Game 151: Tigers at Rangers

PREGAME: Can the Tigers snap a 6 game losing streak? That’s probably question number 2. Question number 1 is what kind of stuff will Freddy Garcia have? He makes his first start since June 8th, 2007 when he takes the hill for the Tigers. To make room for him on the roster, Joel Zumaya was moved to the 60 day DL.

The Rangers send out Dustin Nippert. I think he’s a real player.

DET @ TEX, Wednesday, September 17, 2008 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

Game Time 8:10

HELP – with apologies to the Beatles

This was left as a comment, but thought it warranted it’s own post. Courtesy of commenter Smoking Loon…

Help, we need some pitchers
Help, not just any pitchers
Help, you know we need some pitchers, help.

When it was spring and we were pegged for number one
We used to dream a thousand runs would get it done
But now those days are gone; the pitching’s been exposed
Starting is low-quality; the bullpen’s getting hosed

Help us if you can, we’re in fourth place
And we’ve been eliminated from the race
Help us, now we’ve fallen on our face
Won’t you please, please help us?

As soon as April changes came so many ways
Consistent hitting seemed to vanish in the haze
The lack of defense made the pitchers insecure
And by July the ‘pen was fried, and Farnsworth weren’t the cure

Help us if you can, we’re way behind
And bad contracts really have us in a bind
Help us be contenders in oh-nine
Won’t you please, please help us?

Well, now we cannot blame the fat guy at first base
He’s been a real bright spot in a season of disgrace
And Granderson, Armando, Maggs have had the touch
The pitching, though, it really blows, and Sheffield just as much

Help us if you can, we’re getting old
And a few trades back our prospects were all sold
Help us turn this leaden team to gold
Won’t you please, please help us?
Help us, help us, ooh

Game 150: Tigers at Rangers

PREGAME: Remember when the Tigers took 2 of 3 in the Metrodome and came home and spanked the A’s to open the series with Sheff’s 2 homers? Things felt pretty good – in the we’re not making the playoffs but it’s nice to see some decent games strung together sense. That was over a week ago and the team hasn’t won since.

Zach Miner and Kevin Millwood tonight.

DET @ TEX, Tuesday, September 16, 2008 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

POSTGAME: Yep. Your 2008 Detroit Tigers. At least Zach Miner was good.

And Angel Hernandez is an awful, awful umpire.

Time to fold ’em

Kenny Rogers career as a Tiger appears to be over. Jim Leyland announced that Rogers will be shut down for the rest of the season.

Rogers has been getting hammered with regularity, and it looks like this is the end of the line. The move will cost Rogers $250K to $750K in incentives, but given his recent performance I don’t think that played a large role.

While Rogers won’t be making anymore starts, it would be nice if he could be brought into a game for a batter during the final weekend so the fans could say thanks for 2006.

Most homers allowed by a reliever

As Kyle Farnsworth allowed his 15th homer of the year, I was curious as to whether he was chasing any kind of history. After all, 15 homers in less than 60 innings seems like kind of a lot. Over 200 innings that would be 50 homers. It turns out that Farnsworth isn’t even close to setting the record for pitchers who were used exclusively as relievers.

That distinction belongs to John Wyatt who allowed 23 in 1964 out of the pen. It’s worth noting though that Wyatt threw 128 innings that year.

But what about the modern day reliever, you know, the guys who throw less than 100 innings a year? That honor goes to Gabe White who surrendered 18 dingers in 2001. He’s followed by a handful of guys who are tied with 17, including 2 other Tigers seasons.

Doug Bochtler allowed 17 in 1998 and Joe Boever did the same in 1995. I honestly have no recollection of Doug Bochtler whatsoever. Not just this accomplishment, but the fact he played major league baseball period.

Aurelio Lopez cracks the list when he allowed 16 homers during the 1984 season. Lopez pitched a remarkable 137 innings that year with a 2.94 ERA.

Oh yeah, back to Farnsworth. He’s at 15 and there’s still 2 weeks of baseball left. The thing is, he’s battling 2 other AL relievers. Justin Speier and Joel Peralta are in a 3 way battle. Peralta is “winning” having done it in only 50.2 innings.

In a coincidental twist, Roberto Novoa allowed 15 homers in 2006. Novoa was one of the players the Tigers sent to the Cubs to acquire Farnsworth before the 2005 season.

Game 149: Tigers at Rangers

PREGAME: Stuff of note for this game. Dontrelle Willis will take the mound. It’s his first big league action since June 9th against Cleveland. With the Tigers having 2 more years invested in Willis, it’s worth seeing if he can still pitch. That’s reason 1 to tune in tonight.

Second, the Tigers could be eliminated tonight. Their magic number for elimination is down to 1. I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long.

Plus, there’s the chance that Kyle Farnsworth could give up another homer.

The Rangers send out Brandon McCarthy who hasn’t been bad as of late – not good mind you – but not bad. The last time he faced Detroit he left the game after 3 runs in .2 innings in September 2007.

DET @ TEX, Monday, September 15, 2008 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

POSTGAME: Tigers offense gets lead. Bullpen gives it up. Tigers get lead back. Bullpen gives it up. That’s kind of been done before, in fact it’s been done so much the Tigers have been eliminated. But the bigger story was Dontrelle Willis.

Willis did okay. He wasn’t great, with 5 walks in 5 innings and he was helped by a couple nice plays by Granderson and Ordonez. But he wasn’t bad either. And “not bad” is a step in the right direction and is encouraging.

He threw 89 pitches, with 47 being for strikes. The control wasn’t great, but improved for sure. There were times he was missing badly, but then other times where he seemed to just chuck it and found some nice life on the fastball. He’ll pitch again on Sunday, and perhaps one more time in the final week.

Game 147 & 148 Redux: Tigers at White Sox

PREGAMEs: Verlander and Vazquez in the afternoon game (2:05) theoretically. No local TV if they play because FSN couldn’t get the production or transmission facilities.
DET @ CHW, Sunday, September 14, 2008 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

The night game will be a lefty fest with Kenny Rogers and John Danks doing battle at 8:00pm on ESPN.

DET @ CHW, Sunday, September 14, 2008 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

Game 147 & 148: Tigers at White Sox

PREGAME(S): The Tigers and White Sox will try and make-up last night’s rainout with a natural double header. Although this doesn’t sound promising either given the weather.

Game 1 will feature Kenny Rogers and Javier Vazquez. Game 2 will be Zach Miner and somebody wearing a White Sox uni. As for the Verlander/Danks match-up that was supposed to be last night? That’ll happen Sunday night. Maybe.

Game 1 is a Fox national game which is slated to start at 3:55 and Game 2 should start about a half hour following the completion.

As for the TV info, if there is a second game today, it will not be televised. FSN Detroit relayed that they made an effort to get game 2 on, but couldn’t secure production and transmission facilities on short notice. If one of the games get rained out and there is a need for a split DH on Sunday (the regular game is an 8p ESPN tilt), it isn’t known if the early game would be on. FSN will be exploring the possibility.

UPDATE: Both ends postponed. They’ll try again for a DH tomorrow. Only the evening game will be televised with FSN running into the same issues. Keep in mind they were supposed to be done with this series on Friday night with the other 2 scheduled for national tv.

Game 147: Tigers at White Sox

PREGAME: Justin Verlander will try and see if he’s got stuff figured out. John Danks will try and dominate the Tigers again.

DET @ CHW, Friday, September 12, 2008 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

Game Time 8:11

Zumaya has fractured shoulder

Joel Zumaya was diagnosed today with a non-displaced stress fracture in his throwing shoulder. I guess that would explain some of the shoulder pain that shut Zumaya down for the last month.

Zumaya will be shut down from baseball activities for the next 6 to 8 weeks. While it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference for the fate of this year’s team, it will likely inhibit Zumaya partaking in any winter leagues. So less time to work on his slider, or perhaps be stretched out for a starters role.

I don’t know enough to know if this was a missed diagnosis, but combined with the Clete Thomas news, this hasn’t made for a favorable news cycle for Dr. Stephen Lemos and the DMC – the official team physicians.

Why Maggs will be a Tiger next year

There’s been a popular refrain that the Tigers will trade Magglio Ordonez this offseason. The thinking is that a)Magglio is a pretty good player and b)the Tigers would free up salary and c)the Tigers could get prospects to fill needs or even just replenish the farm system. While tenet A is true, parts B and C unfortunately are near mutually exclusive.

Ordonez is certainly a good player. He has a .380 wOBA this season which is a little more than 2 wins above average. Defensively it depends who you ask. He’s either a little below average or average-ish. In the interest of pumping up his value, we’ll call him an average fielder.

We’ll come back to value in a minute. But for now we’ll focus on his contract. Ordonez has one more guaranteed year on his deal at $18 million for 2009. There are then 2 club options – sort of. They are club options that can also vest due to playing time. If Ordonez makes 135 starts next year or 540 plate appearances the two options years become guaranteed at $15 million per. Or, if he has 1080 plate appearances between 08 and 09 they vest.

Ordonez is at 555 PA’s this year and will likely finish right around 600 for the season. Meaning he’ll only need 480 PA’s next year. Presumably a team isn’t going to trade for a player with the hope he gets injured, let’s assume that Ordonez plays a full year and his real remaining contract is 3 years and $48 million.

Ordonez will be 35 next year, so his contract extends through his age 37 season. Would you sign a 35 year old above average corner outfielder to a 3 year, $48 million deal?

To answer this, we can turn to a methodology that we tapped in the offseason to evaluate free agent deals. If we deem Ordonez to be a 2 win above average player (which is reasonable since his current season is close to his career numbers) that makes him 4 wins above replacement level. We penalize him a half win for aging and another half win for being a corner outfielder (he’d get bonus points for playing short or center or catcher) making him 3 wins above replacement. Using this table, that would a 3 year deal worth $35.9 million. Now that was last year, so if we add on 10% inflation it brings a 3 year deal to $40 million-ish.

So Magglio’s deal isn’t particularly attractive one if you were signing him as a free agent. So why would a team give up any prospects of value (or even not of value) to acquire him and his salary? The Tigers could send some money along with the deal, but then they are paying a handsome sum for prospects, plus they would be losing production in right field. And as much as we may like Matt Joyce, Ordonez is a solid bet to put up better numbers. Plus I don’t see the Tigers abandoning contention in 2009. The moves that have been made the last 2 years have been to give the Tigers a 2-3 year window to compete. Next year will not be a rebuilding year – at least not out of spring training.

I just don’t see a scenario where it makes sense for the Tigers to move Ordonez (unless another team is really dumb).

The Clete Thomas injury

Hey, it’s Tommy John surgery time. Clete Thomas, who showed some promise with a nice eye from the left side of the plate and a cannon of an outfield arm will be missing the AFL, spring training, and some more. He underwent surgery today under the hand of Dr. James Andrews.

Thomas is likely on the shelf for the next 6 to 8 months, making his presence on the roster early in the season extremely unlikely. Once again though we have a player trying to play through injury with poor results.

According to the Free Press article Thomas felt it pop back in June. He manned-up and kept playing until the pain was overwhelming.

He then hit the DL at the end of August, mis-diagnosed with an elbow sprain. Rehab and a re-evaluation were recommended culminating in an unfavorable MRI.

It’s a story that’s been told all too often the last two years where injured players are hurting themselves and the team. I don’t know why they are staying on the field as long as they are. Whether it’s a communication issue, and eagerness issue, or a problem with the medical staff. But it needs to be one of the top priorities addressed this offseason.