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Postponed: Royals at Tigers

Well, we needed that off-day. I’m not speaking for the team; the fans certainly did though.

The news of the day is that Octavio Dotel has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation, the 2nd time he has suffered this ailment (the first just landed him on the day-to-day list). Whether the elbow inflammation caused his ineffectiveness or his ineffectiveness caused the inflammation diagnosis, the Tigers decided it was time to give Rondon a roll in the bigs. Rondon solved some control problems from Spring Training (he hasn’t walked a batter in his last 4 Mud Hen outings), and he has been rewarded. It remains to be seen how this might effect the Valverde situation–Valverde continues to pitch well, and has a May 5 call-up deadline in his contract.

*****

Surprisingly though, the bullpen had very little to do with the Tigers slumping on the 2nd half of their West Coast trip. The bats simply disappeared, especially with runners in scoring position. (For those wondering why Phil Coke was left in to face Trumbo, by the way, Dotel’s injury meant there were no right-handers left in the bullpen to bring in anyway).

The Tigers have a meager 12 home runs for the season, and an anemic .379 slugging percentage, good for 12th in the league (they are being outslugged by the Royals). With runners in scoring position they are only hitting .230, with a .654 OPS (12th), and with bases loaded it only gets worse, an astounding .087 BA with a .301 OPS.

Prince Fielder, after being named Player of the Week, began striking out like his body had been snatched by Inge, and had a golden sombrero and a platinum poncho to add to his luggage for the return trip.  It would be easy to just say “that’s baseball,” but the more astute fan would detect the working of a jinx, and blame John Lowe for wondering if the Tigers could have two .400 hitters this season.

*****

A big part of the offensive malaise of course is the continued struggles of Victor Martinez, which have left the Tigers with a Ramon Santiago-like OPS of .542 from the DH position (14th) and from the 5th spot in the lineup (13th).  Martinez has had some bad luck on balls in play, but he is not making any excuses.  At any rate, the Martinez situation could turn into one of those Raburn/Boesch/Ordonez situations:  it is too early to do anything but stay with the course, but if the Tigers end up on the other side of the All-Star break with a 5-hitter with a .600 OPS, that spells trouble.

*****

Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Max Scherzer. Max will strike out a bushel of batters, but more than that, we are going with the slump-busting, Creepy Max Glare game picture to hypnotize the Royals. If Max gets in trouble, look for Leyland to bring Rondon in for his first MLB appearance with bases loaded and nobody out.

Today’s Powerless Lineup (reverse jinx in effect):

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Hunter, RF
  3. Cabrera, 3B
  4. Fielder, 1B
  5. Martinez, DH
  6. Dirks, LF
  7. Peralta, SS
  8. Avila, C
  9. Infante, 2B

Posted by on April 23, 2013.

Categories: 2013 Season, Game Post

64 Responses

  1. An unconventional move would be to swap Martinez and Hunter in the batting order for a while. Encourages AJax to steal. Forces Martinez into hit-and-runs with Jackson on first. Hunter is better protection for Prince right now than Martinez is, clearly. Hunter is hitting and Miggy and Prince are getting on base – Avila and Infante FOR Hunter at #2, not so much.

    I thought of dropping V-Mart in the order first, like #7, but the trouble is, who replaces him in the 5 slot? The only contender is Hunter, really.

    Martinez is going to come around sooner or later. There’s really nothing for it if he doesn’t, as far as I can tell.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm

  2. I would have no objections to seeing Rondon make his MLB debut in any number of critical situations, including the scenario above. Getting outs is job one from day one. The minors are for preparing for the majors. The major league level is where you stand and deliver. The sooner the better.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 6:04 pm

  3. VMart Babip is 207. just unlucky. OBP: 286 improving. 10 BB/9SO. Plate discipline is intact
    Dont panic

    by travisfrymanfan on Apr 23, 2013 at 6:47 pm

  4. Sorry but hit and run would force him to make swing to bad pitches. Not the best way to break the slump.

    by travisfrymanfan on Apr 23, 2013 at 6:48 pm

  5. It’s 6 in one and a half-dozen in the other, and a risky way to tinker since that could blow up and just give Leyland more headaches to deal with. The problem is we just don’t have a large enough quantity of efficient offensive players.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:07 pm

  6. Game is officially postponed, until someday.

    by Coleman on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:28 pm

  7. You hit and run in certain favorable counts where a bad pitch is less likely and a swing and miss isn’t fatal. If a pitcher wants to bounce one in with Jackson on first, he’s going to have Jackson at second and one of the best two-strike hitters in the game at the plate.

    I’ve seen every Martinez at bat this season. You are correct, travisfrymanfan, that there’s nothing obviously wrong with him. Getting under some stuff you expect he will soon be hitting on a line. The only minor issue is a bit too much taking. Hit and runs are a way that sometimes works to get a guy rolling with being a little more aggressive.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:36 pm

  8. +1

    by Kevin in Dallas on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:40 pm

  9. Drag. It appears that Detroit weather probably won’t postpone tomorrow night’s game, but it’s not going to be very nice out for a ballgame.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:40 pm

  10. Well, the Mud Hens are on. They’re even winning for a change.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:46 pm

  11. http://m.mlb.com/det/news/arti.....345577572/

    by mcb on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm

  12. http://network.yardbarker.com/.....idget=true

    Hernan Perez, SS of the future.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:49 pm

  13. Yea sweet play!

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:04 pm

  14. Uh-oh…”immediately”

    by Kevin in Dallas on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:25 pm

  15. Yeah, I saw that. Not sure what to make of it. If they want Valverde back so soon, who goes? Villareal?

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:32 pm

  16. Dotel. He’s too old and useless, time for him to go away.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:35 pm

  17. What? Just release Dotel? I’m not sure he’s that useless. Independent of Dotel, I think Villareal could use some time in Toledo to work on whatever he has to under less pressure.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm

  18. Meet the new Closer
    Same as the Old Closer

    by Coleman on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm

  19. Completely disagree. He has a 3 year WHIP of ~1 and a K/9 of roughly 10.

    Check the options on Downs/Smyly/Villareal and you’ll have your answer.

    Or maybe they trade Porcello.

    Remember, Dotel is out for 15 days.

    by Kevin in Dallas on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm

  20. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....verde.html

    by Coleman on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm

  21. Before the current Valverde hubbub, I was starting to wonder whether the whole thing was just a way to help him land a job… with another team.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:46 pm

  22. No, trade him if he has any value. You asked for who should go to make room and that’s my vote. If you think he has use then keep him and send Villareal to Toledo. I just don’t respect Dotel’s value to this team.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:48 pm

  23. That’s in the past, but this year and future years he is going to be exponentially decreasing in value to this team in comparison to those previous years. I just think it’s time to move on from him.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:50 pm

  24. Yes, release Dotel because there’s no way the guy who was one of your top two relievers last year is worthy to be one of your eleven pitchers on April 24.

    by stephen on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:53 pm

  25. Disagreeing on Villareal, I take it. You’ve seen him pitch this year. I certainly have, every pitch. What’s your take on Villareal 2013? Mine is that he is by far the shakiest thing going in the bullpen.

    Trading Porcello more likely than time in Toledo for Villareal? I’m sure Smyly and Downs have options, not sure about Villareal (I was assuming he had some left), but there is just no way Smyly or Downs get sent down at this point to make room for anyone.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:53 pm

  26. Here’s a crazy idea! Move on from Dotel after the year is over not three weeks into the season after he’s had two excellent seasons. I know, it’s crazy, but lets try it!

    by stephen on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm

  27. Oh my take on Villareal is he would have been traded before the season started. I don’t care for him especially and as mentioned before I wanted to shore up the offense and I need to look for anything and everything to move to get new batters. Villareal never had a shot to make my team. So I would trade him too, but now with his horrible start we are probably stuck with him. But I wouldn’t boot him to the minors to free up a roster spot since Dotel is lower on my totem pole due to primarily the age disadvantage.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm

  28. Oh and I wouldn’t trade Porcello now because his stock is slipping a bit. He has to raise his stock to trade him since apparently we weren’t getting good offers anyhow. So we are stuck with him until we can confirm a good deal is available.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:58 pm

  29. Well, that was all very fast. As if the Tigers bullpen problems have anything whatsoever to do with “lack of a closer.” I don’t much like this. I especially don’t like the prospect of having to spend, potentially, HOURS UPON HOURS in total watching those annoying rituals. I’m hoping there are no more close games this season.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:00 pm

  30. Well I tried to warn you that he was a better fit for our team than anybody else and DD and the Tigers always held him in high regard. I knew it was just a matter of time. :)

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm

  31. You will be pleased to hear that as of today, Brandon Inge is a Major League Baseball player.

    by Coleman on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:04 pm

  32. Pretty sure Captain Picard wouldn’t release Dotel. In fact, if someone suggested it, Picard would bitch-slap him and jettison his body out a hatch.

    by stephen on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:04 pm

  33. Well, for the record, I’m not advocating giving Dotel the boot, and all I’m saying about Villareal is that some time in Toledo – if it’s an option – might help him. He’s worth keeping when he’s right. He’s certainly not quite right now, even after those “mechanical things” they supposedly worked on a week ago or so.

    Something’s got to give if they’re planning to add both Valverde and Rondon. And then Dotel’s back in couple weeks, or so we assume.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm

  34. Obviously, you were right. Is there still a chance this is all a ruse to get Valverde a job in the NL?

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:08 pm

  35. I’m not surprised. He was really tearing it up in Indianapolis.

    Ha ha. Made you look it up. (Not you, Coleman. I’m sure you knew.)

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:10 pm

  36. Castellanos hit his first AAA homer to put Toledo ahead and I missed it talking about Valverde.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:14 pm

  37. What if Dotel himself suggested it to Cap’n Picard? What happens to your argument then?

    I don’t think Picard was really the bitch-slapping type, if I recall correctly. What say you, TSE?

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:25 pm

  38. Leyland and DD have gone into Panic Mode a week earlier than I anticipated. Funny.

    by Vince in MN on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:28 pm

  39. Villareal to Toledo per Beck.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 10:05 pm

  40. It’s not personal. For me Dotel and Villareal both had exactly a 0% chance of making my desired roster. They are casualties and victims of circumstance due to bigger fish we need to fry. I think we can find a lot more pitching options to replace them, than we can hitters to replace the guys that need to be replaced there.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 10:12 pm

  41. No, sorry. The first time we picked up Valverde the Tigers valued him more than every other team. And they still do. He’s ours and nobody else’s.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 10:14 pm

  42. No, I would say Picard is not the bitch-slapping type!

    What I say is that the goal should be to never release a ML player. If you do then you made a mistake. Every player on the roster should only be on the roster if he has trade value. So if you don’t like a player, then you should trade him away for his salvage value, and if he has no salvage value then you have to look into the past and figure out how you screwed up.

    So I would never advocate releasing Dotel or any Tiger. Any Tiger that I don’t want on the team I would want to be traded away and I put the responsibility on DD to vouch that there will always be a team that will pay for who I consider to be undesirable players.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 23, 2013 at 10:18 pm

  43. In Valverde’s favor, as far as immediate impressions go, is that he owned the Royals* and Twins in 2012** and owns good career numbers against current players there.

    * July 7 and a nearly blown save is the only exception.
    ** White Sox and Indians, not so much. What a coincidence that he should be coming back to the Tigers just now.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 11:00 pm

  44. And if Valverde fails, my question is: How long will it take for the Tigers to face it and let him go again? How much will he have to fail to be declared a failure?

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 23, 2013 at 11:03 pm

  45. The Strategy Expert: What world are you living in where Dotel doesn’t make your roster? Are relievers with a +117 ERA falling from the sky? Just saying ‘hey, I did my analysis, he doesn’t make my final cut’ is like the argument a cranky Dad makes with a little kid and boils down to ‘Go to bed because I say so.’ Just because you say so doesn’t make it true. There is no factual argument you can make for Dotel not making the team.

    by stephen on Apr 24, 2013 at 12:46 am

  46. The real world of my honest opinions. I mentioned above how I am more concerned about our offense and I’m much more comfortable looking for replacement pitchers if we gave some up to improve the offense than I am to look for replacement hitters if we gave some up to improve the pitching staff.

    I’m not sure what you mean by coming up with a factual argument for him to not make the team. It is indeed a fact that he already made the team. I’m not talking about what the Tigers already did, I’m talking about only what I wish they would do, or well would have done since now Dotel’s stock is lower than prior to the season start and arguably non-existent. But if you think he’s such a great pitcher to have, then that’s great news to me because that sounds encouraging that we can still trade him if we want to go with that option. It’s also a curious time for you to defend the choice to have kept him on the roster this year given that he has started off with a 13.50 ERA.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 24, 2013 at 9:03 am

  47. reply below…

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 24, 2013 at 9:03 am

  48. I don’t think there is any coincidence. As soon as the Panic Factor came seriously into play (about 3 games into the season) they quickly signed him to a MiL contract, and after that it was just a matter of time for him to be proclaimed our Savior. I fully expected him to be here before his opt-out date in early May, but I assumed they would at least have him pitch to some AAAA players for a few games before the big Comeback. My guess is he gets a lot of rope, since he is our Closer now and Leyland has to stick with his Role players even when they have Stuff to work on. Speaking of roles, the bullpen will now get organized a bit and we will get a regular 7th Inning Guy and Setup Guy. Whether or not this resolves into more effective pitching and more wins remains to be seen of course. The biggest “benefit” of all this may be Leyland’s increased comfort level.

    by Vince in MN on Apr 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

  49. Well Leyland said yesterday that he will not be our closer right away. He is just going to get his feet wet first. That apparently means he will be pitching in the 6th or 7th inning. Basically Jim wants him to start off pitching in the shallow waters of those early innings, instead of the deep waters which would be the 9th inning. Does that clear it all up?

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 24, 2013 at 11:41 am

  50. I’m pretty sure Leyland was referring to Rondon not being our Closer right away. With both Rondon and Valverde being called up within 24 hours of each other, I can see how this would be confusing, especially given Captain Mumbles penchant for speaking in aphoristic generalisms. Valverde is definitely our Savior, starting tonight. Maybe it is even in his contract. Being in a state of panic can cause one to do strange things.

    by Vince in MN on Apr 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm

  51. Ahh yes indeed you are correct. I found the article I was looking at yesterday and it was about Rondon, not Valverde. I thought it was extremely peculiar the way he was talking about having to ease Valverde back in, like as if it was a big stretch to throw him out there in the 9th inning for his first outing like as if Valverde couldn’t handle that pressure.

    Good catch and thanks for clearing up my mistake!

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm

  52. http://beck.mlblogs.com/2013/0.....ssignment/

    I’d say the chances are pretty good that somebody claims him.

    by Vince in MN on Apr 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm

  53. Well that potentially pisses me off. We could have saved a spot for Boesch and that would have been better than keeping Below if we were just going to get rid of Below and not trade him.

    That being said the Tigers can still trade him until they place him on waivers to be claimed. So they better get something for him or hope he goes unclaimed so that they don’t lose him for nothing.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 24, 2013 at 3:22 pm

  54. Below is actually putting up good numbers at Toledo. But then Wilks put up great numbers there last season after his inauspicious start with the Tigers and they ended up selling him to a Korean (!) team this past offseason for a quart of kimchi, so what do I know. Who has more trade value between Below, Santiago and Kelly? I’m thinking in terms of the last man on the 40-man roster. Just a thought.

    by Vince in MN on Apr 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm

  55. I would say no doubt that Below has the most trade value since I’m not sure why any team would give up a penny to take on the contracts for Kelly and Santiago. Those guys are net negatives to possess.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm

  56. Or if you ask JL or DD then those guys are key cornerstone players that are extremely valuable to this club, along with all of our other players. We can’t possibly play a baseball game without them.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 24, 2013 at 4:32 pm

  57. Perhaps they can deal him to someone for a MiL catcher, who they can then flip down the road for a MiL LH relief pitcher. This seems to have been a pattern in the past anyway.

    by Vince in MN on Apr 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm

  58. The DFA of Below seems a curious move considering how well he’s doing in Toledo, but the Tigers have Smyly in Detroit and Alvarez in Toledo and evidently view Below as the guy with the lowest ceiling in what they evidently view as a crowded lefty house. Maybe they’re doing him a favor, because I think he could catch on with another MLB team. This is doing the Mud Hens no favors, though. They just lost Rondon and now this. They’re 6-14, and they’re only that good because of pitching. Sheesh. Poor Toledo.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 24, 2013 at 5:50 pm

  59. Well sometimes to DFA a guy can help increase trade activity. Teams know he will likely be on waivers and want to bid to get him. So if they wanted to trade Below and couldn’t find any takers, then to DFA him could get somebody to up their offer.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 24, 2013 at 6:12 pm

  60. “The biggest “benefit” of all this may be Leyland’s increased comfort level.”

    You nailed it, Vince.

    I’m not a Valverde hater. He was adequate for most of 2012. Maybe he’ll be adequate again. Let’s hope so, because we are now stuck with him. Not that I want him to fail, but:

    a) I would rather have turned the page, as the Tigers seemingly had in short order after the WS and in no uncertain terms. Was the whole 5-month dance some form of a contract negotiation? I’d rather see the next guy in situations like these. The Tigers aren’t devoid of pitching talent within the organization.

    b) Valverde is a “solution” in roughly the same way as solving the DH production problem by changing course and madly pursuing Delmon Young or Brennan Boesch would be. Come to think of it, this inflexible designated closer madness turns one bullpen guy into a kind of DH. A DP. Designated Pitcher. Oh no – can’t put him in in the 8th! Can’t start the 9th with a different matchup – the inning must belong to the CLOSER!

    c) The Tigers DO need some bullpen reliability from the RHP side. Villareal down and Dotel out until they’re better, totally fine; someone up from Toledo, Rondon and whoever else, totally fine. But I don’t see how someone limited to a fixed closer role helps a great deal. Is a LHP *never* a better choice in the 9th inning? Does the title “closer” confer magical powers?

    d) How exactly is Valverde supposed to be any better now than he would have been during a normal cycle of spring training with the team? The Tigers are *more* confident in him under the present circumstances? I don’t get that.

    e) How many Tigers losses this year have had anything to do with a bullpen failure that Valverde’s presence could have remedied? Offhand, I count one at the most. Game 2. Valverde wouldn’t have been pitching to Donaldson in the 12th or Trumbo in the 13th. And I have no reason to believe Valverde couldn’t have blown Game 2 just as Coke did.

    Maybe this is supposed to fire up the team. Rallying around Papa Grande in his triumphant return. Maybe he has that special clubhouse presence that Octavio Dotel will find comforting and inspirational. Seriously, Valverde seems very well-regarded there. Less seriously, maybe this will cure Joaquin Benoit’s severe anxiety about not having his own very special inning to pitch. It’s got to be rough not knowing in advance what inning you are assigned to. It must throw you off to think that you might be called upon to pitch at any time late in a game.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 24, 2013 at 6:31 pm

  61. d) Well that’s obviously because the Tigers thought that they were turning the page. They probably had more than just Rondon at the time they parted with Valverde as possible options to make them forget about Valverde, such as Coke or Benoit or a committee approach feeling comfortable at the time (if not one of the FAs or trade targets that may have seemed possible then but not at this time). So they proved their own selves wrong on the position that they took at that time. I find it to be pretty embarrassing.

    And for “a”, well I am with you but even one step ahead as I rejected Valverde the day he was signed as it was a steep purchase that I thought didn’t make sense.

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 24, 2013 at 6:39 pm

  62. “d)” has to do with the physical reality of the situation rather than any strategic considerations on the part of the Tigers. If Valverde’s unusual off-season and semblance of a late spring training is supposed to have made him now capable, suddenly, of throwing 97 MPH and perhaps even ended the rumored tipping of pitches, maybe the Tigers should consider this in between seasons regimen for the future as a way of fixing all pitchers who might be in ill repair.

    by Smoking Loon on Apr 24, 2013 at 6:58 pm

  63. It’s very scary to analyze what the Tigers might be thinking or how they go about doing things. Maybe you are onto something that works for them though!

    by The Strategy Expert on Apr 24, 2013 at 7:03 pm

  64. Excellent wrap up, Loon.

    by Vince in MN on Apr 24, 2013 at 7:05 pm

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