Game 116: A’s at Tigers

PREGAME: Just got back from 4 days of camping. Armando Galarraga and some dude named Dan Myer. Relevant statistical goodness at the below link. Sorry for the brevity. I’ll get back into the swing tomorrow.

OAK @ DET, Saturday, August 9, 2008 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

Game Time 7:05 in theory. But lots o rain in the area

Game 109: Tigers at Rays

PREGAME: Okay, this one doesn’t appear to stack up well for the Tigers. The Rays are really good at home. Like 40-16 good. The Tigers are kinda eh on the road. The Rays send out Scott Kazmir and his 2.84 ERA (1.68 at home) and 9.9 K/9 against Zach Miner and his 1:1 K:BB ratio.

Here’s the lineup:

  1. Granderson
  2. Polanco
  3. Guillen
  4. Ordonez
  5. Cabrera
  6. Sheffield
  7. Thames
  8. Renteria
  9. Inge

DET @ TBR, Friday, August 1, 2008 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

POSTGAME: Well this was a different way to lose. Facing a stud pitcher with no idea where the ball was going, the Tigers drew 4 walks in the first inning. Of the first 21 pitches Kazmir threw, Detroit only swung at 2 of them, and that was Polanco only after he had 2 strikes. A visit from the pitching coach came next and Miguel Cabrera jumped on a first pitch fastball right down the middle – and fouled it off before popping out. A walk b Sheffield was followed by Marcus Thames swinging at the first pitch and ending the inning. In Thames defense he was probably anxious to not strike out.

Miner was fine. Not great, but not bad for a replacement starter. He got into a few jams, and wiggled out for the most part. Joel Zumaya followed and wasn’t so good, wild pitching in a run, crossing up Inge and damn near killing him, and allowing a homer. Bobby Seay was actually quite good and should be the set up man the next time the Tigers carry a lead to the 8th.

The Tigers walked 9 times and had 3 extra base hits, yet only scored 2 runs.

Kick Leukemia/Lymphoma’s Ass

The folks over at WDFN have been good friends to this blog, with several on-air mentions by Jamie Samuelson and Sean Baligian has even been kind enough to have me on air. So I’d like to you to one of the stations great annual traditions, the Stoney and Wojo Radiothon. It’s 28 non-stop hours to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma research.

They have a great line-up of guests, and many of the interviews have been posted on the podcast page.

To donate you can go online here, or call in at 866-FAN-1130. There are also a number of great items being auctioned off that you can hear about by listening in.

DTW Live Chat

Impromptu live chat. If you’ve got questions, feel free to ask em. We’ll start at 12:35.

Game 94: Twins at Tigers

PREGAME: The Tigers limp into the All Star break physically and spiritually. The Twins have taken 5 straight from the Tigers and a 4 game sweep would certainly suck hard.

The match-up is Justin Verlander and Nick Blackburn. If you want a little something different, the Future’s Game starts at 12:30 and it features Wilkin Ramirez starting in left field. You can also see Gorkys Hernandez starting next to him in centerfield.

MIN @ DET, Sunday, July 13, 2008 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

POSTGAME: The Tigers found a way to win against the Twins. They made it a 2 run game instead of a one run game. I’m not sure if the fact that the Tigers were only outscored by 2 runs in this series makes me feel better or worse.

Justin Verlander was awesome today and probably even better than his final line indicated. Which was an impressive 7 inning, 2 run, 8 K, 2 walk day. The fastball was live. The curve ball was nasty. And he held Mauer, Morneau, and the whoever was hitting 8th today in relative check.

Once again the kids supplpied the power with Clete Thomas and Matt Joyce accouting for 3 of the 4 runs. Thomas with his first career homer and Joyce with his 9th. This sets up quite the dilemma as to who gets sent down when Magglio Ordonez returns on Thursday.

And on another note, in terms of the Twins doing “things the right way” and the genius of Ron Gardenhire. I’m sorry. I don’t see it. Yes, there is probably some bitterness at work. But I saw them fail continually with their heralded bunting. Once bunting into a force out at second, due in part to the fact that Carlos Gomez let up. I saw Alexi Casilla bunt into himself while in fair territory. I saw them flounder just as much as the Tigers with RISP. I saw a guy with a sub .300 OBP start all the games as the leadoff hitter. They did enough stuff better than the Tigers to win 3 of 4. But I saw nothing offensively or strategically that screams “the right way.” The pitching is great and will only get better when Francisco Liriano returns (assuming that Livan Hernandez gets dumped). But I still don’t think they are for real.

The plans for Ryan Perry

The Tigers officially announced the signing of first round draft pick Ryan Perry yesterday. In the conference call there was discussion about what Perry’s next steps are as well as his role.

Earlier reports indicated that Perry would likely be a September call-up. However, David Chadd indicated that wasn’t really a consideration at this point. Of course the Tigers have been known to change their minds in these types of situations – or at least let the performance of the players change their minds. I’d still say it’s up to Perry in large part.

Chadd also speculated that Perry, who is already in Lakeland, would likely be starting out with the Gulf Coast League Tigers as opposed to the A ball Lakeland Flying Tigers. But that decision didn’t sound set in stone either and there would be discussions with Jon Matlack (minor league pitching instructor) and Glenn Ezell (player development).

The audio from the conference call is here if you’re so inclined.

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Holy Fresno Ball Girl

I don’t know if this is fake or not, but regardless it is pretty damn cool…

UPDATE: It’s fake and a gatorade ad, but very cool regardless.

The 4th Inning – 2008

Last year Sam Hoff started breaking down the season into 18 games segments, each representing 1/9th of the season, or an “inning.” Here is the 4th inning report.

The 4th Inning is over.

Each. 18 games represent 1 inning of a baseball season. The Tigers record for the first 4 innings in 2008:

                                               Starters:         Bullpen:
    W-L   RS –RA     HR-SB-AVG/OBA/SLG    W-L-IP-   ERA     W-L-S-ERA
1:  6-12  74 -112    15-10-262/345/404    3-9- 96.2-5.96    3-3-3-5.28 
2:  9-9   98 -87     21- 6-261/350/426    5-8-105.2-5.11    4-1-2-3.61
3:  8-10  89 -75     19- 2-275/326/442    8-5-109.2-4.19    0-5-4-3.83
4:  11-7  85 -74     19- 8-268/350/416    8-4-113.0-3.27    3-3-5-5.17

In the 4th inning started out with a 1-5 record including a sweep at Oakland. The fortunes of the team changed on June 7th when a 5 run bottom of the 8th against Cleveland broke a 3-3 tie. Marcus Thames led off that inning with a solo homerun and Edgar Renteria later added big insurance with a Grand Slam. Including that night, the Tigers have won 10 out of 12 games and have moved to 3rd place in the division (6.5 games behind the White Sox). If the Tigers average 11 wins for the remaining 5 innings they will be at 89 wins, which may very well be enough to win the central.

The starting pitching has been terrific. Armando Galarraga withstood a strange demotion to the bullpen to come back and win 3 straight starts with a 2.08era in those starts. He is now being discussed as a possible ROTY candidate. Kenny Rogers is tapping the fountain of youth with a 1.24era in 4 starts (but only 1 win as he had no run support). Justin Verlander had a 1-2 record, but pitched to a 3.10era and only allowed 30 base runners in 29 innings. Nate Robertson was 2-1 with a 3.86era in 3 starts. Three other starters were used as the demoted Dontrelle Willis (2 starts), injured Jeremy Bonderman (1 start), and promoted Eddie Bonine (1 start) combined for a 1-1 record with an 8.66era allowing 36 base runners in 17.2 innings.

The Bullpen numbers are skewed by Casey Fossum’s horrible 5 appearances as well as Fernando Rodney and Francisco Cruceta each getting bombed in their only appearance. Those 3 pitchers combined for 0-1-24.55 in 3.2 innings. The rest of the bullpen combined for a 3.53 era. Todd Jones continues to be perfect in save opportunities (4/4 in this inning) despite giving up all kinds of base runners (12 in 7.1 innings). Bobby Seay lost a game and gave up 4 runs in 5 innings. Dolsi, Miner, Bautista, Lopez and Rapada were all solid with a combined 2-1-2.25 in 28 innings.

The Hitters continue to perform at a substandard pace based on their lifetime numbers. Marcus Thames is red hot (8-12-234/333/766). Guillen (1-11-328/416/478) and Polanco (0-10-380/413/451) have also been swinging a good bat. The new catching platoon of Inge and Pudge seems to be working as they combined for (2-5-292/387/446). Cabrera is showing signs of coming around to his usual self (2-12-294/355/471). Granderson (2-7-222/279/381), Magglio (1-8-227/320/303), and Renteria (1-7-228/328/281) all struggled in the 4th frame.

I stated that the panic button needed to be pushed after the 3rd inning, and after losing 5 of 6 to drop to 24-36, the panic button was fully engaged. Don’t let the 10 out of 12 fool you, the Tigers have very little margin of error for the rest of the season. They must win more than 60% of their contests for the rest of the year to have a shot of making post season.

Stuff you can win

Not really a Tigers related post here, but something you might be interested in regardless. There is a “Call Your Shot” contest tied into the State Farm All Star Game Home Run Derby.

The details are as follows, go to www.sfcallyourshot.com/2008 and enter between now and June 24th. Here’s what you have a chance to win”

* All-expense paid trip for four to the All-Star Game and State Farm Home Run Derby
* First class hotel accommodations in New York
* Tickets to a Broadway show
* $1,000 MasterCard gift card

The grand prize winner will also get the chance to pick a spot to which two of the Home Run Derby players must compete to try to hit a ball. If the first player hits the ball to the called spot, the promotion ends. If either player succeeds, the fan receives a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid vehicle and a 2009 season-ticket package for any team.

Additionally, 10 fans will win first place prizes consisting of a $300 MLB.com gift card and 25 second place prize winners will receive $100 MLB.com gift cards.

Good luck

The Edgar Defense

When the 2007 season came to a close the Tigers had a top priority on their to-do list and that was to get a shortstop. Carlos Guillen’s knees and inconsistency making the routine play had dictated a move across the diamond to first base. So Dave Dombrowski moved swiftly to upgrade the infield defense while keeping a decent bat in the lineup by acquiring Edgar Renteria. Yet to listen to Tigers fans this year you’d think that they had pulled one of those statues down off the left field wall and positioned it between second and third. The fact of the matter is that Renteria is an average defender.
Continue reading The Edgar Defense

Ramblings on Sheff’s rehab

With Gary Sheffield beginning his rehab assignment I’ve heard quite a bit from Tigers fans that are actually concerned that Sheffield is coming back. Sheffield and his struggles have been received a considerable portion of the blame for the Tigers struggles. Now that the team is playing better and Sheffield isn’t around, people don’t want to mess with a good thing. That’s well and good, but why wouldn’t you want to upgrade a struggling position?

In June the Tigers DH’s are hitting 192/288/365. Jeff Larish has provided the bulk of that production with a few starts going to Magglio Ordonez and Marcus Thames. Prior to hitting the DL Sheffield was “producing” at a 213/344/331 clip. Awful to be sure, and not in line with his contract (who cares, sunk cost) or his reputation, but fifty points of OBP is pretty significant.

If there’s a chance that Sheffield can produce anywhere close to his pre-shoulder-injury numbers, don’t you want him back in your lineup? Yes I worry that he comes back and the shoulder still isn’t working and he’s allowed to flounder for an extended period of time. But the at-bats he’ll be taking will be mostly Larish’s. And yes you may give up a couple of Raburn’s and Clevlen’s at-bats and their gloves to a certain extent in the outfield which at this point the gloves would be the bigger loss.

I share the concerns that the Tigers are willing to let Sheffield completely dictate when he’s ready to come back. It’s that tricky trade-off of applauding a guy who tries to play through pain and chastising him when he doesn’t get removed from the lineup.

It’s a problem not unique to the Tigers. The Indians are dealing with the same things with Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez. It caused Rob Neyer to question

Really? The Indians were better as a ballclub with a .216-hitting catcher with zero power? Speaking of which, Hafner’s batting .217/.326/.350 in 46 games. No, he wasn’t much good last season, but his numbers this season are simply beyond the pale. Here’s a question I’d like to see someone answer: How many games does the average team throw away in a season on guys who aren’t healthy enough to play, but do anyway? I’ll bet it’s more than three.

But here’s the rub, especially for stat-heads. When does it go from random fluctuation to performance impacted by injury? Batting average is highly volatile in and of itself and of course it impacts OBP and slugging. So when is that time when you’re no longer riding out a slump and are now throwing away at-bats?

A seemingly healthy Sheffield hit 200/369/306 in April 2007. That turned out to be a slump as he exploded in the subsequent 2.5 months to bring his season numbers more in line with career expectations. Now here you are in 2008 and your player says he is fine and the medical staff says he is fine, but he’s slumping. What’s the correct move for the team?

I think it’s clear that the Tigers waited too long with Sheffield. It became too long when Sheffield himself started admitting that the shoulder wouldn’t always “fire” like it should. When the player is saying that it isn’t working it’s probably time to shelve him. But the decision isn’t always so clear cut.

Is Freddy Dolsi the new sexy?

Editors note: This post has nothing resembling well reasoned analysis. This is simply the author’s enthusiastic response to two recent plate appearances. The views and opinions expressed below do not represent those of the more logically based billfer that normally resides in this corner of the internet. He’ll be back tomorrow.
Freddy Dolsi by Samara Pearlstein

Did you see what Freddy Dolsi did today? Dude comes in with the sacks loaded, the go ahead run standing at the plate, and only one out in the 8th inning. Dolsi, anagram-ically nicknamed Freddy Solid by frequent DTW commenter Chris in Dallas, fell behind Jhonny Perralta 2-0. He battled back into a full count. And then came the heat. A 97 mph fastball right down the middle. It’s the type of pitch that Rod Allen labels “here it is, hit it” but there would be no hitting it today sir.

With two outs, now some of the pressure is off. But Dolsi is amped up. Three more fastballs down the middle to Ben Francisco and Dolsi had himself back-to-back K’s. This one was a called strike where Pudge comes rocketing up out of his crouch before the ump even calls strike 3. It was beauteous.

As I type this Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney are throwing another rehab outing. Soon, someone will have to go down and I think Dolsi isn’t eager to go anywhere.

Yes, the Indians hitters helped him out by not really having good at-bats, but Dolsi gets some of that credit doesn’t he?

And yes, coming into today he’d allowed 12 hits and 7 walks in 12 innings. And there was that time he didn’t call time out and Toriii Hunter stole second. And there was the time he air mailed an intentional walk ball for a wild pitch. And there was the time he didn’t cover first base resulting in a walk-off infield single (hey, it’s starting to sound like that billfer guy snuck back in here). Some of those things might undermine his sexiness as well as the Freddy Solid monicker. But today he was sublime so for now I will bask in the warm glow of his 9 fastball, 2 K outing.