Saturday, January 29, 2011

Infield Outlook for 2011



Continuing with my position outlook for the 2011 Detroit Tigers

1st Base- Miguel Cabrera-
Cabrera is the foundation of Detroit’s present and future. The soon to be 28-year old is already a 5-time All-Star. Since becoming full-time major leaguer at the age of 21, in 2004, Cabrera has averaged 100 runs, 40 doubles, 34 Home Runs, with 117 RBI, and a .317 batting average. Last season, Cabrera almost became the first AL Triple Crown winner since Ted Williams in 1967, by finishing 2nd in Batting Average, 3rd in Home Runs, and 1st in RBI. Cabrera was the centerpiece of the December 2007 trade with the Florida Marlins, and can not test the Free Agent waters until 2016 at the earliest.

2nd Base- Scott Sizemore, Will Rhymes, or Carlos Guillen Sizemore, Rhymes, Guillen will compete for time as the team’s primary 2nd baseman. Here’s what we know; starting with Carlos Guillen. Guillen is coming off microfracture surgery on his left knee, injured last season, and the Tigers are cautiously optimistic he will be ready for game action in Mid-March. We know that Baseball America has projected Scott Sizemore as the Tigers 2nd baseman of the Future, in its prospect handbook issues from 2009 and 2010. That being said, we know that Will Rhymes spent the most time at second base for Detroit in 2010, of all the players on the spring training roster.

In a perfect world Guillen returns healthy and resumes the form that made him a 3-time All-star. Reality says that won’t end up happening as Guillen has had a consistent decline of AB’s per year since 2007, and has missed an average of 49 games a year over the past 5 seasons. According to GM Dave Dombrowski, the doctors supervising Guillen’s rehab say he should be able to start playing in games around the middle of March, which means Guillen would already be a month behind, at the start of the season.

So the Tigers go into the year with their biggest question mark on the roster, with who will play 2nd base for the team. If Sizemore is going to make the position “his” this is probably his last year to do so. Sizemore has a .296 batting average, with a .382 career On-base %, in 5 seasons in the Tigers minor league system, so the potential is there. Rhymes has similar statistics over his minor league career, but is a bit older, with less power. Rhymes, also bats left-handed and brings a bit more speed to the position. Regardless of who ends up garnering the most AB’s out of spring training, 2nd base will end up being the weakest position in the Tigers 2011 infield.


Shortstop - Jhonny Peralta He started 2010 as the Cleveland Indians starting 3B, but in June Peralta was traded to the Tigers for minor league pitcher Giovanni Soto, and cash. In coming to Detroit, Peralta moved from 3B, where he played in 91 of his 100 games with the Tribe, to Shortstop for the Tigers. Peralta and Brandon Inge give the Tigers a pretty solid left-side of the infield, but questions persist regarding Peralta’s range at short. What Peralta does do is bring a potent bat for his position, averaging 564 AB’s, 33 doubles, 2 triples, 18 HR’s and 78 RBI a season since 2005. The cost of that power is that he also strikes out 132 times a season, with a .266 batting average.

3rd Base- Brandon Inge After starting his Tigers career as a Catcher, the former Virginia Commonwealth University shortstop, moved out from behind the plate starting in 2004, and settled in as the Tigers “super-sub” playing 3b, C and OF in ’04 and ’05, and parts of 2008, but as the Tigers primary 3B in 2006, ’07, ’09 and ’10 seasons. From 2001-2003 catching took its toll on Inge at the plate as he hit only .198 and averaged 5 HR’s and 74 K’s per year. Since moving out from behind the plate, Inge has brought his batting average up to a decent .246, while increasing his power to 23 doubles, 4 triples, 17 HR’s and 71 RBI per year, the added power has also upped his strike-out total to 127 per year as well. Concern remains for the Tigers that with Peralta’s somewhat limited range at short that Inge will have to make more plays defensively, and risk injury or struggle at the plate as a result.

Infield: If the left-side of the infield, (Inge and Peralta) can stay solid defensively, and Sizemore can handle being the team’s second baseman for the now and “of the future”, the Tigers 2011 Infield has a chance to be very solid all the way around, and in the case of Cabrera- Spectacular. The offensive potential is there for the Tigers to help improve on their runs scored this season, and if the defense is solid, the 2011 infield could lead the way for Detroit to be playoff bound.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mike Maroth retires


It didn’t make news on Sports Center, or even on the main MLB page on ESPN.com, but the other day, former Tiger Mike Maroth announced his retirement.

Maroth was never a high-draft pick or Top-10 prospect for the Tigers, but due to circumstances beyond his control, for one inglorious season, Maroth became the face of the Tigers.

Back in 2003, Maroth became the first MLB 20-game loser since 1980, when the dubious feat was logged into the record book by Brian Kingman, of the Oakland A’s. That season, Maroth started 33 games for a Tigers team that lost 119 games. Maroth pitched his way to a 9-21 record that year. To put it into perspective, Maroth’s 9 wins on a team that only won 43 games for the season, is like a 19-win season on a team that won 90 games.

Due to injury, and despite attempts to return from them, Maroth decided to hang up his cleats. He won’t ever be in the Hall of Fame, or listed as a Tiger favorite, but for the class in which he represented himself, his teammates, and the game, in the face of a record most Tiger fans wish to forget- I wish the best for wish for nothing but the best for him.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 Season Preview: Catchers



Catchers
Alex Avila and newcomer Victor Martinez will be the primary catching duo for the Tigers in 2011. At the time of this evaluation, Manager Jim Leyland says that OF Don Kelly will work out in spring training to be the team’s 3rd catcher as needed this season.

Alex Avila- after spending 2008 and most of 2009, in the minors, the son of Detroit’s Vice President, Assistant General Manager Al Avila, the 5th round draft choice out of the University of Alabama, took over the primary catching duties with Detroit in 2010, appearing in a career high 104 games, with 7 HR, 31 RBI and a .228 Batting average.

The soon-to-be 24 year-old right handed hitting catcher hit .280 in 151 minor league games, so his less than .230 batting average last year, was a disappointment to the Tigers. According to a recent article in the Detroit News, Avila says he’s been working hard to improve his conditioning, footwork and hitting consistency.

Avila’s goal for the 2011 season is to be prepared to take a physical beating his position demands, and to do a better job transitioning from “offense to defense, and vice-versa during the games”.

Avila will be working with the newly acquired Victor Martinez, who has caught in 827 games over the course of his career, to refine his catching and offensive skills, as he continues his role as the Tigers “catcher of the future”.


Victor Martinez- the 32-year-old, 4-time All-Star, signed with Detroit as a Free Agent in November, after spending one and a half seasons in Boston with the Red Sox. Martinez started his career in Cleveland before being traded to Boston in a salary dump, move by the Tribe.

General Manager Dave Dombrowski and Manager Jim Leyland envision that Martinez will serve as Detroit’s primary DH, while spelling Avila at Catcher, and Miguel Cabrera at 1st base, this season.

ESPN had Martinez ranked as the 4th best Free Agent heading into the off-season this year, and Dombrowski signed him to a 4-year $50 million contract that will expire at the end of the 2014 season. Martinez brings a .300 batting average and 131 career home runs to Detroit, where he has hit 4 home runs for his career. From 2004 to 2010, Martinez has hit for an average of 18 HR’s a year and hit for a .300 average, which will help improve the Tigers offense, which finished 8th in the American League in 2010, scoring 751 runs.

Bottom Line: Catcher should be a strong suit for the Tigers in 2011, if Avila can hit .250 with 10 HR’s and provide decent defense, and Martinez hits .300 with 15 HR’s and 85 RBI’s. Nobody else in the American League has that kind of offense from the Catcher position, including Minnesota with former AL-MVP, Joe Mauer.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Adios, Armando




After days of speculation, the Detroit Tigers officially traded away Armando Galarraga to the Arizona Diamondbacks, for 2 minor league pitchers.

According to the Tigers website, Detroit received Kevin Eichhorn and Ryan Rabowski. Eichhorn,a 21-year old Right handed starter, is expected to start out at low-Class A West Michigan, and Rabowski, a 23-year-old Left-handed reliever who could start the season at high-Class A Lakeland or Double-A Erie.

The Diamondbacks will pick-up all $2.3 Million of Galarraga’s contract.

The deal brings together the Tigers and Diamondbacks together once again, in a swap of pitchers. Detroit got Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth back in 2009 in the deal that sent Edwin Jackson to Arizona, and last summer, Detroit sent Dontrelle Willis to the D’backs for pitcher Billy Buckner.

New Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that Galarraga will compete for a spot in the rotation, putting Galarraga in a similar situation he faced after the Tigers signed Brad Penny.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Optimism, optimism, everywhere.


Granted it’s the time of year where every team feels that at the VERY least, they have a chance, and for some, excluding the Chicago Cubs, this is THEIR year.

As the Detroit Tigers hosted Tiger-fest at Comerica Park this weekend, and they hit the road for their annual “winter caravan”, the feeling is that 2011 could be a very good year for baseball fans in Michigan.

Local Columnists and even some of the Tigers themselves feel that the A.L. Central will be theirs for the taking. If nothing else at least one should hit better this season. (Also note in the article, why Lloyd McClendon feels his job as hitting coach should be easier”).

Also announced during Tiger-fest this year, was that the Tigers will be retiring Sparky Anderson’s #11, at some point during the season.

Dave Dombrowski feels that the chances are “likely” that a deal will get done to trade away Armando Galarraga, who became expendable with the signing of Brad Penny,

In other MLB news, the Tampa Bay Rays have signed, pending physicals, former Red Sox teammates, Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez to contracts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Damon to Tampa?? Could be.



Doesn’t it figure? Just a few hours after I make a blog post regarding former Tigers on the job hunt, and I never mention that Tampa Rays as a possible landing spot, and according to a report on MLBTraderRumors.com, the Rays are close to reaching an agreement with the 37-year old outfielder. Damon would reprise the role he filled last season for the Tigers in Tampa this year, as the Rays primary DH and part-time outfielder.

Of course the fact that Scott Boras is Damon’s agent means the deal could be done later today or just before spring training,with Boras you just never know.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On the job hunt.



Former Tiger Nate Robertson signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners earlier today, and received an invitation to Spring Training, but more than likely Nate won’t be able to crack the rotation for the Mariners. Starting the season for Seattle’s AAA team in Tacoma seems to be the likely destination for Robertson.

Meanwhile the signing of Andruw Jones by the Yankees means that Johnny Damon’s return to the Bronx is very doubtful. Damon wanted to return to New York, but the Yankees already have a crowded outfield and at bats would be slim for the 37-year old, not to mention that Damon is at this point considered a defensive liability. The Toronto Blue Jays are still considering making a run at the Scott Boras client, but for now the wait continues to see where he will end up.

The recently designated for assignment Armando Galarraga is still awaiting word what will happen to him, as well. Rumors persist that the Tigers have received offers for the 29-year old pitcher. Possible landing spots are Baltimore and the New York Yankees, but nothing appears to be imminent.

Jeremy Bonderman is also waiting for offers, as he was linked to a few teams during the off season, but like Galarraga, nothing appears imminent. Bondo will probably have to end up taking a minor league contract and spring training invitation, like Nate Robertson.

Tigers Caravan gets rolling, Guillen is a question mark.


As members of the Detroit Tigers kick off their spring caravan across the state of Michigan this season, Manager Jim Leyland made a few comments to the Detroit News regarding the “state of the Tigers”.

Surprisingly one of the comments contradicted what the team has been saying all winter long about Carlos Guillen. The team has said all along that Carlos Guillen was expected to be ready for spring training, yesterday in Toledo during the first stop of the Tigers annual winter caravan, Leyland admitted that “I don’t think he’s going to be ready to start”. Guillen, of course, is coming off microfracture surgery on his left knee, that kept him from performing any activities since September when the surgery was performed.

Leyland also acknowledged that he was comfortable with any of the following filling in for Guillen at various positions, until he is healthy; Will Rhymes, Danny Worth, Scott Sizemore, Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn.

Leyland also commented about the team’s newest starter, Brad Penny “He’s a horse, he’s good, but we have to keep him healthy…The Cardinals were really pleased with the way he started the year (for them), but then he got hurt – and that’s happened in the past. So as I said, we’ll have to keep him healthy”.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An explanation of the Galarraga signing.


Ever since the Tigers announced that they had signed Armando Galarraga to a contract, to avoid arbitration, and then promptly designated him for assignment, the question has been out there. WHY?

Well basically it comes down to the rules of baseball, as opposed to the Tigers desire to keep him under contract.

When the Tigers tendered Galarraga to a contract last month, they had already committed to signing him for 2011. They had no other choice, but to negotiate a contract or have it go to arbitration. Either way, Galarraga would have to be signed to a Tigers contract for 2011.

By avoiding arbitration, the Tigers have an out, on Galarraga’s contract. The non-arbitration contract signed by the Tigers and Galarraga is not a guaranteed contract, so even if the Tigers end up releasing him, they will only end up owing him a fraction of the $2.3 million.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's the buzz

Despite the fact that Spring Training is over 25 days away, and things are still a little "slow", with no games or even practices being held, I've tried my best to keep the Tiger Tizzy faithful, up-to-date with the latest news regarding your favorite baseball team.

I've avoided "putting my own opinion" on here, not because I don't have any, but because I have wanted to get a feel for blogging, as well as making sure I have my own ducks in a row.

All that being said, I have to wonder what exactly Dave Dombrowski has in mind, after designating Armando Galarraga for assignment, less than 24 hours after signing him t0 a 1-year $2.4 Million contract.

So, once again Dave Dombrowski, has gotten all of the Tigers arbitration eligible players under contract, prior to the arbitration hearings. Ryan Raburn, and Joel Zumaya are both decent contracts, that could easily prove to be "value" contracts at the end of the season- IF Raburn can live up to expectation, and Zumaya can stay healthy for the entire season.

Signing Armando Galarraga to his contract and then designating him for assignment, makes me wonder what is in the works. Obviously Dombrowski and Leyland want their rotation to start with Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello, Coke and Penny. That rotation has the potential to be in the upper tier in all of baseball, let alone the American League.

Armando would have a hard time breaking into that rotation, unless he pitches more along the lines of 2008 version (13-7, 3.73 ERA), instead of the 10-19, 5.06 ERA pitcher that has taken the mound for Detroit in 2009 and 2010. Sorry Armando, those numbers won't help your case to deserve innings in the Tigers rotation.

I am wondering if Dombrowski has a trade partner all lined up, to send Galarraga off somewhere, once the ink dried on his contract. If not, why bother signing him to a contract in the first place. Don't sign him, let him go to arbitration, and walk away as a free agent. Rumors are already hitting the Internet that the Yankees might take a look at Armando, with the pickings for quality starters very thin in the ranks of the remaining Free Agents.

As Spring Training progresses, I will be taking an in-depth look at your 2011 Tigers, from the starting rotation, bullpen, infield, and finally outfield.

As always, your comments regarding the Tigers and Tiger Tizzy are welcome.


Galarraga on the move




Well this move explains why Brad Penny hasn’t been listed on the Tigers 40 man roster.

According to MLB Trade Rumors.com, the Detroit Tigers have designated Armando Galarraga for assignment. The team now has 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the Minor Leagues.

In an announcement made on Twitter this afternoon, the Tigers officially announced the deal they have reached with Brad Penny, that was reported a week ago, while simultaneously designating Armando Galarraga for assignment.

The official announcement by the team of Penny’s signing, was pending a physical which Penny took and passed, late last week. Once the Tigers had Galarraga under contract, they could then make the move to designate him for assignment, and “officially” announce the signing of Penny.

Since the Brad Penny signing, I have been keeping an eye on the Tigers roster, but Penny hasn’t been listed, despite the reported announcement of his signing, 6 days ago, on Jan 12.

3 and Out


As been his history since joining the Tigers, General Manager Dave Dombrowski, once again avoided going to arbitration with all his eligible players as the Tigers reached an agreement with pitcher Armando Galarraga on Monday night.

The team announced the deal earlier this morning, as being a 1 year contract worth approximately $2.3 Million. The deal is a good one for the Tigers, as Galarraga’s contract is not fully guaranteed. Detroit can let him go into spring training, but release him by March 15 and how him just 30 days termination pay, according to Jason Beck’s blog. You can find more details on the contract by clicking on the link.

Since coming to Detroit back in 2002, Dombrowski has kept the Tigers out of arbitration hearings every year. Dombrowski previously reached agreements with OF Ryan Raburn, and RP Joel Zumaya over the past 2 weeks.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Avoiding the Arbitor




The Tigers avoided arbitration with 2 of their 3 arbitration eligible players, OF Ryan Raburn and P Joel Zumaya, both players signed new contracts last week. Raburn signed a 2 year contract extension, worth $1.3 Million for 2011 and $2.1 Million for 2012. Zumaya signed a contract for a reported $1.4 Million.

The Raburn and Zumaya signings leaves SP Armando Galarraga as the only arbitration eligible player. Despite the fact that the arbitration process is completely separate from what are considered “team” activities, the Galarraga arbitration hearing could prove to be very relevant to how the Tigers rotation sets up for the 2011 season.

Of course the Tigers are going to try and get Armando signed to a low contract, while Galarraga’s agent will try for the opposite.

If you are unfamiliar with how the arbitration process works, here is a link to a website that explains the process in simple terms. http://www.suite101.com/content/how-baseball-arbitration-works-a45599.

If Armando’s hearing awards him a high dollar contract, Jim Leyland might be forced to bump one of the team’s currently scheduled starters, Rick Porcello, or Phil Coke to keep him in the rotation. I doubt that scenario takes place, but it could happen and would be something to watch as the hearing takes place before spring training.

The Tigers are in a very good place with their rotation, and I’m sure that the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals are wishing they had Detroit’s “rotation problem”- of having too many qualified candidates. The Tigers have 6 pitchers competing for 5 rotation slots, and any of the 6 has the potential of being above average for their slot in the rotation.

I will be addressing the rotation and as well as how the Tigers stack up against their competition in the AL Central as the spring progresses.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tigers ink Penny, roster complete


The Tigers and starting pitcher Brad Penny, have agreed to a 1-year, $3 Million deal, with another $3 Million reported in incentives. The deal is still pending completion of a physical by the 31 year old right-hander.

With the signing, GM Dave Dombrowski feels like the Tigers roster and rotation are set for Spring Training, which starts in a little over a month.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Newest Tiger??


According to his twitter account, Brad Penny will be making a decision where he will sign and pitch very soon.

Here's the link to his twitter page where he says he will be making a decison by the end of the day.

Penny has been drawing interest from the Tigers and a few other teams, but the Detroit has shown the most interest lately.

If Penny has fully recovered from the lat injury he suffered in May, while pitching in St. Louis, he could be an upgrade for the Tigers in the #5 slot in the rotation.

Handing out Non-Roster invitations for 2011


We are 35 days away from the start of Spring Training. While Dave Dombrowski is working on finalizing the 40-man roster, he’s also working on the complete list of Spring Training Non-roster invitee’s.

In a post on the Tigers website, as well as his Detroit Tigers blog, MLB.com Tigers beat writer Jason Beck reports that Jim Leyland’s son Patrick has gotten an invitation to spring training as a non-roster player.

Patrick Leyland, a catcher, joins fellow Tigers 2010 draftee’s Bryan Holaday and Rob Brantly as non-roster invitees at the catcher position. Also coming to Lakeland as non-roster catchers are 2009 draftee John Murrian, and Omir Santos, and Max St. Pierre, who have MLB experience.

Listed as non-roster pitching invitees are Enrique Gonzalez and Fu-Te Ni, who have pitched for Detroit, and John Bale, who has pitched with Kansas City, Toronto, Baltimore and Cincinnati, and Aussie Chris Oxspring who had a cup ‘o coffee with the San Diego Padres back in 2005.

There will probably be other invitations handed out and we will keep you updated here at Tiger Tizzy.com

The entire list of Non-Roster invitees is listed below.

Pitchers -- John Bale*, Enrique Gonzalez*, Fu-Te Ni*, Chris Oxspring*, Adam Wilk, Brendan Wise

Catchers -- Rob Brantly, Bryan Holaday, Patrick Leyland, John Murrian, Omir Santos*, Max St. Pierre*

Infielders -- Argenis Diaz*, Brandon Douglas, Scott Thorman

Outfielders -- Andy Dirks, Avisail Garcia, Ben Guez

*- Major League experience

Players drafted by the Tigers.
Rob Brantly, Bryan Holaday, Patrick Leyland-2010 Draft

John Murrian, Adam Wilk-2009 Draft

Andy Dirks, Ben Guez-2008 Draft

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Filling Out the Rotation


As January rolls along, your Detroit Tigers continue to tweak their roster.
According to MLBtraderumors.com, the Tigs are exploring bringing back a couple of names from the past; Freddy Garcia and Jeremy Bonderman, as well as trying to sign Brad Penny.

MLB.com’s Jason Beck says the Garcia idea is “possible, but not likely”. You can view the article by clicking this link. Detroit Tigers Rumors: MLB Rumors - MLBTradeRumors.com.

Bonderman of course had an 8-10 record with a 5.53 era last year, after returning from a blood clot in his axillary vein in 2008 and more trouble with his throwing shoulder in 2009.

Garcia has spent the past two seasons pitching for the rival Chicago White Sox, after a 3-game stint in Detroit in 2008.

Penny, he of 11 MLB seasons and 108 career victories, 101 of them in the National League could end up being the wild card signing.

Earlier this winter, ESPN’s Buster Olney ranked the Tigers starting rotation as the 7th best in baseball, behind the Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Oakland A’s, Tampa Bay Rays, and Boston Red Sox.

The Tigers rotation lines up like this
1. Justin Verlander
2. Max Scherzer
3. Rick Porcello
4. Phil Coke (moving from the bullpen)

Garcia, Penny, and Bonderman would be competing with Armando Galarraga for the number 5 slot.

I respect Buster Olney’s opinion, but Scherzer and Coke need to show me more before I really anoint them as solid contributors to the rotation, so I have my doubts, the Tigers rotation will end the 2011 season as the 7th best in all of baseball. We certainly can hope it does.

Spring training is a little over a month away, so there is time for the Tigers to decide what do to, but watching the battle for the #5 slot could prove to be one of the better things to watch in Lakeland this spring.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Will they or Won't They? Hall of Fame edition 2011

Yesterday was a big day across the state of Michigan, and it had nothing to do with the events in Ann Arbor.

It was the day that the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the players elected to Cooperstown for 2011, by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

On the ballot were former Tiger greats Alan Trammell and Jack Morris.

Morris, on the ballot for the 12th year garnered the 4th highest vote total of 311 votes, appearing on 53.5 % of the ballots. Trammell, appearing on the ballot for the 10th time, received 141 votes, appearing on 24.3 %.

Sadly, Tram appears to be a very unlikely candidate to get into the Hall, and Morris still may not, considering the candidates that will appear over the next few seasons.

Trammell is one of my favorite Tigers ever, but he doesn’t necessarily belong in Cooperstown. Jack Morris, despite winning the most games of any pitcher in the ‘80’s, is seemingly doomed to fall short due to his VERY high 3.90 ERA.

While this is a Detroit Tigers blog, I have to give out congratulations to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, who were chosen for election. Both are deserving candidates, and would receive the votes on my ballot, if I had one, which you can see listed below.

Scotto’s Hall of Fame Ballot -2011

Roberto Alomar*
Jeff Bagwell
Bert Blyleven*
Barry Larkin
Edgar Martinez
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
Tim Raines
Lee Smith
Alan Trammell

*- elected by BWAA voting

Feel free to respond with your own opinions. Help me make Tiger Tizzy one of the best baseball blogs on the internet.

New Blogger

Good Day everyone,

My name is Scott and I will be working on the Tiger Tizzy blog here for 2011.

A little about me, I'm an avid sports and Tigers fan, and have been for most of my lifetime. I'm 44, live in Flint and work in radio and broadcasting.

I will be hoping to add some life to this blog and I hope that you join me for what could be a very interesting 2011 baseball season.