Pessimism

Just to be clear, I’m not “the pessimistic one” here. If The Loon had put up a post called Pessimism, I would be doing the Optimism one.

We like to cover all angles here at DTW. Opposing views are encouraged.

Barely a month after the postseason, the Tigers traded Prince Fielder and his $214 million salary (and and a whole lot of cash) to the Texas Rangers for 2B Ian Kinsler.   Oh. We weren’t expecting that, were we? While the trade may have seemed puzzling at first, the more you looked at it the better it looked. Fielder’s 2nd season in Detroit was marked by personal problems and his 2nd consecutive postseason failure, and moving him allowed the Tigers to move Cabrera back to first, open up a space for Castellanos in the lineup, let Omar Infante go (he was great for Detroit but about to become expensive), and improve the team defense and speed.

Bottom line: Fielder’s WAR (regular season) was 1.7 in 2013, he had off-field issues, had a history of postseason struggles, and was expensive. Kinsler had a 2013 WAR of 4.9, a history of postseason success, and was less expensive. Optimism seemed called for in November.

Then in December, Doug Fister was traded to the Nationals for Robbie Ray, Ian Krol, and Steve Lombardozzi. This was a head scratcher. There was some salary reduction, which it was assumed would help extend Max Scherzer (oops), but otherwise it looked lopsided, and the press agreed. The Tigers had an extra arm in the starting rotation, wanting to work in the young lefty Drew Smyly, but it seems they could have gotten more and should have waited longer.

So the Tigers entered Spring Training with two big trades behind them, but reason for optimism, and very few questions to be answered.  They had added Joe Nathan as a closer, added Joba Chamberlain for some bullpen depth, added Rajai Davis as a right-handed bat (and base-stealing threat) in LF, and the lineup looked pretty set.

**********

Then came March Madness.

First down was Andy Dirks. Suddenly Left Field was Rajai Davis, who can’t hit righties, and…Don Kelly. It looked like the Tigers would have to pick up an outfielder, or use newcomer Lombardozzi there, neither which looked like good options. Perhaps the most troubling thing about the loss of Dirks was Dombrowski’s statement that Dirks had had back problems since high school. Oh.

Next to drop was Jose Iglesias, from his shin splints, that turned out to be shin fractures, and this was a big blow–likely the whole season.  It turns out he probably should not have been playing last season (which takes the shine off of last year’s trade for Iglesias).

Dombrowski tried to patch holes by trading for backup shortstop Kevin Romine from the Angels, and four days later for quasi-retired Alex Gonzalez for Lombardozzi, (which makes the return on the Fister trade look even thinner).

Then down goes Rondon. Currently the set-up man in the bullpen is Joba Chamberlain (cue laugh track from Yankee fans).

Suddenly, the nagging thought clears its throat and taps one on the shoulder: the two most important Tigers, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, are both returning from offseason surgeries.

What a way for a new manager to start his career. I was sold on the “speed and defense” emphasis that Ausmus preached, but the two best defensive players on the team are gone (Iglesias had a Gold Glove worthy glove, and–which was way under publicized–Andy Dirks was a Gold Glove finalist).

Hopefully that is all of the bad news for now, although I should point out that Don Kelly strained his hamstring, and he is backup for 11 of the 9 positions.

Here is the actual depth chart.  At least the trades for Romine and Gonzalez have taken Kelly out of the shortstop mix. As it is he is backup for 3rd, left, center, and right. As if that weren’t bad enough Davis in left was meant to be a platoon player, Hunter in right is 38, and Jackson in center plays fewer games every season (153 in 2011, 137 in 2012, and only 129 in 2013). Gonna be a whole lot of Donkey Time this year.

[This is one of the interesting things about doing these posts. Until I was in the middle of writing this it never occurred to me to be worried about Austin Jackson's durability].

One more thing, as Columbo would say–the Tigers announced that they failed to extend Max Scherzer. That in itself may or may not be bad news. but it was certainly bad news that the Tigers are seemingly engaged in an uncharacteristic PR war with Scherzer/Boras. I think the Tiger-Boras honeymoon is over. Worth noting: unlike all other major negotiations, owner Mike Ilitch  had no direct contact with either party,  There are murmurings that Ilitch may be passing the reins, and that the open checkbook is no more, which may put the Fielder and Fister deals in a different light.

We are doomed. Doomed, I tell you!

(Pessimism is actually sort of fun if you don’t do it very often).

Less than one week until opening day. Go Tigers!

 

40 Comments

  1. Vince in MN

    March 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Worth optioned to MiL camp!!
    Collins still with club – this year’s Tui. The media will have fun with that feel good story until…

    • Smoking Loon

      March 25, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Glad for Collins, fun player to watch, like him right away last spring, hope for the best. Very uncharacteristic of the Tigers to jump a position player from AA. Still think there might be a LF move to come.

      Danny Worth should change his first name to Harddoneby. Man.

      • Coleman

        March 25, 2014 at 8:13 pm

        On the other hand, a guitar shop owner in Lakeland is fist-pumping right now.

        • Smoking Loon

          March 25, 2014 at 8:38 pm

          Maybe Danny should just buy the guitar shop. 7 years from now, the Tigers can trade the 2021 version of Lombardozzi for him. Making a trade with a guitar shop would be novel. In my experience, many guitar shops are lacking in speed and versatility.

          • Coleman

            March 25, 2014 at 9:42 pm

            Plus he wears the high Inge socks.

  2. jud

    March 25, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Hey Worth…..they did it to you again!….has to be really bad when they go out and within a week get two guys to shove you further down the depth chart. And one is old enough to be your dad. And…….u can hit better than both of them….oh well!

    • Coleman

      March 25, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Maybe Worth can catch on with the Marlins. Then in several years the Tigers will trade for him.

  3. TIGERS RULE

    March 25, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    RP has allowed a lot of balls hit in the air in today’s game ….. you would never know that he is supposed to be a ground ball pitcher.

    • William

      March 26, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      Could we have gotten as much for RP as we got for Fister? because I think we will regret that trade, assuming Fister is healthy.

      • Smoking Loon

        March 26, 2014 at 7:26 pm

        I’ll go out on a limb and predict (guess) that from an RP vs. DF standpoint based on the final analysis in 2014, the trade will look like a wash. The DF vs. Krol/Ray standpoint remains to be seen. I’d have to study up on how AL Fister-type guys tend to play out in the NL to guess about that. I usually assume that a good pitcher in the AL makes a great pitcher in the NL, but that is surely biased and probably not true as a rule.

        • William

          March 26, 2014 at 8:20 pm

          Just curious…what in their past history makes you feel confident going out on that limb(an oxymoron, I know)?

          I mean, certainly HOPE that is the case, but DF has much better career numbers than RP…especially the past 3 seasons.

          I guess if we had to trade one, DF would bring more. Apparently, we must have been offered a box of rocks for RP:)

          • Smoking Loon

            March 26, 2014 at 10:54 pm

            I thought RP would be the one to trade myself. Tigers wanted more than offered for him, I’d guess. Same with DF, I imagine, but at that point they felt they had to make a decision without further delay. I’m guessing the Tigers were asking more for Porcello than they were for Fister, so the offers probably did look like boxes of rocks. Who knows, maybe the Nationals actually wanted Porcello but didn’t offer close to enough. They weren’t exactly generous with the Fister offer.

            I enjoyed watching Fister pitch more than Porcello, I’ll tell you that. However, Porcello is 4.5 years younger and has more MLB experience. Porcello is getting better. Fister isn’t. Porcello is Mr. Durability. Fister, not quite.

            I like Fister better, and what I liked least about the trade was losing him, irrespective of the return, but somehow I think keeping Porcello was the right move, regardless of how bad the Fister trade might have been. I think Porcello became the better pitcher last season (based on observation), and I expect that trend to continue. I’ll be satisfied if Porcello is good, like all of us would be satisfied. If Fister is better with the Nationals, that’s OK, good for them, good for Doug.

            • William

              March 27, 2014 at 8:30 pm

              You think Porcello is getting better? I may be wrong, but wasn’t his rookie year his best?

              Maybe they were asking more for Porcello, but his age would be the only redeeming factor. Mybe its just me, but I don’t see them as remotely close in ability or performance.

              I hope it turns out like you do…I am the pessimist in this thread, I guess:)

              • Smoking Loon

                March 27, 2014 at 11:00 pm

                I think last season was Porcello’s best in terms of FIP, xFIP, and all manner of things I retain understanding of for 2 seconds. Or at least his indicators were said by saber dudes to be trending up up up.

                I do think Porcello is a better pitcher than Fister. If Fister was a reliever, we’d be calling him Rollercoaster. He was great at getting out of jams in part because he was so great at getting into jams.

                Porcello isn’t nearly as fun to watch. He’s aloof. Fister just exudes determination. Still… I want outs. I’m hoping Porcello will get more of them, and it *is* hope more than anything else.

  4. jud

    March 25, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    How about Atlanta tries hit and run and Freeman trots into second as Avila’s throw is 15 feet right of the bag….I think were ready for the season boys!

  5. jud

    March 25, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    On the optimist side..Kinzler an Cabrerra look very good on the right sude defense and Castellanos looks like the real deal!

  6. Smoking Loon

    March 25, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Nice work, Coleman. Well worth the wait.

    I’ll cop to being the real pessimist. A commenter took me to task for that last season. I had a strong suspicion it was Billfer. Still do.

    Good observation about the Jackson durability question occurring to you as you wrote. A lot of times I don’t know what I’m writing until I start writing.

    I should bring some optimism to the table: Watched the 9-4 loss to the Braves the other day, saw cool things in the 8th. Holaday covers first on the in-between single/double to RF and Crowe makes a perfect throw to 2B (not gonna complain that he could have had the guy at 1B). A bit later Crowe makes a perfect throw to the plate to nail Getz for the 3rd out. Not so relevant that Crowe isn’t gonna make the team. Enjoy good play any time, and that half-inning offered some treats in a dismal game.

    • Coleman

      March 25, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      I’ll be rather pleased if Kevin throws up a 3rd -ism post.

      • Smoking Loon

        March 25, 2014 at 8:03 pm

        I suggest fatalism. No, wait. Metabolism. I like that better.

        • Vince in MN

          March 26, 2014 at 9:32 am

          We’ll be fineism.

          • Smoking Loon

            March 26, 2014 at 7:20 pm

            Cataclism.

  7. Smoking Loon

    March 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    The Ham Sandwich baton (the Ham Baton?) has been passed to Alex Gonzalez, I fear. Or maybe it’s the Jacques Jones baton. He has some winning over to do, in my book.

  8. Jim EggersUSMC

    March 26, 2014 at 2:37 am

    When first saw the Alex Gonzalez headline, I was thinking; does he have a son? I mean a 37 year old shortstop!! Old baseball axiom: strength up the middle. Let us review: Avila at C, nope, Gonzo at SS no mas, AJ in center: projected at 120 or less starts, and Kinsler at 2B, well that is one. Also, good pitching beats good hitting and vice versa. We have a little of both, so BOLD prediction: 88 wins and the rest losses.

    • Smoking Loon

      March 26, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Still not getting it. Gonzalez must be some kind of wonderful. The comments about “experience” seem a bit thin. Iglesias’s relative lack of experience didn’t bother anyone. They could have kept Ramon Santiago if it did. For all the IF twists and turns, they might as well have. I sense the invisible hand of Leyland… except if that were true, why *didn’t* they hang onto Santiago?

  9. jud

    March 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Worth officially got the kiss of death today when Asmus said we will see Dannny Worth in Detroit in 2014…..This is exactly what Leyland said in 2013 and prolly 2012 etc. The guy is done….so much for your farm system developing your players..lets see theres Castillanos and……..and…..Smyly…and…….and…..there must be someone else ????

    • Smoking Loon

      March 26, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Trading away the farm has been the Tigers Way for a good long time. Works about as well as the alternative. Change would be refreshing, gears may shift with new ownership, but the change could also be frustrating for 5 years or more. It doesn’t always work, just like trading the farm away can backfire, short-term as well as long-term.

  10. Smoking Loon

    March 26, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Tigers 1, Phillies 0.

    How about Clete Thomas to Will Neives to gun down Reeves at the plate? Ex-Tigers are everywhere waiting to bite us… Bobby Abreu should retire… Verlander was very, very good and not very efficient… Neither Coke, Alburquerque, nor Hardy impressed, no runs notwithstanding… Not much hard hit by the weak Tigers offense, aside from Hunter really jumping on a couple (and consequently erasing himself from the base paths)… OK, Gonzalez is there for his bat, maybe. Is that it?… Commentator Matt Stairs (yes, that one) tells us that Alburquerque’s slider is a changeup and that his fastball can get up in the low 90s. There’s some homework for ya… Kinsler didn’t hit the triple so much as run for it, which was cool and essentially won the game in the 1st inning, but I’m not sure that the totally unnecessary headfirst slide is such a great idea. Not sure what Clark’s role there was or what happened. There must be something really fun about sliding headfirst unnecessarily. I see a lot of it… I can see this Tigers team not scoring 10+ runs even once in 2014. I can also see the team not getting shut out even once. Though I have to squint a bit to see that.. Alex Avila will never hit above .240 again. But he’s a great defensive catcher in all aspects. Future manager, ya think?… Castellanos looks good at 3B, except that his throws to first still look kinda long and loopy. Is it gonna be trouble when he has to gun it? Haven’t watched enough games to judge.

    Practicing.

    • Jim EggersUSMC

      March 27, 2014 at 2:09 am

      Take a break, you are in mid season form…

      • Coleman

        March 27, 2014 at 11:06 am

        It’s a Spring Training tradition, pitchers and catchers and loons report early.

        • Smoking Loon

          March 27, 2014 at 10:46 pm

          Can I take a break until mid season? Tigers are already wearing me out.

  11. Coleman

    March 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Breaking news, ESPN is reporting Cabrera is extended for 10 years, $300 million.

    • TIGERS RULE

      March 27, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      Does that leave any money to sign Mad Max?

      • Smoking Loon

        March 27, 2014 at 10:49 pm

        Oh, Cabrera-Schmabrera. What I want to know is which SS the Tigers traded for *today.* The SS news, not the $$ news.

  12. Smoking Loon

    March 27, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    Check this out, Vince:

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

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha. I saw him pitching. Not impressed. Unless they’re looking for a lefty specialist in walking LHB, Coke is a mistake. 2013 all over again. Struggle. Retroactively explained by soreness, tenderness, tweaked something, etc etc etc. Bit of rehab, back at it, repeat from start. Six straight scoreless outings against who?

    Coke’s test for me in this particular game was “Strike out Howard.” Fail. Nothing else mattered to me.

    • Vince in MN

      March 28, 2014 at 1:37 am

      With none of the other lefties making a case to oust him, I guess this shouldn’t be a big surprise. It would be nice of course if he could hold his own as a LOOGY, but I am not buying it. Maybe I am being faithless, but the guy has failed too many times in the last couple of years for me to have much hope.

  13. Smoking Loon

    March 27, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Ronny Cedeno and Jamey Carroll are available to play SS for the Tigers as part of a 4-way platoon. Carroll will provide leadership for the relatively inexperienced Alex Gonzalez, and Cedeno can help mentor Andrew Romine. The plan is to play as many as three shortstops at one time, two flanking the one with lesser experience that day and cushioning him with a blanket of veteran left-side leadership. The SS not playing that day is likely to be traded for Steve Lombardozzi, as the Tigers and Orioles today revealed a game-to-game shuttle plan for the speedy IF/OF and his rotating trade counterpart, although Lombardozzi is likely to be relegated to pinch-running for Rajai Davis while with the Tigers.

  14. jud

    March 29, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I am with Loon on this one ..Porcello is a better pitcher than Fister…Neither are really consistent, but it seems Porcello doesn’t get in nearly as many ‘jams’ as Fister did…and Porcello is still young with some up side…

  15. Vince in MN

    March 29, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Last year we had Tui, this year we have Colli.

  16. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    March 30, 2014 at 7:55 am

    All ready for a season of fun with my colleagues from the DTW. Got a surprise this week when I learned my Direct TV MLB package included a subscription to MLB online so I can get the games both on Direct and the Internet. However I hope my default will be Direct TV with me listening to Dan and Jim via the MLB radio. Always a Tiger….

  17. Angus

    March 30, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    I was at the last Spring Training day game in Lakeland. All the relievers work one inning and then the Tigers send out Coke for a 2nd inning. He actually looked good. Induced some hit balls to players and a few strikeouts. Fastball up in the low 90′s and cutter looking real good. That means he will give up 5 runs his first start. After hearing all the horror stories from earlier posts he actually looked decent.