First base irony

At the start of the 2006 season the Tigers had a log jam at first base with Dmitri Young, Carlos Pena, and Chris Shelton set to man that position and DH. Pena was jettisoned in the spring, while Dmitri Young battled legal and substance abuse problems spending a chunk of the season on the DL in rehab. Meanwhile Chris Shelton was ripping the ball in April putting up Ruthian numbers.

Fast forward to September 2006. Dmitri Young is released during a rain delay, Chris Shelton is toiling in the minors, and the Tigers have traded for Sean Casey who isn’t hitting a lick.

Fast forward to October 2007. Chris Shelton is still in the minors as he used up his last option year. Sean Casey slugged on the wrong side of .400 when as a first baseman .400 is the wrong side of .500. And Dmitri Young and Carlos Pena win comeback player of the year awards in their respective leagues.

You can lament the Tigers moves, but they were also defensible. Young had a lot of problems last year, and they were problems he wasn’t solving in Detroit. And while I was against releasing Pena, he floundered all of last year and barely sniffed playing time with the Yankees and Red Sox and was even cut this year in Tampa. Again, I don’t think he has this type of season if he’s still with Detroit.

So instead of being frustrated, I’ll simply say congratulations to Dmitri Young for getting his life and career back on track. And congratulations to Carlos Pena for realizing his potential before it was too late.

15 thoughts on “First base irony”

  1. Getting rid of Young was addition by subtraction. I’m not so sure about Pena … I wish they would have given him another shot. But you are probably right, he probably doesn’t do what he did in Tampa here. There was absolutely no pressure in Tampa. It will be interesting to see what he does next year. I hope he continues to do well, he always seemed like a nice young man.

  2. For whatever reason(s), some guys do better with a change in scenery and that’s certainly so with Pena. I have mixed feeling re Dmitri. He had gotten through the legal stuff and doing his rehab thing and got dumped. Two months later he’s in an emergency room in critical condition for diabetes. But, he’s also made the adjustments he’s needed to and found success. Now, if we could just get Inge to make some batting adjustments.

  3. Well said! But this makes you think… isn’t their a strong possibility of Shelton doing the same thing if we let him go?

    I know he can hit more from ’05 hitting in front of Magglio and going to RF so many times than from that Ruthian start to ’06.

    If he can stop overthinking at the plate and just try to put the bat on the ball I believe he could slug .500+ drive in 100-110 in his prime years and hit 60 hrs and doubles combined.

    His defense at 1st has also gotten better, but now Guillen is sliding over.

    He is entering his prime and will be in it for the next 4-5 years.

    If I were DD I’d keep him, but the Guillen move and them not calling him up in Sept. basically said what they think of him.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they let him go, he hits a couple big bombs against us in a different uni.

  4. Guillen is moving to 1B and Shelton did not get called up in Sept. So, it would not be a stretch to think Shelton will be traded this off season. I am just hoping that does not come back to hurt us. I agree that the DY and Pena transaction were justifiable and happened to look like bad decisions this year. I am not sure a trade of Shelton would be in the same category. He has been able to hit at every level and has been solid at 1B defensively, especially granted he was drafted as a catcher.

    Looking at his stats a couple things standout. He is 27 years old, but basically missed a full year of baseball in 2004. Not only did he miss a year, but he missed extensive time at AA. AA is typically where the MLB players and the minor leaguers are weeded out. This year of AA could have been critical to his offensive development. From everything I have read Shelton has made progress over the course of this year. He seems to be getting over the mental hump of trying to re-enact his 2006 start. Yes, he strikes out a lot, but his history suggests he can be more selective.

    More stats:

    His OBP is still quite good (.388) and is the same as Polanco’s (2nd on Tigers)…His walks (83) would have been 2nd on the Tigers too…His hits are identical to Casey’s (singles & doubles) in only 40 more ABs…He had 9 more HRs

    Shelton is a prototypical AL player as he can play 1B and DH with some power. I would just hate to lose him for something such as another AAA player, only to see him develop with another team into a solid MLB player.

  5. Chris Shelton is a career minor leaguer. His numbers fail to impress me. This last season he hit just 14 HRs in nearly 500 ABs? Yikes! And that’s facing inferior AAA pitching. I wouldn’t lose any sleep if he were traded for a pack of cigarettes.

  6. Shelton’s hit at every level and will continue to do so. He’s suffered one major slump in his career, which – combined with his lack of options – saw him banished and secured to an anchor at Toledo. (Had he been LH, surely he would have replaced Casey during his dismal April-May)
    Not surprisingly, he had to fight mentally to recover from the disapointment of not making the squad in S.T. despite hitting .400. He’s earned more opportunity, and, if given a chance elsewhere, will also succeed. (Contrast this with the million and one chances handed to Brandon Inge, who’s three year MLB average of .201 was rewarded with a starting job at 3B…but I digress…)

    I agree with Scott’s assessment: Pena would never have done this in Detroit. He’s a head case. We gave him three years as the cornerstone of the Weaver trade and he never made it over the hump, fighting himself all along the way (and eventually losing his job to Chris Shelton).

    In Tampa, he’s with team under no pressure and without fans. Tampa is often playing from behind, which leads to a steady diet of “we’re not going to walk anyone with a lead” fastballs.
    That being said, hopefully, he’s finally turned the corner and is beginning to realize his potential. Hey, it worked for Jorge Cantu for a year…

    Good for him. But also, good for Detroit for letting him go.

  7. Hey anyone notice that Shelton’s 2006 slugging % was 70 points higher than Casey in 2007? I’m not a huge Shelton fan, but it just goes shows you the difference between hitting 295 and 4 hr’s versus, say, hitting .260 and hitting 20 hr’s.
    God, did Mayor McCheese suck offensively.

  8. I’m sorry, what exactly did Carlos Pena “comeback” from? His mediocrity? Being a bust of the 10th pick overall in the 1998 draft? Posting an incredibly pedestrian .243/.331/.459 line before his, in all likely hood, anomaly of a season that is .282/.411/.627?

    Oh well, MLB awards are jokes anyways.

  9. So, Shelton’s a keeper and Carlos is still a chump after his year this year?


    Hitting 46 HR, slugging .627, and a .411 OBP don’t happen just ’cause you saw a few more fastballs. Besides, he wasn’t exactly “protected” in that lineup and he played in a pitching-heavy division (Bedard, Beckett, Dice-K, Schilling, Marcum, McGowan, Halladay, Wang, Clemens, ….).

    Let’s not let bitterness make us absurd.

  10. Uh, a .297/..396/.637 and 50 HR, 110 RBI season kind of “just happened” for Brady Anderson. Carlos Pena still has things to prove. Mostly that he’s out of hitting .242/.331/.459 as the norm.

  11. Doesn’t change Chris Shelton.

    Pena had a good season. Those numbers won’t change no matter if he hits .210 next year. He probably will. Shelton will never approach the numbers Pena put up this year.

  12. Remember when DD kept saying Chris Shelton was still considered our 1st baseman of the future? I wish they’d trade him. He’s now labled as a minor league player and should be given a chance somewhere else. I felt the same way about Josh Phelps.

  13. Pena showed flashes of this type of ability when he was with the Tigers,but was unable to sustain it for a season.Let us not forget that the pressure to win and perform for packed stadiums wasn’t that much of a factor when he was here,nor did he have much protection in the line-up,so the situations are somewhat approximate.
    I remember reading somewhere he was into self-help books and positive thinking exercises,suggesting that his problems were mostly above the neck.I hope he’s turned the corner and continues to approach hitting with the same confidence he always showed at first base.

  14. There is nothing about the Pena and Young decisions that look bad. The 2 of them played for teams that were a combined 46 games under .500. Young had personal deamons to deal with. While these may or may not have been the cause, the bottom line is that he was a major problem in the clubhouse. So instead of letting it fester any longer, the Tigers released him, he dealt with his issues and signed with a horrible team where he could put up decent individual numbers. As for Pena, he was released or traded 6 times in 9 years before ending up with Tampa for the 2nd time. After Texas, it was Oakland, Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox…all good teams that can not wait around for someone to figure it out. The reason why guys like Pena always end up having breakout years on bad teams is because teams like the Devil Rays are the only ones that can actually go into a season with Carlos Pena penciled into their line-up.

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