The dream continues, and other stuff

The Tigers are undefeated, and here we are all of 2 days into spring training. Detroit beat a back-up Toronto Blue Jays roster by a score of 4-1.

Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez were the offense with Grandy belting a 2 run homer and Ordonez picking up two hits. The pitchers had little trouble with the makeshift lineup with Virgil Vasquez pitching 2 perfect innings and Bobby Seay getting the save by fanning 2 in the ninth.

Vasquez got the start because Nate Robertson was busy birthin’ a baby boy who was born early this morning. That’s the happy news. On a sadder note, Yorman Bazardo is away from the team because his father passed away.

I didn’t do a game post today because a) the game wasn’t being broadcast at all, and 2) yesterday’s didn’t generate many comments. Still, I noticed quite a bit of traffic today during the game, so if you want spring training game posts let me know.

Reliever injuries

Fernando Rodney’s shoulder is easiest the biggest concern of camp at this point. Yes it’s early and there’s still a full month before the season, but this injury crept up in the first week of camp. Rodney had 2 DL stints last year, and the idea of Rodney being a month-on, month-off pitcher won’t do anything to help a bullpen full of question marks.

The good news is that Zumaya has been cleared to throw and is pain free after his first session. Who knows what will happen, but it has to start somewhere.

Other stuff

8 thoughts on “The dream continues, and other stuff”

  1. Spring training game threads, please. Even if only 5 people post a few comments each on it, how is that not worth it?

  2. I can’t help but think that not upgrading our bullpen is going to be a huge issue once the season starts. Sure, the offense was inconsistent last year and needed to be tweaked, but I remember going into the off-season last Fall thinking we needed a lot of work done with our relievers. Maybe I’m over-estimating the importance of having a ‘dominant’ closer, but I don’t think a team with Todd Jones in the 9th is bound for success. Never mind the guys that are supposed to get us to Jones.

  3. Chad –

    Why do you need a dominant guy pitch the 9th? He doesn’t have to strike everyone out. All he has to do is induce weak contact, whether it be on the ground or in the air. You can get away with having a non-dominant closer because of the situations in which closers are used these days – no men on, no men out in the 9th. You have to give up two hits most of the time in order for the other team to score, and a lot of the time they have to give up more than one run to lose a game. It isn’t pretty, but because a closer pitches the end of the game, it doesn’t matter if he lets the lead shrink, so long as his team stays ahead.

    If you have a great relief pitcher, I don’t know why you’d want to have him pitch these situations, which are probably easier than going out with one out in the 7th and two men on. That’s where the guy who can go out and strike out the side ought to pitch, so the lead can be intact to get the ball to another reliever who can start the inning with a clean slate. I think the best reliever on a team should never come out at the beginning of an inning unless he needs work.

    Some teams have got this figured out – Cleveland, Detroit, San Diego. Look at the White Sox pen last year. They have one of the better closers in the AL, but they could never get the ball to him because they didn’t have anyone that could reliably get out of jams in the earlier innings. Boston and the Angels have their most talented guys pitching in easier situations than some guys that pitch in front of them, like Okajima or Shields. That works in teams where you have some other very good arms in the pen, but it still seems like you’d want your most talented arm to come get you out of the stickiest situation, rather than letting him pitch a with a clean slate.

  4. I’ve always felt the same way, Eric, but didn’t protest too much because clearly MLB managers know 10x more about baseball than I do. I actually always secretly feared Zumaya being put into a closer’s role when we can have him pitch us out of jams every other game instead.

  5. Eric:
    Nice Post! Very well thought out. That makes sense, but makes me nervous about our ‘middle relievers’, who, according to your theory, are the ‘firemen’ tasked with the true ‘save’ situation. Do they fit your description of ‘dominant’?

  6. Tom,
    Seay, Rodney, and Byrdak all have the potential to be dominant, in that order. Seay was in the top 3 for fewest inhereted baserunners scoring in the AL last year. Byrdak and Rodney are both threats to strike out the side on any given day. The problem is, on the other days, they walk some folks. But generally, they don’t get hit very hard.

  7. Eric,

    I mostly agree with your thoughts on the closer role, which is why I was so tentative on the subject. I won’t lie: I just don’t like Todd Jones. I do, however, question your assessment of Seay, Rodney and Byrdak as ‘potentially’ dominant. I think we are lucky if they are slightly below average.

    I’ll leave the statistical analysis to the statistical experts, but I can’t help but feel (bad word, I know) that this season is going to be a real disappointment between injuries and the serious underperformance of our bullpen.

    Maybe I should just trust DD. I have general managed very few ball clubs.

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