Offseason News

With the big news coming out today, it seemed as good a time as any to get a new post up here where we can discuss offseason moves and the like.

In case you haven’t heard yet, the Tigers have signed 29-year old starter Jordan Zimmerman to a deal reported to be for 5 years at 110 million. I had heard a rumor on Saturday that the Tigers were talking to Zimmerman; today it’s supposedly a done deal. That was quick.

DTW News and Notes 11-3-14

Catching you up on a few things as the disappointment begins to fade away. See if you can find the theme below.

– Alan Trammell is back with the Tigers. Trammell said “it feels right.” It would feel more right if the Tigers hadn’t just been swept in the first round of the playoffs.

– The Tigers tendered qualifying offers today to Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez ($15.3M each). Neither guy will take it, but this guarantees a compensatory pick (or picks) in next year’s draft if the Tigers lose one or both. In case you’re unfamiliar with qualifying offers, they are meant to compensate teams who lose big free agents. The qualifying offer figure is set at the average of the top 125 players from last year. For each of those two free agents that the Tigers lose, the signing team will lose their 1st round pick (unless it’s a top 10 pick, in which case that team will lose a 2nd round pick), and the Tigers will get a compensatory pick at the end of the first round. Doesn’t really help much for 2015, and it definitely doesn’t change 2014.

– Andy Dirks is now a Blue Jay. Dirks was a nice player, but let’s not make him out to be more than he was. He wasn’t a long term solution here.

– Patrick McCoy was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.

– Don Kelly and Evan Reed were optioned to Toledo.

– The Dirks/McCoy/Kelly/Reed moves were needed to make room on the 40 man for Bruce Rondon, Luke Putkonen, Drew VerHagen, and shortstop Jose Iglesias. I guess their 60 days is up.

– Finally, Mike Hessman has been resigned to a minor league deal. Yes, that Mike Hessman. Could have used his bat in the playoffs.

Arbitrary Arbiters

The reaching of contract agreements with 5 of 6 arbitration-eligible players is pretty big news, worthy of a post, I’d say. So here it is. All 6 are important pieces of the 2014 puzzle, and even if the agreements are no real surprise, given Dave Dombrowski’s track record with Detroit as far as arbitration goes, it’s still good news. The real surprise is that it’s not 6 of 6 already.

One-year deals with Max Scherzer ($15.525M), Rick Porcello ($8.1M), Austin Jackson ($6M), Andy Dirks ($1.625M), and Al Alburquerque ($0.8375M). Objections?

The lone holdout is Alex Avila. It’s hard to see an arbiter going strongly in one direction or the other between $5.35M and $3.75M, and thus it’s hard to see the two sides not meeting rather squarely in the middle well before this goes to a hearing. Don’t you think? The only reason the Tigers brass would play hardball is if they had some kind of Plan B at catcher… right now. That’s how I see it, and I would have to do some serious research to come up with a Plan B that made sense to me.

In other recent news, the revelation of Justin Verlander’s “core muscle” surgery casts another long shadow over the 2014 season, the other one being that of Miguel Cabrera’s surgery last November October. Yes, Cabrera is supposed to be good to go come Spring Training, and Verlander the same by the end of February. Do you have your doubts about whether it’s going to be that simple? I do. Well, I have my doubts, not your doubts, but they might be the same doubts.

Evidently, there are big changes in store for 2014 with new MLB rules for challenges of calls and replays having been approved.

25 days until pitchers and catchers report (February 13). Full squad to report February 17, and the first games of Spring Training (Florida Southern, Atlanta Braves) are just over 5 weeks away now. First the offseason dragged on and on, and now it seems like it went by in a blur. I suppose there’s some left. What will happen? Surprise trades or signings? More injuries? Just the usual trickle of minor league deals? If I had to guess at one possible bombshell… I couldn’t. They’ll just have to surprise me.

Enquiring minds, etc.. Maybe she’s cuter in a swimsuit, eh?*

A recent article by Lynn Henning suggests without explanation that Hernan Perez starting the season in Toledo is a foregone conclusion. Do we agree? I had him on the team already, but actually, that might have been premature and not quite sensible. I was thinking, OK, gotta have the two infielders on the bench, so it’s Steve Lombardozzi and Perez, right? But there’s the Donkey to consider, the IF-OF to end all IF-OFs. Why am I so quick to write him off? (Maybe because I’m tired of shallow pop flares to LF?)

The Avila photo above is public domain, by the way. Or so I’m told. I was wondering, as others have before me: Maybe some Friend or Friends of DTW who actually attend the occasional game or seven would care to contribute some player photos and other ballpark scenes this season that we could use here without guilt? I don’t foresee any notices from lawyers or anything about snatching the occasional photo off the interwebs, but still. That would be both cool and absolutely legal (and ethical). Speak up! (And thank you in advance.)

25 days. Or 29 days. Or 37 days. However you see it… LET’S GO!

*Even so, a new DTW bylaw just passed requires that all posts shall henceforth be required to include at least one Kate Upton link containing at least 14 photos of Kate Upton. Even if we are just friends.

Happy New Year 2014

This is the year, isn’t it? Of course it is.

Aside from the eventual World Series championship, perhaps we can look forward to more participation here. More comments, more readers, and maybe even some new voices up here at the bully pulpit. (Invite yourself, already.) There’s even a rumor of a site overhaul that would turn DTW into something more attractive and user-friendly, particularly for the Smartphone People (of which I am not one).  OK, I made that rumor up, but still. Stomp your foot. Bang the drum. It could happen. (For God’s sake, give us an EDIT BUTTON!!)

Once upon a time, DTW was a seething hotbed of Tigermania, a veritable WikiTigerpedia. The return of the good old days is up to not me, but you. There are a number of funny, baseball-savvy Detroit Tigers fans here now and more lurking, but there’s room for many more. There are also dumb people such as myself, so don’t be intimidated. Speak up. Comment begets comment begets discussion and the sharing of vital contributions to the universe of baseball knowledge, or at least more snarky comments to enjoy. If you have enthusiasm for the Detroit Tigers, you are…

WELCOME HERE!

 

So how are we looking heading into this new year? For the third in a row, there is great cause for optimism. But there is also disquiet. Things have changed, and change might not be good.

WAR out the door, and more

Prince Fielder, 1.7. Jhonny Peralta, 3.3. Omar Infante, 2.4. Doug Fister, 4.1. Joaquin Benoit, 2.8. Much gnashing of teeth about the loss of Fister, whose monogram has suddenly become CY. Was it really necessary to let go of role players with value such as Brayan Pena, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Jose Veras? Was it their fault? Re-signing Phil Coke has been about as popular as it sounds. Is replacing Fielder at 1B with Miguel Cabrera and sliding in Nick Castellanos at 3B going to have that much of a positive impact on team defense? I mean, really. Joba Chamberlain and Ian Krol are supposed to give us new confidence in the bullpen? Those are the moves? A superficial, on paper perusal might suggest that this team has not only not gotten better, but has actually gotten worse. Oh no!

But there’s dissent via Lee Panas, and also Buster Olney of ESPN (premium insider article). At least on the offensive side. We can all agree that the Tigers still have one of the best starting staffs in MLB and that the bullpen remains a question mark (as bullpens are wont to do).

This is the dawning of The Age of Ausmuquarius, or, An Aus(mus)picious Debut

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time the Tigers had a new manager, I seem to recall that things went pretty well. Brad Ausmus and an almost entirely new coaching staff have arrived. Culture change? It’s beyond culture change. This is a brand new team with some familiar faces and some unfamiliar features. Monster in the bullpen. Defensive whiz at SS. Actual yout’s on the team as actual members of it, not fill-ins (Castellanos, Jose Iglesias, and presumably Bryan Holaday and Hernan Perez). Something approximating MLB-average speed and athleticism overall, a dizzying concept for Tigers fans these days. When was the last time all of this was in place? Oh, and the Tigers still have Cabrera and Justin Verlander, in case you just emerged from a 2008 time capsule.

It will be interesting to compare the fortunes of the Tigers and the Red Sox with those of the Rangers and Yankees in 2014. Different off-season approaches. I honestly thought the Tigers might spend big(ger) again in terms of new acquisitions. At present, I’m pleasantly surprised that didn’t happen.

Anyway, count me as one of the 2014 optimists. I haven’t liked all the moves, but I like the direction, and the danger of standing pat should be well known by now. The 2014 Detroit Tigers should be a very, very interesting team to watch. My feeling is that only injuries could shoot this enterprise down. My “guy feeling” is that this team has the look of team that might gel as a team like no other Tigers team of recent vintage.

How many days until pitchers and catchers report? GO TIGERS.

Scroll Relief II (Winter Meetings time)

That’s gotta look good right about now if you live anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Or maybe anywhere west of the Maginot Line, or east of the International Date Line (although, technically speaking…). How about anywhere south of the North Pole?

It’s been a busy offseason so far for the Detroit Tigers, surprisingly so for a team just off a near-WS season. Wouldn’t you say? Here’s a rundown of the various moves and transactions to date:

OUT

Jim Leyland, Manager
Lloyd McClendon, Hitting Coach
Tom Brookens, 3B Coach
Rafael Belliard, 1B Coach
Mike Rojas, Bullpen Coach
Toby Harrah, Assistant Hitting Coach
Matt Tuiasosopo LF
Darin Downs RHP
Brayan Pena C
Jose Veras RHP
Prince Fielder 1B
Doug Fister RHP
Dixon Machado SS
Luis Marte RHP
Robbie Weinhardt RHP
Gustavo Nunez IF
Joaquin Benoit RHP (free agent, presumptively gone)
Jhonny Peralta SS
Omar Infante 2B
Ramon Santiago IF (free agent, presumptively gone)

IN

Brad Ausmus, Manager
Wally Joyner, Hitting Coach
Dave Clark, 3B Coach
Omar Vizquel, 1B Coach
Mick Billmeyer, Bullpen Coach
Darnell Coles, Assistant Hitting Coach
Ian Kinsler 2B
Ian Krol LHP
Steve Lombardozzi IF-OF
Joe Nathan RHP
Rajai Davis OF
Joba Chamberlain RHP

SIGNED/RE-SIGNED/PROTECTED

Phil Coke LHP
Don Kelly OF-IF
Ronny Paulino C
Will Startup LHP
Daniel Fields CF
Jordan Lennerton 1B
Kyle Lobstein LHP
Justin Miller RHP
Steven Moya RF
Eugenio Suarez SS
Jose Valdez RHP
Jhan Marinez RHP
Mike Hessman 1B (!)
Pat McCoy LHP
Eduardo Sanchez RHP

Let me know if I missed anything.

If we assume that all the arbitration-eligibles are going to sign and further assume that 3 spots in the bullpen are very much up for grabs, we’re left with 22 as our compare number at the major league level. So consider the turnover from where they began in 2013, making a few more (early) assumptions about the team that heads north after spring training in 2014.

New backup C. Two new infield reserves. New 2B. New SS. New 3B. New OF reserve. Three new faces in the bullpen. 10 out of 22. Nearly half the team! Actually, you could count Rondon as new, too, since he began 2013 in Toledo. 11 out of 22. Of course, Iglesias isn’t completely new, but a full (we hope) season of him is. Lombardozzi might not make the team, but Santiago almost certainly won’t, and the names that round out the bullpen might not be Alburquerque, Coke, and Putkonen. As it stands already, this is a whole lot of change in player personnel. And yet the changing of the guard in Brad Ausmus and his new coaches might be the most significant change of all.

Fan reaction to the changes seems mostly positive. There’s guarded optimism about which way the winds of change are blowing. The Winter Meetings are still going on – DD might not be done yet. But you have to think that most of the pieces are in place by now.

There are a lot of lower level moves to come, and we do well to pay them some attention. I’m particularly interested in what the Tigers might do to make being a Toledo Mud Hens fan more rewarding.

Today’s exercise: Rank the following from most to least likely to be on the Tigers’ 25-man roster on Opening Day 2014, from the 12/12/2013 perspective:

Alburquerque
Alvarez
Coke
Crosby
Dirks
Jackson
Kelly
Lennerton
Lombardozzi
Ortega
Putkonen
Reed
Santiago
Worth

Feel free to throw in your own dark horse candidate. Benoit? Bonderman? OK. There’s dark, and then there’s dark…

Miguel Cabrera Back to 1B

So many thoughts, more coming tonight.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Fielder and $30M for Ian Kinsler. Kinsler’s big contract is up in 4 years. Fielder’s bigger contract is up in 7.

I’m going to start with Jim’s question below. There’s been a lot of discontent surrounding Kinsler down here, and it’s been rising for about a year and a half. After six years of a .794 OPS or greater, the last two have been rather average for 2B. People think he should be a perennial All-Star. He’s prone to lapses in attention and he may be the most picked off base runner in the AL, other than Elvis Andrus (and Darrell Evans). He’s basically embodying the classic decline you would expect for a borderline All-Star in his early 30s.

That alone was likely enough to put him on the trading block, but this move is being driven by the need for the Rangers to find a place for Jurickson Profar. Profar is the golden child of one of the best farm systems in the league, and the team is anxious to find out what he can do. Realize that the Rangers also lost Nelson Cruz and it’s uncertain whether they’ll pony up what he’ll get elsewhere. Fielder fills that hole nicely.

We all knew that the Tigers over-reached on the last 2-3 years of his contract in order to have Fielder for the first 4-5. Well, the first two were pretty disappointing, and Fielder’s playoff efforts were, well, non-existent. I haven’t done any direct comparisons, but I’m certain that we would have been better off with just about any other 1B in the league in the playoffs, and that’s simply offensively. If you include the poor fielding and base running blunders, Fielder had to have had a net negative effect.

I can’t help but wonder if there is something else going on with Prince Fielder that we don’t know about. Maybe it was the divorce, maybe he couldn’t handle being the 3rd or 4th biggest name on the team, perhaps it was the pressure oozing out of Leyland’s smoke rings. He’s definitely been off since October of 2012, and I hope that heading home to Texas will allow him to return to his Milwaukee self.

Trading Fielder has a myriad of other effects. Here are a few topics for discussion:

– The Tigers just saved about $76M on paper. How much of that does Scherzer see?

– Does Shin-Soo Choo see any of that? Hunter in left, Dirks as the 4th?

– What do we gain defensively by sliding Cabrera to 1B and putting anyone else at 3rd?

– VMart/Cabrera 1B/DH sounds nice.

– I love Brad Ausmus already. Not sure if he had anything to do with this. But I’m looking for an Ausmus jersey.

1. Jackson, CF
2. Choo, RF
3. Cabrera, 1B
4. Martinez, DH
5. Hunter, RF
6. Kinsler, 2B
7. Avila, C
8. Castellanos, 3B
9. Iglesias, SS

Scroll Relief

It’s safe to come out now. The you-know-what is over. I don’t know what it was supposed to prove, with the Tigers not in it, but I guess they’d already scheduled the event and couldn’t cancel on such short notice.

(NOTE TO FUTURE GENERATIONS IN SEARCH OF CONTEXT: At this point in the offseason, the following changes/events have taken place: Jim Leyland has retired. Four or five candidates to replace him have been interviewed and have also interviewed with other teams. Club declines to offer Brayan Pena a contract. Matt Tuiasosopo (Diamondbacks) and Darin Downs (Astros) have been claimed off waivers by other teams. Club declines to pick up Jose Veras’s option. Miguel Cabrera has had surgery to repair a groin tear and is expected to recover well before spring training 2014.)

To discuss, much of said discussion already in progress:

* Who will the new manager be? Who should it be? You, maybe? Commenting here gives you a leg up for the job, I’ve been told, so speak up.

* Whole new coaching staff or some holdovers?

* Catcher: Avila/Holaday? Holaday/Veteran Backup? Free Agent/Avila?

* First Base: Fielder an albatross? A slight overreaction, perhaps?

* Second Base: Pay up for Infante or let him go? Go with youth and potential in Perez, or make him serve an apprenticeship, under… who?

* Shortstop: Is Iglesias the shortstop of the future or an injury-plagued and mostly batless dead end?

* Third Base: Is Cabrera’s surgery really “no big deal”? Will his condition(ing) and health be an issue in 2014? How did that groin injury come about, anyway? (Rhetorical.)

* Left Field: Sink or swim with Castellanos? Hedge your bets with Dirks? Something more surprising, as in free agent in, other guys gone?

* Center Field: Continue to grant AJax Favored CF status, or pull a surprise? Could he bloom under a manager with actual confidence in him?

* Right Field: Is Torii the Hacker really your #2 hitter? I see a vacancy at #6.

* Designated Hitter: A position without a question mark, eh? Oops. Would Martinez batting immediately behind Cabrera be too much to ask for?

* Bench: Santiago and Kelly stick around? Seriously? What’s a good bench for this team?

* Starting pitching: Would they really trade Scherzer? Come on. Really? Is Smyly in the rotation a foregone conclusion? Is Fister such a lock? Does the occasionally brilliant young Alvarez stand a chance, and would it take an injury to one of the main dudes to find out?

* Bullpen: Is Benoit the “anchor” you want? Will the mythical appeal of “established closer” never die? Is it enough already with AlburCokey? Is Rondon the new Zumaya? As the bullpen purge proceeds apace, would you rather see a few “name guys” brought in or an effort to assemble a greater quantity of lesser-known talent? Rondon, Putkonen, Ortega, Alvarez – young turks and core of a new group or peripherals?

* AL Central: Would 3rd place in 2014 surprise you? It’s a jungle out there.

* Does a new manager really promise a more modern approach to baseball and a different style of play, or does “no culture change” mean what we think it means? Is Mr. New Manager going to be the placeholder for a train wreck, the one-season sacrificial lamb?

* Scan those free agent and arbitration-eligible lists, plot your brilliant trades, and order your brilliant lineups and batting orders. The Hot Stove League is upon us.

Game 2013.63: Tigers at Royals

35-27, first place 5.5 GA, losing streak at 1.

Evan Reed is up, Jose Alvarez is down, and I think Jose Ortega is still down, though I’m not sure, and I’m not even sure if he was down to begin with. Losing track, too tired to count. (That’s funny, considering what follows….)

MORE ON THE BULLPEN REPORT CARD THRU 60 GAMES

I really didn’t offer much explanation, did I? Some is warranted.

Innings pitched in is the basis for all of that. It’s not the same as innings pitched. Drew Smyly had pitched in 40 different innings. That’s 40 opportunities for results, the basis for all the percentages.

I went in thinking that there were four basic Bullpen Appearance Outcomes: 1. Nothing but outs. 2. Reaches/advances allowed but no runs. 3. Runs allowed (who they are charged to is not a consideration; allowing them is the sin). 4. Reaches/advances allowed that later scored off someone else. I now realize that this last creates two appearances where there was in fact only one; it’s redundant and irrelevant, and should be corrected for (not a major adjustment). My figures here and when I sum this all up tomorrow will reflect that correction.

Anyway, looking at Mr. Smyly, we see that his results from 40 innings pitched in are: 18 times nothing but outs, 16 times reaches/advances but no runs allowed (by him), and 6 times runs allowed by him (not necessarily 6 runs in total). So runs score on him 15% of the time, and don’t 85% of the time. Additionally, he’s lights out a full 45% of the time, though this does not speak to whether he got one out or three. In all, his comparative report card score will indicate some things that were obvious and some that were not, and it’s the clues provided by the latter I find interesting.

I mentioned that it was difficult to measure how the Tigers bullpen as a whole stacks up against others without a standard. The next step to that end is to look at how other bullpens have performed against the Tigers. We will assume that after 60 games, the Tigers have now, overall, seen the opposing “average MLB (mostly AL) bullpen.” We’ll leave aside the fact that the Tigers are an above-average hitting team that is far below average in the later innings and consider them average as well.

TIGERS BULLPEN

205 pitched-in-inning appearances
24.4% RUNS ALLOWED
33.7% REACHES/ADVANCES BUT NO RUNS ALLOWED
41.9% NOTHING BUT OUTS
75.6% NO DAMAGE

OPPOSING BULLPENS FACING THE TIGERS

279 pitched-in-inning appearances
24.7% RUNS ALLOWED
40.9% REACHES/ADVANCES BUT NO RUNS ALLOWED
34.4% NOTHING BUT OUTS
75.3% NO DAMAGE

Superficially, it would appear that the Tigers bullpen might actually be average or, in some ways, better than average. Huh. Then again, they don’t have to face the Tigers hitters, either. Note the difference in pitched-in-inning appearances. Some clues there.

The next step will be to compare the Tigers bullpen with a good one, one the Tigers bullpen might aspire to emulate, perhaps. Let’s see what that comparison looks like, and what it does to our provisional understanding of “average.” A good place to start might be with…

The Kansas City Royals.

POST-GAME: Tigers 3, Royals 2. Make no mistake. This one was a gift from home plate ump Jordan Baker. Almost makes up for the 8-6 loss to Toronto where Dana DeMuth was calling bottom of the 9th balls strikes in the driving rain just to get the game in, costing the Tigers their last slim chance. Baker’s strike zone was inconsistent all game, though not biased. Scherzer started out pitching the 1st inning like a drowning man, but recovered. Wade Davis pitched well enough to let the Tigers beat themselves, I suppose. Suddenly hot CF Kelly started the scoring with an RBI single in the 2nd, but a bigger rally was snuffed by an egregiously bad send the runner home call by Brookens (and he’d been so good lately). Infante was a dead duck at home plate. In the 5th, a hustling Dirks just beat the DP relay throw from Alcides Escobar to IB to score Infante and make it 2-0 Tigers. Max had a little blip in the 5th, allowing a leadoff HR (first MLB) to David Lough and then an RBI single to Escobar to even the score at 2-2, but Dirks saved further damage with a monster throw to nail Escobar at 2B with help from Infante (close play). Things got interesting in the 7th, with pinch-hit appearances from Garcia and Tuiasosopo setting up a remarkable load the bases after two outs rally. Against a vaunted bullpen. Ending in a Hunter swinging strikeout. Remarkably, the Tigers didn’t nod off after this. The 8th started with a Cabrera HBP, and he scored the go-ahead run on a Martinez sac fly. (The Tigers even threatened more in the 9th. Go figure.) Benoit pitched a good ol’ Benoit 8th – one baserunner, three outs. 3-2 Tigers, Royals up in the bottom of the 9th against closer Valverde. Who was having a hard time throwing strikes. Tanking. To the point where Coke was warming up. Oh, it was only a single, a PR, a stolen base, no outs, Tiger Killer Billy Butler up, and Valverde not throwing strikes. The count went to 3-2 on Butler. There was a foul ball or two. Then Valverde threw ball four inside. Clearly inside. Time to reach for the Coke. Wait. Baker called it strike three. Butler argues, gets ejected. Understandishable.  A couple uneventful outs, Valverde gets the save, the Tigers get the win. Ha ha. Oh man, we’d be screaming bloody murder about this.

THE ALL-STAR TEAM

C Perez
1B Hosmer
2B Infante
SS Escobar
3B Cabrera
LF Dirks
CF Kelly
RF Lough
DH Martinez
P Scherzer

RULE 5 DRAFT PICK: Matt Tuiasosopo

DFA: Alex Avila, Jose Valverde, Jordan Baker

Hot Stove Talk Part 1

Just to stoke the fire a bit…

Baseball Winter Meetings are Dec 3rd – 6th in Nashville this year.

The potential free agents are all over the board, here’s what I’m finding:

2 guys from CBSSports think that Josh Hamilton will be a Tiger. 1 guy from DTW thinks that this is ridiculous. Josh Hamilton is a drain on the clubhouse and the franchise in general. I don’t think the Rangers are even going to tender him an offer. He’s got more off the field problems than the cast of Broke, and over the past 6 years he’s averaged 1/4 of the season on the DL. Please, please, please, no Josh Hamilton.

– Jim Bowden listed the Tigers as potential matches for Nick Swisher, Angel Pagan, Cody Ross, Torii Hunter and Melky Cabrera. I like Hunter of the bunch, but I think he’ll get overpaid by the Rangers (he lives in the area) or Yankees, and I’d prefer that the Tigers overpay for someone who wasn’t born when “Superstition” was #1 on the charts.

– Prediction: Bondo will get a spring training invite and re-invent himself as a short reliever specialist.

– MLive’s Chris Iott did a nice job breaking down the Tigers’ bullpen today, though he didn’t take a position on the 2013 closer. That will definitely be a big story, possibly through spring training if they want to give Rondon a shot.

– I’ve read that Sanchez is looking at 4 years in the $50M – $55M range. Check out this saber slanted post.

Your Early 2013 Off-Season Thread

I’d love to write a long piece to recap all the fun we’ve had over these past several weeks, and to celebrate the historic season by Cabrera and what could be another Cy Young entry for Verlander. But I don’t think any of us have forgotten that, and this picture is more reflective of how we feel (at least about baseball for now).

To be honest, I moved my MLB.com and Freep apps off of my home screen on my cell phone today; signifying the unmistakable end of the 2012 baseball season. Dragging an MLB logo into a little digital trash can seemed like a proper ending.

It may be a few weeks before Coleman or I throw up another post, so I thought I’d leave you with a some DTW housekeeping notes, and then a few thoughts to carry us for a bit

1) I’d like to add another regular game poster (or two) for next season. I really liked it when billfer filled the blog with though-provoking commentary on issues outside of the game posts, and I’d like to give that a go if we can get some help on the game posts. Post on here if you’re interested and I’ll reach out to you.

2) I think that the site earns a few bucks from advertising, but I’m certain that billfer still pays for a portion of this out of pocket. There’s a good chance that I’ll ask for some donations in the coming months. Keep an eye out.

3) Thank you everyone for your input, feedback and patronage. DTW is the most acute Tigers’ community around.

***************************

On to the Roster…

Free agency courting started when Cabby stood there like a house by the side of the road Sunday night (taking his cue from the entire lineup), and signings can start after midnight ET on Friday. A quick look at the Tigers’ Free Agents:

Free agents: DH/OF Young, RHP Sanchez, RHP Valverde, C Gerald Laird.

Young is gone. Valverde is gone. I think each will end up with decent offers elsewhere.

Good chance the Tigers resign Laird.

Sanchez will be very interesting. Smyly looks great, he’s under control, and it sure would be nice to have a lefty in rotation. But Sanchez was fantastic down the stretch and may have finally found it. Sanchez will get great money elsewhere, so it’s a matter of how much the Tigers are willing to spend. I expect the Tigers to make a serious play for Sanchez – you can never have too much pitching.

Club options: RHP Dotel ($3.5 million, $500,000 buyout), SS Jhonny Peralta ($6 million, $500,000 buyout).

Yes and…I don’t know. I’m not a huge Peralta fan, but there’s not a lot out there. Now, remember that VMart is back next year, that will help the offense. Since we’re not going to get better defensively at either corner, I’d be willing to sacrifice Peralta’s bat (it’s not bad for a SS) for a SS with better defensive range.

Arbitration eligible: C Alex Avila (1st time), OF Brennan Boesch (1st time), RHP Phil Coke (2nd time), RHP Doug Fister (1st time), OF Austin Jackson (1st time), OF/IF Don Kelly (2nd time), RHP Rick Porcello (2nd time), OF/2B Ryan Raburn (3rd time), RHP Max Scherzer (2nd time).

I’d expect the Tigers to make nice offers to Avila (thank goodness he’s eligible this year, and not last), Coke, Fister, Jackson and Scherzer. I bet that Ricky P gets into arbitration (such an interesting  process, Tigers staff show up with charts and graphs which advance the notion that Porcello is a terrible pitcher), and I think they let Kelly, Boesch and Raburn go. Kelly could find a spot as the 25th guy on the roster, but personally, I’d rather that be Berry. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Boesch turn into a decent player somewhere else, but I definitely think it’s time for him to move on from Detroit.

Gonna be a very interesting few days, keep an eye on the comments for updates from our community.

WOW

9 years, $214M…(SI)

CBS Sports story here.

Fangraphs blog by Dave Cameron.

2011 Winter Meetings

Your Winter Meetings thread.  I’ll update when I can, but I figure we’ll let the comments take care of the breaking news.

Here’s what we already know – Jose Reyes is taking his talents to South Beach.  Did you know that they are the “Miami Marlins” now?  Isn’t that Jamie Foxx’s team in Any Given Sunday? Rumor is that Buehrle could be next.  It’s about time for the Marlins to buy another WS.  Hey, whatever works.  Though I’m not sure if anyone can afford Reyes, Buehrle and Pujols.

Uhhhh, no thanks.

ESPN free agent tracker here.