Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Catching Up

I’ve got a couple of bits of old news (as in, from just before Christmas) to catch up on. Unfortunately, it’s been so long that I don’t have proper links anymore, so you’ll have to bear with me, but let’s get to it:

First up is news out of Venezuela that Miguel Cabrera will not be playing winter ball because he is still rehabbing the ankle he sprained during the last week of the season (I verified this story myself with Venezuelan sportscaster Marfa Mata on Twitter; she works with the Tigres de Aragua and is therefore a good source of information on Cabrera). The fact that he won’t be playing winter ball is a bit disappointing, but I wasn’t really expecting him to. The fact that he’s still rehabbing his ankle is a bit odd, considering the injury happened three months ago. However, because the injury happened right before the end of the season, we really weren’t given a clear picture as to the extent of the damage, so to speak (and the Tigers’ front office seems to be very stealthy and quiet about almost everything, be it player moves or injuries, which is both good and bad, I suppose). As I said at the time, high ankle sprains cover a very wide range of severity, so if all you have to go on is the fact that it is a high ankle sprain, you don’t have much to base your assessment on (although they do tend to be more severe than regular ankle sprains). I’ve seen guys miss anywhere from a month to the entire season with high ankle sprains. However, as I am not a physical therapist, I will not speculate as to his readiness for spring training (which is, after all, still about six weeks away).

The second piece of information is that they announced the winners of the This Year in Baseball Awards (which seem to have been rechristened as “GIBBYs”) on MLB Network. If you’ll recall, the Tigers had nominees in three categories: Miguel Cabrera for Player of the Year, Austin Jackson for Rookie of the Year, and Armando Galarraga for Performance of the Year (Yes, Joaquin Benoit was nominated for, and won, Setup Man of the Year, but since he did that with the Rays, I’m not counting it). Now, Player of the Year ended up going to Josh Hamilton and Rookie of the Year went to Buster Posey, and I really don’t have a problem with that because both of them are worthy candidates. What I don’t like is that Cabrera and Jackson weren’t even in the top three in their respective results. However, the Tigers did get a top spot out of the awards, because Galarraga won Performance of the Year by a rather large margin over Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden (Don’t feel too sorry for them; Braden won Moment of the Year and Halladay won Pitcher of the Year), so congratulations goes out to him.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Feliz Navidad from Tigers Amateur Analysis

I’d like to wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Feliz Navidad. Hope everything is going well. Enjoy this video, courtesy of Jib Jab. What better way to celebrate the holiday than with dancing Venezuelans? 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fun with the 2010 Holiday Catalog

It’s a little late this year, but it’s here. It’s my annual post where I poke good-natured fun at some of the stranger items found in the Holiday Catalog. As usual, I’ve included a picture and link to the Tigers version of the item (if it exists), and some may be repeats from last year, but I get the feeling I’ve gained quite a few more readers since then, so either way, enjoy.

Team Sleeper Stocking Blanket: This is one of the ones that doesn’t come in a Tigers version (just Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox). And seriously, the online picture doesn’t convey just how strange this item is. Online, it just looks like a stocking. In the catalog, it looks like a giant stocking-shaped Snuggie and the guy in the picture is wearing it.

Comfy Throw with Sleeves: Speaking of Snuggies…

Holiday Ornament: Okay, a lot of you (not me) are clamoring for the Tigers to sign a starting pitcher, any starting pitcher. Well, here you go. I present to you lefty Bob Gingerbreadman. I hear he’s got the edge on that fifth starter spot.

Connect Four: If you get the Tigers version of this game, that’s all you get is Tigers logos on each chip. Other teams have “rivalry” versions, but this merely consists of Yankees-Red Sox and Mets-Phillies.

Holiday Santa: The item itself isn’t all that odd. It’s the fact that the catalog used the White Sox Santa (pictured above) as its example. And that one is almost entirely dressed in black, which makes Santa look like he’s the Prince of Darkness or something.

ProToast Toaster: Last but not least, this is my vote for strangest item in the catalog. Yes, it’s a toaster that burns the team logo onto your toast. This is truly the gift for the Tigers fan who has everything else (and I mean everything).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Welcome Back, Maggs

Wouldn’t you know it? The Tigers crossed off the last item on my offseason wish list even before Christmas. As you have undoubtedly heard by now, Magglio Ordoñez has been re-signed to a one-year deal (Sorry for the delay, but it’s been a very busy week and I haven’t had much internet access). Maggs apparently turned down a couple of two-year offers by other teams to return to Detroit, so it seems the rumors of his desire to stay with the Tigers were genuine. He’s gone on record as saying he’d like to finish his career with the Tigers, and I don’t have a problem with that at all. I was actually a little disappointed that it wasn’t at least a two-year deal, but it’s nice knowing we haven’t seen the last of Magglio in the Olde English D. And with that, the team is as close to how I want it as it’s going to get and the Tigers don’t need to do anything else (Well, technically, they still need to sign their three arbitration-eligible players, but I’m not anticipating any problems with that). Seriously, my needs are met and I would be perfectly happy for the Tigers to not show up in the rumor mill for the rest of the offseason (although I am concerned that, given the fact that everything’s all wrapped up so early, Dave Dombrowski will not be able to resist doing something that I will regret). I don’t think I’ve liked the players on the team this much since 2007. I can’t make any predictions on if they’ll win the division or not, but as long as the team remains the way it is now, I’m sure going to love them. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Belated Winter Meetings Wrap-Up

Sorry about not posting in the past week. I’ve had finals taking up my time. At any rate, we got through the Winter Meetings without anything disastrous happening. The only thing rumor to have come out of the meetings that concerns me somewhat is the Tigers’ supposed interest in Tom Gorzelanny. Now, there were rumors of the Tigers expressing interest in Josh Willingham, Fred Lewis, and another trade candidate outfielder whose name escapes me right now (and it’s driving me nuts that I can’t remember who it was), but all those struck me as nothing more than due diligence. I just have a feeling that the Gorzelanny rumor has legs, even though we haven’t heard anything further about it (Remember, the Tigers tend to be one of the most stealthy teams when it comes to moves). You’ve already had my take on starting pitchers, so I’ll not rehash it here. If the Tigers were to get another starter, he’d better be a star that would clearly put them over the top. Gorzelanny does not fit that description. I’m not saying he’s a terrible pitcher (though one does have to take into consideration that he’s spent his whole career in the National League), but he wouldn’t be much of an upgrade (if any) over what is in place already. And the same goes for just about every other starter on the trade and free agent market with the exception of a few that the Tigers don’t figure to be in on at this time. However, things turn and happen quickly with this team. Dave Dombrowski loves to keep bloggers on their toes. For all I know Zack Greinke will be in an Olde English D by dinner tonight (which I may not feel happy about personally, but I can’t argue against professionally).

Moving on from starting pitching to the outfield, there’s not a lot of news on the Magglio Ordoñez front. Both Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford signed ridiculous contracts, which means Maggs is probably the top outfielder left on the market (It’s getting to the point where the Tigers might have been better served picking up the option of his old contract). Now, all the rumors and quotes attributed to Magglio himself suggests that the Tigers are still his first choice, as I haven’t heard of him talking about any other team, but Scott Boras is sure to make things more complicated. It would not surprise me at all if he tried to get the Angels interested (after all, the Angels were considered the big losers in the Crawford sweepstakes). The Rangers were considering him as a plan B in case they didn’t sign Vladimir Guerrero, and at one point I heard that the Phillies were interested, though signing Cliff Lee probably takes them out of it (as a side note, I’m already dreading the onslaught of “OMG! The Phillies have the best rotation EVER” articles that are sure to come). MLB Trade Rumors keeps trying to match him up with the Blue Jays, but I haven’t seen anything beyond opinion that the Blue Jays “should” be interested. The common belief is that now that Cliff Lee has signed, the other top free agents should begin to topple like dominos (as another side note, if that’s the case, he picked a bad week to sign; I’m really busy this week). But stay tuned.

Finally, I have a couple minor notes from this week: First, at the Winter Meetings, the Tigers signed catcher Omir Santos, pitcher Chris Oxspring, and shortstop Argenis Diaz to minor league deals (I think all are expected to be in Toledo when the season starts). Second, Ignacio Serrano of ESPN Deportes reports that the Tigers have refused permission for Armando Galarraga to pitch in Venezeula this winter (link is in Spanish). So to recap, Galarraga doesn’t have permission, Guillen is still rehabbing, Magglio has said he wouldn’t (though his team is trying to get him to play during the round robin), and I don’t know what Victor Martinez is doing. That leaves Miguel Cabrera, who left the door open the last time I saw a quote from him, but I can’t imagine he will unless his team is in a playoff chase (and admittedly, I haven’t looked at the Venezuelan league standings recently). Finally, the Tigers announced today that they have released Alfredo Figaro so that he can go pitch in Japan for the Orix Buffalos (for some reason, I thought they were the Orix Blue Wave, but I don’t pay that close attention to NPB so I guess I deserved that). You should know me well enough by now to know that I have absolutely no problem with this. Plus, I know just what they can do with that open roster spot…

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Winter Meetings, or Jumping Out of a Plane Without Knowing If You Have a Parachute or Not

It’s kind of fitting that the Winter Meetings are in Orlando this year, because I have a life experience that kind of relates to this. I last went to Disney World in 2004. I was twenty years old, it was just me and my best friend, and for the most part, it was a very enjoyable vacation. One thing that I did not enjoy, however, was the Aerosmith roller coaster. Now, I’m not necessarily a wuss when it comes to roller coasters and thrill rides (Supposedly the most intense ride at Disney World is Mission Space and I loved that, cheesy storyline aside), and I don’t get motion sick at all, but I don’t like really big roller coasters and I really don’t like going upside down (It’s not necessarily a fear thing; I just find the sensation to be unpleasant). I knew full well that the Aerosmith roller coaster does go upside down, but through sheer stubbornness I insisted on riding it anyways just so I could say that I had (Also, my other best friend is a big Aerosmith fan and I wanted to make him jealous; hey, I never said my reasons were entirely mature). I can’t really say I’m glad for having done it, since I didn’t really “prove” anything (nor can I say I regret doing it), and I definitely can’t say it changed my outlook on those types of roller coasters, because I hated the ride just as much as I thought I would. Why am I telling you all this? Because right now I feel almost the same way I did while I was standing in line for that ride. There’s just such a potential for undesirable things to happen over the next four days that I can’t help but be uneasy. Now, if you read my offseason preview (and you should have), you’ll already know my take on all the different facets of the Tigers. Those haven’t changed, so I’m not going to rehash them here.

Other Tiger fans will give you a veritable grocery list of players they want signed or acquired at the Winter Meetings, consisting of a bunch of big bats, about ten starting pitchers, a few relievers, maybe a couple catchers, two shortstops, and a partridge in a pear tree. That’s not going to happen on this site. I have one, and only one request, and that is Magglio Ordoñez. I believe my request is perfectly reasonable and that I am not asking for too much. I won’t say no to Jayson Werth if it comes down to that, though I prefer Maggs. I also won’t say no to a lefty reliever, but honestly, once the Tigers get that one big bat (be it Magglio or Werth), I think they’ll be good to go. I really do. And I’ve written enough stories, drawn enough pictures, and edited enough videos to know that if you start to try to “fix” little tiny flaws and pick at stuff to try to make something good into something perfect, usually you just screw it up. The Tigers made that mistake three years ago. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Still, I can’t shake this awful feeling that my words will not be heeded. After all, it seems like the Tigers just can’t help but make their presence known for the entirety of the Winter Meetings and have to be involved in some huge megadeal. I’m starting to think it’s some sort of psychological complex (Plus, you never know when Mr. Ilitch will take a liking to a player). I hope, for all our sakes, that I am wrong. Either way, it’s going to be one roller coaster of a week. Please make sure your safety bars are in place and that all loose objects are secured.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Latin Links: December 3

I am going to try to do a post previewing the Winter Meetings sometime over the weekend, but no promises. In the meantime, there has been a little bit of Tiger-related news out of Latin America to share (most links are in Spanish):
  • This morning, Carlos V. Rodriguez of the Venezuelan newspaper Lider posted a tweet regarding Magglio Ordoñez that basically translates to “A source close to the player confirms that all signs point to Magglio returning to Detroit.” I don’t know what that means in terms of actual contract negotiations, and this is the first time I’ve read anything from Rodriguez, so I am unsure of his track record, but his Twitter site is followed by other Venezuelan writers that I’ve found to be reliable, and his tweet was retweeted by Jason Beck (along with my translation of it), so take that for what you will. At any rate, this story has gained traction and has appeared over at The Hardball Times (again, along with my translation; big thank you to Craig Calcaterra for that) and other sites.
  • On a related note, I came across some winter ball news, thanks to my discovery of Lider. In addition to his tweet heard ‘round the blogosphere, Carlos V. Rodriguez reports that Magglio will not be playing winter ball this year, instead choosing to focus on his next contract. Additionally, Cesar Augusto Marquez (also at Lider) reports that the president of the Leones del Caracas has asked permission to have Armando Galarraga pitch for them later in the year, but he probably will not (Galarraga could not be reached for comment, according to this article).
  • I also found this video from some point during the season where Armando Galarraga talks about soccer. I haven’t had the chance to listen to it myself yet, but I figured I’d share the link in case any of you had interest.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The 2010 DIBS Awards

The Detroit Independent Baseball Scribes (est. 2005) has come out with their year-end awards, but this year they’ve introduced some off-the-wall categories, because you know as well as I do that Justin Verlander is the team’s best pitcher, Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter, and Austin Jackson is the top rookie. And without further ado, here are the results:

Best On-Field Celebration: Jose Valverde (13 votes)
What Tiger fan doesn’t love the Big Potato’s dancing once he nails down a save? He’s certainly one of the biggest characters on the team, and he’s generated his share of enjoyment on the internet. “On-field celebration” made me think of walk-off home runs, so I gave Brandon Inge a second-place vote. Other Tigers who got first place votes were Inge, Joel Zumaya, and Armando Galarraga.

Best Hair, Facial or Otherwise: Phil Coke (10 votes)
Phil Coke certainly had an ever-morphing look, from mullet to normal to mohawk and back to normal. I thought the mullet was kind of fun, but the whole mohawk thing was completely stupid (not to mention unoriginal), so he did not get my vote (actually, to tell you the truth, I didn’t really think about mohawks when I was casting my votes; Coke never even entered my thought process). My first place vote went to Justin Verlander (mostly because of the facial hair, but he is a rather attractive specimen overall). I decided to have some fun with my second place vote and give it to Miguel Cabrera, because the jheri curl was the source of a lot of entertainment for me throughout the season (although I did consider giving my second place vote to either Armando Galarraga or Alex Avila, because both of them have hair that grows at an astonishingly fast rate, and this amuses me). In addition to my first-place vote for Verlander, Will Rhymes got three first-place votes, Magglio Ordoñez had two, and Johnny Damon and Joel Zumaya each got one.

Best Pitching Face: Justin Verlander (6 votes)
I think I was supposed to interpret this category as the pitcher with the most intimidating look. However, I could not get these guys’ mid-pitch expressions out of my head and I went for Justin Verlander because he looks the least weird in mid-pitch (in case you’re wondering, Armando Galarraga would definitely have been my vote for weirdest mid-pitch expressions, although Rick Porcello occasionally comes up with something strange). Still, when Verlander pitches his best, he’s got such a badass aura about him that no one can match. I gave Jose Valverde my second-place vote, because with all the dancing and getting pumped up over strikeouts, he can generate some amusing expressions. Valverde also got five first-place votes. Jeremy Bonderman and Max Scherzer each got three first-place votes, and Joel Zumaya had two.

Best Use of Social Media: Will Rhymes (17 votes)
Rhymes won this one handily, and if you don’t follow him on Twitter, you should. He’s definitely the most chatty of all the Tigers on Twitter, and what I really enjoyed was that he provided a bit of insight into facing certain pitchers during the postseason. My second place vote went to Robbie Weinhardt, although he hasn’t tweeted nearly as much recently. Weinhardt also had three first-place votes. The other Tiger on Twitter is Casper Wells, by the way. Those three need to get the rest of them online.

Biggest Surprise: Brennan Boesch (9 votes)
I understand the reasoning behind this choice. He kind of burst onto the scene in a big way and then fell from grace just as quickly. I didn’t vote for him because I was interpreting “surprise” in a strictly positive way. My vote went to Will Rhymes (and to tell you the truth, I don’t remember who my second-place vote went to). Rhymes got two first-place votes (including mine) and Austin Jackson got eight.

Best Value: Austin Jackson (11 votes)
He nearly hit .300 in his rookie season, he plays amazing defense, and he did a very nice job stepping into the role vacated by a very popular player in Curtis Granderson. And he makes league minimum right now. You could make the same argument for Max Scherzer, who got 4 votes (actually, I had Scherzer first and Jackson second, but I could easily flip them around. Miguel Cabrera had two (He’s paid $20 million but he’s worth every penny) and Brad Thomas had one (I assume someone was being facetious).

Most Valuable Tiger: Miguel Cabrera (Unanimous)
This one is a no-brainer, and Justin Verlander was the overwhelming vote for second place (including me).

2010-11 DIBS members
Kurt Mensching – Bless You Boys
Allison Hagen – Bless You Boys
Matt Wallace – Bless You Boys
David Tokarz – Bless You Boys
Al Beaton – Bless You Boys
James Schmehl –
Matt Sussman –
Ian Casselberry – and SB Nation Detroit
John Parent – Motor City Bengals
Matt Snyder – Motor City Bengals
Zac Snyder – Motor City Bengals
Chris Hannum – Motor City Bengals
Jennifer Cosey – Old English D
Scott Rogowski – DesigNate Robertson
Bill Ferris – Detroit Tigers Weblog and TigsTown
Austin Drake – Detroit Tigers Scorecard
Mike Rogers – Tigers by the Numbers and Bless You Boys
Greg Eno – Where Have You Gone, Johnny Grubb?
Samara Pearlstein – Roar of the Tigers
Lee Panas – Detroit Tigers Tales
Erin Saelzler – Tigers Amateur Analysis
Brian Borawski – TigerBlog
Mike McClary – The Daily Fungo