2008 Offseason Preamble

With a disastrous season completed it is time to head into the offseason. Given the gravity of the collapse, you know with the high payroll and the last place-edness, there is probably a tendency to overreact and second-guess. While a deep dive analysis is definitely called for, there is also some inaccuracy being bandied about. With that in mind, some thoughts as we head into what will likely be a tumultuous winter.

Dave Dombrowski did not abandon his philosophy

I’ve heard this one frequently. The common thread is that Dombrowski abandoned his pitching first philosophy in favor of “buiding a slow pitch softball team.” Dombrowski has always believed in stock piling young pitching and using it as the building blocks of a team. Whether that entails using the pitchers on his own team, or trading it to fill needs, he’s always used young pitching.

The Renteria trade was made in large part for defense, not to build a slow pitch slugging softball team. The benefit of Renteria was that he was to be a 2 way player. The problem was that while Renteria was a defensive upgrade, it was a small upgrade (Guillen was -12 in 1074 innings at short in ’07, Renteria was -9 in 1173 innings in ’08 according to Fielding Bible +/-) and his offense was beyond absent the first half of the season. The trade failed, there’s no question, but it wasn’t a change of philosophy.

As for Cabrera, defense was never a part of the issue. It was entirely an offensive move. But it was also an opportunity that doesn’t come along that often. Players like Cabrera don’t grow on trees and to add an elite player at age 25 is largely unheard of. It is the kind of big splash move that Dombrowski has been known for throughout his career.

As for the rest of the staff, they were far worse than could have reasonably been expected. While Willis struggled last year and was trending down, to get nothing from him was unexpected to everyone. Robertson was never a top of the rotation starter, but was the epitome of a solid back of the rotation guy. To compete, along with Kenny Rogers, for worst starter in the league wasn’t part of any reasonable plan. And then there was Verlander adding a run and a half to his ERA. That your entire starting rotation would be injured or significantly underperforming wasn’t part of any plan or strategy and more than could have been mitigated.

The window isn’t closed

I should adjust that and say “the window isn’t closed if Ilitch doesn’t want it to be.” The boss could go all Huizenga and say “cut-cut-cut” but I don’t see that happening. This team was positioned to go for it in both 2008 and 2009. Because 08 was crap doesn’t mean you need to abandon 09 as well. The offense should be good again next year, and it isn’t unreasonable to think that the pitching staff will see some return to non-crapitude next year.

In terms of trading, they’d be selling low on most of the players that fans want to see traded. They could probably get a nice return for Armando Galarraga, Curtis Granderson, and Miguel Cabrera, but who really wants to see them shopped?

Don’t overreact

Everybody wants speed, defense, and starters, and bullpen arms. Some better defense would be nice, but don’t sacrifice offense completely. The Tigers are ready to make that move at third with the Inge pronouncement. It means they can’t afford to do it at both catcher and shortstop.

The bullpen was awful, but 5 years and $75 million to fix it will be money poorly spent. As for starters, is it worth a second round draft pick to sign a Derek Lowe type starter? (it might be if the Tigers can get the draft pick compensation for Renteria)

I’m not saying do nothing. Clearly this team has holes at multiple positions and another starter and a 2-3 new bullpen arms are clearly needed. But I still think, and perhaps this is naive, but good teams can have bad seasons. This team wasn’t as good as we thought going in, and it isn’t as bad as we think right now. I’ll borrow this conclusion from Nate Silver’s piece in Baseball Prospectus ($) and quote sparingly because it is premium content.

Bad years happen to good clubs. The key for the Tigers will simply be not to panic, nor to try and save face with guys like Renteria and Willis whose projections don’t really warrant it. The Tigers need to budget somewhere between $15-$20 million for perhaps three pitchers next year, but with the contracts of Renteria, Todd Jones, Kenny Rogers, and Ivan Rodriguez all coming off the books, they can easily afford to do so without increasing payroll.

This has been a frustrating season in Detroit, but hardly a disastrous one in terms of the club’s long-term fortunes. There have been several pleasant surprises this year in Galarraga, Joyce, and Brandon Inge’s smooth transition back to the catcher position*. From top to bottom, the Tigers still rank somewhere in the top ten in the major leagues in terms of their overall talent pool, and they should be on track to return to contention with some relatively common-sense fixes.

*The Inge part was written on August 14th before Inge completely collapsed down the stretch offensively and started allowing a PB per game.

156 Comments

  1. Lee Panas

    October 5, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Good summary Bill. I also don’t think drastic changes are needed this winter. Changes yes but they don’t need to blow up the team.

    Lee

  2. Mike R

    October 6, 2008 at 1:46 am

    I’m in the camp with Lee and Billfer. The bullpen will not be as bad as they were this year. Peep the 07 White Sox bullpen numbers (Bobby Jenks aside) and see how much guys like Matt Thornton improved drastically. The window is firmly open for 2009.

  3. Dave in New Have(n)

    October 6, 2008 at 9:34 am

    I also think there is a need to keep an eye on 2010 — that is to make tsure the window stays open for another two or three years. The major reason is Porcello. If he and JV and Bonderman should, by some chance, all pitch near their potential in ’10, then the argument will not be whether the Tigers have the best three-deep rotation, but whether they have the best in how many years.

    But to get there, we need not to kill JV and Bondo’s arms in ’09 (by pitch count and rushing back, respectively). As far as I can tell, Ordonez is the only cog whose personal window could be damagingly lower in two years, and even though he lost 20 points of BA this year, he still finished 5th in the league.

    So 2009 is not a pure rebuilding year, and opportunity can emerge even when not entirely expected (see 2006). But I wouldn’t mind treating it as a bridge year, of some sorts.

  4. Smoking Loon

    October 6, 2008 at 11:48 am

    “but good teams can have bad seasons.”

    How true.

    “It means they can’t afford to do it [sacrifice offense for defense] at both catcher and shortstop.”

    I think they can. I know they can, in fact.* Whether they should is another matter.

    “The offense should be good again next year”

    * This good offense was good with 3 holes in it in 2008. DH, SS, C. Thus my contention. And it’s not as though Inge at 3B is forcing Guillen out of the lineup. Inge hitting merely at his career level would be a net plus at 3B – no sacrifice at all. I wouldn’t bet on a .200 BA from him in 2009.

  5. Neal

    October 6, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Smoking Loon: The problem with moving Inge back to 3rd is that the hole behind the plate with probably still exists regardless. There wasn’t much production from Catchers around the league, and it seems to be a very hit and miss position. Just because a Catcher hit okay this year doesn’t mean he will hit well next year. In Inge’s case, his #’s have been in steady decline, and while they may increase next year because he isn’t behind the plate, it probably won’t be enough, even if he plays stellar at 3rd.

    My opinion has always been that you should have a stellar defender at SS, that should be our goal, retreading Renteria because he’s available should only be an option if we can’t get someone who can really shore up the defense back there.

    Is Inge as bad behind the plate as the last month showed, or was that he was just that bad because he can only handle the position about half the time? If the later is the case, then we should just stick with Inge half-time and bring in someone who carry the other half or go to Dusty. Either way, if they succeed, they could play more, and if not, they only stink half the time, and Inge stinks it up the other half. The stink you know.

    I say we leave Guillen at 3rd, he played adequately there after a very rough start. That leaves Joyce/Thames in left, with Maggs out in right. I don’t think you would really get a lot more Maggs at this point, so I will mention the unthinkable – put Curtis on the Market!

    We have a bunch of heavy contracts we can’t unload, and hope they come back, why not try to get a closer and maybe more for him. It would create a big hole, but fill another, possibly more. The question is, would the replacement in CF be such a decline as to outweigh the gains returned.

    Just a thought. BTW, is this what the starting rotation looks like?:
    1. Verlander – 5 innings/ 125 pitches – arm falls off in August
    2. Bonderman – comes back in May, not effective until July
    3. Battlestar – solid, but not at the level he was this year
    If someone offers something good, SS or C, do we bite on it, and hope that guys 5 and 6 just had horrendous seasons and will be productive next year? I just think the return here is limited in same way it is for Maggs.
    4. Garcia – incentive ladden contract with an club option for 2010, is that possible?
    5. Willis – walks the first 9 guys
    Robertson – lets the next 9 guys stroke the ball

    Mostly questions to get people talking.

  6. billfer

    October 6, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    But Loon, there’s pretty good odds that Guillen is below average as both an offensive and defensive player in left field. Polanco will be another year older, as will Ordonez. So now you have a black hole at third, an underperformer (not bad, but below average), a player approaching averageness at second, and mysteries at short, DH, and catcher. So CF, RF, and 1B figure to be above average and left field should be moderately productive and that’s it next year if you go with defense first at catcher and short.

  7. billfer

    October 6, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    As for Bonderman, everything I’ve heard has him ready for the start of the year and that isn’t a matter of rushing him back.

  8. stephen

    October 6, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    This sounds exactly like the advice my broker gave me three months ago. ‘Stay the course, think long term.’ Lets hope this works out better than that.
    One of the interesting things about Nate Silver is how confident he sells his position, whether it be baseball or his polling stuff at fivethirtyeight.com. Some times he’s right, sometimes he’s wrong, but he’s always confident! Just like Joe Morgan and Jim Cramer.

  9. JML

    October 6, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Three months isn’t long-term. Neither in investments nor in baseball.

  10. JML

    October 6, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Gratz to the Rays, btw. They are my temporary (post-season) Tigers.

  11. Chief Monday

    October 6, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    We started this season with literally no holes to fill.

    We ended the season with more unanswered questions than a Sarah Palin debate.

    I don’t think we are any worse than we were after the 2005 season. We mostly just need to find replacements for Todd Jones, Kenny Rogers, Pudge Rodriguez, and Edgar Renteria. There is no reason to go looking for much else.

  12. Walter55

    October 6, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    “I don’t think we are any worse than we were after the 2005 season. We mostly just need to find replacements for Todd Jones, Kenny Rogers, Pudge Rodriguez, and Edgar Renteria. There is no reason to go looking for much else.”

    I think we are going to need just a tad bit more help in the pen than just finding a replacement for Todd Jones

  13. Matt in Toledo

    October 6, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    We started the season with no holes to fill?

    Funny, I seem to remember hanging on every movement of Francisco Cruceta as he tried to secure his visa. I believe we were so intrigued by his potential arrival because our bullpen was manned partially by Denny Bautista, Aquilino Lopez, Jason Grilli and Yorman Bazardo.

    I’m not saying I saw this season coming, but saying there were literally no holes to fill seems a little revisionist.

  14. Neal

    October 6, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Have we considered filling the hole at Catcher (which we created when we traded Pudge, and still would have had anyway) by signing a FA. There is this guy out of NY, looks a lot like Pudge, only a year older next year.
    I’m only afraid they might actually do it.

    I agree with Billfer about LF, Guillen would be below average in both categories, while he would be just above hitting at 3rd, not a clue as to how he rated defensively.

  15. Chief Monday

    October 7, 2008 at 1:20 am

    Our preseason staff-
    Verlander
    Bonderman
    Rogers
    Willis
    Robertson

    Jones
    Rodney
    Seay
    Brydak
    Minor
    Grilli
    Bazardo
    and Zumaya on the DL

    The only real question was if Bazardo was the real deal, so really we had no holes at that time.
    Lopez, Cruceta, Rapada, or Bautista weren’t even expected to make the team when Spring started.

  16. Chief Monday

    October 7, 2008 at 1:26 am

    I guess I should of said at the start of Spring Training. Of coarse, once the actual season started things were different. We dropped Brydak. Rodney was on DL. Bazardo was crap. Willis was never right. Grilli got grilled. The rest is history.

  17. Coleman

    October 7, 2008 at 2:27 am

    I think Guillen was very not-so-good at 3rd (i’m still waiting for the adjusted stats with the personal discomfort games taken out).

    Guillen had an error for every double play he started (actually 14 ERR 15 DP, 750 INN). Inge started 1 fewer DP (14) in 430 fewer innings (I think best in AL). Someday I’ll come up with my own point system, but I feel like the +/- ratings don’t capture the difference fully.

    The worst part is, and this is a horrid hunchlike observation, I think Carlos KNOWS this, and I think it hurts Carlos to not be playing well, and effects the other players on the field; he’s one guy everyone seems to look up to. So I think it’s worth considering that perhaps the switch with Inge to 3rd/Guillen to LF is something being done for Guillen as much as it’s something being done for improving defense or for Inge.

    [Strangely, statistically Renteria doesn't seem like he was as bad as, well, as he was. Maybe it's because his mistakes came at crucial times--which isn't really taken into account by the way--or, which seems, more likely to me, in clusters. Or perhaps he blundered in obvious areas and was good in less obvious things.]

  18. Chief Monday

    October 7, 2008 at 2:33 am

    Our preseason staff- my expectation (reality)

    Verlander – With Santana traded to the NL, he became my Odds on Cy Young favorite. 20 wins and an ERA around 3 should be doable. ( had a terrible season by his standards, only 11 wins and a 4.84 ERA, this would of been a decent year for someone like Nate Robertson though )

    Bonderman – If he could get past his 1st inning struggles, he’d be a perennial 15 game winner. ( He didn’t struggle as much in the 1st inning, but he had some control problems, and piled on the walks. He then had season ending surgery to repair a blood clot )

    Rogers- I thought he could give us good consistent starts most times out, especially at home. He could win 15 games, with an ERA around 4 ( age caught up to him, he was pitching batting practice most nights, had a 5.7 ERA)

    Willis – At worst he should give us 200 innings and an ERA around 4.5 ( A joke of a season. )

    Robertson – He’s one of the better 5th starters in the league, should be good for about 200 innings and an ERA around 4.5 ( Brutal season. 6.35 ERA )

    Jones – He gets the job done in save situations. ( He got the job done for the 1st half of the season. 1st blown save was June 28th! Got hurt and never really had it again. He retired. )

    Rodney – One of the best change ups in baseball. He should be a solid set-up guy. A 3.5 ERA sounds about right. (Injured for almost half the season, he was very inconsistent, and didn’t handle pressure to well. ERA 4.91)

    Seay – He’s the best guy out of the pen. Looking for a repeat of that. ERA below 3. ( He started the season great, but finished on a bad note. ERA 4.47)

    Brydak – solid lefty, ERA around 3. Great guy to have. (dropped from club before season started because he had a lousy spring training)

    Minor – Long reliever now, might be a potential closer if given the chance. He’s pitches are wicked when he’s on. ERA around 3. (Pitched short relief, had a terrible April, but he was brilliant afterwards, sent to minors, then came back as a starter, and was one of the few bright spots on this staff. ERA 4.27)

    Grilli – He’s the perfect guy to pitch in no pressure and mop up situations. We’ll need him for all those games we’re winning by 6+ runs. He should get lots of work. ERA around 4. ( He got promoted to being a stopper. He sucked in those situations. He was doomed and He was ran out of town. Ended up with best ERA on the pitching staff with 3.29 )

    Bazardo- He’ll be a great long reliever and get some spot starts on occasion. He pitched great last year when we needed him. He’ll make us forget about Jurrjens. ERA around 3.50( Lost his father, then lost his job, then his arm went. ERA 24.00 )

    and Zumaya on the DL – If he’s 100% when he comes off the DL he should be able to help the bullpen ALOT. (Stunk badly, had no control )

  19. Coleman

    October 7, 2008 at 3:02 am

    It just occurred to me Rogers pitched worse than it seems, since he pitched for a team with better fielding than the rest of the Tigers. Because of his fielding.

    Think about it: Verlander led the team in innings, and had 24 assists and started 1 DP as a fielder.

    Rogers pitched 28 fewer innings, had 50 assists, and started 11 DP (a DP per inning rate by the way better than any 3B in the league).

    I’m guessing if you swapped the fielding abilities of each, Rogers would’ve had a real good chance of 6.00+

  20. Kyle J

    October 7, 2008 at 9:47 am

    If this team is to contend in 2009, I think it will look more like the 2006 team (starting pitching being the strength) rather than what we thought the 2008 team would be (killer lineup).

    Verlander/Bonderman/Galarraga has the potential to be a very good 1-2-3 combination at the front of the rotation (emphasis on “potential”).

  21. Smoking Loon

    October 7, 2008 at 10:12 am

    “We ended the season with more unanswered questions than a Sarah Palin debate.”

    That’s gold, Chief.

    Hey Chris in D – I think you’re at least as twisted and deranged as I am. Do you see the same transpositional potential I do in the following 2 sentences?:

    “We started this season with literally no holes to fill.

    We ended the season with more unanswered questions than a Sarah Palin debate.”

    Just nod if you do. Don’t want to start any trouble.

    (Not poking fun at you, Chief. Just a kind of “found humor” thing involving perfectly valid and innocent statements.)

  22. Smoking Loon

    October 7, 2008 at 10:24 am

    “But Loon, there’s pretty good odds that Guillen is below average as both an offensive and defensive player in left field (etc.)”

    Billfer, what you say makes me think of the very real possibility that the Tigers could go into 2009 counting on their offense to be good enough the same way they went into 2008 thinking the same about the pitching. Which could backfire the same way. It’s a good point. But it’s a chance they may be practically forced to take – I think the need for pitching help is that pressing.

    The big trades and signings, if any happen, have to be for 2-3 pitchers (don’t you think?), and after that I would guess that they wouldn’t have any trade pieces or money left over for stars at SS, 3B, or C.

  23. Chris in Dallas

    October 7, 2008 at 10:47 am

    At least if Guillen is below average defensively in LF, it won’t hurt the team as much as if he were still an infielder. So he’s got that going for him.

  24. Smoking Loon

    October 7, 2008 at 10:49 am

    The trouble with the Tigers’ pitching (minus the guys who are retiring or obviously won’t be invited back) is that it’s such a crowded field of guys who could be good and guys who could bounce back. It’s going to take a wizard of a pitching coach, a guy with a vision, to sort all this out and make the right decisions.

    The trouble with the Tigers’ position players is that the array just doesn’t mesh with the requirement that the batting lineup subsequently has to take the field and play 8 different positions. How much more convenient it would be if Raburn was a C, Thames a 3B, Inge a SS, Sheffield a IB, and Cabrera a LF.

    The trouble with Jim Leyland may be that he can’t manage a team that’s expected to win. The playing of hunches and willingness to try “crazy things,” the approach that worked so well before, suddenly takes a left turn when the spotlight is on. Expectations should be at least a little lower for 2009 as compared to 2008. It might be wise to hold off on that extension, and if the Tigers actually make the playoffs in 2009… let Leyland go before 2010. That’s right. That’s what I said.

  25. Smoking Loon

    October 7, 2008 at 11:15 am

    The question with Guillen now seems to be whether he’ll ever be healthy enough to hit the way they’re counting on him to. I used to think putting him at DH was so obvious, but now I don’t even have that.

    I wouldn’t mind him in LF so much if the Tigers didn’t already have 19 outfielders. If we are to take the announcement of Guillen in LF seriously, it can only mean one of the following:

    a) There is such deep and abiding faith in Sheffield’s return to form that Thames is expendable (I don’t like this)

    b) The Tigers see less in Joyce and Thomas than we do, so they’re either expendable or spare parts until they become expendable (I don’t like this, either)

    c) They are sending a message to Sheffield that, no, you are not going to play LF here, ever, so don’t even think about it, and by the way, either retire already or accept a trade, why don’t you? (I like this)

    d) There are secret plans telated to c) where Ordonez moves to DH and Thames and Joyce get RF (I like this)

    e) It’s a bluff, and Guillen is going to be traded (hmmm)

    f) It’s a bluff, and Guillen is going to be traded (hmmm), and they’re going to sign – Raul Ibanez! ha ha ha ha ha

    g They were only kidding

    h) None of the above

  26. scotsw

    October 7, 2008 at 11:21 am

    OK, here’s something I haven’t seen anyone discuss at all…

    Rogers clearly doesn’t have the stamina to start in the majors any longer, and he must know that, but he hasn’t announced his retirement yet. He says he only wants to pitch in Detroit. He was a decent pitcher before the All-Star break, and very good (2.68 ERA) in June. I think you just have to presume he can’t go over 100 innings anymore…

    Period ERA – W – L – IP – H – R – ER – HR – BB – SO
    Pre-All Star 4.55 – 6 – 6 – 114.2 – 129 – 64 – 58 – 11 – 45 – 44
    Post-All Star 7.93 – 3 – 7 – 59.0 – 83 – 54 – 52 – 11 – 26 – 38

    So… Why not consider him for the bullpen? He could offer up 50-80 innings doing shorter appearances. He could pitch in mid-game pressure situations, and possibly share some of the load as a closer. Before you reject this idea prematurely, are you really telling me that he’s not better than anyone currently in the bullpen?

    I think it’s at least worth taking a look at him in Spring Training in a bullpen capacity.

  27. Smoking Loon

    October 7, 2008 at 11:24 am

    “There is this guy out of NY, looks a lot like Pudge”

    I’ve had that thought, Neal. If he’d willing to platoon with Ryan, well… hmmm… I don’t know.

  28. Smoking Loon

    October 7, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Fascinating, scotsw. Rogers spent a lot of time in the pen earlier in his career. Certainly something to ponder. I wonder if the Tigers or Rogers will. Hope so.

  29. Ryan

    October 7, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Loon/Neal – Do you put any credence into the rumors surrounding Pudge’s departure? That he was acting like a prima donna who wouldn’t call for a pitch in the dirt with runners on base because he didn’t want to have to block it? I don’t take much at face value, but it did seem to be a get-him-outta-here-NOW! kind of trade. If there’s any truth to them at all, I’ll be the catcher here before Pudge.

  30. Mark in Chicago

    October 7, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Leyland indicated pretty clearly that pudge was not in their plans as a catcher for 2009, thus the trade. I’d be very surprised if they signed him.

  31. greg

    October 7, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Mark,

    Because Leyland says he’s not, that’s precisely why we should think he might be.

    If someone believes Leyland, I’ve got some Real Estate in Florida they might be interested in.

  32. Neal

    October 7, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I don’t take much from the idea that Pudge didn’t want to work behind the plate.
    I was all for transitioning Inge to be the 2009 starting Catcher, and that was last winter! Unfortunately, Inge didn’t show that he could man the position, at least not full time.
    If Pudge is willing to take a role and accept that that he would only play half the time, it seems to make some sense, then you would have some options, such as splitting with Inge or Ryan. Is Ryan ready? Is it better to have him play half the time in the Majors, or all the time at AAA?
    If we didn’t burn bridges in trading him, why not sign as a bridge to 2010? Are there options that are significantly better, that aren’t just hopes, and wouldn’t require us to give up players or prospects?

    I just don’t know what to think of Guillen. If he can play 3rd at average level, then I do think he’s a better fit than Inge.
    We just need to make a major defensive improvement at SS in order to do that. Who’s out there? Furcal, if he keeps playing well will drive up his price, and he’s over 30, with a history of injuries, do we want that?

    It seems like the plan is to just hope the defensive moves are major improvements, and the pitchers bounce back so that the offensive production, which hopefully stays the same, is enough to allow for 92 wins.
    If, if, if, Guillen improves slightly, Sheff improves significantly, and the rest have good years again, it really all rests on timely hitting, the Twins and White Sox had it this year, maybe we’ll have it next year.

  33. Smoking Loon

    October 7, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    About Pudge returning: If he was the best guy available, I think they would go after him, no matter past prima donna behavior or Leyland’s ever-changing and soon-forgotten plans. But he’s probably not the best guy available and probably no more happy to platoon with anyone than before.

    Leyland never called Pudge “my everyday catcher,” so you just can’t be sure he’s been ruled out as the everyday catcher.

  34. Smoking Loon

    October 7, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    The top priorities for 2009, as I see it:

    1. Sign or trade for a bullpen anchor. They have lots of talent and no one to build around. No one.
    2. Sign or trade for another starting rotation anchor. Verlander is one. One is not enough. Everyone else is just a question mark.
    3. Upgrade defense at SS.
    4. Sign or trade for a veteran C to platoon with Ryan or start until Ryan’s ready to come up from Toledo.

  35. Smoking Loon

    October 7, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    “If this team is to contend in 2009, I think it will look more like the 2006 team (starting pitching being the strength) rather than what we thought the 2008 team would be (killer lineup).”

    Funny thing about 2006. If I’m not mistaken, going into the season, starting pitching – all the pitching – was as full of question marks as there will be going into 2009, and the lineup wasn’t seen as killer. Somehow they got it done, sans Cabrera, Sheffield, and Renteria, and – remarkably – even before Fossum, Farnsworth, and Glover showed up.

  36. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 7, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    The thing that has me the most optimistic for next year is the idea that (knock on wood) Murphy’s Law can’t strike as hard again (or would that be the definition of?).

    I hope its reasonable to expect across the board improvements in the rotation’s numbers, if only because they were so dismal its hard to go anywhere but up.

    Assuming an injury-free spring training, expect the offense to be better, and better earlier with both Granderson and Cabrera producing early.

    I suppose we won’t hear much until after the W.S. this year, but is there any early word at who’ll replace the pitching coaches?

  37. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 7, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I don’t know if this means anything, but following up in a crude way on how the Tigers infield, black holes included, fared in comparison to CHI and MIN. I’d appreciate any refinements…I just kinda wanted see if the 3B/SS/C combo played a big role in holding the Tigers back (offensively) and possible prompt some research to similar offensive players with bigger defensive upsides.

    I didn’t bother with BA since I was too lazy to figure it out for the entire IF as a unit.

    CHI

    O. Cabrera
    AJ. Pierzynski
    Swisher*
    A. Ramirez
    Konerko
    Crede
    Uribe

    362 runs / 351 rbi
    448* runs / 420* rbi

    *Swisher split time between 1B and outfield…so didn’t know how to factor that.

    MIN

    Morneau
    Mauer
    Punto
    Harris
    Casilla
    Buscher

    383 runs / 383 rbi

    DET

    Cabrera
    Inge
    Pudge
    Polanco
    Guillen
    Renteria
    Rayburn*
    Santiago*

    386 runs / 377 rbi
    416* runs / 415* rbi

    *With Rayburn and Santiago

    So there you go, not entirely sure what to make of it as I’m presenting it, other than to say I don’t see an enormous gap and I wouldn’t bemoan a movement towards defense on the Tigers part.

  38. greg

    October 7, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Who was the guy this spring who said Miguel Cabrera was so bad he’d be out of baseball in 2 years?

    I haven’t heard much more of that talk lately….why is that?

  39. Ryan

    October 7, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I know! He’s already out of baseball, right? Maybe ‘out of baseball’ just meant he quits playing when the season’s over. That guy was right all along. And we were all sooo critical.

  40. Mark in Chicago

    October 7, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    greg-

    is that land near the beach???

    your point is a good one, however, clearly dombrowski felt the same way as he’s the one that pulled the trigger on the deal. that leads me to believe that it’s more than just leyland talking.

  41. Dave BW

    October 7, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    That was Chris, greg (not the one from Dallas). Essentially, he was incapable of understanding the concept of “small sample size”.

  42. Dave BW

    October 7, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Dre: Agreed — some people act like we’re the only team without .300 hitters at every position.

  43. Mark L

    October 8, 2008 at 12:04 am

    I say we convince Kenny to stay on one more year as SS. Since he’s such a great fielder. I think he swings the stick okay too. You may find he’s better than Renteria at both!

  44. billfer

    October 8, 2008 at 5:11 am

    @smoking loon

    If we are to take the announcement of Guillen in LF seriously, it can only mean one of the following:

    Or they’ve already worked out a trade where they send Magglio to Texas for Salty but they can’t announce it until after the World Series like with Renteria last year.

    ^Not reporting this as fact in any way shape or form. Wild ass speculation on my part.

  45. Dave BW

    October 8, 2008 at 9:28 am

    “Somehow they got it done, sans Cabrera, Sheffield, and Renteria, and – remarkably – even before Fossum, Farnsworth, and Glover showed up.”

    Without Glover? I don’t buy it.

  46. Smoking Loon

    October 8, 2008 at 10:04 am

    “Without Glover? I don’t buy it.”

    I know what you’re saying, Dave. I’ve heard some compelling arguments that the whole 2006 season was a staged hoax, anyway, like the “moon landing” in 1969 and all those subsequent “Apollo missions.” Even money that Glover “disappears” before Opening Day 2009 and thus becomes unavailable for questioning as to his whereabouts in 2006. You didn’t hear it from me, but… well, just go to gloverusedtobegrilli.com and read all about it. Suffice it to say that there are things certain people don’t want made public.

  47. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 8, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Loon-

    “gloverusedtobegrilli.com”

    seriously you couldn’t have a catchier name, i think you just founded the next firejoemorgan.

  48. Smoking Loon

    October 8, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Dre

    Too bad I can’t afford to register the domain name right now. Someone grab it quick! At least keep it “in the (DTW) family.”

  49. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 8, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Loon-

    what’s wrong? they charge by the letter? :)

  50. Smoking Loon

    October 8, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Dre – Heh. (I love “heh.” Nothing captures a chuckle quite like heh.) No, trouble is that they just charge. I’m lucky DTW is free. Hope that doesn’t give billfer any ideas…

  51. Chris in Nashville

    October 8, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Before this past season started, I was vocal about our bullpen being a huge hole on this team. It turns out we had plenty of holes, but the most glaring is in the bullpen. We HAVE to get a closer. I know Sabermetric Junkies think that Closers are interchangeable and that anyone can do it. I completely disagree.

    To me, it’s like a kicker in football, if you don’t have one, you might as well forget about winning close games. This teams needs someone they can rely on night in night out to win the close games. Blowing 27 saves is unacceptable. Think if they had not blown half of those where we might have been. It seems K-Rod is out of the question and Fuentes would be great, but I think we’ll be out of the bidding war on him too. Hopefully Itllitch will continue to open his pocketbook so we can get a solid one, if not, we are going to have try to find an unproven young guy to do it. At this point, could be a risk worth taking because we are going to have to have a LOT of things go right for us next year to be good.

    I still feel like we have enough talent to compete though. Miggy is the real deal. Hopefully we can keep Maggs and Sheffield either finds a fountain of youth or gets out of town somehow. The way it’s looking, the only thing we can do would be to put Inge at 3B, find a platoon at C, move Guillen to LF (unless we can get rid of Sheff and put Guillen at DH and leave a Joyce/Thames or Thomas platoon in LF) and find a SS. I think it would be GREAT to get a guy like Rafael Furcal who is a free agent to maybe put at the top of the lineup, play solid D and add some much needed speed to this team and move Grandy down to third in the lineup, but that probably won’t happen either. If we could get a defensive stop gap at SS until Iorg is ready our infield defense would go from a big negative to maybe the strongest IF defense in the AL.

    Starting pitching is a huge question mark. We have plenty of guys that CAN turn it around and it COULD be solid, but who knows. Verlander is too good to be as bad as he was last year, Bondy hopefully can come back and be dominant, I think Galarraga was the best thing to happen to us in 2008 and I think he’ll be a solid middle of the rotation guy. That leaves 2 spots in the rotation for Willis, Robertson, Miner, maybe Garcia and maybe a low level free agent. It’s not great, but we at least have some depth there and hopefully a few of these guys step up. As I said earlier, the bullpen has to be filled out better. It’s obvious we can’t rely on Rodney and Zumaya, but we almost have to. To hedge their bets, they need to bring in at least a closer and another reliable middle reliever (I heard Juan Cruz mentioned before by Bilfer and I think he would be PERFECT) and just hope Seay can rebound after that shaky finish to the season. It’s going to be tricky, but I trust DD to get it done.

  52. Mark in Chicago

    October 8, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    The following is in today’s Chicago Tribune:

    Hendry said all of the coaching staff has been invited back. He could not say for certain if all will return. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild, a leftover from the Dusty Baker years, would seem to be the only real uncertainty.

    The Cubs finished third in National League ERA this year, but being a pitching coach under Piniella usually takes a few years from anyone’s life.

    Rothschild has a really good track record getting a lot out of Ted Lilly and their young kids (plus the Cubs also led the league in strikeouts – again – which meshes with Dombrowski’s love of power pitching) and Leyland wanted him a couple years ago but he decided to stayin Chicago. I would totally be fine with that hire.

  53. Smoking Loon

    October 8, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    ‘I would totally be fine with that hire.”

    Yes. Good post, and thanks, Mark.

  54. Smoking Loon

    October 8, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    The Loon Plan (acting as owner/GM/manager):

    Hire Larry Rothschild (Mark said so). Get a SP stud (LHP preferred), 1-2 stud bullpen guys (one a closer, maybe a guy not closing now but ready to do it), and a solid veteran catcher. Trade Guillen and Rodney, maybe Dolsi or Cruceta. Trade-available: Anyone but Cabrera, Granderson, Verlander, Ordonez, and Galarraga. See about Rogers coming back, to the bullpen this time (scotsw said so). Get rid of Sheffield at all costs. Let Renteria go. Get rid of Fossum, Farnsworth, and Glover. Bonderman/Garcia/Willis/Miner/Robertson compete for the final 2 rotation spots in the spring. Bonderman doesn’t get a free pass, but of course you don’t just throw him away. It’s rehab if he’s not ready. 2 of the 3 that don’t win a spot must go at all costs, Willis not necessarily exempted. One guy who doesn’t win a spot goes to the pen for long relief/emergency standby, at least temporarily. Zumaya and Lopez go to Toledo to become starters waiting in the wings. Cabrera goes to LF, Thames to 1B, Ordonez to DH. Inge learns SS as a second language.

    STARTERS: New Stud, Verlander, Galarraga, any of 10 possible combos for the last 2 spots, Zumaya and Lopez on standby
    BULLPEN: New Stud Closer, Seay, Rapada, Cruceta or New Semi-Stud, Dolsi or New Semi-Stud, Leftover Starter Guy, and one of (Fien/Rogers?/Lambert/Another Tigers Minor League Guy) for the last spot

    C New Solid Vet/Ryan
    Plan B – Vance Wilson?/Ryan
    Plan C – Ryan/Inge (reserve only)

    1B Thames/Larish
    Plan B – Thames
    Plan C – Larish
    Plan D – Cabrera

    2B Polanco
    Plan B – New Guy
    Plan C – Raburn
    Plan D – Hollimon (later, maybe)

    SS Santiago
    Plan B – New Guy
    Plan C – Iorg (as reserve)
    Plan D – Inge (reserve only)

    3B Inge
    Plan B – Hessman
    Plan C – Raburn
    Plan D – New Guy
    Plan E – Larish (reserve only)

    RF Joyce
    Plan B – Ordonez
    Plan C – Joyce/Thames
    Plan D – Thomas (later)

    CF Granderson
    Plan B (all as reserves) Raburn, Inge, Thomas (later)

    LF Cabrera*
    Plan B – Joyce
    Plan C – Thames
    Plan D – Joyce/Thames
    Plan E – Raburn
    Plan F – Thomas (later)

    DH Ordonez
    Plan B – Thames
    Plan C – Cabrera
    Plan D – Larish/Joyce
    Plan E – Raburn

    The lineup (though I hate like damn not still having Guillen or Sheffield available to bat leadoff):

    SS Santiago
    2B Polanco
    CF Granderson
    LF Cabrera
    DH Ordonez
    RF Joyce
    1B Thames/Larish
    C New Solid Vet/Ryan
    3B Inge

    BENCH: Raburn, Ryan (usually), Thames or Larish, Iorg or Hollimon (later) or New SS-IF Bench Guy or even Santiago if we end up with Orlando Cabrera or Rafael Furcal or someone (by happenstance) or one of Thomas (later) or Hessman if Inge can become the backup SS.

    * Yeah, I used to think that was so preposterous.

    One mad plan among many. What’s yours?

  55. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 8, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    GM Loon-

    Without getting into Thames’ ability to play every day, why swap positions with Cabrera? I actually liked how well Cabrera was adjusting to 1B and he’s a tall guy so he’s got reach. Are you getting more range/reach out of Thames? If so is that worth giving up speed in LF?

  56. Smoking Loon

    October 8, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Dre

    Thames wouldn’t be playing everyday. It’s a platoon (not necessarily strict) with Larish. Depending on how things panned out, either one could end up traded by the July deadline.

    My plan forced me to confront certain conflicts in my “I wish they would…” universe. I’d rather keep Thames, unless trading him in the offseason was a necessary part of landing some real heavyweight (quality, not mass) pitching. Larish showed some promise, and he’s both young and a real 1B. So why block him with Cabrera?

    Speaking of Miguel, I’m only about 11 months slow on realizing LF might’ve been the place to put him in the first place. He’s not terrible at 1B, except when he is. I can’t honestly say whether Thames is any better, even with more practice. But Thames is Larish-failure insurance. Plus, he’s just one of my favorite Tigers, an exciting player. Hard to confront having to let him go or having him languish on the bench for long periods.

  57. Smoking Loon

    October 8, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    “If so is that worth giving up speed in LF?”

    You mean the speed of Joyce or Thomas (even Raburn)? Well, speed would be nice. I guess the answer is that I’d view Cabrera’s shortcomings in LF about the same way I view the shortcomings at 1B. I wouldn’t put him in LF because of how he is at 1B.

  58. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 8, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Loon-

    Believe it or not, I meant giving up speed vs. Thames…but of course, speed is relative. On Cabrera playing 1B, I’ll admit that I didn’t see as many games as I thought (my viewship dropped as the playoff chances went to 1% on ESPN…for shame), but again I liked what I saw of him there. Was he that bad?

  59. Chris in Nashville

    October 8, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Come on man….Cabrera wasn’t mobile enough to play 3B, you think he could play LF? He’s set at 1B for the next 6 or 7 years. Try to base some of these projections in reality!

  60. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 8, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Chris in Nash-

    “set at 1B for the next 6 or 7 years”

    now who needs a reality check? haven’t you heard, Cabrera’s only got 2 more years tops in the league ;)

  61. Chief Monday

    October 8, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Cabrera was one of the worst LF in baseball when he played there for the Marlins.

    We seemed to be heavily stocked with potential Starting pitchers. I’d like to see Bonderman try closing for awhile until we have someone more reliable.

    Are starting staff-
    Verlandar
    Galarraga
    Minor
    Willis
    Garcia (if we resign him)

  62. greg

    October 9, 2008 at 12:27 am

    Cheif Monday wrote:

    Cabrera was one of the worst LF in baseball when he played there for the Marlins.

    Hold on now, he may not have been the cat’s pajamas, but he looked like a gold glover compared to the Adam Dunn experience.

    Fwiw, when I saw him play in Florida, he didn’t look horrible, at least in the games I saw, but he’s gained a ton of weight since then and I don’t think putting him in LF is something the Tiger brass would even consider at this point.

  63. Dave BW

    October 9, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Chris –

    Cabrera was average (if not a little better) at 1B.

    Also, he wasn’t anywhere near one of the worst LF in baseball for the 2005 Marlins. He had an inordinate number of errors for the position (5), but that was more than compensated for by his 12 assists (waaaaay above average for LF).

  64. Dave BW

    October 9, 2008 at 12:38 am

    (cont) At LF, he was roughly comparable to, say, Fred Lewis this year, and probably a bit better than Delmon Young. If you really want to see some bad play at LF, watch Dunn or Quentin sometime.

  65. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 9, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Dave BW-

    “watch Dunn or Quentin sometime”

    eeesh, i’ll only talk about Quentin (i haven’t seen any of Dunn’s fielding). the only times i’ve ever noticed Quentin doing anything of note in the field, good or bad, would be the two times i’ve seen him throw out guys at 1B which would indicate him being an above average LF. now the stats have him as average in both ZR and RF, along with a somewhat high number of errors (7)…but the guy has an arm and even without his batting, i’d have no problems putting him in LF.

    also, i hate making cases for W Sox players, but considering this is his first season as a starter, expect his errors to go down, leaving you with a guy that can get to an average amount of balls and throw guys out who aren’t careful (i’m looking at you Renteria trotting back to 1B).

  66. Mark in Chicago

    October 9, 2008 at 9:42 am

    greg-

    cat’s pajamas?

  67. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 9, 2008 at 10:20 am

    possible mash-up of “cat’s meow” and an unknown (to me) pajama-phrase?

    edit: correction -> http://www.urbandictionary.com.....ts+pajamas

  68. Ryan

    October 9, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Chief – I know that you are all sunshine-and-rainbows. And that’s cool. Somebody here’s gotta be. But you can’t seriously consider Dontrelle as a potential starter next year, can you? At this point, I can’t even see him in the rotation at Erie.

  69. Chris in Nashville

    October 9, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Dave BW-

    I’m not trying to say that Cabrera is going to be confused with Mark Grace at 1B, but that is by far and away his best position. He’s just too immobile to play anywhere else.

    The cat’s pajamas is kind of like the bee’s knees right?

  70. Dave BW

    October 9, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Oh, I agree, Chris. I was more directing my post toward those who (in my opinion) unfairly malign Cabrera’s defense

  71. Dave BW

    October 9, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Dre –

    Yeah, our means of judging fielders is still depressingly anecdotal. It’s possible my negative view of Quentin’s fielding stems from the fact that I used to follow him when he was an RF in Arizona.

  72. Chief Monday

    October 9, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Ryan- Being that Willis is only 26 years old, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be fixed in 5 or 6 months.

    How hard is it to throw a baseball? Willis has the ability. He has the athleticism. He has a track record of 4 good seasons. He just has to go out there and do it and put all the nonsense aside. Once he gets locked in to a good approach, he should be a decent pitcher again.

  73. Mith

    October 9, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Says who? You? I’m not hearing anyone with any credibility that is saying the Dontrelle is going to be “decent” again. It’s probably a crazy idea to be counting on him for next year, or ever.

  74. Chief Monday

    October 9, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Mith: Crazy?
    Maybe you didn’t notice, but Willis did have a few starts at the end of the season. In his last start he went 5.1 innings, gave up 4 hits and 3 runs. That’s exactly what “decent” is.

    Why don’t you just go by that instead of what anyone thinks.

  75. Eric Cioe

    October 9, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Oh hey now, don’t forget the walks. It’s like you’re saying Carlos Silva is a fine pitcher based on his SO/BB ratio and BB/9 rate, while totally ignoring the worst part of his game (100 hits per game).

  76. Chief Monday

    October 10, 2008 at 1:06 am

    It’s like I’m saying what?

    I guess we all are having a huge misunderstanding.

    decent= serviceable. That’s all it means. It doesn’t mean he’s going to be the next Cliff Lee or Ryan Dempster. It just means that he can take the ball every 5th game and pitch 5 or 6 innings without crapping himself every time out.

    I’d never say that Silva was a fine pitcher either. He was a serviceable pitcher in 2007 and a few other seasons before that, but last year he stunk.

  77. Chief Monday

    October 10, 2008 at 1:17 am

    I repeat,
    Cabrera was one of the worst LF in baseball.

    The Fielding Bible has him ranked at bottom. He was ranked 28th out 30. Only 2 players were worse than him and one of them was Adam Dunn. Told you so.

    http://www.billjamesonline.net.....lders2.gif

  78. greg

    October 10, 2008 at 2:23 am

    That assumes we all accept the Fielding Bible as the final authority. Good book, actually own it. A useful tool for the many instances I’m not able to observe a large sample of games. But data, such as the Cabrera position, may just illustrate they still have some work to do, and just proves once again, to me, that it’s a mistake to assume your tools are smarter than you are.

    In fact, that Cabrera is ranked remotely close to Dunn goes to show just how much work still is needed.

    I hope Willis surprises and becomes a serviceable Major League pitcher next year. It just seems unlikely to me. Right now, he’s a complete mess. I think he might be hiding some sort of injury. Either that, or people have messed with his delivery so much that can’t repeat it, fouling up his release point, and thus long spurts in which he can’t throw it near the plate to save his life. Anyone notice his leg kick varies significantly from pitch to pitch?

    I’d probably assume that you get nothing from Willis, and then consider it a pleasant surprise if he puts it together again.

  79. Dave BW

    October 10, 2008 at 9:05 am

    I remain unconvinced regarding the efficacy of fielding stats, Chief. The fact that they are so volatile from year to year shows that they are not yet an effective determinant of skill.

    Is there a particular reason why you’re phrasing your posts in an unnecessarily confrontational manner and thus turning off anyone (myself, for instance) who had a neutral opinion of you?

  80. Chris in Dallas

    October 10, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Good news, sports fans. The Tigers were not the worst team in the AL in terms of $ spent per win. that honor goes to the Yankees at over $2 mil per win. The Mariners were second-to-last at $1.9 mil per victory, with the Tigers third at $1.8 mil. Kudos to a well run organization.

  81. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 10, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Dave,

    my evaluation of Quentin in LF is the epitome of anecdotal, so i wouldn’t weigh it as better than yours, if anything i was pleasantly surprised to see just how (rightfully) subjective some of the things we assume are.

    Chief,

    keep in mind that Cabrera @ LF is an idea that only really works in Loon’s proposed parallel universe featuring, in order of believability: 1) Loon as acting Tiger’s GM, 2) Guillen being traded and 3) Sheffield gone.

    if nothing else, it would probably be a safe bet to assume that, regardless of his past valuation, Cabrera is a worse fielder in LF that he was in Florida, where/when he didn’t have the extra pounds.

    Loon,

    i understand wanting to keep Thames in the line up (although i’m closer to the opinion that he just can’t maintain form on a full-time basis), but going the extra step and swapping Thames and Cabrera’s ’08 positions seems to be for the sake of platooning Larish…at the expense of either Thomas or Rayburn.

    also, i would love to have something like ESPN-Alternate Reality. this would be a channel where you could see how sports would play out if we as fans ran things…it would be great to watch the ’09 Tigers after GM Loon makes his changes.

  82. Chris in Dallas

    October 10, 2008 at 11:40 am

    also, i would love to have something like ESPN-Alternate Reality. this would be a channel where you could see how sports would play out if we as fans ran things…it would be great to watch the ‘09 Tigers after GM Loon makes his changes.

    This is perhaps the greatest idea that I’ve seen posted on this site. We need to make this happen.

  83. Smoking Loon

    October 10, 2008 at 11:47 am

    “Come on man….Cabrera wasn’t mobile enough to play 3B, you think he could play LF? He’s set at 1B for the next 6 or 7 years. Try to base some of these projections in reality!”

    Be nice, Chris in Nashville. For one thing, the “Loon plan” was not a projection. Think of it as “what Loon might do unless you guys convinced him otherwise.” Another way to look at it is this: I thought about the whole team, how it could be made better within reason and within a budget, and considered the consequences of making this or that move in the context of the whole team. It’s an exercise I recommend. It puts you in the position of having to make tough choices you might not have seen coming, sort of like a real owner or GM or manager.

    For another, Cabrera: a) has played LF, b) was undoubtedly considered for LF at least briefly after he was acquired, and c) is capable of losing weight and gaining mobility. If you want a young guy prone to weight gain to stay young and athletic, 1B (as a new position) is the last place you want him.

    Also, though I could easily be wrong here, I think mobility was the least of Cabrera’s problems at 3B. Lack of focus and bad hands had more to do with it, perhaps. Guillen wasn’t the mobility king, either, but he had the hands and certainly the mental focus.

  84. Smoking Loon

    October 10, 2008 at 11:51 am

    “This is perhaps the greatest idea that I’ve seen posted on this site. We need to make this happen.”

    Yeah. I like it, too, and not because it mentions me in passing. Good one, Dre.

  85. Smoking Loon

    October 10, 2008 at 11:54 am

    “Is there a particular reason why you’re phrasing your posts in an unnecessarily confrontational manner and thus turning off anyone (myself, for instance) who had a neutral opinion of you?”

    I think it’s just a matter of personal style, Dave, though I know what you mean.

  86. Smoking Loon

    October 10, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Dre, you nailed a lot in your 11:32 AM post. It’s good to see that someone gets it, that the Loon plan was arrived at through reasoning, even if it’s faulty reasoning. It’s not a wish list (well, OK, in part it is, I suppose) or a projection. It’s not even done, really. The Tigers are going to mess it up eventually by making some sort of unLoonauthorized moves – I’m sure of it.

    Yes, the whole Cabrera to LF and Thames to IB has everything to do with Sheffield and Guillen and Larish. If the answer is “yes” to

    Sheffield must go
    Guillen should not be in LF
    Larish has potential as a 1B
    Thames should be retained
    Cabrera is too young to relegate to the DH role

    then what I “propose” is the only decent solution I found. But maybe I missed something (assume for the sake of argument that the above 5 statements are “true” and then try to solve the problem yourself, anyone).

  87. Smoking Loon

    October 10, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    By the way, the cat’s pajamas is indeed – in my opinion – a well-established phrase along the lines of the bee’s knees. What a challenge it would be to explain such odd phrases in our language to a foreign speaker, or to grasp and correctly use their odd phrases. Eh?

  88. Mark in Chicago

    October 10, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    cat’s meow I am familiar with. cat’s pajamas is a new one to me.

    bee’s knees is a good one too, I have heard that before also. I found this in wikipedia:

    The phrase “the bee’s knees”, meaning “the height of excellence”, became popular in the U.S. in the 1920s, along with “the cat’s whiskers” (possibly from the use of these in radio crystal sets), “the cat’s pajamas” (pyjamas were still new enough to be daring), and similar phrases which made less sense and didn’t endure: “the eel’s ankle”, “the elephant’s instep”, “the snake’s hip”.

    “elephant’s instep”? Now it’s just weird. They also forgot “mutt’s nuts”

  89. Smoking Loon

    October 10, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    “at the expense of either Thomas or Rayburn”

    Thomas won’t be available until midseason. Without Cabrera in LF (and with or without Guillen there, because Guillen is prone to injury), Clete could be the starting LF by sometime in the middle of next season, or platooning with Thames or splitting time with Joyce. With Cabrera in LF, he’s blocked, and becomes a good 4th outfielder, or possibly beats out Joyce for RF (he has played RF, right?), or becomes young talent to trade. Or maybe his injury will end up changing his future altogether.

    Raburn’s strength is his versatility. The only way I see him in line for a starting job anywhere is if either Thames or Polanco or Inge are traded. Short-term, Raburn in LF or at 2B or 3B looks less attractive to me than the other guys (and add Thomas to the list for LF). Maybe it would pan out long-term, who knows. But right now his glove isn’t that good (except maybe in LF?), and he certainly isn’t pushing anyone with the bat.

  90. Smoking Loon

    October 10, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I’m not sure if bees have knees, though I’m pretty sure they have legs with bending points. Obviously they don’t have bones and perhaps cannot then have joints.

    Cats can have pajamas. I don’t any who do, though. Do your cats have pajamas, Ron?

    The eel’s ankle and the snake’s hip make sense precisely because they don’t exist. That’s the point. What would be stupid in this case would be sensible things like “the car’s tire” or “the chair’s leg.”

    I am fascinated now with the question of whether elephants have insteps. I need to know whether it would insult an elephant to be called flat-footed. Hey – I’m no elephant-insulter.

  91. Smoking Loon

    October 10, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Mutt’s nuts? It rhymes, but…?

    We need Tigers phrases. He’s just the Renteria’s range! She’s just the Inge’s swing! That’s just the Willis’s control! Your new car is just the Sheffield’s team spirit!

  92. Smoking Loon

    October 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Snorg Girl is missing and presumed dead. *A tear.*

  93. ron

    October 10, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    My cat has four white socks, each one a different length. Now that I look at her, it does appear she is wearing a pair of black pajamas. If they would have kept that black cat around, things would have turned out much better this season. Tigers/ Cats is a no brainer. If it were the Orioles, Cardinals, Blue Jays, yeh, the cats gotta go. I mean, how much space would that black cutie have taken up sitting on the bench?

  94. Joshua M.

    October 10, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    I know this is totally off the subject of bees with knees and cats in pajamas, but is there any chance that the first round pick from this year gets a shot at winning a spot in the bullpen during spring training? I am guessing there isnt but maybe he is amazing in spring training who knows. And if defense is the main concern at SS why not try Inge there and keep Guillen at 3rd? That way we arent giving up all the offense from that side of the infield. As far as Cabrera moving from first base it wont happen as long as Leyland is manager, because Jim has said many times he sees Cabrera as capable of winning Gold Gloves at 1st

  95. ron

    October 10, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Oh, by the way, the Mets have taken all the feral cats that lived in Shea Stadium and put them in their new stadium.

  96. greg

    October 10, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Smooking Loon – your 12:50 post is friggin’ hilarious

  97. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 10, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    “For another, Cabrera: a) has played LF, b) was undoubtedly considered for LF at least briefly after he was acquired, and c) is capable of losing weight and gaining mobility. If you want a young guy prone to weight gain to stay young and athletic, 1B (as a new position) is the last place you want him.”

    Loon,

    all true, and i especially like “c)” and what follows. what has me down on your ideas is the thought of another position carousel after what we had this year. i could be wrong here (i can’t claim to have been a hardcore baseball viewer for more than the past five years), but it seems to me that the Tigers have asked an unusual number of players to change positions an unusual amount of times.

    what i want for next year is some sort of rhythm established early. i’m sure that ‘rhythm’ falls into the same nebulous category as ‘chemistry’, but it might have an effect and i’d just assume have as much going for the Tigers as early as possible.

    my impression was that Cabrera looked good, and looked like he felt good @ 1B. more importantly, although not necessarily linked is that he hit very well while playing 1B (99% happenstance, but again, every little bit helps).

    i know you like Thames, in fact i rode his HR bandwagon pretty hard as a fan and in my fantasy league, but he’s bound for the platoon HoF, and i’d rather see the Tigers invest some time bringing up a full time LF…although i wouldn’t object to them platooning Thames until that person is found.

  98. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 10, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    “Raburn’s strength is his versatility.”

    Loon, i don’t want to seem like all i do is disagree with you, but its well established that Raburn’s strength is his bulge.

  99. Chris in Dallas

    October 10, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Dre: I guess we’ll need to add “Raburn’s bulge” to the euphemism list, then. I guess it’s kind of like bee’s knees.

    On another note, since I’ve been mostly silent since the season drew to a close. I don’t see any circumstance in which the following are wearing Tigers uniforms in 2009: Marcus Thames, Edgar Renteria, Kenny Rogers, Marcus Thames, Ryan Raburn, Nate Robertson and Marcus Thames.

  100. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 10, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Chris,

    There are highly conditional arguments to be made for the return of Thames and Renteria, but they both involve coming back at discounted rates. Renteria is bound to have a better year than he did, and likely without all the pressure, making him an option if the Tigers should fail to find an adequate replacement. meanwhile, Thames would likely be good for random HR outbreaks…which can come in handy over a long-ass season.

    Its doubtful (without eating a lot of money) that the Tigers would get any value for Robertson given his contract. So, while you (and to be sure, myself and others) may see no circumstances in which you would like to see these guys wearing Tigers uniforms in ’09, they do exist.

  101. Chris in Dallas

    October 10, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Dre: In my preparation for running for President in 2012, I exaggerated the likelyhood of those names returning. In honesty, though, Thames is the only one I’m pretty close to 100% sure won’t be back – there’s just nowhere for him to play.

  102. greg

    October 10, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    It’s almost a crime that suckbags like Sean Burroughs, and other ‘can’t miss’ prospects, are almost forced to play full time for 2-3 years, even though they did nothing to deserve it, and excel at nothing, and guys like Thames put up Ruthian HR/AB rates with part time play and he’s stuck in an organization that won’t give him a chance to play every day no matter how many times he’s earned it. There is room for him. He can play left field, but I don’t see it happening for the simple reason that I’m convinced that Leyland just flat out hates the guy.

  103. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 10, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    greg,

    its almost quitin’ time here where i am, so i don’t have time to pull up the references necessary (maybe someone will be so kind), but there was plenty of talk from Leyland last off-season exulting Thames, his value to the team and Leyland’s reluctance to trade him away. now this was while there were trade rumors involving Thames floating around, so the cynic might say Jim was just trying to inflate his value, but he’s done his share of praising the guy.

    that being said, Thames has always had his streaks of HRs…but they always end due to his inability to adjust. he’s a great mistake hitter, but the above flaw limits his overall value.

  104. greg

    October 10, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Dr. Dre wrote –

    that being said, Thames has always had his streaks of HRs…but they always end due to his inability to adjust. he’s a great mistake hitter, but the above flaw limits his overall value.

    Yes, I understand that’s the party line, but the scouts said the EXACT same thing about Ryan Howard….and they were wrong. Howard had the same cold streaks as Thames, even longer, but they finally decided to let him work through them, they didn’t just bench him when he went ice cold for 2 weeks, they stuck with him and eventually he made the adjustments.

    And Howard STILL has those mammoth cold streaks 4+ weeks at a time, but in the end his numbers are there.

    Thames has never been given that chance, the first cold streak and wham, he sits the bench.

    Also, I’ve heard Leyland praise him and then some too, but actions speak louder than words. I’d classify that as blowin’ smoke up Thames and our patoots, which Leyland is a pro at and does quite often. Besides, what’s Leyland going to say? That Thames really sucks and that he dislikes him? Even if he thinks that, he’s probably not going to say it. Never take what managers say at face value, ESPECIALLY Jim Leyland.

    HR Hitters are streaky by nature, if they took the same approach with Mike Schmidt, that HOF career never would have gotten off the ground. Maaaaan did Schmidty have cold streaks.

    They could be right about Thames, but they could be wrong, just like they were wrong about Ryan Howard in Phily, and it would be a shame to not REALLY give him a chance full time.

    Instead, they trot out lackeys like Craig Monroe and Jacque Jones. Not right.

  105. Mike F

    October 10, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Funny, but when I was talking with my father on the phone last weekend, he lumped Thames with Inge as one of Leyland’s favorites that the team needed to get rid of.

  106. greg

    October 10, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Hmmm…..this would be a strange way to treat a favorite. Expressing favoritism by benching him when he had the best HR/AB ratio in all of baseball(at least he did for a while, not sure if he finished there, at the very least he finished near the top in that stat). Thrice(i think…. I know it was at least twice) making an announcement that he’s earned an every day job and then taking that job away within roughly a week. Furthermore it seemed like he NEVER got to play in September. Most of the time it looked like Leyland was looking for excuses NOT to play him.

    He went through long streches w/o playing time also, even when the matchup favored Thames.

    What Leyland actions did you see that expressed this favoritism?

  107. Coleman

    October 11, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Smoking Loon: “She’s just the Inge’s swing!”

    That’s a little tongue-curling to say quickly…to me the Inge check-swing is a better metaphor for…something, I’m not sure what. To exert all that oblique-straining effort to stop a swing whose result is likely to be the same either way….

  108. Coleman

    October 11, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Raburn and his bulge lost me once I saw his stats with guy on 3rd < 2 out, specifically the part where he strikes out over 50% of the time. That’s somewhat bulge-reversing, and induces suspicion of codpiece-ing.

  109. Chief Monday

    October 11, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Dave BW- most people here have been confrontational to me because I’m not bashing the Tigers.

    I’m tired of getting dragged into the dirt all the time.

    Those Tiger fans deserve a losing team. That’s karma for them.

    I won’t be back.

  110. Coleman

    October 12, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Chief Monday: “Those Tiger fans deserve a losing team. That’s karma for them.”

    Unfortunately the cheering fan gets the same losing (or winning) team as the “bashing” fan, which makes for a complicated Karma.

    But a fan site with all cheering or all bashing makes for dull reading, and this one seems to have as good a balance as I’ve seen.

    We all could use a break from time to time, but hopefully you’ll be back.

  111. David

    October 12, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Chief Monday – good

    I was getting tired arguing with you

    Greg –

    You’re telling me Thames is a Ryan Howard?

    Maybe I’ve been missing something…

    The guy is immobile in left, and only pulls the ball.

    Plus he is incredibly streaky… I say put him in the lineup when he’s mashing BP, you can tell he’s seeing the ball well and when he hits the particular SP or RP well.

    Otherwise he is no better than a bench rider.

    If you want to go the all slugging route (which I don’t) I’d rather see Hessman or Larish play out a full season

    But oh wait… Guillen (right now) has been given the LF slot

    oh well I still vote him as DH for multiple reasons state multiple times by myself previously

    Would I rather see Thames or Sheffield? Thames but as we all know(jinx) ;) Sheffield isn’t going anywhere

  112. David

    October 12, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Also HRS are overrated

  113. Coleman

    October 12, 2008 at 1:02 am

    David: “Also HRS are overrated” Then it would follow that something is underrated. I’ll propose Doubles.

  114. ron

    October 12, 2008 at 1:45 am

    Wow, Chief Monday and Skye. Can’t we all get along? J. D. Drew throws a two hopper. He made Ordonez look like Al Kaline.

  115. Coleman

    October 12, 2008 at 2:28 am

    ron: it’s good that Drew two-hopped it; that gave the catcher time to get halfway up the 3rd baseline after it.

    Two-Hop Drew, it has a certain ring to it. Or, if I can quote a text exchange with a Boston friend, “JD Drew’s arm is an ass.”

  116. greg

    October 12, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    David wrote:

    Greg -

    You’re telling me Thames is a Ryan Howard?

    Maybe I’ve been missing something…

    The guy is immobile in left, and only pulls the ball.

    Plus he is incredibly streaky… I say put him in the lineup when he’s mashing BP, you can tell he’s seeing the ball well and when he hits the particular SP or RP well.

    Otherwise he is no better than a bench rider.

    unquote…

    Again David, this is all eeeeerily similar to what they said about Ryan Howard, every single criticism was also raised against him.

    Does this mean he’s Ryan Howard? Of course not, would it be surprising if he turned into a Ryan Howard, or at least a modest version of him, absolutely not. His HR/AB corroborates that, and while not EXPECTED, it’s also absurd to think it would be a surprise, and he deserves a REAL chance, which he hasn’t gotten.

    Of course his defense is suspect, but I’m willing to live with that to give his bat REAL chance to play every day, and not just bench him each time he goes cold.

    If you took that approach with everyone, there are a TON of Hall of Famers who never would have been given a chance, and we wouldn’t even know their name…..a TON.

    (Please, I’m not saying Thames is a HOF, just showing one of the problems with this line of thinking)

  117. billfer

    October 12, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    There is one huge difference between Thames and Howard. When Thames was 25 he posted a 665 OPS in his first season at AAA. Howard won the ROY when he was 25. Thames didn’t start to mash consistently, even at the minor league level, until he was 27. Thames at 31 is not going to become anything close to Howard.

  118. David

    October 12, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Coleman: LOL that made me laugh

    yea doubles are to some extent- look at how many Maggs had in 07, but what I was getting at was pure raw speed, sacrificing, bunting and D which I got tired of arguing about with others who had their minds made up

    Funny thing is most people would think it would be the other way around (me arguing for HRs and flashy stuff like that considering I’m probably one the younger ones on this site)

    Look I don’t hate the guy(Thames) I mean heck one of the best things I’ve seen from this team was when he took out the White Sox second baseman(I believe? maybe the SS) hard trying to turn 2… He really broke up the double play

    That being said

    His defense isn’t bad it’s awful – he has no arm (granted not really important in left) but he also has no range, none and has trouble fielding balls and misjudges the ball.

    His OBP also is atrocious

    He isn’t the same as Howard

    Howard won MVP in the minors in 2003 and 2004 won the ROY in 2005 for the NL and then the MVP in the NL for 2006

    Now not that OPS is an awesome indicator of how good players are but the disparity is more than a little

    Marcus Thames Minor League OPS .845
    Ryan Howard Minor League OPS .937

    Marcus Thames Major League OPS .800
    Ryan Howard Major League OPS .970

    For guys that bring little else to the table besides raw power it is a big enough gap to give one an every day spot (especially at the least important defensive position – where all you need in excess skill is fielding) and the other a up and down career and a backup role

    There are a decent number that fit the Marcus Thames mold

    I’m not willing to live with his defense on an everyday basis

    as is Guillen has been given that spot

    His splits last year

    Pre ASB .906 OPS
    Post ASB .666 OPS

    now come on you want a guy who can’t play D, is slow, has no arm, strikes out at an alarming rate and doesn’t walk given an everyday spot?

    Marcus Thames is the poor mans version of Adam Dunn or Ryan Howard, very poor

  119. greg

    October 12, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Billfer wrote –

    Thames at 31 is not going to become anything close to Howard.

    unquote

    This statement is probably correct simply because more than likely nobody will give him the opportunity. If someone WERE to give him the opportunity it certainly would be surprising if he did turn into Ryan Howard or Ryan Howard ‘lite’.

    It’s just sad that the baseball community is so prejudiced against ‘old’ people(in baseball terms mid 20′s is too old in the minors) that they’re written off no matter how elite their mashing numbers are.

    btw – I was aware that Howard did it ‘younger’ than Thames, and it’s a good point, but not nearly good enough to eclipse his HR/AB numbers, which are not merely good, not merely great, but elite….but it’s also pretty interesting that I heard the same thing about Howard,that his mashing at the minor league level was when he was too old and that he’d never make it in the bigs. After all, he wasn’t THAT much younger than Thames when he started to mash, when Howard was 24 he still was stuck in AA for most of the year. Waaaay too old to take him seriously according to some scouts. I heard the same thing when I touted Howard, that ‘he’ll never mash like Schmidt’ that it was ‘impossible for him to put up MVP numbers’.

    Instead of discriminating against Thames because of his ‘old age’, I think the Tigers should give him a chance, let performance dictate instead of prejudging him without giving him the opportunity to play full time and make adjustments. The worse case can’t be any worse than the Craig Monroe’s and Jacque Jones, and the best case scenario…well, just look at Ryan

    :-)

    Oh, lets not forget Uggla, he was too old to be a regular in the bigs too, no way were his power numbers going to translate to the bigs. It was impossible.

    :-)

  120. billfer

    October 12, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    But did Howard being in AA in 04 have more to do with him (and scout’s assessments), or the fact that Jim Thome was playing first for the Phillies at the time? 24 isn’t old for AA and 25 isn’t old to debut, so I’m not sure who was doing the complaining about his numbers.

    As for the prejudice against old players, it’s not like it is unfounded. Peak years are generally 27-29 and things go down hill in the early to mid thirties.

    Thames homer numbers are remarkable, but the rest of his offensive numbers aren’t. In 1300 at-bats he’s managed a .301 OBP, so even despite his power pitchers still either a)pitch to him or b)he can’t adjust quickly.

    I don’t mean any of this as a slight to Thames and I hate when people dismiss him as a “mistake hitter.” I don’t even know what that means as most players hit mistakes. But there is a lot more separating him and Howard than opportunity.

  121. David

    October 12, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Greg let me repeat this in case you missed it

    this time I’ll quote from Wiki

    “Selected in the 5th round of the 2001 draft, Howard quickly ascended the Phillies’ minor league system, earning consecutive MVP awards in the Florida State and Eastern leagues (2003 and 2004), respectively. While doing this, he impressed scouts enough that general managers of several teams tried to lure the Phillies’ Ed Wade into trading him, as Jim Thome was blocking his path to the majors.”

    He then won ROY in 2005 and MVP in 2006

    Although those awards are subjective USUALLY they mean you’re doing something (somethings) right and they usually mean your pretty darned good in certain aspects

  122. greg

    October 12, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Well, the point in all this was not to equate him to Ryan Howard, but to illustrate a point with someone who is very similar in numerous respects(obviously not all, no 2 players are ever exactly alike in every fashion).

    David – yes, those minor league accolades are all very nice, but how quickly Thames TRULY ELITE HR/AB rate at the Major League level, one that portends possible HR Titles, how quickly that’s flippantly dismissed with a ‘he won’t be any good if he plays regularly’ is very unfortunate.

    billfer wrote:

    As for the prejudice against old players, it’s not like it is unfounded. Peak years are generally 27-29 and things go down hill in the early to mid thirties.

    unquote

    Yes, that’s all true, but remember, that’s also true of many prejudices that are illegal in other sectors of society. Many methods of discrimination in the credit and employment sectors can be statistically proven to be valid through correlation based on race and/or religion, but fortunately, it’s still considered wrong and illegal to discriminate on those basis.

    I would just like to think that the concept of earning your spot based on performance on the field, as opposed to entitlement based on prejudice, I would like to think that concept is alive and well in MLB, but clearly that’s not the case, not even extreme cases such as Thames.

    The defensive criticisms in LF are valid, but he deserves a shot starting SOMEWHERE on a major league roster either as DH or a 1B. I agree his OBP could stand some improvement, of course it’s not uncommon for players who don’t play everyday to try to press, hit a HR in every AB, for fear that it may be a while before they get another chance.

    Free Marcus Thames!

  123. David

    October 13, 2008 at 1:15 am

    WOW where do I begin

    I pointed those MVPs in the minors out (and other teams vying to trade for Howard) to show you that he wasn’t Thames – he was thought of highly as one of their best prospects

    We don’t need HR hitters

    We don’t need hitting in general either

    As far as prejudice I assume your talking about age

    1) There is prejudice in the private sector as far as I’ve read/heard secondhand a lot of things go in the opposite direction of what it used to be prior to the rights movement

    2) As far as baseball – it has been proven time and time again that unless you’re on the juice or your name is Joel Zumaya (just kidding I hope) your “prime” is almost always ~26-32 years old after that the decline begins usually – bats slow down, speed loss, arm strength loss, more injury prone

    I guess you might get better/more experienced in some ways but the younger guys tend to put up better #s than the older

    There is a spot I’d love them to send Marcus Thames to get everyday time – Oakland – they need the “offensive threat”

    Package him and someone else there and try to pry away a good/great minor league pitcher or major league pitcher (bullpen/ or starter)

    I’m sure he’d help them

    And if he is soooooooo good and is going to be the next Carlos Pena that the Tigers let slip away so be it

  124. greg

    October 13, 2008 at 2:32 am

    David wrote:

    I pointed those MVPs in the minors out (and other teams vying to trade for Howard) to show you that he wasn’t Thames – he was thought of highly as one of their best prospects

    unquote

    By some yes, there also was a contingent of scouts that said he had holes in his swing, questioned whether he would be able to adjust in the bigs, and criticized him for his record setting K rates.

    David wrote:

    2) As far as baseball – it has been proven time and time again that unless you’re on the juice or your name is Joel Zumaya (just kidding I hope) your “prime” is almost always ~26-32 years old after that the decline begins usually – bats slow down, speed loss, arm strength loss, more injury prone

    unquote

    We’re starting to go in circles here. I never disputed that general rule. Thames is 31 so technically, he’s still in that window. Nevertheless, we can’t even apply such a regression to Thames yet because his baseline, statistically, has never been established with full time play. If you project his AB’s over a full season he’d have about 50 HR’s. That allows for quite a bit of regression for whatever reason and still have a valuable player on your hands.

    you wrote:

    And if he is soooooooo good and is going to be the next Carlos Pena that the Tigers let slip away so be it

    unquote

    I agree, because the Tigers don’t deserve him. But there’s one huge difference between Carlos Pena and Marus Thames. Carlos was given a full time job to show what he could do, Thames wasn’t.

    There’s also something we haven’t even adressed yet, and that’s the potential effects of an organization having a policy of not making players earn their promotions/starting jobs, and conversely having promotions/starting jobs impossible to attain no matter what you do. That’s sending a message that production, even being the best player, won’t be rewarded.

    FWIW …Thames numbers at AAA

    2004 – .329/.410/.735 – 1.145 OPS
    2005 – .359/.443/.714 – 1.157 OPS

    But yes, send him to Oakland, he deserves a shot somewhere.

  125. Smoking Loon

    October 13, 2008 at 9:36 am

    I’m pretty much with Greg on Marcus Thames. I also agree with Chris and others that he probably won’t be back in 2009. He’s worth keeping around, part-time or full-time, but it would be cool to seet him get a real shot somewhere else and shine, provided it isn’t for a division rival. I just like him as a player.

  126. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 13, 2008 at 11:00 am

    bilfer,

    didn’t mean to come across as dismissing Thames by calling him a “great mistake hitter”. i wasn’t saying that’s all he is, but while most MLB players can hit mistakes, they don’t all tend to leave the park the way they do when Marcus hits them…hence my choice of terms. i like Thames, but i recognize his flaws.

    greg,

    i get most of what you’re trying to say about Thames, i don’t think i was the only one to try to figure out what his projected line would be over a season based on his June numbers:

    .375 OBP / .764 SLG / 1.139 OPS / .306 AVG / 10 HR / 16 RBI

    the problem with extending lines of production is that he followed June with July where, with almost exactly the same number of ABs he did this:

    .256 OBP / .465 SLG / .721 OPS / .197 AVG / 5 HR / 11 RBI

    i’m not sure what to make of these sets of numbers, which is the ‘real’ Thames?… but, like most things, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

    as far as Thames not getting playing time because of any personal likes or dislikes, i think that’s probably malarkey. whatever you think of Leyland and Co. they’re in the business of winning, they might end up making moves that we disagree with, but they’re doing it because they think it’ll win games. if they thought there was a good likelihood that Thames could keep hitting throughout the year, i’m guessing they would have played him more. of course, maybe they didn’t think they had the luxury of waiting around for Thames to heat up. they’re not going to risk losing games just to sit Thames. however flawed their reasoning may or may not have been, he didn’t play because they didn’t think he could hit on a full-time basis.

  127. greg

    October 13, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Dr. Dre – I get your point with ‘Leyland and Co.’ But at the same time, let’s not oversimplify it. There are numerous factors that go into playing time, including whether it will be the most productive lineup, whether it will win games, but there are other factors, such as how much someone is paid. Sports is littered with examples of clearly superior players riding the pine, watching inferior, higher salaried players start over them, costing the team wins. Whether management simply doesn’t want to admit a mistake, or if they’ve been brainwashed by the mantra ‘You don’t spend X million dollars to have them sit the bench.’ Winning is not the sole determinant playing time.

    I might buy into your argument, but you’ve got Craig Monroe to deal with, they were certainly willing to stick with that black hole in the lineup for almost an eternity(so it seemed), how many wins did that cost?

    Then, there’s the issue of, once they were out of the race, Wins didn’t matter anymore, and yet Thames’ went from being a part time player to being an almost zero time player.

    Dre wrote:

    i’m not sure what to make of these sets of numbers, which is the ‘real’ Thames?… but, like most things, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

    unquote

    Probably, in any event, I want to know who the ‘real’ Marcus Thames is, unfortunately, most likely we will never know.

  128. jim-mt

    October 13, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Why not trade him for Chad Durbin? He has great numbers in 2008. Maybe he could be turned into a starter too.

  129. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 13, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    greg,

    certainly there are many factors that figure into playing time. but lets examine some trends with Thames numbers. (i’m not going to pretend that what i’m about to present is all encompassing, but it might be worth a look-see):

    April: 35 ABs / .200 AVG / .282 OBP / .371 SLG
    May: 41 ABs / .293 / .326 / .585
    June: 72 ABs / .306 / .375 / .764
    July: 71 ABs / .197 / .256 / .465
    Aug: 48 ABs / .188 / .188 / .313
    Sept: 49 ABs / .245 / .296 / .469

    its worth noting that he ‘earned’ his June playing time with his hitting. they also stuck with him through July despite his sub “Mendoza” hitting and didn’t really cut his playing time until August, following a 1 for 18 stretch over the first third of the month where he played in 6 of the 8 games (starting 5).

    a lot of this is probably semantics, but i think there’s enough evidence to suggest that he earned his playing time (or lack there of) and that there is no organizational grudge against him. when he was hitting the cover off the ball, he played…when he wasn’t he didn’t. should they have allowed him to play through slumps, maybe. if they had, would he have recovered, maybe.

    extending Thames line to the number of ABs Cabrera had (around 600) will give you some great numbers: 100 R / ~ 50 HR / +100 RBI

    but applying a similar line yields these too:

    Santiago : 147 R / 20 HR / 88 RBI

    Joyce : 100 R / 30 HR / 82 RBI

    Ryan: 84 R / 28 HR / 98 RBI

    i’m being facile here in my analysis, but the point is who knows what a guy will do with more or less time.

    btw, i just found the ’09 Tigers SS, LF and C…right?

  130. Smoking Loon

    October 13, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    “btw, i just found the ‘09 Tigers SS, LF and C…right?”

    Given the near-impossibility of Cabrera in LF and Ordonez to DH (and thus Joyce to RF), I would have to vote “yes.”

  131. Smoking Loon

    October 13, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    If Cabrera is toi be a fixture at !B, what becomes of Larish, then? Are the Tigers going to convert him to a 3B to have him ready when Inge’s contract is up (by 2011?)? Or is he now trade material? Though it’s not as though they need to make a quick decision. I imagine he will start 2009 in Toledo.

    If they do let Renteria go and Santiago does win the SS job, what do they do about backing up SS?

  132. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 13, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Loon,

    they sign Renteria for the same amount as Santiago’s ’08 contract…and hope for similar production.

  133. Smoking Loon

    October 13, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I detect a tongue in cheek, Dre. Seriously, I got the strong sense from Dombrowski’s comments on the SS position that Renteria won’t be back at any price.

    I just read up on Larish. So he was a 3B in the first place. Well, that changes everything. The First Amendment to the the Loon Plan, said amendments to be known collectively as the Bill Of Ignorance:

    1. Cabrera stays at 1B. Ordonez stays in RF. Joyce starts in LF. Thames is the DH unless traded, otherwise Guillen is the DH.

    Sheffield is still gone. Say I.

  134. Smoking Loon

    October 13, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    “a fixture at !B”

    Yeah. and I like Ryan at $B, too.

  135. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 13, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Loon,

    you may well reside at 221B Baker Street.

  136. Smoking Loon

    October 13, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Elementary, my dear Dre.

  137. Smoking Loon

    October 14, 2008 at 9:56 am

    “Good news, sports fans. The Tigers were not the worst team in the AL in terms of $ spent per win.”

    The news gets even better when you consider that the losses were even less expensive, only $1,568,181 each. Now the 74-88 record makes perfect business sense to me.

  138. ron

    October 14, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Smoking Loon, can you explain how losses were less expensive without going Hank Paulson on me?

  139. Chris in Dallas

    October 14, 2008 at 11:40 am

    On a game-by-game basis, a loss was less expensive. Cumulatively, they spent more on the losses. I think it was a sound decision. The baseball gods told Mike Illitch prior to each game that a win would cost $1.8 mil, while a loss would cost $1.5. Mr. I was just trying to save some dough. He didn’t get rich making dumb decisions.

  140. Smoking Loon

    October 14, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Ron

    Please to understand: As Chris astutely points out, the Tigers saved $300,000 every time they lost. 88 losses X $300,000 = $26,400,000. This is enough money to buy out Sheffield and release him, with enough left over to sign Sabathia to a one-year deal. He’ll bite because this Tigers team is clearly going places in 2009. If he doesn’t, then the Tigers can use the extra $12 mil to pay part of the salaries of Inge and Robertson and thus unload them right quick.

    Illitch is a genius. But Leyland and the team deserve a lot of credit for skillfully playing along. DD chipped in with key acquisitions like Renteria, Willis, Farnsworth, and Glover. “Play to lose, but not too much” was the mantra. Also netted them a cool draft position. Geniusness, I tell you.

  141. ron

    October 14, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Obviously, Chris and Smoking Loon are both CPAs.

  142. jim-mt

    October 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    As a CPA, I resent that. They would however have a future in Congress as such creativity is prized there.

  143. Coleman

    October 14, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    re: Thames. Before I’m willing to say forget his glove, and his OBP, play the guy because he can bash it, I’m gonna want to see something better in the runner on 3rd < 2 out front–you just can’t have guys regularly whiffing in this situation, especially guys who are supposed to be The Guy For RBI. The last 2 seasons Thames had 11K in 44 PA, which, while not Codpiece (Raburn) bad, leaves him in a very different class than most power hitters.

    As a contrast, try Ordonez: 1 K in 38 PA; Cabrera 5 in 42 PA (only 1 after the AS break); Inge 1 K in 20 PA.

    Interestingly, Philadelphia fans complain about this with Ryan Howard (8 in 42 PA), but even his numbers are better than Thames’…Carlos Pena on the other hand…12K in 45 PA. And yes I think he is overrated.

  144. greg

    October 14, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    To be fair to Thames though, I’d say, rather than forget his OBP, I’d say remember it, remember his good OBP at AAA 2 consecutive years and that if he gets a start for Detroit, half the time he’s probably thinking if he doesn’t hit a HR it might be another week before he plays again, so he presses, normal plate approach is thrown out the window, and the rest of the story.

    For even the most highly touted, statistically ‘perfect’, elite hitters, there’s often an adjustment period, often that can last a couple of years playing full time. It’s expected that they’ll go through struggles. So why expect something different from Thames, especially when he’s never gotten the chance to play every day?

  145. Coleman

    October 15, 2008 at 1:33 am

    Thames may be the classic streak hitter. Which is why I didn’t understand him getting so much time off during his HR hitting period. (Aside from some obvious right/left/matchup situations).

    There must be a way with streak players to recognize when they are going cold and heating up and take advantage of that.

    Like I always said in response to the “Santiago will cool off and eventually go back to being a .240 hitter” line–that could very well be, but why not play him until then?

    Or to look at it another way, knowing where Chris Shelton was headed, in hindsight–would it have made sense to not play him AT ALL in 2006?

  146. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 15, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Coleman,

    on streaks and predicting them:

    i want to acknowledge upfront that i believe i’m entering ‘beating dead horse’ territory here. i’ll also add ‘dubious comparison’ to that for what’s about to follow.

    i was reading about a study of the stock market that covered the last 36 years of activity. it showed that over those 36 years, you could expect to earn an average of 11% on your investment. this assumed that you didn’t do anything with your investment just let it sit for 36 years. the study also showed that if, in trying to pick your spots when investing, you missed just 25 days (in 36 years) during which the market did the best, you’re earnings would drop from 11% to 7%.

    what the study was showing was that, if you were in the habit of trying to predict and ride the hot streaks of the market, odds were that you were losing money compared to sticking with a ‘sure thing’. of course, the inverse is also true, that if you managed to avoid the 25 worse days the market has over the course of 36 years that your earning would be much higher.

    ok, baseball isn’t the stock market and streaks may be easier to predict in this area…but the over all notion of finding a guy that’s going to produce day in and day out seems more appealing than guessing when somebody is going to hit the cover off the ball.

    all this (nonsense) having been said, i’m happy with Thames until they find a consistent guy who will deliver more production than him.

  147. Smoking Loon

    October 15, 2008 at 9:12 am

    “Obviously, Chris and Smoking Loon are both CPAs.”

    “As a CPA, I resent that. They would however have a future in Congress as such creativity is prized there.”

    :)

    jim-mt – I was just about to go there when I saw Ron’s post, but you beat me to it.

  148. Smoking Loon

    October 15, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Regarding guys who can bash it coming up with a man on 3rd and < 2 out, you’d expect that they could at least manage a sac fly if they don’t change to a make-contact-absolutely-don’t-K approach in this situation.

    Man on 3rd < 2 out 2008
    PA/OUTS/K/SF – OPS – RBI/PA

    Thames 16/10/5/2 – .923 – RBI/PA .813
    Sheffield 26/12/4/1 – 1.023 – RBI/PA .538
    Ordonez 38/23/1/6 – .802 – RBI/PA .658
    Cabrera 42/23/5/9 – 1.062 – RBI/PA .833
    Joyce 19/12/4/2 – 1.154 – RBI/PA .632

    In sum, 19 SF vs. 20 K. Not too shabby. 99 RBI in 141 PA (.702) doesn’t seem too bad, either. Thanks in large part to Cabrera and Thames (48 RBI in 58 PA).

  149. Smoking Loon

    October 15, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Is Granderson a “basher”? Just in case, his 2008 numbers, man on 3rd < 2 outs:

    25/13/3/1 – 1.100 – RBI/PA .640

  150. Smoking Loon

    October 15, 2008 at 10:20 am

    It’s a thin case on the basis of the above numbers alone, but offhand, I’d say Maggs is the only one changing his approach to the situation… and he has the lowest OPS to go along with that incredibly low K rate. ?????

  151. Smoking Loon

    October 15, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Slicing and dicing another way:

    SF per out with man on 3rd < 2 out:

    Cabrera .391
    Ordonez .260
    The Macedonian One .200
    Joyce .167
    Sheffield .083
    Granderson .077

  152. jim-mt

    October 16, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Why am I not surprised by Sheff’s low %– which reflect his lack of team-play?

  153. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 16, 2008 at 11:36 am

    jim-mt,

    what do you make of Granderson’s team play?

  154. Smoking Loon

    October 16, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    What’s a bit odd about this situational split for Sheffield is the high OPS and the low RBI conversion. Seen with Joyce and Granderson also. So, a look at BB in this situation.

    OVERALL BB%-NAME-SPLIT BB%

    12% Sheffield 19%
    11% Granderson 16%
    11% Joyce 16%
    8% Cabrera 9.5%
    7% Thames 6%
    8.5% Ordonez 5%

    That explains it. The guys not hitting the sac flies are drawing walks. Collectively, these guys (in this situation) walked, struck out, and hit sac flies in almost perfectly equal measure.

    Double plays:

    Ordonez 6
    Sheffield 3
    Everyone else (72% of all these PA) 2

    I don’t think it says anything about their team play attitude, but still, you’d think that with a guy on 3rd (at the least) and less than 2 out, Sheffield and Ordonez would be good guys to have at the plate. Not so much in 2008, at least by comparison to their career numbers and reputations. Expectations. Among the sluggers, Cabrera and Thames were The Guys, despite Thames’s (entirely typical) K rate.

  155. Coleman

    October 18, 2008 at 3:55 am

    Smoking Loon: hey where’s Inge in those runner on 3rd < 2 out stats. He puts most those guys to shame (not the Tilde though). And for the love if Darnell Coles, could someone come up with a 3-letter acronym for the unwieldy “runner on 3rd less than two outs” bit?

  156. JC

    October 26, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    There is no such thing as overreacting in this situation. From “Win the world series” to “Don’t come in last” and everything in between, the Tigers failed to do everything that could’ve possibly been asked of them. Expecting anything more than 81 games is wishful thinking

    Sure, good teams have bad years; who says the Tigers are a good team though? They have the worst bullpen in baseball, a soft starting rotation, play porous defense, and are one dimensional offensively.

    None of the starters are certainties to bounce back. There isn’t a single quality pitcher in the bullpen. Cabrera and Granderson are the only impact players getting any better. They aren’t going to chase quality free agents, and the ones they do, they likely will be outbid for.

    DD and Leyland have said some impossibly stupid things since the season ended. Dusty Ryan the starting C next year? No need to be a player in free agency? And they’re not even as delusional as Edgar Renteria; the World Series in 2009? Do me a favor, shut up, and don’t feed me pipe dreams of october glory ’cause I’m not buying.