Happy New Year 2014

This is the year, isn’t it? Of course it is.

Aside from the eventual World Series championship, perhaps we can look forward to more participation here. More comments, more readers, and maybe even some new voices up here at the bully pulpit. (Invite yourself, already.) There’s even a rumor of a site overhaul that would turn DTW into something more attractive and user-friendly, particularly for the Smartphone People (of which I am not one).  OK, I made that rumor up, but still. Stomp your foot. Bang the drum. It could happen. (For God’s sake, give us an EDIT BUTTON!!)

Once upon a time, DTW was a seething hotbed of Tigermania, a veritable WikiTigerpedia. The return of the good old days is up to not me, but you. There are a number of funny, baseball-savvy Detroit Tigers fans here now and more lurking, but there’s room for many more. There are also dumb people such as myself, so don’t be intimidated. Speak up. Comment begets comment begets discussion and the sharing of vital contributions to the universe of baseball knowledge, or at least more snarky comments to enjoy. If you have enthusiasm for the Detroit Tigers, you are…

WELCOME HERE!

 

So how are we looking heading into this new year? For the third in a row, there is great cause for optimism. But there is also disquiet. Things have changed, and change might not be good.

WAR out the door, and more

Prince Fielder, 1.7. Jhonny Peralta, 3.3. Omar Infante, 2.4. Doug Fister, 4.1. Joaquin Benoit, 2.8. Much gnashing of teeth about the loss of Fister, whose monogram has suddenly become CY. Was it really necessary to let go of role players with value such as Brayan Pena, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Jose Veras? Was it their fault? Re-signing Phil Coke has been about as popular as it sounds. Is replacing Fielder at 1B with Miguel Cabrera and sliding in Nick Castellanos at 3B going to have that much of a positive impact on team defense? I mean, really. Joba Chamberlain and Ian Krol are supposed to give us new confidence in the bullpen? Those are the moves? A superficial, on paper perusal might suggest that this team has not only not gotten better, but has actually gotten worse. Oh no!

But there’s dissent via Lee Panas, and also Buster Olney of ESPN (premium insider article). At least on the offensive side. We can all agree that the Tigers still have one of the best starting staffs in MLB and that the bullpen remains a question mark (as bullpens are wont to do).

This is the dawning of The Age of Ausmuquarius, or, An Aus(mus)picious Debut

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time the Tigers had a new manager, I seem to recall that things went pretty well. Brad Ausmus and an almost entirely new coaching staff have arrived. Culture change? It’s beyond culture change. This is a brand new team with some familiar faces and some unfamiliar features. Monster in the bullpen. Defensive whiz at SS. Actual yout’s on the team as actual members of it, not fill-ins (Castellanos, Jose Iglesias, and presumably Bryan Holaday and Hernan Perez). Something approximating MLB-average speed and athleticism overall, a dizzying concept for Tigers fans these days. When was the last time all of this was in place? Oh, and the Tigers still have Cabrera and Justin Verlander, in case you just emerged from a 2008 time capsule.

It will be interesting to compare the fortunes of the Tigers and the Red Sox with those of the Rangers and Yankees in 2014. Different off-season approaches. I honestly thought the Tigers might spend big(ger) again in terms of new acquisitions. At present, I’m pleasantly surprised that didn’t happen.

Anyway, count me as one of the 2014 optimists. I haven’t liked all the moves, but I like the direction, and the danger of standing pat should be well known by now. The 2014 Detroit Tigers should be a very, very interesting team to watch. My feeling is that only injuries could shoot this enterprise down. My “guy feeling” is that this team has the look of team that might gel as a team like no other Tigers team of recent vintage.

How many days until pitchers and catchers report? GO TIGERS.

81 Comments

  1. judpma

    December 31, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Nice work Loon!

    hope everyone has a Great start to 2014!!!

    • JimEggersUSMC

      January 1, 2014 at 3:30 am

      I am in agreement with jud. We have a unique group of folks on this here thingie, and I love to see what is coming next. Am efforting 3 days worth of Tiger baseball in May, and I guess Cano will be there too. Let’s have a great year!

  2. Cammee

    January 2, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I guess I need to comment and tell you all how grateful I am for this site. As a Tigers fan in Utah, this is the #1 place I get my Tigers news. I have to admit, I have a bit of anxiety going into this season. Hopefully the runs they are planning on manufacturing can replace the bats we lost. Bullpen is still sketchy. I just ready to get the show on the road, come on April!

    • Smoking Loon

      January 3, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      We’re all over the place, Cammee. This seems to be the home away from home for the Detroit Tigers fans diaspora. (Looking forward to Vince’s comment on the word “diaspora.”) Doesn’t seem like many of us even live in Michigan, let alone Detroit. (Speak up, y’all, and prove me wrong.)

      • William

        January 6, 2014 at 9:56 am

        I love site…I’m in Birmingham, AL. While it feels like Michigan here today (18 degrees), but we get very little coverage of the Tigers here. All Braves, all the time.

        • Smoking Loon

          January 7, 2014 at 8:03 pm

          Imagine Chicago. Two other MLB teams, blacked out (mlb.tv) of all the White Sox-Tigers games. The good part is picking up the inside scoop on a division rival without trying, by osmosis, more or less.

  3. PHToy in HK

    January 3, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Only the 3rd year in a row to have great optimism? I would say for the last 30 or so years in a row!

    • PHToy in HK

      January 3, 2014 at 8:17 am

      I meant at least 30 years for me.

      • Scott

        January 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm

        your telling me that you had great optimism in 2005 when we set a record for most loses?

        • Smoking Loon

          January 3, 2014 at 8:50 pm

          Well, PHToy, I had “probable cause” optimism in mind rather than normal fan optimism. Hopes since the end of 2011 have probably been at a 30-year high. The Tigers have been a loaded team, expected to do more than merely contend. And they’ve delivered, though the WS win has been elusive. Maybe this time hopes are higher than ever, though expectations might be a bit tempered by the unexpectedly radical changes.

        • PHToy in HK

          January 3, 2014 at 9:50 pm

          Although I am frequently disappointed, when it comes tot he Tigers I always try to be positive. This is why the Fister trade doesn’t bother me.

          • Smoking Loon

            January 3, 2014 at 11:11 pm

            Aha. So the Fister trade really *does* bother you. I’m not troubled by it at all. Is *anyone* with me on this?

  4. KW

    January 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Guys, not sure how much access you have to the back end, but since this is a WordPress blog, it should be pretty easy to install a plugin that allows comment editing. See http://wordpress.org/plugins/w.....-comments/ or http://wordpress.org/plugins/s.....t-editing/. Any other WordPress questions, feel free to ask me here (don’t email me because I never put my real email address in the email field).

    By the way, this is by far my favorite Tigers blog for news and discussion because of the small community and intelligent group of people. I’d love to see the site redesigned a little bit to keep things fresh.

    • Smoking Loon

      January 3, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      Thanks, KW, for the words on WordPress. We’ll see what the keepers of the keys have to say. I think they might be vacationing at the beach pictured above.

    • Vince

      January 3, 2014 at 9:19 pm

      Many moons ago we had one, but at the last site redesign it disappeared. I’d love to have it back as well.

      • Smoking Loon

        January 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm

        Yes, I also remember the age of edit button. I wonder if its disappearance was intentional or an oversight.

  5. Scott

    January 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Hey guys Happy New Year!!! I’m from Detroit and have been a Tigers fan my whole life and I think this is the best team we’ve had since 1984. And I’m very excited to see how we turn out this upcoming year! I also just wanted to tell you guys about another EXCELLENT Detroit Tigers blog where they give the up to date news and in-depth analysis on the Detroit Tigers. It’s a Tumblr page, and to make a Tumblr account it’s free the only thing you need is your email to sign up, and go to the URL I give. Then press the follow button in the upper right corner of the page. Like i said I think it’s really cool and you guys should follow it! Another add on is you can ask questions to the writers of the blog about the team and they’ll give their opinion! It’s really cool! The last thing I wanted to say is that local Detroit Tigers sports writers (like Lynn Henning, etc.) follow and they all say that they love it! Here is the URL.

    http://www.tigersausmus.tumblr.com

    Thanks guys! And go Tigers!

    • John K.

      January 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      NICE!!! LOVE IT!!

    • Nick

      January 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      This is really good!

    • TigersFan389

      January 3, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      This blog is great! Thanks for posting this!

    • Christian

      January 3, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      I’m Following!!!!!!!

    • KW

      January 3, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      Wow, can anybody say SPAM?

      • Smoking Loon

        January 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm

        Boy, do I feel dumb. I thought they were talking about DTW. I was patting myself on the back for having drawn forth a few new commenters.

        Ah, well. Nothing wrong with a bit of self-promotion or cross-promotion here, I don’t suppose.

        • Vince

          January 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm

          Tweets don’t do it for me. I can cross that one off my daily “must read” list.

          • Smoking Loon

            January 3, 2014 at 11:09 pm

            Yeah. I like a good article that looks like an article. Written by someone not affiliated with the Tigers or beholden to them in any way. I like Jason Beck, but he can’t really let his hair down and write like a fan. A really good article takes time, though. Who’s got the time? Especially during the season, when 3 or 7 games have gone by in the time it takes you to gather your stats and make a point that’s already old news by then.

            • Vince in MN

              January 5, 2014 at 10:55 am

              You, Kevin and Coleman seem to do OK.

              • Smoking Loon

                January 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm

                That’s nice of you to say, Vince. I like Kevin and Coleman fine, wish I could do better myself.

  6. jud

    January 3, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    one of the nicest Minor League ball parks anywhere 5/3rd in Grand Rapids burned down today. Pictures on MLive…was a beautiful Class A Stadium in the Tigers system!

    • Smoking Loon

      January 3, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      Wow. Thanks for the scoop, judpma. Bad news there. At least it was empty of people, or practically so.

      • Jim EggersUSMC

        January 4, 2014 at 3:09 am

        Saw a pic on facebook and it looks like a good stop by the brothers. The team has vowed to fix it up and be ready for April playing.

  7. Smoking Loon

    January 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    The Orioles have signed Quintin Berry to a minor league deal with a ST invite. What do the Tigers have against Quintin Berry, exactly? Did he also sleep with Prince Fielder’s wife?

    • Vince

      January 3, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Besides the fact that he couldn’t slug it, his minor league (AAA) stats from last year were .191/.309/.257/.566 in 381 PA. So that might explain some of the reluctance.

      • Smoking Loon

        January 3, 2014 at 10:39 pm

        He should have made the team out of ST. Leyland and his (inferior) veteran preference. What Berry did in 2012 appears to be largely forgotten. It counts for more than his dispirited time in AAA in my book. I’d take Tuiasosopo and Berry over Kelly and Davis any day, not that there’s any chance of that now. I don’t think Leyland liked anyone with enthusiasm (think Brayan Pena as well). Like Lou Grant and his view of “spunk,” if you remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and I’m sure you do.

        • Jim EggersUSMC

          January 4, 2014 at 3:13 am

          “I Hate Spunk!!”

          • Smoking Loon

            January 7, 2014 at 8:10 pm

            You got it! I think Ausmus likes spunk. I hope he does, anyway.

  8. judpma

    January 4, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I am not bothered by the Fister trade in the least bit…the upside outweighes the downside by quite a bit to me..which includes the new rotation. I also beleive, despite not much agreement from my DTW buddies that Porcellos upside is greater than Fisters,!!

    • Smoking Loon

      January 9, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Ah, good. An ally!

  9. Kevin in Dallas

    January 6, 2014 at 1:37 am

    Hello Friends. Happy New Year.

    The site is in need of a massive overhaul (including the ability to edit). billfer has the keys and he’s swamped, but as soon as I can convince him to let me borrow them, I’m on it. I drool with envy at some of the SB Nation layouts out there. I know we could easily convert this WordPress theme for another, so rest assured, it’s on the radar.

    Honestly, I have no idea how billfer did it. I know he has a family and yet he found the time to write eloquently and intelligently hundreds of times per year. All to our benefit. There is not way that any of us could carry that load individually, but I’m pleased with where we’ve picked up. This is no longer the most popular Tigers blog by numbers, but it’s no doubt the most insightful and intelligent. And I’ll gladly take it.

    Anyway, I’ve been spending time doing other life things, but I’m getting geared up for another season. Buster Olney (you’ll need insider) ranks the Tigers #1…http://insider.espn.go.com/blo...../_/id/4267,

    • Smoking Loon

      January 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm

      Agreed, Billfer was pretty amazing. I’m grateful that Kevin and Coleman were (and are) there to carry this on, and remain appreciative they gave me the opportunity to contribute.

  10. Angus

    January 6, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Count me in as an optimist as well. Love my Tigers no matter what. It is 30 year anniversary this year so maybe that will bring the magic back. Cannot wait for Spring training. Going to my first spring training game this year. Should be fun and a lot warmer than it is now -12 degrees.

  11. Jeffrey LaCoure

    January 7, 2014 at 1:51 am

    For those interested, the 2012 ALCS Game 4 fist hit ball was recently listed on ebay…Infante infield single off CC Sabathia.

    • KW

      January 9, 2014 at 12:14 am

      LOLOL $895. Nice try, Jeffrey La Coure…or should I say jfox3748.

      • Smoking Loon

        January 9, 2014 at 11:24 pm

        I love the smell of spam in the morning.

  12. Smoking Loon

    January 8, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Jose Iglesias has been signed to a 1-year deal. Bit of a pay cut, looks like the SS of the future is on a wait and see trial.

    The Tigers also signed AAA catcher Luis Exposito to a minor league deal with ST invite. The name alone makes it a good signing. I’m tempted to become Xmoking Loon.

    • alantrammellfan@yahoo.com

      January 12, 2014 at 9:12 am

      JI is under control until 2018 and was not arbitration eligible. He was signed by Boston to a 4 years MLB deal that ended last year

  13. Smoking Loon

    January 8, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Secret Agent Anti-Spunk (code name):

    http://www.freep.com/article/2.....1050/rss15

  14. Vince in MN

    January 9, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    A guy that can’t hit, a guy that can run, but can’t hit, and a pitcher that can’t get the ball over the plate. Maybe they are just temps to help the team get through the spring training rush.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....nchez.html

    • Smoking Loon

      January 9, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Come now, Vince. These are minor league signings. Take a flyer stuff. Who do expect to be floating around to sign? There’s some fault to be found in at least 90% of *MLB* players.

      2 guys who can hit all right in AAA, which is where they’ll be, and a young pitcher with some promise who can be quite good when he does get the ball over the plate. Does this last differ substantially from Al-Al, who has pretty much worn out his welcome with me?

      • Vince in MN

        January 9, 2014 at 9:37 pm

        They’ll fit right in at Toledo. The important thing is that they are cheap minor league roster filler. None of these guys is likely to see an an inning of ML ball this year, so I wouldn’t exactly call them “flyer stuff” though. I have no problem with hiring temps while DD painstakingly upgrades the farm system with some great drafts.

        • Smoking Loon

          January 9, 2014 at 9:47 pm

          I predict that both Sanchez and Carrera will see some time with the big club before September, assuming they stick with organization until then.

  15. KW

    January 9, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Kinda sorta big news about JV today: http://hardballtalk.nbcsports......ditioning/

    • Smoking Loon

      January 9, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      Yeah. Yow. That doesn’t bode well. Another season of “working on things”? I was sort of hoping for a season of working on the AL Cy Young.

    • Vince in MN

      January 9, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Since we don’t know the seriousness of the injury yet, we’ll just have to wait and watch how management responds. If the Tigers are suddenly “in” on Ervin Santana for example (there were rumors not too long ago), then it is pretty bad. This is the least likely scenario though. DD could also take a flyer on another vet starter for “insurance” if JV is going to be out for a while. And if it is a relatively minor injury, probably nothing will happen. If JV falls behind in his ST conditioning, Alvarez or another Toledo starter could fill the void for a short time. There are a lot of days off in the early going of the regular season, so the 5th man is likely to get skipped a couple of times anyway.

      • Smoking Loon

        January 9, 2014 at 11:22 pm

        Good call. The seriousness will be seen in the moves, not the statements. Dombrowski’s initial comment was to downplay the seriousness, of course.

    • TIGERS RULE

      January 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Off-season injuries never turn out well …… no matter what anyone says. Zoom Zoom is just one example of many.

  16. judpma

    January 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    JV operation!!!!!! what operation!!!!!!

  17. TIGERS RULE

    January 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    We should now definitely go after Tanaka.

  18. Vince in MN

    January 11, 2014 at 1:15 am

    • Coleman

      January 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      The Giants actually had him in 2010 also. He is a local high school legend, maybe that explains it. He is from Alameda Encinal, famous as the high school of Willie Stargell.

  19. Coleman

    January 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Well, no Hall of Fame for Jack Morris. But Frank Thomas got in, and as a great influence on his career he credits…Gene Lamont!

    http://www.freep.com/article/2.....ene-lamont

  20. Jim EggersUSMC

    January 14, 2014 at 2:00 am

    Just saw that Kate and JV may be reuniting ( and it feels so good!) Hope he does not leave his game in the bullpen, so to speak…. On a unrelated topic, 49er fans in this neck of the woods are keeping their heads down, it is open season… trivia fact: John Yarno, the Hawks 1st Center, was my teammate on the Sacred Heart Crusaders (Catholic duh! Grade School League) I played sparingly, as I was small and slow….

    • Coleman

      January 14, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      http://www.freep.com/article/2.....oit-tigers

      I’m not sure that hanging out with Kate Upton and recovering from core muscle surgery is a good mix.

      • Vince in MN

        January 14, 2014 at 5:03 pm

        Any truth to the Miley Cyrus rumors?

        • Coleman

          January 14, 2014 at 11:02 pm

          She has been spotted teaching Gene Lamont how to twerk.

          • Smoking Loon

            January 15, 2014 at 1:22 am

            No, I’m not seeing her. I don’t even return her calls anymore.

            • Jim EggersUSMC

              January 17, 2014 at 1:30 am

              I am really disappointed that you all missed the Peaches and Herb reference… I know it is the offseason, but you guys have to be ready to go at a moments notice…

              • Smoking Loon

                January 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm

                Now I see it. My excuse is that I injured a core brain area during offseason conditioning work. Also, the mere mention of Kate Upton typically interferes with my ability to read for comprehension.

  21. Smoking Loon

    January 15, 2014 at 9:18 pm

  22. Smoking Loon

    January 15, 2014 at 9:20 pm

  23. Smoking Loon

    January 15, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    *Minor* league deal for Delmon? Um, why?

    http://www.freep.com/article/2.....1050/rss15

  24. Smoking Loon

    January 15, 2014 at 9:25 pm

  25. Smoking Loon

    January 15, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Speculation about the non-roster invitees:

    http://www.freep.com/article/2.....1050/rss15

  26. Smoking Loon

    January 15, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Sorry, Vince. Lynn Henning:

    http://www.detroitnews.com/art.....1129/rss15

  27. Vince in MN

    January 16, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    No mention of what color the challenge flag will be though.
    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/articl.....y=news_mlb

  28. judpma

    January 16, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    I saw we make the challenge ” flag” a red baseball that you roll out from the dugout towards the area in front of the plate!!!!

    • Coleman

      January 17, 2014 at 12:10 am

      I think a more traditional way to challenge an umpire’s call would be to slap him with a glove.

  29. StorminNorman$

    January 17, 2014 at 9:00 am

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_.....eplay-2014
    I concur with Scherzer’s tweet (bottom of article)…”finally we have replay”… welcome to the 21st century

  30. Angus

    January 18, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    It is great to be a Tiger. Jackson gets a pay raise.from $ 3.5 to 6 million all the while bactting .272 with 12 HR and 37 RBI. Jackson really needs to step up or he will go the way of Grandy as trade bait. Hopefully our new hitting coach can make him earn the pay raise. Avilla asking 5.35 seems a little crazy too. If I were DD I would take my chances with the arbitrator with AA. First time in his career but worth the gamble from what I can see.

  31. Vince in MN

    January 19, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Some good advice. Let’s hope he listens.
    http://www.freep.com/article/2.....g-fastball

    • Smoking Loon

      January 19, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      Controlling that fastball without making it eminently hittable remains the hurdle for Al-Al. His reluctance is really no wonder.

  32. themenace02

    January 21, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I agree Loon. DD gave up power bats for defense and speed. Are we going to be a team with alot of strikeouts again (like what I grew up watching with every managerial Change) or will we put things together and finally do it with a respected first year mgr. Only time will tell. I will be there watching all the way (and analyzing as well).