Tigers NRI list

Yesterday the Tigers announced this year’s crop of non roster invitees. These are the players who aren’t on the 40 man roster, but will participate – at least for awhile – in the big league camp. It’s usually a passel of catchers, used to spread out catching duties, and a bunch of journeyman arms who will provide some depth at the AAA level. Then throw in a couple of position players who just haven’t fit in other teams plans and a prospect or two and you have your NRI’s. It’s how the Tigers picked up Jamie Walker, Bobby Seay, Tim Byrdak, Chad Durbin, and Marcus Thames. But this year’s group of players has a different look.

The Tigers NRI’s are:
Rudy Darrow
Alex Avila
Cale Iorg
Alexis Gomez
Casey Fien
Jeff Kunkel
Don Kelly
Jon Kibler
Dane Sardinha
Will Rhymes
Ryan Perry
Max St. Pierre
Scott Sizemore
Fu-Te Ni
Continue reading Tigers NRI list

Tigers Minor League Wrap 4-5-08

Durham 1 Toledo 6
Jeff Larish is acclimating well with 2 more homers and 4 more RBI. Mike Hessman had tow doubles and Brent Clevlen added a triple. Macay McBride started but only went one inning before being pulled because of elbow tenderness. Clay Rapada pitched 3 perfect innings fanning 3.

Erie 9 Bowie 6
Jeff Frazier continued his hot start with a 2 for 4 night and a walk. Wilkin Ramirez doubled and walked. Lucas French allowed 3 runs on 7 hits, no walks, and 1 strike out in 6 innings.

Erie 3, Bowie 2
Wilkin Ramirez homered. Jeff Frazier had 2 more hits and 2 walks. Ben Fritz started and allowed 1 run in 6 innings on no walks, 7 hits, and 2 K’s. Brett Jensen took a blown save allowing 1 a homer in his inning of work.

Clearwater 3 Lakeland 4
Scott Sizemore reached base all 4 times with 3 hits and a double. His DP partner Cale Iorg had a rough night with 3 K’s as part of an 0 for 5. Justin Justice homered, walked and singled. Jonah Nickerson allowed 2 runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Whitecaps 5 – Silver Hawks 4

Clete Thomas needs a tailor

One more cut took place today with outfield bench candidate Freddy Guzman being passed through waivers and outrighted to Erie. That leaves two players competing for the last bench spot (assuming that Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago make the team). Will it be back-up catcher Dane Sardinha or will Clete Thomas make the jump from AA Erie?

It definitely sounds like Thomas is the favorite to make the roster. At least if Jim Leyland suggesting that Thomas get a sport coat for traveling on the team plane is any indication.

Tiger Tales and Mack Avenue Tigers have already profiled Thomas.

To call him a long shot to make the team would have been generous at the start of camp. That’s not to say he wasn’t a prospect. Baseball Prospectus thought enough of him to run him through PECOTA which pegged him for a .239/.296/.356 line.

While the projection certainly isn’t overwhelming, I like the move. Thomas isn’t going to be relied upon to be an offensive force. He’s there to pack up centerfield for a couple weeks and perhaps be a pinch runner/defensive replacement. Thomas can handle both those duties because he sports some wheels and a very strong outfield arm. Plus, quite frankly I like the watching prospects make their debuts.

Another wild day in Lakeland

News has been flying out of the Tigers camp fast and furious lately. Today the main topics of discussion are Dontrelle Willis, Clete Thomas, and Tim Byrdak.

Dontrelle Willis

Willis is struggling. He’s having a heck of a time finding the plate. His problem last year was control, and that had to do with missing his spots. But right now he’s missing the strike zone with 4 more walks, a HBP, and a wild pitch in a miserable 3 inning outing.

I don’t put a lot of stock in spring training numbers, but something is wrong here. It’s at the point in the spring where pitchers have moved beyond “working on things” to a large extent. It is time to be concerned because Willis’s last two starts have been bad.

Ian speculated about an injury following Dontrelle’s last start. I sincerely hope he’s not trying to pitch through an injury all of 0 games into a 3 year contract. If it’s not an injury, it’s on Chuck Hernandez to figure out the problem.

Clete Thomas

It sounds as if Thomas may have played himself on to the roster, well the injury to Granderson was the catalyst of course. Jon Paul Morosi reports that Thomas has a shot at coming North. The 24 year old out of Auburn was the Tigers 6th round pick in 2005. Last year he posted a solid 280/359/405 line for Erie.

If he does make the roster it would be over Freddy Guzman which would be surprising. Guzman has had a good spring, is on the 40 man roster, and is out of options (though he’s not really a threat to be plucked off of waivers). Timo Perez who was in the mix was cut, along with Mike Hessman yesterday.

Tim Byrdak aftermath

We’ve already discussed the Byrdak release, but the beats have some more info. Danny Knobler has some quotes from Jim Leyland, including the fact that he’d like it a lot of if there was a second lefty.

My guess is that a trade happens in the next two days. I’m not sure for who, but I think that the Tigers would be parting ways with Ryan Raburn. It’s not a scenario I’m particularly fond of, but that’s my idle speculation.

Also, my initial speculation that something happened behind the scenes was probably too ominous. It could simply be that the Tigers gave him his outright release so that he’d be free to sign with any other team, in essence doing him a favor.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Easter Sunday Game Thread: Indians & Tigers

PREGAME: Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate. And if you’re not one who partakes, warm Sunday wishes to you.

The Tigers will be taking on the Indians today from Joker Marchant Stadium and the game is on FSN Detroit. The Tigers will send out Yorman Bazardo as they try and assess his place on the roster.

Game Time 1:05

: I caught a good portion of the game today. That’s a first for me this spring. My impressions:

  • With the Granderson injury I’m guessing that the Renteria-Polanco-Sheffield-Ordonez-Cabrera-Guillen-Rodriguez-Jones-Inge deployed today will be the “normal” lineup.
  • At least it will be that way as long as Inge can handle center field. He did OK today, evening making a diving catch late in the game. But it was a ballsy play that given the timing of the game probably wasn’t well advised.
  • Yorman Bazardo looked quite impressive, mixing several pitches and commanding them well. He got Hafner in the first inning on a swinging strike out.
  • Really, all the pitchers looked good save for Tim Byrdak. And I can’t comment too much on Byrdak because I happened to miss his inning – I just saw the final results. As he continues to struggle I wonder if his spot is becoming more tenuous?
  • Man, does Miguel Cabrera have a cannon for an arm.

Granderson to DL – Arghhh

Remember when the Tigers made the Edgar Renteria trade and everyone was so happy? Meanwhile Joel Zumaya was being evaluated from having his shoulder crushed and the news he’d be out put a big damper on the euphoria. Well, now Curtis Granderson’s finger (middle no less) is sticking it to Tigers fans basking in the Miguel Cabrera glow.

Jason Beck reports that when he was hit by a pitch yesterday, it fractured his finger. This means a couple weeks in a splint and a couple weeks of missed time. And to make things even better, it’s his right hand which is kind of important for someone who throws right handed.

This could be that regular playing time that Inge was looking for. Or it could solidify Ryan Raburn’s spot on the team. Or it could open the door for Freddy Guzman.

Long term this doesn’t figure to be significant. Short term it is irritating to say the least.

Leyland and stomach have conversation

Jim Leyland’s gut is telling him that a trade for bullpen help is on the horizon.

“I think there is a strong possibility that something could happen in the next few days,” Leyland said. “I think that’s a strong possibility. I don’t know if anything will happen. It’s kind of my gut telling me it’s going to happen, somehow, some way.”

It is that time of the year when teams try to get something for the out-of-option players who aren’t likely to make the club. Teams also have a good idea at this point of who will and won’t be ready for opening day.

That trade may or may not be for one Michael Wuertz.

The Freep and Sun Times can’t agree on the degree to which the Cubs might be interested in Inge and/or Thames.

As for Wuertz, he’s certainly an attractive idea with that coveted strikeout per inning ability. Of course he also walks a batter every other inning – but as I look at the arms being talked about for the Tigers that seems to be a common trend.

ST Game Thread: Blue Jays at Tigers

PREGAME: Hey, the Tigers are on TV and I’m home to watch it. It will be Dontrelle Willis taking on Jesse Litsch today at 1:05. With the game in Lakeland, hopefully we’ll get to see the full lineup in action.

If you happen to be around to watch the game, feel free to chime in.

Art note: The above shot was taken by Tom Hagerty. His album of Joker Marchant shots can be found here.

Fanning the Inge/Thames trade fires

While the players had a day off today, I’m sure that the front office was continuing to work the phones. News of another injury in Dodgertown may be a catalyst for a Brandon Inge trade while more Marcus Thames rumors swirl.

I saw it first on Spot Starters that the Dodgers back up plan for Andy LaRoche at third base, Nomar Garciaparra, fractured his left hand. Inge could be a target for the Dodgers to play third base. Still, neither of the injured players are supposed to miss the entire season so why would the Dodgers take on 3 seasons when they could get a one season player like Joe Crede?

Meanwhile, via MetsBlog Jayson Stark reports that the Mets covet Thames. In exchange the Tigers are angling for Aaron Heilman. Heilman fanned three times as many as he walked last year. The 29 year old right hander is certainly a more attractive arm than others who had been linked to the Tigers but Stark doesn’t see the Mets moving him.

In the same piece Stark has this:

But an official of one club says the Tigers are “talking to every club out there just about every day.”

With Fernando Rodney out of action, Francisco Cruceta out of the country, Yorman Bazardo dealing with neck stiffness, and Todd Jones battling arm strength issues, what was a suspect bullpen is now bordering on terrifying.

Roster and injury news

With less than two weeks to Opening Day, the Tigers are freeing up some room in the clubhouse. They trimmed nine more from the Major League camp today leaving 37 players still officially in camp.

Gone are Virgil Vasquez and outfielder Brent Clevlen to Triple A Toledo. Additionally, the club assigned righthanded pitchers Freddy Dolsi, Chris Lambert and Preston Larrison, catchers Max St. Pierre and Nick Trzesniak and infielders Michael Hollimon and Scott Sizemore to minor league camp.

Hollimon of course was injured yesterday, however the Tigers got good news from the MRI. It appears that no surgery will be required meaning that we’re talking weeks instead of months of rehab time. Add in the fact that it was his non-throwing shoulder and he can still help Toledo and Detroit this year.

As for those 12 superfluous players in camp, the real number is closer to six or seven. Fernando Rodney, Vance Wilson, and Joel Zumaya are all destined for the disabled list. Jordan Tata is headed for the DL, but in all likelihood his will be of the minor league variety. And Francisco Cruceta is kind of in camp, though he’s never actually been in camp.

That leaves Denny Bautista, Yorman Bazardo, Aquilino Lopez, Francis Beltran, Clay Rapada, Mike Hessman, Ryan Raburn, Dane Sardhina, Ramon Santiago, Freddy Guzman, and Timo Perez as candidates for the roster. Rapada is probably just going through the evaluation process most of his bullpen mates went through earlier in the month as he returns from injury. From a roster management stand point I think the team has to take Bautista and Bazardo. Both are legitimate risks to be lost if removed from the 40 man roster. The others bear no such burden to the team.

As for the bench, Hessman is likely the next cut barring a trade of Marcus Thames. Joining Thames and Brandon Inge as subs will likely be Santiago and one of Guzman/Timo.

ST Game Thread: Tigers at Reds

Seeing as this is the first telecast of the season, I thought it was deserving of a game thread. Many (like myself) will be at work, but if you’re lucky you might find yourself at a bar celebrating St. Patrick’s day. In that case enjoy you can enjoy Kenny Rogers taking on Johnny Cueto from Sarasota.

Welcome back Rod and Mario.