Todd Jones out as closer

Jim Leyland hasn’t been shy about making changes to established roles this season. He quietly announced a big one on the radio pre-game show with Dan Dickerson when he said that Todd Jones is out as closer and Fernando Rodney would primarily assume the role.

It had become clear over the last couple weeks that Jim Leyland was losing confidence in Todd Jones. Leyland announced a couple weeks ago that he was going “to watch him” speaking more about his usage and indicating that Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney would receive some opportunities. In Baltimore he let Joel Zumaya pitch a second inning to try and get the save instead of Jones.

On Friday night Aquilino Lopez was warmed up and at the ready if Jones started to unravel – the type of move Leyland would NEVER make in the past. We all remember a certain game in Cleveland last year where Jones didn’t have it, got hammered, and Leyland refused to get anybody up in the pen. Jones blowing the Friday game after coming so close to securing the win was apparently the last straw.

Even with 2 blow-ups, Rodney has been the Tigers most effective reliever since coming off the DL*. Since June 16th Rodney (and not counting today) has thrown 14 innings and has allowed 8 walks, 10 hits, and he’s fanned 12. Over the same period Todd Jones has thrown 14.1 innings and allowed 22 hits with 2 walks, 4 HBP, and only 4 K’s. (And if you were wondering about Zumaya he’s gone 16.1 innings with 16 hits, 15 walks – ouch, and 16 K’s)

*Actually Bobby Seay probably deserves to hold that title. Over the same span he’s allowed just 6 hits and 6 walks in 12.1 innings with 13 strike outs. Why are the Tigers looking for a lefty reliever?

Rodney is much maligned though among Tigers fans. I attribute it to the fact that he wears his hat crooked. And when he blows up he really blows up. Still he is capable of extended periods of dominance – like 2006 for example. Or even last year after he returned from the DL and allowed all of 3 hits and 4 walks in his first 11 games back while fanning 17.

Now there are questions about this move. Primarily what role does Todd Jones play? He can’t be brought in to tough jams. Does he fill the Aquilino Lopez role of keeping a deficit from expanding, or eating an inning or two with a multi-run spread? And second there has to be concerns about Rodney’s health. He looks great at the moment, but he’s missed big chunks of the last 2 years and a 45 pitch outing today probably isn’t the best strategy.

I like seeing Rodney get the opportunity, and I like the willingness of Leyland to make a move. Stubborn is a difficult tag to hang on the skipper this season in that he’s tried a number of things. I think Rodney will probably fare okay, but be ready for a different type of rollercoaster. Jones would take you through highs and lows in any given outing but would typically get the job done in most outings. Rodney will wow you sometimes and kill you other times. It’s a matter of inter-outing rollercoaster versus intra-outing rollercoaster.

UPDATE: The Detroit News has some audio with Todd Jones. He says all the right things, but the guy is crushed. And yes, he’s struggled and the move is the right one to make, and he’s a professional, and he gets paid millions of dollars, and he’s made some questionable comments in his columns. I know for all those reasons people aren’t supposed to feel sympathy, but I can’t help it. I do.

91 thoughts on “Todd Jones out as closer”

  1. I do feel some sympathy for Jones (definitely not going to listen to that audio because that would make me feel bad for him which I don’t want to do — it’s a business and he wasn’t working out no matter how much I defended him in game 1 of this series) because he just seems to love being Tiger so much. It happens though.

    I share many of the same concerns you do, though, Bill.

  2. I like this move. Rodney, at least, looks like a closer with the menacing soul patch on his chin, and he can fall back on his fastball (95-98 with late life) to strike out opposing batters. He only runs into trouble when he falls in love with his change-up.

    Todd Jones will be an active, effective, 7th/8th inning bridge man to Rodney. He doesn’t walk many batters, and he gets league-average hitters out. He struggles unacceptably against the Quentins and Dyes of the world, but it’s easier to hide his weaknesses when he’s not the closer.

  3. I hope, for Fernando’s sake, that this works out differently than the “Marcus Thames is our everyday left fielder” announcement…

  4. Completely disagree, Jason. It’s harder to hide Jones’ deficiencies when he’ll probably be coming into a jam in the 7th like most middle relievers do. At least as the closer, he gets to start innings more then try to clean up someone else’s work which is not a good thing given his anemic strikeout rates. If Jones is not closing games for the Tigers, I honestly don’t see much of a need for him on the ball club.

  5. I totally agree with Mike R. The threat of him coming into the game with runners on in a tight game is scarier than starting the top of the ninth. Jones has been the ultimate professional, but it may be time to cut our losses.

  6. The reality is that they need to release Jones, no? If he is not effective then let him sign somewhere else and get another arm up for the stretch drive. Ryan Perry?

  7. Jones is a good egg who’s handled his entire career with professionalism, humilty, good humor, and grace. That said, I think he’s probably lost a little movement on his cutter and he’s been getting hit a little more, which has affected his confidence also. Its a move that had to be made, when there’s a lack of confidence in him and his role. He’ll likely be a mopup or “start of an inning guy,” and will probably retire at the end of this year.
    That said, Rodney or Dolsi were the most likely candidates to get first shot, but as Bilfer states, Rodney presents his own set of challenges…today’s outing was extreme – lots of K’s, but lots and lots of pitches (45 in less than 2 inn)..and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last “blown save” of the season, no matter who’s filling the role.

  8. I just want to point out that Bobby Seay’s inefficiency is not reflected by his traditional stats. The guy has allowed 13 inherited baserunners to score this season, two of which on Saturday. The only guy who is worse is Aquilino Lopez (15) but he’s at least pitched almost 8 more innings. Based on that I understand why The Tigers might be hunting for LHP. What I don’t understand is why Rapada isn’t an option. He did well during his time in Detroit and is doing very well in Toledo right now.

    Jones has to be released. He has zero trade value even if we eat his contract. Sure we could stick him in a mop-up role, but why? At this point would you trust Jones anymore in the 7th inning than the 9th?

    Personally I’d rather see Cruceta be given another shot. He’s also fairing quite well in Toledo. Hell, even Ian Ostlund is pitching well.

    Thank you Todd, and goodbye.

  9. This move had to be done. I feel for the guy. I’ve always liked Todd Jones as a person, and wasn’t surprised how choked up he was on the audio. But the move was absolutely necessary. If Leyland doesn’t make this move, he loses all credibility as a manager.

    Kinda with the others on Rodney, though. The truth is we don’t really have the perfect candidate in the wings.

    The thing I worry most about F-Rod is his control. My guess is, if you factor out his base on balls, that his WHIP drops under 1.00. Kinda scary if your closer walks a guy or two every other outing. If you can’t get the control under wraps, that’s going to result in blown saves for sure.

  10. I’m not a TJ fan, but you don’t release him. You let him do long man/mop up stuff for the next 60 days.

  11. You guys are typical over-reacting bloggers. Todd Jones gives up one home run (to a bona fide slugger, not Nick Punto) and you want to DFA him?

    Don’t mistake me; Jones had to be demoted and replaced with Rodney at once. But if the Tigers make the playoffs, it will be, in part, due to effective relief pitching from Jones down the stretch.

  12. It isn’t just the HR. I honestly think the guy is toast.

    Leyland said he was going to “watch” him after he blew a save out his ass on July 10th. On July 13th he got a save facing the 6-7-8 hitters on the Twins, not really a monumental feat.

    Then 4 days later he allowed a walk and a double to the O’s. Aubrey Huff almost hit a HR and if Adam Jones hadn’t given us an out I can easily see that game get blown. 3 days later he comes in to record a single out and walks a guy. And if not for an absolutely amazing play by Inge, he would have allowed a run. Then he records a save against The Royals (big whoop) but not before hitting a guy and recording a very, very hard hit out by Alex Gordon. Then he comes in and gets a strike away from saving a huge game and gives up a single and a HR.

    The guy just doesn’t have anything left to fool 3 batters in an inning. And honestly what are we going to do with him as a mop-up guy? If history has taught us anything it’s that he absolutely sucks in non-save situations.

  13. He won’t be good as a mop up guy because he isn’t good at pitching multiple innings, and isn’t efficient enough to throw 2 innings on his 25 pitch ceiling.

  14. Jason, I was defending Todd Jones after that homer. However, if he’s not hidden in the 9th inning where there are fewer opportunities to lose the game than in the 6th-7th-8th innings, he doesn’t have much of a role, in my opinion.

    Also, isn’t the Tigers playoff run contingent, also, on Lopez getting back to early season form, Rodney being lights out and Joel Zumaya not giving up a hit per inning on top of a walk per inning and a minor injury right now? It’s not like we’re just 1 piece away in the bullpen and Jones fills that.

  15. I think the concerns with Rodney go well beyond the crooked hat. Seems as though he’s cost the Tigers three times as many games as Jones has, often at the worst times. Rodney makes me twice as nervous as Jones ever did,that is, when Jones is right, but clearly, something isn’t right with Jones right now, who knows whether this is something Jones can work through, or if its the end of the line.

    Rodney looks brilliant at times, but those times don’t come often enough for me to believe he can handle the job long term. But, who else do the Tigers turn to? He’s got the job by default. They just don’t have any better options at the moment. I imagine Dombrowski is looking for a closer as we speak.

  16. I would guess they don’t bring up Perry – at least anytime soon. He has 2 innings, both with the GCL Tigers at this point.

    If they brought up anyone from the ’08 class I’d think it would have to be Rob Weinhardt who has dominated at Lakeland to the tune of 21 K’s, 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 unearned run in 15.1 innings.

  17. I know I’m in the minority, but I’m fairly against this move. I know that Jones tends to make games more interesting than they need to be, and sometimes he costs us the game, but as he’s said before, closers live in a pass-fail world and far more often than not, Jones passes. As a statistic, three blown saves seems a bit hasty to me, seeing as many other established closers have that many or more already. I understand that he has not been pitching as sharply this past month, but other people on this team have had bad months and they got to keep their normal roles (ex: Renteria, which has been a lot longer than a month, Sheffield, and Rodney if you go back to last year). Even an ineffective Todd Jones is not the biggest problem this team has right now.

    As much as I love baseball, there are very few baseball players that I respect for one reason or another, and Jones is one of them. He seems very average, like he’s really just a normal person who somehow got thrown onto a major league roster. The reporters all agree that he never shies away from questions, and he seems to appreciate the fans (how many times have they shown him spraying the left field fans from the bullpen?). The fact that he can actually write a coherent sentence probably places him above the average ballplayer, which got him a weekly column in a respected sports magazine.

    Honestly, I don’t see putting Rodney at closer lasting very long, for reasons that other people have voiced. If he has good control, he’s apparently decided we don’t get to see it for any length of time. Besides, he’s not available today, so who are they going to put in in the ninth if it’s close? Putting Jones in would be akin to adding insult to injury, but who else is there?

  18. This is probably just the start of Leyland’s punch list. Sheff is probably the next guy on the list.

  19. 0 -2 Fastball down the middle of the plate to a well known slugger (and its not the first time he’s done that)… -nuff said

  20. What I don’t like about the move goes something like this: Evidently, if you’re name is Jones, struggling for a month (while not even playing every day) costs you your job. If your name is Renteria or Sheffield, you can struggle forever and still be plugged into the lineup day in and day out, even while injured, as proven and capable fill-ins or replacements go unused (but don’t hesitate to use rookies to fill in when the darlings are hurting more than usual).

    “I like the willingness of Leyland to make a move.”

    I don’t like Leyland’s unwillingness to make simple and obvious moves, or what seems to be standing in the way of this – the idea that the pride or confidence of this guy or that is more important than giving Player B at least an occasional chance to get it done when Player A isn’t. I’d prefer a manager who made sensible moves (i.e., the kind of moves a person could explain without getting exasperated with people who question it) in a timely fashion. I can think of a few good personnel decisions by Leyland in 2008. I could write an article on the bad ones.

    Back to Jones. I don’t see a role for him or a place on the team for him. Yet I also don’t see his presence or absence as make or break for the Tigers’ slim playoff hopes. Do you keep him around just to say thanks for past accomplishments? That’s stupid, sentimental, and maybe the right thing to do.

  21. It’s hard for me to believe some of the bloggers really do feel sorry for Jonsey. He has be hated on, ridiculed and despised, and brought forth words from some of us that we wouldn’t utter in the light of day. Mike Maroth was and still is one of the best guys but can’t pitch a lick. At least Jones is at an age where he knows his career is coming to an end and he’s made plenty of money. Most guys don’t retire from MLB very easily, especially if there’s no injury involved. Friday night almost killed me, but I feel bad for him too.

  22. 0 -2 Fastball down the middle of the plate to a well known slugger (and its not the first time he’s done that)… -nuff said

    Actually it was a 2-0 fastball. And that distinction is relevant — Jones’ problem is that he wasn’t getting ahead on counts anymore. When he loses his control, he’s toast because he can’t nibble and get ground balls or pop ups.

    That being said, I don’t see the point in cutting the guy. He’s obviously going to be the closer for tonight’s game. He’ll still have a role, it’s just going to be much-reduced.

  23. I’m with Billfer on his “update” comments. If you really love baseball, you love to watch good baseball no matter who’s playing it (although you love it the most when it’s the Tigers!) And you hate to see a guy losing his stuff. I didn’t enjoy the scene with Gobble last week 100%, and this is also sad in the purest baseball sense.

  24. See, Fernando frustrates the crap out of me, but I actually kind of like putting him at closer. I think he has the stuff to be a closer, as long as he doesn’t fall in love with the changeup and remembers he has at least one other pitch, possibly two if he whips the slider out every now and then and surprises the batter into making an out.

    Also I point and laugh at all the people who thought Zumaya should OMG BE THE CLOSER NOW!!!! because 16 hits and 15 walks in 16.1 innings just screams efficiency.

  25. Wow, that audio was pretty brutal to listen to. I really feel for the guy, but it was a move they had to make.

  26. wow you go out of town for a weekend and Detroit baseball falls apart. I agree I felt this move coming, but I’m also the sensitive type so I won’t listen to the audio.

  27. No, thinking about it, it’s obvious that Jones still has a role. Not being the closer doesn’t mean he can’t be acloser, and the Tigers will need him as the latter, and he could even be back as the former.

    This isn’t Dontrelle Willis sad. Todd just isn’t top dog any more. For now. He can still throw strikes and get guys out. Being ineffective for too long isn’t losing it altogether. He may be in decline, but he’s not washed up.

  28. ‘wow you go out of town for a weekend and Detroit baseball falls apart.”

    Let that be a lesson to you, tiff.

  29. wow – the audio file makes me mourn for the loss of the Todd Jones Experience.

    The Fernando Rodney Super Happy Fun Time Hour just won’t be the same…

  30. I know I harp on this all the time, but yesterday I really wanted to climb into my TV and strangle Hawk and DJ with their microphone cords.

  31. Chris,

    Given how this season has gone for the Tigers in big games/moments, I have become pretty adept at anticipating when things are about to implode. As such, I had the volume off most of the day yesterday, so as to spare myself the pain of listening to those two idiots.

  32. Jones didn’t have overpowering stuff, he was nerve wracking to watch…but you know what he (usually) got it done. That’s essentially what made him bearable to watch, you knew it was gonna be a roller-coaster…but you also knew that it would end well (most of the time).

    I’m not sure what ratio of stuff/mentality makes for the best closer (or brim-angle for that matter), but I can tell you that even with Rodney touching 99mph I didn’t feel that confident, and more importantly (as judged by my infallible perception) he didn’t look confident. He was getting way too many ball-4-strike-outs after starting with 0-2 counts. He wasn’t dominating anyone, they were striking themselves out…and there’s a difference that doesn’t show up by just looking at the Ks.

    So yeah, there you have it. Jones wasn’t the best, I just think that he was the best-suited on the roster. Who knows, Rodney may be lights out for the Tigs…but if he’s not, I doubt he’ll handle the pressure as well as Jones would have. Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that.

    P.S. (Plan B): score enough to avoid the situation altogether.

  33. Chris-

    One of the good by-products of their shameless homerism is that you can usually count on 2-3min of silence following opposition home-runs.

    I thought it was funny that early in the game when the Tigs had a more commanding lead, they devoted about 25min to soothing the Sox fanbase by explaining how its almost impossible to sweep the home team, and how much luck has to do with it. Lots of “everything just seems to go against you” comments from Hawk. Of course the tone quickly changed when the Sox got a couple of runs to “the Sox are just gonna decide to win this one afterall”. Gawd I’m happy we got 1 win out of that.

  34. Well, for what it’s worth Rodney did extremely well in the 9th inning way back in ’06 when Jones started the year on the DL. I realize that this is many years and many shoulder maladies later, but he pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5 as the nominal closer then. And zero runs. We’ll see how this all works out. I like having a guy that can miss bats occasionally in the 9th. Even though he ran up the pitch count, I loved seeing him completely emasculate the side in the 9th yesterday. High cheese.

  35. I also loved their thoughts on the Comerica radar gun. ‘No way Rodney can throw 99’. And then Thornton comes in – ‘he throws 97-98 on our gun, so let’s see how high he gets on this juiced up gun’. First pitch – 96 mph. Haha, guys.

  36. Chris-

    I thought about posting it when I heard it yesterday, but I wrongly assumed I would remember it later…but it was a classic Hawk saying something incredibly homoerotic and DJ following with an “I dunno about that”. I keep telling my roommate, Hawk isn’t a broadcaster, he’s a fan with a mic.

    “And I’ll tell you somethin else…”

  37. I posted some stats on Jones vs. Jenks and Nathan not long ago. I’m out of things to say about Todd at the moment. Can I say something about starting pitching instead? It’s marginally bullpen-related.

    I hope the Tigers try to turn Zumaya into a starter next year. I never thought I’d say that, even contradicts a recent “never be reliable, ever” comment on Zumaya by me.

    At this too-early hour, let me go out on a limb and express my wish for the Tigers 2009 starting rotation. I’ll have to remember to look back on this and laugh, but right now it sounds good.

    Verlander-Mr. Big Free Agent/Trade Guy-Willis-Galarraga-Miner-Zumaya (stretching out and waiting in the wings for the inevitable failure or injury).

    Yes, I cast votes of no confidence for Bonderson and Robertsman. Contractually, being rid of them may not be feasible. So I’ll be consistent with my Zumaya flip-flop and suggest that Nate could be the lefty reliever the Tigers are dreaming of. I’m not sure if I’m kidding or not.

    I actually have more confidence that Willis will be very good again than I do that Bondo or Nate will ever be very good for a full season.

  38. “closers live in a pass-fail world”

    That pass-fail world has an exceedingly generous 3-run grading curve.

    If anything, Todd’s ability to produce on that one statistic – saves – is likely the only reason he’s lasted this long. I don’t know that a guy with his stuff would otherwise be carried as a reliever.

  39. Sean: Interesting thoughts. A caveat, though. Nate ‘Robertsman’ vs. LHB in ’08 – .319/.355/.481. If that’s too small of a sample for you, last year the lefties tuned him up at a clip of .296/.330/.402. Not exactly the kind of production you’d want to see out of a lefty specialist.

  40. I, like most of you, saw this move coming and think it’s the right decision. Still can’t help feeling bad for the guy and as Mike R and tiff said can’t bring myself to listen to the audio. Esp. after reading the comments of bloggers who have listened and have written of its gut wrenching brutality. I wonder how much he’ll be pitching for the tigers in the remaining games of the season?

  41. What are Nate’s numbers his first time through a line-up though? It seems to me, and this is just an off-the-cuff thing, that Nate doesn’t usually get hit hard until his second and third pass through. That would bode well for a reliever, no?

  42. Wow, Chris. I did not know that about Nate. I looked into a whole bunch of detailed splits on the rotation a couple-three weeks ago, but what I neglecterd to look at was simple platoon splits. Thanks.

    No question, Nate can throw a good inning, sometimes two. That’s what I was thinking with my outlandish suggestion that he move to the pen.

    I’m restless for change. Verlander-Rogers-Bonderman-Robertson looked, in 2006, like it was something you didn’t want to mess with until it fell apart. It hasn’t exactly fallen apart, but it’s been crumbling ever so gradually, not so much Rogers (and of course not Justin) but those young and solid guys instead. New blood!

  43. As has been pointed out, Jones isn’t really useful unless you can bring him for a bases empty, get three outs situation. I anticipate Rodney will blow one badly in the next week or so and the experiment will be over. They still need another bullpen arm. And a starter, a SS, a DH who hits over .220, etc, etc.

    The obvious move that Leyland has paid lip service to but not done is to play Marcus Thames every day. PUT THAMES IN LF EVERY DAY FOR 30 DAYS, NO EXCEPTIONS, PERIOD. I belleve that if they let the guy get into a groove they would have a Jermaine Dye clone on their hands.

  44. Jerkwheat

    Nate’s OPS against 1-2-3+ times through the order runs .796/.840/.883, a progession that I’m sure is very close to the norm (actual values are probably a bit high).


    If Sheffield is gone within the next few days – and I expect he will be – this opens the door for both Thames and Joyce to be in the lineup every day, something I look forward to.

  46. Ther more I think about the Todd Jones thing… the more I think they’ve talked to him about trading him. That would choke him up, leaving Detroit. “Losing” the closer job – well, that amounts to nothing more than suspension with pay, because there are only provisional replacements at this point. Unless… they’re also bringing someone else in to close.

  47. Tim-

    I’d love to see Thames play everyday, but (and this may be totally academic) he’s no Dye-clone. Batting at .260 Thames is well above his career average of .245 vs Dye’s career average of .277.

    Now at the end of the day, you get similar production because this year 37% of Marcus’ hits leave the park…but over his career Dye is a better bet all around.

  48. Good thread here so far, the trading deadline is Thursday. If you could make one trade (and only one trade) to make the Tigers better, who would you trade for and what would you give up? (let’s be realistic, we’re not getting Joe Nathan, for example).

  49. I like Thames as much as the next guy. He’s country strong and everything. I think his value is providing some sock off of the bench, though. I don’t think he’ll HR every 10 AB as a regular, and his .260 BA would settle in at around .240 and everyone would be calling for his replacement.

  50. Comment: Todd Jones is no longer the closer.
    Translation: There is a 100% certainty he will be closing the game tonight if it is a 1 run game

  51. I’d move Robertson for a couple of middling prospects. Maybe a C and a corner OF if you could. Then bring back Willis and attempt to get at least some ROI.

  52. Agree, Dave. Rodney and Zumaya are unavailable, and I don’t know if Dolsi is healthy enough. I would not bet against a roster move before the game either, in order to get another arm for the bullpen (i.e., Raburn to Toledo for so they can call up……??)

  53. We can’t do anything at the deadline. Trading a veteran says you’re running up the white flag and trailing by 6.5 means you can’t throw prospects away on a long shot.

  54. stephen,

    So I guess you’re disappointed we don’t have Maybin to trade again? 😉

    Agree with you on trading a veteran indicating a “white flag” signal, but prospects for bullpen help (for example) is not a bad move. Yes, it’s a long shot and we would almost certainly overpay, but this is a team with a small (and rapidly shrinking) window in which to win.

  55. I’m with stephen,

    Teams know the situation the Tigers are in (limbo/trying for a playoff push) along with most of the trade-bait not having enticing contracts. We’d likely get fleeced in a trade at this point…hence standing pat.

    Question: aside from “nothing yet” were there any developments regarding Freddy Garcia? Rumored the Tigs were looking at him, then nothing…did they decide against or are they still evaluating?

  56. Dark horse move for the Tigers: call up Porcello to pitch out of the bullpen.

    He has a year’s worth of pro experience, he can get by just using a couple of his pitches, he throws hard, throws strikes, they love his poise, and they may want to limit his innings this year anyway.

    I think it’s more likely than Ryan Perry, personally.

  57. I’ve heard that Freedy Garcia is NY Mets-bound. As far as trading a veteran (i.e. Robertsman), I don’t think that necessarily means giving up on ’08. You’re only going to get like 11 starts from him over the remainder of the year anyway. You should be able to find someone within the system to do that. I think he’s a guy who you wouldn’t get fleeced on in a deal, either. Look at contenders who are awash in cash and are looking to add an arm for the stretch run. He’s got 2 years and $17 million left on his deal so he’s not a rental, and that’s not an outlandish pricetag for, say, NYY. The Yankees are interested in Jarrod Washburn. Call them up about Nate instead. The Dodgers seem hellbent on not playing Andy LaRoche and could probably use an extra arm. See if you can work something out in that regard. Bottom line is no one is going to be interested in the guys who should be traded (i.e. Sheffield, Renteria).

  58. I should have added that moving Robertson’s salary in addition to losing $$ owed to Rogers, Rodriguez and Jones after the season frees up some payroll to make a run at a guy like, I don’t know, CC Sabathia. Sheffield comes off the books after ’09 as well.

  59. The thing is Chris, Robertson is not an upgrade over what the Yankees have now. Best chance to peddle Robertson is to the national league where his newness might allow him to go 6-4 4.00 ERA down the stretch for a team like the Phillies. Just don’t expect to get anything other than a grade b prospect.
    I think Dombro just has to suck it up and we have to play the hand we have. I still think Sheff shouldn’t be released, but either disable d with a faux injury for August or limited to twice a week DH’ing for the next few weeks. You carry/hide him for August and then he has the offseason to right himself and then you cut him if no progress. There’s no real benefit to waiving him or trading him for a Class A nobody unless someone’s going to pick up his 09 contract, which no one will do.

  60. I was just using the Yankees as an example. Who knows if they’d be interested (although since they’ve been pursuing Washburn, I’d have to think they would be). The closer we get to the deadline, the more desparate some team may become. The Phillies got hosed in the Blanton deal. Surely there’s another sucker out there. Though in reality, Robertson is worth no more than 2 grade B prospects.

  61. What do you guys think the market is for Pudge?

    Personally I think we should hold on to him let him reject arbitration and pick up the two draft picks.

  62. Anson (and I can only assume that you are Anson Williams of Happy Days fame): I’d say there’s probably a limited market for Pudge (though apparently the Marlins are interested). The thing is, he’s actually playing well. Since the Tigers still might make a run, I don’t think he’s a guy you’d move.

  63. Chris- If only I could be an actor for a living. My thinking is that since he is one of the few Tigers playing well, DD might actually be able to get something for him. What that something is I’m not sure, but the offer has to be substancially better than the ham sandwich I would take for the Edgar right now.

  64. “So where is Shef going Sean?”

    Anson, that’s the part I don’t know. Well… one of the two parts I don’t know.

    I don’t think Robertson, Sheffield, Renteria, or even Jones are without value to other teams, but I’m forced to concede that the position the Tigers are in is not bargaining from strength. So maybe they’ll stand pat, after all. I just hope the mantra for 2009 is pitching pitching pitching.

  65. I’d take a ham sandwich right now for any of the players mentioned, but I’m not a good GM on an empty stomach. I’m so hungry that Chris’s aforementioned sandwich/taco tossup is sounding good either way. Maybe there’s an MLB team equally desperate for someone the Tigers have.

  66. Joel, thank you for supporting my Sheffield for a washing machine argument. It worked out quite nicely for the team (Flint (MI) Tropics) in Semi-pro. They got fourth place in their division, but they ended the season with a moral victory by beating their hated rivals. More importantly, they were hilarious in the process.

  67. Careful, Sean. Playing GM on an empty stomach is like visiting the grochery store with the munchies. You usually eat a box of Milano cookies while you shop (never graceful) and fill your cart to the brim with Bugles, Chicken pot pies, and ice cream sandwiches. Your total usually falls around $200 and you haven’t actually purchased anything of substinance.

  68. Basically anyone the Tigers want to get rid of is someone no one wants, and anyone a potential trading partner wants is someone the Tigers don’t want to get rid of.
    I think they stand pat, unless the just dump someone.

  69. I have a new-found respect for Pudge after being at a game 2 weeks ago (when he wasn’t even playing), I noticed he was hanging on the dugout railing almost the whole game-his intensity burns hotter than most others.

    And he is actually taking a strikes now & then instead of flailing at everything.

    Todd may land on his feet as the closer yet–he is the master of late inning drama and even Verlander throws a few bad pitches occassionally.

  70. I can’t complain about the way I-Rod has been playing. After last season, I thought he had about zero left in the tank but he apparently is ageless after all. His OPS+ of 103 would be his highest in 4 years were the season to end today. Didn’t see that coming.

  71. Ken, I’ve shopped that way, but it was long ago. Apropos of nothing, I think Orlando Cabrera could be the solution to the SS problem, and it might only take Porcello and Strieby to get him.

    Hey, did “Midland Isotopes” come from that movie? That has to be the best team name I’ve ever heard.

  72. Re Thames: When you read his numbers and say he’s only a .245 hitter, he won’t hit with as much power if he played all the time, etc, you are missing the point. HE HAS NEVER HAD AN EVERYDAY JOB IN THE MAJORS. I doubt he has ever started more than 10 games in a row. In Toledo he had long stretches of everyday play where he hit like Hank Greenberg. OPS north of 1100, batting average .330 plus. He will never do that in the bigs, but given 150 starts he would hit 40 HR, would drive in 100, would likely improve his K/BB rate and, I would wager, keep his average in the .250 to .275 range. He could easily rack up a .950 OPS. He’s decent enough on defense. Let the guy play. What do we have to lose?

  73. Pudge has been surprisingly good this year, I think the Sox broadcast showed him hitting something like .389 over the last month. The power is gone, but he is taking more walks and actually has his OBP near league average. His is still prone to lapses where he swings at a slider two feet outside in the dirt or fails to get the glove down to block a pitch in the dirt, but in all, it’s been a good year for pudge.

    I can live with a league average player at that position, especially considering what our options are at this point.

  74. Thames: I could live with a .240 LF/DH like him full-time. Honest. Could have lived with Monroe, too, had he learned to hit just a bit better. Not everyone has to bat .300. Not everyone has the make the pitcher pay for the mistake potential of Thames, either.

  75. Regarding Pudge, I am talking off the cuff here and haven’t done my research. That being said If I did, I would guess that he is still one of the best as far as fewest stolen bases against. Fewest attempted against etc. He is a focused guy. As for his swinging at the slider and breaking ball away and in the dirt. His bat isn’t as quick as in the past and I think he is a split early at pulling the trigger(Sheff as well). He has upped his focus and effort in the box the last month. There might be one or two other catchers I would want more than Pudge but thats about it. I think he can play at the top level for a few more years. I love what he brings to the Tigers.

  76. “Hey, did “Midland Isotopes” come from that movie? That has to be the best team name I’ve ever heard.”

    That sounds right, Sean.

    I’m not sure about a lot, but there are a few things I am sure about.

    1. Don’t trade Pudge. We need him in the World Series, right Cheif Monday?
    2. Trade Sheffield for anything to insure Thames and Joyce play everyday.
    3. Clay Rapada should be on our staff right now.
    4. Rodney is an upgrade at closer. He has yet to prove us otherwise, as he has been great in this role previously. For some reason we think that Rodney may lack the mental toughness because he forgets how to wear a hat. Insiders will actually tell you that he usually trys to enter the game wearing a stove pot before someone catches him and makes the switch. He may be insane in the membrane, but maybe that’s exactly what a closer needs. Look at half of the others around the league.

  77. Tim –

    I think the numbers vs playing time question is of the ‘chicken or the egg’ variety. It could just as well be that he’s never shown enough to warrant everyday status. Thames hits mistakes VERY well, but honestly he doesn’t seem to have much of an eye at the plate.

    I agree with Sean C, his ability to consistently hit those mistakes out of the park make him an asset…but I don’t see him going north of .250 if given full time duties. The fact that he’s leading the team in HRs with about half the ABs though screams giving the guy more playing time…even if it likely comes with a normalization of his numbers.

  78. It’s actually the Midland Rockhounds. Albuquerque has the Isotopes. I believe they nicked that from the Simpsons.

  79. Look at Thames 1st/2nd half splits sometime. He performs well enough for the first 150 or so AB’s before falling off a cliff. ’06: 1st half OPS 1.006 (202 AB), 2nd half OPS .709 (146 AB). ’07: 1st half OPS .810 (131 AB), 2nd half OPS .744 (138 AB). It seems he’ll settle into a groove for a while, but once the league makes an adjustment, he doesn’t adjust back. One. Trick. Pony.

  80. One could live with Marcus hitting in the .240 range if he drew enough walks to have a high OBP, given his high SLG (think Adam Dunn). Since he does not hit for average OR draw a lot of walks, his value is dimished somewhat.

    According to baseball-reference, his 162 game averages would be:


    .245 avg, 33 hr, 25 2b, 131 so, 41 bb

    That 820 OPS comes out to a 111 OPS+, so Marcus is about 10% better than league average. He’s also 31 years old and probably at (or just past) his peak.

    Defensively, Marcus generally catches what he gets to, but has about average range. Given that he is still arbitration eligible, he still makes less than $1 million per, so there’s no pressure to play a youngster over an expensive veteran. He’s no All-Star, but probably an adequate everyday LF.

  81. Tim: Dead on. He’s earned his keep this season a lot more than Sheff has. Put him out there, let him do his thing. If he ends up disappointing, he’s one more of a dozen on this team. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    What I see actually happening is him being traded to another team and giving them good production the Tigers could use at a ridiculously low salary, while the Tigers get a washed-up poo-poo platter reliever in exchange.

  82. I could see two scenarios. One, you play Marcus everyday and he ends up with 28 HR. Two, you play Marcus 4 days a week and he ends up with 33 HR. Some guys are just better when you use them in a limited role, and I think he’s one of those guys.

  83. Holy crap, Pudge is only 416 hits away from 3,000. If he catches until he’s 40 it’s actually doable.
    That’s insane for a catcher.

  84. How can you tell if Thames is better off as a part timer than as a regular if you never give him a chance at regular play?

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