Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fun With Numbers

I was checking out Yahoo's page on the Tigers and they had some interesting numbers that I hadn't seen yet from last year. This led to me looking at other unusual stats and whatnot from the team...unusual meaning not Nate's ERA or Inge's batting average. Here's a few that stood out to me in no particular order.

.472: The OBP of opposing hitters against Verlander when he's over 100 pitches. (In his case, that usually means the 5th or 6th inning.)

.464: Batting average of opposing hitters against Verlander when he's behind in the count.

25: Home runs by Brandon Inge the past two seasons combined. He hit 27 in 2006.

.323: Opposing batting average against Edwin Jackson in the first inning.

17: Batters that Dontrelle Willis faced that got a 3-0 count against him. All 17 walked.

160: Games played by Miguel Cabrera last year to lead the team. Maggs was second with 146 and Polonco and Granderson tied for third with 141. Thanks, Miguel.

5: Homeruns by Mike Hessman in only 27 at bats. That's a dinger every 5.4 at bats. Give him a chance.

7: RBIs by Hessman. Get some guys on for him, too!

9: Strikeouts by Hessman in 27 at bats. Sigh.

28: Homers allowed by Galarraga to lead the team. Nate was second with 26. Too bad we quit letting him start.

0: Homeruns allowed by Clay Rapada last year in 21.1 innings pitched. The only other guy to pitch for us last year to not allow any homers? Yorman Bazardo didn't give up any in his 3 IP last year. He did, however, have a 24.00 ERA in those 3 innings.

3,202,645: Home attendance of the Tigers last year. A team record. That's a lot of pissed off people.

1: Complete game by Verlander to lead the team.

2.07: K/BB ratio of Galarraga to lead the team.

71: Walks to lead the team. The leader? Granderson, of all people.

12: Granderson's steal total...again, the team leader, somehow.

8: Times Inge got hit by a pitch to lead the team. Opposing players don't like him either.

27: Times Magglio hit into a double play to lead the Tigers. I thought that was Gary and Renteria's job.

6: Blown saves by Rodney. Zumaya had 4 in his limited time. Hideki Okajima and JJ Putz lead the AL with 8. Strangely enough, K-Rod had 7.

135: The best ERA+ of any guy to pitch in a Tigers uniform last year. The guy? JASON FREAKIN' GRILLI! Second? Denny Bautista with an ERA+ of 134. Man, we sucked last year.

Finally, our records against the AL Central. 6-12 vs. the White Sox. 7-11 vs. the Indians. 7-11 vs. the Royals. 7-11 against the Twins. No wonder we finished last. We only had winning records against three AL teams. We were 4-2 against the Yankees. 7-3 against the Mariners. Finally, 6-3 against the Rangers. We went 13-5 against the NL.

Enjoy Spring Training kids. We're finally here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ranking the AL Central...Again

Last month, I took a quick look at the AL Central and played optimist for once deciding the Tigers had the most impressive team in the division based on current rosters. But boredom does weird things to me and I decided to try and evaluate each team, position by position, and assigning a ranking to each team. For example, the team with the best second baseman would get 5 points, second best 4 points, down to the worst guy earning his team 1 point. It's not the greatest method to determine who has the best team, but ya know...I suck at math. Let's see how it works out. Here's each team's players at each position with how I ranked them in order.

CATCHERS: 1) Martinez/Shoppach, Cle, 2) Mauer/Redmond, Min, 3) Pierzynski/Stewart, Chi, 4) Olivo/Buck, KC, 5) Laird/Treanor, Det

We're not off to a good start as the Tribe has, quite simply, the best catching duo in baseball. Mauer's a stud in Minnesota with Redmond being a more than capable backup. A.J., while being a prick, has been a solid part of the Sox. Olivo and Buck aren't great, but they've been more solid than Laird and Treanor. More importantly, perhaps, our guys have never worked with this pitching staff before, with the exception of Treanor and Dontrelle Willis' time in Florida.

FIRST BASE: 1) Morneau, Min, 2) Cabrera, Det, 3) Konerko, Chi, 4) Garko, Cle, 5) Jacobs, KC.

Miggy's a monster for us, but Morneau just edges him at this point in my opinion. And while Konerko's getting older, Garko is going to lose time at first as the Indians will probably play Martinez there to get Shoppach more at bats.

SECOND BASE: 1) Polonco, Det, 2) Cabrera, Cle, 3) Casilla, Min, 4) Callaspo, KC, 5) Getz, Chi.

By far, the weakest position in the Central. Polonco's the clear winner here. However, the Royals have been talking with free agent, Orlando Hudson. That could change things.

THIRD BASE: 1) DeRosa, Cle, 2) Gordon, KC, 3) Inge, Det, 4) Buscher, Min, 5) Fields, Chi.

Learn to hit, Brandon. You've had long enough. Losing Joe Crede to free agency hurts the Sox here as Ozzie Guillen has publicly said that he's not sure Josh Fields is the answer at thrid base for them. DeRosa, hopefully, won't be the Tiger Killer than Casey Blake was, but he's the cream of a weak crop at third in the Central.

SHORTSTOP: 1) Ramirez, Chi, 2) Peralta, Cle, 3) Aviles, KC, 4) Punto, Min, 5) Everett, Det.

Peralta and Aviles are a close call. And Adam Everett chose to wear #4. He'll have a career ending injury by June 1st.

LEFT FIELD: 1) Quentin, Chi, 2) DeJesus, KC, 3) Guillen, Det, 4) Young, Min, 5) Francisco, Cle.

Quentin would have won the MVP last year if he hadn't gotten injured. And if you've ever seen The Big Lebowski, you know that you do not f--- with DeJesus. Carlos hasn't really played outfield before, but he's a better hitter than Little Dmitri and Francisco.

CENTER FIELD: 1) Sizemore, Cle, 2) Granderson, Det, 3) Gomez, Min, 4) Crisp, KC, 5) Owens, Chi.

Please, Curtis. Prove me wrong here. I hate Grady Sizemore.

RIGHT FIELD: 1) Dye, Chi, 2) Ordonez, Det, 3) Choo, Cle, 4) Cuddyer, Min, 5) Guillen, KC.

Jermaine Dye scares me to death every time he comes to the plate. The only guy that's scarier to me than him is Jim Thome. Choo may have a breakout year in 2009, but Maggs is still ahead of him for now.

DH: 1) Thome, Chi, 2) Hafner, Cle, 3) Sheffield, Det, 4) Kubel, Min, 5) Butler, KC.

Yep. Thome's one scary mofo. A nice guy, though, if you've ever met him. As for the rest, an injured Hafner or Sheffield is much scarier than Jason Kubel or Billy Butler.

ACE STARTER: 1) Lee, Cle, 2) Buehrle, Chi, 3) Verlander, Det, 4) Liriano, Min, 5) Meche, KC.

This is one tough group to rank. I can't see Cliff Lee repeating last year's success. Buehrle and Verlander...you never know. Liriano and Meche could easily become 1 and 2 by year's end.

#2 STARTER: 1) Greinke, KC, 2) Danks, Chi, 3) Carmona, Cle, 4) Slowey, Min, 5) Galarraga, Det.

Zack Greinke is Rod Allen's favorite pitcher for a reason. Danks is underrated and so is Slowey. Carmona could be an ace if he gets consistant. And Armando? Do it again, brother. Do it again.

#3 STARTER: 1) Floyd, Chi, 2) Baker, Min, 3) Bonderman, Det, 4) Bannister, KC, 5) Reyes, Cle.

Floyd's head and shoulders above the rest of these guys in my opinion. Now if Jeremy could stay healthy and throw a changeup...

REST OF ROTATION: 1) Minnesota, 2) Kansas City, 3) Cleveland, 4) Detroit, 5) Chicago.

Blackburn and Perkins could be #3 guys anywhere in the division except Chicago. That's why the Twins get the nod here. Davies and Hochevar are underrated in KC. Pavano and Laffey are question marks for the Tribe, but they're better than Detroit and Chicago's guys. We've got our mess of Jackson, Willis, Nate, and Minor. And Chicago has the ghost of Bartolo Colon and Clayton Richard rounding out their rotation. Big ups to the Twins at the back of the rotation. However, if Knapp is a miracle worker, we could move up here.

CLOSER: 1) Nathan, Min, 2) Soria, KC, 3) Jenks, Chi, 4) Wood, Cle, 5) Lyon, Det.

It's kinda sad to see what the rest of the Central has closing games compared to us, isn't it?

BULLPEN: 1) Cleveland, 2) Chicago, 3) Minnesota, 4) Detroit, 5) Kansas City.

Betancourt, Lewis, and Perez anchor one of the best bullpens in baseball for the Indians. The Sox aren't far behind with guys like Dotel, Thornton, and Linebrink. Guerrier, Breslow, and Crain could go either way for a questionable group in Twinkietown. Our guys suck. But the best guy in KC is The Farns, so I gave us the slight edge over the Royals.

BENCH: 1) Minnesota, 2) Cleveland, 3) Detroit, 4) Chicago, 5) Kansas City.

The Twins can start any guy off the street and he'll produce. Span and Tolbert proved that last year. The Tribe has solid guys like Carroll, Barfield, and Dellucci that can give the starters a rest and not lose much. Santiago, Thames, Raburn, and company are average for us. The Sox have a bunch of kids and Wilson Betemit. KC has a group of disappointments like Teahen, Shealy, and Bloomquist on the bench.

And finally...I promise...

MANAGER: 1) Gardenhire, Min, 2) Leyland, Det, 3) Guillen, Chi, 4) Hillman, KC, 5) Wedge, Cle.

Sure, they're not players, but managers do have an effect on the game. Gardenhire may be the best in the game at getting production out of players. I'm got Jim second, barely ahead of Ozzie. Ozzie's slightly crazier than Leyland and loses a point for it. Hillman hasn't had time to show much, but I think Eric Wedge is the worst manager in baseball. Most of my Indian friends agree.

FINAL SCORE
Chicago: 65
Cleveland: 57
Minnesota: 56
Detroit: 47
Kansas City: 40

Ugh. Not pretty if you're a Tigers fan. I'm actually surprised that the Sox came out so well in this, since I thought they had lost the most this offseason. Granted, this is all based on last year's production. Things can change...and I hope they do. Othewise, it's going to be a long year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adam Everett: Horrible Person

How dare you, Adam?

I know powerful people. I know seedy people. In fact, I AM a seedy person. With the exception of putting up Brandon Inge-like numbers at the plate or Nate Robertson-like numbers on the mound, there is only one thing...ONE THING...a Detroit Tigers player can do to turn me against them.

You do NOT take the number 4 as your uniform number.

Bobby Higginson, for reasons that make little to no sense, is my favorite baseball player of all time. No, I am not a teenage girl. But Bobby was my guy, for better or worse. You do not take his number...you never know. He might want to come back.

Look what happened to Cameron Maybin. He took #4. I placed some sort of weird voodoo curse on him and he got shipped off to Florida. Adam, you have injury problems...why would you bring this upon yourself?

There may still be time. Get another number. Tell them it was a mistake. I will take back my initial support of your signing and have you sent to Mongolia in a pine box...or worse...Pittsburgh.

Mr. Ilitch are I are old friends. Remember...you brought this on yourself.

Then again, if you hit .330 and win a Gold Glove, it's all good. And when that happens, Bondo will have the best changeup in the league, pigs will fly, and Rodney will wear his hat straight.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Perfect World

So, I'm back from South Carolina. What a wonderful place. People are nice. There's so much to do. The weather was wonderful. The bars are amazing. Restaurants were cool...you get it. And now I'm back to cold, rain, and gloom. Poor me. But it was perfect for a few days.

So, here's a crappy transition...in a perfect world, what could we hope to get out of the bullpen this year? (Told ya it was crappy.) Last year's mess of Lopez, Rodney, Jones, Fossum...basically everyone but Bobby Seay, was a nightmare. This year, we've added Brandon Lyon to (maybe) be the closer. Rodney's in a contract year. Zoom's getting healthier by the day. Seay is back. Dolsi has a year under his belt. Things are looking up (if you don't count Nate, Dontrelle, etc, sigh).

But imagine this. Imagine if we could find some guys dirt cheap to fill out the pen. Guys that could be dominating. Guys that could put up numbers like this.

20-13, 2.66 ERA, 255 K's, 233.1 IP
and
20-19, 2.89 ERA, 327 K's, 280 IP

Well, I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. Those numbers are Juan Rincon's from 2004-2006 and Scott Williamson's from 1999-2002. Sure, since then, they've either stopped taking steroids and/or been hurt, but giving these guys a shot for minor league deals seems like it's worth the chance to me. Rincon's only 30 and Williamson turns 33 next week, so it's not like they're old, washed up guys. Well, not old, anyway.

And if they are, help is on the way. We may not have much in the minor league cupboard in terms of position players, but there's a decent group of pitching talent that could be the next Bobby Jenks, Joba Chamberlain, or Joel Zumaya to make an impact out of nowhere. Ryan Perry, I'm looking at you and your friends.

Being generally the most negative person that I know, it seems odd to me that I'm so optomistic about the 2009 season. The rest of the Tigers' blogosphere seems to still be pretty down on the team after last year...and rightfully so, I guess. Expectations are very low. But I'm thinking that they can't possibly repeat the dreadful performances of 2008. They've made more improvements than any other team in the Central this offseason, especially on defense. And with the core of Granderson, Ordonez, Polanco, Cabrera, Verlander, Bonderman, and yes, the return of a finally healthy Gary Sheffield, I think we are the favorites in our division. Screw the Twins, Tribe, and Sox. I'm not impressed.

Maybe it was getting a whiff of baseball weather in Charleston, but I'm excited about baseball again. Which is cool, since after starting 0-7 last year, my excitement level has been pretty low. 25 years after 35-5, Bless You Boys, and the World Championship, it'd be cool to do it again...

...in a perfect world, I guess.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Beck Makes No Sense Again

A few days ago, Jason Beck decided to torment me again.

DETROIT -- The returning Tigers starting pitchers are at the center of most of the questions. The one new starter can quietly settle in.

I disagree. How will Carlos Guillen adjust to left field? Will he be healthier out there? What about Inge at third? Will being moved back to his favorite position help his bat? Does Adam Everett still have it in the field? Can HE stay healthy? Can Polonco produce enough to be signed to an extension? Will Laird and Treanor be solid fits behind the plate and with our pitching staff? Where will Marcus Thames get at bats? Is Sheff healthy? When will #500 come? You get the point.

Will Zach Miner, Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis take the fifth spot? Can Robertson and Willis find their old form? Is Jeremy Bonderman really healthy? How can Justin Verlander avoid a repeat of last year?

What's the deal with Edwin Jackson? The answer to that one, at least, is not much, really.


You sound like Jim Leyland giving a vote of confidence to Fernando Rodney with that one.

Coming off a relative breakthrough season, he's quietly looking to build off of that, even though it's coming in a different city.

Breakthrough season, huh? 199 hits allowed in 183.1 innings pitched. 77 walks and 108 strikeouts. 4.42 ERA. Breakthrough.

"Me, I'm trying to be the person who just picks up slack," Jackson said. "A good pitching staff, there's a slack there, where one person does a good job, then the next person gets it done. That's what it takes to win ballgames."

No sarcasm intended here...I hope that someone in the Detroit clubhouse writes that down. That, or gets us a good pitching staff.

In comparison to past Tigers acquisitions, Jackson was relatively anonymous as he walked through Comerica Park on his various stops for TigerFest.

Give it time. The death threats will come in time. And if he's really bad, maybe some barely literate smartass will start a blog with his name in it.

He doesn't have nearly the stardom that Willis and Miguel Cabrera brought into town a year ago, or Gary Sheffield the year before that, or the track record of Kenny Rogers in 2006.

Yeah...it would have been a lot cooler if he'd have attacked a cameraman before coming up north.

Yet on a Tigers squad that struggled to piece together a five-man rotation by last season's end, Jackson could be one of its more important pieces. After being left off the Rays' postseason rotation last year, he comes to Detroit with a rotation spot in hand and a role to play. No career comebacks or turnarounds or vaults to stardom; the Tigers need consistent innings.

Notice anything there, kids? He has a rotation spot in hand...consistent innings. He was left off the Rays' postseason rotation...in his "breakout year". This is almost as scary to me as the words, "Bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the 9th, Tigers down by 1, and here comes Brandon Inge to the plate."

Jackson has the stuff to provide that if he can carry over his progress from last year. He might have some of the best stuff on the staff.

What's that line from the movie "Waiting"? Oh yeah, "That's like being the smartest kid with Down's Syndrome". Dan Petry today could have been our #3 starter last year. Our staff had no "stuff" last year.

He is just now starting to make it work for him. Five years have passed since Jackson was the teenage phenom making his Major League debut with the Dodgers as a September callup, yet he's just 25 years old. Since then, he has had his share of struggles, high ERAs at Triple-A, passes-over in the Dodgers' rotation, a trade to the Rays for two relievers, a half-season in Tampa Bay's bullpen and a 15-loss induction to the Majors in his first full big league season in 2007.

I am so happy that we gave us a promising, left-handed, slugging outfielder for this guy.

The reward came last year, when his season was arguably a microcosm of the Rays. He topped his career high with six victories by the end of July, and ended up with more wins than his previous five Major League seasons combined. His 4.42 ERA was his lowest for a season, Majors or Minors, since '03.

Jason, you're better than this. Wins mean jack squat as far as pitching stats go. Jackson had absolutely nothing to do with how many runs the Rays scored for him last year compared to other years. Guys that pitch on teams that score a lot are going to have more wins. Is it a guy's fault if he has an ERA of 2.24 but his team averages 1.3 runs per game for him? Say my imaginary friend goes 9-11 with that 2.24 ERA. Is he worse than the guy that goes 15-8 with a 5.29 ERA? Of course not. Wins are a team stat that matters...not a pitcher's.

Yet the results and the pitching didn't necessarily go hand-in-hand. He was 5-6 at the All-Star break, but with a 3.93 ERA and an average of better than six innings per start. His innings dropped and ERA rose in the second half, yet he won nine of his 13 starts.

Thank you for proving my point.

He had his share of damage. The key was not to let it unravel his outing. Sometimes, it worked. Compared with the .281 batting average he allowed overall, he lowered that to .262 with runners in scoring position, .242 in those situations with two outs. That helped overcome a .373 on-base percentage allowed to leadoff hitters.

Yes...letting the leadoff guy get on. Something he has in common with, oh I don't know...EVERY pitcher on our staff. No wonder DD wanted him.

"I think it was composure," Jackson said. "It's hard to keep your composure, especially when you're at a high level of competitiveness. When the game gets that fast, you have to slow it down mentally. That was the biggest key to getting out of big situations and not letting innings snowball."

Imagine that. Major league baseball isn't easy. If only the good ones were paid an outrageous amount of money to do it...oh yeah. They are. Quit whining and throw strikes.

A consistent mid-90s fastball to go with a slider, curveball and changeup gives Jackson the chance to dominate games when he has his command, though he fell into a fastball-slider combination last year.

Hooray. See "Bonderman, Jeremy".

Of his 15 quality starts, 11 were six innings or longer with one earned run or less. He allowed a lone run over 20 1/3 innings in a three-start May stretch against the Blue Jays, Yankees and Cardinals.

The flip side was seven outings with six earned runs allowed. When it came time for Tampa Bay to set its postseason roster, Jackson was left off the American League Division Series roster against the White Sox, then put in the bullpen for the AL Championship Series and World Series.


Inconsistant and unreliable. This is our new #3 starter, people...using his "breakout year" as an example. Kill me.

There's more, but it's pretty boring. I know things are slow, but I used to like Jason Beck's stuff. Lately, he's just been terrible. At least make a bit of sense, okay?

Anyways, kids, enjoy the cold weather. I'm off to South Carolina for a week. Take care.