Injuries for everyone

by billfer on March 25, 2009 · 6 comments

in 2009 Season,Injuries,Spring Training

So the Tigers just get everybody back from the WBC, and then they lose Adam Everett and Nate Robertson in the first inning today.

Everett sprained an ankle sliding into second and Robertson took a throw from Danny Worth on his pitching hand resulting in a sprained thumb.

Neither injury sounds especially serious, but with a week left in camp with the whole team together, this is at minimum a nuisance. It also puts into jeopardy Robertson’s ability to start the season in the rotation, a position he was working himself into with his last couple outings.

On the other hand, Zach Miner who was almost assured of a spot in the pen, has now pitched two strong outings in a row and may find himself back in the hunt.

One guy who may have pitched himself off the roster today was Scott Williamson. Williamson allowed 5 runs in one inning of work today. He was probably on the wrong side of the bullpen bubble, and today certainly didn’t help his cause.

 
 

{ 6 comments }

stephen March 26, 2009 at 12:18 am

The New York Post construct a doomsday scenario for the Tigers:
Posted: 3:24 am
March 22, 2009
Joel Sherman
A YEAR ago, the Tigers were a chic pick to win the World Series. This year, they are being voted most likely to sell off assets for pennies on the dollar.

The positive perception was wrong last season, and Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski proclaims that the dire forecast for 2009 will be incorrect, as well. “So many things didn’t work for us last year,” Dombrowski said. “We expect far better [this season].”

If not, the Tigers are in for a painful season. Detroit, even more than most cities, has been devastated by the economic downturn. Dombrowski said ticket sales are down, but that “we have the foundation to draw well.”

Nevertheless, it will be difficult for the populace to find the cash to go to Comerica Park this year, and fans would be more likely to abandon the Tigers, should the team play poorly. And scouts who have been in to see the Tigers this spring just do not see the pitching to sustain a contender. One scout went as far as to say that Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson have fallen so far that they do not belong in a major league rotation. They have fallen so far even Dombrowski concedes 20-year-old Rick Porcello, who has never pitched above Single-A, might make the rotation.

But Willis and Robertson are representative of a roster that is bloated at the top with expense and, generally, expense that will be unattractive to other teams.

The Tigers project to a payroll of $131 million, which is fifth highest in the majors, and actually $5 million more than Boston currently is budgeting. But here is the Motown lowdown: The Tigers have six players who are due eight-figure salaries this season. Only the Yankees (nine) have more. The White Sox are the only other AL team that even has five.

And those contracts do not even include the $7 million owed this year to Robertson (who also is owed $10 million next season) or the two years at $12.9 million due Brandon Inge. If the Tigers could trade either of those players now and remove their whole contract, they almost certainly would accept little to nothing in return.

Willis, owed $22 million over the next two seasons, “might be done,” in the opinion of one scout. An AL player personnel chief said, “He has no idea where the ball is going. He has to let up on his fastball just to try to throw it for a strike.”

Jeremy Bonderman (two years at $25 million left) is coming off shoulder surgery and is having trouble staying healthy enough to pitch this spring. Gary Sheffield is due $14 million coming off shoulder surgery, and though Dombrowski says the slugger’s bat speed has mostly returned and that he expects a big season, scouts who have watched Sheffield in March are more dubious.

Three key offensive players Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez have been away most of the spring with Team Venezuela (Curtis Granderson has been with Team USA).

It was the acquisition of Cabrera and Willis in a trade from Florida that raised Detroit’s profile as a contender last year. Cabrera is among the best hitters in the majors. But he played so poorly at third that he had to be moved to first and “is 25 and already is as big as a house, and that scares me,” a scout said. Well, that is frightening and so is the seven years at $141 million left on his contract.

Because Cabrera has to move to first, Guillen had to take his fragile body to left field along with the three years at $36 million left on his contract. Ordonez is 35 and has been durable the past three years after experimental knee surgery. His contract could be as little as $18 million for this season or with vesting options as much as three years at $51 million, or way more than any team, especially in this economic climate, would be willing to assume.

And this is the Tigers nightmare. If they need to start shedding payroll, they probably would have to eat big chunks of contracts and get very little in return to restock a shabby farm system. Look at it this way, Kei Igawa (three years at $12 million left) would be far more attractive to teams than Willis or Robertson.

Dombrowski said he would not reveal private conversations with Mike Ilitch when asked if the team’s owner had established any kind of win-early-or-cut-payroll mandate.

“I will say that the owner is understanding of the situation,” Dombrowski said. “And he has always been aggressive about putting a good club on the field.”

How are the Tigers good this year?

They have concentrated on upgrading a terrible defense with Inge permanently at third, Adam Everett added at short, Gerald Laird catching and Cabrera theoretically growing into an able first baseman. They think Brandon Lyon will help stabilize the pen, and even scouts agree they should score a lot. But there is age, fragility and uncertainty.

Maybe Justin Verlander will return to being an ace after a poor season and Porcello will be mercurial (the scouts certainly love him). For now, though, no club in the majors faces the potential for a financial nightmare in 2009 more than the Tigers.

Chris in Dallas March 26, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Looks like billfer might want to break out the ban button.

Sean March 26, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Maybe Nate Robertson will return stronger, with a bionic hand or something. That would be a positive.

-s
trumbullandmichigan.com

Mark in Chicago March 26, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Floyd. Good luck with all that.

Mr. X March 26, 2009 at 4:13 pm

The Tigers are as unpredictable as they were last year and this division is still up from grabs. Even winning won’t shut-up the critics. They were born to cry and complain.

Mark L March 28, 2009 at 3:24 am

Guess what? Every team is unpredicatable right now. And all the teams are tied for first (and last). That’s why they play the games, instead of just giving the title to the team which appears to have the most talent.

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