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.

Friday’s Bloops and Blasts

A bunch of stuff that I should highlight or comment on that I just haven’t gotten around to doing so I’ll let others do it for me:

  • Ian drops the hammer on Dontrelle after yesterday’s debacle. I give Ian credit for coming strong (damn, I sound like Jim Rome). I’ve yet to comment because while I’ve watched the replay, I still can’t even digest what happened. So take it away Ian: D-Train Disaster: Red Sox 6, Tigers 3 – Bless You Boys

    Congratulations, Dontrelle. You pitched well enough in the first four years of your career to get a $29 million contract. You benefited from a career-worst decision by a general manager and owner who felt they needed to push their team through an open championship window before it closed. You got to cash in on a 22-win season that took place four years ago. Kudos to you, sir. But this has been a massive failure. Seriously, man – you and the Tigers should be done professionally.

  • Here is a look at Edwin Jackson’s Success Through Pitchf/x. It’s one of those posts that I’ve been wanting to do. It looks like the slider has more down action this year than last. (h/t Bless You Boys)
  • The folks at It’s Just Sports just relaunched their blog, and I was honored to be part of the Better Know a Blogger feature this week.
  • The Tigers recent struggles have people wanting change. Kurt takes a rational look some of the options the Tigers may have
  • And from the Good News department, Rick Porcello was AL Rookie of the Month and Justin Verlander took him the AL Pitcher of the month honors

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

Edwin Jackson’s 132 pitches

Edwin Jackson threw 132 pitches to help the Tigers complete a sweep of the Texas Rangers. Pitch counts and the hubbub around them are fodder for controversy. I tend to favor caution in these scenarios but am willing to consider each game on an individual basis. Who was the pitcher? What was the game state? Is there an off day coming up? How much rest is he pitching on? What is the pitcher’s injury history? And on and on. I don’t think there is a simple answer to the right number of pitches, but today Jim Leyland left Edwin Jackson in too long. I worry if this is going to be a pattern in 2009.

Let’s look at today’s game and analyze the situation. Jackson had an extra day of rest having last pitched on Friday. His pitch count was also a manageable 97 pitches in that last start, well at least it seemed manageable. But don’t forget there was a rain delay that lasted over an hour and Jackson pitched on both sides of that delay meaning he threw extra pitches in the cage. His workload was actually higher that game than the 97 pitches would indicate.
Continue reading Edwin Jackson’s 132 pitches

The one where I admit my wrongness: Edwin Jackson edition

Back in December 2008 the Tigers completed a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that sent Matt Joyce to the Rays for Edwin Jackson. I wasn’t a fan of the trade, and those who read the post titled “Tigers set to send talented outfielder to Tampa for guy who throws hard” may have picked up on my displeasure. This is where I say I’m wrong.

Jackson has pitched better than I ever would have anticipated. He was credited with a breakout year in 2008 when he notched 14 wins, but wins and losses don’t really measure breakouts. His walk rate certainly improved, but he struck out fewer than 6 batters per 9 innings. His K/BB ratio was well under 2. Based on his career he looked to be a number 4 starter coming into 2009. That combined with Joyce’s potential, and other issues like contract status and years of service caused me to pan the deal.

Continue reading The one where I admit my wrongness: Edwin Jackson edition

The one about the bullpen last night

Gut wrenching losses are good fodder for second guessing (and page views). My thoughts and perspective on what happened last night (some of these may sound like a defense of decisions made or not made, that’s not necessarily the intent).

1. Why take out Edwin Jackson, he was pitching awesome? Edwin Jackson had been pitching awesome, until he lost his control. For those that hate pitch counts as a reason to pull a pitcher, you should love this decision. Clearly the 89 pitches weren’t the issue. It was the fact that after peppering the strike zone all night he started falling behind hitters.

2. Why only one batter for Bobby Seay? Leyland was playing platoon advantages. Look at the righties coming up after Snider. There wasn’t a lefty in sight. Seay did his job.

3. Why not Ryan Perry then? The popular belief is that this was too much of a pressure situation for a debut. I don’t believe it, and I don’t think Leyland does either. When Zumaya debuted it was in a hold situation. He’s not afraid of that at all. And really, if Perry comes in a blows it then how many question why he was brought into a pressure situation to debut? A ton. Most questioned when Rodney and Zumaya were brought into pressure situations when first returning last year, and they’d faced those situations before. No. The real reason was because at the moment Leyland views Lyon as his second best reliever behind Fernando Rodney.

4. Why use your second best reliever in such a high leverage situation? This is the better question, and one that stat heads have been hammering on managers for for years. But if it’s not the 9th you can’t use your closer for some reason.

5. Why leave Lyon out there in the 9th? I’ve got nothing. This was stupid. Even if you let him start the inning, when he continues to struggle why not go get him. Ridiculous.

Did Porcello make the team?

Lynn Henning has been writing about Rick Porcello daily, basically imploring Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski to take him north. In fact it’s the only story he’s been writing about. (although I haven’t written about much either so I’m not really ragging on him for this). Well in this afternoon’s piece Henning says:

Fans are nervous. Fans are excited. Rick Porcello is coming to town, as near as we can tell today, as part of Tigers manager Jim Leyland’s rotation.

Is this Henning speculation or fact? I have to believe it’s more the former than the latter. Porcello is clearly outperforming Robertson/Willis/Miner and is healthier than Bonderman. And if the season started next week I think the Tigers would take Porcello over the other options. But last I looked it’s March 13th and the season doesn’t start until April.

Why would the Tigers make this decision now? With Robertson and Willis on multi-year contracts there is no money to save by ending the competition now. Both will have several more chances to earn a spot and Porcello will have several more chances to demonstrate his readiness. It all seems premature.

Add in the fact that there is no Leyland quote about this and the other beats don’t make mention of it, and I think this is an informed guess as opposed to breaking news.

In other rotation-y news though, Jason Beck notes that the rotation order is lining up for the regular season with Justin Verlander starting on Opening Day (no surprise) and Edwin Jackson pitching game 2. And Jon Paul Morosi notes that there is no more slack remaining in Jeremy Bonderman’s schedule if he’s going to be ready for the first week. Most years the Tigers could get by with four starters the first week or two, but with the team playing 10 straight days there is no flexibility.

Tigers get 4 under contract

The Tigers inked 4 of the 5 arbitration eligible players today. Gerald Laird ($2.8), Edwin Jackson ($2.2), Bobby Seay ($1.1) and Joel Zumaya ($733,000) are all in the fold. Missing from that list is Justin Verlander.

Verlander is the only one of the group likely to be in the mix for a long term deal. It’s also something he may not be eager to sign in the worst offseason for contracts in recent memory, and coming off a season when his numbers were down.

Verlander and the Tigers exchanged numbers and Detroit is offering $3.2 while Verlander is asking for $4.15. It’s a very manageable difference and I’ll guess they settle somewhere around $3.8.

I have updated the salary chart and the team looks to be at about $117 million at the moment.

Tigers ink four, ponder Verlander terms | tigers.com: News

Winter meetings end with a bang (my head against the wall)

Things started out so promising with the acquisitions of Gerald Laird and Adam Everett. And they end so disappointingly with the loss of James Skelton and Matt Joyce. To be fair the Skelton thing was set in motion weeks ago when the Tigers chose not to protect a young athletic lefty catcher with a 416 career minor league OBP.
Continue reading Winter meetings end with a bang (my head against the wall)

Tigers set to send talented outfielder to Tampa for guy who throws hard

I‘m having a hard time even writing about the rumored deal that will send Matt Joyce to Tampa for Edwin Jackson. Joyce might flame out, but Jackson has yet to even burn.

Jackson has a fastball that averages in excess of 93 MPH. That’s fast, but he doesn’t seem to fool a lot of people with a K rate last year that was lower than Nate Robertson’s. At least he made up for it by walking 77 hitters in 183 innings. Marcel projects him to have a FIP ERA of 4.64 which is a considerable improvement over the 4.89 he’s posted over the last 2 years. Jackson is also a flyball pitcher meaning he won’t benefit from the new left side infield defense. Jackson will only be 25, but he is out of options.

In exchange the Tigers surrender a their most promising left handed hitting prospect. A solid defender who posted an .831 OPS as a 23 year old making his big league debut. He’s blocked, sort of, this year but has 2 options left. And his being blocked is contingent on the health of Carlos Guillen and Gary Sheffield. In essence he was only going to be blocked in 2009 and even then it’s questionable.

I don’t know how Jackson fits in, whether he will be a starter or reliever. Oh yeah, and he’s eligible for arbitration. Good luck Rick Knapp. I don’t get this one at all.

DRays Bay loves this deal, as they should.

UPDATE: This is official as Friedman and Dombrowski have met with the media. Joe Hamrahi of Baseball Digest Daily was in there and posted these notes in his twitter feed.

So his role as starter or reliever is undetermined.