Happy New Year!

Hello Friends – I hope that everyone had a happy and healthy holiday season.

I’ve got a few stories of interest that I plan to post below, but first, I’d like to ask if anyone out there would like to help with the game posts this year. We could use one, maybe two more. Assuming we get the help, that will allow us to put up more than just game posts during the season. If you’re interested – just note it in a comment and I’ll email you off-line.

Secondly, I’d like to raise some money to re-vamp the site. DTW is awesome already, mostly due to the in-depth discussions (seriously, you ever see the comments elsewhere?), but there’s no doubt that a redesign taking advantage of some of the latest technology could improve things a bit. I need to get with billfer on this, so no timetable yet, but hopefully soon. In the meantime, know that an ask is coming. If any of you are developers/designers (it’s a WordPress site), let me know.

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On to our Tigers.

P&Cs hasn’t yet been released, but spring training opens up against the Braves on February 22nd… In the meantime, check out Dan Dickerson’s weekly 1 hour radio show to suppress your excitement for another 7 weeks.

Alan Trammell was my favorite Tiger growing up, and remains in my short list of favorite athletes of all time. I think this is probably the case for many Generation X Tiger fans. I used to get worked up about his HoF credentials, but those had largely subsided, until Matt Snyder of CBS Sports reignited the flame. His article names Trammell and Whitaker as the greatest double play combo of all time (using combined baseball-reference WAR), and it’s not even close; and then points out that they are the only non-active duo on his list where at least one of the tandem is not in the Hall of Fame.

I’m excited about Bruce Rondon, but you know, Brian Wilson is out there. Yeah, Tommy John recovery and all, but for the right price? What do you think? I’m on the fence. I can think of worse ways to spend money, and his gimp prank is legendary, but I think we can go to Dotel or Benoit if Rondon doesn’t work out.

Good luck Bondo. I’m sure you’ll strike out Avisail Garcia with a lefty on the bench in mid-June to clinch a W for the Ms.

Delmon Young = Jeff Francouer?

FanGraphs posted their top 15 organizational prospects last week.

 

Sparky Anderson Passes Away

My baseball consciousness arose in the mid-80’s, and Sparky was Tiger baseball.  I consider myself fortunate.

I’d love for some of you to share your favorite Sparky memories.

Ernie Harwell information

Here is a compilation of Ernie Harwell related articles, videos, and information about ceremonies and remembrances. The above picture was taken by current Tigers broadcaster and former radio partner of Harwell, Dan Dickerson shortly after the news filtered out last night.

Ceremonies

The funeral and memorial will be a private affair. However, there will be a public viewing taking place at Comerica Park on Thursday May 6th. The viewing begins at 7 a.m. at Gate A. It will last as long as it takes and complimentary parking is available in Lots 1, 2, and 3.

To further the endowment of the Ernie Harwell Collection at the Detroit Public Library and to fund partial college scholarships, please send memorial donations to the Ernie Harwell Foundation c/o S. Gary Spicer, 16845 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe, MI 48230.

The team will wear uniform patches for the remainder of the season and a flag will be raised at Comerica Park prior to the May 10th game against the New York Yankees.

In light of the news of Ernie Harwell’s passing, MLB Network will re-air Harwell’s interview on “Studio 42 with Bob Costas” tomorrow, Wednesday, May 5 at 4:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. CT.

Multimedia

Below is an audio clip of Dan Dickerson and Jim Price both announcing, and coming to terms with the news during the first inning of last night’s game. It was painful, poignant, and touching. Dan and Jim had to experience their grief over the air, live. A terrific job by both.

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Commentary

RIP Ernie Harwell 1918-2010

When it was announced late last summer that Ernie Harwell had cancer, everyone knew this day would be coming too soon. Sadly, it came May 4th, 2010 as William Earnest “Ernie” Harwell has passed away at the age of 92.

I don’t have a unique story to tell about my relationship with Ernie. It was similar to the relationship millions of fans had over the years. He was a comforting voice, a soothing sound of summer on a warm evening. But you all knew that.

I had the pleasure to speak with Ernie one time. He agreed to do an interview for this site (Part 1 & Part 2). It was only the second interview I’d done and I was incredibly nervous. Mr. Harwell was incredibly gracious and instantly put me at ease. As I stumbled through my questions he would start to spin an answer so eloquent that I’d forget I was the one he was actually talking to. It was like I was a kid listening to him call a game.

There isn’t too much left to say at this point. Instead I will link to an article I wrote following the game in which he addressed the fans at Comerica Park.

Ernie Harwell and the Moment

Granderson’s hoops game is on

The last 2 years Curtis Granderson has put on a celebrity basketball game as a fundraiser for his Grand Kids Foundation. Even though his status as a Tiger was in flux, his commitment to the kids wasn’t and Granderson announced that he will be hosting the event again this season.

This year’s game will be at Birmingham Seaholm on January 24th, and this one is sure to have a little bit of a different flavor. “This will also be an emotional event on a personal level, as it will be somewhat of a goodbye from me to the fans and the city that have supported me so strongly throughout my career so far,” says Granderson.  “I hope that those fans can pack the gym and also raise a lot of money for inner city education in Michigan.” Continue reading Granderson’s hoops game is on

Clearing my mind

Editors Note: Sorry for the lack of a cohesive post here. Things have been busy lately and while some of these topics might warrant a post, I know it won’t happen in a timely manner. Instead you are stuck with this concoction of stuff.

The Tigers really need to make a point of announcing Alan Trammell as the bench coach. He deserves a round of applause from Tigers fans. This is especially true since he unintentionally played into the Tigers marketing campaign when he said he’d “Always be a Tiger“…

Amber Grand sang the National Anthem on Sunday. Always a treat and I would like to see her in the rotation more often…

The nice thing about the Tigers playing from ahead is that they don’t have to make moves yet. They get to take a longer look at Ordonez/Guillen/Figaro/Galarraga to see what they really need. If they were trying to make up ground, they wouldn’t have that luxury…

Did Dontrelle Willis really refuse assignment? With the clarifications that Eddie provided on option refusal, the team has to submit a written request 4 days in advance. Willis bombed on a Sunday and was DL’d on a Thursday. The timeline would be at least circumstantial evidence to support the claim…

I enjoy keeping score at games. When I do road trips to other parks the scoresheet is my main souvenir. With a few ballparks under my belt the scoresheet by the Tigers is the best. When you combine layout, information, and value ($1) I haven’t found a better one. The worst? St. Louis. Expensive, the pencil costs extra, and it is basically a bunch of ads…

Rick Knapp has received lots of praise this year. As far as I know he’s doing a fine job and you can point to Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson and Fernando Rodney as pitchers who have improved under his watch. You can also point to Armando Galarraga who has performed much worse (and this goes beyond regression to the mean). I just bring this up because the Tigers and Indians are battling it out to see who will walk the most hitters in the AL. In all fairness though, with Willis out of the rotation it should help. Willis has issued 10.5% of the team’s free passes while only pitching 5.5% of the team’s innings.

Brandon Lyon’s walk numbers don’t look too good with 16 in 35 innings. But 6 of those are intentional walks and that leads the AL. Second place on that list is Justin Verlander with 4, 2 of which were to Albert Pujols…

My favorite player for the Lakeland Flying Tigers is Robbie Weinhardt…

I think spending a game as a member of the grounds crew would be really cool. But probably not for one of those games with lots of rain delays…

Lost in the euphoria of last night’s walk-off win the fact that the Cubs had been walking off against the Indians all weekend escaped me…

Tigers I have known

A quick look at some former Tigers and their performances in their new homes:

Gary Sheffield

Sheffield is in the midst of that bounce back season that many were hoping for, and few were expecting. He has a 292/433/521 line and is walking in one out of every 5 plate appearances. And Mets fans are loving it

I wasn’t in the camp that “Sheffield was done” in the sense he couldn’t hit anymore. But I was (and still am) in the camp that said Sheffield couldn’t stay healthy anymore. Fortunately the Tigers are winning and offensive struggles haven’t been prolonged or else we’d be hearing about what a mistake it was to let Sheffield walk.

Matt Joyce

I like Matt Joyce. I like him a lot. I don’t like him like him, but I do think he’s a very good player. He has toiled primarily at AAA where he has a 315/408/530 line. He was just recalled to the Rays and he homered yesterday. He only has 15 PA’s at the big league level but has homered twice already.

Guillermo Moscoso

The centerpiece of the deal that brought Gerald Laird to Detroit was just called up to the Texas Rangers. In his first appearance he went an inning allowing 2 hits with 1 strikeout.

He had been pitching fairly well for the Rangers Double A affiliate. He had a 7.7 K/9 rate and fanning 2.5 for every batter he walked. He only allowed 1 homer in 42.1 innings.

James Skelton

The little left handed hitting catching prospect was selected by the Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 draft. Arizona didn’t want to keep him on the big league roster and the Tigers didn’t want him back too much (they got Brooks Brown as compensation). He’s playing for the Arizona Double A team and has a .376 OBP. But he’s only hitting .221 and with only 7 extra base hits his slugging is south of .300.

Mark “the bird” Fidrych is gone

Sad news from Northboro today as fabled Tigers pitcher Mark the Bird Fidrych was found dead underneath his pick-up truck. Describing Fidrych at this point is a worthwhile exercise because everybody, and I mean everybody, knows about the charismatic Tigers Rookie of the Year from 1976. Being two years old at the time, I have no recollection of the Fidrych phenomenon beyond clips and stories. What I do know is I wish I had been in Tiger Stadium one of the magical nights he was pitching.

Lee Panas, who authors Detroit Tiger Tales, cites Fidrych as a major part of his fandom

I’ve been following the Tigers since 1968 and Mark Fidrych’s 1976 season was the single most thrilling individual season of my lifetime. Whenever I see that game against the Yankees that they show on ESPN or the MLB channel from time to time, I immediately go back 33 years to that night and remember how I felt watching the same game on television. It’s difficult to explain the Mark Fidrych experience to those who were not there to see it.

Lee remembered the 30 year anniversary of Fidrych’s 1976 season by chronicling it on his blog.

George Kell Passes Away

George Kell’s Hall of Fame plaque (elected, 1983)

George Clyde Kell
Philadelphia A.L. 1943-1946, Detroit A.L. 1946-52, Boston A.L. 1952-54,
Chicago A.L. 1954-56, Baltimore A.L. 1956-57
Premier A.L. third baseman of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Solid hitter and sure-handed fielder with strong, accurate arm. Batter over .300 nine times, leading league with .343 in 1949. Led A.L. third basemen in fielding pct. 7 times, assists 4 times and putout and double plays twice.


Sad news for the Tigers family today with the passing of Hall of Famer George Kell. Kell of course was the Tigers third baseman for a spell in the 40’s and later became an institution as a broadcaster. In addition to his broadcasting work, he was largely responsible for bringing Ernie Harwell to Detroit after the two had met in Baltimore.

I grew up watching Kell and Al Kaline on the WDIV broadcasts and his southern drawl is etched into my memory. I remember the way he’d say “They’re gonna wave him home!” with a runner coming around third. Or the way he’d say even mundane phrases like “and the Tigers’ll be in Arrrrrrlington on Tuuuuuesday night.” At a press event at The Henry Ford museum I had to chance to speak with Mr. Kell for a few moments, and just hearing his voice made me feel a little bit warm. Rest in Peace Mr. Kell.

UPDATE: Just got this info from Fox Sports. They will be airing some Kell related programming tomorrow night. Also some quotes from Mario Impemba and John Keating.

On Wednesday (7:30 & 10:00 pm) and Sunday (12:30 & 4:00 pm), FOX Sports Detroit will re-air its 2005 half-hour special titled “FSN Basement: All-Star Edition,” featuring interviews with George Kell and Al Kaline, each recalling their numerous All-Star Game appearances, memories of playing for the Tigers and their years working together in the television booth.


Mario Impemba, Tigers play-by-play announcer, FOX Sports Detroit –

“Growing up in Detroit, Mr. Kell had a big impact on my desire to become a broadcaster. He had a unique voice that featured a smooth southern charm. People knew they were watching Tigers baseball when they heard George’s voice every summer.”

John Keating, TIGERS LIVE host, FOX Sports Detroit —

“One of the highlights of my broadcasting career was our trip to interview George at his home in Swifton, Arkansas…. just to talk baseball and his place in Detroit’s sporting history. He was gracious and warm to those of us who were still involved with the Tigers. He still watched every Tigers game and enjoyed it with no regrets about stepping away from the broadcast booth. To those of us who grew up with George and Al and Ernie and Paul Carey, they shaped the standard for broadcasting sports in our town. It is less of a ‘bright and sunshiny day’ in Michigan.

Winter meetings end with a bang (my head against the wall)

Things started out so promising with the acquisitions of Gerald Laird and Adam Everett. And they end so disappointingly with the loss of James Skelton and Matt Joyce. To be fair the Skelton thing was set in motion weeks ago when the Tigers chose not to protect a young athletic lefty catcher with a 416 career minor league OBP.
Continue reading Winter meetings end with a bang (my head against the wall)

No arbitration for Renteria

I think it is safe to call the Edgar Renteria-Jair Jurrjens/Gorkys Hernandez deal “the trade that just keeps taking.” There was hope that the Tigers could salvage a couple draft picks out of the trade, but that possibility is now gone as the team has declined to offer Renteria arbitration.
Continue reading No arbitration for Renteria

Junkballing: Almost too much to link to

A flurry of link worthy items, plus just being behind in general leads to the mother of all link round-ups:

Injuries – left handed pitcher edition

Bless You Boys picked up a Buster Olney report that scouts were speculating that Dontrelle Willis may be injured. That could certainly be part of his control problems. Then again, Willis has battled increasing control issues the last couple years so it may be a continuation of a trend. But it sounded like Tigers scouts were confident that the problem had been licked. But what if it isn’t?

Assignable cause is always nice when trying to identify shifts in output (I’m an industrial engineer by trade). Usually if you can find the assignable cause and fix it. But in this case fixing it may mean rest & rehab or even surgery if there is an elbow problem.

Big League Stew has some more. Well, not much more but I like BLS and there’s a cool picture.

Things aren’t going well for Clay Rapada either who is experiencing more soreness.

Injury news – right handed pitching edition

Fernando Rodney was examined by the team orthopod and no structural damage was found and he will resume throwing. That’s the good news portion of this update.

Injury news – blogging center fielder subsection

Let’s hope Granderson heals as fast as he gets out of the box for triples. The mending time is estimated to be really quick where he only misses the first week (via John Fuller, his publicist/manager type guy) or it could be a month if Chone Figgins can be used as a comp. While he could probably start swinging the bat right away, it will likely effect his grip strength. And man, I’d imagine hitting in cold weather would be especially painful.

In his stead
Edgar Renteria will leadoff and Brandon Inge will manner center field – at least initially. I have a felling there will be some mixing and matching with Ryan Raburn perhaps getting some extra at-bats as well.

Interviews

Speaking of Granderson, The Grandy Report was able to interview him last week. It turns out Granderson’s favorite subject was math. I wonder if he’s a saber?

Also, Dontrelle Willis got together with Ryan Howard and David Wright during a Topps shoot. Willis grabbed the mike and conducted the interviews himself. This interview keeps getting taken down, so catch it while you can.

THE CONTRACT

I think it’s only appropriate that THE TRADE spurred THE CONTRACT. There is little new news about THE CONTRACT except that it is a 7 year extension as I had speculated initially. My guess on how it breaks out is $15 million in 2009 and then $21 million in each of 2010-2015. It hasn’t been officially announced, but it hasn’t been denied. And Cabrera’s Dad seemed to confirm it to a Venezuelan newspaper. (translation via Google)

“We were expecting this contract,” said Cabrera Navas. “There were two very important things for him to accept the deal: first, that there are other Venezuelans, as Magglio (Ordoñez) and Carlos (Guillen), and second, that we have a good chance to win and go to a World Series.”

The story also said that there are incentives for MVPs, All Star Games, and the like.

Mack Avenue Tigers beat me to the punch and rounded up the opinions on the valuation of the deal. The opinions vary greatly. I’m still sticking with my initial feelings that it is a pretty fair valuation for both sides. In terms of Cabrera’s actual value it seems fair. In terms of Cabrera’s perceived value it appears to be favorable for the club.

Leftovers

Finally wrapping this thing up we look to the Marlins who decided to send Cameron Maybin to the minors for more seasoning. Probably a good move and Maybin will probably still be the starting centerfielder by the end of the year. But Jair Jurrjens locked up a spot in the rotation after a strong spring.

And lastly, Brennan Boesch had some bathroom problems today.