Friday, April 20, 2007

Sheffield strikes out looking

The Chicago White Sox bested the Tigers today 5-4. Chad Durbin gave up 4 runs (including 2 HRs) in 5 innings. Okay Leyland, anytime now... we need to give someone else an opportunity to start because Durbin isn't cutting it. We can't afford to throw away 1 out of every 5 games.

Jose Mesa was placed on the 15 day DL and Aquilino Lopez was brought up from AAA Toledo to fill his bullpen spot. Lopez went directly to work and looked impressive - he held the White Sox to only 1 hit over 2 innings.

Brandon Inge hit his 3rd HR on the season. Sheffield came up in the bottom of the 9th with the perfect RBI opportunity and failed to cash in. He's probably just a couple of days away from being booed. Polanco went 2 for 5 - his average is a team best .382.

Tigers record: 9-7, 2nd place

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The return of the rollercoaster

Todd Jones entered today's game as the Major League leader in saves. He had a perfect record and a 0.00 ERA. Tigers fans knew it wouldn't last, though, as he has a history that earned him the Ernie Harwell given nickname of The Rollercoaster. Today Jones came into the bottom of the 9th against the Kansas City Royals with the Tigers up 3-1. By the end of the inning Jeremy Bonderman's fantastic outing (7 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 6 strikeouts, 0 walks) was erased leaving him still looking for his first win on the season. After the 10th inning the Royals won 4-3 on a John Buck HR hit against Fernando Rodney.

Tigers record: 9-6

The Weaver brothers struggle on

Jeff Weaver started for the Seattle Mariners last night. Hurling against the Minnesota Twins he gave up 2 runs quickly but then settled down and pitched 4 straight innings without allowing another run. In the 6th inning, with the score 2-1 in favor of the Twins he lost command of his pitches again and gave up 5 more runs. His final line was 6 innings pitched, 10 hits (including 1 HR), 7 runs, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. He gave up the same amount of runs that he did in his last start but at least this time he made it to the 6th inning. My question for Mariners management is this: when he got you through 5 innings with only 2 runs allowed why did you leave him in during the 6th when he started to struggle? And why would you continue to leave him in until that inning ended? There's a lot to be said for confidence and the Mariners do not seem very interested in helping the elder Weaver recover his. Seattle lost 11-2.

Jered Weaver made his first Major League start of the season last night after a successful rehab stint in the minors. He started for the Los Angeles Angels against the Oakland A's. He also pitched for 6 innings and although he had a better ending line than his older brother the result was the same - a loss for his team. In 6 innings he gave up 4 hits (including 1 HR), 4 runs (3 of them earned) and 2 walks. He picked up 4 strikeouts. The Angels lost 4-1. All of Oakland's runs were scored in the 4th inning.

Does anyone know how many other times in baseball history two brothers have started on the same night and lost?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Royals should not score this many runs...

The Tigers won today against the Kansas City Royals but it was by the score of 7-6. The Royals should not be hitting our pitching so well. Maroth started and went 5.2 innings giving up 7 hits and 4 of the runs. Jones picked up yet another consecutive save. Ordonez was 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs and Polanco picked up 2 RBIs.

The Royals have now lost 6 in a row and we're looking to pick up the sweep tomorrow.

Tigers record: 9-5

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tigers win it in Grand fashion

The Tigers beat up on the Royals today 12-5. Pudge Rodriguez hit a grand slam that helped to drive off the Royals starter (Greinke) in the 1st inning. This was Rodriguez's 1st Tigers grand slam and was the 3rd that the team has hit this season. Last year they only combined for 2.

Pudge picked up 6 RBIs and Guillen picked up 4. Verlander went 6 innings and gave up his first 3 runs of the season. He struck out 6 and allowed no walks. Jose Mesa gave up the other 2 hits in a third of an inning - I am very unimpressed by him so far.

Tigers record: 8-5

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Split Series

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the day when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier - in honor of this players all over baseball are wearing his number. Several Tigers players took the field with the number 42 on their backs and they found that their bats had once again grown cold. Nate Roberston pitched another 7 solid innings giving up 2 runs, 2 walks and 7 hits while picking up 5 K's but it wasn't enough - the Tigers fell to the Blue Jays 2-1 and split the 4 game series.

The Tigers lone run came as the result of a pickoff error by Jays starter Josh Towers.

This first and very long road trip has wrapped up - the Tigers went 6-4 and are finally heading back home to Comerica Park where they will take on Zach Greinke and the Kansas City Royals, starting tomorrow night at 7:05 pm.

Tigers record: 7-5

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Blue Jays wish they could take the 9th inning back

Early on in today's game it seemed like the Blue Jays would walk off with an easy victory. Chad Durbin was not sharp giving up 6 runs, 8 hits (including 2 HRs) and a walk in 4 innings. The Tigers need to find a better solution to the spot vacated by Kenny Rogers' injury - after two starts Durbin has a 12.46 ERA. Fortunately the Tigers bats woke up and they kept pressing the Jays. It was enough to get them back in the game after being down 4-0 and then to propel them into the lead in the 9th when the pressure got to the Jays and they began to exhibit sloppy play. The Tigers took advantage and the win 10-7.

Todd Jones picked up his 6th save in 6 chances and still has a 0.00 ERA. Inge picked up 2 more hits and stole 2 bases - his average is now higher than Sheffield's which still isn't saying much as Gary's average is a lowly .132. Jason Grilli had his first positive outing of the season lasting 3 innings in long relief without giving up any hits.

Tigers record: 7-4

Friday, April 13, 2007

So Much for the Offense

When you pitch 9 innings during which you strike out 4, give up 6 hits and only allow 1 run (from a HR) you pretty much expect to get the win - unfortunately for Jeremy Bonderman the one pitch that he would take back was enough to deny him a victory. The Tigers dropped today's game to the Toronto Blue Jays in 10 innings by the score of 2-1. All of the Tigers offensive production came from a Magglio Ordonez HR hit in the 2nd inning. The team combined for 6 hits and only 2 strikeouts but they left 4 runners on base.

The Tigers and the Blue Jays seem pretty evenly matched thus far this season - this may help to reignite the rivalry of old that the two teams enjoyed back in the 80's and 90's.

Tigers Record: 6-4

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Inge Proves to be Cruicial to Offensive Cog

All it took to get the beleaguered Tigers offense going was a big night from their formerly struggling 3rd baseman - Brandon Inge went 2 for 3 today with 3 RBIs and a run in the Tigers 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Mike Maroth picked up his 2nd victory of the season. He pitched in a lot of tough spots but only gave up 2 runs over 6 innings. He also gave up 9 hits (1 a HR) and 2 walks which goes to show just how many jams he pitched out of. Maroth also notched 2 strikeouts.

Mike Rabelo made his Major League debut tonight. He went 0-4.

Tigers record: 6-3

Charter is terrible

After the inDemand digital cable deal was signed with MLB extra innings I called my local cable provider (Charter) to order the package. They have channels designated for it and they show on the listings which games are playing on what channels. But guess what? They are not currently offering the package. They don't know if or when they will be and they won't even be nice enough to contact me if it becomes available.

In other anti-Charter news they are not carrying FSN+ in my area. So today for the 2nd day in a row I'm missing out on Tigers baseball. So much for getting to see all but one game on TV this season...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

12th inning grand slam

Today's Tigers vs. Orioles game was a long one - it took 12 innings before either side scored. By the time Craig Monroe hit a grand slam it seemed like another day had passed since Justin Verlander's outstanding outing - he pitched for 7 innings giving up only 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 5. Unfortunately his valiant pitching effort ended in a no decision.

Brandon Inge was back in the starting lineup and he collected his first hit of the season. He went 1 for 5 with a walk. The boys faced off against former teammate Jamie Walker who pitched a scoreless inning and struck out 2.

The Orioles tried to battle back in the bottom of the 12th - they picked up 1 run leaving a final score of 4-1.

Tigers record: 5-3

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nate Robertson: An Unheralded Ace

Nate Robertson pitched a gem against the Baltimore Orioles today. In 7.1 shutout innings he yielded only 4 hits and a walk. He struck out 5.

Curtis Granderson went 2 for 3 with 2 runs. Neifi Perez got the start in place of the slumping Brandon Inge but was replaced by Inge in the later innings for defensive reasons. The Orioles lone run in the 3-1 Tigers victory was collected on a Corey Patterson HR hit in the 8th inning off a 100mph fastball from Joel Zumaya.

Although the scoring wasn't high this was a much better effort from the Tigers and is hopefully a sign of things to come.

Tigers record: 4-3

As predicted - Weaver's first outing was a rough one

During Spring Training I went on record and said that Jeff Weaver's first start or two of the regular season would be rough ones as he became acclimated to his new team and new environment. Calling today's outing rough would be an understatement - he lasted for only 2 innings and gave up 7 hits (including one HR), 7 runs and 2 walks. He picked up 1 strikeout.

I'm not sure that this outing can really be blamed on Weaver, though - or on any of the Seattle team that looks completely over matched by the Boston Red Sox this afternoon. As of this writing it's the 5th inning and the score is 11-1. Seattle hasn't played since the farcical Friday in Cleveland when the Indians home opener was put on hold only one strike away from being ruled an official game. Weaver was supposed to start on Saturday in one of the double header games. Those games were postponed and a double header was scheduled for Sunday. Those games were also postponed. Of course when Monday came the games were postponed again and MLB announced that the Indians would be taking to the road to start their "home" season as there was doubt about just when Cleveland would be conducive to baseball games again.

All of these postponements and the passing of so many days can be easily used to explain Weaver's poor performance - pitchers have routines for a reason and his was more disturbed than any other pitcher's in recent memory.

Monday, April 9, 2007

We miss you Kenny Rogers

Chad Durbin had his first regular season start in place of Kenny Rogers today against the Baltimore Orioles during their home opener. He went for 4.2 innings giving up 9 hits, 6 runs and a walk. The one plus was that he also struck out 5.

The Tigers lost 6-2. Our offense is just not clicking at all right now. It's okay to have a bit of a slow start but the Central division is very tough and if the boys are going to have any chance of getting back into the post season they need to turn things around in a hurry. Their current record is .500 and the fans of Detroit are no longer satisfied with merely having a winning season.

Tigers record: 3-3

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The bats need to wake up

The Tigers offense was anemic today until the 9th inning when Pudge hit a 3 run HR - these were the only runs of the game but they were enough to best the Royals 3-2.

Bonderman looks to be this year's tough luck pitcher. He has had 2 quality starts but has not picked up a win. He looked better in today's game than he did during the home opener - today he notched 8 strikeouts and gave up 7 hits (including a HR) and 1 walk along with 2 runs.

Granderson's hot start came to an end with an 0-4 day. Inge is still looking for the elusive first hit. Bobby Seay got into the action for an inning and gave up 1 walk.

Tigers record: 3-2

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Maroth gets the win

It wasn't an easy outing for Mike Maroth - he gave up 4 runs and 6 hits (including a HR) - but he did pick up his first victory since early last year when he was forced into elbow surgery. The Tigers defeated the Kansas City Royals 6-5 in what should be the only non-televised game of the season if all of the pre-season television talk comes to fruition.

Curtis Granderson continued his hot start with 2 more hits, 2 more runs and 2 more RBIs. Gary Sheffield also chipped in with 2 hits, 2 RBIs and 1 run. Both Sheffield and Granderson hit home runs.

Tigers record: 2-2

Friday, April 6, 2007

Tigers fall to the Royals

Justin Verlander gave up 5 walks today but he managed to strand each of them. After 6 innings he had given up 0 earned runs, 1 run, 5 walks, 2 hits and had recorded 4 strikeouts. This should be enough to win a game but unfortunately the offense fell flat, collecting only 5 hits and 1 run. Jose Mesa continued to not impress me when he gave up two runs in a 0.1 innings - his ERA is 54.00 after today's regular season debut in a Tigers uniform.

It was a very cold day and neither team was producing much offense, however, the Royals capitalized on their few hits and one Tigers error.

Tigers record: 1-2

Pitching from both sides

Pat Venditte, Jr. is a middle reliever in his sophomore year at Creighton. He is a soft tosser, throwing between 80 and 85 mph who practically begged for a spot on the team. Currently he's got two ERAs - 2.36 as a righty and 2.92 as a lefty. Yes, that's right - Venditte is ambidextrous and has similar ability with both arms. Like a switch hitter he can switch arms at will throughout the game as long as he sticks to one arm for an entire opponents at bat.

He describes himself as having average skill and needing the edge that switching arms gives him. His coach says that his talent level shouldn't allow him to be as successful as he has been. None of this is deterring big league scouts who see him as a possible late pick in the next draft and understandably so. He has the potential to be able to pitch twice as many innings as the average pitcher so even in a mop-up roll he could be quite useful.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Cold Weather Postponement

The last game of the current series vs. the Toronto Blue Jays was cancelled today due to cold weather - it would have been 32 degrees with flurries at first pitch. The game has been rescheduled for September 10th and helps to alleviate some of the frustration that fans had over a 2007 schedule that had the Tigers and Blue Jays only facing off during the month of April.

I have mixed feelings about this move. While it's certainly understandable to want to avoid risking any one's health there have been several baseball games played in similar weather. The reschedule date may make the game very important in the playoff race and will most certainly put stress on the Tigers as that will be one less day that they will have off going into the final weeks. If we are playoff bound we might end up regretting the decision. That being said I am glad that Justin Verlander didn't have to start today - there is still some concern regarding his arm strength for this year and throwing in such cold temperatures would not have helped.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Random Pictures from Opening Day 2007 at Comerica Park

Close Call

The Tigers received their AL Championship rings this afternoon on a dreary, cold day with few fans in the stands to enjoy it. Current minor league players who were with the club last year were on hand as was Matt Stairs who is currently with the Blue Jays. The rings are huge!

Nate Robertson had a good outing tossing for 5.2 innings with 2 runs allowed. Curtis Granderson had a career day - he hit his first Grand Slam and also got an RBI triple - his line on the day was 2 for 5 with 5 RBIs, 2 runs, 1 walk and 2 strikeouts. Craig Monroe and Brandon Inge are the only starters who are still at a .000 average on the season but they did both score 1 run today.

The Tigers vaunted bullpen almost gave up what should have been an easy win when Grilli and Rodney combined to give up 7 runs in the 8th inning.

Tigers record: 1-1

Monday, April 2, 2007

Opening Day 2007

The Tigers played very poorly today in their first game of the season in a 10th inning, 5-3 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays. Jeremy Bonderman gave up 3 runs, all in the 1st inning but he should have only been charged with 2 runs as the lackadaisical outfielders allowed a ball to drop between them resulting in the 3rd run.

Bondo settled down after the 1st inning and the boys came back to tie. Rodney pitched terribly in the 10th, though, and that was basically it.

Here's a look at the day:

Mike Maroth threw a bullpen session.

First pitch.

Brandon Inge taking second.

Gary Sheffield hitting a sac fly.

Zumaya hit 100mph today but he also had control problems.

There are more pictures and comments on today's fan experience over at my regular blog.

I won't be going to another game until the 18th so I will also post some more Opening Day pictures over the next two weeks.

Tigers record: 0-1

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tigers Opening Day Lineup

Tomorrow when the Comerica Park announcer takes the mike and says "And now, the starting lineup for your 2007 defending American League Champion Detroit Tigers!" this is the order that he will announce:

Curtis Granderson, cf
Placido Polanco, 2b
Gary Sheffield, dh
Magglio Ordonez, rf
Carlos Guillen, ss
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, c
Sean Casey, 1b
Craig Monroe, lf
Brandon Inge, 3b

..."And starting on the mound for your Tigers, Jeremy Bonderman!"


In honor of Jeremy Bonderman getting the start tomorrow here is a picture of him from the last game of the ALCS. If you'd like to see more of my pictures from the playoffs (along with some other baseball photos) click here.

.677 - What can we infer from Spring Training?

The Tigers took 1st place in the Grapefruit league with a 2 game advantage. They had a .677 winning percentage which was also higher than the winner of the Cactus League (the Arizona Diamondbacks). The only other AL Central team to finish Spring Training with a winning record was the Cleveland Indians. If we could infer that these results really mean something (which they don't) we might predict the Central would end up like this:

Kansas City

Obviously I don't believe that the Royals will pull off a 4th place finish - as much as I've love to see the White Sox drop into last place there is no reason to believe this will actually happen. I do think it's possible for the last two spots to flip, though, and for the rest of this to be what may actually happen. It is interesting to note that the White Sox came in last in the entire Grapefruit league... with the Royals in 2nd to last place with a 2 1/2 game advantage. Spring Training records may not count but it still can't be comfortable to be the White Sox going into the regular season with a .313 win percentage.

The thing that stands out the most from this spring for the Tigers is that it showcased how deep our organization is in most positions. Catching is a weakness for us beyond the Major League level and needs to be addressed but most other positions look good right now, especially pitching. Many of these games were played by our organization players who are years away and they made a good showing. Most exciting was Cameron Maybin who promises to be a mainstay in our lineup in the somewhat near future.

Our minor league teams are stacked to repeat their success of last year just as much as the parent club is. 2007 will be a good year to be affiliated with the Tigers.

Weaver pitches 6 scoreless innings

Jeff Weaver ended Spring Training on a high note in the Mariners 2-1 victory against the Chicago Cubs. In a somewhat unconventional move Weaver pitched the final 6 innings of the game instead of the first 6. He scattered 5 hits and collected 4 strikeouts. He pitched efficiently needing only 71 pitches to get the victory. In a regular season game this pace would have left him easily poised to pitch into the 8th or even the 9th inning.

He ends the spring with a 5.68 ERA. Weaver is probably not going to be the stud pitcher that he was in the World Series throughout the entire season but the Mariners can expect solid outings from him. He will have the occasional game where he implodes (thanks to the curse of the HR) but I predict 12 victories from him (it would be 14 if the Mariners were any good) and an ERA of around 4.50. He will put in his typical workhorse season logging over 200 innings and collecting a higher than league average amount of strikeouts. He will also most likely lead the league in HRs allowed.

Tigers end Spring Training with a tie

The Tigers and the Yankees tied at 3 today for their last game of spring training. Mike Maroth tossed for 4 innings against the starting Yankees lineup giving up 3 runs and 7 hits. He also recorded 4 strikeouts.

So how did the Tigers regulars finish the spring? Here's a look at the ending averages of the probable starting lineup for Opening Day:

Granderson .314
Polanco .491
Sheffield .312
Guillen .236
Ordonez .283
Guillen .236
Rodriguez .394
Casey .278
Monroe .333
Inge .258

This team can hit and if they fail to repeat as AL champions it will not be for a lack of hitting (although it may be for a lack of clutch hitting). Guillen's numbers are really low but now that he's signed through 2011 and no longer has that distraction hanging over his head I'm sure that he'll turn things up a notch.

My prediction for 2007 - the Tigers will win the Central with 92 victories. The top 4 spots will be very close - this is going to be a dogfight all year and Tigers fans are going to have to hang in there as the Tigers will not be in first place for as long as they were in 2006. It will bounce back and forth. 1st-4th place will be divided by no more than 15 games in the Central and may even be as close as 7. 5th place, the Royals, will be blown out but not as badly as last year. They will be the team that decides how 1st-4th fall thanks to the lopsided schedule.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Verlander finishes strong

Justin Verlander had a strong finish to a weak spring with 5 innings today during which he gave up only 2 hits and compiled 6 strikeouts. The Tigers defeated the Yankees 6-2. Verlander's strong outing was especially important following on the heels of the announcement of Rogers being sent to the DL.

Former Tigers watch: Kyle Farnsworth (he of the awesome tackling ability) pitched an inning against the Tigs today. He gave up 1 hit and recorded 1 strikeout. His spring ERA is 1.80.

Rogers is out until July

The Tigers just announced that Kenny Rogers had surgery to remove a blood clot from his left shoulder and that he also had two arteries repaired in the same shoulder. He will be out until at least July.

The official word is that Chad Durbin will retain the 5th spot until Rogers returns but I think we'll see Andrew Miller within a month.

Rogers Update and Wilson moved to DL

A source close to the club told the Detroit Free Press that Rogers actually has a blood clot and is on his way to a specialist to have his arm looked at.

Vance Wilson was also just moved to the DL. Mike Rabelo will fill in as the backup catcher.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Chad Durbin shows that he's a suitable fill in

Chad Durbin took over for the injured Kenny Rogers today in an afternoon game against the Houston Astros and was credited with the win in the 3-1 victory. He pitched for 5.2 innings giving up 5 hits and 2 walks. Even with Mark Wegner (one of my least favorite umps) behind home plate he picked up 2 strikeouts.

Each Tigers regular starter was limited to 1 at bat today. Brandon Inge hit a double which drove in all 3 runs. Resting the regulars this close to the start of the season makes good sense - they are already tuned up and risking further injuries with Rogers on the DL and Vance Wilson having issues would not be a good decision.

Season Tickets

My 27 game partial season ticket plan finally got here today. The ticket snafu this year was ridiculous and has caused far too much stress for season ticket holders. I can only imagine what it was like to be a ticket rep this year - they sold far more packages than ever before so just think about how many people they had to placate over a situation that was completely out of their control. My ticket rep was very responsive and helpful even with her voice mail box being full every time I called her.

Here's a hint, Tigers brass - send out the tickets early next year like you used to.

If you haven't received your tickets yet there is still hope - the Tigers announced that they expect everyone to have their tickets by tomorrow.

Rogers lands on DL

Damn it... and we thought we would make it through the spring without any serious injuries... Kenny Rogers has been placed on the 15 day DL retroactive to March 25th. Chad Durbin takes his spot with Bobby Seay being called in for the bullpen slot. More info as soon as I know it...

Edit: The Tigers are saying this is due to a "fatigued arm." Rogers was pitching well right before this happened so that reasoning seems a bit suspect. The earliest date of return is April 9th. Rogers will miss at least 1 start.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Very nice Pettyjohn article

I just found a very nice 2 page article about Adam Pettyjohn, his struggles with colitis, his frustrations at the long road back to baseball and how confident he is that he will pitch in a major league ballpark again now that he's in the Brewers organization. Check it out here.

Baseball Games Shouldn't End in a Tie - part 2

The Tigers and the LA Dodgers played 9 innings today and then the game was ended - even though the teams were tied at 3 runs apiece. I know it's only Spring Training and I know the teams are trying to minimize the possibility of an injury but it just feels so wrong for a game to end in a tie.

Nate Robertson pitched 5 innings and gave up 2 earned runs. He also recorded 4 strikeouts. Gary Sheffield hit his 4th home run of the season off of Derek Lowe. The Tigers committed two errors but on the plus side they also only struck out twice.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It was painful but we got the win + Padres get 24 runs

The Tigers beat the Atlanta Braves 7-5 today. In the third inning when we were up 5-0 it seemed like the boys were on their way to a laugher but then the Braves dug in and made it a contest. Joel Zumaya gave up his first runs of the spring season in the form of 2 home runs. Jeremy Bonderman spent a lot of time working on his changeup and looked sharp through 5 innings.

In other baseball news the San Diego Padres scored 24 runs today against the Texas Rangers who added 7 of their own for a combined total of 31 runs in one game. The Padres had 50 at bats.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Opening Day Roster is Set

Jim Leyland announced the 25 man roster today and it has an unpopular move - Neifi Perez was retained in favor of both Ramon Santiago and Chris Shelton. Perez was owed a lot of money for the season and likely would have been released if he hadn't made the club but this is an option most fans would have been very happy with.

The final bullpen spot went to Chad Durbin over Zach Miner. Shelton, Santiago and Miner were all optioned to AAA Toledo.

Can we play the Nationals every day?

The Tigers defeated the Washington Nationals again 6-5 this afternoon. Mike Maroth was having a relatively easy afternoon until the 5th inning when he gave up 5 runs - 3 were the result of a 3 run HR from Cristian Guzman.

Former Tigers Watch: Newly appointed Nationals starting 1st baseman Dmitri Young went 1 for 3 with a run. Robert Fick went 1 for 2 with a run and an RBI.

Placido Polanco's hot hitting streak continued with 2 more hits - with a week left in Spring Training he still has a .500 average.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tigers make a Statement

The Tigers defeated the New York Yankees 9-5 today. The offense came out strong in the first inning cranking out 4 runs (3 from a 3 run HR by Gary Sheffield) and went on to collect 15 combined hits while only striking out 4 times. If the Yankees thought they were going to have an easier time with the Tigers this year they've been proven otherwise before even breaking camp.

Curtis Granderson had a bit of a scare today with his wrist but is apparently fine as he went 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs. Brandon Inge went 2 for 2 with a walk and has really heated up nicely heading into the last week of spring training. A week ago he was struggling to get near the Mendoza line and now his average is .288.

Carlos Guillen did not play so his minor injury from yesterday must still be bothering him a little bit. He was anticipated to be back today and no reports were released so far that things have taken a turn for the worse so this was probably just a precaution. Look for him to be back in the lineup at the start of the week.

Justin Verlander was scheduled to pitch in this particular game but was sent to start the minor league came instead - he had a good outing there so hopefully when he pitches Friday in his last Spring Training start his mechanics will be improved. In Verlander's place was Jason Grilli who gave up 2 runs in 3 innings.

The next televised Spring Training game will be on Tuesday at 7:05 PM EST on FSN.

Why time begins on Opening Day

Opening Day in baseball is a tradition so deeply ingrained into our culture that even those who have no interest in baseball will observe it. No other sport has such an emphasis placed on the first game and in no other sport is the result really so non-essential to the outcome of the coming season. It’s a beautiful day, though, and is the one day out of a grueling, marathon season when everyone is on the same level. Everyone starts at 0 and everyone has the opportunity and the right to dream, even if only for that one day.

As a Tigers fan Opening Day has had an almost magical quality for me over the past several years. The boys may have went on to have a terrible season but on that one day I could allow myself to dream about baseball in October and what it would be like to hear my beloved Tigers announced as the champions of anything, even if it wasn’t the World Series.

Last year I got pumped up for Opening Day the same way that I always do – listening to Eye of the Tiger and allowing myself to dream. I was confident that day. There was a new leader in town and I was certain that the boys were going to finish above .500 for the first time in more years than I care to mention. I day dreamed for a few minutes about being in the World Series as I always do and then I shook off the fantasy and went to making bets with people that the Tigers would finally have a winning season. Most people laughed at me.

As the months passed and the Tigers continued to excel I had to listen to the unfaithful drone on and on about how it wouldn’t last, how it was a fluke. Someone said that to me at the end of June and I looked at them like they were crazy. I don’t think half of a season can constitute a fluke.

We all know the outcome of this story – the Tigers Cinderella season seemed to be swept aside as they failed to clinch the division title and limped into the playoffs with the wildcard spot. After losing the first game to the Yankees many so called “fans” wrote them off completely. And that’s when the magic came back to Motown. Winning the next 7 games in a row to be catapulted into the World Series was the best string of baseball that I’ve ever seen. Being there as they defeated the Yankees and then the A’s was an indescribable feeling and I count those two days amongst the best of my life.

The World Series did not turn out as planned and it was painful to get that far and to be denied. It was also better than the fans of 28 other teams got and for that I’m thankful. I went to the World Series and watched the team that I love more than most things and people in my life etch out a spot in history. How many people can say that? It no longer matters that they lost because they won so much – the won respect, they won national attention and they won back the formerly broken hearts of Detroiters.

Opening Day is in 8 days. This is a time to dream once again. It doesn’t matter if your team lost more games than anyone else last year or if your team won the World Series – everyone is equal again until that first pitch is thrown. Go ahead and dream. It’s part of what makes baseball so special.

This post is also hosted at Grasshopper Ramblings.

Tigers on TV today

The Tigers take on the New York Yankees today at 1:05 PM EST as we head into the last week or so of spring training. The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net Detroit for those who are local.

In other Tigers TV news FSN will also be presenting opening day in style - starting the afternoon before they will be presenting the 36 inning Tigers marathon. It will feature repeats of some of the playoff games along with spotlight features and new programming. For those of us who get to go to the ballpark we will be able to come home after the game and watch the repeat of it that evening.

This is an exciting year for Tigers fans who rely on TV to see their team - between FSN, ESPN, FOX and local channel programming there is only 1 game that won't be seen on TV and that will probably change into no games if we have a season like last year. With my partial season ticket package and the extra games that I pick up (plus the games that I travel to see) I will see around 35-40 games in person - for the rest I rely heavily on TV and radio. It will be nice to actually see all of the games this year. Last year there were far too many games that could only be heard.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Results of my Fantasy Draft

The draft went quickly - there were ten teams and it was done in just over an hour. I'm happy overall and I think I scored a couple of really good picks. By the end, though, things had started to deteriorate (including my concentration) and I spent the last 3 picks on home town favorites that are due for good seasons. I have 5 bench spots so there's not a lot of risk involved in doing that. Here are my picks, in order.

Jose Reyes
Mark Teixeira
Chris Carpenter
Bobby Abreu
Joe Nathan
Juan Pierre
Dan Uggla
Jeremy Bonderman
Adam Dunn
Chipper Jones
Jered Weaver
Prince Fielder
Francisco Cordero
Ramon Hernandez
Todd Jones
Joe Crede
Adam Wainwright
Joe Borowski
Curtis Granderson
Brandon Inge
Nate Robertson

As you can see I was focused on power and saves with as much speed as I could get. In the past I've tried drafted a team of players that had balanced stats and it didn't work out very well - this time I didn't care if a player had a low average if he had a lot of power or speed. I'll take the hit in the average category (although not much of one looking at which batters I ended up with) over giving up Home Runs and RBIs. As to saves, you can never, ever have enough saves. So I went for them, even picking up Todd Jones when I wasn't planning on it. Weird things happen during the draft - sometimes you change strategy without even realizing it.

The only thing I didn't do during this draft that I usually do was draft my sentimental favorite - Jeff Weaver. If he puts together a couple of good starts in April I will pick him up before the others start to pay any attention to him. For now I'm content with having drafted his brother.

There were a couple of disappointments. I was planning on drafting Joel Zumaya and he was snatched right before I was going to select him. Others that I wanted and didn't get include Ryan Howard and Justin Verlander. The Verlander thing might be a good thing, though... I wasn't going to draft him very high. I'm concerned about fatigue from him this year.

If this was your team would you be confident going into the season or would you be looking to dump someone right away? I generally stick with my selections for at least a couple of weeks unless something went terribly awry during the draft.

Split Squad Decisions

For the third time the Tigers had two split squad games on the same day and split them - winning against the Houston Astros 7-5 and losing to the Atlanta Braves 3-1.

Kenny Rogers pitched very well in the loss giving up no runs, 4 hits and 2 walks along with notching two strikeouts in 6 innings. Gary Sheffield drove in the lone run and Brandon Inge picked up 2 more hits.

The victory had no regular Tigers starters in the rotation (Zach Miner picked up the decision even though he gave up 4 runs in 4 innings - he also picked up a blown save). Craig Monroe hit his 2nd home run of the spring.

Former Tigers Watch: Eric Munson had 1 at bat in the Astros game - he struck out. He and another former Tiger, Brad Ausmus, appeared in the catchers gear in that game. Ausmus went 1 for 4.

Final Call for Fantasy Baseball

There are still a couple of spots left in my free fantasy baseball league - we draft tonight at 7:15pm EST. If you'd like to join us click here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rough Day for the Pitchers

Nate Robertson scuffled today and as a result his ERA jumped from well below 1.00 (it was 0.68 after the first inning) to 3.12. In 5 innings he gave up 4 hits, 3 walks and 5 runs. Fernando Rodney gave up 3 runs in 1 inning. In the end 4 Tigers pitchers combined to give up 10 runs in a 10-4 loss against the Washington Nationals.

The Tigers offense combined for 8 hits - 3 of which came off of the bat of Chris Shelton.

Former Tigers Watch: Robert Fick was the starting catcher and Nook Logan the starting CF for the Nationals. Fick went 1 for 2 with a run (his spring average is .276) and Logan went 2 for 4 with a run and 2 RBIs (his average is .250).

The boys just didn't have it today - it happens.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

1 run that went our way

The Tigers beat their divisional rival the Cleveland Indians today 5-4, pounding out 14 hits - 3 of which belonged to the formerly struggling Brandon Inge. The hit to run ratio may seem quite wide but the boys combined for only 2 strikeouts and 6 left on base so it was a good effort, aside from a throwing error by Carlos Guillen.

Jeremy Bonderman pitched for 5 innings giving up 4 hits, 3 walks and 2 runs - he also recorded 4 strikeouts. Todd Jones finally gave up a run and decided why not make it two? He blew the save but ended up recording the win. Joel Zumaya is still going strong with yet another scoreless inning. I know that spring training stats really don't mean much but what a boost of confidence for the young flamethrower if he can make it to the regular season without giving up a run.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Adam Pettyjohn Update

I haven't found any information about when the change happened but Pettyjohn is now pitching in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Yesterday he pitched in spring training with the AA Huntsville Stars for 3 innings - he gave up 1 run, 3 hits and a walk.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Weaver Implodes

Jeff Weaver had given up 1 run in 3 innings - the start of a nice spring training game close to the start of the season. Then the 4th inning came and the Arizona Diamondbacks just wouldn't stop hitting. They hit two home runs. They drove in 5. By the time it was over Weaver had given up a total of 7 hits, 6 runs and 2 walks on the day. Maybe Weaver should have stayed in St. Louis...

Attack of the "Left on Base" Monster

The Tigers left 11 men on base today in the process of losing 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. They also struck out 8 times and committed 1 error.

Justin Verlander gave up 5 hits and 3 runs in 4 innings and his offense did not pick him up - they combined for 8 hits but they were unable to drive in more than one runner. The one positive from today is that Brandon Inge went 2-4 and appears to be breaking out of his spring slump.

Applauding the Rangers

The Texas Rangers made it official yesterday - they have taken back the name of their ballpark. It is now the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. I am a big fan of this move - the corporate sponsored ballpark names lack character and also lack the concept of the team as a "brand." I can understand where the banks are coming from when they give a huge loan and want the ballpark named after them (for example - Comerica Park) but I think that the teams need to collectively stand up and move away from this process.

Monday, March 19, 2007

10 more players have been cut

The Tigers released a press release this morning with the latest spring training cuts. Brent Clevlen and Mike Rabelo have been assigned to AAA. The other 8 players - Cameron Maybin, Craig Dingman, Dennis Tankersley, Brandon Watson, Joey Eischen, Brent Dlugach, Kevin Hooper and Mike Hessman - have been assigned to minor league camp.

There are 39 players remaining in camp - 14 more cuts have to happen before the Tigers break camp.

6 more runs

The Tigers beat the Cincinnati Reds today 6-2. Kenny Rogers tossed for 5 innings, giving up 2 runs (including a HR) and 2 walks. Joel Zumaya and Todd Jones expanded their scoreless innings streak.

The best stat from today? The Tigers hitters combined for only 2 strikeouts.