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.

What does Damon do about Damon?

(don’t laugh at the graphic, I’m still learning)

Well, Johnny Damon has been claimed off of waivers by the Red Sox.  Damon seems as if he wants to stay, but it must be tough considering DD (and perhaps JL) would rather give someone else his playing time.  If you will recall, Damon parted with the Red Sox nation on less than ideal terms after they failed to make signing him a priority; though the current Red Sox clubhouse is saying all the right things to woo him back.

On the field, his contributions to the Tigers have been positive, though not quite to the extent that we were hoping.  He’s got an OPS+ of 106, but most of that comes from the OBP component, as he has only 40 extra base hits.  Moreover, he’s primarily been a DH appearing in only 36 games in left.  On the other hand, he seems to be a voice in the club house and was responsible for the first walk-off HR of the season (that I can remember).

The Johnny Damon Pepsi commercial

Johnny Damon is one of a handful of MLB stars who will be appearing in an upcoming Pepsi commercial set to launch this week. Damon, along with Evan Longoria and CC Sabathia are pitching for the Pepsi Refresh Project which gives away millions each month to fund ideas that “change the world.”

Waiting on Willis

Few players on the Tigers roster, or even in MLB in 2010 will receive the scrutiny that Dontrelle Willis will receive. Willis has been a disaster since putting on a Tigers uniform. He was certainly shaky in his second start, but there is no need to rush to judgment.

Two starts into the season Willis has a good start and a bad start under his belt. But he hasn’t collapsed. He hasn’t had a melt down. He hasn’t done anything appreciably different than his rotation mates at this point.

Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander both had their share of struggles their second time out this season. Willis labored through 5 innings, needing over 100 pitches to make it through and being charged with 4 runs along the way. That bested both Scherzer’s and Verlander’s outing. While there is disappointment with all 3, Wilis of course is under the microscope more than the other two given his recent history.

Continue reading Waiting on Willis

Damon and his homers

Much has been made about Johnny Damon’s offensive numbers being inflated by the new Yankee Stadium. Damon matched his career high of 24 homers last year at the age of 36. He also posted the highest slugging percentage of his career and with 17 of his homers coming at home he clearly benefitted from the short porch. How might the move to a much more spacious Comerica Park effect Damon’s 2010 production?

Using the ever-valuable Hit Tracker we can see exactly where each of Damon’s homers landed in 2009. But with a little image manipulation we can overlay Damon’s homer onto Comerica Park’s dimensions and get a feel for the impact of his new home park would have on his production.

Continue reading Damon and his homers

Gerald Laird arrested

Gerald Laird was arrested Wednesday night for assaulting a security guard at a Phoneix Suns game. Here’s the blotter story:

Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird, 30, was cited for assault. His brother Brandon Laird, 22, was cited for disorderly conduct, police said. The younger brother is a prospect in the New York Yankees minor league system.

Police also arrested Gregory Scott Collins, 51, on suspicion of assault after the 9 p.m. incident as the Suns wrapped their 116-98 win over the Boston Celtics.

Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill said a fourth man “inappropriately touched a female” at the lounge on level 3 of the arena, though he was not arrested because the female victim “did not want to get involved or provide us with any information and declined prosecution.”

Security previously contacted the group of men about their loud behavior, Hill said. Two of the men were allowed back into the lounge after a conversation with security, but a melee broke out shortly afterwards.

As security guards tried to arrest Brandon Laird, his brother and Collins “interfered and assaulted the security guards,” Hill said.

One shouldn’t rush to judgment on these matters, but Laird’s involvement in any way shape or form probably was a bad idea. Sigh. This Tigers team is getting hard to like. We’ll wait and see if Lynn Henning writes a series of columns about Laird being a distraction, dragging down the offense, and not being focused enough on baseball.

Playing in the spray – Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson’s 2009 season has received plenty of scrutiny, and this was even before trade rumors crept up. Granderson struggled at times during the season, and had a hard time sustaining success. His .249 batting average was the lowest of his career and it was a drag on his on base percentage and slugging percentage as well. We know batting average is volatile so did Granderson just suffer from some bad luck, or did something else change? Fortunately we have hit location data to help shed some light on these questions.

Granderson’s batting average was dragged down by a .276 batting average on balls in play. That is a number that should typically be in the .320ish range, especially for someone with Granderson’s speed. A shift like that would lead people to think he was largely unlucky. A closer look would show a shift in his balls in play from the harder to field grounders to the easier to field fly balls. Ask fans what they saw and many would say it looked like Granderson got overly concerned with the homers (a new career high) and that he pulled the ball to much. But what would the data say?

Continue reading Playing in the spray – Curtis Granderson

Clete’s Cougars

Clete's Cougars

It appears that Clete Thomas has himself a cheering section.

What’s up with Verlander in the stretch?

Justin Verlander has gotten off to a rough start in 2009. People are starting to question his “ace-hood” and with an ERA of 9.00 after 4 starts it is probably justified. What makes his start so perplexing is that his “stuff” appears to be back. His fastball velocity is over 95mph and he’s fanning 10.7 batters per 9 innings. The numbers that really need a deeper examination though are those when runners are on base. Verlander is stranding only 39.6% of runners (a normal rate is 65-75%) and hitters post a 457 OBP with men on and only 296 with the bases empty. What’s up with that?

Continue reading What’s up with Verlander in the stretch?

Granderson talks to Tiger Tales

Lee Panas of Detroit Tiger Tales recently interviewed Curtis Granderson. Lee asked several thoughtful questions and Granderson responded with some pretty thoughtful answers. My favorite was an exchange about Granderson’s defense last season:

TT: In the past, you have indicated that you take pride in your defense and that you have worked hard on that part of your game. Are you happy with the progress you have made in that area?

CG: This past year’s defense, I actually took a step back, so I wasn’t happy with my play in the 2008 season. I felt that being out with the broken finger and not be able to run while injured put me a step behind once I returned to the lineup and I never fully got back to where I wanted to be. So this 2009 season, I must get myself two steps ahead of where I want to be, and get back to playing the defense that I want to play.

It’s nice to hear a player admit when there was a shortcoming in his game. After each season Granderson has had one major area where he needed to improve. After 2006 it was cutting down on strikeouts. After 2007 it was hitting lefties. This year’s task is defense. His success on the other fronts and the recognition about his own performance is what makes me think 2008 will just be a blip.

Todd Jones retires

It’s really not all that surprising, but Todd Jones has announced his retirement. This was likely to be Jones last season regardless, but the injury and resulting ineffectiveness likely sealed the deal.

Jones is the Tigers all time saves leader and his 319 career saves places him 14th in the history of the game.

I’m hoping that he joins the team this weekend and that he can be honored in some way. He deserves to go out to cheers instead of the cavalcade of boos he was serenaded with his last time on the mound.

Congrats on a great career Jonesy.

Sporting News Today – September 24, 2008