Tigers need a shortstop

by billfer on September 28, 2007 · 45 comments

in 2008 Season,Players

The decision has been made, Carlos Guillen is moving to first base in 2008. Kind of a strange time to announce it and then there is this curious quote from Guillen:

Guillen recently said he’d only switch if he was assured that the Tigers were going to replace him with someone good — “a Gold Glover,” he said. But he said Friday, without naming names, “it’s going to be someone good, someone very good.”

So does this mean the Tigers have already identified a shortstop and worked out a trade in principle? Does it mean that this plan only goes through if the Tigers come through with someone very good?

If you’re holding your breath thinking that the Tigers have already worked out something with Alex Rodriguez, exhale. That would be tampering in a legal sense, and just plain silly given that Rodriguez is going to be busy with playoffs and what not.

Guillen went on record earlier saying he’d only move for a gold glove caliber shortstop, and indicated that he wouldn’t move for a Jack Wilson type player. But Leyland has smoothed things over with Guillen and he appears ready to make the move.

Tigers to switch Guillen to first base

UPDATE: Scratch all that weirdness talk up there. Danny Knobler ran the full quote, which makes a whole lot of sense and doesn’t lead bloggers to wild speculation:

“I know they’ll bring in a good (shortstop),” Guillen said. “I know it’s going to be a good one. I don’t know who it’s going to be, but I know it’s going to be a good one.”

 
 

{ 45 comments }

Eric Jackson September 28, 2007 at 7:49 pm

Good Move.

Vince in MN September 28, 2007 at 8:08 pm

Atlanta needs pitching – we have it.
We need a good shortstop – Atlanta has one.

Greg September 28, 2007 at 8:13 pm

Sounds like they’ve got a list of SS they’ll go after, with the confidence that they’ll land one.

My guess is there are about a half dozen names, with AROD at the top, and Renteria close to the top.

Jim September 28, 2007 at 8:48 pm

give me arod!

or…atleast renteria

Steve in OH September 28, 2007 at 9:06 pm

A-Rod would make our lineup ridiculous… I’m certainly hoping we can pull it off!

Mike R September 28, 2007 at 9:06 pm

Please no Edgar Rent-a-wreck or Jack Wilson or David Eckstein.

Rings September 28, 2007 at 9:40 pm

There’s no guarantee A-Rod would be any better defensively at short than Guillen. Obviously, he helps our offense, but after being out of the 6-hole for nearly three years and gaining some weight, I doubt he would return to his previous form defensively.
Not to say we shouldn’t pursue him, for obvious reasons.

Renteria would be a fine choice, however.

JML September 28, 2007 at 11:06 pm

Does anyone SERIOUSLY think we could actually GET A-Rod? I mean, really? Nah…

Mike R September 28, 2007 at 11:14 pm

There’s no guarantee A-Rod would be any better defensively at short than Guillen. Obviously, he helps our offense, but after being out of the 6-hole for nearly three years and gaining some weight, I doubt he would return to his previous form defensively.
Not to say we shouldn’t pursue him, for obvious reasons.

Renteria would be a fine choice, however.

So you’re saying that A-Rod wouldn’t be able to be better then a SS that’s in the lower 3rd defensively in all of baseball? How do you reason that? And his normal year is such an upgrade offensively, that even slightly below average defense from him would be acceptable because chances are he’d be worth more runs offensively then he’d give up, so to speak, defensively.

Chief September 28, 2007 at 11:50 pm

http://www.wjr.com/Article.asp?id=484941&spid=6525

Leyland interview with Frank Beckman. Says no to Jack Wilson.

http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/sep2007/db20070926_792916.htm?chan=search

Business Week article about Ilitch. Says no to A-Rod.

Chief September 28, 2007 at 11:54 pm

Leyland interview with WJR. Says no to Jack Wilson.

http://www.wjr.com/Article.asp?id=484941&spid=6525

Ilitch Article in Business Week. Says no to A-Rod.

http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/sep2007/db20070926_792916.htm?chan=search

Stephen September 28, 2007 at 11:58 pm

We are going to get A-Rod the same day that Sheffield walks away from 28m. In other words, never.

David September 29, 2007 at 2:51 am

First of all I would be “tickled to death” if we somehow bought A-Rod

but here are a few reasons why it prob wont happen

1) He has said he wants to remain a Yankee
2) His contract is pretty good as is, worked out by Boras
3) The Yanks like the Tigers have a good offense and good young pitching – Hughes, Kennedy, Joba etc.

Rentaria’s ZR is worse than Guillens

The best thing to do is put INGE at SS and pick up a 3rd baseman or 2nd baseman, this year’s SS crop is very thin and there aren’t any two way players.

If we got one, I’d really want Vizquel – human highlight reel, then we’d basically have very few holes on the left side, but its kind of hit or miss with him offensively and he looks to be regressing quite a bit.

Pete G. September 29, 2007 at 9:06 am

Guillen will be fine at first, but what about short? Anyone notice our home run production has been lacking? With Sheff hurting, Inge’s numbers down, no C-Mo,and Marcus kind of vanishing after C-Mo was traded, we haven’t been banging the ball much. I don’t know, it just seems we are less powerful than almost anyone we face. That wasn’t the case last year.

BobS. September 29, 2007 at 10:17 am

So much A-Rod love here,when everyone knows he can’t perform in the ‘clutch’ (look at the stats-his ClutchFactorPercentage is only .223) like Saint Derek Jeter,Joe Montana,or John McClane.

charlie September 29, 2007 at 11:29 am

i would guess the chris shelton experiment is over in detroit. i’m sure someone would want to give him a try perhaps in a package with another player for ???

David September 29, 2007 at 11:41 am

You never know, he could end up being our DH if Shef leaves or someone goes down…

The thing is with Shelton he reminds me so much of Pena and DY but I think he could be better and I really believe he is the guy who got us going in ’06 with that crazy start for those of you who can remember back that far.

So if we were to not give him a spot up in the big leagues (i think he has no options left). I’m worried he’ll start mashing with another team like Pena did for the Rays and we’ll be like darn darn darn.

Also even though I want them to dump Casey, he does have one of the best contact rates in the majors (behind Polanco) for pitches swung at. Still I think he and Inge will work hard in the offseason and come back much better next year. Normally like if any of you play fantasy the trend is for a guy like that to bounch back, or drop if they had a crazy year of course their are always exceptions to the rule.

Even though I like Arod hopefully if he stays in NY he will drop back to what his #s were before (not that they were much worse) but could make a few games difference.

Kathy September 29, 2007 at 12:56 pm

I know Stephen will hate me for this but I’d love to see if the Tigers could sign Casey and just use him off the bench. No, he can’t hit HR’s anymore and he’s slow as a snail, but he’s a good left hand bat off the bench and has infused himself into this team. Just wishful thinking, I guess. Stephen will probably say who would you rather have: Albert Pujols or Sean Casey? Pretty easy answer to that one.

Kathy September 29, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Actually, I’d really like Derrick Lee.

Jeff September 29, 2007 at 1:47 pm

So much A-Rod love here,when everyone knows he can’t perform in the ‘clutch’ (look at the stats-his ClutchFactorPercentage is only .223) like Saint Derek Jeter,Joe Montana,or John McClane.

The notion of clutch hitting is the biggest myth in all of sports. But even if it did exist, I’ll take my chances with a 1.000 OPS hitter who isn’t a “clutch” player over a .700 OPS hitter who is.

A-Rod’s career OPS is .967. His career OPS with runners in scoring position is .964. I think the Tigers could survive a 3-point drop in his OPS

Jason September 29, 2007 at 2:11 pm

While I would love to get A-Rod, I agree that he could end up being no better than Guillen at SS. That said, I say if we can get him, we do it.

Greg September 29, 2007 at 2:44 pm

It’s easier to find a good-hitting first baseman than a good-hitting shortstop. And I’m worried about Carlos playing first. His errors at shortstop aren’t based on a lack of athleticism, they’re based on concentration. I’m afraid that after a while Carlos will get comfortable at first base and then start committing errors there.

Greg- other Greg September 29, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Jeff – no such thing as clutch? seriously? You’re saying that, there’s no such thing as pressure situations that effect players differently.? So, are we to believe that all athletes, are either totally stoic/unemotional, or are equally impervious to pressure, or are at least react to pressure the EXACT same way?

billfer September 29, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Ah, another clutch discussion. There are probably clutch hitters, but identifying them becomes very difficult due to small sample sizes and a lot of noise in the data. There just isn’t a sufficient amount of data to tease out what is luck and what is skill or clutch ability.

Plus there is the definition of clutch, if you want to go with the belief that players respond to pressure situations differently ,then don’t you think that players themselves have different views of what is a pressure situation to begin with?

Also, I still contend that if a player makes it to the big leagues in the first place, they already have enough mental fortitude to be able to handle pressure situations.

Kathy September 29, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Just tuned into Fox to watch Cubs vs Reds. The intro showed all the teams getting clutch hits and winning games in the playoffs and World Series. They even showed Maggs for a second. Couldn’t help it…….had tears in my eyes.

Stephen September 29, 2007 at 4:09 pm

Re: Also, I still contend that if a player makes it to the big leagues in the first place, they already have enough mental fortitude to be able to handle pressure situations.

I couldn’t disagree more. Players can get to the majors on talent alone, SUCCEEDING at the MLB level is percisely decided on mental fortitude. Everyone who is on a 40 man roster has sublime talent, being able to handle the pressure, the temptations of fame, and producing when you don’t feel great are the things that determines greatness.

I think it is sometimes called heart.

Stephen September 29, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Kathy, hey if they want to pay Casey 1.2 million and have him play the role of Dave Bergman, that’s fine. I’m not that positive that he would be a superior defensive first baseman than Guillen once Guillen gets more time at the position.

Greg- other Greg September 29, 2007 at 4:14 pm

I think Billfer made reference to what the real issue is:

There are probably clutch hitters, but identifying them becomes very difficult due to small sample sizes and a lot of noise in the data. There just isn’t a sufficient amount of data to tease out what is luck and what is skill or clutch ability.

I agree, with one modification, its difficult to identify them statistically(which may have been what you were saying). Simply observing it in the real world, WHEN it becomes obvious, is not so difficult, at least not for me. There are times when I can’t tell, there are other times in which there’s no denying it(when I can clearly see the intimidation and ‘deer in the headlights’, and other telltale signs)

I think, with AROD, the anti-clutch tag was 100% accurate prior to this year. He made a 9-2 game a 13-2 game. When it counted he usually(not always, just more often than not) stunk. However, I saw a different AROD this year. All it took was one look, and I got a completely different vibe. AROD played with an edge this year I’ve never seen from him before.

The anti-clutch AROD is gone. Bring AROD to Detroit.

Bilfer wrote:

Also, I still contend that if a player makes it to the big leagues in the first place, they already have enough mental fortitude to be able to handle pressure situations.

I would respectfully disagree. IMHO opinion some do, and some don’t, and even that can change over time for every individual. For one, they might just be gifted naturally and have little mental fortitude. Or, they might not feel pressure in the minors but crack under the media scrutiny of the Big Apple. I wouldn’t homogenize all pressure situations as one, I think its a dynamic thing, effecting/not effecting each person differently.

billfer September 29, 2007 at 5:47 pm

I’ll give you the temptations of fame part. But this is talking about clutch ability. These guys compete in pressure situations at every step of the way, and at the time each one has the same pressure. For a guy in the minors trying to make a career out of baseball, do you really think he feels any less pressure in the 9th inning than a guy at the major league player does?

Is the little league world series, or college world series not a real pressure situation? Just because we don’t care as much about those, or because they are stepping stones on the way to the big leagues, doesn’t mean that there isn’t tremendous pressure on that individual at that time.

As for drive, I still see that as something else. I do think that can be a differentiator between players of equal talent. But this was talking about the ability to handle clutch or pressure situations, and you don’t make it to the big leagues without being able to do that throughout your career.

Stephen September 29, 2007 at 6:23 pm

Absolutely.
I think some players get by in pressure situations based on pure ability at all levels but it becomes increasingly difficult at the major league level. It becomes more about adjustments which and outthinking your equally gifted opponent. Call it heart, work ethic, psychological makeup, whatever, I just don’t think a player’s ability to handle pressure when no one’s watching in Lakeland or Toledo correlates with whether you’re capable of handling the pressure in the kill or be killed majors. Everyone rises and sinks at their own level.
Case in point: all the Tigers’ errors by their pitchers in the World Series. That was a clear case of players wilting under the pressure. Not that they we were all thinking ‘wow, 200 million people are watching this’ as they’re trying to field the ball, but I’m pretty sure the situations and spotlgith had them amped up/psyched out in a way that they never faced in Scranton.

David September 29, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Hmm, one wonders if Jeremy Bonderman was clutch this year.

He didn’t play in college or even his sr year in HS and barely in the minors.

He just has good stuff, but couldn’t shake the first inning, then again he was good against the Yanks last year.

All that really matters is if you have talent(Arod) and drive(Eckstein) and don’t mess up your life like Elija Dukes. Clutch is clutch. Go listen to “Mr. Clutch” Derek Jeter at the end of “STATE OF THE YANKEES” on their site – sept 26 he talks about it very interesting

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
Michael Jordan

Stephen September 29, 2007 at 7:19 pm

And that’s why i can hire an ad guy to come up with such pithy sayings.
Michael Jordan

David September 29, 2007 at 7:35 pm

I think he is saying he isn’t afraid to fail, he allows himself to fail – he lets his talent take over he has confidence in his skills.

If you have ever played a competitive sport you would know that when the game is on the line the ones who do well aren’t afraid to do poorly.

Another analogy – your taking an exam you studied a ridulous ammount for it, and you are really really nervous you overthink each question and doubt yourself and fail.

Stephen September 29, 2007 at 7:49 pm

I’m not disagreeing, i’m just saying the possibility that MJ actually said/wrote that is up there with Sheffield walking away from 28m and A-Rod coming to Detroit.

Mike R September 29, 2007 at 8:33 pm

ARod coming to Detroit is probably not happening.

“Clutch” fluctuates from year to year as all the “clutch” numbers are based on a small microcosm of a players season. Small samples sizes aren’t reliable. See: Craig Monroe circa 2006 vs. Craig Monroe circa 2007. I rest my case on “clutch”.

As far as getting Omar Vizquel, count me out. He’s got good defensive numbers but even less range then Carlos Guillen. His good defensive numbers stay intact based on the fact that he just doesn’t get to any ground balls. Guillen’s errors at SS aren’t from a lack of concentration it’s from bad knees, a terrible throwing motion, and limited range.

As for picking up a 2B or a 3B and moving Inge to SS the options aren’t any better. At all. The best 2B available is 36 year old Mark Loretta. The best 3B available is going to be Mike Lowell who’s 33 and looking for a long term deal of around 4 years with possible options for a 5th. Count me out on that. Even with his monster year this year.

The Free Agent market as a whole is incredibly weak.

Stephen September 29, 2007 at 8:37 pm

“Cash later admitted to using an illegal corked bat during the 1961 season, demonstrating how he had drilled a hole in his bats and filled it with a mixture of sawdust, cork and glue. His 1961 statistics turned out to be career highs which he rarely approached again – in later years, he never reached 100 runs or 100 RBI, and never batted above .283. His 118-point drop to a .243 average in 1962 was the largest ever by a batting champion.”

Mike R September 29, 2007 at 8:53 pm

Mythbusters showed that corking a bat has essentially no effect on hitting.

Steve in Kzoo September 30, 2007 at 12:48 am

With it being official in all sense of the word, Guillen to 1B. SS for next year WILL mark my words WILL come via trade. FA market is VERY weak SS wise and giving Santiago full time will hinder his progress as a good 1/4 season start and pinch runner/defense replacement. Now on to Via trade…..

1. A-Rod( or K-Rod as he was known last year)
Not going to happen.
He loves NY.
Boston would easily out bid us if he did opt out of NY.
His 30+ million a year contract that he’d get is insane for a slightly overrated player. Yes i said slightly because you only get a 50+ homer and 150+ RBI season one in every say 8 years or so. He will fall back down next year to around a .290avg, 35+ homer, 115+ RBIs next season still great but the hipe is bad. It will be interesting how he reacts in teh Postseason if he chokes again just shows me that he is still over rated. If not well ill eat my words. Either way hed be an outstanding upgrade but it wont happen.
Probability- 5 percent

2. Edgar Renteria
Via trade Robertson, Bonderman straight up or prospects from Braves(yes they still have many good prospects even w/o Salty.)

Could happen Leyland and him known each other from 1997 marlins WS team.
Less errors then Guillen by 8 i believe.
Less DP made then Guillen but thats because of his stint on the DL first for him in a couple of seasons.
Affordable with Boston still paying a chunk of his salary.
Great .300/15hr/80+rbi SS that I don’t think will revert to his Boston era season.
Probability-50/50

3. Someone else or AAA SS from another team or our farm system.

Probability-45 percent.

theres my take on SS next year. Romon will be backup and still will get 150AB at least next year but will have a veteran starter ahead of him.

Jeff September 30, 2007 at 2:40 am

I think, with AROD, the anti-clutch tag was 100% accurate prior to this year. He made a 9-2 game a 13-2 game. When it counted he usually(not always, just more often than not) stunk. However, I saw a different AROD this year

The issue has been studied again and again. Do you really think ARod comes to the plate when it’s 9-2 and says “okay, time to hit a home run”? Do you really think something as instinctive as hitting a baseball is like putting or shooting a free throw? There’s no time to think about it . . .

Prospectus did the most thorough examination of clutch hitting. They measured the impact of every at-bat of various players on the outcome of the game (i.e. an 8th inning Earl Weaver when it’s 9-2 increases a team’s chances of winning by, say, 0.1%, while an 8th inning 3-run shot when it’s 0-2 probably increases a team’s chances of winning by 60%). Then they compared those results to what would happen if clutch hitting was completely random (i.e. players performed at their established performance levels).

What they found was that about 2% of a player’s performance level was related to some inherent “clutch” factor and it showed up in guys who had great bat control. A good example of this was Maggs’ 2-run single that beat Toronto earlier this month–he was clearly hoping to go with a pitch and hit it between 1st and 2nd base to win the game.

The other 98% of the variance was due to a player’s underlying talent and random fluctuation.

Does that completely settle the question? No. But it shows that the most important indicator of how a player will perform in a clutch situation is not his “clutch” ability, but rather his overall ability. I reiterate: I’ll take a guy like A-Rod with a .967 career OPS who “isn’t clutch” over a guy with a .700 OPS who is.

I think fans project their own nervousness in a key situation on the hitter. I also think many fans instinctively dislike certain star players, so the notion that they aren’t “clutch” is one way to dismiss the statistical evidence.

BobS. September 30, 2007 at 11:40 am

I hate that I’m having to defend the guy,but A-Rod is overrated compared to who?Over his 14 year career,he has AVERAGED .306/.389/.578 along with 37 HR and 107 RBI.If Granderson does that ONCE the homers here (where overrating Tigers is the cost of admission) will have him on the express train to Cooperstown.
I don’t know what kind of prism you’re viewing the game through,but you’re seeing a unique player-appreciate it.

Greg- other Greg September 30, 2007 at 1:07 pm

quote: The issue has been studied again and again.

Studied again and again. So what, lots of things have been studied, and I’ve only heard Sabermetricians pontificate, or even accept, such a premise.

Do you really think ARod comes to the plate when it’s 9-2 and says “okay, time to hit a home run”?

Huh? Did someone say this? maybe you were responding to someone else.

quote:

Do you really think something as instinctive as hitting a baseball is like putting or shooting a free throw? There’s no time to think about it . . .

Obviously there are similarities and differences. Different sports, same human element, unless you’re saying that AROD is a vulcan.

quote:

Prospectus did the most thorough examination of clutch hitting.

Ah, a Baseball Prospectus disciple, I subscribe and read them. Some good stuff there, but also alot of strange conclusions that are rather amusing. I’ve read their clutch hitting ‘arguments’ and, the more I read, the more I’m convinced that they have nothing. They usually start with a conclusion, and then cherry pick or massage the data to ‘prove’ what they believe in the first place.

quote:

I think fans project their own nervousness in a key situation on the hitter. I also think many fans instinctively dislike certain star players, so the notion that they aren’t “clutch” is one way to dismiss the statistical evidence.

Can’t speak for other fans, but I’m never ‘nervous’ when I watch AROD.

quote:

I also think many fans instinctively dislike certain star players, so the notion that they aren’t “clutch” is one way to dismiss the statistical evidence.

Possible, in theory, or, maybe they really do just stink in the clutch.

There are lies, dang lies, then there are stats. Quite often, people manipulate stats to try to support what they think, BP is the master of it.

Greg- other Greg September 30, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Billfer wrote:

These guys compete in pressure situations at every step of the way, and at the time each one has the same pressure. For a guy in the minors trying to make a career out of baseball, do you really think he feels any less pressure in the 9th inning than a guy at the major league player does?

Oh absolutely, without question. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. It’s interesting how perceptions can differ from person to person. I see it as a dynamic, and each situation is completely different, and each affecting players in completely different ways, depending on their upbringing experiences, character.

quote:

But this was talking about the ability to handle clutch or pressure situations, and you don’t make it to the big leagues without being able to do that throughout your career.

Respectfully disagree, as maybe in the minors, nothing was seen as pressure. Especially these ‘can’t miss’ prospects who know they’ll make it no matter what. There’s no pressure, their ticket is already stamped to the majors, the team has invested too much money. Numerous athletes have a sense of entitlement, including prospects(in particular, I’ve read the Devil Rays and Dodgers prospects are this way). But they’re not on the big stage yet. Big difference playing in front of 1,500 in a minor league stadium that’s a dump, and devoid of energy, then being plugged in the spotlight in the Big Apple, playing in front of 40k each night with intense media scrutiny.

Mike R September 30, 2007 at 11:05 pm

The Braves system is parched and you don’t trade Jeremy Bonderman, who before his elbow was hurting, was one of the 10 best pitchers in the American League (I subscribe, like Billfer, to the theory that his arm was hurting before or started hurting during his blowup start in Anaheim on Sunday Night Baseball) for a 32 year old shortstop who’s got limited range defensively.

Mark P. October 1, 2007 at 10:06 pm

If we do trade with the Braves…I would prefer Brent Lillibridge over Edgar Renteria. Lillibridge is going to be a solid hitting SS, can steal bases, good OBA and is good defensively.

http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?n=Brent%20Lillibridge&pos=&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=452121

http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2006/11/the_best_minor.php

Arsen B: October 10, 2007 at 11:10 am

As much A rod chokes in the playoffs wow he hit his first hr in what 14 appearances??………My boy Maggs 3 Hr’s in just 2 playoff appearances……………I like A rod he is no doubt the future with 4,5, and 6………….I look at it as this sheffield, A rod, and Maggs <<<<<<< it would no doubt be the best trio in the league and equals productions lots of productions lots of hr’s and runs scored along with personal stats, the only reason i would put Maggs 6th is because just imagine bases are loaded and 2 outs who would you rather have a .223 in A rod with .risp, or a .443 Maggs <<<<< my point exactly, Maggs has done that a lot this year and throughout his career………………Maggs is money with .risp especially with runners at 2nd and 3rd.

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