Why moving Cabrera could make it harder to keep Verlander

The good news for Tigers fans is that according to Jon Paul Morosi a couple of sources say it is unlikely that the Tigers trade Miguel Cabrera this week. Salary relief would of course be nice, but Morosi raises another good point. Trading away a team’s best player likely sends the wrong message to the player you’d like to keep around.

Verlander, who is on the verge of receiving a big raise in salary arbitration, is on track to become a free agent after the 2011 season. If the Tigers trade prominent players such as Granderson and Jackson, they may have a difficult time convincing Verlander to remain in Detroit for the long term.

It’s quite the conundrum for the Tigers. The cash saved by in the future by moving Miguel Cabrera or Curtis Granderson would certainly help with the flexibility to sign Justin Verlander but it would also make the climate less attractive. Verlander will get his money regardless so he’ll be able to look for a favorable situation.

As for what it will take to sign Verlander, we can start by looking at some rumors swirling around Felix Hernandez who like Verlander is 2 years removed from free agency. Ken Rosenthal reports that the two sides are far apart on a long term deal where the starting point was a 4 year $45 million offer.

Hernandez should command more because as good as Verlander has been, King Felix has been better and is 3 years younger. Still, it would take probably $20 million to buy out Verlander’s 2 arbitration years and then $15-18 million per year after that at least.

Milton Bradley talks not close

Jon Heyman writes today that things aren’t very close in a proposed Milton Bradley for Pat Burrell swap between the Rays and the Cubs. This doesn’t have a direct impact on the Tigers, but it is worth watching because there is speculation that the Cubs would want to move Bradley before setting their sights on Curtis Granderson.

Some in the Tigers blogosphere had suggested that Milton Bradley may be a decent acquisition for the Tigers if it involved a swap of undesirable contracts. Bradley will earn $10 million in 2010 and $11 million in 2011.

Bradley is coming off a year that saw his power drop dramatically as he only mustered a .397 slugging percentage. He hit fewer line drives and more groundballs but managed to maintain a health .378 OBP.

UPDATE: Thanks to Ben and Lee for pointing to this related note from Will Carroll that Mike Cameron is also in the Cubs mix, which if he was signed would likely kill Granderson trade talk as far as the Cubs were concerned.

Image from SD Dirk on Flickr

Playing in the spray – Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson’s 2009 season has received plenty of scrutiny, and this was even before trade rumors crept up. Granderson struggled at times during the season, and had a hard time sustaining success. His .249 batting average was the lowest of his career and it was a drag on his on base percentage and slugging percentage as well. We know batting average is volatile so did Granderson just suffer from some bad luck, or did something else change? Fortunately we have hit location data to help shed some light on these questions.

Granderson’s batting average was dragged down by a .276 batting average on balls in play. That is a number that should typically be in the .320ish range, especially for someone with Granderson’s speed. A shift like that would lead people to think he was largely unlucky. A closer look would show a shift in his balls in play from the harder to field grounders to the easier to field fly balls. Ask fans what they saw and many would say it looked like Granderson got overly concerned with the homers (a new career high) and that he pulled the ball to much. But what would the data say?

Continue reading Playing in the spray – Curtis Granderson

More Granderson and Jackson rumors

I don’t know that we’ll cover every Tigers trade rumor here. It usually isn’t worth the effort, but there were some fairy significant reports regarding subjects of Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson.

The New York and Chicago media have been beating the drum for Granderson to land in their respective cities. Now there are reports that Dave Dombrowski has had discussions with the Angels. The Angels have 24 year old shortstop prospect Brandon Wood who the Tigers may find appealing. Granderson would presumably move to left field with Torii Hunter manning center.

If the thought of trading Granderson is upsetting to you (it is to me), you may take some comfort in that at least one AL executive doesn’t think it’s going to happen.

On the Jackson front, the Tigers have talked with Doug Melvin and the Milwaukee Brewers. I’m sure they’ve talked with a number of clubs, but here’s the money quote:

"Dave’s in charge of that one," said Melvin. "They’ll identify which clubs are matches and they’ll call them. he’s looking for young players and young pitchers."

I agree with Jason Beck in that it sounds like the team is doing a little more than just listening to offers.

What the heck is going on (re: trade rumors)?

I don’t remember the general manager meetings being this interesting in past years. Most of the action seems to usually take place at the winter meetings that take place in December. This year the GM meetings have served Tigers fans up with a disconcerting set of rumors with the Tigers making most of the team available for trade. But does this qualify as a fire sale?

It all started Tuesday night when the news hit that Edwin Jackson could be available along with Gerald Laird. Things got more interesting Wednesday afternoon when a New York Post story cited a National League executive who said the Tigers were listening to offers on Curtis Granderson. Olney later tweeted the same information. With two All Stars potentially on the block, a depressed economic region, and a payroll that leaves little flexibility the phrases “financial difficulty” and “fire sale” began working their way into columns. By evening Jon Heyman added Brandon Inge (h/t MLBTR) to the list of those the Tigers could be looking to trade. Are the Tigers slashing payroll?

Continue reading What the heck is going on (re: trade rumors)?

All Star Game 2009

With four Tigers on the roster, it only seems fitting that we have a game thread. Plus it gives me a chance to catch-up on some All Star related linking.

Most newsworthy and relevant is the fact that Evan Longoria is out with an infected ring finger. Michael Young will start at third base, but maybe this gets Inge to the game earlier? Chone Figgins was added to the roster in Longoria’s place.

Curtis Granderson is having a grand time and blogging each day at the Stew. Last night Grandy thought the Home Run Derby was a little long and tonight he hopes to schmooze the Pres and set up a meeting with the Secretary of Education.

Justin Verlander is sort of available tonight. According to Beck’s Twitter Verlander is only available if needed.

This also gives me the opportunity to link up some Home Run Derby coverage. I intended to do an open thread for that as well. But I got home a little later than planned and I turned on the television to see Inge getting his complimentary Gatorade and Joe Buck joining the broadcast. Not really what I was hoping for on either account. But I don’t think it’s possible for Inge to have a better outlook on the night. Kurt did come away impressed with Scott Pickens arm though.

Edwin Jackson took on the Army in a Playstation battle. Video is below:

So which Tiger will do the best tonight? Inge? Grandy? Jackson? Verlander? Or are you just hoping nobody gets hurt?

Tiger Striped All Stars

The Tigers are sending 3 representatives to the All Star game, and maybe one more. Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and Curtis Granderson were all named to the AL All Star Game. Brandon Inge still has a chance ( a slim one) to get on the team if the fans vote him in.

Verlander and his MLB leading strikeout total was pretty much a lock for the squad and was likely voted in by the players. Jackson has had an exceptional first half, but a startling lack of run support has held him to 6 wins despite a sterling ERA. Still, the players thought enough of him to include him on the squad.

Granderson was a bit of a surprise. He’s had better seasons, but Lee points out that he is on pace for a 30-30 season and an argument could be made that he is the second best centerfielder in the AL. Granderson was also a player selection.

That brings us to Brandon Inge. I’ve stumped for Inge already and Jim Leyland opined that Inge should be backing up Evan Longoria. Instead that duty went to Michael Young who is on par with Inge offensively, but atrocious defensively. Defense doesn’t typically get you into the ASG though. But Inge does have a chance if he can beat out:

  • Chone Figgins (which he should)
  • Ian Kinsler (who has a beef that he should be starting at 2nd)
  • Carlos Pena (AL homer leader)
  • Adam Lind

So let’s see if we can get 4 Tigers to the All Star Game and Vote Inge. What works against him though is that he was the 2nd best third baseman, but it’s not as cut and dry that he’s the best of these 5.

Vote Early, Vote Often, Vote Inge

A vote for Inge is a vote for...
A vote for Inge is a vote for...

The campaigning has been going on since April when teams started to promote their players for the All Star Game. On basic principle I try to wait until at least June before filling out a ballot. So much changes so quick early in the season and hot starts can be misleading. But, with 60 games in and the game only a month a way it is time.

The All Star game doesn’t really matter, and when the fans and players and managers make mistakes in the voting people are sure to either a)complain or b) further announce the game doesn’t mean anything. Others say they don’t want their team’s players going and that they’d rather see them rest. I don’t buy any of it. The game is supposed to be fun and I know I have more fun when my guys are playing.

The trouble with the Tigers this year is that it is hard to find a candidate to throw support behind. Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson are certainly deserving at this point, but fans don’t get to vote for pitchers. Miguel Cabrera started off strong, but his recent fade and the seasons of Mark Texeira, Kevin Youkilis, and Justin Morneau don’t even leave  him in the top 3. Curtis Granderson has been okay but not nearly good enough to warrant a big push. But fans do have one position player who they can throw their support behind without feeling too homerish. The man, the myth, the most polarizing force among Tigers fans, Brandon Inge.

Continue reading Vote Early, Vote Often, Vote Inge

This “the cougar” business has to stop

Grandy is not a cougar
Grandy is not a cougar

Curtis Granderson made a spectacular catch on Friday night, saving the game for Justin Verlander and the Tigers. There is an unfortunate by-product of this play though and that is the proliferation of a new moniker for Granderson. Unsatisfied with calling him by name, or even by Grandy, ESPN has taken it upon themselves to dub him “The Cougar.”

Look, I get the play on the initials with CuGr. Cute. In addition to it being especially contrived, it is the Demi-Moore-ization of our centerfielder that I take issue with.

Nicknames can come from a number of places. I have no problem if they emerge from the clubhouse and if teammates call Dane Sardhina “Pineapple” who am I to argue. If it is a simple shortening of a name, that is fine too. The Cougar is just dumb..

This concludes the inaugural meeting of B.A.N.A.L (Bloggers Against Nickname Abuse).

PS: And it looks like Big JP is on the same page.

Giving for Grandy

I love the opportunity to promote good deeds from athletes, and it is fortunately becoming common place to talk about Curtis Granderson. He has a new program called Scoring for Schools in which you can pledge an amount for every run that Curtis scores. The pledges support the Grand Kids Foundation. If you pledge $0.28 by 7:15 tonight he’ll even sign a picture for you. (I apologize for the short notice, type quickly).

Now the Big Tilde brought this to my attention last week but I was negligent in posting until I saw this reminder from Ian at Bless You Boys. But these folks are going above and beyond the 28 cent thing. The Tilde is donating .30 for every run Curtis scores and $.30 for every run Ordonez scores. Ian is letting his readers decide his alternate pledge.

For our DTW I’m going to pledge an additional $.28 for every extra base hit and stolen base that Curtis collects.

Granderson’s Celebrity Shoot Out – 2009

Braylon Edwards, Drew Henson, David Terrell & Kirsten Haglund
It looked to be another successful event for Curtis Granderson and his Grand Kids Foundation. Depite some awful weather, there was still an impressive turnout of both fans and celebrities at Lake Orion High School.

Granderson assembled and impressive roster of celebs and athletes with Michigan ties. The biggest in name value was probably Kid Rock, who did his best Rumeal Robinson impression as he knocked down two free throws with no time remaining to tie the game. It was also his birthday and the crowd sang Happy Birthday.

Curtis served as referee and made sure everyone scored. Miss America Kirsten Haglund and Project Runway dude Joe Faris (who played basketball like you’d expect from someone on Project Runway) were allowed to shoot free throws until they made it. Dana Jacobson knocked down a shot on her own (yes I phrased it that way on purpose).

Lloyd Carr appeared to be really enjoying his time as a coach standing up and yelling directions. He was joined on the Blue sidelines by Marcus Thames who was also smiling (but he just signed a new contract so that might have been it). Braylon Edwards once again put on a show, throwing down some big dunks before losing to Jamal Springs Nelson in a overtime dunk-off.

I’m not sure what the attendance figure was, but it appears that the weekend was successful enough to set up a college scholarship in addition to supporting the work already being done in the inner city schools. If you’d like to donate, or for more on the Grand Kids Foundation, you can check out the website.

Granderson talks to Tiger Tales

Lee Panas of Detroit Tiger Tales recently interviewed Curtis Granderson. Lee asked several thoughtful questions and Granderson responded with some pretty thoughtful answers. My favorite was an exchange about Granderson’s defense last season:

TT: In the past, you have indicated that you take pride in your defense and that you have worked hard on that part of your game. Are you happy with the progress you have made in that area?

CG: This past year’s defense, I actually took a step back, so I wasn’t happy with my play in the 2008 season. I felt that being out with the broken finger and not be able to run while injured put me a step behind once I returned to the lineup and I never fully got back to where I wanted to be. So this 2009 season, I must get myself two steps ahead of where I want to be, and get back to playing the defense that I want to play.

It’s nice to hear a player admit when there was a shortcoming in his game. After each season Granderson has had one major area where he needed to improve. After 2006 it was cutting down on strikeouts. After 2007 it was hitting lefties. This year’s task is defense. His success on the other fronts and the recognition about his own performance is what makes me think 2008 will just be a blip.