Late Spring Roundup

Lots of news over the past 4-5 days. You’re already aware of these items, most likely, but here’s a little roundup to “put them in the paper,” so to speak:

ROSTER MOVES: IF Jeff Kobernus was sent back to the Nationals. The Tigers retained the rights to Rule 5 LHP Kyle Lobstein by trading C Curt Casali to the Rays for them. IF/OF Matt Tuiasosopo has made the team and claimed a bench spot. Today, RHP Luke Putkonen was optioned to Toledo, while RHP Jose Alvarez, C Brad Davis, and 3B Kevin Russo were assigned to minor league camp, and OF Avisail Garcia was placed on the 15-day DL retroactively (heel contusion that he suffered March 16). The Tigers also released a boatload of minor league players, 20 to be exact.

More of a roster decision than a roster move, but Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly will both be on the pitching staff, Porcello in the rotation and Smyly in the pen.

It looks like there’s a decision to be made on Don Kelly (RHP Shawn Hill will likely be sent out to Toledo soon) and then 3 spots left to trim to 25. On the bubble, most likely, are pitchers Bruce Rondon, Darin Downs, and Luis Marte, and position players Danny Worth, Quintin Berry, and Ramon Santiago. One of the former and two of the latter (barring Kelly’s return) should head north with the team.

DON KELLY: But wait – there’s news on Mr. Don. He’s not opting out. This isn’t bad news, regardless of your position on Kelly.

JV: The Justin Verlander contract extension talks deadline is nearly upon us.

VIRGIL TRUCKS 1917-2013: Not only two no-hitters, but

EX-TIGERS: Brandon Inge (Pirates) and Ryan Raburn (Indians) will both start the season on MLB teams, and the Tigers could end up seeing quite a bit of both of them.

ANDY DIRKS has been out of the starting lineup the last couple games, just a “precautionary measure” (related to the knee contusion Dirks suffered in the March 19 LF wall collision) according to Jim Leyland.

And in Grapefruit League action the past couple days, a little road trip resulted in a win over the Marlins and a loss to the Braves. I’ll be back with some items of note from those games. If you watched them, chime in. It’s still spring training, they’re still exhibition games, but they’re getting a bit more momentous now (aren’t they?) with less than a week to go until you know what.

TIGERS 6, MARLINS 3: The Miami Marlins don’t feature the most imposing lineup, but still, Porcello looked good, Brayan Villareal was good Villareal (three groundouts showing that the benefit of well-thrown heat doesn’t always show up in the K column), and Putkonen did a nice job getting out of the first and third, no outs trouble he got himself into in the 9th… The first pitch curve Porcello threw to Wilson Alvarez in the 3rd was really something to see (backed Alvarez out of the box and landed for a strike)… Rob Brantly’s home run was pretty much all to his credit, not a bad pitch by Porcello, though maybe not one he’ll throw Brantly again… The foul pop in the 3rd that Miguel Cabrera couldn’t find in the sun: Shouldn’t someone have been over there with him – Avila, maybe? It was up there long enough. Oh well. Maybe no one saw it. And speaking of “up there,” Cabrera’s RBI double in the 1st wasn’t your typical Cabrera double. Giancarlo Stanton must have been positioned in LF for that to drop and bounce over the wall… Brayan Pena made some nice plays at first, and the Tigers defense was nice and crisp overall. Coolest was in the 4th, when Casey Kotchman’s sharp grounder was deflected by a diving Pena to (or near) Omar Infante, who found it and threw in time to Porcello racing over to cover 1B… Most of the early 4-run damage the Tigers did was from RHBs off a RHP who wasn’t coming inside to them… Steven Moya’s 6th inning sliding catch in RF: That’s one graceful 6’7″ guy. I like this kid. Latest prediction: In the Tigers outfield by 2015. If he stays healthy… Nice inning of (sort of wild) small ball in the Tigers 2-run 7th. Kotchman had Russo nailed at the plate, but Brantly was cautious and Russo was tricky with hesitation and a good evasive slide. We won’t mention Moya getting caught in a rundown between 3rd and home to end the inning.

BRAVES 6, TIGERS 5: Not on MLB.TV. Oh well. The bullpen let this one get away after one rally and another. Hill, Rondon, Phil Coke, all good. Villareal one HR pitch away from being OK, I guess. Octavio Dotel was making up for WBC lost time and decided to save some by having one great outing and one flameout, both in the same inning. Don Kelly 4 for 4! Trade value soaring. All the bench contenders are now batting over .300.

36 Comments

  1. Coleman

    March 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    And then there were 28…Quintin Berry sent down to Toledo.

    • The Strategy Expert

      March 27, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Tui chewed him.

      • Smoking Loon

        March 27, 2013 at 9:05 pm

        I think the choice was actually between Kelly and Berry – Tuiasosopo’s part of a different equation. Leyland might be going “hot hand” here. Berry should benefit from regular ABs in Toledo. He’ll be back.

        • The Strategy Expert

          March 27, 2013 at 10:51 pm

          Oh yeah there’s no doubt he’ll be back. He had a great Spring, but he still only had 1 XBH in 37 PAs. Kelly destroyed him there and also struck out a lot less.

          • Smoking Loon

            March 27, 2013 at 11:10 pm

            True, Still love Berry’s defense, though.

            The irony is that for Berry to come back, which I would find good as a fan of his, someone else has to fail or get injured, which is of course not something I’m hoping for. I really hope Don Kelly does well. I think.

            • The Strategy Expert

              March 27, 2013 at 11:17 pm

              I’m not sure if Don is juicin’ or if he just feeds off TSE complaints. Whatever works for him I guess. Good luck Donnie!

  2. Coleman

    March 27, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Also the Tigers are rumored to be shopping for a Ramon Santiago trade (good luck with that!):
    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....igers.html

    • The Strategy Expert

      March 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      Well better late than never I guess. His time in Detroit has come and passed a long time ago.

    • Vince in MN

      March 27, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Maybe if the Tigers suck up 75% of his salary.

      • Smoking Loon

        March 27, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        Chances for a taker on Santiago would be good, might still be, but that salary might be a slight impediment.

        • Smoking Loon

          March 27, 2013 at 9:32 pm

          Yankees or Dodgers, possibly. You can quote me.

          • The Strategy Expert

            March 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm

            I have your next set of bonus points waiting on deck.

            • Smoking Loon

              March 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm

              Thanks. I’m really going out on a limb with that one, though. I should have played it safe and said that I have a hunch Santiago really can and will be traded, but it’s too late now.

              • The Strategy Expert

                March 27, 2013 at 11:16 pm

                That’s ok, there are plenty of spots in our farm system we could toss you too, welcome to the big leagues, may your stay be a while.

          • Vince in MN

            March 28, 2013 at 5:05 pm

            No way, he wasn’t an All-Star in 2006.

            • Smoking Loon

              March 28, 2013 at 7:14 pm

              I admit that 2006 wasn’t my best year, but there’s no need to harp on it.

  3. Coleman

    March 27, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Rondon seems ready for the Tiger’s closer job–runners steal at will on him.

  4. Coleman

    March 27, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Downs, on the other hand, is looking great. Any chance the Tigers would go with a 3-Lefty Bullpen?

    • Smoking Loon

      March 27, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Downs is in like Flynn.

  5. Kevin in Dallas

    March 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Rondon may have pitched himself out of the closer’s job today, and I’m not sure that there’s another role for him right now.

    Bullpen chaos.

    • Vince in MN

      March 27, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Rondon should go to Toledo to start the season, where hopefully they can teach him how to pitch. Personally I think he is probably a little bit too unseasoned yet and the whole pre-season ‘closer’ hype was just the hope that they could catch lightning (literally) in a bottle. The bullpen will be fine. In fact, IMO, it is so deep, they will be sending people down who would actually be on the 25-man squads of most other teams; lots of flexibility for meltdowns and injuries that will occur. The only chaos exists in the minds of those who believe We-Gotta-Have-A-Closer-Or-We-Are-Doomed-OMG! I’m more concerned about Fister and a little about Verlander than what 7-man bullpen we will field next week.

      • Smoking Loon

        March 27, 2013 at 9:09 pm

        Yes, I think Rondon is Toledo bound. It goes without saying that he’ll be back, and it might not be that long.

        I, too, am sick to death of the OMG no closer thing.

    • Smoking Loon

      March 27, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      I agree, Kevin, that the bullpen situation seems chaotic at the moment. We’ll just have to see how they all do when the games count. Today’s loss to the Phillies was flat and unsatisfying – I get the sense we’re in a lame duck session until opening day. I guess that’s a WBC extended spring for ya. I was naive to suggest that the exhibition games should be getting more exciting at this point. I’m not even sure I’m gonna watch any more of them.

      • Vince in MN

        March 28, 2013 at 11:58 am

        I don’t think the bullpen situation is chaotic per se. What could become a problem is Leyland’s potential mismanagement of the bullpen in lieu of lacking that all important closer role player. I could easily see him going with “matchups” in the ninth inning of close games, that is using three pitchers instead of one, which could wear down the pen pretty fast. Watching Leyland’s managing style over the last eight years, it’s pretty clear bullpen use isn’t one of his strengths. Hopefully our improved offense combined with our stellar starting rotation will reduce the number of close games where this could become an issue.

        • The Strategy Expert

          March 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm

          Which department(s) of game-day related tactics do you feel Leyland does excel at? Besides arguing with the umpires which obviously he’s great at.

          • Vince in MN

            March 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

            Well, rumor has it that the players seem to like him a lot.

          • Vince in MN

            March 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm

            And the sportswriters of course.

  6. Vince in MN

    March 28, 2013 at 12:53 am

    The predicted high here in Mpls for Monday is 34. And windy.

  7. Vince in MN

    March 28, 2013 at 1:34 am

    Lee Panas’ pitching staff predictions for this season:

    http://www.detroittigertales.c.....chers.html

    I got a kick out of this one in reference to the bullpen:
    “The committee will keep the Tigers in good enough shape, but will begin to make Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland nervous by mid-season.  At that point, they will trade for a “real closer” who won’t do any better than the committee, but will make decisions easier for Leyland.”   

    • Kevin in Dallas

      March 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      He’s spot on.

      • Smoking Loon

        March 28, 2013 at 6:11 pm

        I like Lee’s comment. Apt and funny. However, I don’t see the Tigers trading for a closer this season unless things go very badly. If the bullpen does well out of the gate, I see a closer being anointed rather quickly and Leyland sticking with that guy until he blows up, if he blows up. In that case, it’s plan B – B as in Bruce. If that doesn’t work, then the trade. I find the outside positions – either bullpen’s great and one closer emerges or disaster and chaos – more likely than the middle ground of committee does well enough. Leyland hates the idea of the committee and will abandon it at the earliest opportunity.

  8. Coleman

    March 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    It’s official, Marte and Rondon sent to Toledo.

  9. Kevin in Dallas

    March 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Sanchez getting lit up like Opening Day.

  10. Vince in MN

    March 28, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Has anybody else noticed the pitch counts put up by the starters in the last couple of weeks? Today Sanchez threw about 60 pitches in 5 innings, while facing 26 batters. That’s bare two pitches per batter and he fanned 3 and walked 1. The other day Hill threw less than 30 pitches in 5 innings, ALL strikes. They are definitely not trying to finesse anyone with pitch counts like that. I’m guessing they are just pumping fastballs down the middle. And apparently the hitters don’t take a pitch unless it is way outside of the zone. In looking over the game recaps on MLB.com it seems that a majority of the hits/outs are on first pitch swings. This isn’t going to carry over into the regular season either. It almost seems as if the pitchers are throwing batting practice and the hitters are taking batting practice, so I am not too sure now how much to make of ANY of the results put up by our pitchers lately. I’m not sure if this trend is applicable to our relievers or not, but if so, it makes Rondon’s inability to throw strikes even more disconcerting.

    • Smoking Loon

      March 28, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      After watching Verlander’s last start, I don’t think anything the starters do at this point and until opening day is more than getting to a certain pitch count and working on this or that. The starting lineup also seems to be either working on stuff or going through the motions. Watching some more games from last year would be more instructive for my purposes than watching any more of ST.

    • Smoking Loon

      March 28, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      From mlb.com article:

      “Sanchez allowed 11 hits and nine runs in five innings, throwing 101 pitches.”

      I’m not sure how reliable any of the more esoteric data is for ST, Vince. You’d think mlb.com would be a bit better with the Gameday thing, but maybe not (I didn’t scrutinize this carefully). I noticed that the stuff on cbssports.com was way off a while back, all pitchers sometimes shown as having thrown every pitch for a strike, etc.. And the full play-by-play was usually off as well, which I picked up on when I noticed how the walks were all on 4 pitches and strikeouts on 3, supposedly.