Daily Linking – 9/2/2008

Links of note, or stuff I find interesting, or stuff I think you might find interesting

30 thoughts on “Daily Linking – 9/2/2008”

  1. “This will be fixed”, “That will not be tolerated”, etc., is all bull—- to use JL-type terminology. Leyland has no credibility – he talks a good game and is popular with the press because of his “earthiness”, but the fact is that over the course of three years he has shown very little depth in handling this team, especially the pitching staff, but in many other area as well.

    “Extra work” should have been the program this past spring, but it looks like it was ignored, as the team came out of the shute dead flat and then stayed that way for the bulk of the season. Shouldn’t the Guillen-Cabrera switch been anticipated and evaluated during ST, for example?

    During the first half of the season we were privileged to see about 5 different “regular” left-fielders in about a two week span, as well as a consistent refusal to have pitchers warming up as whoever happened to be on the mound at the moment was gettng shelled.

    The list of failings just goes on and on. I don’t want to denigrate Leyland’s performances in years past. He may have truly been a good manager in his earlier incarnation before retirement. Perhaps the “burnout” and subsequent six-year layoff left him too far behind (the Sheffield, Mesa, Niefi connections come to mind) and catching up to the intricacies of the game has been too much. Whatever, the recent edition has been a complete dud.

    I don’t put much stock in the “clubhouse cancer” theory, but if there is such a thing, and the Tigers have one, my bet is his name is Jim Leyland.

  2. Yeah, Vince. What you said in your last 2 posts.

    “It’s something that will be fixed,” Leyland said. “It’s not that I think it will be fixed. It will be fixed.”

    Logically, he must be referring to something that was not fixable earlier this season and still isn’t. This follows from a) something has been and is wrong with the team and b) ordinarily, when something is wrong, you fix it NOW, not later. So he either means some players are essentially dead men walking as we speak, or that there will be a different approach and different standards next spring training. One year late, but better late than never.

  3. I hope this isn’t seen as undermining Billfer here, as I still consider this blog as my first stop for Tiger news, but I just listened to a very interesting podcast with Lynn Henning:


    Lots of “looking to ’09” type discussion, along with some theories as to why some of the issues Vince raises didn’t seem to be addressed in the spring.

    In particular I tend to agree that, while he was rushed into action (which might explain most of his struggles), there are signs that despite his performances this year, Sheff may well produce next year. Now, he might not produce in proportion to his contract…but we can’t move it. It may well turn out that they end up having to eat his contract if he can’t play…but he might still hit in the +.275avg/80runs/20hr/80rbi range, that’s got to be looked at as a bonus at this point.

    Henning seems to think its probable that the Tigers need to trade Maggs in the offseason. In case you haven’t heard it before, the argument is that he’s the only big contract who still has value and can be moved, especially if he finishes strong. As much as I like Maggs, it makes sense if they can’t afford these contracts.

    Lots more, but I’ll let you listen.

  4. Still don’t like the idea of trading Magglio. If Sheffield and Renteria are on the team next year and Ordonez isn’t, well… if I had season tickets, I’d sell them.

  5. Loon –

    That was my reaction at first. The reality though is that Detroit as a market was already a stretch to support the #3 (?) payroll in the league at the start of the season when fan enthusiasm was sky-high and they could expect a full house day-in/day-out. Now the fans are skeptical and the economy still sucks. The podcast brings up an interesting point that what’s hamstringing the Tigers now is the exactly what DD extricated the team from when he first took over: big/long term contracts to underperforming or aging player.

    The Tiger know they’re gonna be paying Sheff, Willis and Robertson whether they play or not, and they know they can’t move them for any value because any trade would likely involve the Tigers picking up most of their contracts anyways (although I suppose they would still be freeing up roster spots for prospects they thought could play).

    The fact that they can buy out Renteria and Maggs still has a good amount of trade value makes me think that those two won’t be Tigers next year. Rents would need to have a monster Sept to stay, I think…and the Tigers are already on the hook for so much too players who might not produce that they just have to move the one huge contract that can bring talent in return.

    Maggs is great, I love the guy and have lots of fond memories, but the gamble didn’t pay off and they have to get back to financial viability.

  6. Doctor Andre –

    I understand how trading Magglio is a good idea in certain ways. I just think they can put a better team (than 2008) on the field in 2009 without having to trade him.

    Robertson’s contract isn’t that overwhelming, and I don’t think one bad year has destroyed his trade value (for one thing, he’s durable, and for another, he’s a lefty). Willis is a long-term project. Sheffield’s contract is the only one they really need to consider eating. It would be worth it just to free up a spot on the roster and in the lineup for a guy who a) can do something other than DH and b) wants to play for the Detroit Tigers.

  7. I don’t see a scenario where Renteria returns for 2009. No wait, yes I do. There are no good available SS. Crap.

  8. I also wouldn’t be so quick to eat Sheffield. His contract, I mean. There’s the possibility that he could go all Carlos Delgado next year. That would be nice.

  9. Chris, there are some good defensive SS possibilities, I think. With better pitching, I think the Tigers could afford to carry a 7-8-9 of

    3B Inge
    C New Guy
    SS New Guy

    Strong defense in these positions (at least 2 ot them) would be a refreshing change.

    I’m not sure, but is there a playoff contender that doesn’t have a hole or 3 in the lineup?

  10. Loon –

    They “can” put a better team out there in ’09. The question is whether or not they will, and the extent to which finances come into play. Maggs is owed a lot of money in the coming years, and the Tigers are paying above where they should be based on the market they’re in. Too be honest, Maggs could be showing his age too on a team that’s already packed with aging guys who are, at best, probably only suited to DH (see Guillen).

    I think (read: hope) that they’ll only move him if they believe it makes the team stronger either for next year, or the future. That being said, I think it comes down to how much Illich is willing to gamble further with this team as it is.

    They make the case, in the podcast, for the team as a whole getting a mulligan for this year. Ok, fine…but at the end of the day there is still a guy paying for all this, I think he’ll have the final say.

    Chris –

    I think there may not be a “great” SS available, but I would rather see the Tigers dump his contract (and possibly hold onto Maggs because of it) and spend $3-4 mil of the $10 mil (i think?) they would owe him on a “good” defensive SS. That way we can better defense (make me happy), while still having a guy on the team that makes Inge feel good about himself.

  11. I don’t think Sheffield is washed up. But the only place I see him going all Carlos Delgado is in the league Delgado plays in. AL pitchers are pitching him too tough (he said so). In the AL, I see him going all Frank Thomas. Injured, disgruntled, the occasional HR.

    The Tigers need that roster spot more than they need the money. Assuming they’d like to field a team that plays, you know, baseball, and likes to, you know, win more than they lose.

  12. Loon –

    On the question of contenders with holes in their line-ups:

    A quick look at offenses in the league shows the top 5 around or over 700 runs scored (Texas is tops with 762…but listed as a 0% chance…oops).

    Contenders (~30% or above chance as rated by ESPN) with significantly lower numbers:

    LA Dodgers – 570 (~30%)
    LA Angels – 628 (100%)
    Arizona – 632 (67%)
    Tampa – 637 (99%)

    Weird stat: two of the top four offenses in the league won’t be in the playoffs.

  13. The common theme of those clubs is that they can all pitch and play defense, which sort of go hand in hand. If you’ve got a good defense, it’s amazing how good your pitching will look. Poor Justin Verlander.

  14. “Indeed. The logistics are quite daunting.”

    Not to mention the ethical questions. Ask me again if I’m ever stranded in remote mountain wilderness during winter.

  15. Loon –

    I dunno, even if you were starving…there’s a lot of scar tissue there…too chewy for my tastes.

  16. “If you’ve got a good defense, it’s amazing how good your pitching will look.’

    So, Chris: How far would you be willing to go to bust up the 1000-run offence* to attain a better defence*?

    * Canadian for a day. Those people are aboot cool.

  17. Yeah, Dre, I couldn’t actually go through with it, scar tissue or no. I’d wait until we were both too weak to move any more (that’s assuming he didn’t catch and eat me first), and then I’d wile away my final hours talking baseball with him. For a brief time I would be the DTW expert on Sheff, but sadly, no one would ever know.

  18. Chris: “poor justin verlander”

    I know his season BABIP is average, but waaaay too many balls in play have been landing for hits in his last few starts.

  19. Sean:

    If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that a stranded and starving Sheffield would eat a man to survive

  20. Sean, er, Loon: That’s the $138 million question, eh? I’d get stronger up the middle on defense (except for Granderson who is just ducky). So Renteria and Polanco can go. Play Inge at 3B and go out and get a catcher. Of course in that scenario, Guillen/Sheffield would both be vying for the DH spot. Sheffield is absolutely untradeable because of the contract. Guillen could garner interest on the market, though. Maybe Texas would want him for one of their 438 catchers. (They’ll need a 3B when they let Blalock walk and move Davis back to his natural 1B position.) Then after ’09 Sheffield will be gone and Maggs can DH from there on out. Maybe by that point someone from the minors will be MLB ready in RF. The Tigers seem to be strongest in the outfield down on the farm. Theoretically anyway. So to summarize – ditch E-Rent, trade Polanco/Guillen and play Inge at 3B. The key, of course, is to make sure that any trades bring back youth. No old timer for old timer swaps. And if they end up getting Raul Ibanez at any point (they have expressed interest in said), I will shoot myself.

  21. Loon –

    That’s why I was so pro-Inge all year. I didn’t think he could possibly take that many runs off the board while not having him at 3rd probably cost even more runs than was originally thought when you take into account how much less range the Tigers had on that side of the diamond with the Guillen/Renteria combo.

    I posted before that as long as you have a decent combo of pitching/defense, its not too much of a stretch to think that the Tigers can get by with Cabrera’s production and an average of 75 runs from the 8 other bats.

    Hell, if they cloned Inge to play everywhere but 1st, we’d be in the playoffs…or maybe do have Inge play 1st too and make Cabrera a catcher, less passed-balls!

  22. Re: Hell, if they cloned Inge to play everywhere but 1st, we’d be in the playoffs.

    I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t. He’s hitting. 218. His Career OPS is only ten points higher than Sal Fasano. This idea that Inge makes up for his offensive shortcomings with sterling defense made some sense when he hit .250. Those days are, as Ernie Harwell would say, ‘long gone.’ His offense is c minus for a catcher, f for any other position.

  23. stephen,

    when i talk about the Tigers fielding an Inge-clone-army…you can assume I’m being facetious.

    the overall point i was making was that, as bad as Inge may seem at the plate, he gets you the average amount of runs i think you would need from the rest of the lineup not-named-cabrera. add to that a guy that plays all of 3B and some of SS range-wise…and you have somebody that i believe was misused and who, unless they sign or bring up a catcher…will go on being misused.

    edit: and yes, i totally had to look up how to spell “facetious”

  24. Dr Dre: “as bad as Inge may seem at the plate, he gets you the average amount of runs i think you would need from the rest of the lineup”

    He at least gets you more than Pudge was getting you…
    If, as Stephen says, his offense is C- for a catcher, I’d have to give Pudge a D

  25. Here’s what I mean about Inge vs Pudge:

    With Runners in Scoring Position
    Pudge 83AB 26 RBI 22K .217 .287 .349 0.313 RBI/AB
    Inge 65AB 29 RBI 19K .262 .375 .415 0.446 RBI/AB

    With Runner on 3rd, Less Than 2 Out
    Pudge 23AB 12 RBI 8K .261 .269 .478 0.522 RBI/AB
    Inge 13AB 15 RBI 1K .538 .500 .769 1.153 RBI/AB

    Check out the number of strikeouts by Pudge–almost 40% of the time he was up with runner on 3rd < 2 out he whiffed, compared to 1 for Inge (which, considering he is Inge, isn’t bad)

    For what it’s worth, Inge’s RBI per AB with runner on 3rd < 2 out ratio is best on the team.

  26. “If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that a stranded and starving Sheffield would eat a man to survive”

    Dave, I’ve racked my brains for a comeback. Can’t do it. All I can say is that I’d like to see what The Dugout could do with this Sheffield after the plane crash thing.

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