I’m looking for pitching

"I’m looking for pitching," Leyland said. "You can write whatever you want."

That’s the message that Jim Leyland sent to reporters today when he announced that Rick Porcello would get a start on Wednesday. Further solidifying that Porcello might really be a rotation candidate this season.

With Dontrelle Willis still shaky, Zach Miner getting rocked yesterday, and Nate Robertson not blowing people away, the door is a little bit open. Or maybe all the way open, but are there 4 guys trying to fit through it?

The Tigers got as good of news as they could have today on Jeremy Bonderman’s shoulder after an examination in Detroit today. Of course he’s still not throwing, but it doesn’t sound like things are structurally a problem.

Now whether or not Porcello getting a turn is out of curiosity, a message to the incumbents, or further evaluation for a rotation in flux remains to be seen. But this could be a pattern for the next few weeks. With Bonderman day-to-day, Armando Galarraga now pitching for Venezuela, and Justin Verlander first alternate for Team USA, the guys competing for the back end of the bullpen should have a chance to show what they have (or don’t have).

19 Comments

  1. Mike R

    March 3, 2009 at 1:01 am

    I know Miner got rocked yesterday, but what more does he have to do to be at the back end of this rotation? Good lord.

  2. Coach Jim

    March 3, 2009 at 8:22 am

    What are the odds that by opening day, Bondo will be hurting, Willis still can’t find the plate, and Nate is throwing BP? My guess is 50%, 80%, 50%. So there is a 20% chance all 3 of these guys will drop from the rotation.

    My guess is Thames or Guillen go to Toronto or Atlanta for someone like Matt Clement or Jo-Jo Reyes. Jeff Larish would fill the roster spot backing up OF/1B.

  3. jason

    March 3, 2009 at 9:19 am

    What this reminds me of is back when they said Maybin was “ready for the majors” and they brought him up and threw him out there, and it didnt seem to me like he was quite ready. I don’t think they really thought he was ready to be in our lineup at that point. In that case, they were just trying to create hype for their eventual trade, which I dont think is the case here.
    This is similar in that I don’t think the Tigers really think this guy is ready. In this case the motive is different. Maybe to motivate the other pitchers. But I don’t really think the Tigers have any intentions of inserting him into the rotation and using him the whole year.

  4. Andre in Chi

    March 3, 2009 at 10:28 am

    i get the feeling like some of this is getting blown out or proportion. we knew that all the “best shape of his life” talk swirling around Bondo, Willis and Co. was just fluff from agents. i’m not saying that these setbacks don’t bother me, but some of this feels like grasping at straws. i know it wasn’t one of Billfer’s “official” links, but i saw some story pop up about Bondo maybe having to have season ending shoulder surgery. this was followed shortly by word that he’s just stiff and that, while he’s a little behind schedule, relatively speaking he’s on pace and there’s nothing really to worry about.

    patience young padawans! its like spring training sucked all the cynical out of us. did we forget all the question marks? and by the way, we only have three good bets for the rotation? sound the panic alarm! i’m sure there are no other teams, certainly not contenders, that have 1-2 question marks for the rotation. lets not freak out just yet, and let spring training do what its supposed to do. the issues we knew would be there are present, but there’s still time to address them and it might be too early to tell (good or bad) with a lot of these guys.

    now, if we get to the last week of spring training and this isn’t sorted out, then we should be worried, but lets not act like we didn’t anticipate some of this.

  5. Dave BW

    March 3, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Willis pitches against Team Venezuela today. I fear the Tigers will be obliterated.

  6. Ronnie D.

    March 3, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I’m just happy to be talking baseball again

  7. Chris in Dallas

    March 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Andre 3000: That was my idle speculation (Bondo’s shoulder). You know, a lot of times you’ll see a guy go from ‘normal stiffness’ to ‘visit team doctor’ to ‘visit Dr. Andrews’ to ‘see you in 2010′. Fortunately it looks like they’re just being extra cautious on Bondo and that he should be OK.

  8. Andre in Chi

    March 3, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Chris in D,

    by no means was i singling you out in all this. i fought hard to keep myself from becoming too excited about this season for a reason (rhyme!), but i found myself getting caught up in the hype just the same – especially with regards to Porcello (please do not open till 2010). i think the key is moderation in how we react. yes there are question marks, yes they concern some key players, no they aren’t new and early spring training setbacks do not ruin a season; neither for the player(s) concerned, nor for the team.

    its a little early to start worrying too much about Miner, Willis, et al. that Miner got lit up in spring training doesn’t worry me at all. obviously Bondo, Willis and Robertson are different because of their recent histories, but even with them, its a little premature to write them off…we just don’t know enough yet. i struggle with it too…but just like last year people penciled the Tigers in for the W.S. before the first pitch was thrown, lets not do the opposite and assume a lost season just yet.

  9. Walter55

    March 3, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I really wish they could hold off bringing him up until later in the season kind of like TB did with Longoria so we would get another year out of him before he is eligible for FA.

  10. Chris in Dallas

    March 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Dre: I didn’t take it as a swipe. Rather, I was taking credit for being a worry wart. I think the Boof Bonser story out of Minnesota had me a bit freaked. (As an added note, anytime I can find it relevant to mention the name ‘Boof’, I know I’m having a good day) I’m actually quite bullish on the Tigers pitching staff. In my view, there have been solid additions to the rotation (EJax) and bullpen (Lyon). Combine that with the theoretical health of some guys who missed significant time in ’08 (Zumaya, Rodney, Bondo) and the likely bounceback of their best guy (Bonine) and I think you’ve got the makings of a potentially decent year from them.

  11. Briggs45

    March 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Thank God Leyland doesn’t have to find three starting pitchers to begin the season. The trade for Edwin Jackson looks better and better.

  12. Chauncey

    March 3, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Briggs- I was just thinking the same thing- the Edwin Jackson trade looks like it may have helped save the season before it even started- imagine the rotation without him right now- Verlander, hoping Galaragga wasn’t a fluke and a bunch of headaches everywhere else. I agree with people above in that the Bondo issue may have been blown out of proportion- its one thing when Rodney had this problem a year ago when he had been healthy the year before, but with Bondo coming off of shoulder surgery, while its a concern, hopefully it isn’t a sign of any lingering problems, but rather just normal stiffness from throwing regularly for the first time in a while. Also, at least it happened early enough in ST so that Bondo if healthy will still be ready for the season.

    On a side note, I noticed that Willis made it through 3 innings today without getting absolutely hammered. While he still had 3 BB’s, he had a hell of a lot better outing than last time out, and it was against legitimate hitters. Robertson stunk again- so it looks like if Willis can’t get it sorted out, Porcello may have a real shot at the rotation.

  13. Chris in Dallas

    March 3, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    So here’s the 44 worst contracts in baseball. The Tigers have 5 of them, the most of any team. I agree on 4 of the 5 (Bonderman being the exception), and Sheffield expires after this year. Still, DD kinda hamstrung the payroll a bit. Oh well.

    http://www.springtraining09.co.....n-base.php

  14. Mark in Chicago

    March 3, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Before we all hyperventilate that we have no starting pitching, let’s remember that each starter has had exactly one turn in spring training, and to think they would all go out and blow hitters away throwing 80% of their pitches for strikes and retiring every hitter over 2-3 innings isn’t a realistic expectation. It’s March 3. If we’re still having this conversation in 2 weeks we can raise the red flag (and maybe the white flag too). My guess is Leyland is probably trying to light a fire under guys like Robertson and Willis by saying that nothing is going to be handed to them; they better earn it. That is, the best 5 guys start and maybe we’ll find a role for the other guys. After last season’s alleged ‘sense of entitlement’ culture, this may not be a bad move by Jimmuh.

    Rotations are rarely a finished product, and while we’d all love to see 5 entrentched starters dominating hitters in spring training, it isn’t going to happen. We definitely need to start seeing improvement, but I don’t think there’s anything here to be worried about (yet).

  15. Kevin in Austin (now Dallas)

    March 3, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    We have no starting pitching.

  16. Andre in Chi

    March 3, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Kevin,

    you forgot to hyperventilate :)

  17. Mark in Chicago

    March 3, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    All right, both of you, knock it off. ;-)

  18. Kevin in Austin (now Dallas)

    March 3, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Seriously gents, I’m gonna play Stephen here for a bit. JV could contend for a Cy Young, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Galarraga were the only guy to win more than 12 games this year.

    If we are going to win 85 games, I think it will be largely the result of a rebuilt bullpen (we all know that’s a much easier task), and not a function of our starters. I’d be shocked if they finished in the top half of the AL this year in W or EqERA.

  19. Mark in Chicago

    March 3, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    No team with Brandon Inge and Adam Everett on the left side is going to win 85 games.

    now THAT^^ is being Stephen.