Winding Down 2011

Hello all – hopefully everyone is having a great holiday season and your bowl picks are hitting at better than 55%.  Not too much today, just a few notes in case you missed them over the past week or so.  (and thanks to a tip from Billfer I think we got a workaround on the rotator)

– Carlos Quentin is headed to San Diego.

– JV will be the cover boy for MLB 2k12 – check out the image here.

– For those of us who thought the Tigers would be content to hand Turner the 5th starter slot, we were wrong.  To begin, (for some reason,) the Braves may covet Delmon Young, and the Tigers are trying to leverage that into Jair Jurrjens.  Further, the Tigers are in hot pursuit of Matt Garza according to multiple sources.  (stay tuned on this story)

– Jackson (32), Avila (18) and Porcello (37) made Keith Law’s very narrow and very un-newsworthy list of top 50 players 25 and under (you need insider).

– Great post on Fangraphs yesterday discussing the FA pitchers who signed 1 year deals before spring training last year, and compared their seasons.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

2011 Winter Meetings

Your Winter Meetings thread.  I’ll update when I can, but I figure we’ll let the comments take care of the breaking news.

Here’s what we already know – Jose Reyes is taking his talents to South Beach.  Did you know that they are the “Miami Marlins” now?  Isn’t that Jamie Foxx’s team in Any Given Sunday? Rumor is that Buehrle could be next.  It’s about time for the Marlins to buy another WS.  Hey, whatever works.  Though I’m not sure if anyone can afford Reyes, Buehrle and Pujols.

Uhhhh, no thanks.

ESPN free agent tracker here.

 

 

 

Hot Stove Talk, Part 3

I’m gonna get to the latest in A-Ram and others tomorrow (hopefully), but I wanted to put up a quick note about the Red Sox job.  Bobby Valentine beat out Gene Lamont, much to the chagrin of everyone reading this post, Paws, and the Tigers official scorer.

Maicer Izturis?  So who is on the block?  Raburn or Kelly?  And what’s wrong with Ramon Santiago?

Octavio Dotel to the pen?  I’m in.

Mark Buehrle as the 5th…?  I just don’t think there is room for him, unless Porcello is about to be dealt.  Honestly, I don’t get the Buehrle talk.  DD wouldn’t Edwin Jackson Max Scherzer, would he?

– Carlos Guillen to the Marlins?  Seems like a decent fit.

40-Man Roster Cont’d

Sorry for cutting Wednesday’s post short but Turkey day plans were calling. In any event, to continue the discussion on the Tigers recent roster move, here’s some information on the remaining three prospects added to the 40-man roster:

Tyler Stohr (RHP)

The 25 year-old reliever spent 2011 in Lakeland and Erie. His ERA jumped from 3.25 to 4.21 following his promotion, but he has shown rapid improvement at each level he’s  visited thus far. At Lakeland, Stohr walked 8 and struck out 23 over 31.1 IP. In Erie, his ratio of BB’s and K’s per nine rose (17 BB, 27 K, 25.2 IP). It looks like he’s going to work the back end of games as he finished 12 out of 20 appearances in Erie. Watch for Stohr to make the jump from Erie to Toledo next year.

Avisail Garcia (OF)

The 20-year-old right-handed hitter spent 2011 at the high-A level. Over 129 games he hit .264, stole 14 bases, drove in 56, and scored 53 runs. He hit 11 homers, slugged .389, and posted an OBP of .297. Obviously, he has room to improve; however, he hit A-level pitching at a .281 clip and was able to draw more walks. He is an athletic outfielder who has a decent ceiling but needs to work on his patience and hitting. At such a young age, he has time to develop.

Hernan Perez (SS)

Perez is also a 20-year-old right-handed hitter. As some of you may remember, he was one of the players I was able to interview at West Michigan towards the end of their season. Perez is a class act with the right make-up to be successful. He plays very much like a young Robinson Canoe (keep your hopes down, I’m not saying he’s there, or close) in the sense that he’s athletic, moves gracefully, and can generate good bat speed. After spending a couple years with a BA in the .220’s, Perez jumped his average to .258 last year, and over .300 during the first half. He also drew more walks (38) and developed some power (8 HR). Like Garcia, Perez is young and has time to develop over the next couple seasons. My guess is that his recent spike in performance caught the attention of DD and co.

 

40-Man Roster Prospects

Last week the Tigers set their 40-man rosters in order to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. In addition to the big league club and high-level minor leaguers, the roster includes 5 prospects whose names I mentioned many times throughout last season: Casey Crosby, Matt Hoffman, Tyler Stohr, Avisail Garcia, and Hernan Perez. In this fist-part post, I’ll examine the potential of two of the five.

Casey Crosby (LHP)

In 25 starts at Erie, Crosby went 9-7 with a 4.10 ERA. He tossed 131.2 innings while striking out 121, walking 77, and allowing a .253 average against. Crosby’s numbers seem relatively pedestrian. The most significant aspect of his stat line is that he was able to throw all year without being shut down due to injury. Crosby underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008 and missed most of 2010 with persistent elbow pain. Crosby has a live arm with a mid 90’s fastball from the left side. He has the stuff to be a top ½ of the rotation pitcher but needs to master his control issues. If his arm holds up through 2012, Crosby will be competing for a starting spot in 2013.

Matt Hoffman (LHP)

The 23-year-old lefty appeared in 49 games for Toledo as a middle-reliever. Over 62.1 IP, Hoffman K’ed 46, walked 23, and was hit at a .253 clip. His ERA at AAA was a respectable 3.18. Hoffman is an intriguing prospect because he has shown steady improvement each year and hasn’t hit his ceiling yet. The best way to statistically evaluate this improvement is to look at his tremendous year-to-year improvement in ERA at the same levels: in 2008 he finished the year at West Michigan with a 4.60 ERA. He started 2009 there and posted a 1.12 ERA before being promoted to Lakeland. He finished the year at Lakeland with a 6.79 ERA. The next year, 2010, he produced an impressive 1.59 ERA before being promoted to Erie and then Toledo.  Hoffman produced solid numbers in the AFL: 3 1/3 innings giving up just one hit and no runs or walks. Hoffman should blossom into a quality middle-reliever (think Bobby Seay, but good at baseball) sometime in 2013.

Justin Verlander for (edit: IS) MVP

Vote is coming out today at 2pm, and MLB.tv will have live coverage beginning at 1:30pm eastern.

Rob Neyer would vote Jacob Ellsbury #1 and JV 5th.  (When did Neyer move to SBNation from ESPN.com?  When did SBNation become a legitimate sports news source?)

Buster Olney writes that JV will get the most first place votes in a year with several deserving candidates, but ultimately will lose because of not enough electoral votes.

The local guys (Detroit News, Freep) seem to think that the pitcher vs. batter philosophical debate will ultimately cost JV the award.

I remain hopeful…

 

Update

JV won with 13 out of 28 first place votes, and 280 points overall.  Ellsbury had 242 points, and Batista was third with 231.  Granderson and Cabby rounded out the top 5.

Hot Stove Talk, Part 2 (and other stuff)

Catching up on a few notes:

– Looks like Gerald Laird may be bringing the party back to the Big D.

– The Tigers are in talks with the Braves about Martin Prado.  Ian Casselberry did a great write up on why Prado would be a tremendous fit a few weeks ago here.  Prado is coming off of a down here, but in ’07, ’08, and ’09, his OPS+ figures were 121, 117, 119, respectively.  In 2009 he finished 9th in NL MVP voting.  Now, Prado is most attractive as a 2B, but note that he didn’t play any games at 2B last year, and statistically, he’s a better LFer than 2B.  Considering the dearth of fielders at both positions, I think we can find room for him somewhere.

– A few from the web which I don’t think carry much weight are Jose Reyes and Cole Hamels.  Reyes is likely going to see 9 figures in his next contract, and Hamels would require trading away Jacob Turner, and paying Hamels $14M before he demands $20M+ in 2013 as a FA.

– 40 man list is due tonight.  Casey Crosby will be #35, I’m certain.  After that, the Tigers will have to make a decision on Brandon Douglas, Cody Satterwhite, Matt Hoffman, Jay Voss, Tyler Stohr, Ben Guez and my player of the pregame for Game #17 in 2014 – Gustavo Nunez.

Spring Training anyone? (schedule)

Cy-nanimous

It’s Cy-nanimous!

Justin Verlander, as expected (and yet…you never know how these things will go, do you?) won the 2011 American League Cy Young Award.

Yesterday Justin Verlander was announced as the first unanimous AL Cy Young award winner since Johan Santana did the same in 2006, the year Verlander won the AL Rookie of the Year award.  Verlander had already won the oddly named Players Choice Player of the Year award on November 3rd, and the unofficial Pitching Triple Crown (leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA).  Now he joins Willie Hernandez and Denny McLain in the three-man Tiger Cy Young club.

Jered Weaver finished a distant 2nd in the voting, followed by James Shields (who pulled down half a million for finishing in the top 5) and CC Sabathia.  Tiger Jose Valverde finished 5th (with one 2nd place vote).  CJ Wilson, Dan Haren, Mariano Rivera, Josh Beckett, Ricky Romero, and David Robertson also received votes.

Some 2011 Verlander statistical highlights:

ERA:  .240 (1st)

Wins:  24 (1st)

Win/Loss %: .828 (1st)

Strikeouts:  250 (1st)

WHIP: .920 (1st)

WAR: 8.5 (1st)

Innings: 251 (1st)

Starts: 34 (1st)

Hits/9 inn: 6.2 (1st)

Not to mention a no-hitter.

Unlike with many awards, reaction around Cy-berspace is a big thumbs-up for the vote.

With the Cy Young under his belt, the question now becomes whether Verlander has a shot at the MVP vote, and whether any pitcher should.  Don Newcome of the Brooklyn Dodgers won an MVP, a Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year;  no one else has won all three before.

So other than a possible MVP vote, what’s next for Justin Verlander?  Winning another Cy Young next year, JV tells Michael Rosenberg.

***

In other awards news, Dave Dombrowski was co-winner of Sporting News’ Executive of the Year Award, sharing the vote with Brewers GM (and former Tiger) Bob Melvin.  The award is based on a poll of general managers, assistant general managers, and the like.  Dombrowski joins a short list of Tiger GMs to win the award:  Jim Campbell, who won in 1968, and good ol’ Walter Briggs, Sr. in 1940.  (There is no truth to the rumor that they are planning a Lifetime Achievement Award for Randy Smith).

Dombrowski’s offseason moves (signing Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit), and midseason moves (Doug Fister and Delmon Young) all worked, and it’s hard to think of any serious missteps he made.  One other Dombrowski move worth mentioning:  signing Justin Verlander to a 5-yr, 80MM contract before the 2010 season.  If he hadn’t, Verlander would be a free agent after this season.  Anyone want to hazard a guess how much he would cost to sign right now?

And Old Smokey himself, Jim Leyland, finished 2nd to Joe Maddon for the AL Manager of the Year Award, and ahead of Ron Washington, getting 13 first place votes.  The NL winner:  Kirk Gibson.

Hot Stove Talk, part 1

As we tune up for baseball’s other season, let’s review what the Tigers are working with this year.

– Guillen and his $13M will not be back.  Though Guillen and Maggs seemingly want to play again in 2012.

– Ordonez and his $10M will not be back.  Well, not for more than $5M (I would desperately hope).  The Tigers have made no indication of any intent to resign him.

– Penny and his $3M will not be back.

That clears out $26M.  Good start.

Zumaya and Santiago are also free agents at $1.4M and $1.35M, respectively.  Even a non-2006 Zumaya would have been a welcome addition in the ALCS, but his persistent injury problems will leave him off the Tigers roster.   If he doesn’t get another offer elsewhere, and pitches brilliantly and pain-free in Spring Training, I think the Tigers will find a spot for him, however foolish such a decision may be.  It looks as if the Tigers would like to re-sign Santiago, but it is contingent on what other offers he may get.  Santiago is a superb utility guy and was the only 2B mainstay for the club last year.  But over his career he’s shown that he can be overused, and the Tigers will have to wait and see whether another team is willing to give him a chance as a full time player.

Based on the above, it looks as if the Tigers would have plenty of money to spend in 2012. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  Verlander’s salary jumps up from $13M to $20M, and the Tigers owe $9M in deferred salary (including $2M to Pudge Rodriguez, and $1.5M to Gary Sheffield…remember him?).  Further, Scherzer, Young, Coke and Kelly are all arb eligible, which means that they’ll make a good deal more this season than they made in 2011.  Conservatively, if each of those guys make $3M next year, that puts payroll at $94M (I’m using Cots) that puts the roster at 14, which means that the Tigers will have 11 players to go.  A lot of these guys are still under their rookie contracts (Boesch, Perry, Avila, Schlereth, Al Al etc.) so they won’t be too expensive, but unless Illitch plans to spend significantly more next year, don’t expect any big off-season splashes.

Awards Talk

There’s gonna be more in the coming days, but JV was named the Players Choice Player of the Year for 2011.  Besides having the most confusing name, this award is the top award bestowed by an all player vote, and produced for the MLB Network during a slow content period.

It’s not the Cy Young or MVP, but it is setting a nice precedent.

In case you missed it, Alex Avila won his first ever Silver Slugger award, while Cabby got edged out by Adrian Gonzalez, despite the fact that Cabby had a higher slugging percentage, more runs, more doubles, more HR, higher BA, higher OPS, more walks, less strikeouts, etc.  Basically, Cabrera had an edge in every category that defines “slugger.”  Gonzalez did have 12 more RBIs, but it helps when you have Jacob Ellsbury and his 119 runs ahead of you.  Some guy posited that maybe the players and coaches (who vote on Silver Slugger awards) didn’t like Cabrera’s offseason activities.  This guy was so outraged that he used a curse word (a no-no on DTW) and some fancy sabermetric stats to show how ridiculous choosing Gonzales over Cabrera really was.

The Tigers came up empty in the gold glove department.

AL Cy Young will be announced Nov 18th, MVP on Nov 22nd.

 

 

Sabathia Opts Out

CC Sabathia opting out of his contract is certainly not a surprise.  The Tigers being mentioned as a suitor is.  Sabathia is one of the best around, but I don’t like giving any pitcher long term contracts for that much.  Here’s a list of the biggest pitching contracts in MLB history – have any of these worked out? (Thank you Cot’s for the research)

– Sabathia – $161M for 7
– Santana $137.5m for 6
– Zito $126M for 7
– Hampton $121M for 8
– Lee $120M for 5 (he’s only 1 year into his deal)
– Kevin Brown $105M for 7
– Zambrano $91.5M for 5

Off the top of my head, only Sabathia performed at the top of the league for multiple years…so as a result he’s asking for more…  I don’t blame him, it’s a free market and a well negotiated contract.  But I certainly hope that the Tigers don’t lock themselves into anything like that.  FYI – Tigers 2010 payroll of $105M was 10th in the league.  Yankees’ was 1st at $202M.

 

World Series Game 7 Thread

Last’s night’s game was so incredible and had enough talking points to fill 19 hours of sports-talk time, which is exactly what is happening right now in the Metroplex.  I’d be curious to get everyone’s thoughts.

I really don’t want to see the Cards win another one.