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.

Game 2010.057: Tigers at White Sox

Armando Galarraga gets the start. That’s pretty much all the story line you need.

The cowardly commissioner

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig responded to the Armando Galarraga/Jim Joyce situation. Sort of. It took him 18 hours to issue a statement that said little. Instead his decision to not reverse the call came out through “anonymous source with knowledge of the situation.” Why Selig couldn’t do this himself is beyond me.

The statement is below, for the sake of completeness. I trust everybody has seen it at this point.

“First, on behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate Armando Galarraga on a remarkable pitching performance. All of us who love the game appreciate the historic nature of his effort last night.

“The dignity and class of the entire Detroit Tigers organization under such circumstances were truly admirable and embodied good sportsmanship of the highest order. Armando and Detroit manager Jim Leyland are to be commended for their handling of a very difficult situation. I also applaud the courage of umpire Jim Joyce to address this unfortunate situation honestly and directly. Jim’s candor illustrates why he has earned the respect of on-field personnel throughout his accomplished career in the Major Leagues since 1989.

“As Jim Joyce said in his postgame comments, there is no dispute that last night’s game should have ended differently. While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed. Given last night’s call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features. Before I announce any decisions, I will consult with all appropriate parties, including our two unions and the Special Committee for On-Field Matters, which consists of field managers, general managers, club owners and presidents.”

It’s not that I think Selig is making a mistake by not reversing the call. While I would love for Galarraga to get the credit he deserves and Joyce the peace of mind he is lacking, there is definitely a case to be made for not reversing a judgment call. Of course Selig doesn’t bother to make this case in the statement or in a media session.

Instead a Selig lackey somehow manages to get with every major sports news outlet and inform them that Selig isn’t going to overturn the call. Given that Fox, ESPN, SI, AP… all had this information about the same time as the release of the statement leads me to think that this anonymous source either had a conference call or sent out an email with a big BCC list.

My guesses for the reason for this approach are:

  1. Selig didn’t want to overturn the call but didn’t want to actually make the decision and seem like the bad guy
  2. Selig hasn’t decided what to do yet, and by not saying anything in the statement and instead floating information from “a source” he can evaluate the response before making his decision.

The irony is that this ordeal has been an exercise in grace, class, accepting responsibility for decisions, and humbly asking for forgiveness. Jim Joyce received applause from fans of the team who he just took a perfect game away from because he didn’t hide behind prepared statements. He stood up in front of everyone and with extreme sincerity said he screwed up.

Joyce had to make his decision in a split second. Selig had time, replays, advisors, and a host of options that Joyce didn’t have. Yet Selig still chose to act without any sort of meaningful authority.

Though Selig mentions the courage of Joyce and the dignity of the Tigers organization, he fails to display any of that in his handling of the reversal decision. Galarraga, Joyce, the Detroit Tigers, and baseball fans deserve far better.

Postscripting Perfection

Some news and notes in the aftermath of the Armando-Galarraga-perfect-game-that-wasn’t-due-to-Jim-Joyce-blown-call-heard-round-the-world.

Nobody’s Perfect

The title of the post comes from Armando Galarraga himself in discussing the blown call by Jim Joyce which cost Galarraga a perfect game. That says it all doesn’t it? It speaks to the game, to the call, to everything. There’s no getting around the frustration in this one. A game in which pretty much everyone feels awful when it is done.

Galarraga was sublime in his composure throughout the evening. He never wavered, commanding all of his pitches. He barely even threatened to walk a batter, only once getting to 3 balls in a plate appearance. That he threw a complete game in 88 pitches is a feat in and of itself. When Austin Jackson made a terrific running play on Mark Grudzielanek‘s shot leading off the 9th inning, Galarraga merely grinned slightly. But never was that composure more evident than in Galarraga’s immediate reaction to the call and in the aftermath.

As for Joyce, he’s devastated as well though it is little consolation to most fans. Detroit sports writer Dave Hogg, @stareagle on Twitter, interviewed Joyce after the game. He tweeted some of Joyce’s quotes:

Joyce said he didn’t know if he would try to talk to Galarraga. “I don’t know what to do. I just cost that kid a perfect game.”

“Biggest call of my career, and I kicked the s**t out of it.”

“I don’t blame the Tigers for anything that was said. I don’t blame one person a bit.”

“If I were Galarraga, I would have been the first one in my face, and he didn’t say a word to me.”

The firestorm around instant replay has been launched as have calls for reversals, scoring decision changes, and Bud Selig overruling Joyce’s call and awarding Galarraga a perfect game. Only the former has a real chance of happening. The latter would set precedents that MLB likely isn’t eager to pursue.

As for my thoughts on instant replay, I don’t know right now. I haven’t been a big proponent of it. Joyce was asked about instant replay and on this we agree tonight: “He was asked about it and said that he was having trouble thinking about anything beyond what he had just done.”

That’s the shame of it all. We’re talking about the wrong things because Jim Joyce screwed up. We should be weaving story lines about Galarraga starting the year in the minors. And Alex Avila calling a perfect game in just his 46th game behind the dish. Instead at best we can think back to Milt Wilcox and Jerry Hairston in 1983, and at worst we’ll curse Joyce’s name and talk about what he took from Galarraga and the fans. One day we can even look back and view this game as the catalyst for expanded use of instant replay. But it will never feel right or good.

Congratulations Armando. You did everything you could, and you did it with the utmost class and composure.

Tigers option Sizemore and Scherzer – Guillen to play 2B

The Tigers have optioned Scott Sizemore and Max Scherzer to Toledo. In their place come Armando Galarraga and Danny Worth. Worth wasn’t on the 40 man roster so his contract was purchased.

The Galarraga move isn’t the least bit surprising, he was the scheduled starter. The fact that the Tigers think Scherzer isn’t close enough to correcting his problems in side sessions is pretty telling and disappointing.

Also disappointing has been Sizemore’s performance offensively where he hasn’t been able to find that line drive stroke that produced an 889 OPS between AA and AAA last year.

Danny Worth was drafted by the Tigers in 2007 and his defense earned him a quick assignment at Lakeland. The question all along has been his bat. Worth is OPS’ing .665 for Toledo this year so it hasn’t exactly blossomed. My guess is this is a chance for Sizemore to fix some things while putting some pressure on Adam Everett as the defensive specialist.

Also, it should be noted that Worth was selected over Brent Dlugach who has very similar rate stats (673 OPS this year) but who is striking out at an epic rate with 52 K’s in 149 at-bats.

Also factoring into the middle infield situation is the fact that Carlos Guillen will need  a spot in a couple weeks and Brennan Boesch is playing too well to sit. Guillen has begun taking infield at both second base and shortstop.

UPDATE: Carlos Guillen will be the regular second baseman when he comes off the DL. When was the last season without a major position shift for Guillen?

Casper Wells to join the Tigers

It appears that the Tigers are calling up another young outfielder. The rumor has it that Casper Wells has been called up to the 25 man roster.

There likely won’t be an official roster move until tomorrow, but my guess is that Jim Leyland would like another position player on the bench the next two days. Ryan Raburn isn’t eligible to come back (barring a DL trip for somebody) until he’s spent 10 days on optional assignment.

Here’s how I think things will play out:

  • Wells will take Alfredo Figaro’s spot on the roster effective tomorrow.
  • Armando Galarraga will be recalled to start on Sunday. Otherwise somebody would be pitching on short rest (either Jeremy Bonderman or Rick Porcello). Galarraga last started on  Tuesday so Sunday would be normal rest for him.
  • When Galarraga is activated Wells will be sent down.
  • Galarraga will likely be returned to Toledo after his start and another position player will be called up until Raburn can return. My guess would be Wilkin Ramirez at that point.

Wells has been struggling this year with a 191/268/374 line but he does have 5 homers.

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

Eddie Bonine is your 5th starter

Flashback a week. The Tigers had a big lead in the division and they were surging. Nate Robertson had turned in two solid performances. Jarrod Washburn’s troubles were optimistically assigned to a sore knee that would hopefully be better with a little rest. Armando Galarraga’s struggles were tied to elbow inflammation and with a little rest there was reason to think he wouldn’t be awful. This would be great news to have potentially 6 starters down the stretch with a big lead and 3 key cogs to the rotation having worked more than they ever had and looking for rest. Oh well. It was a good thought at the time.

Robertson has since gone down with pelvic inflammation. Washburn’s knee isn’t better. Galarraga’s elbow isn’t better. And so what may have been 6 is now 3. Washburn will search for effectiveness in the rotation and Eddie Bonine has been promoted to 5th starter for the remainder of the season.

Now remainder of the season could be 1 start, the actual remainder of the season, or something in between. Jim Leyland has been known to make decrees before only to change his mind a week later – at least he isn’t stubborn in that regard. The duration of Bonine’s spot is probably equally contingent on Bonine’s effectiveness and the health of Robertson and Galarraga. Though I suspect that Galarraga returning to the rotation would be a stretch at this point.

Robertson’s problem flared up after his start against Cleveland and he had hoped to make it through 5 innings against the Blue Jays, but it didn’t work so well. Still, if he can get back quickly he could find a spot as a starter.

The bigger downside of all the shuffling has to do with not just the potential effectiveness or ineffectiveness of injured and replacement players, but the increased importance that Verlander/Jackson/Porcello starts take on down the stretch. Extra rest or skipped spots don’t look to be an option for any of the 3 over the last 3 weeks of the season. And with a potential playoff spot and additional innings coming for all 3 pitchers that has to be a concern. Then again, just add it to the list.

Junk Balling – All Star break edition

A pile of links on the eve of the All Star break…

If you find yourself a little bored with the Tigers game today, you can always flip over to ESPN and catch Scott Sizemore, the lone Tigers representative in the All Star Future’s game. With Polanco on the last year of his contract and Sizemore hitting a combined 300/392/508 line between Erie and Toledo it’s reasonable that he may be the Tigers second baseman next year. But Keith Law doesn’t seem to be that high or low on him.

With Brandon Inge making the All Star team he will earn a $25,000 bonus. Really. Given Inge’s career can you imagine that as a negotiating point? Granderson will also get $25K. There’s no mention of what happens if Inge wins the home run derby but the consensus seems to be it doesn’t mess up your swing.

Galarraga carries the bag - screen grab from Sports Center

Before Armando Galarraga got knocked around on Saturday night, I was ready to explore a theory about the good luck charm that is the High School Musical backpack. It’s the backpack that the relievers carry out to the bullpen full of treats and snacks and such and it is the responsibility of the least tenured rookie. Well, Fu-Te Ni has had the bag and he’s pitched well, and then in the 16 inning game Armando Galarraga was the only man in the pen and had to carry it back, and followed it up with his best start. But Ni had a run charged to him last night and Galarraga had 4 so there goes that theory.

The interesting thing about Fu-Te Ni is that he seems to move around on the rubber when he faces righties as opposed to lefties. I’ve wondered why more pitchers wouldn’t do this.

Carlos Guillen is set to begin a rehab assignment. He could equate to a mid season trade if he can return and be productive. I’d hope the Tigers aren’t pinning al their hopes on Guillen, but it does make sense to take a look before giving up too much for a bat.

Rick Porcello won’t pitch in the Yankees series after the All Star game. Luke French, Justin Verlander, and Edwin Jackson will start in the Bronx. Porcello’s next start hasn’t been announced. But he is blogging now.

Clearing up some roster confusion

The Tigers have some roster decisions looming with the imminent return of Jeremy Bonderman and Marcus Thames. In both cases there aren’t clear cut performance based decisions on who gets sent down so things like options come into play. There has been some confusion about the option status and service time of various players so let’s clear that up.

MLB roster rules are never simple and chuck full of exceptions. While salary data and service time data is generally findable, options are harder to find and often requires combing through transaction lists. Fortunately for Tigers fans Eddie Bajek compiled this information during the offseason.

Continue reading Clearing up some roster confusion

Hitting em where they ain’t

We recently took a look at the Tigers team defense through the eyes of David Pinto’s Probabilistic Model of Range. As Pinto wraps up this season’s numbers, he calculated the PMR behind each pitcher. Not much went right for Nate Robertson this year, and it is little surprise that his woes were reflected in the PMR numbers as well.
Continue reading Hitting em where they ain’t