Some thoughts on the Ordonez situation

The news of Magglio Ordonez’s prolonged absence is certainly devastating on a number of fronts and only compounded by the loss of Carlos Guillen. Already without Brandon Inge for at least a month the Tigers lost a third of their starting lineup in the last week. It changes the outlook for the trade deadline, and may very well change the look of the 2011 team. It also likely puts a significant dent in Miguel Cabrera’s chances for a triple crown.

Ordonez and Guillen will be replaced on the roster with Wil Rhymes and Jeff Larish while Don Kelly, Ryan Raburn, and Ramon Santiago see increased roles. The lineup is more Toledo than Detroit at this point which is tough on a team that already has heavily reliant on rookies. There is only so much depth.

Buyer of Sellers

The Tigers had some holes to fill, be it starting pitching, a lefty reliever, and a little more consistency and offensive pop at both shortstop and catcher. Filling 1-2 of those holes would likely have kept the Tigers in the race deep into September without dramatically impacting the future fortunes of the team.

However the Tigers holes have doubled, and in a hard to replace way. I still think Scott Sizemore can hit at the big league level and he could slide into Guillen’s spot. The loss of Ordonez though is just too much for this team to overcome given the question marks at other positions. With playoff odds that were essentially split with 3 teams already, the Tigers chances of the postseason just got much longer and it may make sense for the Tigers to flip the switch from buyers to sellers.

The Option

One of the biggest stories last year was whether or not the Tigers should cut Ordonez to avoid his option vesting. They didn’t and the reaped the benefits of his performance this year (and the burden of his paycheck). There is a $15 million option for next season that now will not automatically vest. The Tigers may have $15 million additional to spend next year, or they may pick it up (which would be an overpayment), or perhaps decline the option and sign Ordonez to a more reasonable 2 year deal.

The business move is of course to decline the option. We’ll see if Mike Ilitch feels the same way though, especially given the fact that Ordonez broke the ankle hustling on a play in a game in which maybe he shouldn’t have even been playing.

The decision to send him home

I don’t think you can blame Gene Lamont for sending Ordonez home. It was just a bad situation. I’m not even sure that he broke it on the slide. Given the way he was running I don’t know that he would have been able to put on the brakes at third base anyways without damaging the ankle. It was unfortunate, but not a bad decision.

Cabrera and the triple crown

One of several real bright spots this season was Miguel Cabrera’s pursuit of the Triple Crown. The odds were long on this one as well just because of the shear difficulty of the feat. Ordonez and his .378 OBP will no longer be in front of Cabrera meaning fewer opportunities for RBI and more opportunities for teams to pitch around Cabrera.

Carlos Guillen is back

Carlos Guillen has been activated from the disabled list. Danny Worth is the odd man out and will return to Toledo with an impressive week of MLB experience under his belt.

Guillen will slide into the 6th spot in the lineup behind Brennan Boesch. Worth meanwhile played defense that was impressive enough to give many pause about Adam Everett’s longevity with the team.

Everett isn’t expected to hit much, but like Gerald Laird he’s expected to hit more than he is. It’s one thing to trade some offense for defense, it’s another to forfeit a spot in the batting order. Despite Worth’s ability to pick up some singles in his short stint, he isn’t a good bet to hit much more than Everett. Worth has the benefit of being the new guy and the possibility of the new guy is certainly more intriguing than the reality of the current guy.

On the other hand we’ll see how much defense fans are willing to sacrifice for offense with Guillen moving to second base. I have a feeling the experience won’t be nearly as bad as many feel it will. At the same time I’d take slightly below average defense for Guillen’s offense at the position.

Tigers Minor League Wrap 5.25.10

Toledo 6 Syracuse 3
Carlos Guillen picked up 3 doubles, and the dinner tab. Max Scherzer went 7 innings and allowed just 1 run on 3 hits and a walk with 7 K’s. Scott Sizemore was 2 for 4. Ryan Strieby had 2 hits and drove in 5.

Erie 0 Trenton 4
Thad Weber gave up 10 hits and fanned only 1 but allowed just 4 runs in 6.2 innings. Shawn Roof had 2 of the 3 hits for the Seawolves.

Tampa 3 Lakeland 10
It was yet another electric night for Charlie Furbush. He went 8 innings and allowed a solo homer along with 3 other hits. But he walked none and fanned 12! That’s 44 strikeouts and 2 walks in his last 28 innings. Brent Wyatt and Rawley Bishop had 3 hit nights. Kody Kaiser and Daniel Fields each went 2 for 4.

West Michigan 3 Lansing 0
Giovany Soto pitched the 7 inning complete game shut out notching 6 K’s. Michael Rockett doubled in 2 runs.

West Michigan 1 Lansing 7
Avisail Garcia, Luis Palacios and Billy Alvino had the 3 hits. Victor Larez didn’t make it out of the 3rd inning before surrendering 6 runs on 9 hits.

Scoreboard – MiLB.com Scoreboard – The Official Site of Minor League Baseball

Tigers Minor League Wrap 5.24.10

Toledo 3 Syracuse 6
The Tigers faced uber-prospect Stephen Strasburg, and managed to score. Deik Scram tripled and scored on a wild pitch. In the 4th inning Carlos Guillen singled (1 for 3 with a walk and 2 6-4-3 GIDPs on defense), Jeff Frazier doubled (3 for 4), and Casper Wells followed with a ground ball between third and short. LJ Gagnier allowed 6 runs in 5.2 innings but only 1 was earned, but a couple came around after his own error. Robbie Weinhardt faced one batter and was removed after the ominous “injury delay” according to the game recap.

Erie 4 Trenton 6
Duane Below allowed 5 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks in 3.2 innings with only 2 strikeouts. Anthony Shawler ate 3.1 scoreless innings. Cesar Nicolas and Michael Bertram each doubled and singled. Josh Burrus hit his 5th homer.

Lakeland 4 Tampa 1
Adam Wilk starred with 8 innings of 1 run ball on only 4 hits. He didn’t walk a batter and he fanned 8. Julio Rodriguez had 2 hits. Alden Carrithers reached base 3 times with a single and 2 walks.

West Michigan 2 Fort Wayne 3 (10 innings)
Jordan Lennerton doubled twice as part of a 3 for 5 day. Alexis Espinoza also picked up 3 hits. Trevor Feeney went 8 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, 1 walk, and 6 K’s. Melvin Mercedes walked 3 and had a wild pitch in 1.2 innings and took the loss.

Tigers Minor League Wrap 5.23.2010

Toledo 8 Syracuse 5
Carlos Guillen homered and walked in his second rehab game. Both games they’ve kept him to 3 plate appearances before lifting him. Ryan Strieby hit his second homer after coming off the disabled list. Scott Sizemore doubled twice and Jeff Frazier, Brent Dlugach, and Casper Wells each had 2 hits. Enrique Gonzalez  allowed 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks with 4 K’s in 5 innings. Daniel Schlereth was roughed p for 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk in 1.1 innings.

Altoona 2 Erie 1
Andy Oliver was terrific, allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits in 6.2 innings while fanning 9 and walking 1. Christopher White went 2 for 3 and had 2 of the Seawolves 3 hits. Wilkin Ramirez drew 2 walks.

St. Lucie 4 Lakeland 10
Alden Carritthers doubled, singled, and walked. Rawley Bishop had 2 hits. Kody Kaiser homered. Francisco Martinez doubled and walked and his first week in Lakeland was a breeze as he posted a .375/444/438 line. Brayan Villarreal struck out 6 in 6 innings while allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks. Matt Hoffman went 2 scoreless innings of relief. Lester Oliverson, off the disabled list, allowed 4 baserunners and a run while recording 2 outs.

West Michigan 6 Fort Wayne 7
Jamie Johnson went 3 for 5 with a double. Jordan Lennerton, Avisail Garcia, and Mike Gosse each had 2 hits. Jade Todd didn’t make it out of the 4th innings before allowing 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks though he did fan 4. His early exit was due to injury and not ineffectiveness.

Thinking more about the roster shuffle

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know how Carlos Guillen moving to second base will work. And even if I think I knew, I’m the guy who thought Scott Sizemore would outhit Austin Jackson and that Max Scherzer would be the biggest contributor from the big trade so being wrong is nothing new here. However I like the move and I like what the Tigers are trying to do.

Impact on Defense

It is interesting that the Tigers went with an offensive first approach in 2008, saw it fail miserably, and then went with a big defensive emphasis the following year. The 2010 season saw a little balance and something in between.

The results in 2010 have certainly been mixed. The Tigers error total is shockingly bad. The errors themselves have certainly been shockingly bad with dropped fly balls at in opportune moments. It feels as if if the Tigers have had more than their share of high WPA errors.

Pitchers like Rick Porcello have seen very high BABIPs and the team also ranks 22nd in MLB in terms of defensive efficiency. John Dewan’s +/- system has the team at +5 runs which ranks the team 20th in MLB. With UZR things are better and the team ranks 10th overall.

With mixed reports such as these I’d put the data together and say the team is a little below average with the glove. So why make a move that introduces a defensively challenged player into a prominent defensive role? Because Scott Sizemore was struggling in that regard as well.

Sizemore’s strength was never his glove, but the Tigers second base defense is one of the reasons for the overall struggles. The Tigers rank in the bottom third in both +/- and UZR at the position (not just Sizemore, the position as a whole). Interestingly enough the Tigers rank tenth in revised zone rating, so the second baseman have done a good job with balls hit to them. They just haven’t had the range to extend the position with only 1 play made outside of the zone.

That’s a long explanation to say that the Tigers are only weakened defensively if Guillen proves to be awful at the position.

Injury Risk

Guillen is a pretty good player when healthy. When healthy though has been a fleeting state for Guillen. Second base won’t make it easier for Guillen to stay healthy, but at this point I don’t know that it matters. The Tigers made him the primary DH and he still got hurt. Guillen will likely get injured again at some point this season but I doubt that second base would be the culprit.

Instead of trying to keep him healthy, the Tigers should try to get the most value from him when he is healthy.

Prudent Roster Management

Here’s the part that I like the most. The Tigers are really extending their 25 man roster by actively making it a 28-30 man roster. The doubleheader was a nuisance but it set a lot of things in motion. Even with the shuffle not playing out like I speculated the team is still doing a good job of trying to get the right mix for the situation.

The Tigers haven’t been particularly mindful of service time or option status under Dombrowski, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The Tigers will use the players that they think will give the team the best chance to win rather than trying to milk out an extra year of club control.

Long term this has implications of course, but I don’t think trying to win now is a bad strategy.

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?

Guillen to DL, Boesch is up

With Carlos Guillen’s hamstring blowing up, he’ll be hitting the 15 day disabled list. This opens up a spot for Brennan Boesch who has been promoted from Toledo. Boesch will make his debut tonight in Arlington.

For those that read the Minor League Wraps Boesch’s name is very familiar. He’s been getting a daily mention due to his 379/455/621 line at Toledo. The left handed hitting outfielder just turned 25 earlier this month and was added to the 40 man roster during the offseason.

Boesch has huge power that finally materialized last year at Erie where he had 28 homers. Boesch has some holes in his offensive game in that he will strike out a lot (24% last year and 17 K’s already this year) and he doesn’t walk very much. But when he hits, he mashes. Don’t expect him to bunt or move runners over.

The loss of Guillen though is significant. While Jim Leyland has rotated numerous people in and out of the lineup this season, the Venezuelan heart of the order has remained intact. Presumably Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge would move into the 5th spot which takes away the lefty bat behind Cabrera.

Fortunately if the Tigers have any position of depth in the minors it is with outfielders. With Clete Thomas on the disabled list with a hamstring problem of his own, Boesch makes the most sense. If he struggles and Guillen is delayed the team can always turn to Casper Wells or Wilkin Ramirez as a stop gap as well.

Guillen holds hammy, Tigers hold on

The Tigers finally got to a starting pitcher early. Unfortunately Detroit’s starting pitcher wasn’t on his game. Fortunately the Tigers bullpen earned a cumulative save getting the last 12 outs.

The Detroit lineup had no trouble getting to Joe Saunders. They hit, they moved people over, the bunted, the sacrifice flied, and they scored in the first 3 innings. When Adam Everett hit the flyball to left to plate a run it was the first 2nd inning run Detroit has scored this season.

On the other side Justin Verlander had significant issues controlling his offspeed pitches leading to all sorts of trouble. Mostly in the form of rapid pitch count escalation. The irony is that Verlander often becomes fastball happy when in trouble. Yet when the other pitches weren’t working for him against the Angels, he stayed away from the heater. Only 17 of his first 35 pitches were fastballs.

Credit needs to go to the Angels also who fouled off 35 pitches for the night.

Joel Zumaya, Phil Coke, Ryan Perry, and Jose Valverde did a terrific job locking down the game once Verlander was lifted. Seeing Zumaya come out for two innings the night after throwing 33 pitches makes me nervous given his history, but he did fine. As a group they allowed 5 baserunners and fanned 5 in 4 innings.

The bigger news in all this though is probably the injury to Carlos Guillen. Guillen’s hamstring popped as he was coming around to score (pictured above) and couldn’t make it to home plate. Guillen is hitting the disabled list, which is an unfortunate annual tradition.

  • The Tigers didn’t strikeout until Gerald Laird fanned with 2 outs in the 7th inning.
  • It looked like Austin Jackson’s strike out streak may end, but he went down swinging in his 4th at-bat.
  • Miguel Cabrera doubled in his 5th straight game. The last Tiger to do it was Frank Catalanotto in 1999.

Venezuelan Uprising

The Tigers offense certainly doesn’t figure to be the team’s strength in 2010.  It also isn’t devoid of talent. The heart of the order is occupied by the team’s Venezuelan contingent. The trio certainly put on an offensive display in the series against the Royals and the health and production of these three are fundamental to the team’s chances this season.

Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, and Carlos Guillen led the offensive against the Royals. The three combined to go 20-42 and accounted for all 3 of the team’s homers. Two of those homers were by Cabrera in the late innings. The Tigers scored 16 runs and these 3 drove in 10 of them and scored 8 of them. With the exception of Austin Jackson’s and Johnny Damon’s 2 RBI’s, every other run went through Venezuela.

The Tigers shouldn’t expect these 3 to combine to hit nearly .500 all the time, but when the 3 are clicking they should be able to muster enough runs to support what should be at least a decent pitching staff.

Wrapping up the week

It’s Sunday evening and this concludes my foray into full time blogging. I took this week off to delve into the winter meetings and cover them to the best of my ability. It proved to be an especially eventful week for Tigers fans and this blog. With that we’ll do one last set of hot stove rumors and news nuggets and a couple other thoughts as well.

Continue reading Wrapping up the week

Carlos Guillen Rumors

The latest buzz is that the Tigers are are trying to move Carlos Guillen, and there may be some sort of partnership with the Dodgers to acquire Juan Pierre. But it appears that both teams are in need of 3rd team to fill in the blanks.

The Fox Sports boys report that the Dodgers are looking for a reliable starter with a bad contract to swap for Juan Pierre who is owed $26 million $18.5 million over the next 2 seasons. The Tigers have plenty of bad contract pitchers, but none are really considered reliable meaning the Dodgers and Tigers need to involve a third team to complete things.

Pierre is a below average hitter who’s only value is derived from batting average (like Polanco but faster). With the glove he is average-ish in centerfield according to fangraphs. Color me not thrilled.

There is another aspect to consider with a potential Guillen move. He lives near Miguel Cabrera in Venezuela. I also get the impression he is a team leader. I think as much as the Tigers would like to move the contract, they’d also like Guillen around to mentor the younger Cabrera. I’m not big on keeping guys for the sake of their clubhouse presence, but there are some more involved circumstances here.

UPDATE: Jason Beck spoke with Guillen’s agent who has not been contacted. Guillen is a 10-5 player meaning he’d have to approve any trade.

Image credit lakelandlocal on flickr