Friday, July 01, 2011

Stating the Obvious

If it wasn't apparent by the over a year between posts, I guess I'll just make it official. Life has me having nary a minute to myself, yet along any time to write down thoughts about the Tigers. I rarely have time to fill out a tweet (gratuitous Twitter plug: @jason_d_price ) so it's the end of the road for this little blog of mine. Thanks again to anyone who visited this little piece of the internet, see you around. Go Tigers!

Friday, May 21, 2010

First Quarter Grades

With schools letting out (well at least down here in Georgia) and with the Tigers finishing up the first fourth of the schedule, I figured I take a look back and do the cliched assigning grades post.

As a whole the Tigers sit 3 at 24-17 and in a first place tie with the Twins. Pretty good considering that at any given time almost half of the Tiger line-up is comprised of rookies. Its also helps that some players have seemingly returned to the form they were in 2006 to compliment the young guns. So let's break it down position by position and grade the first quarter

Catchers: Position grade D-

Alex Avila - One of the aforementioned rookies, although he had a bit of a taste of the big leagues at the end of the season last year. In fact he has had just as many at-bats last year as he has in this season. The problem is has 10 less hits, which drops the average over 100 points. The one saving grace has been the defense where he has thrown out 60% of runners trying to steal. Grade: D

Gerald Laird - Gerald has been one of the most disappointing players on the year. He is fighting with Adam Everett with the dishonor of being the worst hitter on the team. Add to that a terrible he's only throw out 8 of 17 baserunners, and it's tough to give Gerald a passing grade
Grade: F

Infield: Position Grade C

Miguel Cabrera - The MVP of the Tigers, and almost certainly in the top 3 for AL MVP at this point. In a bit of a slump lately, but he was absolutely killing the ball in April. It's not just the stats, it's the timing of the hits. There was a point in April where everyone of his home runs either tied the game or gave the Tigers the lead. The only thing keeping him from the A+ is the 5 errors (2nd on the team).
Grade: A

Adam Everett - If it weren't for the struggles from the guys behind the plate Adam Everett would be the worst hitter in the line-up. With a couple guys in the rotation that have National League experience, you might be tempted to use the DH on Everett. Good glove aside, it's hard to make a case why he should be in the line-up even in a platoon situation
Grade: D

Brandon Inge - With Inge you know what your getting, a good glove,numerous check swing strikeouts, and an occasional home run. The 34 K's to 33 hits is a little disheartening, but he seems to be the only non-Venezuelan on the team that can hit for power.
Grade: C-

Ramon Santiago - While we keep hearing Ramon is best used in a platoon situation only, looking at the other options its hard to make a case that he shouldn't be starting full time.
Grade: B

Scott Sizemore - Sizemore has looked like a rookie from day one, and asking him to fill the shoes of Placido Polanco didn't help matters any. Currently down in Toledo, I think he still comes back and contributes to the team this year
Grade: F

Danny Worth - The stopgap at second until the Carlos Guillen Experiment takes over. Worth's first MLB hit was a infield hit that also resulted in his first MLB RBI, so he's got that going for him...
Grade: Incomplete

Outfield: Position Grade B

Brennan Boesch - Wow. I doubt he'll keep hitting like this, but let's all enjoy the ride. Almost half of his hits are for extra bases (14 of 29). Raburnesque in the outfield at times, but smashing the hell out of the ball behind the plate will keep him in the line-up
Grade: B+

Johnny Damon - Has done everything you'd expect from Johnny Damon. He gets on base and lets the big boys drive him in. He's even gotten 2(!) outfield assists
Grade: A

Carlos Guillen - Putting him in with the outfielders, but he will spend the rest of the year at 2nd. Well at least until he gets injured again. Was actually hitting the ball well before the trip to the DL. The Tigers need his bat if only to get one of the crappier ones (looking at you Everett) out.
Grade: DL Incomplete

Austin Jackson - Yes he strikes out a lot, and his incredible luck is starting to have balls find gloves instead of gaps, but he's making people forget Curtis Granderson something I never would have believed 3 months ago
Grade: B

Don Kelly - Average in almost everyone. Almost forgettable, which is a good thing of your a reserve
Grade: C

Magglio Ordonez - Picking up where he left off the end of last season. An second only to Cabrera in all the batting categories. More importantly though he's got some of the power back. A healthy Magglio in the 3 spot is a beautiful thing
Grade: A

Ryan Raburn - Can't hit, can't field, can't be in Detroit.
Grade: F

Casper Wells - Probably just keeping a spot on the bench warm for Raburn if he figures out how to hit. But very capable of pulling a Boesch and making it hard to send back down
Grade: Incomplete

Starting Pitching: Position grade C

Jeremy Bonderman - Lucky for Bondo the steaming turd he put out there in Cleveland was rained out keeping his streak of quality starts alive. His stats are a bit skewed by the 10 run game in Seattle, but as a 4th starter he's been all you can ask for. Well I would like to see him pitch into the 6 and 7th innings more, but it's looking like Bondo's back
Grade: C+

Armando Galarraga - Last year's opening day starter, opened this season in Toledo. He did what he needed to do down there and was the first one to get the call when the Tigers needed a start. Pitched well enough, and picked up a win. I'd like to see him duplicate that
Grade: Incomplete

Rick Porcello - I hate calling it a sophomore slump, but Rick has been not very good. Minus the seven shutout innings against the Yankees, Rick's given up at least 5 hits in all of his other starts. In 5 of his 8 starts he's allowed four or more runs. If Armando can keep it up, Rick might have a couple weeks in Toledo ahead of him to sort things out
Grade: D

Max Scherzer - Something isn't right with Max, and he's in a Mud Hen jersey right now to figure that out. The first start down there was promising, and I hope he gets back up if only to see his creepy two different colored eye stare
Grade: F

Justin Verlander - Oh Justin, why can't you pitch in April like you pitch the other months. That April was a D, but he's been an ace in May
Grade: B

Dontrelle Willis - For a stretch there in April, Dontrelle was *gulp* the Tigers best starter. That's a bit of an indictment for the rest of the rotation, but let's not sell Dontrelle's rebound year short. He's not going to be in the discussion for the Cy Young, but if the Tigers can get 6 innings out of him every fifth day, well then that's a million times better then I thought they would get out of him the least few seasons.
Grade: C

Bullpen: Position Grade A

Eddie Bonine - Has honed his knuckleball and it's been really an effective change of pace arm with the 90+ heat that the rest of the bullpen can provide.
Grade: B

Phil Coke - The man of a thousand hairstyles, he kind of reminds me of Todd Jones, except talented. Only has allowed runs in 3 of his 18 games.
Grade: B+

Fu-Ti Ni - The answer to the question "How do you pronounce LOOGY?" in Mandarin...or Cantonese, I really don't know what they speak in Taiwan.
Grade: C

Ryan Perry -For some reason I thought Ryan was having a worse year than he is. I much just be catching him when he's walking someone. But looking at the stats its the strikeout to end the threat that I'm missing
Grade: B+

Brad Thomas - So I may have him a dingofucker, or implied that he molests koalas, but all kidding aside he hasn't been half bad the last few appearances. Still who can resist a good toilet flushing the other way joke
Grade: C

Jose Valverde - He may be crazy, in fact I'm pretty confident that's the case, but I will take the Jose Valverde Dance Party, over the Rodneycoaster everyday
Grade: A

Joel Zumaya - When you don't walk a guy until your 13th game, and strike out 23 in that same time frame, you get an A
Grade: A

So there you have it. And now we have the Tigers heading out of a very difficult part of the schedule into Inter-League play, which they have used in the past to catapult themselves ahead of the pack in the standings. 41 down 121(well hopefully just 121) to go.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Ernie Harwell 1918-2010

I really don't know what to say. I don't know why but losing Ernie, feels like losing a family member. I don't know if listening to him during my formative years is the reason that I love baseball so much, but I'm sure it didn't hurt. He wasn't just a great announcer he was a great human being. The baseball world and the world in general is a little less friendlier today.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

One Month Down

24 Games in the books, and one month into the season the Tigers sit at 14-10 and a game ans a half back of the Twins in the AL Central. Looking around the AL that record is good enough for 4th behind the aforementioned Twins, red-hot Rays, and as always the Yankees. Pretty good, considering that the Tigers are dead last in the AL in starters ERA. Added to that, they had a hellacious 11 game West Coast trip in the middle of the month, in a span of their current 20 games in a row without an off-day. So what's going right so far for the Tigers to have them off to their best record on May 1st since 2006?

Austin Jackson - The consensus was Austin Jackson would be in the running for AL rookie of the year. I don;t know if anyone expected him to win the award in April. Austin leads the majors in hits. That's for everybody not just rookies. Yes, there are the strikeouts and the lack of power, but getting on base and making outstanding plays in the field.

Miguel Cabrera - If Austin Jackson won the ROY for April, Miguel Cabrera won the MVP. All of his 5 home runs have either tied the game, or put the Tigers in the lead. He's also batting .483 with RISP, which has helped him lead the Majors in RBI.

Dontrelle Willis - Yes, Dontrelle Willis. With the trade of Nate Robertson in the waning days of spring training, the Tigers pretty much said Dontrelle's our #5 guy and we've thrown away the safety net. All Dontrelle did is go out and arguably be the Tigers best pitcher in April. 3 of his 4 starts were quality starts, with his best coming earlier this week against the Twins. Now talk this all with a grain of salt, as last year ace in April is now in Toledo (Armando Galarraga).

The Bullpen - While the starters haven't been quite up to expectations, the Bullpen has been pulling in more than their share. The Tigers Bullpen leads the Majors in wins and ERA.

New Additions - Phil Coke, leads the team in wins and has been solid in the set-up role in the pen. Jose Valverde after blown his first save, allowed only two hits the rest of the month. Papa Grande, now has the lowest ERA on the team. Max Scherzer is tied with Willis for the lead in quality starts, and is 2nd to Verlander in strikeouts. Johnny Damon has kept up the tradition of the productive 2 spot established by the departed Placido Polanco.

Tiger Bats - The Tigers have the best team batting average in the Majors. They lead or are in the top five in the following: hits (1), doubles (1), runs (5), OBP (1), and OPS (4). They are also getting the big hit when its needed. 6 of the 14 wins the Tigers were trailing after 6 innings.

May started off with some more late inning heroics as Johnny Damon hit his first home run of the year to win the game earlier today in the walk off fashion. This month the big series keep on coming. First its a visit to the Twins, then they host the Yankees and Red Sox back to back. Then its back out west for a mini 9 game road trip, before coming home to host Oakland. Hopefully we'll still be talking about the Tigers in the same favorable tones.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week 1: In Review

The one thing I don't like about the beginning of baseball season is the multitude of day games. Well it didn't bother me so much when I was unemployed, but now that I work for an employer with an impenetrable web filter, it does get on the nerves. The only way to follow along with the Tigers is to keep refreshing on my phone.

I do appreciate the free preview of Extra Innings, and was able to DVR a few games including the Home Opener. The trick was getting home to watch it without the ending being spoiled. Last year's blow out was given away from a phone call from my dad. With family at game, and the added risk of unintentionally running across the score, the phone was shut off. Then I had to survive dinner at a bar. It must have looked weird to others, when I kept putting my hands over my eyes every time the score crawl popped up.

DVR helped over the weekend too, since it was probably one of the last weekends in Georgia before the weather turns from delightful to oppressively hot, I spent most of the weekend fighting clouds of pollen in the north Georgia countryside. I did make the mistake of not adjusting the time, so the recording stopped just as Carlos Guillen made Sunday's game a one run game in the ninth. A mad scramble to the computer confirmed the comeback was completed with a 9-8 victory on a wild pitch.

The win Sunday put the Tigers at 5-1 for the young season. 4 of those five wins the Tigers were trailing a good part of the game. Not the way you would plan it, but first place is first place. So let's take a look at the weeks that was.

The Good:
Magglio Ordonez - Maggs' hot bat from the end of last season has carried over the start of 2010. 12 for 26 with some power as well.

Miguel Cabrera
- staking an early claim for the AL MVP, with a 12 for 23 week and a pair of clutch home runs in the KC series

Jeremy Bonderman & Dontrelle Willis
- Yes it is only one start in for the both of them. I don't expect the same results each time they go out, but the fact both off them appear healthy and can pitch decent bodes well for the back of the rotation

Joel Zumaya - speaking of pitchers returning to form, Joel was lights out in 3.2 innings pitched this week. Allowing only two baserunners and striking out 2, and picking up the win on the season opener

The Bad:
Justin Verlander - 10 runs on 11 hits in his first two outings. Cause for concern? Well JV gave up 21 runs on 27 hits in his first four starts last year. He settled down and shut out the Yankees, for 8 innings to pick up his first win in his last start in April. And it turned out pretty good for him, so lets back away from the panic buttons for now

Jose Valverde - "Papa Grande" was anything but in his first week as a Tiger. A rocky yet scoreless 9th in the first game of the season, followed by a blown save to give the Tigers their only loss of the year so far.

Gerald Laird - Finally picked up his first hit of the year Sunday. Had a bit of an issue defensively with allowing 5 stolen bases in the KC series

The Odds and Ends:
- The Tigers scored 21 of their 35 runs in the 7th inning or later
- Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez are the only Tigers to have home runs
- Justin Verlander has walked as many (4) and Bonderman and Willis combined
- Both times the Tigers forced an opposing pitcher to blow a save, they were trying to get a 4 out save
- Max Scherzer, Phil Coke, and Joel Zumaya are the only Tiger pitchers to not have a run credited to them

The Week Ahead:

The Royals come in for three, and the Tigers avoid Greinke. Then the Tigers head out West for 11 straight. Get the caffeine ready, because if this week taught us anything, it's that it's not over until the 27th out.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Opening Day 2010

I can't believe this is my 3rd Opening Day in Georgia. It seems like yesterday I was watching Fernando Rodney blow the game in the 10th inning and lose to the Blue Jays. For the second year in a row, I was stuck at work constantly updating on my phone.

Lucky for me, I was able to hear from the 6th inning on thanks to the XM in my car. Not so lucky for the Kansas City bullpen. As I was inching along I-75 on my way home, Ramon Colon and Robinson Tejada were handing the game over to the Tigers pitch by pitch.

As for the big story going into the game, Justin Verlander vs. Zack Greinke, the two Cy Young contenders were pretty well matched. The only difference is Verlander's bad inning scored two runs, while Greinke's only allowed one.

The rookies for the Tigers played big parts, as they will need to do throughout the season. Scott Sizemore's walk in the 7th opened the floodgates for the 6 run inning. Austin Jackson drove Sizemore in on his first hit in the Majors, and saved a run with a perfect throw to home to keep the score 8-4 in the bottom of the same inning.

First game of the year and a win. Good start for the 2010 Tigers

Some more thoughts:

What I liked:
- 8 Hits from the 2-5 hitters
- Forcing KC to go to the bullpen, after making Greinke throw 96 pitches in 6 innings.
- Part of that was Austin Jackson seeing 15 pitches in his 3 at-bats, and Sizemore seeing 12 in 2
- Joel Zumaya with a 1-2-3 inning
- 8 runs on 12 hits

What I didn't like:
- Jose Valverde Rodneying up the 9th inning
- Brandon Inge's 5 men left of base
- A home run to Yuniesky Betancourt?
- Jason Kendall's fuglyness
- Billy Butler cementing his Tiger Killer status

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Ready For The Seaon

Well I figured I'd check in, if only for the benefit of those Asian spammers who will have a new comment section to terrorize. Not sure how regular the posting will be as the season starts as the weekends are the only real time I have more than 15 spare minutes to post. We'll see how it goes. As for that soon to be starting season, here's my take on all things Tiger.

Austin Jackson, Scott Sizemore and...Jimmy Howard?

To update the non-hockey fans, Jimmy Howard is the rookie goalie who has literally saved the Red Wings playoff hopes. Though, at 26 he's not a fresh off the farm newbie. The same can be said of Jackson and Sizemore who, like Howard, were biding their time in the minors while the logjam of talent in front of them (Chris Osgood, Dominik Hasek, Placido Polanco, and the Millionaires Club that is the Yankee outfield) cleared out. The slight difference being, unlike Howard, Jackson and Sizemore are asked to start from the get go. My point? Well, after being thrown in after Osgood struggled to open the year, Howard took over. After a few shaky starts he found his rhythm and is one of the favorites to win rookie of the year. I think a large part of that was the fact he wasn't 20 year old thrown to the wolves. He had talent and a veteran team in front of him, that let him do his thing. I think Jackson and Sizemore have the same type of opportunity with the Tigers.

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit's Superman

Like Superman, he had an issue with alcohol that served as kryptonite over the final series of last season. 0 for 11 and a ride in a Police car over that weekend, brought Miguel's off-field behavior into question. This offseason he vowed not to put him self in that kind of situation, and swore off the sauce. Will this make a more focused Miguel in 2010? I think so, and pitchers in the Al Central should be more than a little scared.

The Dontrelle Leap Of Faith

Actually its a bit more than a leap. Its a Evel Knievel rocketcar over Snake River Canyon kind of leap. The back-up plan is now wearing a Marlin uniform, so it's sink or swim for Dontrelle. A bit of hyperbole for a guy that's only supposed to be the 5th starter, perhaps? Maybe, but the D-Train's Tiger history is full of derailments. His spring that earned him the 5th spot, is a little hard to read. Yes he had 13 K's, but he walked 12. He's had 4 scoreless outings, but gave up 5 in 4 innings in his last outing. I really don't know what we'll see out of Dontrelle, i want him to do well but history shows that may be asking for to much.

Dave Dombrowski's Wild, Wacky, Offseason

The roster is finally set, thanks to the aforementioned trade of Nate Robertson. It was an offseason that left many a Tiger fan (including myself) scratching their heads. It saw veteran fan favorites leave in favor for youth, only to have other veterans brought in. Players were let go due to cost, then free agents were brought in with big paydays. Are the Tigers a better team than the 2009 version? I'm not sure. Are they worse? That I really don't know either. Talk has been about the money the Tigers will have off the books after this year, but if the Tigers aren't contenders this year, the 2009 Winter of Discontent will come back to haunt DD.

What I'm Thinking

Coming into Spring Training, I still thought the Twins were the team to beat. Joe Nathan's injury leveled the playing field a little. This Tiger team is a team of "ifs". If Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis don't implode...If Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore don't play like rookies...if Magglio hits the whole year like he hit in September...if the bullpen can reproduce results like the 2006 bullpen...if the team can avoid a rash of injuries...then maybe the Tigers will win their first division title since 1987