Winter Meetings Day 4

The last day of a very active winter meetings for Tigers fans is upon us. A look at what took place yesterday and what may take place today follows.

This should be old hat by now, but here are all the ways to keep up with the Winter Meetings at DTW.

Fien, Dolsi cut

A couple of bullpen candidates have been trimmed from the big league camp. Freddy Dolsi was optioned to Toledo and Casey Fien was assigned to minor league camp. Fu Te Ni was also assinged to minor league camp.

The Fien move is a little surprising because he has pitched so well this spring, but as a young player not on the 40 man roster the Tigers may choose give a veteran like Juan Rincon a shot first. Of course Perry is in the same boat, young player not on the 40 man roster, but he’s also a first round draft pick.  Still I think Fien’s assignment means Rincon in particular is in a good position.

With Venezuela eliminated from the WBC, I’d expect some of the surplus outfielders to be cut very soon as well. Wilkin Ramirez is likely in the next round of cuts. After that it gets interesting between Clete Thomas, Ryan Raburn, Brent Clevlen, and Jeff Larish.

Pondering Pen Possibilities

While the performances of the Tigers starters have been fairly unremarkable this spring, things are better at the back end of games. It looks like there are actual battles taking place, and in the favorable sense.

Brandon Lyon, Fernando Rodney, and Bobby Seay are locks for the pen leaving four spots open. Zach Miner is also a pretty solid bet, enough to pencil in at least. That leaves three spots open.

Continue reading Pondering Pen Possibilities

The Call-Ups

It’s September 1st, so it’s the annual rite of infusing of rosters with up and comers and AAA fill-ins. The Tigers announced their round of call-ups. They include: Dusty Ryan, Mike Hessman, Dontrelle Willis, Chris Lambert, Clay Rapada, and Freddy Dolsi.

Dolsi had some nice moments this season, is already on the 40 man roster, and could be a piece of the bullpen puzzle next year. He gets more evaluation time and can pitch some innings as the starters continue to falter. Ditto for Rapada.

Lambert is also a slam dunk, seeing as the Tigers will need to keep him on the 40 man roster if they are inclined to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Plus they need a 5th starter and they get a closer look at him.

Dusty Ryan has a legit shot at being the back-up next year, and like Lambert will be on the 40 man roster anyways. He’ll probably get a start or two before heading to the AFL.

Hessman hit a lot of homers and struck out a lot (139 times in 396 ABs). But he also plays a solid third base and the Tigers don’t have their regular third baseman. Chances are Hessman will be removed from the 40 at the end of the season.

As for Willis, who knows what will happen. He’ll pitch a simulated game tomorrow. But given his forearm issues, I don’t know if he’ll contribute anything.

As for the guys left out, Mike Hollimon, Brent Clevlen, Casey Fien, and Francisco Cruceta would seem to have been candidates. Hollimon struggled mightily once being sent back to AAA seeing his average drop to the low .200s. Fien and Cruceta were probably victims of roster machinations. Fien wouldn’t need to be added to protect him from the Rule 5, so it makes sense to defer his possible promotion to next spring. Clevlen is probably the biggest surprise. He will be out of options next year, and while he slumped late (.645 OPS in August) it wasn’t to the extent that Hollimon suffered.

Junkballing: Booing, Injuries, Waivers and Minors

A hodgepodge of all the stuff that went down this week that just didn’t fit anywhere else:

Much ado about a boo

A lot of disgruntled fans did a lot of booing this week. Gary Sheffield received his share when culmination about frustration with his production collided with Sheff being Sheff. That was noisy, but not too surprising. Sheffield responded somewhat, and was still a little misguided.

“Compare me to me,” Sheffield said. “If you’re looking for .300, 30 [home runs] and 100 [RBIs], then I look pretty awful right now. I ain’t the only .220 hitter in this game. I ain’t the last one to hit .220, but it’s never a big deal when a lot of guys that play everyday, hit in the same spot everyday, and hit .220 and nobody says a thing.”

But Gary, you’re getting paid to be you and that’s the problem. You’re not being paid to be a .220 hitter.

But there was more booing. Joel Zumaya bore the brunt of it when he and Bobby Seay blew a 3 run lead. Zumaya, who said it felt like his shoulder exploded, wasn’t a fan saying

“I think it’s pretty lame,” Zumaya said. “I give it everything I’ve got.”

Bobby Seay didn’t appreciate it either.

I’m not a fan of booing. I understand it, but it’s not something I do. That said I don’t know that the booing was directed specifically at Zumaya and specifically at the outing. But it was general frustration with the bullpen crapping the bed again.

Oww, my aching…

The medical staff has been busy, but it seems like everything has been reactive. Todd Jones hits the DL after getting destroyed repeatedly. Joel Zumaya hits the DL after blowing up. It’s reminiscent of Jeremy Bonderman’s situation last year. I understand players wanting to play through things, but how many times once the team suffer for a player trying to gut it out.

But then you’ve got the other side where in that previously linked Sheffield article he said he was hurting, his trainer said he’s doing too much, but the organization said he was fine.

“I’m just going to give it to you straight,” he said. “When the organization tells you that you’re fine, I can’t say I’m not fine. I have to be on the same page as the organization. That’s just the way it goes.

“I talked to my trainer, and he said, basically, what I’m doing is unrealistic. That’s what he said. I said, ‘Why won’t anyone say that on my behalf? Why do I always have to come up here and defend me?’ And he just said, ‘Be realistic with yourself.’ That’s all I needed to hear. After that, I felt good about walking on the field. I have no extra incentives to play hurt.

I don’t understand it.

Jeremy Bonderman will be rejoining the team this weekend, but to rehab and likely not play.

And speaking of injuries, Marcus Thames is expected back in a day or two, as is Carlos Guillen who is dealing with a pinched nerve in his back. And Freddy Dolsi was optioned out to Toledo to make room for Todd Jones who is back. Though his role hasn’t been decided. Dolsi will likely be back when rosters expand.

Waivering

Gary Sheffield cleared waivers. Shocking. The bigger news is that the Tigers put in a claim on Raul Ibanez. Corner outfield/DH doesn’t appear to be a need for the Tigers so I can’t figure out the intent unless they hoped to get him for free, and then take the draft picks when he walks. Luckily they didn’t work out a trade that would have had the Tigers sending the Mariners anything of value.

Minor interest

The Tigers have had some good news in their farm system this year from some unexpected sources. And it’s getting some press. Wilkin Ramirez is a high ceiling guy that has had his progression and production limited by injuries. But he’s putting it all together this year earning this assessment from a scout:

“He has power, on-base skills, and don’t forget that he’s a 60 [on the 20-to-80 scouting scale] runner as well. His defense is adequate, but I think he’s the kind of guy who is an everyday corner outfielder on a first-division team—he could be pretty special.”

Also in the same article are some kind words for James Skelton, though scouts still can’t decide if his slight frame is an issue.

Another catcher making noise is Dusty Ryan. Tigs Town recently profiled him.

With the Tigers concerns at the catching position heading into 2009, Ryan will have a wonderful opportunity to enter Spring Training with a chance to impress and earn a big league job.

Finally, Ryan Strieby has been destroying the Florida State League.

Is Freddy Dolsi the new sexy?

Editors note: This post has nothing resembling well reasoned analysis. This is simply the author’s enthusiastic response to two recent plate appearances. The views and opinions expressed below do not represent those of the more logically based billfer that normally resides in this corner of the internet. He’ll be back tomorrow.
Freddy Dolsi by Samara Pearlstein

Did you see what Freddy Dolsi did today? Dude comes in with the sacks loaded, the go ahead run standing at the plate, and only one out in the 8th inning. Dolsi, anagram-ically nicknamed Freddy Solid by frequent DTW commenter Chris in Dallas, fell behind Jhonny Perralta 2-0. He battled back into a full count. And then came the heat. A 97 mph fastball right down the middle. It’s the type of pitch that Rod Allen labels “here it is, hit it” but there would be no hitting it today sir.

With two outs, now some of the pressure is off. But Dolsi is amped up. Three more fastballs down the middle to Ben Francisco and Dolsi had himself back-to-back K’s. This one was a called strike where Pudge comes rocketing up out of his crouch before the ump even calls strike 3. It was beauteous.

As I type this Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney are throwing another rehab outing. Soon, someone will have to go down and I think Dolsi isn’t eager to go anywhere.

Yes, the Indians hitters helped him out by not really having good at-bats, but Dolsi gets some of that credit doesn’t he?

And yes, coming into today he’d allowed 12 hits and 7 walks in 12 innings. And there was that time he didn’t call time out and Toriii Hunter stole second. And there was the time he air mailed an intentional walk ball for a wild pitch. And there was the time he didn’t cover first base resulting in a walk-off infield single (hey, it’s starting to sound like that billfer guy snuck back in here). Some of those things might undermine his sexiness as well as the Freddy Solid monicker. But today he was sublime so for now I will bask in the warm glow of his 9 fastball, 2 K outing.

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