Questioning the IBB

In my opinion these are the hardest losses to swallow. On a night when the team had to have been tired they really did battle. They fought against a closer with an electric arm and tied up a game in the 9th. But then there was a failure. A failure of execution and of strategy. A game where it seems like the manager let his team down.

I wish that Fox Sports Detroit did a post game with Jim Leyland because I’d love to know the thinking in walking Ryan Garko to get to Nelson Cruz. I don’t always agree with Leyland’s decision making process, but I can usually see his side. In this case I don’t really see another side at all. I’m dumbfounded. Given the effort his team gave him in the top of the 9th, they deserved better.

Perhaps I’m making too much of the IBB. The win expectancy only went down 1% for the Tigers. It was actually the smallest WE event of the inning.

Of course Leyland wasn’t the one who walked Justin Smoak, or Nelson Cruz for that matter. Fu-Te Ni’s control has been poor this season (8 walks and 2 HBP in 6 innings). Ryan Perry has to make a better pitch with 2 strikes to Elvis Andrus. If Perry comes in and doesn’t get Garko out, I don’t have a beef with the manager. In this case though it seems like Leyland walked right into what Ron Washington wanted.

The downside is that I spent 3 paragraphs lamenting negative instead of talking about the top of the 9th inning, which was terrific. The at-bats were all solid. Don Kelly fanned but it took 7 pitches. Ramon Santiago had a 13 pitch at-bat that resulted in an out but had to certainly wear on Neftali Feliz. Austin Jackson was determined to not strike out for a 4th time and put the first pitch in play, and Johnny Damon fought off a couple pitches before getting a bloop hit. And of course Magglio Ordonez with the line drive to right to tie the game. Great stuff that should be remembered.

And we haven’t even mentioned Brennan Boesch’s debut which saw him hit a double and a single (and later make a baserunning mistake). We haven’t mentioned Max Scherzer who went 7 innings and fanned 7 in a quality start. There was quite a bit of good in this game, and the players deserved the same from their manager.

  • It’s a quality start Scherzer because one of the runs was unearned and was the result of a charged error when Alex Avila used his mask to corral a ball.
  • Avila did gun down both attempted base stealers.
  • Scott Sizemore had a rough night at the dish with 3 uncomfortable looking strike outs. A pinch hitting appearance by Don Kelly may have spared him the sombrero.
  • Ordonez looked a little off balance at times on the west coast, but he reached base 4 times.
  • Miguel Cabrera’s 5 game double streak came to an end, but Austin Jackson’s 16 game strikeout streak and Johnny Damon’s 10 game hitting streak are still intact.

Is it time for Ni-Lyon?

Bobby Seay, the Tigers primary lefty out of the pen is hurting. Gerald Laird called for trainer Kevin Rand to visit the mound after he saw something amiss in one of Seay’s pitches last night. Seay didn’t immediately leave the game, but he did after allowing a single to Travis Hafner. Now Seay is on his way to the MRI machine.

Seay, part of the Seay-Lyon tandem who have been so efficient at turning leads over from the starter to Fernando Rodney is likely unavailable today and until the results of his MRI are back is status is uncertain.

Fu-Te Ni is the only other southpaw in the pen. Ni has done a very nice job and is one of the more underrated signings from the offseason. It’s likely that Ni would continue to hold his own in an elevated role. He’s only allowed 2 of the 25 runners he’s inherited to score and the opposition is hitting .196 against him. But as is often the case, it’s the cascade effect that is more worrisome.

The Tigers will likely add another lefty to the pen, and as Kurt points out that will most likely be Clay Rapada. Rapada doesn’t seem to have earned the club’s confidence, but he will likely fill in as the early LOOGY.

Junk Balling – All Star break edition

A pile of links on the eve of the All Star break…

If you find yourself a little bored with the Tigers game today, you can always flip over to ESPN and catch Scott Sizemore, the lone Tigers representative in the All Star Future’s game. With Polanco on the last year of his contract and Sizemore hitting a combined 300/392/508 line between Erie and Toledo it’s reasonable that he may be the Tigers second baseman next year. But Keith Law doesn’t seem to be that high or low on him.

With Brandon Inge making the All Star team he will earn a $25,000 bonus. Really. Given Inge’s career can you imagine that as a negotiating point? Granderson will also get $25K. There’s no mention of what happens if Inge wins the home run derby but the consensus seems to be it doesn’t mess up your swing.

Galarraga carries the bag - screen grab from Sports Center

Before Armando Galarraga got knocked around on Saturday night, I was ready to explore a theory about the good luck charm that is the High School Musical backpack. It’s the backpack that the relievers carry out to the bullpen full of treats and snacks and such and it is the responsibility of the least tenured rookie. Well, Fu-Te Ni has had the bag and he’s pitched well, and then in the 16 inning game Armando Galarraga was the only man in the pen and had to carry it back, and followed it up with his best start. But Ni had a run charged to him last night and Galarraga had 4 so there goes that theory.

The interesting thing about Fu-Te Ni is that he seems to move around on the rubber when he faces righties as opposed to lefties. I’ve wondered why more pitchers wouldn’t do this.

Carlos Guillen is set to begin a rehab assignment. He could equate to a mid season trade if he can return and be productive. I’d hope the Tigers aren’t pinning al their hopes on Guillen, but it does make sense to take a look before giving up too much for a bat.

Rick Porcello won’t pitch in the Yankees series after the All Star game. Luke French, Justin Verlander, and Edwin Jackson will start in the Bronx. Porcello’s next start hasn’t been announced. But he is blogging now.

Nate Robertson to DL, Ni called up

Nate Robertson was placed on the DL today (retroactive to the 27th) with a mass in his elbow. Fu Te Ni had his contract purchased. A hearty DTW shout out to East Windup Chronicle which had the Ni call up story before everyone else.

Tigers to Call Up Ni Fu-te |

UPDATE: The mass appears to be a cyst that is causing numbness. He’ll be examined this week in Detroit.

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.

Tigers sign Fu-Te Ni

The Tigers have turned to the Pacific Rim to bring in another reliever candidate (yeah, here’s the nearly as confusing translated version). Fu-Te Ni is a lefty reliever from Taiwan. What we can ascertain, thanks in large part this comment and this post from East Wind Up Chronicle, that he will be starting in AAA.

Commentor Yu-Hsing Chen did all the lifting on this on, including digging up some YouTube-y goodness:

Ni is 26 and from the above video his fastball appears to top out at 87 mph. It looks like he has a breaking ball that sits in the mid 70’s. It appears that he had garnered some interest from the Mariners as well. Ni is billed as The Taiwanese Okajima.

This is the second Taiwan signing for the Tigers in the last 2 years with Chao-Ting Tang debuting in the GCL this year.