Monday, January 16, 2012
The 2006 Tigers: Where Are They Now?
Forty guys saw action in at least one game for Detroit in ’06. Today I thought I’d take a look at what has become of each of them since losing to the Cardinals a little over five years ago. If I’m wrong about any of this, feel free to correct me in the comments. I am, after all, a moron.
Brandon Inge, Third Base: Like a cockroach, you can’t get rid of the little bastard. Made the All-Star team in ‘09, was shut out in the Home Run Derby, and hasn’t hit much of anything since. Was DFA’d last year, yet accepted an assignment to Toledo before being recalled late in the season. Is in the final year of his contract and this will most likely be Brandon’s swan song in Detroit this year.
Ramon Santiago, Infield: The career-long utility player was recently re-signed and is your current starting second baseman. For now.
Justin Verlander, Starting Pitcher: Pretty sure the ‘06 Rookie of the Year is still on the team. Let me know if I’m mistaken.
Placido Polanco, Second Base: The ALCS MVP was allowed to walk as a free agent after ‘09 in a decision that I think Dave Dombrowski must regret by now. Polly signed with Philadelphia, moved to third base, and was voted to start in the All-Star Game for the NL last year.
Curtis Granderson, Center Field: Grandy burst onto the scene out of nowhere in ‘06 and hasn’t looked back since. After the ‘09 season, he was sent to the Yankees in the big Tigers/Yankees/D-Backs three-way trade that is still being debated by Tiger fans. He was an All-Star last season and finished 4th in the AL MVP voting.
Omar Infante, Infield: Infante hit .277 in a part time role with the team in ’06. After the ’07 season, he was traded to the Cubs for Jacques Jones. Ugh. From there he was sent to the Braves without ever playing for Chicago. He made the NL All-Star team as a Brave in ‘10 before being traded to the Miami Marlins in the Dan Uggla deal. He just recently signed a two-year extension with the Fish in September.
Fernando Rodney, Relief Pitcher: Rodney was the primary setup man before finally taking over closing duties for Todd Jones in ‘09. He then left as a free agent for the Angels where he pitched in 111 games over two years before recently signing with the Rays for the ‘12 season.
Chad Durbin, Relief Pitcher: Chad saw action in 3 games and threw 6 innings, only allowing 1 run. He left as a free agent for Philadelphia in ‘08 and spent three solid seasons there and won a World Series. He pitched last year for the Indians and is currently a free agent.
Colby Lewis, Relief Pitcher: Yes, THAT Colby Lewis. He threw 3 innings in ’06 allowing 1 run on 8 hits. He bounced around the organizations of Washington, Oakland, Kansas City…mostly in the minors. After a great season in ‘09 in Japan, Texas took a chance on Lewis and since then he has rewarded them with back-to-back impressive seasons in the starting rotation.
BARELY HANGING ON IN THE MAJORS
Ivan Rodriguez, Catcher: Pudge’s signing in Detroit was what got the whole ball rolling in the first place. He was traded to the Yankees in July of ’08 for Kyle Farnsworth. From there, he had stints with Houston, Texas, and Washington. Pudge can’t hit anymore, but continues to play to try and pad his already Hall of Fame worthy stats. He is a free agent.
Carlos Guillen, Shortstop: Was the most consistent offensive player during the regular season for the ’06 team. Sadly, he has been a walking ER unit the past few years and is currently trying to catch on somewhere as a free agent. Carlos is one of the most underrated players in Tiger history. It’s a shame that he’ll mostly be remembered for being hurt so much.
Magglio Ordonez, Right Field: We all know what he did in the ALCS. My hero had an MVP quality season in ‘07 but has been slowed by increasing age and injuries ever since. Is a free agent and if the rumors of him possibly signing with Chicago or Cleveland are true, I’m going to drink until my liver explodes. I’ve been holding off on the inevitable “Goodbye Maggs” post until it actually happens, though. Denial is a bitch.
Jack Hannahan, Third Base: Jack went 0-9 with the team in ‘06. In August of ‘07, he was traded to Oakland for Jason Perry. He played a bit with them before moving on to the Seattle, Boston, and Cleveland organizations where he finally had a chance to play in the show last year hitting .250 with 8 homers in 110 games.
Joel Zumaya, Relief Pitcher: Brilliant in ‘06, Zoom has pretty much been hurt ever since. He just signed a deal with the Twins in a last ditch effort at saving his career. Good luck, kid.
Jason Grilli, Relief Pitcher: “Cheeseman” pitched in 51 games out of the pen. In April of ‘08, he was traded to the Rockies for Zach Simons. Texas would acquire him next, followed by Cleveland and Philadelphia. Most of that time was spent hurt or in the minors. Finally, he resurfaced last year in the Pirates’ bullpen and re-signed with them for ‘12.
Andrew Miller, Relief Pitcher: The #6 overall pick of the ’06 Draft got into 8 games and pitched 10.1 innings at the end of the season. He was later a key piece of the Cabrera deal in late ’07. He struggled there before being traded to the Red Sox in late ‘10. He made 12 starts for the Sawx last year and is signed to pitch for them this season.
Chris Shelton, First Base: Homered 9 times in the first 13 games of the ’06 season. Went to hell afterward and was sent to Toledo in late July. Spent ‘07 in the minors before being traded to Texas in December for Freddy Guzman. Since then has spent time in the organizations of Texas, Seattle, Houston, and the Mets, though he hasn’t played in the Majors since July 30, 2009. May be finished.
Marcus Thames, DH, Outfield: “Country Strong” Thames slugged a career high 26 homers in ’06 filling in for injured players like Dmitri Young and Craig Monroe. He was released after the ‘09 season and spent time with the Yankees and Dodgers before being sent to the minors by LA in July of ‘11. He signed with the Yankees again ten days later, but never saw their MLB roster the rest of the year. He is a free agent and may be close to retirement.
Alexis Gomez, Outfield: Gomez’s claim to fame was when Jim Leyland made one of his “only Leyland would do this” lineup decisions and started Alexis in Game 2 of the ALCS and the kid responded by hitting a 2-run single and a 2-run homer. After that, he’d spend time in the minor league systems of the Rockies and Marlins before returning to the Tigers’ organization in ‘09. He has spent the last two years in the Mexican League.
Brent Clevlen, Outfield: Clevlen played in 31 games for the ’06 Tigers, including a two homer game against the Rays. After the season, he bounced between Toledo and Detroit for a couple years before landing in the Braves organization where he got into 4 MLB games in ‘10. Since then he’s been seen in the minor league systems of the Reds and Phillies.
Nate Robertson, Starting Pitcher: After a superb ’06, Nate was never the same. He was traded to the Marlins for Jay Voss right before the ‘10 season. He has since been lit up by anyone capable of lifting a baseball bat while playing in the systems of the Fish, Cardinals, Phillies, and Mariners. However, he continues to be the Patron Saint of the greatest poop joke/baseball blog in existence.
Zach Miner, Starter/Reliever: Miner replaced in an injured Mike Maroth as the 5th starter for much of the year before being moved to the pen as the season closed. He bounced between Detroit and Toledo until missing the entire ‘10 season due to Tommy John surgery. He spent last year in the minor league organization of the Royals.
Wil Ledezma, Starter/Reliever: Ledezma appeared in 24 games (7 starts) for Detroit and got the win in Game 4 of the ALCS. One of the most bizarre moments of the season occurred when Ledezma started on September 8th. After giving up five earned runs in 4.1 innings, Ledezma returned to the dugout and proceeded to dismantle and, literally, eat his hat. Yup. In July of ’07, he was traded to the Braves for Macay McBride. Since then he has bounced from the majors to the minors in the organizations of Atlanta, San Diego, Arizona, Washington, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Toronto again, and most recently a minor league deal with the Dodgers for the 2012 season.
Roman Colon, Relief Pitcher: Colon pitched in 20 games for Detroit in ’06. The next year, he would be in the minors and get into a fistfight with a teammate, prompting the Tigers to trade him to the Royals for Daniel Christensen. He last appeared in a MLB game in ‘10 before playing in Korea and signing a minor league deal with the Dodgers last year and pitching for their Triple A team. He is currently a free agent.
OUT OF BASEBALL
Craig Monroe, Left Field: One of the forgotten heroes of the ’06 campaign, Monroe was traded to the Cubs in late ‘07 for Clay Rapada. After that, he would see time in Minnesota and Pittsburgh before eventually retiring. Last I heard, he was running his own restaurant in Texas.
Sean Casey, First Base: “The Mayor” was acquired at the trade deadline from Pittsburgh for Brian Rogers and went on to be the only player to NOT shit the bed in the World Series. He hit .297 in ‘07 for Detroit before signing with the Red Sox for the ’08 season. After that, he retired and is currently an analyst for the MLB Network.
Dmitri Young, DH: 2006 was a rough year for Young, as he went through a divorce, was treated for alcohol and substance abuse, and also depression. DY was released on September 6th in a surprise move by the team. He would catch on with the Nationals the next two seasons before retiring in late-2008 due to diabetes. He would go on to be Vice President and Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations and Special Hitting and Fielding Instructor of the Oakland County Cruisers minor league baseball team in 2010 and also host his own sports card and collectible show. At the recent Winter Meetings, he showed up much lighter than in the past and announced plans for an unlikely comeback. Good luck, “Meat Hook”. You’ll always have a friend at DNR in yours truly.
Vance Wilson, Catcher: Vance had a surprisingly productive ’06 season, hitting .283 in backing up Pudge. What no one saw coming was that he would never play in the Majors again. He tore a muscle in his forearm in Spring Training in ‘07. After three rehab games with the Mud Hens, he reinjured the arm and had to have Tommy John surgery. During rehab in order to get ready for ‘08, Wilson got hurt again, this time with Plantar fasciitis (an inflammation in the ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes). He spent ‘09 in the Kansas City minor league system before officially retiring before the ‘10 season. He’s currently the A-ball manager of the Royals’ Kane County Cougars farm team.
Neifi Perez, Infield: At Jim Leyland’s urging, the Tigers acquired Perez from the Cubs in late August for minor league catcher Chris Robinson. Perez played in 21 games and hit .200 with a .235 OBP. He was even worse in ‘07, hitting .172 in 33 games, but did show some worth in saving Justin Verlander’s first no-hitter by turning a possible base hit into a kick-ass inning ending double play. In July of ’07, he was suspended for 25 games for a second positive test for amphetamines. On August 3rd he was suspended an additional 80 games for a third positive test. He never played in the Majors again.
Matt Stairs, DH: On September 15th, the Tigers claimed Stairs off waivers from the Rangers. He hit 2 homers in 14 games for Detroit. From 2007-2011, he spent time with Toronto, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Washington before announcing his retirement in August.
Kevin Hooper, First Base: Hooper went hitless in 5 plate appearances and would never see the Majors again. He spent another season in Toledo before moving on to the Astros organization. He retired after ‘08 and is currently the manager of the Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American Association (a team which is part-owned by Nate Robertson).
Mike Rabelo, Catcher: Mike struck out in his only at bat of the ‘06 season. He would play 51 games in Detroit in ’07 before being sent to the Marlins in the Cabrera deal. In January of ‘10, he returned to Detroit on a minor league deal and was named the backup catcher for the Mud Hens. He retired after being released in July and is now the hitting coach for the Gulf Coast League Tigers.
Kenny Rogers, Starting Pitcher: Rogers became a hero in Detroit by throwing 23 straight scoreless innings in the playoffs. It was all he had left, though, as injuries ravaged him in ’07 and ’08 before retiring. Kenny threw out the first pitch of Game 3 of the 2011 ALDS for the Tigers in an awesome moment.
Jeremy Bonderman, Starting Pitcher: Bondo was at his personal best in ’06, including an awesome start against the Yanks in the ALCS. He started ’07 by going 10-0, but finished the year 11-9. A blood clot in his arm would wipe out his ’08 season and most of ’09. After an awful 2010, he has yet to return to pitching anywhere.
Mike Maroth, Starting Pitcher: Mike was off to a decent start before going on the DL with bone chips in his left elbow. In late ‘07, he was traded to the Cardinals for Chris Lambert. He was released a couple months later and would spend the next couple years on minor league deals with the Royals, Blue Jays, and Twins before officially retiring in January 2011. He is currently the pitching coach of the Lakeland Tigers.
Todd Jones, Closer: On May 21, he became the Tigers’ all-time saves leader. He continued to be the closer until retiring after the ’08 year. “The Human Roller Coaster” currently works as an adviser for the local high school and middle school boys baseball teams in his hometown.
Jamie Walker, Relief Pitcher: Walker had a career best 2.81 ERA for Detroit in ’06. He cashed in with Baltimore as a free agent the next year and last appeared in a game in ‘09 for them. He hasn’t pitched since.
Bobby Seay, Relief Pitcher: Seay pitched 15.1 ineffective innings in ’06 before becoming a fixture in the pen over the next three seasons. Late in ’09, he tore his rotator cuff in his left shoulder. Bobby tried to avoid surgery, but finally gave in and had the operation done. He has yet to recover and is most likely done.
Jordan Tata, Relief Pitcher: Tata gave up 10 earned runs in 14.2 innings. After giving up 12 earned runs in 14 innings in ‘07, Jordan never saw the Majors again. He pitched in the Tigers’ minor league system until 2009 before finally being released. After a 2 ½ month stint with whatever the Grand Prairie AirHogs are, Tata’s career was finished.
Chris Spurling, Relief Pitcher: After 16 appearances out of the bullpen for Detroit, Spurling was claimed off waivers in September by the Brewers. He spent all of ’07 with Milwaukee before being released in Spring Training in ’08. He played independent ball the next two years and hasn’t pitched since ‘10 with the Long Island Ducks.
So there you have it. Baseball is a strange game, I guess. In five years, more than half of the magical ’06 club isn’t even in the Majors anymore. But they all remain, of course…Always a Tiger.
Except Grilli. Fuck that guy with a bowling pin.