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 thoughts on “Late Spring Roundup”

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. 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!

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

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

            1. 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.

              1. 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.

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

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  3. Lee Panas’ pitching staff predictions for this season:


    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.”   

      1. 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.

  4. 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 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.

    1. 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.

    2. From 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 would be a bit better with the Gameday thing, but maybe not (I didn’t scrutinize this carefully). I noticed that the stuff on 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.

Comments are closed.