Tigers and the looming arbitration deadline

The Tuesday deadline for teams to offer their departing free agents arbitration is approaching. The Tigers have three cases that are garnering some attention in Placido Polanco, Brandon Lyon, and Fernando Rodney.

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Links for 2009-11-24

Tigers add 4 to the roster

The Tigers have added Scott Sizemore, Ryan Strieby, Brennan Boesch, and Audy Ciriaco to the 40 man roster, protecting them from the Rule 5 draft. The roster was at 42, but with the 6 free agents off the roster, and the addition of these 4 players it is now full at 40.

The additions of Sizemore and Strieby are not the least bit surprising. Strieby was one of the best hitters in the Eastern League last year while he was healthy. He’s seemingly blocked at first base and will see increased work in the outfield, but regardless he is too good of a hitter to let walk.  Sizemore of course is the heir apparent at second base with the likely departure of Placido Polanco.

After those two though there was a larger pool of players on the bubble. The Tigers decided to stick with the toolsy (and hopefully starting to translate to production) Ciriaco and the power of Brennan Boesch. Ciriaco finally started to tie those tools into some production late last year where he got his line drive rate up to the teens from June forward. And despite Boesch’s struggles controlling the plate (127 K’s and 34 BB’s last year) he did slug at a .510 clip. It’s interesting though that as Dave Dombrowski talks about improving plate discipline throughout the organization they protected two players who have the strike out and walk rates that Ciriaco and Boesch do.

Among those left off the roster were a handful of pitchers including Luis Marte, Bryan Villarreal, Scot Drucker, and Brett Jensen. I’m not necessarily surprised by the absence of any one of those pitchers, but that none were protected is a little surprising.

Things are likely to change yet as trade rumors swirl and the Tigers have to decide on a shortstop.

Minor notes: Protection, Bourquin, and the AFL

Some minor league news and notes:

40 man roster

We’ve talked here already about the Tigers need to trim the 40 man roster and the need to protect players ahead of the rule 5 draft coming up in December. The 40 man will be set initially tomorrow (things could of course change between now and the actual rule 5 draft due to trades/free agent signings).

With that in mind Tigers 40 man roster candidate Scot Drucker really wants to be on a big league roster next year and is offering to pay the the $50,000 rule 5 draft fee for any team that takes him:

@utbaseball30 Deadline for the 40 man rosters tonight, remember to any team that may want me if Im not protected, Ill cover the 50k in the Rule V draft

Not sure if Drucker would look to recoup the $25K if he were returned to the Tigers.

Ronnie Bourquin

The Tigers 2nd round pick from 2006 is eligible for the rule 5 draft. But his status as a prospect was already in doubt as things haven’t gone the way either he or the Tigers would have liked. He finally started to hit in A ball this year before being pushed to Erie where he struggled. Now he’s been suspended 50 games for testing positive for amphetamines.

AFL Championship Game

The Peoria Javelinas will be playing in the AFL Championship game this Saturday. See AFL strike out leader Robbie Weinhardt and other Tigers on the MLB Network and MLB.tv. The game is at 2:45 ET. By that point OSU should be rolling over Michigan so if you need a diversion, see a couple guys who could be helping the Tigers next year finish up their fall season.

Links for 2009-11-18

Playing in the spray – Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson’s 2009 season has received plenty of scrutiny, and this was even before trade rumors crept up. Granderson struggled at times during the season, and had a hard time sustaining success. His .249 batting average was the lowest of his career and it was a drag on his on base percentage and slugging percentage as well. We know batting average is volatile so did Granderson just suffer from some bad luck, or did something else change? Fortunately we have hit location data to help shed some light on these questions.

Granderson’s batting average was dragged down by a .276 batting average on balls in play. That is a number that should typically be in the .320ish range, especially for someone with Granderson’s speed. A shift like that would lead people to think he was largely unlucky. A closer look would show a shift in his balls in play from the harder to field grounders to the easier to field fly balls. Ask fans what they saw and many would say it looked like Granderson got overly concerned with the homers (a new career high) and that he pulled the ball to much. But what would the data say?

Continue reading Playing in the spray – Curtis Granderson

Cabrera, Verlander, Porcello win 2009 DIBS Honors

Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera and starting pitcher Justin Verlander were voted the Tigers’ top positional player and top pitcher of 2009, in a vote conducted by the Detroit Independent Baseball Scribes.

Cabrera and Verlander each received 20 first-place votes. Cabrera had a .942 on-base percentage plus slugging average (OPS), which was good for fifth in the American League. He had a .324 batting average, 34 home runs and 103 RBIs. All four categories led the Tigers. His Ultimate Zone Rating of 2.8 ranked second of all AL first basemen.

Continue reading Cabrera, Verlander, Porcello win 2009 DIBS Honors

The Tigers AFL Update

Things continue to go well for the Tigers’ Arizona contingent – excepting Scott Sizemore’s injury of course. Robbie Weinhardt’s rough 3 outing start is a thing of the past. Casper Wells continues to hit.  Andy Oliver, Thad Weber, and Scot Drucker are all seeing some success as the Peoria Javelinas lead the league.

Robbie Weinhardt

Weinhardt gave up 7 runs in his first 3 appearances, and none since. In his last 5 outings he’s thrown 10 scoreless innings. He’s allowed just 1 walk and 5 hits with 17 strike outs over that span. His 25 K’s lead the league. Those are remarkable numbers in an offense dominated league.

Casper Wells

Wells is leading the AFL in slugging at .750 and he’s 4th in on base percentage. He did have to leave yesterday’s game when trying to beat out a play at first. The Daily Fungo’s Mike McClary was in attendance and tweeted that Wells was able to limp off under his own power.

The Rest

In Oliver’s last 7 innings (4 games) he’s only allowed 1 unearned run, 3 walks, and 6 hits while fanning 8…Thad Weber has walked only 1 batter in 9 innings while fanning 10…Drucker has been up and down vacillating between good and bad outings. Today was a good one with 3 scoreless frames…Cale Iorg had a 2 game break out that saw him hit a homer and a double. But in 45 at-bats he has a .512 OPS and 16 strike outs.

More Granderson and Jackson rumors

I don’t know that we’ll cover every Tigers trade rumor here. It usually isn’t worth the effort, but there were some fairy significant reports regarding subjects of Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson.

The New York and Chicago media have been beating the drum for Granderson to land in their respective cities. Now there are reports that Dave Dombrowski has had discussions with the Angels. The Angels have 24 year old shortstop prospect Brandon Wood who the Tigers may find appealing. Granderson would presumably move to left field with Torii Hunter manning center.

If the thought of trading Granderson is upsetting to you (it is to me), you may take some comfort in that at least one AL executive doesn’t think it’s going to happen.

On the Jackson front, the Tigers have talked with Doug Melvin and the Milwaukee Brewers. I’m sure they’ve talked with a number of clubs, but here’s the money quote:

"Dave’s in charge of that one," said Melvin. "They’ll identify which clubs are matches and they’ll call them. he’s looking for young players and young pitchers."

I agree with Jason Beck in that it sounds like the team is doing a little more than just listening to offers.

What the heck is going on (re: trade rumors)?

I don’t remember the general manager meetings being this interesting in past years. Most of the action seems to usually take place at the winter meetings that take place in December. This year the GM meetings have served Tigers fans up with a disconcerting set of rumors with the Tigers making most of the team available for trade. But does this qualify as a fire sale?

It all started Tuesday night when the news hit that Edwin Jackson could be available along with Gerald Laird. Things got more interesting Wednesday afternoon when a New York Post story cited a National League executive who said the Tigers were listening to offers on Curtis Granderson. Olney later tweeted the same information. With two All Stars potentially on the block, a depressed economic region, and a payroll that leaves little flexibility the phrases “financial difficulty” and “fire sale” began working their way into columns. By evening Jon Heyman added Brandon Inge (h/t MLBTR) to the list of those the Tigers could be looking to trade. Are the Tigers slashing payroll?

Continue reading What the heck is going on (re: trade rumors)?

Is Edwin Jackson for sale?

There has been considerable speculation about the Tigers financial state. The payroll will be high, and there are continued questions about revenue potential. Mike Ilitch saw less advertising revenue. Attendance was relatively strong, but the Tigers missed out on any postseason gate receipts despite adding payroll midseason. Now Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi are reporting that Dave Dombrowski is listening to offers on Edwin Jackson.

Jackson will likely command a salary of about $5 million in 2010 as he enters his 2nd of 3 years of arbitration eligibility and so a trade would seemingly be at least a year early. The salary wouldn’t appear to be prohibitive for a player that was 3.5 WAR last year and 1.5 WAR each of the previous 2 years. In other words, Jackson will have surplus value next year even he reverts closer to his 2007-8 numbers than his 2009 campaign. Of course value or not, cash is cash and if the Tigers don’t have the money they don’t have the money regardless of the value.

Aside from money, or perhaps in addition to it, are there are reasons why trading Jackson may be desirable?

Continue reading Is Edwin Jackson for sale?

Polanco gets some Gold Love

At least one Tiger is assured of some post season hardware. Placido Polanco won his second Gold Glove for excellence in the field of fielding. Polanco had a very fine defensive season and he was one of a handful of players (Mark Ellis, Dustin Pedroia, Aaron Hill) who were deserving at second base.

Polanco was the only Tiger to notch the honor. Gerald Laird was deserving at the catcher position and Brandon Inge could have made a case to be in the discussion at the hot corner. Joe Mauer and Evan Longoria took home the award though at their respective positions.

But back to Polanco’s candidacy. Rob Neyer wasn’t a fan of the choice grouping Polanco with Derek Jeter, Torii Hunter, and Adam Jones as the players that the voters “flat out blew it.” I’m not really sure how Polanco fits in that group. Polanco fared well on both conventional fielding metrics (only 2 errors) as well as the more advanced measures as Detroit Tiger Tales summarizes. Using most objective measures Polanco was a legitimate winner so I don’t know what Neyer is exactly looking for.

As an aside, props to Tigers MLB.com beat reporter Jason Beck who referenced Polanco’s UZR number in his story. It’s great to see the mainstream guys helping to go to the newer stats and it’s the only way that these will gain more traction.