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I guess it’s time to play pretend with the Detroit Tigers again. Today’s game with Justin Verlander on the mound marks the fifth start at third base for Don Kelly. Brandon Inge has been hovering right around the Mendoza Line all year with only one home run.
Phil Coke was placed on the disabled list today after suffering a bone bruise trying to field a bunt last night. Charlie Furbush looked good in relief, and I think should remain as the lefty in the ‘pen when Brad Thomas gets off the DL.
The Tigers called up Adam Wilk for a few days with plans to start Andy Oliver in place of Coke. Right now, the plan is for Wilk to go back down to Toledo on Saturday. The team probably doesn’t want to keep three left handed relievers in the ‘pen long term. The team had to designate Robbie Weinhardt for assignment to make room for Wilk.
Weinhardt had been struggling at Toledo, so it isn’t really a surprise that the team is willing to lose him. However, I am surprised they’d give up on him to bring Wilk up for just a couple days.
Now let’s just pretend Coke spends the minimum 15 days on the disabled list. Let’s also assume Oliver pitches well in the couple opportunities he’s going to get in the meantime. Also, we’re going to assume Furbush has a couple more good outings from the ‘pen.
What should the Tigers do in this situation? Where are the biggest holes on the team, and what options are available?
I think Brad Penny has some trade value. He’s certainly shown he still has some life left in that arm, and is only under contract for this year at $2M. If the Tigers could get a corner outfielder or third baseman for Penny plus a prospect not already named in this post, I think it’s something Dombrowski should do.
I don’t really know what kind of value Penny would have. I don’t know that the team is looking at shopping a veteran starter they signed to a one year contract. I’m simply saying they should be looking for every opportunity to improve the team.
I think having a second lefty in the rotation would be good for the team, as long as Oliver can be effective. I think the Tigers have an opportunity to improve the offense without giving up a ton with Penny.
Because the Detroit Tigers game against the Toronto Blue Jays was rained out this evening, I had more free time than usual. I was reading through my blog post from about a month ago, #FreeScottSizemore.
I was all ready to pat myself on the back for saying that Magglio should have gone on the DL on April 10. I then went on to make another pitch to bring Jose Reyes to Detroit (something I’m still in favor of, but think is unlikely to happen). If I had stopped writing then, I think I would have had a wonderful post.
I went on to talk about the starting pitching. I said, “I think it’s obvious the Brad Penny experiment has failed. There’s just not enough left in that arm.”
Talk about being proved wrong quickly. Penny has been pretty darn good, pretty much since I wrote those words.
I also called for Jacob Turner to be given a shot in the rotation in that post. Since that post, Phil Coke has been less than stellar as a starter. I’m not going to rehash my argument for why I think he should hold on to his starting position.
However, I think people calling for Coke to move to the bullpen to give Turner or Charlie Furbush or Andy Oliver a chance in the rotation are being just as short sighted as I was with Penny.
As long as the Tigers have four of five starters clicking, which they have for the last few weeks, there is no reason to move Coke out of the rotation.
Leyland today said Joaquin Benoit would be moved out of the eighth inning, and didn’t say who would fill that role. I assume the team would give Ryan Perry every opportunity to win that job. If Perry struggles, Al Alburquerque would likely be the next in line.
I’d like to keep writing, and make this a longer post, but the Tigers have only played one game in the last three days, so there’s only so much I can say.
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With Sunday’s rain out, the Detroit Tigers have completed 40 games of their 162 game schedule. That puts us just about a quarter of the way through the season. Most years I would say it should be enough to get a pretty good picture of what will happen for the rest of the season.
As it stands right now, the Tigers have the third best record in the American League. Only Cleveland and Tampa Bay have better records.
For most of this season, the AL Central has looked completely upside down with Cleveland and Kansas City out front and Minnesota and Chicago in the basement.
I’m going to hand out letter grades because I think it’s the easiest way to quickly understand how I think the Tigers are performing. Remember when I hand out these grades, I think a Tigers team that spends over $100M should do more than just compete in a weak AL Central. I think that if Dombrowski and Leyland had made the right moves with all that cash, it would be the Tigers out in front of the league with no reason to look over their shoulders.
Starting Pitching: A
Relief Pitching: C
I still see lots of holes in this team moving forward. However, there isn’t anybody in the AL Central that is going to run away with the division. With Grady Sizemore landing back on the DL, Cleveland is going to have to get extraordinary contributions from the rest of its roster to win the division. I’m not sure what will happen, but given the state of the rest of the division, I expect the Tigers to compete for a divisional title for the rest of the year.
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The Detroit Tigers seem to have recovered from their seven game losing streak. The team has gone on to win five of six against the AL East. This current run includes Justin Verlander’s second no hitter.
I’m still pretty comfortable with my 75 win prediction for this team. I still see all the same holes that led to the seven game losing streak, even though Victor Martinez makes the lineup better.
While the no hitter Verlander threw was impressive, what I really want to write about is Phil Coke. Many Tigers fans are unhappy with Coke’s performance and want to send him back to the bullpen. I think this is a short sighted move that won’t help the team much.
First of all, I think fans need to remember when looking at Coke’s stats this year that he already had a loss and an ERA over 7 before he started any games. Once we look at only games he has started, his ERA is 4.54. He is averaging just under 6 innings per start.
Right now Coke is on pace for right around 28 starts. That should give him around 160 innings this season. As a lefty coming out of the pen, I don’t see how Coke could log more than 70 innings.
I agree with everyone who has been saying Brad Thomas has been ineffective this year. Replacing him in the pen is important if this team is going to compete. One way to do that is bringing up Andy Oliver and moving Coke to the pen.
I’m not going to pretend like I can tell the future, and know what will happen if Oliver comes north. However, I know that last year’s five starts didn’t go very well. Hopefully Oliver has matured since his 0-4, 7.36 ERA first run with the Tigers.
It’s no secret that one of the worst parts of this Detroit Tigers team is the bullpen. Obviously replacing Thomas with Coke would help out there. However, I think the way this team will win the most games is by having as few innings as possible thrown by middle relievers.
I believe Coke has a better chance to go deep into games than anybody currently in the farm system. You’re free to disagree, but tell me why. I’m not an expert on everyone who’s in the farm system, so I don’t know who I’d replace Thomas with, but I’d certainly try to find somebody.
I’m trying to find out more information about Andy Dirks, and his defensive ability in center field. I’m planning on writing a post in the near future about why I think he should or shouldn’t get the call north. Stay tuned.
I have found it very difficult to write a post talking about the Detroit Tigers lately. Losing in the late innings is very demoralizing. Following the team’s seventh straight loss yesterday, I see little to change my prognostication for this season.
I think a fitting example of how this season is going for the Tigers was an interaction I had with my mother yesterday. My mom doesn’t watch sports with any regularity. She’s interested when local teams are doing well, but doesn’t know anything about strategy.
I was watching the game with her, and I think it happened in the fourth inning. She looked over and asked me how I can watch this all the time. When I asked her to explain, she said it makes her so nervous to see our good pitcher not doing well.
As a reminder, the top of the fourth inning had runners on second and third with one out. This after the Tigers had managed to narrow the gap to just one run. Justin Verlander was able to get out of that jam and avoid taking the loss.
Unfortunately, my response to my mom was that I don’t expect the Tigers to win the majority of their games this year, so each loss isn’t as painful as it otherwise would be. I do, however, expect their ace to be able to outperform a guy who turns 38 this month, spent last year out of baseball, and has only pitched more than 65 innings in a season once in the last five years.
Even my mom who really doesn’t know much about baseball thinks the Tigers should win most of their games with Verlander on the hill.
Now, I know it’s not always popular to say, but this team just isn’t that good. The season is still relatively young, so there’s a chance they could turn it around still; but I don’t really expect them to. I still expect their win total to come in around 75.
I mentioned four holes the Tigers have in their lineup in my last post, one of which was the second base position. According to Chris Iott on Mlive, the Tigers have called up Scott Sizemore, sending down Will Rhymes.
After struggling through an injury last season, Sizemore has a chance to put a strangle hold on the second base position if he can hit. He’s been doing it all season at Toledo, so his opportunity is now.
Unfortunately, the other holes in the lineup really don’t fill in as easily. Unless the team can find a way to put him on the disabled list, Magglio Ordonez is going to play almost every day. With the way Alex Avila is hitting, and Victor Martinez scheduled to come off the DL tomorrow that means he’s going to play right field on a consistent basis.
In some ways, I think that is a positive thing for the Tigers. While I don’t think Maggs is ready to break out of the worst slump of his career, I think Brennan Boesch is pressing a little at the plate. Playing him in a platoon situation with Ryan Raburn makes both players more effective.
I still don’t like this team defensively. Adding Sizemore at second is probably a step back from Rhymes, but leaves Ramon Santiago available for late game defensive substitutions. Adding Maggs to the outfield again will make a mediocre defensive outfield even worse—but still not as bad as the Chicago White Sox outfield.
If there is any solace to be taken in this team’s poor performance so far this season it has to be that both Chicago and Minnesota are still doing worse.
Another thing I wonder about Tigers fans is how much respect they have for the Cleveland Indians. If either the White Sox or Twins were the team 8 games up, I don’t think anybody would be saying they will come back to the pack. I know Cleveland doesn’t have the payroll of any of the bottom three teams in the division and already has placed two key starters on the DL, but at some point—for me it comes once we turn the calendar to May—we have to start respecting the team that is able to lead the division.
The Detroit Tigers certainly had an interesting home stand this past week. Coming off a successful west coast trip, the Tigers promptly swept the struggling Chicago White Sox. The team then took an off day, skipped Rick Porcello in the rotation, and was swept by the Seattle Mariners. The SEATTLE MARINERS!
The series with the M’s included five errors, 27 runs and a homerun off the glove of Ryan Raburn. The Tiger’s offense produced a total of 6 runs in the series. If you include Raburn’s play in the opener, that’s as many errors as runs.
Even the best pitching wouldn’t be able to overcome numbers like that. If a team isn’t going to be good on defense, they better be good on offense. This team is not good at either.
I was on twitter during the game yesterday, and noticed a few people were upset with the performance of Brad Penny. Sure the guy didn’t hold onto the two run lead he was given, but somebody signed for $3M in the offseason should be a fourth or fifth starter.
Given that, even against the anemic Seattle Mariners, seven innings and four runs is a solid outing. It’s not going to win any awards, but it certainly is a performance that gave his team a chance to win.
Leyland keeps saying this team is going to hit. I just don’t see it happening. Jim has forgotten more about baseball than I will know in my lifetime, but I strongly disagree with him.
The holes in this lineup include:
Most of these problems the Tigers are going to have to live with all year. Maggs is getting $10M, so he’s going to play as long as he says he can. There isn’t really anybody who can play centerfield on a daily basis. Inge has around $10M left on his contract, so it’s not likely that he gets relegated to backup status anytime soon.
The Tigers play the first place Cleveland Indians this weekend in Cleveland. Even with all the struggles Detroit has had, they remain in second place, one game under .500. The AL Central has to be the worst in baseball. I still wouldn’t be surprised if whoever wins it finishes under .500.
Winning this series would certainly help Detroit’s chances in the division. The White Sox look like an even worse team than the Tigers, the Twins don’t seem to be able stay healthy, and the Royals have a $35M payroll (so I’d be surprised if they can compete all year). A little more than a month into the season, I might be willing to call the Indians the favorite to win the division. I’m not ready yet, but I am close.
The Detroit Tigers open a three game series against the Seattle Mariners today, weather permitting. During their recent winning road trip, the Tigers were lucky enough to miss the M’s two best starting pitchers in Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda.
Looking at those matchups it seems like a no brainer to me that the Tigers are going to lose this series. Unless Penny finds a way to throw an actual no hitter in the third game, or Coke finds a way to out duel King Felix I just don’t see the Tigers winning either of those games.
Obviously, the starting pitching has been much better than I expected 22 games into the year. I think I predicted the team would get something like 1.6 or 1.7 quality starts per turn through the rotation. So far they have racked up 15. Personally, I don’t think it’s a very useful stat, but that just shows a quick snapshot of how much better than I predicted the starters have been.
The weather forecast isn’t particularly promising, so there’s a chance a game or two could get rained out. Hopefully for the Tigers any rainouts don’t bump Verlander’s start. Amazingly, even if the Tigers were to lose all three, they would end the home stand a game above .500.
I have to give them credit for beating up on a team that doesn’t look interested in playing good baseball. The Chicago White Sox are struggling mightily, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ozzie doesn’t last too much longer as their manager.
On a note that is not really related to the play on the field, the Tigers are doing tweet up for their twitter followers today. The deal includes a t-shirt and a pre- game gathering as well as $10 tickets. I would wish I was available to go, but I have an appointment this evening that I can’t miss.
I’d like to spend a little more time analyzing, but I have to get ready for the day. My last final of the semester is in a couple hours and then I’m done with school for the summer.
The Detroit Tigers are starting to convince fans that they can contend in the American League Central. Beating up on the Chicago White Sox has a wonderful effect on this fan base.
Brad Penny was able to take advantage of a struggling ball club yesterday, and took a no hitter into the sixth inning. It marked the deepest the former all star game starter has taken a no hit bid in his career.
By now, everyone has an opinion on the play Brandon Inge made in the sixth inning that was ruled the only hit Penny gave up in his seven innings of work. Personally, I think it was a hit, but understand the scoring decision. The MLB rule book states that in case of uncertainty, the scorer should side with the runner.
For a play to be an error, it needed to be possible to be made by ordinary effort by an ordinary major leaguer. Most observers would agree most third basemen in the league would not have the arm strength to get the batter from that far away.
I disagree with this interpretation because I think ordinary effort from Inge gets Brent Morel nine out of ten times on that play. Furthermore, even though the throw was offline, if Miguel Cabrera had scooped it he made the tag on Morel, so the ball beat the runner to the bag.
However, the Tigers’ reactions to the play show the class with which this organization operates. Penny has said he will continue to work harder, starting today. Inge said the play wasn’t easy, but he should have made it. Leyland said the scorer made the right decision.
The most important thing for yesterday’s events is that the Tigers won the game. Brad Penny pitched well, and the “hit” gave Leyland enough reason to pull him after seven solid innings.
The thing that stood out most about yesterday, once I got past the Inge play, was how bad the White sox looked in the outfield. Nobody out there seems to have an arm. Juan Pierre and Alex Rios both made fielding blunders in the Tigers five run fourth inning.
The problems in the outfield probably aren’t as glaring when playing at US Cellular Field, but I’m glad the Tigers don’t have those defenders patrolling spacious Comerica Park.
Eventually, the Sox will start hitting, but between their troubles with the back of the bullpen and their subpar defense I think they will have trouble competing even in the weak AL Central.
I still think the Tigers are going to struggle to end the year at .500, but this division is wide open. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the winner ends up under .500. Really the only way I see a team finishing significantly above .500 is if somebody really turns it on during interleague play.
As of today, the Tigers have played 21 games. If we compared the baseball season to the NFL, we’d be in the first quarter of the third game. I’d say the Tigers have run back the opening kickoff for a touchdown after splitting their first two games. It’s kind of exciting, but we still don’t know enough about this team to make any conclusions.
So the Detroit Tigers had a winning record on their first west coast trip of the year. They got solid pitching performances from Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer and Phil Coke (his most recent start withstanding). Ryan Perry took a flight to Seattle to rejoin the team and face one batter today.
There’s no question that replacing Enrique Gonzales with Perry makes the bullpen better. Perry gives the Tigers a legitimate seventh inning guy, leaving Daniel Schlereth and Brayan Villarreal for the sixth or to get a tough out.
Ryan Raburn hit a home run while playing second base and hitting second. If he were better defensively at that position I would love to see him start there every day. However, I think defense up the middle is the most important thing for a baseball team. That’s why I think it’s time to give Scott Sizemore a chance this year at second base.
I really think the reason the Tigers were able to win this game was a managing blunder by Eric Wedge. In the third inning he allowed his left handed starter to pitch to Miguel Cabrera with a runner in scoring position, two outs, first base open and a Jhonny Peralta on deck. I don’t know in what world it makes sense to allow the Tigers’ best player to beat you. Remember this is a lineup that is collectively batting .244 and Cabbie came into play batting .400 against lefties.
What about Peralta you ask? He came into play hitting a whopping .063 against lefties. BINGO! Perhaps decisions like that are why Wedge is no longer managing the second place Cleveland Indians.
I also don’t think the importance of the Tigers not winning the series against the Oakland Athletics can be overstated. Going into the series, I would have been happy with the outcome, but expectations are not set in stone. Rather, they are very fluid. Once the Tigers took the first two, they went 2-3 for the rest of the road trip. Against two teams that are not that good, that’s not that good.
Now, the Tigers come home to face a struggling Chicago White Sox team and the Seattle Mariners again. I would like nothing more than to end this weekend with the White sox buried in the AL Central standings after a Tigers sweep.
The projected pitching matchups for the series with the south- siders are: Mark Buehrle vs. Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson vs. Brad Penny and John Danks vs. Max Scherzer. I don’t know if the Tigers are definitely ahead in any of those matchups.
The lineup is going to struggle in the absence of Victor Martinez. Today, the Tigers had Jhonny Peralta batting fifth and Raburn second. These are guys who belong in the bottom third of a contending team’s lineup.
I’m not worried about Jose Valverde, even after giving up a home run in the ninth inning today. He still converted his third save of the year. Unless Ozzie is able to get his club playing better baseball, there is little reason to expect anything less than a series win for the Tigers. That’s even with expecting Penny to give away a game.
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Before the season started, I predicted the bottom third of the Detroit Tigers lineup combined to hit .243 last season, and didn’t think they would improve much this season. So far, Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila have combined to hit .244 with 17 RBI and 5 HR.
Those power numbers are a little better than I expected, but their overall performance is right about where I thought they would be. Surprisingly, Avila has managed to trail only Cabrera in OPS at .887.
The unexpected, or more damaging if not unexpected, trouble with the lineup has come from the 1, 2 and 5 holes. Austin Jackson, Will Rhymes and Victor Martinez (who is aparantly nursing a sore groin) have combined to hit just .211 with 35 ks. There is no way a team can compete with those numbers coming from the heart of its lineup.
For tonight’s game in Seattle, Ryan Raburn is getting the start at second base. One would think that putting a guy who hits a HR every 20 ABs at 2B would improve the lineup significantly. In some sense that is correct. There is certainly more power in Raburn’s bat than Rhymes’.
However, the drop off on defense is terrible. I don’t understand why Scott Sizemore isn’t getting a call to try his hand at second base this year. In a very small sample, Sizemore has an OPS of 1.027 at Toledo this season. He only has one more strike out than walks.
Since April 10th, Magglio Ordonez has played in 2 games. He is yet to play in consecutive days. Nobody has said his ankle is healthy. Why didn’t the team put him on the DL, and give him enough time to fully heal? It would have been an opportunity to call Sizemore up and give him some starts without using an option on Rhymes. It would have taken the decision making process over who to start in LF out of Leland’s hands. Brennan Boesch plays RF, Raburn LF.
Of course, I’m not a doctor. I don’t know how serious Ordonez’s ankle is. I just think the team would be better served with finding out what Sizemore has at the major league level a year after his ankle was surgically repaired.
I also saw on Twitter today that the Mets are unlikely to offer Jose Reyes the $100M contract it would take to keep him. I called for Reyes to be the Tigers’ top priority for the offseason in this article on April 5th, so of course I would like to get him early.
There was an article on DetNews.com today saying the Tigers have three legitimate pitching prospects who can’t all make it to the show. One or two of them in a package, if you can get Reyes to sign an extension makes this team much better.
Also notable is the fact that the Tigers starting pitching has been performing well. I honestly don’t expect them to keep it up. Apparently Justin Verlander is over his early season struggles, even though he sometimes throws the ball wherever he wants. However, can Phil Coke keep up his impressive performances? Can the Tigers average 1.1 wins per start by Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello? I think it’s obvious the Brad Penny experiment has failed. There’s just not enough left in that arm. It’s time to give somebody like Jacob Turner a chance to see what he can do against big league talent.
I wish I could be more positive about what the Tigers are going to be this year. I just can’t. I’m only still confident in my original prediction of a third place finish in the Central because the Twins and White Sox are both playing so poorly also. I don’t really think Either Cleveland or Kansas City will continue to outperform the field in the central, but wouldn’t be surprised if the Royals hang around in the race all year.
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