Monday, November 30, 2009
--He loves Granderson. I think he’d be willing to give up the entire Yankees’ farm system to get Granderson. However, he doesn’t see how trading him would make sense for the Tigers from a tactical standpoint.
--We didn’t talk much about Edwin Jackson, but he seems to think the only reason to trade him would be if Dave Dombrowski managed to absolutely fleece the hell out of the other team.
--This was before Lynn Henning decided to ramp up Cabrera trade talks (Seriously, has there been a completely separate confirmation from anyone else?) but after Ken Rosenthal’s moronic proposal about trading Cabrera to the Red Sox for Mike Lowell and Jonathan Papelbon. Not surprisingly, my baseball guru didn’t think that was a fair return, given his opinion that Miguel Cabrera is a “franchise player” and Lowell and Papelbon are not (plus I’m guessing there’s also the fact that Miggy would be more of a thorn in the Yankees’ side than either of those two).
--Basically, once I gave him the info on the Tigers’ payroll situation for the next few years, he agreed with me on what would probably be the best move for the Tigers: Try to tread water and ride out 2010 and then really go for it in 2011 once all that salary gets freed up (That would mean retaining players who can help you in 2011).
--He wasn’t happy with the Cy Young selections because “the win totals weren’t high enough.” He followed that up anecdotally by saying that Denny McClain had the same number of wins (31) in 1968 as Tim Lincecum (15) and Zack Greinke (16) combined. He proceeded to partially retract his criticism of Lincecum, saying that he wasn’t as familiar with the National League and that his guess was that Lincecum won because the two Cardinals pitchers split the vote. He had more ammunition against Greinke. His biggest arguments were that he didn’t win enough games and that most of the teams he beat were under .500. I have largely abstained from giving opinions in these sorts of matters, but I did tell him the popular reasons: Greinke’s ERA and the fact that the Royals’ offense is not very good. Chuck retaliated by saying that Nolan Ryan (His all-time favorite pitcher, from what I can tell) once led the league in ERA and strikeouts but went 8-16 because he didn’t get any run support (I did look this up and he was right. It was 1987 and he finished with an ERA of 2.76, which is actually very good, and he did finish 5th in the NL Cy Young voting that year. One thing that surprised me is he only led the league in ERA one other time, and he finished 4th in the Cy Young voting despite a ridiculous 1.69 ERA in 1981. On the other hand, he only pitched 149 innings that year, which leads me to believe he was injured at some point). Now, he was NOT arguing for CC Sabathia, although he did say he would rank Sabathia ahead of Greinke (in saying that he would’ve placed Greinke fourth). He seemed to be angling for Verlander (“because he’s a horse”) and Hernandez (based on the fact that King Felix had comparable ERA and strikeouts to Greinke but more wins even though Seattle’s offense was almost as bad as Kansas City’s) in some order (I got the feeling he’d place Verlander ahead of Hernandez, though). And please, if you’re gonna criticize, don’t direct it at me. I have no opinion on the matter (if you want to criticize me for having no opinion, fine, although I think that’s kind of pointless).
--This conversation occurred before the MVP voting results came out, but I’m guessing he has no problems with them, given the fact that he told me he wouldn’t be upset if Miguel Cabrera won. Now, I probably would not have voted for Cabrera, but I don’t understand why everyone’s mad that Mauer’s selection wasn’t unanimous. What difference does it make? If Mauer is destined for the Hall of Fame, it’s not going to make or break his selection. And according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, it doesn’t cheat him monetarily. He gets an extra $100,000 for being named MVP, plain and simple. Trust me, if one of our guys is voted Cy Young or MVP someday, I won’t complain if it’s not unanimous. That said, it would be interesting to hear Keizo Konishi’s take on the matter.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Position Player of the Year: Miguel Cabrera
One of the two categories in which the first-place voting was unanimous, Cabrera was the Tigers’ biggest offensive threat all year long. He led the team in average, home runs, and RBIs. Although his season ended on a sour note (to put it mildly), more often than not he was invaluable to his team and oftentimes was the only hitter other teams feared. And those who don’t follow the Tigers may be surprised to learn that he’s actually turning into quite a good defensive first baseman. He’s worked really hard to improve his defense, and it’s seemingly paid off. I don’t follow sabremetrics at all, but the metric-faithful tell me that he’s ranked second among all AL first baseman. Based on my observations, I could agree with that. This past season, he made numerous nice plays and became quite proficient at picking balls out of the dirt (being able to practically do the splits is a big help; for a big guy, he’s surprisingly flexible). Assuming he can put his off-the-field problems behind him, one hopes that he continues to put up big numbers for the Tigers for years to come (Screw you, Ken Rosenthal). Your runners-up were Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco, with Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn also receiving votes.
Pitcher of the Year: Justin Verlander
JV’s the other unanimous choice for first place. And why not? He led the starting staff in wins, strikeouts, and ERA (3.45). Hell, he tied for the Major League lead in wins (19) and his 269 strikeouts were the most in baseball. If it weren’t for a certain guy by the name of Zack Greinke, Verlander would be a serious threat for the Cy Young award (Though in that scenario, I think they would’ve given it to Felix Hernandez). JV led a pitching staff that for most of the year was one of the best in baseball. And like Cabrera, I hope he stays in the Olde English D and dominates hitters for a long time to come. Runners-up were Edwin Jackson and Rick Porcello. Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon also received votes.
Breakout Player of the Year: Rick Porcello
This award goes to a young player who has put up big numbers for the first time. I’d say Porcello definitely qualifies, and he received 18 of the 20 first-place votes. He finished with a 14-9 record, a 3.96 ERA, and a takedown of Kevin Youkilis on his resumé. He formed part of the May/June dominant trio with Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson and after some midsummer struggles came back strong in September, which proved to be crucial once Jackson seemingly hit a wall. And you couldn’t ask for more that what he did in the tiebreaker game. And he still can’t drink until next month. I feel so old. Edwin Jackson and Ryan Raburn received the other first-place votes. In addition, Fu Te Ni (whom I completely forgot about when I filled out my ballot, embarrasingly enough) was given runner-up consideration.
Most Improved Player: Justin Verlander
From leading the AL in losses in 2008 to leading in wins in 2009, JV received 11 of the 20 first-place votes. None of us could figure out what was going on with him in ’08, and once he began ’09 struggling, well, let’s just say I was one of the few bloggers who still believed in him. Then in late April against the Yankees, Justin rewarded my faith in him and showed the world that he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. Also garnering first-place votes were Brandon Inge (who probably would’ve won this had he not been hampered by the knee injury) and Fernando Rodney.
Bless You Boys -- Ian Casselberry
Established in 2005, the Detroit Independent Baseball Scribes now has 21 members who write primarily on the Internet. Its member writers are affiliated with such online organizations as MLive.com (Booth Newspapers), SB Nation, ESPN.com, Freep.com, Bleacher Report, Yardbarker, MVN, Fan Blog and Fan Huddle.
The Detroit Independent Baseball Scribes include:
Daily Fungo -- Mike McClary
DesigNate Robertson -- Scott Rogowski
Detroit Tigers Den -- Austin Drake
Detroit Tigers Weblog -- Bill Ferris
Eye of the Tigers -- J. Ellet Lambie
Fire Jim Leyland -- Mike Rogers
It's Just Sports -- Patrick Hayes
Jamie Samuelsen's Blog -- Jamie Samuelsen
Mack Avenue Tigers -- Kurt Mensching
MLive's The Cutoff Man -- James Schmehl and Scott Warheit
Old English D -- Jennifer Cosey
Roar of the Tigers -- Samara Pearstein
Spot Starters -- Blake Vande Bunte
Take 75 North -- Matt Wallace
Tigers Amateur Analysis -- Erin Saelzler
Tigerblog -- Brian Borawski
Tiger Geist -- John Brunn
Tiger Tales -- Lee Panas
Tiger Tracks -- John Parent
Where have you gone, Johnny Grubb? --Greg Eno
Detroit4lyfe -- Bob Biscigliano
Monday, November 16, 2009
This is a feature that I’ll post occasionally at various points throughout the offseason. I’ll be taking a month-by-month look at the 2010 schedule for the Tigers and the rest of the AL Central (You need to know how easy or hard the competition has it at any point, right?). It’s hard to speculate about how any given team will do at this point because we’ve still got tons of trades and free agent signings that’ll happen between now and April 5th. Hopefully, things’ll start to get clearer by the time I post the final installment, which should be shortly before spring training starts. As it stands right now, though, most writers have a more favorable impression of the Tigers than they did at this point last year (except Lynn Henning, who insists the Tigers should trade Curtis Granderson yesterday). However, as we know, they were completely wrong about their impressions last year, so it may be wise to take their opinions with a grain of salt. The biggest threat to the Tigers, at least on paper, looks to be the Chicago White Sox. They are primed to have some very strong starting pitching, and if they find consistent offense and learn to catch the baseball a bit better, watch out. The Twins are kind of an unknown right now. They did win this year and they’ll have most of the same guys for next year, but let’s remember that until September they basically played .500 ball the whole time before going on a hot streak, and their pitching was not particularly impressive during most of the season. Plus, there’s that matter of how that they won’t have their greatest weapon (the Metrodome). However, only a fool would count them out. They have too much of a track record. The other two teams in the Central aren’t expected to make much noise as far as contending, but I’m including them anyways because I want to be thorough (Besides, Kansas City had a hot start in 2009 and I still think the Indians will be better than most people think). There is definitely some quirkiness to the schedule, especially Detroit’s. For instance, they will go through long stretches in April, July, and August with no off-day, and yet there are two different occasions where they’ll have an off-day, followed by a two-game series, followed immediately by another off-day. Speaking of two-game series, the Tigers sure do have a bunch of them (sometimes balanced out by four-game series with the same team, sometimes not; they will only be in Oakland for two games), and there’s an extra home series against the Baltimore Orioles that seems really random. The rest of the teams in the Central have their quirks as well. For instance, the Twins have 11 off-days on Mondays and only four Thursday off-days (Their schedule was very kind to them in terms of off-days. The longest they go without a break is 14 games). But now it’s time to get into detail. Here’s April in the AL Central:
April 5-8 (Mon-Thu): @ Kansas City Royals (3; Off-day Tuesday, April 6)
April 9-11 (Fri-Sun): vs. Cleveland Indians (3)
April 12-14 (Mon-Wed): vs. Kansas City Royals (3)
April 15 (Thu): Off-day
April 16-18 (Fri-Sun): @ Seattle Mariners (3)
April 19-22 (Mon-Thu): @ Los Angeles Angels (4)
April 23-26 (Fri-Mon): @ Texas Rangers (4)
April 27-29 (Tue-Thu): vs. Minnesota Twins (3)
April 30-May 2 (Fri-Sun): vs. Los Angeles Angels (3)
With this schedule, you could easily imagine the Tigers getting off to either a great start or a horrible one. It’s about an even mix of the AL Central (mostly the two teams predicted to be “bottom feeders” by the media) and the AL West (and the Tigers did their best work against the West in 2009). The last time the Tigers started their season in Kansas City was 2006, and they definitely got off to a real good start then. However, bear in mind that the starting pitchers for Kansas City in that series were Scott Elarton and Joe Mays (It was a two-game series). Um, yeah (and I’m glad I looked that up, because I would have said Jeremy Affeldt and Elmer Dessens). It’s a whole lot different this time around. We know that, barring injury, Opening Day will feature Justin Verlander against Zack Greinke (They have matched up before, back in 2007. Justin won, Pudge hit a grand slam, and Greinke threw 50 pitches and didn’t make it out of the first inning; that was 2007, though). Game 2 is likely to be Edwin Jackson against Gil Meche. After that, I’m not sure. You would like to think Rick Porcello for game 3 (probably against either Kyle Davies or Robinson Tejeda), but Leyland may elect to go with someone else and have Porcello pitch the home opener. All told, our pitchers certainly have the ability to outpitch Greinke and Meche, but that is no easy task and Kansas City has been getting off to hot starts the past couple years. After this brief road trip to begin the season, it’ll be time for the opening homestand against the Indians, and then we see the Royals again (but likely won’t have to face Greinke again with such a quick turnaround). Once they have their off-day on the 15th (Jackie Robinson Day; poor Jackie’s gonna have a bunch of teams not being able to honor him cuz a lot of teams are off then), they will not have another one for a stretch of twenty games. Yikes (This is one of those instances where you pray for rain at some point just so the boys can get some rest). That long stretch begins with an 11-game AL West road trip (and while this is kind of sucky, it still beats that Fenway/Yankee Stadium/Metrodome/Wrigley Field road trip that the White Sox had) that includes a three game series at Safeco Field and four-game series each against the Angels and Rangers (I hate 4-game series, no matter who they are against or where they are). As April winds down, the Tigers go back home and get their first look at the Twins in 2009 before hosting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Of the five AL Central teams, Detroit has the “easiest” schedule in terms of how their opponents did in 2009 (the Tigers are the only team in the Central whose April opposition was a combined sub-.500 this past year). However, they MUST do better against the Central. At first glance, their final record of 39-34 against the Central seems respectable, but it only looks that way because they went 14-4 against the Indians (Give them credit, though. None of the other teams in the Central dominated Cleveland like the Tigers did, and three of those losses were to Carl Pavano). They went 9-9 against both Chicago and Kansas City, and 7-12 against Minnesota (Granted, they had much better records against both the White Sox and Royals for nearly all of the season. Chicago and KC did most of their damage to the Tigers in September. Therefore, you could argue that the real key is for the Tigers to “finish what they started,” so to speak). So even though there are plenty of teams that the Tigers can (and should) beat if they want to be taken seriously as a contender, April will be a grueling month nonetheless.
Home games: 12
Road games: 14
Detroit’s 2009 record against opposition: 47-35
Combined 2009 winning percentage of opposition: .499
April 5-8 (Mon-Thu): vs. Cleveland Indians (3; Off-day Tues, April 6)
April 9-11 (Fri-Sun): vs. Minnesota Twins (3)
April 12-15 (Mon-Thu): @ Toronto Blue Jays (4)
April 16-18 (Fri-Sun): @ Cleveland Indians (3)
April 19 (Mon): Off-day
April 20-22 (Tue-Thu): vs. Tampa Bay Rays (3)
April 23-25 (Fri-Sun): vs. Seattle Mariners (3)
April 26 (Mon): Off-day
April 27-29 (Tue-Thu): @ Texas Rangers (3)
April 30-May 2 (Fri-Sun): @ New York Yankees (3)
The White Sox have the fortune of getting their off-days spaced out a bit more evenly than the Tigers, at least at in April. They begin their 2010 campaign at home against the Indians (Pure speculation here, but I’m guessing the Opening Day matchup will be Jake Peavy against Justin Masterson). They get some AL East action right away, which is good and bad if you’re the Tigers. It’s good in that it might help them stumble out of the gate a bit. It’s bad in that you won’t be able to rely on the big, bad, AL East to slow them down if you need it later in the season (although they handled the Rays fairly well last year, going 6-2, but they were 1-6 against the Blue Jays; for the record, they were 3-4 against the Yankees, which is better than what we did). While the Tigers see a lot of the Royals right away, the White Sox see a lot of the Indians. Their longest stretch without an off-day in April is eleven games (April 7-18). After hosting the Indians and Twins, they head up to Toronto for four games (one of which will hopefully feature Roy Halladay), followed by a three-game set in Cleveland. After a Monday off-day, they host the Rays and Mariners. They wrap up April with another off-day, followed by a six-game road trip where they visit the Rangers and Yankees.
Home games: 12
Road games: 13
Chicago’s 2009 record against opposition: 32-41
Combined 2009 winning percentage of opposition: .516
April 5-8 (Mon-Thu): @ Chicago White Sox (3; off-day Tuesday, April 6)
April 9-11 (Fri-Sun): @ Detroit Tigers (3)
April 12-15 (Mon-Thu): vs. Texas Rangers (3; off-day Tuesday, April 13)
April 16-18 (Fri-Sun): vs. Chicago White Sox (3)
April 19 (Mon): Off-day
April 20-22 (Tue-Thu): @ Minnesota Twins (3)
April 23-25 (Fri-Sun): @ Oakland Athletics (3)
April 26-28 (Mon-Wed): @ Los Angeles Angels (3)
April 29 (Thu): Off-day
April 30-May 2 (Fri-Sun): vs. Minnesota Twins (3)
The Indians have the easiest schedule in terms of rest, with a whopping four off-days in one month, but they have way more road games than home games. Also, they face a couple teams that they didn’t do so well against last year, particularly Detroit (4-14) and Texas (1-8). Like the Tigers, all of April is confined to the AL Central and the AL West. They start their season with a six-game road trip, visiting Chicago and then Detroit for our home opener (Hopefully the Tigers can be as dominant against Cleveland as they were in 2009). From there, they head on across the lake to their home opener against the Texas Rangers (Gee, that brings back memories of 2000, when I was in Cleveland for their home opener, which was also against the Texas Rangers. The Rangers won that game). They also get the White Sox on their first homestand. The Indians then embark on a nine-game road trip that has the potential to take them through three dramatically different climates, from mid-April Minneapolis (could go either way) to cool-but-probably-not-freezing northern California to the OC as they take on the Twins, A’s, and Angels. They wrap up the month by beginning a homestand against the Twinkies.
Home games: 9
Road games: 15
Cleveland’s 2009 record against opposition: 25-51
Combined 2009 winning percentage of opposition: .525
April 4-8 (Mon-Thu): @ Los Angeles Angels (4)
April 9-11 (Fri-Sun): @ Chicago White Sox (3)
April 12-15 (Mon-Thu): vs. Boston Red Sox (3; off-day Tuesday, April 13)
April 16-18 (Fri-Sun): vs. Kansas City Royals (3)
April 19 (Mon): Off-day
April 20-22 (Tue-Thu): vs. Cleveland Indians (3)
April 23-25 (Fri-Sun): @ Kansas City Royals (3)
April 26 (Mon): Off-day
April 27-29 (Tue-Thu): @ Detroit Tigers (3)
April 30-May 2 (Fri-Sun): @ Cleveland Indians (3)
The Twins begin 2010 with a heavy dose of the AL Central, with a series apiece with the East and West mixed in for good measure (And they are going to be on the road a lot; they only have nine home games in April). Like the Tigers, they start their season on the road, kicking things off with a 4-game set against the Angels (I’m not going to speculate on Opening Day starters because the Twins don’t really have a clear ace and the Angels have some offseason fiddling to do with their impending free agents) followed by a 3-game series in Chicago. Target Field will be inaugurated with the Boston Red Sox as its first visiting team. After series with the Royals and Indians, the Twins begin a nine-game, three-city road trip to Kansas City, Detroit, and Cleveland to close out the month. Even though they have all those road games, this is not necessarily a tough month for the Twins because they have so many games against the Central, and somehow they know how to beat the teams in their own division (46-27 against the AL Central in 2009; oddly enough, the team they had the toughest time against was the Indians, against whom they went 10-8).
Home games: 9
Road games: 16
Minnesota’s 2009 record against opposition: 40-37
Combined 2009 winning percentage of opposition: .501
April 4-8 (Mon-Thu): vs. Detroit Tigers (3; off-day Tuesday, April 5)
April 9-11 (Fri-Sun): vs. Boston Red Sox (3)
April 12-14 (Mon-Wed): @ Detroit Tigers (3)
April 15 (Thu): Off-day
April 16-18 (Fri-Sun): @ Minnesota Twins (3)
April 19-21 (Mon-Wed): @ Toronto Blue Jays (3)
April 22 (Thu): Off-day
April 23-25 (Fri-Sun): vs. Minnesota Twins (3)
April 26-28 (Mon-Wed): vs. Seattle Mariners (3)
April 29-May 2 (Thu-Sun): @ Tampa Bay Rays (4)
Kansas City’s April features an almost equal amount of the Central and the East (with one series against the West). As previously mentioned, they start off 2010 against the Tigers (Verlander vs. Greinke). The Red Sox also come a-calling before the Royals head out on the road. Their first road trip of the year features visits to Detroit, Minnesota, and Toronto. Following an off-day on the 22nd, they return home for six games against the Twins and Mariners. They finish up April down at Tropicana Field with a 4-games series against the Rays (and oh, by the way, the Royals went 1-9 against the Rays this past year). The Royals look like they have a difficult schedule in April. It’s Kansas City and they’re not expected to do much. In addition, they have the “hardest” schedule of the AL Central in terms of basing the opposition on 2009 records. Also, of the teams they face in April, only Toronto finished 2009 below .500 (and there are some national writers whose attitudes suggest they feel that the Blue Jays are still better than any team in the Central). However, as I’ve said, they’ve gotten off to hot starts the past couple years (Well, for them at least; they went 12-10 in April 2009 and led the AL Central into May).
Home games: 12
Road games: 13
KC’s 2009 record against opposition: 28-42
Combined 2009 winning percentage of opponents: .526
Friday, November 6, 2009
So what’s on tap here? Well, I probably won’t post stuff every day, but there’s bound to be plenty of hot stove action to weigh in on. I will also have part one of my 2010 schedule feature up within the next few days (It’s ready. I’m just having a difficult time determining when would be an appropriate time to post it). And I’ll probably come up with a random quirky one-time feature or two along the way (especially if MLB.com sends me their holiday catalog again), so stay tuned.