biggest and best addition was a starter, Edwin Jackson, but here you go.

CATCHER
Got: Gerald Laird, .225, 2, 24, .320
Got: Matt Treanor, Dead

Laird has been solid on defense, but has fallen apart at the plate. Treanor never got a hit before being out for the year. His replacement, Dane Sardinha, looks like a blind man at the dish. We still need a catcher, in my opinion. Laird was their first choice, but there were a couple others rumored to be coming that I heard of.

Greg Zaun, Bal, .203, 1, 4, .309
Jason Varitek, Bos, .239, 10, 22, .327
Jason LaRue, StL, .276, 2, 12, .323

Varitek would've been too expensive to justify what he brings. I'm hoping Laird finds a happy medium between his good April and terrible May.

SHORTSTOP
Got: Adam Everett, .284, 1, 17, .331

Adam's been a surprise at the plate and great in the field. Despite my early hatred of him for choosing Bobby Higginson's sacred #4, I'm happy with Adam's performance splitting time with The Little Tiger That Could, Ramon Santiago. Other rumored shortstops, either by trade or free agent, were:

Julio Lugo, Bos, .276, 1, 4, .345
Nick Punto, Min, .187, 0, 12, .290
Orlando Cabrera, Oak, .236, 2, 16, .280
Bobby Crosby, Oak, .204, 1, 10, .308
Rafael Furcal, .245, 1, 10, .308
Jack Wilson, Pit, .246, 1, 16, .275
Khalil Greene, StL, .200, 2, 14, .287

Double D made the right choice here with Everett. He got him at a bargain price and Adam's already earned his million.

THE QUEST FOR RELIEF
Got: Brandon Lyon, 1-3, 6.43, 0/1 SV, 21 IP, 9 K

Joel Zumaya's return was in question, Todd Jones retired, and Fernando Rodney sucked last year. Those were things that needed to be addressed. Luckily for us all, Ryan Perry has been very good, Zoom's back throwing smoke, and Rodney's 10/10 in save opportunities. Sadly, and to the surprise of really no one, Lyon's been a bust in every way possible. The only time I've felt for him was the game where he was left out there to die in extra innings. There were a million rumors about who we were getting for the pen. Here's some of the guys and how they're doing.

Kerry Wood, Cle, 2-2, 6.00, 8/10, 18, 21
Juan Cruz, KC, 3-1, 3.97, 2/4, 22.2, 14
Brian Fuentes, LAA, 0-2, 5.30, 13/16, 19.1, 10
Kevin Gregg, ChiC, 0-1, 4.64, 8/9, 21.1, 24
Huston Street, Col, 1-1, 3.38, 8/8, 21.1, 24
JJ Putz, NYM, 1-3, 3.81, 2/3, 28.1, 19
Joe Beimel, Was, 0-3, 4.87, 20.1, 11
Trevor Hoffman, Mil, 0-0, 0.00, 13/13, 15, 14

As much as I continue to crow about how well Gary's doing as a Met, boy, was I wrong about Hoffman. He's featuring the best changeup in baseball this year by anyone not named Johan Santana. I thought he was done.

We're a month away from July and trade season. Let the new rumors begin!