Junkballing: No shortage of news

I’ve got to give this Tigers team credit for one thing. There’s no shortage of news. Last week I tried to put together a timeline of all the announcements and news coming out of Jim Leyland’s office. I couldn’t get it legible at less than 1200 pixels wide. And that was before all the news from the last week.

Vance Wilson

Wilson received awful news in that he needs to do Tommy John times 2. His contract with the Tigers is up this year and with a 12 month recovery period, he is done as a Tigers player and may be facing retirement. He’s well respected in the Tigers organization and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Wilson back in another capacity in a few years. Best wishes to Vance.

Roster moves: Rapada

Clay Rapada was optioned to Toledo to make room for Eddie Bonine. This isn’t a merit based demotion but a matter of the guy with options getting sent down. It’s something we may see again next week when Rodney and Zumaya return. Dolsi could be one of the guys out based on contract status. Fossum, Seay, Bautista, and Lopez are all out of options.

Granderson’s struggles

Detroit Tiger Tales takes a look at Curtis Granderson’s struggles. He finds among other things that Granderson is taking a lot of pitches, both out of and in the strike zone and it’s possible he’s being to passive. That’s something I could buy, and his timing seems to be off as well with a lot of ball popped up to the left side. I trace it back to the Tim Wakefield game. Look at his gamelogs and see what happens from May 6th onwards. It’s a 554 OPS with only 4 walks. Right now his OBP is the same as Pudge’s.

Zumaya-Rodney updates

I think I spied Joel Zumaya in the Tigers dugout last night. But he is experiencing some soreness in his side. If everything goes as planned he’ll pitch tonight, and then back to back on Monday and Tuesday with a possible return to the team for the San Diego series.

As for Rodney, he had a terrific outing for the Mud Hens last night and will be back Monday provided he feels alright today.

Spit balls


  1. greg

    June 14, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Ditto on the best wishes to Vance Wilson, he’s one of the good guys. There are plenty of huge ego’s out there with a sense of entitlement, then there are the professional athletes like Vance that appreciates the fans, respects the game, and always acts in a classy manner. Best wishes to Vance.

    Billfer makes an interesting point of Granderson after Wakefield, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s something to that.

  2. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 14, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    May 6 against the Red Sox and Wakefield, It appears to me that Granderson had pretty good ABs against Wakefield despite going 0-3. So I don’t see anything starting here. Instead, the next 2 games were terrible for him.

    May 7-8, Granderson struck out 7 times. He had awful at bats the first game, particularly against Buchholz, and didn’t look much better against Beckett the next (maybe he was Beckett’s K #1000?). Something just wasn’t working for him in these games, but aside from a 3 K game against the Mariners a while later, they were anomalies.

    Granderson’s finger may be bothering him, and it may have started in earnest somewhere around May 6-7, for whatever reason. Or maybe something happened thereabouts that changed his mental focus in a way he hasn’t been able to recover from. If it’s physical, the old finger injury affecting his swings or the swings he’s willing to take, that’s the kind of thing that could drag him down all year.

    Given the team’s poor start without him, you have to believe he was anxious to get back, and that the Tigers were equally anxious to have him back. Maybe too anxious.

    Perhaps Lee Panas could analyze Granderson again, pre- and post-May 7.

    Granderson is not stealing this year. There may be more to that than poor OBP or not enough favorable situations.

  3. Kurt

    June 14, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Sean C,

    It was right around there — definitely that series, and I believe the May 6 game — that Granderson made a diving catch and came up a bit slow and favoring his right hand. I think he re-injured himself there. I thought he’d come out of the game, but he stayed in. And after that, all he could do was strike out or have poor results when the ball and bat connected. So that did seem to be the turning point.

  4. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 14, 2008 at 2:50 pm


    Thank you! You provided the missing detail that I could not know from play by play alone. Maybe this is what Billfer meant, though I don’t know why he would then mention Wakefield, who seems irrelevant in this context.

    But we need to narrow this catch down to the precise game and inning it happened. May 6, Grandy did strike out against Wakefield (full count, 6th pitch) after a 5th inning catch of some sort, but he later got a single on a 1-0 count against a Red Sox reliever.

  5. greg

    June 14, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Sean –

    The ‘Wakefield theory’ is based on messing up your timing. Wakefield is so incredibly slow with his knuckleball, it takes a major adjustment to hit it. You have to adjust your timing. The fact he had good AB’s against Wakefield doesn’t blow holes in the theory, as the effects could be seen that day OR the next. ie the next day when he has to adjust back to ‘regular’ timing.

    Having said that, this doesn’t ‘prove’ the Wakefield theory either, for all I know the injury you mentioned may in fact be the real reason behind his struggles.

  6. Rick G

    June 14, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    I was at the dreaded Wakefield game, don’t remember a diving catch by Granderson that day. I think the slump is just a coincidence, not related to any injury or having messed up timing from the knuckleball. Odd that it’s gone on so long with no apparent correction from the coaching staff, though.

    I remember that miserable May 6 game as the MLB debut of Sexy Freddy, and the absolute bullet Manny Ramirez hit over the wall on his first big league pitch. Not too often you see a pitcher with an infinite career ERA.

  7. billfer

    June 14, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    greg nailed my hypothesis. I don’t know if there is anything to it, but Granderson has been slumping since that game and I wonder about his timing. That theory I think held more weight when it was a 2 week slump then now 6 weeks later. You’d think he would have worked out of it by now. But yes, it had to do with timing. He’s only walked 4 times since then as well.

  8. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 14, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Greg –

    But the rest of the lineup came back the next day ready to roll with 10 runs – no tot mention a clutch Granderson RBI. Is Grandy really so much more sensitive to adjusting timing between games? Also, he wasn’t so messed up that same game that he couldn’t get a hit after Wakefield left (he singled). And the Tigers have followed both times being stymied by Wakefield in 2008 with good hitting wins. The very next day. On the road, and at home.

    Last year, Granderson was 2-4 against Wakefield. Next game, 2 days later, he went 0-4 and then 2-3 with a BB and 2 K in a doubleheader. But the Tigers in general did stink at the plate that day, losing both games.

    I aim to discredit the findings of the Wakefield Commission!

  9. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 14, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    “Odd that it’s gone on so long with no apparent correction from the coaching staff, though.”

    Not odd if there’s no correction to be made, Rick. He could just be hurting similar to how Sheffield was hurting and suffering effects from it that just aren’t easy to pick up on as symptoms or causes by coaches. And you can bet Granderson wants to play, not sit, especially now that he’s been given the green light against lefties.

  10. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 14, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Hmmm… “no tot mention” was an odd turn of phrase. What I meant was “not to mention.”

  11. greg

    June 14, 2008 at 4:32 pm


    Again, I don’t know if this caused the slump. But I do know that timing is important to hitting, and the idea that a knuckleball pitcher can mess up your timing for a couple games….that school of thought, echoed by hitters, has been around for years, its not a new theory.


    Is Grandy really so much more sensitive to adjusting timing between games?

    Maybe, maybe not, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he is. Some make adjustments quickly others don’t, hitters get in and out of sync all the time by various sundry things. Everyone is different.


    Also, he wasn’t so messed up that same game that he couldn’t get a hit after Wakefield left (he singled).


    Just because someone’s timing messed up, that doesn’t mean they instantly turn into a .000 hitter.

  12. Coleman

    June 14, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    The diving catch Sean C is remembering was the night BEFORE the game against Wakefield, on May 5. And he definitely came up grimacing, but it’s hard to tell what was hurting.


  13. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 14, 2008 at 7:38 pm


    “the idea that a knuckleball pitcher can mess up your timing for a couple games”

    A couple of games is not what the Wakefield hypothesis contends. Again, CG hit a single in the same game he faced the knuckleballer.

    “Just because someone’s timing messed up, that doesn’t mean they instantly turn into a .000 hitter.”

    Oh? There’s a delay of precisely one at bat?

    Granderson has turned into a .200 hitter post-Wakefield. Also post-Buchholz and post-Beckett. So which one messed up his timing? Had to be Wakefield, because of the knuckleball, the knuckleball he was 2-4 against last year?

    Even Billfer concedes that the length of Granderson’s slump weakens the Wakefield/timing hypothesis. If one pitcher can so destroy a batter’s timing for weeks afterward, there must be some anecdotal evidence to this effect for someone. A pitcher who could do this would be very valuable, so maybe I should look to the highest-paid pitchers for clues.

    Hidden injury or unknown change in mental focus on hitting still sound like more plausible explanations to me.

  14. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 14, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Coleman, you’re exactly right about the May 5 Granderson diving catch. It was Kurt who remembered it, not I. He just couldn’t place the date.

    Granderson was 1-14 with 8 K in the 3 games following that play, and has batted in the low .200s after that.

    This may explain nothing, but I think it’s a better hypothesis than Wakefield.

  15. greg

    June 15, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Sean –

    We may not have enough common ground to discuss this ‘Wakefield hypothesis’ further and I’m not sure it really would be worth the time. Perhaps one has to have experience playing baseball, facing pitchers of different speeds, experience making adjustments and all the things that effect the swing to grasp the importance of timing and all the connecting elements that can through your swing out of wack.

  16. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 15, 2008 at 1:24 am

    Greg –

    We don’t have to discuss the Wakefield thing any more. I’m more interested in getting your take on things than twisting your arm, something I may have been overzealous about.

    What do you think of this idea?:

    After 2 miserable games (cause unknown) against Boston, going 0-10 with 7 K on May 7-8, Curtis is down on himself. Thinking about it, he comes to the conclusion that he needs to “start doing this” or “stop doing that.” He applies himself to it, sticks with it even though his numbers don’t show us it’s working. And maybe it’s not working, and maybe it’s a bad idea, but he clings to it the way any of us cling to something we’re convinced will work in the long run.

    Or maybe he sought advice, and the advice just isn’t working, but someone else is telling him to stick with it. And who knows, maybe this is an adjustment period that will pay off.

    Given your experience with the game, is any of that plausible?

  17. greg

    June 15, 2008 at 1:43 am