Catch Anyone?

There was a surprising quote from Detroit Tigers assistant GM Al Avila in the Toledo Blade.

“Within the Detroit Tigers organization, catcher is probably our weakest position,” Avila admitted.

Okay, so that wasn’t the suprising part.

“We do have the best catcher in the organization coming to Toledo in Max St. Pierre.

“He’s a year at the most away from being a big-league catcher. I don’t know if he will be a regular, but he will be a regular if he hits. Defensively, he can do it. He can catch and throw, and he plays with a high energy level.”

Max St. Pierre, who will be 26 in April and hasn’t had an OPS over 700 since he was a 20 year old in West Michigan (it was 701 that year). While the fact that he may be the Tigers best catcher in the organization is disheartening, the fact he’s on the brink of the majors is surprising to say the least.

Indicators like this go a long ways towards explaining why the Tigers drafted Chris Robinson in the 3rd round and have invited him to the Major League camp during spring training. Baseball America prefers Robinson to St. Pierre ranking him as the best defensive catcher in the organization.
baseball, detroit tigers

Defending Center

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post making the case why Curtis Granderson should be the starting centerfielder for the Tigers over Nook Logan. The the bulk of the agrument was based on Granderson’s offensive superiority. I intentionally didn’t delve into defense for a couple reasons. First, defensive metrics are tricky. It’s rare that you can get all the metrics to agree on any given player. Second, that problem becomes magnified when you’re dealing with small sample sizes as is the case with Curtis Granderson. However, there are enough metrics out there that we can take a look, as long as we take a grain of salt along with it.

Baseball Musings has posted the PMR for centerfielders. I lifted the following table, and included some of the prominent centerfielders in the game. Please note, this isn’t a leaderboard, but a sampling of some who ranked near the top.

Player InPlay Actual Outs Predicted Outs DER Predicted DER Difference
Curtis Granderson 1044 119 110.91 0.114 0.106 0.00775
Andruw Jones 4309 365 337.56 0.085 0.078 0.00637
Jim Edmonds 3538 319 297.13 0.090 0.084 0.00618
Aaron Rowand 4128 388 362.99 0.094 0.088 0.00606
Nook P Logan 2730 282 270.92 0.103 0.099 0.00406

Baseball Musings: Probabilistic Model of Range, 2005, Centerfielders
Continue reading Defending Center

BA’s Top 10 Tiger Prospects

Baseball America has released their list of the top 10 Tiger prospects and things are looking up:

The Tigers, who entered 2005 slotted 29th in Baseball America

Seth’s Impact Rookies

Seth Stohs has posted a list of the top 20 rookie hitters and pitchers that he expects to make an impact in 2006.

Arms

On the pitcher list, he has Joel Zumaya ranked at number 20, and Justin Verlander ranked at number 10. While those may seem a little low, I think the presence of both pitchers slightly depresses their individual rankings. Either could easily be one of the top handful, but with only one rotation spot it isn’t clear who will have the biggest opportunity for impact.

One that got away

Now unfortunately the Tigers don’t have anyone on the Top 20 hitters list. Even more unfortunate is that there is a former Tiger on the list. Anderson Hernandez, who the Tigers sent to the Mets in exchange for Vance Wilson, checks in at 17. Hernandez didn’t distinguish himself with the bat in 2004 for Erie. However, last year he tore up the Eastern League with Binghamton with a 326/360/426 line before being promoted to AAA. At AAA his power numbers dropped, but he still maintained a .354 OBA. With his offensive surge, and solid glove work he made the Mets top 10 prospect list from Baseball America. He’ll also have a chance to compete for the second base job this year.

baseball, detroit tigers, new york mets, prospects

Detroit Tiger-ish News

  • Juan Samuel finds a job: Juan Samuel will be the manager of the AA Binghamton Mets. The former Tiger 3B/outfield coach is the second member of last year’s staff to find work in the minors. Bruce Fields will be the hitting coach in Buffalo.

    UPDATE: It appears that Lance Parrish will also be in uniform next year. He’ll be in the Dodgers organization managing Rookie level Ogden.

  • Caravan Connection: Roar of the Tigers hooked up with the Tigers caravan in Saginaw and scored some interviews. First up is Placido Polanco.
  • Omar’s leather: Baseball Musings continues to churn out PMR data. The first batch of position tables is out, and Omar Infante tops the list. In roughly a quarter of a season at short, Infante made 14 plays more than expected.

    However, if you look at just ground balls Infante isn’t quite as impressive. He is only 6 plays better than expected on ground balls, meaning that he fields more than his share of pop-ups or he was good at standing where line drives were hit. However, he is still second on the list. Second only to former Blue Jay, former Tiger, current Blue Jay John Macdonald.

    It should also be noted that even though Omar was second in difference of actual and expected, his actual DER was the highest among all shortstops for groundballs.

  • Monroe negotiations continue: The Tigers and Craig Monroe continue to negotiate a new contract. Monroe is the last of the Tigers arbitration eligible players not to sign. At least he seems to be in good spirits about it

    “I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Monroe said. “I know my agent (Adam Katz ) has been talking with John Westhoff (the Tigers’ vice president/legal counsel). They’ve had a lot of conversations. Things seem to be going well, but I haven’t really thought much about my contract or talked to my agent much about it.

    “That’s why we hire agents. Let them take care of their part, I’ll take care of getting ready to play.”

  • Happy Birthday: I’m a few days late in posting this, but Ryan Sosin and the crew at Tigers Central celebrated their 5th birthday/anniversay/whatever this past weekend. Congratulations guys and keep up the good work.

detroit tigers, baseball

Luck and Fieldability

David Pinto from Baseball Musings has begun to release the 2005 Probabilistic Model of Range (PMR) data. Today he posted a table of which pitchers had more outs than expected on balls in play (or the lucky/unlucky) as well as rankings of the expected percentage of outs on balls in play (how easy was it to field behind a pitcher).
Continue reading Luck and Fieldability

Tiger of the decade?

Tram & LouWhile on the Comerica Park tour during Fanfest, I noticed a large display just outside the Tigers clubhouse. It was actually on a wall adjacent to the clubhouse, facing the kitchen/food area. It was floor to ceiling high and featured Tiger history by decade. Each decade featured one photo prominently which presumably represented the Tiger of the Decade. Al Kaline was the 60’s, Willie Horton the 70’s, Trammell the 80’s and Whitaker the 90’s. It raised several questions for me.

  • Was it awkward for Trammell to have that big honkin’ picture/tribute on the wall while he was a manger?
  • Whitaker was by far my favorite Tiger, but was he really the Tiger of the decade? Was that more a tribute to Whitaker or an indictment on the decade in general? Who else could it have been? Cecil Fielder? Travis Fryman? Mike Henneman? Tony Clark?
  • And lastly, who has been the Tiger of the decade for the 00’s?

Continue reading Tiger of the decade?

Tigerfest 2006

Just think if they were good

Tigerfest 2006I took in Tigerfest today with my family. It was my first Tigerfest in 4 years, and I came away amazed at how much people love the Tigers. We parked at Grand Circus Park and took the people mover to Joe Louis Arena where we looked out and saw several thousand people waiting to get inside. This was 10 minutes before it was set to open. Since we had two little ones with us, we decided to just do another loop on the people mover rather than wait in the cold.

By the time we returned the crowd had entered the Joe, but there was still a 20 minute wait to even buy tickets. The support the Tigers receive is tremendous, and I can’t help but wonder what things would be like in Detroit if they had given fans any reason to cheer in the last twelve years.
Continue reading Tigerfest 2006

Stuff you might find interesting

A few links and items that you may not have seen but might find interesting:

The Ray Lankford Wing

Beyond the Boxscore has created the Ray Lankford wing of the Hall of Fame for players with “no real shot at the Hall of Fame, but a great career nonetheless.” Unfortunately, or fortunately I guess, the Hall is populated by many ex Tigers. Trammell, Whitaker, Morris, Parrish, Freehan, and Lolich are among the 246 inductees.

Monroe negotiations

Okay, you probably saw this but I was in California when this came out, and I happened to miss it. Craig Monroe is the Tigers last unsigned arbitration eligible player. The teams have exchanged figures and are $600,000 apart. Detroit offered $2.45 million and Monroe is looking for $3.05. I imagine that the two sides will reach an agreement pretty much in the middle and Monroe will get a salary close to his buddy Carlos Pena, despite having double the win shares.

AL Central talk

Remember 12 months ago, heck even 8 months ago when the AL Central was generally regarded as an exceptionally weak division. Now it seems you can’t read an article that doesn’t it declare it the best division in baseball. A recent post about the AL-C generated nearly 200 comments on John Sickels blog (although it is a pretty boring discussion for Tigers and Royals fans).

Is the Central really that good? How was everybody so wrong going to the season? What changed to make it better? Will it be as strong this year?

Okay so there wasn’t that much interesting stuff. That’s the problem with being on the road, I get thrown off my game.

The Platoon Ratio

When talking about players strengths and weaknesses, ultimately the discussion will veer towards: “What they really need is a platoon because player X can’t hit Y-handers to save his life.” Okay, so maybe not every baseball discussion goes this way, but I’m sure you’ve all heard it, and perhaps even said it before. That’s why it may come as a shock, but the differences in platoon splits amongst right handed hitters are basically non-existent.

Let’s take a look at that statement again. I’m not claiming that right handed hitters don’t hit lefties better than righties. In fact, right-handed hitters hit lefties 9% better than righties. What’s surprsing is that all – or virutally all – right handed hitters share the same platoon advantage. So all right handed hitters OPS against right handers will be 9% better against southpaws than against right-handers (northpaws?).

Without a lot of indepth explantion, this is a concept that has been revealed by Bill James, and covered by Rob Neyer. Here is probably the best one paragraph explanation I could find:

In fact, if every player played enough games — thousands and thousands of games, I mean — eventually all of them would have roughly the same platoon split. There is some evidence that some types of hitters will have slightly larger platoon splits than others, but essentially they’re all the same. I know, it sounds crazy. But everyone who’s looked at this with any degree of sophistication has come up with the same answer. As James wrote in 1988, “It’s innate. You can’t get away from it.”

Continue reading The Platoon Ratio

Tigers sign Bonderman, Spurling, and Pena

Detroit signed Jeremy Bonderman, Chris Spurling and Carlos Pena to one year deals, thus avoiding arbitration. Craig Monroe remains the lone arbitration eligible player not under contract.

The only mild suprise is that Bonderman re-upped for a single year instead of working out a long term contract.

I don’t have terms of the contracts, and will be away from the internet the bulk of the day. So if you hear the terms, please post them.

UPDATE: As mentioned in the comments, Bonderman got $2.3 million, Pena received $2.8 million, and Spurling signed for $725,000. Of the 3, Spurling’s offer is the closest to what I would have expected. My guess would have been the contracts for Pena and Bonderman would have been reversed.

I’m surprised to see Maroth and Bonderman getting the same salary next year, especially with Maroth getting $5.25 million guaranteed.

And I’m not sure how Carlos Pena played a horrible April and May, a coule months in the minors, and a spectacular 7 week finish to the season into a raise. I expected him to be back at the same amount as last year. I’m not bemoaning his contract by any means, I’m just surprised he got a raise.

detroit tigers, baseball

Granderson versus Logan

Lynn Henning has a piece in today’s Detroit News once again touting Logan as the Tigers starting centerfielder – and leadoff hitter. Let’s take a look at this step by step.

But he was pretty good the first half of the season

We submit that one of Leyland’s pet projects during spring training will include doing everything possible to make Nook Logan a starting center fielder and leadoff batter.

Those who tried to do the same thing with Logan last year — former manager Alan Trammell and his coaches– will say to Leyland: Good luck. And they have a point. But Leyland and new hitting coach Don Slaught will work with Logan under the assumption that a guy who hit around .300 into June can hit .270 for a season if he makes some manageable adjustments.

I’m fully on board with trying to develop Nook Logan offensively, then again I’m on board with trying to develop any player offensively. But people are too fondly remembering Logan’s early start in the context of his entire professional history. Logan’s season last year was fueled by a very impressive 45 at-bat April in which he posted 422/447/578 line. It would be the only month of the season that his OPS was north of 700. From May 1st on, his line was a meager 231/286/296.
Continue reading Granderson versus Logan