2010 Offseason: Outfield (and DH)

With SS and 3B done, OF and Catcher remain the biggest needs for the boys.  I think it is safe to say that AJax will be starting in center, and the corner positions are up for grabs.

In May and June of last year, Boesch in Left and Maggs in Right helped to form a respectable outfield, and a formidable lineup.  But Boesch’s collapse and Maggs’ constant injuries cast doubt on a Boesch, Jackson, Maggs trio for 2011.

Ordonez had his $15M option turned down by the Tigers, but they are still expected to negotiate with him in the coming weeks.  Keep in mind that he will be 37 next year (older than any of the full time OFers listed below), and his games played have been on a steady decline since 2007, bottoming out at 84 last year.  Boras is already playing his games.

John Lowe wrote on Sunday that the three big bats that the Tigers will chase will be Adam Dunn, Jayson Werth, and Carl Crawford.  Crawford in the outfield with Jackson would be lethal, but Crawford is expected to receive big offers from a number of teams.  Werth and Dunn will not come cheaply either, though at least one MLB.com writer is predicting Dunn to the Tigers.

I’ve seen more than one baseball writer hint that the Tigers might make a play for Jeter, though this was written before the Peralta signing.  Would Jeter play LF?

Damon is a free agent, but I can not imagine a repeat of him at DH, at least not as a first option.  I was shocked to read that Damon was coming off of a “pretty solid season” on ESPN insider yesterday.  Damon hit 8 HR with 51 RBA and a .756 OPS last year.

Another reason why I pass in Damon, is that once you get past the big boys who are DH/OF combos, there are plenty of good options left at DH.  Thome, Matsui, Vlad, Sweeney.  Heck, could Brad Hawpe resurrect his career?  He’s only 31…

Hopefully Ilitch will have some money left after his next purchase.

In the feel good story of the day – the Tigers resigned Max St. Pierre to a minor league contract. Terms were undisclosed.

What do you think?

2010 Offseason: The 2011 Rotation

Here’s what I see as set in stone, and what’s on the books for 2011:

1) JV – $12.75M

2) Scherzer – $~1.5M, arb eligible

3) Porcello – $1.536M, club option

4/5) Galarraga – under club control, but note that he’s Super-2 eligible thanks to a rather generously low hurdle this year (2 yrs, 122 days).

Down on the farm the future looks bright, but it might be a few years.  Jacob Turner, Andy Oliver, and Casey Crosby are all expected to be solid rotation guys, but Turner and Crosby are likely two years away.  Remember that Crosby was shut down last July with recurring elbow problems after a few bad starts on a rehab stint in the GCL (he started the year on the DL as well coming off of Tommy John).  2011 will be an important year for Crosby.

Turner split the year between Western Michigan and Lakeland last year, and was dominant in both.  Overall he posted a 3.28 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and struck out 102 in 115 IPs.  The kid is only 19, and his age is probably the only reason why we wouldn’t see him in 2011.

Oliver had 5 not so flattering starts last year for the big league club, though he did pitch two quality starts before being sent back down, posting a 3.00 ERA.  Oliver spent the rest of the year in Toledo, where he struck out 49 in 53 IPs, and posted a 3.23 ERA.  Oliver turns 23 next month and I see no reason why he wouldn’t have a legitimate shot at the rotation in spring training.

This year’s free agent class includes Bonderman, Carl Pavano, Chris Young, Aaron Harang, Hiroki Kuroda, Javier Vazquez, and Justin Duchscherer.  I really like Kuroda, but I feel that the Tigers’ free agent dollars would be better spent elsewhere.  Anyone think they’ll make Bonderman an offer?

James Shields and Zach Grienke are also rumored to be available.  I don’t think we have the chips for Grienke, and I’m not sure that I’d want James Shields.

2010 Offseason: Catcher

(shout out to Vince in MN)

Yorvit Torrealba: 32/.271/.343/.378

Victor Martinez: 31/.302/.351/.493

A.J. Pierzynski: 33/.270/.300/.388

John Buck: 30/.281/.314/.489

Alex Avila: 23/.228/.316/.340

Buck is the cream of the crop, but he’s going to be pursued by quite a few teams, and 30 may be a little old for the long term deal that I’m guessing he’ll be looking for.  I don’t think Martinez makes any sense because he’s primarily 1B/DH these days, and we’ve already got Guillen penciled in at DH.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d love Martinez, but we already have a DH who will spend 1/3 of the season on the DL.  I think I could deal with Pierzynski on a one year deal (though it would need to be less than the $6.75M he made last year) if he could help to groom Avila, or provide a bridge to whomever is next in line.

Bryan Holaday looks to be the only promising player in the farm system, and he’s likely a few years away from being ready to compete for the big league job. (He spent all of last year at Lakeland.)

What are your thoughts?  Can you figure out a way to make Martinez work?  Who’s in the John Buck hunt?  White Sox, Rangers and Mets come to mind.

2010 Offseason: SS

I write this amidst a backdrop of Edgar Renteria headlines…Did you know that Thursday was his first 3 RBI game of the season…

The short list for 2011 SS starts and ends with Jhonny Peralta.  The Tigers are sitting on a $7.25M club option, but they are leaning towards declining it (there is a $250k buyout…what a racket).  Note that he made $4.85M last year.  They have until 5 days after the WS ends to make a decision.  Peralta has a career .748 OPS, .703 last year (.710 with the Tigers).  He’s been above .800 twice, but he really has not come close to hi 2005 season which saw him hit 35 doubles, slug 24 homers, and end with an .886 OPS.  According to Fangraphs, he was in the middle of the AL defensively (though he had a negative fielding rating) with a 1.4 WAR.  His ZR and RF are middle of the pack as well, at SS, though he didn’t qualify for a full season at either SS or 3B.

Beck wrote a few days ago that the Tigers are working on a two-year deal with him, for a little less than Inge’s deal.

If somehow the Peralta deal does not get done, here’s a list of free agent short stops (thank’s to Cot’s for the list), * means that either the player or the team have a 2011 option.  Any interest?

Orlando Cabrera CIN *
Craig Counsell MIL
Alex Gonzalez ATL *
Cristian Guzman TEX
J.J. Hardy MIN
Jerry Hairston Jr. SD
Omar Infante ATL *
Cesar Izturis BAL
Derek Jeter NYY
Jhonny Peralta DET *
Edgar Renteria SF *
Jose Reyes NYM *
Jimmy Rollins PHI *
Juan Uribe SF
Ramon Vazquez HOU
Chris Woodward SEA

This are pretty bare down on the farm.  Cale Iorg has headed up the Tigers SS prospects for a few years, though at 25, the clock is ticking on him.  Gustavo Nunez had a promising 2009, only to recess in 2010.  Nunez is 22 and worth keeping an eye one.  Unfortunately, that’s about it.  (Note that 19 year old Daniel Fields, a Detroit native, came up as a SS, but was moved to CF over the summer.)

Inge named Marvin Miller Man of the year:

Inge named Marvin Miller man of the year.  The award is voted on by the players and is awarded to the player whose on-field and off-field performances most inspire others to “higher levels of achievement.”  I’ll leave that one open for you guys?

This did not bode well for CG last year, maybe a trade is in the works?

Good stuff, though I’d prefer a gold glove or silver slugger award.

2010 Offseason: 3B

I had planned to start with starting pitching, but last week’s Inge resigning prompts that we start at 3B.

Inge benefited from a weak free agent class and DD’s inexplicable man-crush.  Two years, $11M, with a club option at $6M for the third.  $5.5M/yr isn’t all that bad, until you consider that:

– he’s a career OPS+ of 85 (this is waaaaaaaaaaaaay too low for an AL 3B).

– he’s had exactly one OPS+ season above 100, and that was in 2004 when the Tigers were managed by this guy.

– his career 3B fielding pct of .961 is suspect, and his 8.73 ZR over the last two years is marginal, at best.

At least’s it’s a pay cut (he made $6.6M this year).  Rosenberg wrote over the weekend that Inge is thrilled to stay in Det.  No kidding.  The Freep had a reader column on Saturday which pretty much summed up the sentiment we’ve seen here for years.

There’s really not a whole lot in the hopper in the minors, but I’m wondering if Raburn would have been a better option.  Kelly could not be much worse, and he would have been significantly cheaper.

2010: Year in Review

As a team the Tigers were average.  They had above average hitting (parenthesis are ML ranks):

751 Runs (11th)
.268 Avg (5th)
.335 OBP (8th)
.415 Slg (11th)

Which was balanced out by their below average pitching:

4.30 ERA (25th)
79 QS (23rd)
1.37 WHIP (20th)
.262 BAA (21st)

April

After starting the season 5-1, the Tigers were .500 for the rest of the month, ending at 14-10.

Top Performers Valverde (7 saves, .75 ERA), Zumaya (1.23 ERA 14.2 in IPs, .81 WHIP), Bonine (1.50 ERA in 12 IPs), Austin Jackson (.364 BA, 149 OPS+)

*Note Cabrera would have fit my proprietary “top performers” criteria for every month but September, when he was still OPS+ 130, so let’s just save everyone the time on him.

May

May was not a good month, as Dontrelle was sent off to pasture and the boys gave up a few games ending with a 12-14 record for the month (26-24 overall). They swept the Angels April 30 – May 2nd, and were swept by Minnesota there, May 3-5th.  They ended the month 4.5 games out of first.

May also saw the passing of one of the all-time Tiger greats, Ernie Harwell.  Ernie was our window into a kid’s game, a comforting sound on a summer night, and a master storyteller.

Top performers – Verlander (4 Wins, 2.64 ERA), Valverde (4 saves, 0 ERA in 8.2 IPs), Bonine (1.50 ERA in 12 IPs), Bonderman (1.33 ERA, 26Ks in 27 IPs), Coke (1.93 ERA in 14 IPs), Ni (1.69 ERA in 10.2 IPs), Boesch (3 HRs, .345 BA, .973 OPS)

June

June was a good month at 15-12, and hosted the game of the year. Galarraga handled the blown call with the class and integrity of a true role model. (Here’s billfer’s final thoughts on the game for good measure.)  During June the boys swept Pitt and Arizona on the road as part of a 7 game winning streak June 11-18th, and ended the month at 41-36 overall, 1.5 games behind the Twins.

Unfortunately, the end of June also saw the end of Zoom.

Top performers (watch the relievers begin to disappear…) – Verlander (4 Wins), Valverde (7 saves, .68 ERA), Boesch (8 HR, .337 BA, 1.025 OPS)

July

Here’s where the lug nuts came loose.  The Tigers went 11-15 for the month, and this is after reaching a season high 11 games over after a 5 game home win streak over Baltimore and Minnesota July 5-10th.  They came back ice cold after the AS break posting a 4-12 record (including sweeps by Cle and Tampa) and ending July and six games out.  The Tampa series featured a no hitter by Matt Garza, and then Joe Maddon intentionally walking Miguel Cabrera in the 7th inning, to load the bases, on three consecutive nights to get to Brennan Boesch.  Boesch went K, F7, 3-1.  They did manage to Sweep Baltimore in early July.

Maggs went down on July 24th, which is largely when the wheels started to come off.  The bullpen also lost its mojo, lowlighted by Valverde’s 8.25 ERA and 2.08 WHIP.

Top performers – Verlander (3 Wins, 2.88 ERA), Scherzer (3 Wins, 2.31 ERA), Coke (2.19 ERA in 12.1 IPs), Inge (.937 OPS through 13 games – till he went on the DL), Damon (.325 BA, .981 OPS)

August

August saw the loose lug nuts from July fly into a ditch and then the wheels torpedo down the highway in four different directions.  The Tigers were 13-16 for the month,but this hides the story a bit.  From July 10th through Aug 13 they went 7-23. We saw the last of Guillen this month, and ended August 11 games out (65-67 overall).  The boys did sweep Cleveland August 20th – 22nd.

Top performers: Scherzer (3 Wins, 1.29 ERA), Raburn (8 HR, .308 BA, .963 OPS)

September/October

16-14, hooray.  Swept the White Sox the 7th – 9th, the 17th – 19th, and then Minnesota the 24th – 26th; and then subsequently lost their next 6 before finishing with a W in Baltimore to end the season at 81-81 overall, 13 games back.

Top performers – Verlander (4 Wins, 2.54 ERA), Perry (1.69 ERA in 16 IPs), Thomas (2.13 in 12.2 IPs), Weinhardt (1.54 ERA in 11.2 IPs), Raburn (5 HR, .358 BA, .971 OPS)

The Tigers spent 16 days either tied or in first place outright including off-days (but everyone gets 1 day), and were reasonably in the race through early August.  They were never up by more than 1 game, and they were 15.5 games back on September 15th.

Time to dive into off-season moves…we’ll begin with starting pitching next week.

2010: POSTseason

Well, 2010 has come to an end.  For our beloved Tigers anyway.  Based on spring forecasts, the boys probably met expectations, but considering where we were at the AS Break, it’s hard to call 2010 anything other than disappointing (okay, maybe “frustrating’).

Now, there are a ton of fantastic Tigers topics to debate in the coming weeks, the most exciting of which is that $50M is set to come off of the payroll.  Moreover, AJax and Cabrera may have their names called when postseason awards are announced…and does anyone care that Jim Leyland is 28 games under .500 over the past four seasons after the AS Break?  (credit to stephen for pointing this out from time to time)

For the near future, my plan is to do a year in review, and then a position by position post every two-three days for the next few weeks (we’ll group OFers/SPs/RPs together) so that we can discuss what we have at the big league level, who’s knocking on the door, and who we may be able to convince to come over with a huge cardboard check signed by Little Caesar himself.  I certainly don’t hold myself out to be billfer in terms of depth and resources, so I’ll be looking to you guys to help move the topics along.  On that note, if anyone wants to substantially contribute, now or next season, shoot me an email at kmvela @ yahoo dot com and we’ll chat offline.

This should get us through the WS and lead us up to the winter meetings.  For next season, my goals are the following:

1) Create a shared database to track JLs wacky moves, and other things which we can’t glean from Baseball-Reference.  Too often I find ourselves asking “didn’t he get burned last time he brought in a righty to face Thome?”  This can likely be done pretty easily via Google Docs.

2) Get someone to post daily (or close to it) on the minor league system.  Much like billfer’s minor league wrap-ups, but in the mornings.  In fact, if someone is looking to become an expert on the Tigers minor league system and get some writing experience, let me know.  billfer was able to parlay his Tiger fandom and hard work into a writing job, you could be next.

3) Host a few call in sessions after games, or perhaps even during spring training.  Sites like blogtalkradio.com make this a cinch.

4) Learn more about Coleman.

There are several other sites out there where readers can talk Tigers and interact, but what I really think sets this one apart from the others is the quality of our readers and your comments and analysis.  (The layout helps as well). I know that we hit a lull after billfer stepped down and it took me a while to figure out how to use the back-end (not to mention the 6 game losing streak), but I’m looking forward to running the site in 2011.  More to come.

A few quick notes that I saw over the weekend:

– Not that I would ever undo the deal that brought us Edwin Jackson, and eventually landed us Scherzer, AJax, Coke & Schlereth, but Matt Joyce posted an .837 OPS last season in 200 ABs, good for fourth on the Tigers roster (that includes Casper Wells who had 93 ABs).

– Juan Uribe out produced Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Inge.  By a decent margin.

– The Twins have lost 12 straight postseason games.  Is 6 division titles in 9 years enough to compensate for that?

Game 2010.162: Tigers at Orioles

If the weather has not already changed outside your window, summer is officially over.  The Boys wrap up the season looking to end up perfectly even – a .500 club.  That would be a fitting end for the season.

My plan is to take a few weeks off through the playoffs, and then start posting for the off-season in a month or so.  If you guys would like to have a few threads to discuss the playoffs, I’m happy to post them.

Lots to talk about this off-season, though the Inge discussion may be shorter than we’d like…

I would also like to get more input from you guys on topics, as well as solicit some help.  I’ll close out the season in a few days.  Just trying to enjoy the end of the summer.

Game 2010.161: Tigers at Orioles

Need to win the last two to finish over .500.

Game 2010.160: Tigers at Orioles

Game 2010.159: Tigers at Orioles

Who’s out there?

Anyone want to weigh on my Longhorns v. OU tomorrow?