Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Defending Gary

With Sheffield gone, I'd say that 90+% of the reaction that I've seen has been positive about it. And as much as I like and respect all of the guys and gals that make up our little Tiger blog community...I just don't get it at all. Sure, the guy could be a jerk, but you just want to let him walk with $14 million and get nothing for it? People are actually happy about this, but not me.

"But Rogo, he's old and sucks." Gary is getting old. I agree. But he's better than anyone else we have to replace him. Old Gary is better than Young Marcus, Young Clete, Young Ryan, Young Jeff, and Young New Guy From The Braves. See below.

"But Rogo, what about Thames? He can play every day now!" I like Marcus. He's a great guy, probably second to only Granderson in the "great guy" department on the team. But just compare an injured Gary Sheffield to a healthy Marcus Thames last year.

Sheff: .225, 19, 57, .326 OBP, 83 K's, 418 AB's.
Thames: .241, 25, 56, .292 OBP, 95 K's, 316 AB's.

Healthy Thames has more power than an injured Sheffield. But he gets on base less and strikes out a hell of a lot more. More importantly, Gary is healthy this year, finally. Those numbers are going to get a lot better. And how many times have we tried to trade Thames now? There's a reason no one wants him. He's Rob Deer with a great tan.

"But Rogo, Sheff has sucked this spring. So what if he's healthy?"

Gary's hit .178 with 3 homers and 5 RBI's this spring. Thames has hit .171 with 2 homers and 4 RBI's. But, Sheffield has LEAD THE TEAM in OBP this Spring (.387) in guys with at least 45 plate appearances. Only Laird and Granderson have had higher OBP this spring. (.409 and .424) But Gerald has only had 43 plate appearances and Curtis has had 30 in a Tiger uniform. Gary had 58. Yes, he only hit .178. But did he see a friggin' pitch all spring with Magglio, Miguel, Carlos, and Curtis playing WBC ball? No. And he still made it on base 39% of the time with a team leading 13 walks. (Larish was second with 9)

"But Rogo, now we can get Magglio, Carlos, and Cabrera time at DH and play other guys!" What was stopping this before? Was anyone expecting Sheffield to play 162 games this year? Play him 110 games and keep him fresh. Rest Maggs and the other old men the other 52 games. So what if he complains? A healthy, angry Sheffield with something to prove in a contract year would have been great to see in an Old English D. And now we'll have to see it in another uniform.

Gary Sheffield might be a jerk and Marcus Thames might be a saint, but if I'm trying to field the best baseball team possible, I'm going to play the best player I have...not the nicest. Especially if I owe him $14 million whether he plays or not.

Good luck, Gary. At least we can retire #3 now.

Sheff, We Hardly Knew Ye

Bondo and Zoom are on the DL again. Dontrelle's crazy. Nate's Nate. Many sportswriters are picking Detroit to finish last again. Rough start before the season even starts. At least we've still got Gary's #500 to look forward to this year, right?

Nope. Gary's been released. Sheff Haters are high-fiving each other as I write this. My initial thoughts? Not a fan...two reasons.

1) We're on the hook for $14 million. That's a lot of cash to let walk away for nothing. A year ago, if you told me that by next season Pudge and Sheff would be gone and all we'd have to show for it was a couple crappy months of The Farns? I'd be looking for Randy Smith with his hand up a DD puppet.

2) I understand that Gary hasn't been great in Detroit. He's old. He's been hurt. He hasn't hit well. But the man gets on base. He walks a ton. And we haven't had a chance to see him healthy yet, until this year. Along with Cabrera and Maggs, he's the guy other teams wouldn't want to face. Thames, Larish, Josh Anderson, or Super Clete...those guys can't affect a game by just standing in the batter's box like Sheff can.

I hope Larish turns out to be great. And if it's Marcus getting a chance, I wish him well. He's a good guy and I like hearing Rod talk about Marcus' grandmother. But throwing $14 million out the window to find out what we have is a gamble that I wouldn't have taken.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

DD's Mistake Kills The Pen

Rotoworld points this out to me. In yesterday's game, Fernando Rodney blew a two-run lead in the eighth and Brandon Lyon gave up a run to lose it in the ninth. Now, if the pen keeps pouring gas of the fire this year like it did last year, they point out the huge extensions that were given to Nate and Dontrelle after crappy 2007 seasons by our friend, Double D. $7 million to Nate and $10 to Dontrelle this year alone...for what? Looking like crap? Imagine who we could have gone after for the pen with that money. Instead, we have dumb and dumber (with a crooked hat) anchoring our pen. Combined, they have given up 19 runs (13 earned) and 28 hits in just 17 innings this spring. Again...what could we have done with that money?

Instead, this is what Nate is doing with his "hard earned" money.



Yes...I know this is nothing new. I just wanted an excuse to show this ridiculous photo. Thanks to Derek for sending it to me.

I hate this team...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

George Kell 1922-2009

George Kell Pictures, Images and Photos

Normally, I'd leave an obituary-type piece to someone more qualified and stick to my usual brand of poop-joke-humor, but without George Kell, who died in his sleep last night, I'm not sure that I would be the baseball fan that I am today.

Kell was a ten time All-Star that despite his close association with the Tigers, only played for them from '47-'52. He started with the Philadelphia A's from '43-'46, went to Boston after Detroit from '52-'54, next went to the White Sox from '54-'56, and ended in Baltimore from '56-'57. He hit over .300 nine times and retired with a lifetime batting average of .306 with 78 homers, 870 RBI's, and 2054 hits. In 1949, Kell denied Ted Williams his third Triple Crown by barely taking the batting title the last week of the season at .343. Late in his career, he took a liner to the face off the bat of Joe DiMaggio that broke his jaw. Kell said about it, "I got up, made the play at third, then passed out." That's a ballplayer. George was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983 by the Veteran's Committee.

After his playing career, Kell became a broadcaster, and that's where in 1985 a fat 8 year old kid in Toledo, OH with the attention span of a gnat discovered him and the Detroit Tigers on his television one day. Kell, I guess, wasn't what you'd call a great play-by-play man like Vin Scully, Ernie Harwell, Jon Miller, or whatever, but he had a down-home charm that I can't really explain when he called a game. He and Al Kaline educated me to the game and I truly came to love baseball and the Tigers listening to them call the action. When he retired some years back, listening to a game just wasn't, and still isn't, the same to me.

Thank you, George Kell. You were one of a kind.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pretend This Dog is a Marlin



...and you'll know how today's Spring Training game went. I've never even heard of a Spring Training no-hitter.

Two positives...

1) At least it was our B-Squad.
2) Verlander, Rincon, and Williamson looked good again.

'Til our next adventure...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Another Nate Article

From the must-be-getting-bored-again-writer, Jason Beck at the Tigers site the other day...

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers asked Nate Robertson to pitch more left-handed, as they put it.

No kidding. He's been throwing right handed? That would explain why he sucks so bad! Silly Nate!

Taking a few examples from prototypical lefty Kenny Rogers was a pretty good place to start.

Ahh, but which lesson? Pushing a cameraman? Pitching with tar on his hand? No...sadly it's the one where you keep pitching when you have nothing left in the tank.

"Maybe I'm learning about what you do after you throw a thousand innings in the big leagues," Robertson said.

What's that, Nate? Become the worst starting pitcher in the majors?

Statistically, Robertson picked up where he left off from his last outing by tossing four more scoreless innings, scattering two singles on Friday against the Nationals.

Yet, realistically, he was pitching against the friggin' Nationals. The Nats who have one good hitter, Adam Dunn, and he's in the WBC. His last outing was against the Astros, whose hitting this Spring has resembled that of my last place finishing Little League team that I was on when I was 10.

From a pitching standpoint, however, it was a little different performance.

Not an abortion of an outing for once?

He was still the aggressive Robertson, but he mixed his mode of attack from inside to outside and back. He mixed his pitches and sequences in a way that kept the Nationals tentative, rarely squaring up a ball that came out of his left hand.

Almost like a REAL pitcher!

The results seemed more like Robertson circa 2004 or 2005. He struck out five Nationals, three of them on called third strikes, and walked one batter when he couldn't finish off Elijah Dukes with a 1-2 count in his final inning.

In 2004, he was 12-10 with a 4.90 ERA. In 2005, he was 7-16 (!!!) with a 4.48 ERA. Why bring up those years, Jason, when you're trying to make him look good? Next time, use 2006...the only year he hasn't been a trainwreck.

Those four innings required just 52 pitches, low enough that manager Jim Leyland sent him out to the bullpen to throw 10 more pitches and finish out his afternoon rather than start him into the fifth.

Way to not push your luck, Jimbo. Next time, make him throw 5 more pitches followed by a half hour of pilates!

"I sure as heck had a lot left in the tank," Robertson said.

Nate followed with such dated gems as "Golly, gee!", "I tell ya, I love these fellas!", and "Well, that was a sure sticky situation! Ha, ha ha ha...". "Sure as heck"? Ugh...I hate this team. Higgy would have punched him in the crotch if he were still around.

Leyland essentially said afterwards that Robertson's success was legitimate.

Leyland also thinks 3 packs of Marlboro Reds a day keeps the doctor away.

"You can throw badly and still get good results," Leyland said. "Today he threw real good and had good results."

I did a post the other day about old Sparky Anderson quotes. There will be no Jim Leyland words of wisdom posted on this site anytime soon.

At least 15 of Robertson's strikes were called, six of them on the first pitch of the at-bat among the 14 batters he faced. Three others made contact on the first pitch and flew out. That meant a lot of working ahead in the count for Robertson.

Working ahead. Who'd a thunk it? Now if only that idiot Verlander was maybe watching...

Once he got ahead, he put some of his lefty thinking to work, mixing up his locations rather than simply pounding hitters inside.

Lefty thinking. As opposed to righty reacting? What? Does Randy Johnson do lefty thinking? Beck's hitting the pipe...I'm sure of it.

"I've been a guy in the past that's worked inside a lot," Robertson said. "But when you can open up the inside by showing them what you're going to do away, then you can make it relatively easy. I was able to just come in and get back out there, come in and get back out, and throw a slider off of it from time to time."

No, Nate, you've been a guy that leaves mistake after mistake over the plate and they get hammered 400+ feet into the upper decks of stadiums across the country. If you could hit the inside corner with any consistancy, we wouldn't be having this "exciting" 5th starter battle.

Robertson struck out the side in the opening inning, including two batters after Nick Johnson's double put a potential early run in scoring position for Washington. Ryan Zimmerman took three strikes, including a four-seamer inside for the second out, before Dukes went down swinging on a slider.

Can you imagine what it must be like to be a Nats fan when Nate Robertson makes you look bad at the plate? Wait...Nats...Nate. Oh. That's funny.

When the Nationals lineup came back around in the third, Robertson put up back-to-back called third strikes on Lastings Milledge and Johnson. Against Johnson in particular, Robertson adjusted from throwing the fastball that resulted in a first-inning double down the right-field line. Once Robertson put Johnson in an 0-2 count, he threw back-to-back sliders and got him looking.

Mixing up pitches. Again. Almost like a real pitcher. God bless Gerald Laird and Rick Knapp. If they pull off this miracle...oh, by the way, even though he's terrible, Lastings Milledge has the coolest name in baseball. Even better than Elijah Dukes.

If that seems more like another Tigers left-hander, it isn't coincidence. After pitching coach Rick Knapp talked to Robertson about more of a typical left-hander's approach, Robertson gave Rogers a call earlier this week.

Kenny proceded to yell at Nate for twenty minutes about ruining naptime after Matlock and giving 40+ year old pitchers a bad name by being compared to them by scouts.

More than simply a discussion of pitching, though, Robertson talked with Rogers about the challenge of competing for a job in camp as a veteran.

"Here's a guy that's found his way for many years," Robertson said. "His encouragement to me was just if you have confidence in knowing that you can go out there and get outs, and you've got the opportunity in the first place, that's all you can ask for."

Good idea, Nate. Ask the 2nd worst starter in the majors last how he did it. Plus, you're like 10 years younger than him.

In past years, Robertson could work on a pitch or an approach without having to worry about the results, since his rotation spot was safe. Now, he doesn't have that luxury, and back-to-back solid outings probably isn't going to decide anything yet.

What about last year? When he was moved to the bullpen? And with his contract, he's guaranteed a spot. Plus, all he has to do is outpitch Dontrelle "I'll take 3 Big Macs, 2 large fries, and a Diet Coke" Willis for the starting job.

"The fact of the matter is, the plane's flying out of here in less than two weeks, and here we are," Robertson said. "There's no answers yet. I know that at least my luggage will go back to Detroit. I have a home there."

Or if they really want to make a point, Toledo's only a 45 minute drive from there. I'd love to see you at 5/3 Field, Nate. Plus, AAA hitters are only a little bit better than the Nationals. You'd do well.

That said, his performances over the past week surely help his chances. Among the starting pitching candidates not named Rick Porcello, Robertson has by far the strongest stats. Since Angel Berroa hit a three-run homer off of him in a wild two-inning stint against the Yankees on March 8, Robertson has a seven-inning scoreless streak going with three hits and a walk and six strikeouts.

(cough) AstrosandNationals. Bigf'ndeal. (cough)

Leyland said Thursday that he's free to talk with players if they're worried about their status, but he doesn't have a whole lot that he can say. Robertson isn't likely to do that. If he had a confidence dip towards the end of last season, it isn't apparent now. He said after his last outing that he saw this as his job to lose, and he carried himself like someone who wanted to take the job now.

I'm better than Willis or Miner. Wheeee! C'mon, how much can Pedro really be wanting? Give him an incentive deal, Double D!

"To me, the confidence is there that I can pitch," he said. "I'm going to be successful at this level. In my mind, I know that I can do that.

I'm good enough, smart enough, and doggonnit, people like me.

Finding the strike zone wasn't necessarily the problem last year.

Yes it was. That or throwing it right down the middle at 87 mph.

It was when the ball [was] in the strike zone, what the ball was doing.

Leaving the park?

When those guys are swinging and missing like that, they're not recognizing pitches, then I'm getting my stuff back to where I want to be."

That...or you're playing the Nationals.

Friday, March 20, 2009

You Know I Can't Resist This One...



Big, BIG, thanks to Stephanie for this. Nice job.

Anyhoo, Jayson Stark reports that an unnamed AL Scout says that Nate "pitches like he's 40 years old. No life whatsoever. His stuff has gone backward across the board."

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever, EVER heard.

Nate does not pitch like he's 40. Jamie Moyer, Randy Johnson, Kenny Rogers in '06, Greg Maddux, that juicehead Clemens, etc. Those guys were/are 40+ and pitch(ed) great.

Nate pitches like he's at least 50. And crippled. And blind. I blame the pilates.

I'm rooting for Dontrelle or Miner...

...and Timo.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Answering The Big Questions

With around two weeks left in Spring Training, we still haven't answered the three main questions we had going into camp. Who's the fifth starter? How's the bullpen going to shape up? Who's going to be on the bench? Why/how did Nate, Dontrelle, and Inge get those contracts? Wait...that's four. Scratch the last one.

5th Starter

So, we've got Verlander, Bonderman, Jackson, and Galarraga set. Not very intimidating, I know. Plus, there's questions about all four of them that have been documented over and over. But who's the fifth guy? The candidates? Zach Miner, Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis, and Rick Porcello.

My Choice: Pedro Martinez (or Miner)

Probable Choice: (sigh) DesigNate

It's going to be Nate or Dontrelle. Too much money to just write off. They've both looked bad, but Nate's been slightly less horrible. Where does Dontrelle go from here? The bank, I guess.

Zach should probably get the nod. He hasn't been great, but his track record, to me, is better lately than the others. Rick needs a year in AAA before I want him up with the big club. I still don't know if Bondo has completely recovered from being thrown to the wolves when he was 20 years old. But Zach and Rick are righties and I can see Detroit wanting to take one of the southpaws up north to start the season. And Pedro? No chance in hell. Just throwing it out there...

Bullpen

Brandon Lyon, Fernando Rodney, and Bobby Seay are set. Zumaya would be set, but he's more fragile than an 80 year old woman and we don't know if he's going to start the season on the DL. Assuming Zoom is healthy, (I know, I know) that leaves three more spots in the pen. The spooky kids in question (assuming Nate's a starter)? Willis, Miner, Kyle Bloom, Clay Rapada, Macay McBride, Juan Rincon, Scott Williamson, Freddy Dolsi, Ryan Perry, and Casey Fien. So...who's coming with me?

My Choices: Rapada, Rincon, Perry

Probable Choices: Willis, Miner, Rincon

Zach and Dontrelle are in. I can't see any way around it due to contract issues. And Rincon's been reborn with Rick Knapp this spring, so far. I hope they would lean that way over Dolsi, who's not ready yet, in my opinion.

Perry's ready, though. I'd love to see them give this kid a shot. He reminds me of Zoom before he became a punchline. Rincon, I mentioned. And Rapada? I just like him as our second lefty. He's the only guy that didn't give up any homers for us last year. And yes...I'm the one that was gushing over the signing of Williamson. I was desperate for anything at that point. But Scott's been okay and I'm happy to have him as a Mud Hen in case something happens. And if Zoom's on the DL to start, I take him to the big club just to spite everyone.

Da Bench

Mr. Misty May is the backup catcher. Santiago's the infielder. Thames is the outfielder. That leaves a spot between Jeff Larish, Ryan Raburn, Brent Clevlen, Clete Thomas, Timo Perez, and Mike Hessman. Who ya got?

My Choice: Timo Perez?!?

Probable Choice: Ryan Raburn

Raburn's out of options, so he wins over Larish. Plus, he can play center...and anywhere else. Grandy does need a backup. Inge doesn't count because his pouting at not being at third for a game would cause Leyland to need more smokes. They go up in price on April 1st, so no-go there. Larish and Marcus would be worse than me in center. Clevelen's out, too, and I hope no one claims him...I like the guy. I believe the same goes for Hessman who I'd rather have STARTING than Inge, but I'm on my own there. Clete's hurt, young, and isn't that good. Sorry, Cult Members. As for Timo? He's the bastard oldest child of the Tiger organization that they don't like to talk about.

But I love me some Timo. All the guy does is hit Major League pitching. Hard. Whenever we've called him up, he's produced. I finally get to see a Spring game (bite me, FSN), and Timo homers, triples, and singles. He can play any outfield spot and play it well. But he's 31 (methinks) and they're focused on the kids. So, it's another year in Toledo hoping that someone will notice him.

One More Thing

Am I the only other person that is impressed with Sheff so far? Everyone has him batting sixth this year, but with the walks he draws (not to mention being healthy), I'd like to see Mr. 500 batting third. Hit Cabrera fourth, Maggs fifth, and Guillen sixth. With the amount of time Gary walks, I'd much rather see the mashers driving him home than Inge and Everett stranding him on base. Just a thought.

Two more weeks. Anything can happen. Good luck, Timo.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sparky Anderson Quotes

Nate sucks. Inge can't hit. Make Porcello the 5th starter. It can't be worse than last year, can it? Blah, blah, blah.

I can't wait for the season to start. I'm sick of the same old, same old. And thanks to Fox Sports Detroit, I can't watch Spring Training games. So, instead of going on about the same old crap, here's some old crap from the master, George "Sparky" Anderson. At least this stuff's entertaining.

"Don't call us (ballplayers) heroes. Fireman are heroes."

"He's (Jose Canseco) built like a Greek goddess."

"I can't believe they pay us to play baseball - something we did for free as kids."

"I don't believe a manager ever won a pennant. Casey Stengel won all those pennants with the Yankees. How many did he win with the Boston Braves and Mets? I've never seen a team win a pennant without players. I think the only thing the manager has to do is keep things within certain boundaries."

"If I ever find a pitcher who has heat, a good curve, and a slider, I might seriously consider marrying him, or at least proposing."

"I only had a high school education and believe me, I had to cheat to get that."

"It's a terrible thing to have to tell your fans, who have waited like Detroit's have, that their team won't win it this year. But it's better than lying to them."

"I've changed my mind about it (DH) - instead of being bad, it stinks."

"Me carrying a briefcase is like a hotdog wearing earrings."

"My idea of managing is giving the ball to Tom Seaver and sitting down and watching him work."

"Pete (Rose) doesn't run with celebrities and he can't stand the phonies. His big buddy in LA ain't Sinatra, it's a funny old groundskeeper."

"Players have two things to do. Play and keep their mouths shut."

"Problem with (John) Wockenfuss getting on base is that it takes three doubles to score him."

"The great thing about baseball is when you're done, you'll only tell your grandchildren the good things. If they ask me about 1989, I'll tell them I had amnesia."

"The only reason I'm coming out here tomorrow is the schedule says I have to (after losing 16-4 to the Twins)."

Please notice...I left out anything involving Chris Pittaro or Torey Lovullo. Love ya, Sparky.

If you kids have any other favorites, feel free to share.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Termi-Nated

Our hero's latest attempt at revenge for 2008? 2 innings pitched, 3 runs, and 4 more walks.

Turn out the lights...the party's about over.

Oh, in funnier news, Carlos Guillen took Jason Grilli deep in Venezuela's victory over Italy yesterday. I'm sure Jim Leyland smiled at that one.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fox Sports Detroit Annoys Me

Allow me to add my frustration to that of Jen and others at the lack of Tigers on TV this Spring. The game against Maggs and the boys would have been fun to watch. Hell, ANY game would be fun to watch. In Toledo, OH, where I live, we get FSN Detroit and also STO, Sports Time Ohio. STO is home of the Indians, those racist logo, Grady's Ladies, PRONK NEED ROIDS, bastards. But not only did STO have the first three Indians games this Spring, they've got at least four or five more coming up. They also have Tribe Time, which as you can imagine, is their show on all things Racist Logo. There's also a daily call-in show that's basically all about the Indians and Browns. Etc, etc, etc. I'd kill for that for the Tigers.

I get that FSN is a Fox station and not an independant one like STO. But still, it blows. We're getting four games this spring. Two against the Braves (of the 50 we seemingly play against Atlanta this Spring), one against those pricks in St. Louis, and one against Florida. Yippie. Would it really be that difficult or expensive to show something other than the Best Damn Guys Getting Hit In The Nuts With Random Sports Balls? Give me some Spring ball!

When I was a kid, I seem to remember watching a decent amount of preseason games. Kell and Kaline would be calling the games and we'd get a decent look at the kids 'o' the future and the old favorites. I loved it. And I would love it now, especially in a year when the Tigers have so many questions to be resolved in Spring.

Is Gary swinging the bat better? How are Laird and Everett (and his #4 jersey, grrr) adjusting? Has Inge made contact? Is JV going 3-2 on every hitter? Can Dontrelle find the zone? Has Lyon grown a Todd Jones mustache yet? Is Nate doing Pilates in the dugout? Sure, I can read about this stuff online, or worse, in the Freep, but I'd rather see it with my own eyes. Like I did when I was younger...when I became a fan. The NFL is all over the TV during preseason. MLB is Yanks and Sawx. Manny. Roids. Not everyone cares about that stuff...I know I don't. But it's all anyone shows anymore.

Obviously, I don't know particulars in today's world about TV contracts and how many games can be shown. FSN is showing, I believe, every regular season game this year, either on FSN or FSN+. That's a good thing, I guess. So, it's online reading for us all until Monday, 3/16. Tigers/Cardinals at 1pm. Revenge for '06!

I know. It's Spring Training. But it's something. I can't take watching any more of this Indians crap.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How's Nate Doing?

2 games. 5 innings pitched. 7 hits. 4 earned runs. 3 walks. 0 strikeouts.

So much for Pilates. Can we dump him Damian Easley-style yet?