Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Another 5 runs on the board, as the Tigers win on the road against Baltimore 5-4.

Nick Castellanos
Photo (Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)
Nick Castellanos celebrated his 23rd Birthday today with a home run, a 2-run shot, as the Tigers swept their home-and-home series against Baltimore with a 5-4 win.  Jose Iglesias, returning from a season lost to injury in 2014, played 3 full innings in the field and went 0-2 at the plate. Outfielder Steven Moya who missed yesterday’s game with back-spasms, returned to action picking up an opposite-field RBI single.  Anibal Sanchez threw 21 pitches- 14 strikes- in 2 scoreless-innings of work 

Anibal Sanchez
Photo (Jonathan Dyer, USA Today)
The Tigers have now scored 32 runs in their first 3 spring training games of the season, and have only allowed 8, while starting 3-0, including a 15-2 victory over Florida Southern on Sunday.  


Joel Hanrahan
Photo (Julian H Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)
Off the field, it was learned that Joel Hanrahan, would be undergoing Tommy John surgery on March 18, for the 2nd time in the past twenty-two months. The Tigers released the 33 year-old pitcher after the announcement that he needed the season-ending surgery. 

Two games in, 27 runs scored. Are the Tigers going to be an offensive juggernaut?

Okay, maybe that’s just a BIT too much in the way of  hyperbole, as we are still over 30 days from the start of the 2015 season.  Batters are usually ahead of pitchers at this point, less than 2 weeks into spring training. 

And yes, one of the two games was the Detroit Tigers annual exhibition kickoff game against Florida Southern University, winning 12-2. Apparently, missing both extra point attempts and allowing a safety. Oops- wrong sport, sorry.    

Yoenis Cespedes
Photo (Robin Buckson, Detroit News)
Detroit followed that up however, with a convincing 15-2 thumping of the Baltimore Orioles in the actual Grapefruit League opener. The Tigers scored 6 runs, 5 earned, off Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez, the 9-year veteran who compiled a disappointing 6-9 record in 2014, his first in a Baltimore uniform.  So it’s not as if the Tigers batters did all their damage against guys who will be playing at A-ball or lower this year.  New addition to the lineup, Yoenis Cespedes, launched a grand-slam in the 4th inning of his Grapefruit league debut. 

Reports out of Tigers camp early this spring, are saying that Detroit seems to have good depth, and will have better speed and defense than previous versions of the team going into the season. How well that will translate into wins vs. losses, remains to be seen. 

Victor Martinez
Photo (Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)
Off the field, Miguel Cabrera, coming off ankle surgery appears to be on track to start the campaign healthy, as does Victor Martinez, who just a month ago had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. 

Manager Brad Ausmus says that he’s never seen Justin Verlander throw better, “stuff-wise”, as he attempts to bounce back from his worst season since his rookie campaign of 2006. Of course Ausmus’ experience in watching Verlander first-hand only dates back to February 2014, so that evaluation probably needs to be taken lightly, but the news is encouraging.
photo (Julian H Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)
Justin Verlander
photo (Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)

Cespedes, citing a heavy Latin influence in the Tigers clubhouse says he would like to stay in Detroit “long term” speaking through a translator, as the Tigers prepared for their first week of games in Florida. Then again, what's he going to say, I hate it here already?  Only A-Rod , or maybe Juan Gonzalez, would be that dumb.  

Meanwhile, Jose Iglesias, returning from stress fractures in both legs, that caused him to miss all of the 2014 season, appears to be doing well in his recovery, and a healthy Iglesias will be a key component in what the Tigers all hope will be an improved defense on the field. 

All in all, as the Tigers travel from Lakeland to Sarasota this afternoon, to take on the Orioles again, the Florida sun seems just a little bit warmer & brighter, and the grass seems a little bit greener. Oh, yeah, Anibal Sanchez gets the start for Detroit. 

Now, if only we could get that warm sun to melt the snow away back here in Michigan.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

And NOW what?? (with solutions to the potential First Base dilemma)

Victor Martinez


With the news that Victor Martinez will require surgery next week, to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, and Miguel Cabrera questionable to be ready to play on Opening Day, 2015 as he returns from his ankle surgery. The Detroit Tigers are left with a fairly simple question...now what?

Miguel Cabrera
Martinez and his 198 games and 1,500+  innings at first base, and Cabrera and his 724 games and 6,000+ innings may both not be ready, Martinez almost certainly won't be.

Alex Avila
The Tigers are left with exactly 1 inning played at First Base on their 40-man roster- and that single, solitary inning belongs to catcher Alex Avila.

On the 2014 roster, Brad Ausmus had options with Cabrera, Martinez, Don Kelly, and even Don Werth. Werth and Kelly are now gone, and with Martinez and Cabrera very questionable for the start of the season, Ausmus now faces a dilemma.
Jordan Lennerton

Ausmus has stated, that he's confident that the Tigers have options regarding 1B and DH, already in place.  Avila could start, occasionally at first, along with Romine, and minor leaguers Jordan Lennerton and Aaron Westlake also being options.

Aaron Westlake
A solution that makes sense to me is not to give playing time at first to Avila, but instead, to move Nick Castellanos across the diamond to first and start Jose Iglesias at third, with Andrew Romine taking the field at shortstop.

Iglesias, early in his career with the Boston Red Sox, the 2010 Baseball America Prospect Handbook stated about Iglesias: " When he had to play some third base in the AFL, he handled hot smashes so easily he looked like he had been at the hot corner for years." 
Jose Iglesias at 3rd vs Boston in 2013

So moving Iglesias to 3B, keeping Romine at short, and giving Castellanos time at first base is a logical step to keep an improved Tigers infield defense in tact for the start of 2015.





Victor Martinez to miss 6-8 weeks with knee Injury

Victor Martinez at bat during the 2014 playoffs
According to numerous reports, Detroit Tigers DH/1B Victor Martinez tore the medial meniscus in his left knee last week.

Martinez is supposed to undergo surgery next Tuesday by Dr. James Andrews, and at this point there is no time-table for his return, according to Dave Dombrowski.

This is the 2nd time in the past 4 seasons, that Martinez has suffered a relatively significant injury during offseason workouts.

While Pitchers and Catchers are supposed to report on Feb 19, 2015, the rest of the position players, including Martinez, were not supposed to be in Lakeland, Florida  for full-squad workouts until February 24.

Recovery from a surgery like this usually takes 6-8 weeks, but as Dombrowski indicated, the Tigers have no idea when Martinez will be fully recovered.

UPDATE:  Dave Dombrowski, when asked about the injury by The Free Press's
Anthony Fenech said the Tigers will "remain optimistic"




Monday, February 2, 2015

Dave Bergman of the 1984 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers has passed away.

Dave Bergman 
Sad news to pass along. Dave Bergman has passed away at the age of 61. A member of the 1984 World Series winning Tigers team, Bergman played 9 seasons and 871 games in the Old English D. Condolences go out to his family, friends, and teammates.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Selig Era comes to an end.

Bud Selig
Editors Note:  Normally this space is reserved for Detroit Tigers specific information, but Bud Selig deserves some special comment. 


So here we are, nearing the start of the 2015 baseball season, the first in 22 years that Major League Baseball will start a season without Bud Selig as commissioner. There are those who feel that Selig is the greatest of all commissioners and those who do not. Count me in the latter. 

My friends will tell you that my disdain for Albert H. “Bud” Selig is irrational and probably irritating, possibly to the point of how you would feel after having your knuckles run over a cheese-grater, repeatedly.  That being said, I will concede that Bud Selig did his job well, he worked for the MLB owners after all, and not the players, or the fans. 

I mean, seriously, the guy helped baseball get to the point where industry revenues were up to over the $9 billion mark in 2014.  Oh, by the way, that is up 13% from 2013, and up 321% over 1995.  Bud Selig leaves the game hemorrhaging cash- making those millionaire owners even richer.   

They aren’t the only ones either- the average MLB salary by the end of 2014 was $3,818,923.  That figure is up over $2M from 1992, when it was just a little over $1M a year at $1,084,408.

So, Bud did his job well, and made LOTS of money for the guys he needed to report to.  But before you run right out and bust open the doors of Cooperstown, and get that bronze plaque ready-   there are a few details that we might want to remember about Selig’s time in office. 

Baseball Hall of Fame
SI’s Jay Jaffe will remind you that while Bud Selig will, more than likely, get enshrined in the baseball Hall of Fame, there are compelling reasons why he shouldn’t be a “shoo-in”

I agree, here's why: 

Something to remember about Selig’s time in charge; the 1900’s were a time of major conflict after all, between all the wars and civil unrest.  I mean, first there was the “War to end all wars”– aka World War I.   A while later came World War II, followed by The “Cold War”, which opened up with the Korean War, and after that came the war in Vietnam.  Eventually, that was even followed up by Gulf War 1, and then “Gulf War II” – also known as Iraq/Afghanistan.  We also can’t forget the race riots of the 1960’s, I mean surely with all this protesting and violence across the globe and in the United States, something as simple as baseball would have to stop, right?

Since 1905, and baseball as we came to know it, started in 1903, the World Series has taken place every season, including 1916-18, 1939-1945, the early 1950’s and so on, all the way up to 1994, when- for the very first time, there was no post-season- no World Series! There was a players strike instead.

By mere chance, this strike didn’t just cost baseball its championship, but the 1994 stoppage was also the longest in baseball history- lasting 232 days, and costing over 900 games to be cancelled.  Who was “in charge” you ask?  Well, it was none other than Bud Selig.

OK, so there’s a bit of a black-mark on the leger sheet, but it’s not a big deal, right?

Baseball needed to rebound and get fans back, not only did the strike “cost” in revenue, but attendance figures dipped drastically after the strike ended, to the point that eventually, one team was moved to a different country within the next decade. 

What came next is still being evaluated and discussed, but it became known as the “steroid era”, as a run-scoring barrage took over the game- to wreak havoc on baseballs record books and taint the careers of numerous players. 

Arguments have been made that Bud Selig (and others) turned a blind-eye to steroids, in order to recapture attention (and attendance) of fans. 

A positive result of that 1994 strike– and to Selig’s credit- he worked relentlessly and tirelessly, to ensure that another work stoppage would not come about.  Thus, there is been no stoppage of baseball games in the years following, and for the first time since the early 1970’s Labor disputes have become a thing of the past. 

Doesn't that offset the 1994 strike?  

The cost, however of the steroid era is still being felt today, most notably-and debatably- in January each year, when the Hall of Fame ballots are revealed by the BBWAA.  Why should Bud Selig enter the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, when baseball’s all-time Home Run king can’t get elected? Barry Bonds - he of the 7 MVP awards and 14 All-Star game appearances has yet to get more than 206 votes out of the over 500 that are cast each year. Roger Clemens has 1 MVP award, 7 CY Young awards, is 3rd all-time in strikeouts, and 9th all-time in Wins, and arguably the most dominating pitcher of his time.  Clemens hasn’t gotten more than 214 votes in the 3 years that he (like Bonds) has been on the Hall of Fame Ballot.  Both have been stained by steroids.  

If they can’t (and won’t?) get elected why should the person most responsible for not doing anything about “performance enhancers” until it was too late? 

Bud Selig –in 1994- was only “acting commissioner” and wasn’t named as the actual commissioner till 1998, but it wasn’t until after Congress got involved in baseballs “steroid mess” by calling baseball leaders to testify in a formal hearing on the matter, that Selig, and the game, started working on a serious drug-testing program. 

Another of Selig’s questionable decisions was to coerce the owners into expanding the playoffs by adding a “wild-card” team and moving franchises from one league to another to get to our current format of 3 divisions for the 1995 season.  Furthermore, Selig then also added a 2nd wild-card team in 2012, which added to the lengthening of the post season, numerous time into November. 

Selig, embarrassed after the 1993 All-Star game, played in his hometown of Milwaukee, ended in a tie, made the unilateral decision to give the game more “meaning” by declaring that the winner of the game between the American and National league teams would get home-field advantage in the forthcoming World Series.  A farcical decision at best, yet Selig gets a “pass” on this blunder as well.

When baseball hired its first commissioner, Kennesaw Mountain Landis, back in 1920, Landis refused to take the job unless the position- he- had almost limitless power to rule “in the best interests of baseball”. 

Selig, upon taking over as “acting” commissioner in 1992, after helping oversee the removal of Fay Vincent, still held ownership of the Milwaukee Brewers. How could someone with an ownership stake, make decisions “in the best interests of baseball” when he himself would hold a conflicting interest?  

Selig eventually transferred his ownership stake in the Brewers to his daughter, but the Selig name was involved in ownership till Mark Attanasio purchased the Brewers in 2004. Meanwhile, Selig was “acting” as or commissioner of baseball since 1992. As fair and impartial as any one person might be, when you are owner of a franchise and have the job of being impartial as commissioner, when making decisions that could impact a billion-dollar business, how is it that these so-called smart businessmen let one of their own hold such a title?   The only explanation I can come up with, is that Selig’s skill as a negotiator put the other owners at ease.

Selig was also behind the strong-armed contraction plan of the early 2000’s that would eliminate 2 of 4 existing MLB teams- The Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins, Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays.  A court order kept the Minnesota Twins on the field, and eventually the Expos were relocated – to Washington D.C. - via Puerto Rico.  The result of baseball trying to pressure new stadiums for each of the teams- to be done through public funding- the result of which would be more money in the pockets of the owners/investors. Remember, that Selig at the time still held a financial interest in the Milwaukee Brewers, do you suppose by removing one of his team’s geographical rivals, that Selig might have some sort of monetary gain as a result of the Twins removal? 

Getting back to Fay Vincent’s removal, Selig- among other owners, was accused of collusion from 1985-1987, which resulted in Major League Baseball having to pay out a settlement of $280M to the players, but also set back relations with the head of the Players Union, Donald Fehr.  Relations with the players union had reached an all-time low in the early to mid-1990. Selig became a key-part of the group of owners that in 1992 gave an 18-9 vote of “no confidence” in Vincent resulting in his resignation. 

At the time of Vincent’s removal, Selig had worked himself up to the position of chairman of MLB’s Executive Council, and as such became the de facto commissioner.  With no permanent commissioner in place after Vincent’s ouster, numerous owners were willing to sacrifice the entire 1995 season. Selig once again playing a key role in not only Vincent’s demise, but the willingness of owners to forgo baseball for an entire season – in part to seek revenge from the collusion judgment from 1985-87.

Despite my dislike of Bud Selig, I will admit he has done some admirable things, not the least of which is getting more minorities involved in ownership/management opportunities as well as honoring Jackie Robinson with the league-wide retiring of his number and the April 15-  Jackie Robinson day events that occur across Major League Baseball.  

He also has presided over a time in which all but two teams- more on that in a minute-  have had more modern and very unique stadiums built to improve both revenue and the “fan experience”.

Do his good points out weigh his bad?  I guess it depends on how long your memory is, and even where you live.  I’m positive that the people in Montreal, Quebec- franchise relocated, Minnesota- nearly contracted, and the Tampa Bay- nearly contracted, AND without a profitable stadium deal, and Oakland – without a profitable stadium, have a different memory of Selig than fans in San Francisco. 

Where the Giants won the World Series, in three of the past 6 seasons, the last coming as a wild-card team in 2014, joining the 1997 and 2007 Florida Marlins, 2002 Anaheim Angels, 2004 Boston Red Sox and 2011 St. Louis Cardinals as wild-card teams to capture a World Series title under Selig’s time as commissioner, who of course, instituted the wild-card system.

Personally I’m of the belief that a commissioner shouldn’t be eligible for the Hall of Fame, his job is to monitor the growth and well-being of the game, in other words, doing his job. Marvin Miller, among others, should be in the Hall for his efforts in the game of baseball, not anyone who held the title of commissioner, and certainly not Bud Selig. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Victor Martinez named Tiger of the Year

Victor Martinez
Victor Martinez was named Tiger of the Year for 2014, and in the process becomes the first Designated Hitter to be named award winner since it was first awarded in 1965.

Martinez becomes just the 3rd player to win the award since 2007, Miguel Cabrera has won the award 4 times, and Justin Verlander 2 times, since Magglio Ordonez was named Tiger of the Year in ’07. 

The 35-year old DH/1B led the American League in on base percentage (.409) and intentional waks (28) and finished 2nd in the League with a .335 batting average and .565 slugging percentage. 


The Detroit Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America voted on the award, and Martinez garnered 17 of 21 1st place votes.