DTW News and Notes 3-15-12

21 days away…

Jacob Turner has been shut down for a week with shoulder problems. I think “tendinitis” is code for “confidence reparation.”  I don’t think he’s gonna be the 5th starter to start the season.

Octavio Dotel is playing for this 13th team in 13 years, an ML record.  ESPN ran an amusing article on it a few days ago. Dotel comes across as an easy-going guy. I guess you have to be when you’ve played with 601 different teammates.  Did you know that his career K/9 is 10.9?

Ever wonder how those huge tiger statutes stay so clean?  Here they are getting refurbished.

Old Milt Wilcox has successfully moved on to his twilight career, and it may be better than his first one.

Thursday Links and an Open Spring Training Thread

– Your ML best 5-0 Tigers rolled to another win yesterday.  Andy Oliver pitched 3 shutout innings, walking 3 and striking out 3, and Miggy hit is first bomb of the spring to go along with a slick play coming in on a ball at third.  Will they ever lose?

– This is a little late for AJax to learn how to bunt, no?  Fangraphs rates the Tigers’ CFers as 20th best in the league, behind some unimpressive competition.

– And in today’s most interesting yet least surprising news, 47 year old Jose Canseco will not be playing in the Mexican Baseball League this year because of doping allegations.

 

PECOTA 2012

PECOTA is the player performance projection system developed by Nate Silver and subsequently purchased by Baseball Prospectus.  I don’t have any documented support for this, but I think that it is safe to say that it is widely regarded as the best player forecaster around.  Before we get into the Tigers projections, realize that PECOTA is a useful tool, and the best around, but the system is significantly wrong more than it is significantly right.  (More on that in my next post)

But hey, it’s spring training.  This is what we do.

I’d likely be breaking a few copyright laws if I reposted all of the Tigers forecasts, so I’ll stick to the key ones.  But you should pick up a copy for yourself.  The book is only $14.97 on Amazon. There is significantly more info that what I’m using below.

First of all, it is worthwhile to note that BP is high on the Tigers in respect of the thoughts that a) they have their (now 3) best players at the top of their payroll, and in the prime of their careers (which is unusual), b) they have young arms, and c) their division rivals should be weak for the next few years.  The window is now.  The Tigers are sorely lacking in the OF and minor league depth, but those should not prevent the boys from competing for a few years.

Avila – BP sing his praises by saying that there are “no weaknesses in his game” and even a “significant drop in offensive value will leave him among the best” catchers in the AL.  PECOTA projects to 15 HR and 57 RBI on 75 less PAs that in 2011, but an .890 OPS and 3.2 WARP.

Prince – one of the things that always bugs me about Baseball Prospectus is that they never have any of the late January signings/injuries reflected in the book.  I don’t know anything about publishing, but I would think that they could update that stuff with a late February ship date.  Does anyone have any insight into this?  Anyway, BP projects another monster year for Fielder (these are taking into account Milwaukee park effects) with 39 HR, 104 RBI, a .952 OPS and a 5.5 WARP (which I think is the 2nd highest WARP projection for 2012, behind Pujols’ 5.9…I think there is some sort of a cap on PECOTA WARP, because I never see any projections about 6, though each year a handful of players end up easily surpassing 6 – Matt Kemp came in at 9.2 for 2011…same thing with pitcher wins, more on this in a later post).

Rayburn – 395 PAs, a respectable .779 OPS and a 1.8 WARP.

Peralta – BP goes on the record as saying that last year they were dead on for questioning the Inge signing last year, an dead wrong for questioning the Peralta one.  15 HR, 63 RBI, .739 OPS and a 2.4 WARP, down from 3.9 last year.

Miggy – BP notes that he’s at the peak of his career, and is signed through 2015.  31 HR, 102 RBI, .947 OPS and a 5.4 WARP, each of which would be worse than his 2010 and 2011 numbers (other than HR – he hit 30 last year).

Inge – 359 PAs resulting in a .224 average and .662 OPS, with a WARP of .8.

Boesch – BP writes that he has good upside, especially at his salary level.  451 PAs, 15 HR, .765 OPS and a 1.4 WARP (down from 2.2 last year).

AJax – BP called his prodigious BABIP (BA on balls in play) drop from 2010 to 2011, but sees an improvement in 2012 with higher Avg./OBP/Slg. and less strikeouts.  Though reduced PAs will lead to a slightly lower 2012 WARP of 1.7 (compared to 2011’s 2.0).  BA suggests that AJax would be a great 7 hole guy where his power could be more encouraged.

JV –  “There’s nothing our words can add to the majesty you’ve witnessed…”  BP cautions and calls attention to his well-known IPs and pitch count, but ends with “For all we know, he might just get better.  Enjoy.”  15 W, 7 L (I think there is a PECOTA rule against > 16 wins, much like the WARP > 6), 3.05 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 191 Ks in 202 IPs with a 4.2 WARP.

Fister – 175 IPs, 3.84 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and a 1.9 WARP.

Scherzer – BP falls in the the category of everyone and believes that Scherzer has ace stuff.  In fact, they give him a 22% chance of having a breakout year (meaning that production will improve by at least 20%), which is high for an already top of the rotation starter.  169 IPs, 161 Ks, 3.93 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.  WARP is projected to be 1.7.

Porcello – 28% chance of a breakout for Porcello, which is more likely a result of his mediocrity to date than an endorsement.  158 IPs, 81 Ks, 4.36 ERA and 1.37 WHIP with a WARP of .8.

Turner – “…he can become Rick Porcello with more punchouts.  That’s even better than it sounds.”  Only 48 IPs, 4.74 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.

Dotel – “..a worthwhile low-cost pickup to work the 7th” projects to 46 IPs, .290 BABIP, 3.67 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and a 0.6 WARP.

Perry – Oh yeah, he’s gone  Colin Balester doesn’t project to much better – 26 Ks in 41 IPs with a 5.39 ERA and 1.54 WHIP for a -0.4 WARP.

Benoit – BP is still critical of the high-dollar, multi-year deal for a setup guy, but admits that he one of the best change-ups in the league closer-level stuff.  3.05 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 53 Ks in 50 IPs and a WARP of 1.0.

Valverde – 29 saves (odd, because I think BP projects the Tigers to win 92-95 games), 63 Ks in 61 IPs, a 3.20 ERA and 1.22 WHIP for a WARP of 1.1

 

The Prince Fielder Era Begins

Ahhhhh, pitchers and catchers…

You ready for your Prince Fielder bp photo/video overload?  ESPN covers it here.  Even the local guys in Lakeland had to work.

So let’s throw some predictions on Prince out there.  I’ll set the over/under on HR at 38, RBI at 112, and OPS at .940.  Your thoughts?

 

Slimmed Down Miggy and Other News

Alex Avila is reporting that Miggy is “20-25” lbs lighter.  Can you tell (images)?

Tom Gage breaks down the 40 man here.  They are at 24 signed after yesterday.

Kate Upton is moonlighting as a spokesmodel for MLB2K12. See JV getting just a tip or two here.

Comerica is getting a face lift.  Look for lots of Prince Fielder slow jog shots on the new scoreboard.

And then there is Maggs.  He has made it known recently that he will only sign a major league deal for 2012, leading to speculation that his playing days may be over.  Freep reported a few days ago that if he doesn’t return to the bigs, he will take an ownership stake in the Caribes de Anzoátegui, a Venezuelan winter league team where he’s curiously been listed on the roster since 2004.

Tigers Spring Training TV Schedule

I see ya teleprompter.  ESPN is gonna pick up 3 games.

TV Dates:

  • March 14 — ESPN
  • March 19 — ESPN
  • March 20 — ESPN
  • March 21 — Fox Sports Detroit
  • March 29 — Fox Sports Detroit
  • March 31 — Fox Sports Detroit
  • April 4 — Vs. Toledo Mud Hens — Fox Sports Detroit

Cabrera, the day after.

(image courtesy of DetroitNews.com)

I’m sure that most of you have read the Freep and News by now, they are both loaded with Cabrera stories.

The central theme is that Cabrera is unlikely to report to camp tomorrow with the rest of the fielders, as the commissioner’s office and the union are involved in “the process.”  Looks like his next steps (rehab? admonition by the team? personal time?) are still up in the air.

I don’t think that alcoholism is novel to ballplayers, but Cabrera seems to have a depression problem.    I also think that DD is full of it when he says he was “shocked” to learn of the incident. I’m not blaming DD here, but I’m confident the front office knows their players better than that.  I think there was a better option for his reaction to the media.  Continuing, the Tigers need to support this guy.  In my limited, unprofessional opinion, drinking scotchy scotch scotch in front of the cops was a blatant call for help.  How did these personal issues get past DD, Avila, Cabrera’s agent, etc.?  Cabrera wanted this to blow up.

Predictably, Mitch Albom, was judgmental and belittling in today’s column.  (Question, Albom used to be awesome, but now he’s annoyingly holier than thou, no?  He and Skip Bayless look more and more alike every day; Dorian Gray anyone?)

The News actually took a pretty dim, and far-fetched view of things, with Wojnowski reporting that Cabrera’s “career may be on the line” and the Tigers are pondering “Miguel Cabrera’s future.”  Both of these vagaries can be loosely interpreted as either good analysis or ridiculous shock content, I fall in line with the latter.  His career is not on the line, and we need to rally around this guy.

Honestly, I don’t think this affects the season at all.  Cabrera needs to see about 3 pitches to be MVP caliber ready, so if anyone can show up to spring training late, it’s this guy.  He has the resources around him (we hope) to get the treatment/help he needs.  What befuddles me is that the organization has seemingly distanced themselves from him, rather than rallying around him. There is still time to do so, but it needs to happen, soon.  At least Leyland is moving on from it, saying yesterday that it “won’t affect the team.”  In fact, he was pretty emphatic about it, reports Ken Rosenthal.  I’m sure Leyland has seen a lot in his day, and I’m inclined to agree with him.

(I’m also a little concerned about the “3-4 knee spikes” into Cabrera’s thigh.  You’d need a lot of force to take the big man down.)

Uh-Oh…Cabrera arrested again for a DUI

(photo from Detroit Free Press online)

– Here’s the story in the Freep.  And ESPN.com.  As you would imagine, it’s pretty much everywhere.  This story from an outlet in Florida, quotes Cabrera as saying “I’m going to (expletive) kill him” when asked who he was with.

I think this is much deeper than a ballplayer having too good of a time and making a poor decision.  Let’s see how the team and front office react.  I think the way the Rangers handled the Ron Washington cocaine admission was a catalyst for their success.  We’ll need something like that.

Pitchers and Catchers

Happy Pitchers and Catchers everyone.

A few things that I’m looking for in spring training:

1) 2B, whose job it is anyway?  By all accounts, Carlos Guillen is our 2B, but he won’t be ready until mid April.  So Willy Rhymes and Scott Sizemore will be splitting duties in the interim.  What happens if one of them plays lights out this spring?  Does Guillen still have the job when he gets back?  Or could he be on the trading block?

2) Who will be our everyday left-fielder?  Right now, it’s a competition between Raburn and Boesch.  But if both play well, what’s wrong with giving Raburn some ABs at 2B?  I think we can all agree that 1st half of 2010 Boesch + Raburn at 2B would be a significant boost to our lineup.  I’m guessing that we start the season with a Raburn/Boesch platoon in left, with Raburn spelling other positions when Boesch starts.  I feel strongly about getting Raburn 550+ ABs this year.

To further this discussion, assuming Boesch is more than a 4A player, we are really in a good position to deal with our aging vets.  I think we all expect Maggs and Martinez to get injured at some point in the season (hopefully for not too long), so having the likes of Guillen and Boesch to fill those at bats doesn’t sound too bad.  And where does Don Kelly fit in?

3) Does Coke have the stamina to be a starter?  He only threw 25+ pitches in a game three times last year.  If you’ll recall, he started the final game of 2010, and was promptly chased after 1 2/3.  I love the idea of having a lefty at the back of the rotation, but he’ll need some serious work to get up to 80+ pitches by April.

4) Who else can be an effective starter?  The boys will likely need 30-40 starts from guys not currently contemplated to be in the rotation.  I’m pretty sure we can predict what we’ll get 1-3.  What can Penny bring?  And after Coke, is Oliver ready to fill in?  Interestingly enough, Rotoworld lists Brayan Villarreal as #6 on our depth charts.

5) Is Joaquin Benoit worth $5.5M?  That’s a heck of a lot for a setup man with only 1 great season behind him.  Unfortunately, I don’t see spring training as an effective medium for measuring relief pitchers.  So it will be a while before I’m ready to answer this one.  Remember how good Valverde looked in April/May/June before he forgot where the strike zone was.

6) How does Maggs’ ankle look?  We’ll need on the field reports from those of you headed out to Lakeland.

What else are you looking for during spring training?  What are your thoughts on the LF and 2B carousel?

It’s Kelly right?

Yesterday Jim Leyland dropped some hints as to what his preferred 25 man roster would be when the team breaks camp this week. Actually he’s been dropping hints all along but he certainly helped to remove some doubt yesterday. It appears that Don Kelly will be the last position player on the roster.

Leyland offered reporters up this nugget:

I’ll give you one hint: ‘If Larish could play center field, his chances would be better.’

Which certainly hurts Jeff Larish’s chances of making the team. And I read it like Lee does that the preferred candidate be able to play both infield and outfield. This likely becomes more important as Leyland states his intention of resting Brandon Inge early in the season and the team’s questioned (and answered) level of comfort in Scott Sizemore.

Continue reading It’s Kelly right?

Putting eggs in the Willis basket

The battle for the back end of the Tigers starting rotation has been the story of the spring for Detroit fans. The Tigers are counting on two of the Jeremy Bonderman – Nate Robertson – Dontrelle Willis trio to bill out the last 40% of the starters innings. Bonderman has pretty much had the 4th spot assured leaving Robertson and Willis battling for the 5th spot. But with Robertson outpitching Willis by most measures, it appears that Robertson is on the block and Willis has that  last spot. A dangerous proposition to say the least.

Continue reading Putting eggs in the Willis basket

Maybe that helped us

Thanks to Jason Beck for tweeting the line of the day. Dave Dombrowski was talking about Johnny Damon and the White Sox interest and offered up this gem. Dombrowski also confirmed that the Tigers have an offer out to Damon, and that he expects the saga to end, but that isn’t nearly as entertaining.