Winding Down 2011

Hello all – hopefully everyone is having a great holiday season and your bowl picks are hitting at better than 55%.  Not too much today, just a few notes in case you missed them over the past week or so.  (and thanks to a tip from Billfer I think we got a workaround on the rotator)

– Carlos Quentin is headed to San Diego.

– JV will be the cover boy for MLB 2k12 – check out the image here.

– For those of us who thought the Tigers would be content to hand Turner the 5th starter slot, we were wrong.  To begin, (for some reason,) the Braves may covet Delmon Young, and the Tigers are trying to leverage that into Jair Jurrjens.  Further, the Tigers are in hot pursuit of Matt Garza according to multiple sources.  (stay tuned on this story)

– Jackson (32), Avila (18) and Porcello (37) made Keith Law’s very narrow and very un-newsworthy list of top 50 players 25 and under (you need insider).

– Great post on Fangraphs yesterday discussing the FA pitchers who signed 1 year deals before spring training last year, and compared their seasons.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

Joel Zumaya to the 60-day DL, maybe forever?

(picture from www.freep.com)

I’m not sure that this is news to anyone, but don’t expect Zumaya to pitch anytime soon, or this season, or perhaps never again.

As unsurprising as this news is, it’s still difficult to swallow because I don’t think any of us will forget the magic he brought in 2006 nor what he meant to that WS run.  RIP, Joel Zumaya right arm.

Dombrowski is “confident” he’ll trade Galarraga (UPDATED: Trade)

According to the Freep, DD is actively shopping AG after he was bumped from the roster today to make room for Brad Penny.

Crazy, because they just signed him to a 1-year, $2.3M deal.  Why sign him and then toss him like an old moldy bag of tangerines, you ask, Coleman?  Here’s why.

No one wants to trade for a player headed to arbitration.  Too much dirty work to deal with.  Now the arb monster has been tamed.  And the Tigers see value in him, which is why he’ll likely be traded in the next 10 days.  I’m not opposed to believing that he was going to get closer to $3 or $4M in arbitration, and the two sides got together and worked this all out.  If they can’t trade him, he’ll be sent to the minors after a swim through the waiver wire, though he might not last with sharks like the Yanks and Mets in the water.  In fact, at least one source is saying that the Yanks will look into Armando.  Could the Orioles be a potential suitor?  Henning reminds us that the Tigers turned a similar position into Willie Hernandez on the eve of my 7th birthday.

But, as Lynn Henning astutely stole from my brain before I could write it, by signing him to a $2.3M contract, the Tigers made AG less likely to be claimed off of waivers.  So if he can’t get traded, we may get to keep him on the squad, unprotected and all.  Let’s not forget that former All-Stars Brad Penny and Brandon Webb just signed for $3M base + incentives (in Webb’s case, INCENTIVE$).

In the end, my guess is that DD and Ol’ Smokey like Turner/Oliver/etc., much better than whomever is carrying Boesch/Kelly/Thomas’ bags, and feel that an extra starter is the one expendable position.  Honestly (and I know that I’ll get an essay from TSE here on why we should have traded AG & Fu Te Ni for the ghost of Doyle Alexander), I can’t say that I disagree.  He’s a good guy and I wish him the best, though roster management is a funny thing, and it looks like DD covered his bases here.

Update:

Beck is reporting via Twitter that the Tigers send Galarraga to the Diamondbacks for Kevin Eichhorn and Ryan Robowski.

Eichhorn is an averaged sized RHP who was drafted out of HS in the 3rd round 2008.  His Class A performance last year was underwhelming, but the kid is only 20.  For now he’s a starter.  He’s also the son of former Royal’s great Mark Eichhorn.

Robowski came out of Old Dominion in 2009 and was selected by the DBacks in the 16th round. He’s a little bigger than Eichhorn and throws from the left side out of the pen, but doesn’t project as high as Eichhorn does.

Flipping Galarraga for two young pitchers, a R and a L, seems like a good deal to me.

News and Notes: 11.30.2010

– Zach Miner has been designated for assignment. Assuming he clears (I’m sure he will), he’ll be a free agent on Friday.  But the Tigers are likely to bring him back.  He’s been a great spot starter and will be a good long man starting off in 2011.  Good info on the rationale for taking Miner off of the 40 man in lieu of a minor leaguer in yesterday’s Freep.

– Expect the Tigers to offer contracts to Armando Galarraga and Joel Zumaya before Thursday’s deadline.  According to one source, 2011 is make it or break it for Zoom.

– Don’t expect either Juan Gone or Higginson to be inducted anytime soon.  The Detroit News didn’t mince words regarding Juan Gonzalez’ candidacy.

Raburn to start in LF next season?  Someone is reading our comments.  If this is the case, I don’t see a spot for Damon, perhaps he’s heading west.

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.)

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).

Robbie Weinhardt gets the call

We here at Detroit Tigers Weblog have long been supporters of Robbie Weinhardt, so we’re thrilled to see him get his promotion to the big club. Armando Galarraga was optioned down to make room. The team doesn’t need a 5th starter before the All Star break, but they do need relief help after Andrew Oliver’s short outing on Monday and the extra inning affair Tuesday night.

Weinhardt was one of the last cuts of the camp, and seemed poised to slide into a bullpen slot when one opened up. But a remarkably stable and effective bullpen kept him in Toledo where he only walked 4 batters in 27.1 innings. Unfortunately Weinhardt suffered an arm injury at about the same time the Toledo-Detroit shuttle heated up, delaying his promotion.

Weinhardt was the 10th selection in the 2008 reliever draft. He was selected after Cody Satterwhite, Scott Green, and Brett Jacobson but has outperformed them all. For Lakeland in his first season he fanned 11.2 per 9 while only walking 2.8. He continued to progress up the chain with stellar strike out numbers (9.5/9 for his minor league career) and earned a spot as a Tigers AFL representative where he led the league in strikeouts last fall despite being a reliever. Also worth noting is the fact that Weinhardt has allowed just 3 homers in 135 professional innings.

His promotion at this point in time though is about effective roster utilization and it remains to be seen how long he’ll stick with the club beyond the All Star break. With a big series against the Twins coming up though he certainly has a chance to make an impression.

Porcello Optioned to Toledo

Well, it worked for Max Scherzer. The Tigers have optioned struggling second year pitcher Rick Porcello to Toledo to try and find the sinker and pinpoint command that he featured in his first season.

The Tigers didn’t announce a corresponding roster move so they are a man down on the roster for the time being. Perusing the Mud Hens roster, last night’s starter LJ Gagnier has done okay this year between Erie and Toledo. Alfredo Figaro has experience but hasn’t really done much to differentiate himself last year (not to mention his disastrous relief appearance against the Yankees.

Looking further down the ladder the name that certainly has to be tempting the Tigers is Andy Oliver. Oliver was the Tigers second pick in the draft and the left hander debuted in the AFL before earning an aggressive promotion to AA to start the year. He has 70 K’s and 25 walks in 77.1 innings and happened to start last night putting him on the same schedule as Porcello.

It would certainly be an aggressive move, but the Tigers have never shied away from being aggressive with prospects in the past (with mixed results)

Adam Everett DFA’d

After today’s game the Tigers designated the contract of Adam Everett for assignment. Danny Worth has been recalled and will be in a time share with Ramon Santiago most likely at shortstop.

Everett’s value of course came as a defensive specialist and his bat was always going to be considered “weak” at best. However offensively futility was taken to another level this season with an OPS south of .500. Only 11.1% of his balls in play were line drives and he continued to pop out meekly to the right side. He’s also striking out more and walking less than at any point in his career.

Everett’s 600ish OPS’s over his career were pretty much the minimum that could be justified and that was only because he was a defensive wizard. To take 25% off an otherwise meager production is just too much to warrant a spot in the lineup.

Worth definitely appears to have the defensive chops to man the position based on scouting reports and our chance to see if him during his brief stint at second base. His minor league hitting numbers aren’t especially encouraging but he should be able to outperform Everett.

It would seem that Gerald Laird would be the next player sweating his position, though there isn’t another internal option. He’s likely to see less playing time, but barring an acquisition from outside the organization he will stick on the 25 man roster.