Realism

re·al·ism

[ree-uh-liz-uhm]  

noun

1. interest in or concern for the actual or real, as distinguished from the abstract, speculative, etc.
2. the tendency to view or represent things as they really are.

Now that we’ve read the best case and worst case musings of our other regular contributors, let me hit you with a dose of reality.

1. The Tigers are not going to stroll to the central title. The Central is going to be tougher than last year. Remember that the Indians only finished 1 game behind the Tigers last year, and the Royals won 86 games. Those teams are maturing and learning how to win. I don’t think that the Tigers will finish third, like Mr. Henning does, but it’s going to be a dog fight for sure.

2. There will be second guessing on DTW. Brad Ausmus is going to make mistakes. Lots of them. Since there is really only one spot nailed down in the bullpen, there will be a lot of room for what-ifs. Also, platooning will be a hot topic in LF and at C, starting in week one. This gets exacerbated if ANY position player gets injured.

3. There will be heartache for the DTW faithful. There are going to be 60-70 nights over the next six months when we go to bed (or wake up) with the sour taste of a L. (If there are more than that, then the season, and the recurring sour taste, will end early).

4. There will be celebrations. I know that we all take pride in the success of the Tigers. It’s a right of fandom. A great play or a nice win are always cause for a high five, or maybe a drink. I think that we’ve become spoiled over the past few years as Tigers fans and have become accustomed to winning, so our expectations have been raised. But even so, this team should deliver.

5. We’ll have fun. It’s America’s pasttime for a reason. My kids are still too young to get it, but I’m looking forward to sharing all of this with them in a few years. There is no doubt that it will rekindle a part of my appreciation that I didn’t even know I had lost. Looking forward to watching 2014 with everyone.

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On another note, I don’t get the Cabrera contract extension at all. You could have paid him the exact same money next year (or seemingly less), and had the benefit of monitoring his core over another full season. Keith Law predictably trashed the deal, but if you want to read something worthwhile, check out Dave Cameron on Frangraphs. The conclusions aren’t too far apart, however.

We really don’t have much of an insight into Mr. Illitch. Certainly not the access that I’m used to with Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones. But I assume that this is his doing. Or that Dombrowski wants to retire in a few years.

After what looked like a prudent move in passing on Scherzer’s offer, the Tigers have confused a lot of people with this one. Though spending has never been a problem here, so let’s worry about the Cabrera contract when it’s time to worry. Yes, this could eat us up in 2020. But with Verlander and Cabrera now wrapped up into baseball infinity, if we’ve got two WS rings come 2020, it may be pretty easy to digest.

News & Notes: 11-23-10 The Victor Martinez Edition

Lots of stuff to get to…

– Rumor is that Tigers and Victor Martinez are close to 4 yrs/$50M.   Terry Francona is already weighing in on the loss of Martinez.

– Tigers declined arbitration on Bonderman, Seay, Laird, Damon and Ordonez, and thus forego any compensation picks if any of these players are signed by another team.

– Aburey Huff resigned with the Giants today, 2 for $22M.  Which is a real indictment on what they thought of Renteria.

– AL MVP Voting coming shortly…
UPDATE: Hamilton wins in a landslide, receiving 22/28 first place votes.

(sorry for the brevity, I’m looking forward to everyone’s feedback, to be updated later)

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.

Report: Verlander inks 5 year deal

The Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander have agreed to a 5 year contract worth $80 million according to Larry Lage of the AP. Verlander was at the Tigers Lakeland facility working out earlier today. The deal locks up the ace through the 2014 season and it bests the 5 year $78 million deal that Felix Hernandez received earlier this month.

A long an expensive contract for any player, and pitchers in particular, is a risk. But there are certain players that are worth a gamble. Verlander had 2 years until free agency where if he continues to perform he would have netted a deal well in excess of $100 million. The Tigers secured his first 3 years of free agency at what will hopefully be a bargain.

The Hernandez comparisons are especially germane, and if you like the King Felix signing the Verlander one is just as palatable. Verlander has been at least an $11 million pitcher in each of his 4 years and with his big season in 2009 he has produced $80 million in value for the Tigers. He was likely to make about $8-9 million in 2010 regardless. He guaranteed himself an additional 4 years and $70 million.

While I think that Hernandez should get more because he is 3 years younger and if I had to pick one, I’d pick Hernandez, both are exceptional pitchers with similarly impressive resumes. I don’t want to get into a Felix/Justin debate. They are both studs and a difference of a couple million over 5 years isn’t really a difference at all.

I am concerned about Verlander’s workload the past few seasons, and last year in particular. He didn’t seem to suffer any consequences though and the hope is that JV is one of those freaks. The upside is that the contract expires when Verlander is only 31 meaning that like Cabrera, the Tigers have locked him up for his peak years.

Photo credit:  Hueytaxi on flickr – photo taken February 3rd, 2010

Tigers find enough in the cushions for Valverde

The Tigers today managed to scrounge up $23 million and invested that in Jose Valverde. The deal is reportedly 2 years and $14 million plus a $9 million option for a 3rd year. For a team looking to be more fiscally responsible and acquire cheap young high end talent to build for the future this move makes no sense.

Valverde is a pretty good pitcher. He fans better than a batter an inning with moderate control making him a 3.47 FIP pitcher for his career. He also brings some experience to a very very young bullpen. There might be some value in that. In short, the Tigers are better than they were yesterday. But…

Continue reading Tigers find enough in the cushions for Valverde

Ramon Santiago signs 2 year deal

The Tigers announced that they have signed Ramon Santiago to a 2 year contract. Santiago has 5.095 years of service time meaning that the contract secures him through his club control years.

I’m a little surprised to see a 2 year deal for Santiago who is essentially a utility player. Terms weren’t announced, but Santiago made $825,000 last year meaning this deal will probably pay him a little over $1 million each of the next 2 seasons. Santiago is an average-ish defender who showed some surprising power the last 2 years. He was a .5 WAR player last year and a 1 WAR player the year before.

The Tigers avoid arbitration with Santiago and have 13 of their 40 players signed for 2010.

Image credit: DanCox on flickr

Why moving Cabrera could make it harder to keep Verlander

The good news for Tigers fans is that according to Jon Paul Morosi a couple of sources say it is unlikely that the Tigers trade Miguel Cabrera this week. Salary relief would of course be nice, but Morosi raises another good point. Trading away a team’s best player likely sends the wrong message to the player you’d like to keep around.

Verlander, who is on the verge of receiving a big raise in salary arbitration, is on track to become a free agent after the 2011 season. If the Tigers trade prominent players such as Granderson and Jackson, they may have a difficult time convincing Verlander to remain in Detroit for the long term.

It’s quite the conundrum for the Tigers. The cash saved by in the future by moving Miguel Cabrera or Curtis Granderson would certainly help with the flexibility to sign Justin Verlander but it would also make the climate less attractive. Verlander will get his money regardless so he’ll be able to look for a favorable situation.

As for what it will take to sign Verlander, we can start by looking at some rumors swirling around Felix Hernandez who like Verlander is 2 years removed from free agency. Ken Rosenthal reports that the two sides are far apart on a long term deal where the starting point was a 4 year $45 million offer.

Hernandez should command more because as good as Verlander has been, King Felix has been better and is 3 years younger. Still, it would take probably $20 million to buy out Verlander’s 2 arbitration years and then $15-18 million per year after that at least.

Tigers and the looming arbitration deadline

The Tuesday deadline for teams to offer their departing free agents arbitration is approaching. The Tigers have three cases that are garnering some attention in Placido Polanco, Brandon Lyon, and Fernando Rodney.

Continue reading Tigers and the looming arbitration deadline

The Dombrowski Presser

Dave Dombrowski met with the press today and fielded questions for about an hour. Jaosn Beck, Tom Gage, and John Lowe had it covered. There is enough there to warrant about 6 posts worth of further explanation. But until that happens…

Miguel Cabrera

Dombrowski had a range of emotions about the situation, many were negative, but it wasn’t the first time he’s been in this situation in his 20 years as GM. It’s not surprising that he believes Cabrera will take the necessary steps. As for the question on whether he should have played Saturday night, that gets a little more gray. The response was:

“First of all, you have some legalities that are involved. You probably should know the rules when it comes to the Basic Agreement (the collective-bargaining agreement between the clubs and the players union).

“Secondly, we thought he was capable of going out there and playing.”

I admit to knowing nothing about the rules involved when a player has been drinking and is scheduled to play. I will say the answer was somewhat evasive in that they “thought” he was capable of playing. There was no comment on whether they thought they made the right decision.
Continue reading The Dombrowski Presser

This whole release Ordonez business

There has been a growing sentiment that the Tigers need to release Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez has a very expensive $18 million option for 2010 that will automatically vest if Ordonez notches 249 more plate appearances this season. He also has a $15 million option for 2011 that vests if he has 270 starts or 1080 plate appearances between 2009 and 2010 (info from Cot’s Contracts). I think it is clear to everyone that Ordonez is a very long shot produce like a “$15 million player.” But if the Tigers cut him, it won’t be as simple as walking away from money owed.

Ken Rosenthal, in an article about a potential grievance that Tom Glavine may file after his release, points out that the CBA prohibits teams from cutting players for financial reasons. Ordonez has been struggling this year and a sub .400 slugging percentage isn’t at all sufficient. But the Tigers would be hard pressed to prove that even at his current numbers, cutting Ordonez wasn’t a financially motivated decision.

When Gary Sheffield was released, he was still going to get his money regardless. There was no financial motivation. With Ordonez there are two things working against the Tigers releasing him for performance based reasons. First, while the slugging percentage is low he does have the 3rd highest on base percentage on the team. The performance isn’t satisfactory or sufficient but he’s also far from a black hole in the lineup. He also has enough of a track record that I think the numbers do improve, probably not to his career levels, but I think they will be better.

Second, there is no argument to be made that his position on the roster is blocking anyone. There isn’t a stud prospect waiting in the wings and he’s not taking at-bats from anyone more deserving. it’s possible Wilkin Ramirez could become that guy, but he sure isn’t there yet.

Cutting Ordonez is the right move on the surface because he won’t perform like a guy who will make $33 million the next two years, but I’m pretty sure the Tigers knew that when they signed him in the first place. They had to pay the Tigers Tax for their years of futility to get Ordonez in the fold. So the Tigers knew they would be in the situation when they inked the deal.

Lastly, if you’re a believer in clubhouse chemistry, how do you think it would play for the other 24 guys to see their organization dump a guy to avoid paying him?

Tigers agree to terms with Justin Verlander

The Tigers and Justin Verlander have agreed to terms on a one year deal. I’ll update with terms when I find them. And the streak of not going to arbitration continues for Dombrowski.

UPDATE: It’s 3.675 million. A couple hundred thousand less than I thought.

Also know that this doesn’t prevent a longer term deal at all. Miguel Cabrera and Fernando Rodney signed one year deals the last couple years, only to sign longer deals within a few weeks.