Game 71: Tigers at Brewers

PREGAME: Fresh off the heels of a beat-down at Wrigley, the Tigers look to extend their winning streak to 5. Quite frankly, I’ll be a little disappointed if the Tigers don’t spot Jeremy Bonderman some runs in the first inning after what transpired the last 3 games.

Bonderman’s last 2 turns in the rotation were the Tigers last two losses – not that either was Bonderman’s fault. His bullpen collapsed and blew a 3 run lead in Toronto and the offense spoiled an 8 inning, 1 run, 12 strikeout performance against the D-Rays.

The Tigers face another lefty in Doug Davis. Davis has struggled with his control this year walking 5 per nine innings. However, he’s walked only 5 in his last 3 starts.

POSTGAME: It takes a special team to turn 2 bunts into a run. Once again it’s stuff like that that make you think this team has something special going.

An outstanding effort of course by Jeremy Bonderman and it really would have been a shame had he not picked up the win.

Jim Leyland made a great move to order the intentional walk forcing Doug Davis out of the game.

Kudos also go to Todd Jones who has thrown 4 1-2-3 innings in the last 8 days. (he also allowed 4 runs in an inning, but he’s really done okay lately).

43 thoughts on “Game 71: Tigers at Brewers”

  1. Anyone notice how the Cubs are whipping Cleveland 10-4 after they were stagnant against us? Does this say more about us or more about the Indians?

  2. uh oh, Z’s leading off the 9th. You know what that means……..Jones is next………gulp

  3. Jones might do okay if he only has to go one inning. If Milwaukee ties it and it goes extra then I would take him out.

  4. To Alan: If Milwaukee ties it, that would mean Jones gave up two runs in the ninth. I would take him out too. I would also shoot him.

  5. this was a marvelously pitched game by both starters. I was definitely glad to see their starter come out after the 7th; he was almost unhittable. And Bonderman only made 1 mistake. Almost a flawless performance for both guys….ok, a 1-2-3 inning for Jones; a perfect cap to a great pitching performance by the Tiges. A well-deserved win for the pitching corps.

  6. Tigs win! The funny thing about Jones is, for as poorly as he has pitched, he’s now 19 for 22 in save chances.

    Did I mention that I luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuv interleague play?

  7. ESPN is speculating about Zumaya for Smoltz.

    I don’t know about you but I would jump off a tall building if they did the Alexander for Smoltz deal in reverse 19 years later.

  8. Zumaya for Smoltz would be extremely stupid.

    The player that would probably make the most sense would be Carl Crawford, as long as the price wasn’t too high.

  9. Zumaya for Smoltz…
    Wouldn’t that be our mistake coming full circle to haunt us again? No way it could happen.

  10. ESPN has its head so far up its…

    Those guys will say anything to get a story going.

    “The Tigers are dangling Justin Verlander in hopes of landing Todd Van Poppel.”

    I have to tell you though, if Smoltz would agree to close out games, I’d love to see him come full circle. But not for Zumaya.

  11. I need to get a trade speculation thread started. Talk has been rampant the last few days on local radio.

    I don’t think at this time anything being discussed is really a possibility. Yes, Dombrowski has made calls and inquired but that is good. I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t asking about guys. But I don’t think anything is imminent.

    And I hope that the only way he’d move Zumaya is if the player coming back was young and not destined to be a free agent.

  12. I also read on SI that that Tigers were considering Aubrey Huff of the Devil Rays. Though I don’t know who’d they want to give up to get him.

  13. Brian I’ve always felt that fan ire over that trade was entirely overblown. Lajoi knew what he was doing and it really did work to perfection…except we didn’t win the series that year and we’ve all had to watch smoltz excell for 15 years for an incredibly successful franchise. So I understand why people feel like we got worked.

  14. I think Joey is right. The core group was getting older and I think Lajoi was trying to help them get one more ring, before they started the back side of their careers. Besides, with every thing that happened after Lajoi retired, we don’t know if Smoltz would stayed in Detroit anyway.

  15. Smoltz for Alexander was IDIOTIC!! The Tigers mortgaged their future for 1 last division win. Sure, Alexander was 9-0 down the stretch. What did he do after that? Answer: nothing. He was thru. We all know what Smoltz did. If Dumbo even considers trading Z for anybody less than Pujols, I’ll personally shoot him. And even for Pujols, I’d have to think long + hard about it. NEVER give up your pitching; teams that win have good pitching. Just look at Tigers recent history…some years we could hit the ball pretty good, but the pitching was horrible. Where did we finish? Under .500 for 12 years in a row. So, good hitting (some years) is not a recipe for success. If we trade anybody, let it be Todd Jones. Pujols for Jones I’ll go for. We need a left-handed power hitter. Since there aren’t many available (no, NOT Bonds!), let’s just stand pat, let the other teams come to us with offers. I repeat, and scream this out for all to hear: TRADE NO PITCHERS!! NONE. Especially the youngsters. Not for Clemens…not for Smoltz. Not for any other old fart who’s used up and and will be spit out now for anyone foolish enough to give value for him. We’re still in 1st place. Let the other GM’s come to us; as they grow increasingly desperate, and the trade deadline gets nearer, their offers WILL get better. Then maybe we can pick up the LH power hitter for a song….

  16. hindsight is 20/20

    at the time, i don’t think smoltz was even a top prospect in our organization. i believe he really bloomed after the trade.

    so instead of looking at it as a fringe hall-of-famer for a nomad pitcher who got us 1 last playoff run, view it as a B level prospect for that same pitcher. 90% of the time, those B level prospects end up being cannon fodder. this time, the Brave’s got lucky.

  17. If trading Zumaya for Smoltz puts us in the playoffs (I don’t think it does, and I don’t see Dombrowski making the deal), Dombrowski would be crazy not to do it. Zumaya might be the next Mariano Rivera, but odds are he’s going to end up a good closer with a relatively short peak (like most closers). He’s not worth giving up a division title for.

    It takes a ridiculously scewed view of the value of an MVP level 1B compared to even the greatest closer in history to make trading Zumaya for Pujols a deal that you have to even think about. Pujols has a chance to be Ted Williams and has already demonstrated that he’s one of the two or three best players in baseball today. Zumaya has a chance to be Mariano Rivera and hasn’t come close to demonstrating he’s at that level. It’s really not even close.
    Good pitching is no more important than good hitting at the end of the day. The Tigers had good hitting and finished under .500 because they had terrible pitching. The same thing happens to teams with terrible hitting (the ’03 Dodgers had one of the best run prevention seasons in history and only won 85 games. None of the early/mid 90’s Tigers teams were as good offensively as that Dodgers team was at preventing runs).

    The Alexander trade got us a division title and a chance in the playoffs. Keeping Smoltz would have cost us that division title and maybe netted us a couple .500 seasons along the way. I’ll take the division title over a .500 season ay day of the week.

  18. see, i wouldn’t trade zumaya for smoltz, even if it meant going over the top this year. Zumaya should be a good piece for at least 2-3 years, even under a fast burnout scenario, whereas smoltz is likely done (although he could be another clemens). I’d consider Z for Crawford straight up, but it sounds like the Rays want more than that for him.

    And to be fair, Pujols is far more likely to turn into Mike Sweeny (chronic trunk injuries) than Ted Williams, just like Z could be Mariano Rivera or Matt Anderson.

  19. Good pitching ALWAYS beats good hitting; the playoff teams are ALWAYS the ones with the best pitching staffs. Z for Crawford straight up? That’s insane. Crawford (and everybody else on the Rays save Kazmir) are “C” quality players at most, which is why they’re near the bottom of their division. I live in Tampa now; I see the Rays front office bumbling on a 1st-hand basis. The reason these guys are so bad?: their front office has no “value-sense” when it comes to ballplayers; they’re forever making stupid decisions up top, to the detriment of the team. Sound familiar? The Tigers suffered from the same malady for years, especially under dimwit Randy Smith. In fact, right now, the best Rays player besides Kazmir is Jorge Cantu. Other than that, they got nothing, and will once again go nowhere this year. And, other than Kazmir, they have absolutely no pitching whatsoever. And this same malady afflicts the Lions too; they got an idiot up top who has no sense of “value”, and can’t even figure out what the team needs. Yeah, let’s draft more wide receivers; just what we need…. 🙁 Millen should’ve been canned, not Mooch. Anyway, I digress……

  20. No question, Pujols is more likely to turn into Sweeney than Williams (he’s even more likely to be neither of them of course). But Z is more likely to turn into Anderson than Rivera as well (and again, he’s most likely to be something in between). I’d rather have both Pujols upside and downside than Zumaya and Pujols is pretty clearly the more valuable player right now (and he’s so much older than Zumaya that the deal would be auctioning the future). Basically, I doubt there is a single player in baseball that I wouldn’t trade straight up for Albert Pujols. He’s a 26 year old perennial MVP candidate, which makes him literally one of a kind in baseball today.

    I wouldn’t trade Zumaya for Smoltz either, but that’s because I don’t think the difference between them would be the difference between the Tigers making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. If I thought it was, I’d make the deal is a second. The Tigers won’t make the playoffs if the pitching falls apart, with or without a guy like Smoltz replacing Zumaya, and if the pitching doesn’t fall apart then the Tigers should make the playoffs, again with or without Smoltz replacing Zumaya.

    Moving a young pitcher like Zumaya (and Smoltz before him) only really makes sense if it drastically increases your chance at a playoff spot (and therefore a World Series title). Smoltz for Alexander pretty clearly did that (given perfect hindsight of course), but I don’t think Zumaya for Smoltz would in this case.

  21. “Good pitching always beats good pitching”

    For one example showing that this platitude simply isn’t true, see the 1996 Indians (1st in the league in run prevention) losing to the Orioles (3rd in the league in run scoring) in the divisional series.

    For a bunch more, check out the Atlanta Braves playoff history (’93 is a good example).

    For an example that doesn’t involve a short series, check out the Indians last year in the wild card race. The Dodgers in ’03 in the wild card race is another good example.

    Playoff teams generally have good pitching or good hitting, but it’s absolutely not true that good pitching always beats good hitting, anymore than it’s true that good hitting always beats good pitching.

  22. all I’ll say is this: “I’ll NEVER mortgage the future for the present.” It blows up in your face too many times.

  23. The team that trades away prospects actually tends to benefit more than the team that gets prospects in the typical mid-season deal.

    That is partly because the top echelon of prospects (the guys that are closest to “can’t miss”) rarely get dealt and partly because the guys that are traded for either turn into draft picks when they become FA’s or they become

    For every Bagwell and Smoltz there are about 10 guys that never make a significant contribution in the majors. The Braves and Yankees have made a killing off dealing prospects that never amount to much for guys that contribute to playoff runs.

    Of course, as I said, part of the reason is that the top prospects are rarely traded, and I think Zumaya probably belongs in that group at this point. So dealing Zumaya probably isn’t a good idea. Either way, the present is significantly more important than the future. A win today is more valuable than the potential for a win tommorrow and a playoff appearance in 2006 is much more valuable than a possible playoff appearance in two years. Of course, since this season has started making me a bit greedy, I’d kinda like both. 🙂

  24. There’s a chapter in the book put out by the Baseball Prospectus staff earlier this year on the topic of whether hitting or pitching matters more in the playoffs. IIRC, they conclude that a good bullpen does matter more in the playoffs. The line of thinking is that, because teams are more evenly matched in the playoffs (there are no bad teams), there are more close games, so the bullpen matters more.

    I’ll have to take a look at the book again.

  25. Boy, signing Rogers instead of re-signing Johnson sure looks like a great move how, doesn’t it? Johnson was just designated for assignment by the Indians.

    Actually seems a bit unfair if the HR by Blanco was what pushed things over the edge, since he was the one Cub the Tigers couldn’t get out over the weekend, either.

  26. Oops. I think the second link posted by Chris may be the chapter I refer to in my first post above. Didn’t click on it before I posted.

  27. Yeah, the espn link as an excerpt from the bpro book.

    When Johnson faced the Tigers he was awesome, of course.

    In regards to any trades, the Tigers starting pitching seems pretty set with the current starting 5 plus Maroth, Ledezma, Colon, Tata, etc. also possibilities. It wouldn’t seem to make much sense to mess that up just to get a “name” starting pitcher.

    Ledezma has looked really good in the middle relief role since he’s been called up.

    Now if only Leyland would let Walker pitch to more than one batter…

  28. At least right now, the Tigers don’t seem to have many weaknesses that need to be fixed.

    I would say in order, maybe Closer-Jones, LF-Monroe, and if I was really digging maybe 2B-Polanco? (though he’s hit really well lately and seems to be out of his funk) and 3B-Inge? (though he’s really clutch and plays really good defense).

    So there’s not much that I would want to change about the roster right now, two things at the most.

  29. I forgot about 1B, I would probably put Shelton third since he’s been such an enigma this season.

  30. I just saw this article about the decline and fall of the Braves pitching in the majors and minors:

    This shows Tigers should be careful and be sure that the system is kept well stocked with good, young arms. Look at the past 15 years to see what happens when you don’t have that talent.

  31. Thanks for all the discussion and links and research. This is great stuff and you guys are really making this site a trove of information.

  32. Without doing any research of my own, I would tend to agree with the common knowledge that pitching, especially the top end of the rotation and bullpen, are more important in the playoffs than in the regular season.

  33. in general, i’d agree. but how do you explain oakland’s lack of success the years they had Mulder/Hudson/Zito at the front end?

  34. The same way I’d explain the Braves lack of success in the playoffs since 1991. While the top end of the rotation is more important during the playoffs than the regular season, it’s not the only thing that determines who wins and loses in a 5 or 7 game series.

    It’s not like the teams the A’s lost to didn’t have strong front ends to their rotation either.

    2000 Yankees (Clemens, Pettite, El Duque)
    2001 Yankees (Clemens, Pettite, Mussina, El Duque)
    2002 Twins (Radke, Mays, Reed) ok this isn’t really very strong at all
    2003 Red Sox (Martinez, Wakefield, Lowe)

Comments are closed.