The week that was

Things have been very quiet here at DTW lately. While it wasn’t my intention for things to go dark here, when it’s a one person gig sometimes life gets in the way. Fortunately life will be out of the way this coming week so my winter meetings coverage should be pretty robust and very timely. In the mean time I’ll use this post as a way of catching up on everything that got neglected.

Continue reading The week that was

Arbitration offers for Lyon, Rodney

The Tigers decided to offer arbitration to relievers Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney, but not to take the risk with second baseman Placido Polanco. We didn’t really learn too much by these moves that we weren’t already expecting. If nobody were offered it may have signaled that the Tigers were as poor as everyone speculated. If everyone were offered it would either mean the Tigers weren’t really financially restricted or that Scott Sizemore’s injury wouldn’t allow him to be ready. Instead we’re somewhere in the middle.

The good news with Lyon and Rodney is that the Tigers stand to gain high draft picks if either player is signed by another team. If they accept arbitration the Tigers will have a couple relievers on one year deals for about $5 million apiece. However, Dave Dombrowski doesn’t expect either player to accept but he also didn’t rule out signing either player. With Lyon in particular I could see the team willing to sign him to a 2 year deal.

With Polanco it is one of those tough decisions, but one that is right. Polanco was part of the renaissance of baseball in Detroit and was an easy guy to root for. He played hard, never complained, and was remarkably steady. And while he was probably overrated by many fans for his batting average, he was the guy I felt most comfortable with at the plate in a key situation (yes, I know his career .307 BAISP isn’t appreciably different than his overall .303 BA it is still a pretty good clip and the fact that he’d find a way to put the ball in play made me “feel” better).

But for a change the Tigers actually have a position player prospect poised to take over a position of need in Scott Sizemore. He isn’t being rushed or pushed up for a spark or as an injury replacement. Scouts feel he can hit at the big league level now and his minor league numbers show he can transfer his tools to production.

Now the decision to let Polanco go is different than the decision to offer him arbitration. By not offering him arbitration Polanco will not fetch the team additional draft picks. The lack of a compensation pick also makes Polanco much more attractive to potential suitors. So when he ultimately signs a 2-3 year deal with someone, there will be complaints that the Tigers missed out. The complainers though have to realize that Polanco’s market shrinks with a compensation pick attached and that multi-year offer likely wouldn’t be there.

Tigers and the looming arbitration deadline

The Tuesday deadline for teams to offer their departing free agents arbitration is approaching. The Tigers have three cases that are garnering some attention in Placido Polanco, Brandon Lyon, and Fernando Rodney.

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Polanco gets some Gold Love

At least one Tiger is assured of some post season hardware. Placido Polanco won his second Gold Glove for excellence in the field of fielding. Polanco had a very fine defensive season and he was one of a handful of players (Mark Ellis, Dustin Pedroia, Aaron Hill) who were deserving at second base.

Polanco was the only Tiger to notch the honor. Gerald Laird was deserving at the catcher position and Brandon Inge could have made a case to be in the discussion at the hot corner. Joe Mauer and Evan Longoria took home the award though at their respective positions.

But back to Polanco’s candidacy. Rob Neyer wasn’t a fan of the choice grouping Polanco with Derek Jeter, Torii Hunter, and Adam Jones as the players that the voters “flat out blew it.” I’m not really sure how Polanco fits in that group. Polanco fared well on both conventional fielding metrics (only 2 errors) as well as the more advanced measures as Detroit Tiger Tales summarizes. Using most objective measures Polanco was a legitimate winner so I don’t know what Neyer is exactly looking for.

As an aside, props to Tigers MLB.com beat reporter Jason Beck who referenced Polanco’s UZR number in his story. It’s great to see the mainstream guys helping to go to the newer stats and it’s the only way that these will gain more traction.

Free Agent Filing Begins

Now that the World Series is over the 15 day free agent filing period is underway. The period gives teams an “exclusive” negotiating window in which players can talk to other teams, but not talk contract parameters. So we won’t know exactly what will happens with the Tigers quartet* of impending free agents for awhile, except that they will go through the procedure of filing for free agency.

Steve Kornacki of Mlive did some catching up with a few of the possibly future former Tigers and got their thoughts on returning.

Fernando Rodney would like to stay in Detroit but is looking for a 3 to 4 year deal. It’s safe to say that he won’t get a 3 or 4 year deal from anyone (maybe 2 years with a club option for a 3rd) so that doesn’t really clear things up.

Of course the Rodney situation is in some ways tied to Brandon Lyon’s status. Understandably Lyon would like some clarification on what his role would be if he were to sign with Detroit.

Continue reading Free Agent Filing Begins

The Dombrowski Presser

Dave Dombrowski met with the press today and fielded questions for about an hour. Jaosn Beck, Tom Gage, and John Lowe had it covered. There is enough there to warrant about 6 posts worth of further explanation. But until that happens…

Miguel Cabrera

Dombrowski had a range of emotions about the situation, many were negative, but it wasn’t the first time he’s been in this situation in his 20 years as GM. It’s not surprising that he believes Cabrera will take the necessary steps. As for the question on whether he should have played Saturday night, that gets a little more gray. The response was:

“First of all, you have some legalities that are involved. You probably should know the rules when it comes to the Basic Agreement (the collective-bargaining agreement between the clubs and the players union).

“Secondly, we thought he was capable of going out there and playing.”

I admit to knowing nothing about the rules involved when a player has been drinking and is scheduled to play. I will say the answer was somewhat evasive in that they “thought” he was capable of playing. There was no comment on whether they thought they made the right decision.
Continue reading The Dombrowski Presser

The Weekend Trade Rumor Roundup

It’s that time of year when trade rumor talk is through the roof. Combined with the Tigers recent struggles, I know this is top of mind stuff for many. I don’t do a lot of trade speculation here, mostly because I’m too lazy to conjure up potential deals. However, I do know this is a hot topic so please use this space to discuss things. Below are a couple of my thoughts on who the Tigers shouldn’t give up, as well as some links to current-ish rumors.

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Tigers Minor League Wrap 6/16/09

Toledo 3 Scranton/WB 7
Brent Clevlen went 3 for 4 with a homer. Brooks Brown (with him pitching tonight he won’t make Dontrelle’s next start for Detroit) allowed 5 runs on 3 walks and 7 hits in 4.1 innings. Freddy Dolsi pitched 3 innings (are they stretching him out for Miner’s role?) and allowed 2 hits and fanned 2.

Erie 0 Portland 5
Erie only managed 3 hits. Casper Wells had one of them. Jonah Nickerson allowed 4 runs in 7 innings on 9 hits, 0 walks, 2 homers, and 3 K’s.

Lakeland 0 Charlotte 1
Chris Carlson and Santo De Leon each had 2 hits. Thad Weber deserved better after giving up just 1 run on 5 hits, no walks, and 6 K’s in 7 innnings.

Fort Wayne 3 West Michigan 7
Gustavo Nunez and Brandon Douglas each had 3 hits. Nunez also had 3 stolen bases pushing his season total to 33. Jordan Lennerton homered. Luke Putkonen lasted 5 innings and surrendered just 1 run on 4 K’s, 3 walks, and 6 hits.

Scott Sizemore

Tigers 2nd base prospect was promoted to Toledo on Sunday. Take 75 North provided some depth and background to the move and shows that it was definitely warranted and Sizemore has positioned himself as the top 2nd base prospect in the system. Beyond that, I read this as a fairly significant promotion as it relates to the big league club. This will give the Tigers 6 weeks to see what Sizemore can do at AAA prior to the trade deadline. Making a decision on 6 weeks of data is shaky, but Sizemore does have a decent track record beyond that. Sizemore’s and Polanco’s performance over the next 6 weeks, and possibly the season, will likely dictate whether or not Polanco is offered a contact for 2010.

Fun with the Bill James leaderboards

The Bill James Handbook is always one of the first baseball books to come out each year. It’s not a riveting narrative by any means and it consists largely of tables of numbers. But there are always some interesting pieces and there seems to be something new every year. Last year it was the Young Talent Inventory. This year it is a bullpen analysis. They sit alongside managerial stats, baserunning stats, and the Fielding Bible awards. But one of my favorite sections is the leaderboard.

I’m not going to copy a bunch of leaderboards for you here. That might be kind of tedious and boring for everyone, and it would definitely be a copyright violation. But I will point out some Tiger related items that are either interesting, or surprising, or noteworthy.

  • Despite coming back from a horrific shoulder injury, and ending the season early, Joel Zumaya still let the AL with 18 pitches thrown over 100MPH. Brandon League was next closest with 4. Fernando Rodney even managed 2 over the century mark.
  • Speaking of fastballs, Justin Verlander’s 93.6 average was 6th in the AL and Kenny Rogers’ 85.2 MPH heater was slower only than Tim Wakefield’s.
  • Armando Galarraga threw a slider 38% of the time which was the highest rate in the AL.
  • Despite Verlander’s struggles, his .377 slugging percentage against was good enough for 8th best.
  • Rogers and Nate Robertson both ranked in the top 5 in GIDP/9. Just think how bad things would have been if they hadn’t had so many twin killings.
  • Edgar Renteria was 4th in SS pivot percentage. Renteria also had the 2nd highest batting average against left handed pitching with the 7th highest batting average at home. If only the Tigers faced lefties at home more often…
  • Curtis Granderson continued his maturation by taking the 8th highest percentage of pitches and seeing the 5th most pitches per plate appearance.
  • Placido Polanco struck out less per plate appearance than anyone else in the AL, but it didn’t help him in run production where he had the 8th lowest RBI percentage (5.96)

How much of the offenses success is attributable to Granderson and Leyland

In a recent blog post for The Freep, Jamie Samuelson wondered about the impact that Jim Leyland’s tirade and Curtis Granderson’s return to the lineup had on the team’s recent success (this was written on Friday morning before the Twins games). In fact he said:

Look, the odds were that the bats would come around. But sorry, you just can’t ignore the tirade and the centerfielder as having some impact. I’ll leave it to the stat gurus to figure out the why (I’m sure detroittigersweblog.com is at it as we speak!) Maybe Polanco feels less pressure with Granderson in front of him, or with Granderson on base.

I wish I could deliver the stats like Jamie suggested I could. But there simply isn’t the data to prove or disprove the value of the rant or the cascade effect of Granderson on the rest of the lineup. But that won’t stop me from opining.
Continue reading How much of the offenses success is attributable to Granderson and Leyland

Injury roundup

Man I’m getting tired of adding to the injury lists. Gary Sheffield and Placido Polanco were both out of today’s lineup. Polanco was actually out of Canada and back in Detroit to get his back examined. It sounds like Sheffield is close behind him to get his shoulder looked at.

Gary Sheffield hadn’t been hitting early on, but he’d still been getting his walks and has 12 for the season. But on Friday night he looked too much like the Sheffield from last August. He fanned 3 times and was chasing pitches out of the strike zone. His line drive percentage is only at 11% (he’s normally in the 16-18% range) and he’s hitting infield flies at an alarming rate of 36.8%. Unfortunately a DL stint looks inevitable at this point.
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He looks good, he’s happy, and other reports from spring training

Imagine if the players turned the tables on the beat writers during spring training and wrote stories about the beat writers.

“The official reporting date wasn’t until the 14th, but he was down here a couple weeks ago getting ready.”

“You can tell he was really working out this offseason. His vocabulary has grown as much as his forearms. Both are the product of intensive typing.”

“He’s excited to be down here. You can hear it in his voice when he talks about how excited he is to get to work.”

“As the new guy on the beat, he’s still trying to get a feel for his fellow media members, but he seems to be fitting in great.”

“As a 6 year veteran, and the only remaining beat writer from that awful 2003 team, it’s clear that he’s a leader in and out of the locker room and the other guys look to him for cues.”

“He’s excited to try out the new language he was working on over the winter. By adding Spanish to his repertoire he should really have an advantage over the competition. If he can gain confidence in it, it could be what he needs to push him from beat writer to elite columnist.”

I kid of course, especially on a day when there is so much news coming out of camp.
Continue reading He looks good, he’s happy, and other reports from spring training