Miner leaguer

Zach Miner paid the price for a 4 walk effort on Tuesday night with an assignment to Toledo. Aquilino Lopez who was being stretched out as a starter has been recalled to provide a strike thrower in the pen.

Both moves are warranted, but my first thought when hearing of this was Denny Bautista. The Tigers thought they were better off ditching Bautista than optioning Miner or other optionable pitchers.

Bautista isn’t going to make or break this team so I don’t want to make too much of it. And his qualifications as a strike thrower were dubious at best. I just don’t understand what changed that dramatically that Miner couldn’t be sent down 2 weeks ago.

Tigers trade Bautista

I didn’t get a chance to touch on this last night because I had left for the game when the news hit. The Tigers traded Denny Bautista for Pittsburgh minor leaguer Kyle Pearson. With Bautista DFA’d the Tigers had 10 days to find a home for him. In exchange they get AA right hander Pearson. The 2003 4th round pick has a below average strike out rate (5.74 K/9) and a middling walk rate (3.38 BB/9). He’s 23.

With little leverage the Tigers get little in return. For the Pirates they get a guy who could help them at a very low cost.

Of course the Tigers could have kept Bautista had they utilized the options on Freddy Dolsi, Zach Miner, or Casey Fossum (Fossum could have refused assignment). With Rodney’s health always in question and neither of the big guns having pitched at all this year, I would have preferred the wait and see approach and horded as much depth as possible.

Denny gets Bautista’d

Denny Bautista is odd man out of the bullpen with the return of Joel Zumaya. I’d offer up my feelings, but instead I’ll point you to Detroit Tigers Thoughts who already has it covered.

UPDATE: It appears that the Tigers tried to move Bautista prior to DFA’ing him. Regardless I think it’s a bad move. Bautista hasn’t been bad. Rodney is a long shot to make it through the rest of the season. And while the rehab stint was good for Zumaya can he be counted on holding up? If it’s me I’m hording talent and sending down Dolsi or Miner – and I’m a Dolsi fan.

But instead they are keeping 3 guys with options and losing a guy who hasn’t pitched that bad.

Tigers Make Line Change

The Tigers announced a ton of roster moves today:

  • Clete Thomas and Ramon Santiago hit the 15 day DL
  • Mike Hollimon and Brent Clevlen were brought up to take their places.
  • Aquilino Lopez was placed on the bereavement list and Denny Bautista was reinstated from the DL.

Tigers Minor League Wrap 5-30-08

Toledo 2 Indianapolis 3
Brent Clevlen homered, singled, and walked and has pushed his average to .313. Mike Hollimon was 1 for 4. Matt Joyce went 0 for 4 with 3 K’s. Yorman Bazardo allowed 2 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings, walking none and fanning 3. Denny Bautista allowed an unearned run on 1 hit and 1 walk in 2 innings of work. He threw 27 pitches, 17 for strikes.

Altoona 8 Erie 6
Jeff Frazier went 3 for 5, as did Ryan Roberson. Wilkin Ramirez and Danny Worth each had 2 hits, including a homer for Worth. Lucas French allowed 8 runs on 12 hits and 3 walks in 6.2 innings.

Lakeland 11 Dunedin 5
Scott Sizemore and Lou Ott each had 3 hits. Brennan Boesch homered, tripled, and drove in 4. Cale Iorg and Jeremy Laster had 2 hits each.

South Bend 6 West Michigan 1
Roger Tomas went 2 for 3. Casper Wells hit a solo homer for the only Caps run. Jon Kibler allowed 4 runs on 6 hits in 7.1 innings while fanning 8 and walking none.

Freddy Dolsi? Really?

Freddy Dolsi cr Roger DeWittThe curse of Jason Grilli? A couple days after the Tigers had to clear a spot in the bullpen to make room for Francisco Cruceta the Tigers place Denny Bautista on the DL with the ambiguous shoulder tendinitis. He’s expected to be able to throw again in a week. Just ask Fernando Rodney about those timetables though.

Freddy Dolsi will take his place. If you ask many fans of the Lakeland Flying Tigers they would tell you that Dolsi would fill Grilli’s role in the bullpen nicely. But his numbers at high A weren’t bad last year with a 7.7 K/9 rate and only 17 walks in 51.2 innings as their closer. He has 4 innings of experience above Lakeland though so this is still kind of a surprise despite the favorable impression that Dolsi made in spring training.

Beck’s Blog: Bautista DL’ed, Dolsi called up

And then there was one, or maybe two

Todd Jones 3-13-08
Todd Jones pitches a 1-2-3 inning against the Braves
Credit Roger DeWitt

That would be spots available in the seven man bullpen. Jim Leyland ended some of the speculation today by announcing that Todd Jones, Bobby Seay, Tim Byrdak, Jason Grilli, and Zach Miner were locks. The ambiguity now surrounds Fernando Rodney and his health. A healthy Rodney would of course be a part of the plan, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Of the aforementioned locks, the first 3 weren’t a mystery in the least. Grilli was also fairly assured of a spot because he’s a Leyland favorite. But Zach Miner wasn’t a given in my mind. Not that Miner isn’t deserving, but that his option status afforded the team some flexibility that Denny Bautista, Yorman Bazardo, and Francisco Cruceta couldn’t. And while it would really be a blow for Miner to go to Toledo, there’s a very strong likelihood that injury or ineffectiveness would lead to a call-up at some point.

Given that Cruceta hasn’t even made it into the country yet, he of course has to be considered a very long shot at this point. However, his visa struggles could play to the Tigers advantage in that he could probably clear waivers while MIA.

With Rodney likely to start the year on the DL, it will give the Tigers a chance to take an extended look at Bautista and Bazardo. Neither could be sent to the minors without clearing waivers. Officially Preston Larrison and Aquilino Lopez are still in the mix, as is Freddy Dolsi. But it wouldn’t make practical sense to take them at the expense of risking the loss of some valuable bullpen depth.

Other stuff

Good news for Tigers pen?

Given the rash of bad news with injuries, shellackings, and visa problems hitting the Tigers bullpen, today was a nice change.

  • Denny Bautista continued to pitch well. He went 2 scoreless innings with 4 K’s and is going to be hard to leave behind when the team heads North.
  • Jordan Tata, who wasn’t a strong candidate for the pen but would be counted on for depth, received news that he should be able to start throwing again in 3 weeks.
  • Yorman Bazardo and Jason Grilli also turned in strong performances today. Granted it was one day, but it’s better than a kick in the teeth.
  • Clay Rapada, another long shot arm for the pen but also a depth guy, threw a bullpen session. It was the first time on a mound since the 2nd week of camp.

The less good news had to do with Todd Jones. While no one seems worried, a lack of arm strength is pretty troubling. It sounds like he’s confident he can build up the strength, but what if he can’t?

I’ll leave you with a happy thought though. Rick Porcello looked very good, save for one breaking ball that floated over everyone’s heads. He got into the proverbial kitchen of a few guys in his 2 innings of work and nothing was hit hard against him. It’s the first time I’ve seen him on the mound save for still shots, and he doesn’t look like a guy fresh out of high school.

Bullpen woes spawn trade talk

Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Tigers bullpen headaches have the team talking trade. Morosi notes that there have been “general discussions” with the Cubs. Chicago has become a favorite trading partner of Dombrowski with the two clubs completing five trades during DD’s tenure.

Morosi notes that the Cubs may be interested in a right handed hitter who could play center. Like maybe Inge. There is the Alan Trammell factor and a recommendation from the bench coach could come into play.

MLB Trade Rumors throws out the name Ryan Dempster as a potential target. Dempster will turn 31 and make $5.5 million this year, so for 2008 anyways the salaries would work out. Dempster fanned 7.43 per 9 innings last year while walking 4.05 per 9 and posting a 4.51 FIP. In other words he’s a poor man’s Jason Grilli (7 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 3.85 FIP). Well, with some saves.

As for the current bullpen candidates, well, umm, yeah:

  • Matt Mantei’s arm went pop and he’s retiring and was released
  • Fernando Rodney threw for the first time today in a couple weeks. He made 15 throws from 60 feet. But that doesn’t provide a lot of hope at this point given his history.
  • Francisco Cruceta still hasn’t made it into the country.  At this point I wonder if the Tigers could get him through waivers.
  • And Todd Jones was rocked today for 6 runs in an inning.  But that’s probably less of a concern at this point.
  • At least Denny Bautista has looked good in his limited time with 3 scoreless innings.
  • I find it interesting that Yorman Bazardo has only thrown 1 inning. I thought he’d be a strong candidate to make the team given his option status.

The Full Pen

We’ve taken a look at how the Tigers may, or at least how we think (and by we I mean I and the people who agree with me) they may fill out their bench. The bench is one of the few areas of ambiguity in terms of the roster. The other area is the bullpen.

Unlike with the bench, there aren’t too many assumptions to clarify. The only tenet is that the pen will most likely have 7 pitchers and I don’t think that is really up for too much debate. The only way I see that deviating, and even then it’s not very likely, is if Vance Wilson is injured and Brandon Inge serves as the super-sub and back-up catcher and Leyland carries 8 bullpen arms.

Here’s a quick stratification of the options:

Sure Things: Todd Jones and Fernando Rodney.
Not quite sure things but pretty likely: Bobby Seay and Tim Byrdak
Everyone else: Danny Bautista, Yorman Bazardo, Francisco Cruceta, Jason Grilli, Matt Mantei, Macay McBride, Zach Miner, Clay Rapada, Jordan Tata
Maybe in August: Joel Zumaya

The sure things aren’t really worth discussing, at least not now. And while the nomenclature of “sure thing” and Todd Jones may be tough to swallow, he is a lock in terms of his roster status. Byrdak and Seay would probably have to pitch very poorly or very injured this spring to not make the team. Both lefties had solid campaigns last year and Leyland likes carrying 2 southpaw options.

As for everyone else, we’ll go in alphabetical order. Looking at the circumstances, option status will likely to be the driving factor in how the last 3 members are chosen. Eddie has done an excellent job writing up an Options tutorial as well as looking at what those implications could be for the Tigers.
Continue reading The Full Pen