Porcello and moving pictures

The Tigers are going the split squad route today with a home game against the Reds (Dontrelle Willis) and a road tilt against the Indians (Yorman Bazardo). For those with MLB.tv they’ll be able to catch the road game which is set to feature Rick Porcello.

Also of note today, Todd Jones is slated to pitch in the Reds game. Jones of course hasn’t been good this spring and is trying to fix mechanical problems.

If you’re following either game feel free to post your thoughts.

Bullpen woes continue to abound as Fernando Rodney’s throwing session was pushed back two days. I learned that from an overly dire Freep headline: “More bullpen bad news – Zach Miner and Fernando Rodney both suffer setbacks.” Turns out Miner’s setback was that he allowed a homer.

Meanwhile former Tigers farmhand Randor Bierd, who was lost in the Rule 5 draft to the Orioles, has developed some kind of super mystery pitch.

Could “Inge Situation” be resolved this week?

Lynn Henning devoted a lot of words to the travails of Brandon Inge today. He had a lengthy piece in this morning’s paper exploring the human side of the situation. And in a blog entry Henning postulates that a trade will come by the end of the week.

The Dodgers are the popular rumor at the moment due to the injury to their third baseman Andy LaRoche. Still, as South Side Sox points out, Joe Crede might make a more attractive target for LA. Crede and Inge are equals at third base defensively. But Crede beats Inge offensively and is only owed one year. Inge has the advantage in versatility, but we know the whole deal for Inge is to not be versatile.

As for today, Inge was 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly and another walk. He’s hitting .316 this spring with 8 walks.

Let the Todd Jones hand wringing begin

What do you get when you take an unsettled bullpen, a closer who kinda makes people nervous on a good day, and two craptacular spring outings? A recipe for Todd Jones hysteria.

Today Todd Jones turned in his second awful outing of the spring in what turned out to be a 9-7 Tigers win. Jones didn’t make it out of the 9th inning before surrendering 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk. Last week Jones was hammered for 6 runs in an inning of work.

Is there reason to be concerned? It’s hard to say sitting here in Michigan. Jason Beck noted after Jones’s first bad outing that it’s tough to gauge closers in the spring when they are coming into the 4th inning of games. Well today Jones came into the 9th inning of a game. I’m not sure the fact that he was facing minor leaguers makes the situation worse or better. On one hand he should dominate these kids. On the other hand that adrenaline rush that closers supposedly rely on probably wasn’t there either.

Beck blogged that Jones was working on locating his fastball today. He clearly wasn’t doing it well based on the results. But Beck also notes that Jones isn’t injured which is the most important thing. If there were reports coming out that Jones was velocity was down, or that he had no movement on his pitches I would definitely be more concerned. At this point though I’m willing to chalk his struggles up to “working on things.”

DTW Meet in San Francisco

Unfortunately this isn’t something I’ll be able to participate in, but Craig Colwell is offering to coordinate an outing for our West Coast Tigers fans. Here is what Craig asked me to post:

Tigers vs Giants

June 16,17,18 in San Francisco

If there is enough interest from Tiger fans here on the left coast or from out of towners, wanting to visit one of great ball parks in the country (excluding Comerica), I will buy a block of tickets for one or more of the games.

I am thinking baseball and a few drinks before or after the game or both.

If you haven’t been to ATT Park, it is a great baseball experience.

If interested email Craig at ccolwell [at] sonic dot net

I know that at a Mariners game last year there was a large contingent of Tigers fans and DTW readers, but they were all on their own. Thanks to Craig for offering to unite the group.

Also this seems like a good time to mention that there is a Detroit Tigers Weblog page on Facebook. I’m not really sure how to leverage this, but all the cool kids are doing it. So if you’re a Facebooker, you can become a DTW fan.

Tigers linked to crappy relievers

The Tigers bullpen is clearly the least settled area of the team. The lineup is known, the starting rotation is known, but only a couple of pieces of the bullpen are known. What was already an area of the team that seemed vulnerable is further hampered by the late arrival of Francisco Cruceta and the barking shoulder of Fernando Rodney. So it’s only natural that the Tigers would look to add to the bullpen, which will of course breed trade rumors. The only problem is that the names the Tigers have been linked to just aren’t very good – and most likely not better than what they could get for free.

The latest rumors making the rounds involve the Mets who have had some injuries woes of their own in the outfield. New York needs some right handed pop in the outfield. The Tigers have Marcus Thames. The Mets have some extra arms in the pen. But the names that are being mentioned should cause some concern.

Scott Schoeneweis and Jorge Sosa were the first names being floated.

Schoeneweis has a multitude of things working against him. He’s walked a batter every other inning over the last 2 years, and complements that with a poor strike out ratio of 5.2 per 9 innings. Plus he’s left handed, which with Tim Byrdak and Bobby Seay around isn’t a pressing need for Detroit. And he’s owed $3.6 million each of the next 2 years. So he’s redundant, expensive, and is a couple years removed from his last good season (2005).

Jorge Sosa is cheaper (owed $2 million in 2008), but with problems of his own. Over his last 6 seasons hitters have connected for line drives over 21% of the time with peripherals similar to Schoeneweis. He was awful in 2006, and was below average last year. In 2005 he posted a 2.55 ERA, but with a WHP of 1.4 I’m not sure how.

Earlier in the week there was talk of Ryan Dempster as a potential target from the Cubs. But again, it’s for a below average player that would come at too high of a cost in terms of dollar and players.

Now I realize that the players that were rumored to be in the discussions from the Tigers side (Inge, Thames) aren’t going to fetch an impact reliever. Not to say they don’t provide value to the Tigers, just that they are unlikely to bring much in a trade. But the names that have been mentioned coming to the Tigers aren’t the kind of people you pay for. The same type of production is what should theoretically be found for free in your farm system, or as non roster invites. This is the type of production you get for the league minimum.

I’m all for upgrading the bullpen, but I don’t see the above mentioned players providing more than Bazardo, Cruceta, Bautista, Miner, Grilli, Larrison, Lopez, etc. can provide. They are veterans, but all that shows is a track record of – at their very best – mediocrity. They certainly don’t represent an upgrade that is worth bearing a cost in terms of players or payroll.

Video: Spring Training Granderson Style

ESPN.com followed Curtis Granderson around on the first day of spring training. See Curtis sign autographs, reminisce about being a minor leaguer in camp, and get heckled by his skipper while taking BP.

Brandon Inge might have been misquoted…

Inge connects for RBI Triple. credit TheCouga

Yes. It’s another Brandon Inge story. Inge may yet be the Tigers back-up catcher when the season begins because it became clear today that Vance Wilson won’t be ready. And backpedaling from his Sunday statements that rose the ire of many (including your local blogger), Inge is amenable to catching.

He told Danny Knobler today that he regretted how his comments about catching sounded. He also said he had no problem catching.

Jason Beck follows with a report from a radio appearance by Al Avila. Beck had this quote from Avila:

“Brandon came in actually today and talked to Jim [Leyland]. He felt that he was misquoted in the newspaper, things were taken out of context and he actually came in today and said that he’s willing to catch. From his point of view today, he’s expressing that the way that things that were written weren’t exactly the way he expressed it, he was just frustrated that one game but if he’s going to be with the Tigers he’ll be happy. At this point you can count on Brandon Inge being a Detroit Tiger and he’ll catch when we need him.”

Considering that multiple reporters came with the same quotes makes me think he was accurately quoted. As for the comments being out of context, I don’t really know what the context could have been. However the text may have not captured the sentiment. Without hearing it there’s no way to know either way. But it does seem consistent that he was speaking at the peak of frustration. At least their is recognition on Inge’s part that what he said wasn’t good.

Regardless, the money part of the quote comes at the end when Avila declares we “can count on” Inge as a Tiger. Is the trade pursuit over or is it simply that fans should count on him not to complain?

Wednesday Woundup

A bulleted list of the day that was in Florida:

  • Justin Verlander made his second start and allowed just one hit in 3 innings. Denny Bautista continued to impress with 2 innings and a lone walk as the only blemish as the Tigers beat the Phillies
  • Oh yeah, and Carlos Guillen went deep once twice and Magglio Ordonez hit his first dinger of the spring.
  • Wilkin Ramirez continues to impress. From a tools standpoint he’s one of the better prospects in the Tigers system, but injuries have kept him from translating that into performance.
  • Speaking of injuries Tigstown started a series providing an in depth explanation for the various injuries plaguing the Tigers. First up is shoulder tendinitis.
  • The Tigers were victorious against Pittsburgh as well. Yorman Bazardo made the start and allowed no hits, but 3 walks in his 2 innings.
  • Rick Porcello took a turn as well and it wasn’t quite as easy as 6 up 6 down. But he wasn’t exactly rocked either. He allowed 3 hits, but two were infield singles and on the day he only allowed 1 ball out of the infield. He did walk two hitters however.
  • And Granderson finally tripled. It’s about time. [sarcasm]
  • What’s fun about split squad days is seeing some of the guys from the minor league camp getting a chance to play. Audy Ciriaco, Danny Worth, and Deik Scram were just some of the guys who got a chance to play today.

Bullpen woes spawn trade talk

Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Tigers bullpen headaches have the team talking trade. Morosi notes that there have been “general discussions” with the Cubs. Chicago has become a favorite trading partner of Dombrowski with the two clubs completing five trades during DD’s tenure.

Morosi notes that the Cubs may be interested in a right handed hitter who could play center. Like maybe Inge. There is the Alan Trammell factor and a recommendation from the bench coach could come into play.

MLB Trade Rumors throws out the name Ryan Dempster as a potential target. Dempster will turn 31 and make $5.5 million this year, so for 2008 anyways the salaries would work out. Dempster fanned 7.43 per 9 innings last year while walking 4.05 per 9 and posting a 4.51 FIP. In other words he’s a poor man’s Jason Grilli (7 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 3.85 FIP). Well, with some saves.

As for the current bullpen candidates, well, umm, yeah:

  • Matt Mantei’s arm went pop and he’s retiring and was released
  • Fernando Rodney threw for the first time today in a couple weeks. He made 15 throws from 60 feet. But that doesn’t provide a lot of hope at this point given his history.
  • Francisco Cruceta still hasn’t made it into the country.  At this point I wonder if the Tigers could get him through waivers.
  • And Todd Jones was rocked today for 6 runs in an inning.  But that’s probably less of a concern at this point.
  • At least Denny Bautista has looked good in his limited time with 3 scoreless innings.
  • I find it interesting that Yorman Bazardo has only thrown 1 inning. I thought he’d be a strong candidate to make the team given his option status.

Tigers Corner 2008

Tigers Corner 2008Hitting store shelves this week is Tigers Corner 2008. This is the second edition of the book/magazine/annual from Maple Street Press. It is edited by Gary Gillette of ESPN fame (ESPN.com contributor, Baseball Encyclopedia, etc.) so it definitely lends some credibility to the motley crew of Tigers bloggers who contributed articles.

Brian Borawski helped out with last year’s version, and this year he invited myself, Lee Panas, Ian Casselberry, Matt Wallace, and Mike McClary to submit articles as well. So at the very least you know that the writers were passionate about the subject.

We join real writers (with apologies to Ian who is a real writer) like Bill Dow, Gillette himself, and David Laurila. The end product is actually quite impressive if I do say so myself. Keeping in mind that seeing my name in print is kind of a kick for a novice like me.

The book covers last season, as well as some deeper dives into Tigers history. It also looks forward with profiles of Rick Porcello and other Tigers prospects.

The table of contents is available at the Maple Street Press site, as well as ordering information. It is available on Amazon, but I understand there are some issues there with how it is classified and other things I don’t full understand. If you’re in the Detroit area I’m told it will be available at bookstores and I also saw it on the magazine rack at Kroger.

D-Train rockin’ the D against C.C.

Dontrelle’s Spring Training Debut
credit Deran @ lftblog.com. Click pic for more.

While a game the first week of spring training probably means little, you can’t help but wonder if today’s 3-3 10 inning tie between the Tigers and Indians could be an indicator of how the 2008 season will transpire for these teams.

Of more immediate importance today was the debut of Dontrelle Willis in a Tigers uniform. Dontrelle was admittedly nervous at the start of the game. Willis allowed three hits, including a homer in two innings of work. But the reports were positive with Leyland complimenting Willis’s fastball and Willis tipping his cap to Ben Francisco who’s homer came on a good pitch. No word on whether Willis was using his full repertoire of if he was focusing on fastball-change as the other starters have done in their first appearances.

Other notes:

  • Brent Clevlen made a couple of nice plays in center field, at least according to Dan and Jim on the broadcast.
  • Speaking of Dan and Jim, they gave listeners a little bit of a scare saying that Miguel Cabrera limped to the bench after a ground out. They later clarified saying that everything was OK, but jeez. Don’t scare us guys.
  • I don’t put a lot of stock in spring stats, especially for established players. Like I’m not worried that Carlos Guillen doesn’t have a hit. But it is worth noting that Brandon Inge has only made 2 outs over 4 games. He’s 3 of 5 with 4 walks.
  • It was the locks for the roster that gave up the runs today with Willis, Todd Jones, and Tim Byrdak all surrendering a run on multiple hits. But it was a solid outing for Denny Bautista who fanned one and allowed a lone hit in his 2 innings.

Feeding Frenzy: Single game tickets on sale

Today at 10 a.m. single game Detroit Tigers tickets go on sale. We’ll use this post as a place for you to share your experiences. Some details about the sale today:

  • If you’re buying in person at Comerica Park, you’re probably already in line, and if you’re not you probably shouldn’t bother. Wrist bands were distributed last night so find a different avenue for getting tickets.
  • Don’t use ticketmaster! The Tigers dropped ticketmaster last year so don’t go to a TM outlet because you’ll just be disappointed.
  • Meijer: Meijer stores in the greater Detroit area will be selling tickets. That’s probably your best bet for buying from a ticket window. For those in the greater Troy area, Hockeytown Authentics at Big Beaver and John R will also be selling tickets.
  • If you want to buy from the comfort of your own home, the phone (866-66Tigers) and internet (tigers.com) are both valid options.
  • There will be no Opening Day tickets available. Those all went to season ticket holders. Red Sox and Yankees tickets will also be limited because new, partial season ticket holders who couldn’t get Opening Day tickets were given the option to purchase tickets for those games.
  • And if you’re into the goodies, here is the Tigers promotional schedule.

If you don’t get everything you want, there is always the after market for a second chance at those tickets.

Good luck, and let us know how you made out.