Friday, February 25, 2011

Cabrera Reports, makes statement.

According to reports Cabrera’s agent met with Dave Dombrowski Wednesday night making it clear Cabrera’s arrival in Lakeland was immanent.

Team officials announced after the team’s workout on Thursday, that Cabrera would address the media in Lakeland later in the afternoon.

Cabrera spoke, for a few moments, mostly in Spanish, with translation provided by Tigers Vice President, Assistant General Manager Al Avila. In his statement, which lasted for around 30 minutes, Cabrera “asked for forgiveness” and said the alcohol-fueled incident of 9 days ago was “just one bad decision on my part”.

Major League Baseball issued no suspension or even mandatory counseling for Cabrera, but in a statement released by MLB, Rob Manfred- Executive Vice President of Labor Relations, said “Mr. Cabrera understands the importance of this problem and is fully committed to the program”, and continued with “He also understands that any future alcohol-related incidents could involve more serious consequences”.

This is Cabrera’s second incident involving alcohol, where authorities have had to become involve, and is violation of MLB’s substance-abuse policy. The first of course was back in 2009.

Despite the fact that MLB did not suspend or require Cabrera to enter mandatory counseling, the last line of the statement issued, made it clear that Cabrera will not be given a “slap on the hand”, if there is a 3rd strike violation of the policy.

Cabrera also said that he won’t be issuing a statement to the entire Tigers team, but that he would speak to his teammates individually to apologize.

Reaction from his teammates, of course was forgiving. Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge said” We’re not mad at him. We’re not disappointed in him. We’re going to forgive him”.

Tigers officials are working hard to find someone who can supervise Cabrera on a regular basis, much like what the Texas Rangers have provided to their All-Star, but abuse-troubled, Outfielder Josh Hamilton.

In the meantime, the Tigers confirmed that Cabrera’s treatment will take place while he is around the team, and that Cabrera has been cleared to rejoin the club in full capacity, starting with workouts in Lakeland Friday morning.

Cabrera will not be taking part in the team’s annual exhibition opener against Florida Southern College, which will take place this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Worst Case scenario, what if Miguel Cabrera misses the season?

The elephant that has been in the room since last Thursday has finally been seen and introduced to everyone in attendance.

Since he was arrested for drunk driving in Florida late Wednesday night, and the news got out Thursday morning, the question everyone was asking so VERY silently has finally been asked. Kudos to Matt Sussman of for doing so.

What happens if Miguel Cabrera misses the entire 2011 season?

Let’s face it; the Tigers have already announced that Cabrera will not be disciplined by MLB. So the idea of Cabrera missing even most of the season is very unlikely, but what will the Tigers do if Cabrera must sit out the season as he takes care of this problem?

Here’s what I think. (I have not read the article yet, so this is MY opinion, and not that of Matt Sussman.)

Well for starters, Cabrera won’t be traded or released, for better or worse, the Tigers have made Cabrera the “face” of the lineup, if not the team- apologies to Justin Verlander if I am completely off base. Cabrera is under contract with the Tigers thru the 2016 season, with no way to leave unless the team does the unlikely and makes a trade.

In all likelihood, the Tigers move Magglio Ordonez from RF to first base, but in conjunction with that move, newly acquired Victor Martinez, will split time with Ordonez at first base instead of at Catcher. The Tigers also might have to add another catcher, in some sort of minor move, to fill in for Alex Avila behind the plate.

That is just the first part of the scenario, involving the pieces of the puzzle.

Next, Jim Leyland and his coaching staff will have to take into account that Ordonez has zero games played at first base in his career. The already iffy Detroit defense will get worse having Ordonez at first, it won’t be AS bad with Martinez, but by having Ordonez at first base, every other player in the Tigers infield will have to work harder and concentrate solely on making the routine play, anything involving more risk has to be taken out of the equation. The impetus has to be on getting the “safe” out.

The pitching staff will also be affected by this move, as they too have to take a more conservative approach to trying to get the batters out. They will have to work on pitching to the strength of the defense, again with the intent of getting the safe out.

To see what Matt Sussman of Mlive thought the course of action would be in the “worst case scenario”, click on the link, as always.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spring Training Update: Tuesday Feb 22

Just Days after announcing the pitchers who will start the first two games of Spring Training, Leyland announced the starting pitchers for the regular season opener and the home opener.

It’s no surprise that Justin Verlander will start the season opener on Thursday March 31, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The start will be Verlander’s 4th season opening start, the most since Jack Morris started 11 in a row from 1980-1990. Meanwhile, the starter for the Tigers home opener at Comerica Park will be Max Scherzer on April 8.

This spring training, there has been lots of optimism regarding the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera excluded, and in addition to Leyland announcing that Verlander will be the Opening Day starter, Leyland also said that he expects that Verlander will be a 20-game winner,“on a consistent basis”. Verlander has been close, winning 17 and 19 games once and 18 games a season twice already in his 6 major league seasons.

With the signing of contracts by 6 players on Monday, the Tigers now have 31 of the 40 players under contract for the 2011 season. At the time of this posting, I am still trying to figure out the final 9 players on the 40-man roster unsigned for 2011. By my records Detroit as 12 players unsigned, but according to an article published today in the Detroit News, Tom Gage says the Tigers have 9 unsigned- so I have missed the signing of 3 players. As soon as I have it, figured out, I will be updating things here on Tiger Tizzy.

Speaking of Tom Gage, at the bottom of this article, Gage lists 10 things that “Tigers nation” should be keeping an eye on for 2011. Interestingly enough, Tiger Tizzy has already addressed issues #2, 3, 4 and 9.

Stay tuned, as I am currently finishing my Starting Pitchers, OF/DH and Bench reviews, as well as taking a quick look at the role Jim Leyland and GM Dave Dombrowski will end up playing in the success or relative failure of the 2011 Detroit Tigers.

Also good news on how Carlos Guillen is looking as he comes back from micro-fracture surgery. Word all during the off season was that Guillen was on track. Then, just days before spring training started, Jim Leyland told reporters that he “didn’t think Guillen will be ready”. Of course red-flags went up all across Tigers-nation that Guillen’s injury history would end up coming back to hurt the Tigers for 2011.

Now that camp is underway, Leyland is backing off of those pre-Tigers Winter Caravan comments, as evidenced by this comment on Sunday afternoon; “I’m pinching myself. I don’t want to get crazy, but he has looked really good”. The Tigers aren’t yet ready to hand the starting job at 2nd to Guillen just yet, because there is still a lot of work to do to have Carlos ready for the 162-game grind, but it certainly eases MY mind that Guillen seems to be headed in the right direction health-wise.

Just coming across the wire as I was working on this post, news came from Florida that Tigers Slugger Miguel Cabrera has an arraignment date of Wednesday March 16, 2011 in Circuit Court in Fort Pierce, Florida. In the meantime, camp continues without the slugger, for the rest of your Detroit Tigers

Spring Training Update.

All is quiet on the Miguel Cabrera front as Spring Training enters week #2, and the first week with all players at camp (Cabrera excluded).

Dave Dombrowski said on Sunday that Cabrera is being looked at by MLB doctors and he didn’t rule out that Cabrera “could be away longer than a few days”, if it is decided that Cabrera needs to enter a rehab facility, but that decision hasn’t yet been reached. Dombrowski also said that the Tigers will comply with the recommendation from the Doctor.

New Tiger Victor Martinez has endeared himself to the catchers in camp. On Friday night Martinez treated all 6 minor league catchers, as well as catching mate Alex Avila, and bullpen catcher Scott Pickens to dinner in Orlando.

Manager Jim Leyland has announced who will get the starts for the Tigers first two games, this spring. Minor league prospect Andy Oliver will start the game Friday in the annual tilt against Florida Southern College. He will be followed by prospect Jacob Turner, Daniel Schlereth and Ryan Perry. Detroit’s 2nd game of the spring is against the Toronto Blue Jays, with Phil Coke getting the start, to be followed by Jose Valverde, Brad Thomas and Robbie Weinhardt.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Former Tiger Sheffield files retirement papers

Former Tiger Gary Sheffield has officially filled his retirement papers with Major League Baseball, on Thursday.

The 42-year-old Sheffield, hit 509 career home runs, with 1676 RBI in a career that lasted 22 seasons with 8 teams, including Detroit. Sheffield played with the Tigers during the 2007 and 2008 seasons, he ranks 24th all-time in career home runs.

The always opinionated Sheffield says that he thinks he’s got a Hall of Fame worthy career, but unfortunately for Sheff, his testimony to the BALCO grand jury, admitting steroids, will probably keep him out.

Whether or not Sheffield is really a HOF worthy candidate will make for a fun debate.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One Man's Opinon on the Miguel Cabrera Story

The Detroit sports-talk radio shows have been covering the Miguel Cabrera story all day, since earlier today the story broke that Cabrera was arrested on charges of Drunk-Driving in Florida.

Most everyone knows that Cabrera had an alcohol related incident at the end of the 2009 Tigers season, and after the story broke this morning about his latest incident, Dan Le Batard reported of an incident that happened during a photo-shoot for ESPN the Magazine where the then 20 year-old Cabrera was drunk to the point of “scaring” people.

I am a HUGE baseball and lifetime Detroit Tiger fan, that’s one of the reasons why I started writing for Tiger Tizzy.

The 2011 season SEEMED to be one full of potential and promise as Spring Training started. The news of Miguel Cabrera’s relapse to drinking has put that cause for optimism on hold. As a Tiger fan I want to see Cabrera on the field for 162 games and 600+ AB’s so they can maybe reach the World Series. If Miguel Cabrera does that, the Tigers have a better chance of going to the Series, than if Cabrera misses significant playing time, that’s not fiction; it’s just the bottom line truth.

MY hope for the Detroit Tigers is that they do the proper thing for Miguel Cabrera the PERSON. I don’t know Miguel Cabrera, nor have I ever even met the man, and I probably never will. The number of athletes, who have battled alcoholism and lost, is well documented. The Tigers can show they are a first–class organization by doing whatever is needed in 2011 to take care of Miguel Cabrera the person, no matter what the effect will be for the 2011 team on the field.

Hopefully, the Detroit Tigers, Cabrera’s agent, the MLB players union and Cabrera himself will admit there is reason to believe he has some sort of addiction, and they all work together to treat the disease. Thousands of “regular” people without Cabrera’s talents, money and potential support systems have been able to beat alcohol. They have done so because they realized what they might have lost in their lives if they didn’t change. I hope that Miguel Cabrera will come to the same realization, sooner rather than later.

Do the Tigers have "dead weight"? They might...

In an article yesterday in the Free Press, beat writer John Lowe points out that unlike last season, where the Tigers were carrying dead weight, specifically in the form of members of the pitching staff. Three days into spring training, the word out of Lakeland is; that is not the case this season.

Last year the Tigers paid over $20 Million for the performances of Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson, who combined for 60 appearances 315.2 IP, 15-20 with a 5.59 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in the Majors during the 2010 season. The details of the various contracts are listed at the bottom of this article for those of you who are interested.

I think that the Tigers have a couple of players that can either contribute or end up being “dead weight”, and hopefully for Detroit’s sake they end up being able to contribute.

I hope the Tigers get a good contribution out of Carlos Guillen this season, but if he can’t recover fully from micro-fracture surgery, he could VERY well end up being $13 Million worth of dead weight.

Another potential “dead weight” player, in my opinion, is reliever Joaquin Benoit. Pitcher performances can fluctuate radically from season to season, and while Benoit last year in Tampa Bay, appeared to be perfectly healthy after having rotator cuff surgery in 2008, the possibility exists that he could struggle in his first season in Detroit.

With the breaking news out of Florida this morning, Miguel Cabrera could end up having a very rocky year as he struggles with his sobriety, and while you can’t say that a potential MVP candidate (when sober) like Cabrera will end up being dead weight, if he has to miss time to get sober and struggles with it, his $20 Million contract will be VERY hard to live-up to.

So I ask you, Tiger Tizzy followers, do the 2011 Tigers have dead weight on the roster? If so, who?

Here are the details of how much the Tigers paid of Robertson and Willis's contracts for last year, as well as where Willis, Bonderman and Robertson are now.

Robertson was traded to the Marlins at the end of March, with Detroit paying $9.6 Million of his contract. He was then designated for assignment on July 21 and released on July 27, and pitched for two other NL teams and in the minors.

Willis was traded to Arizona in June, with the Tigers picking up all of Willis salary except for a pro-rated portion of the $400,000 MLB minimum, and he too spent time pitching in the minor leagues.

Of course, Bonderman spent all of 2010 in the Tiger organization, and they let his contract expire and he remains a free agent at this point of spring training. Robertson signed a minor-league deal with the Mariners while Willis signed a minor-league deal with the Reds.

Breaking News: Cabrera arrested in Florida

First Baseman Miguel Cabrera was arrested for drunk driving last night in Lakeland. Cabrera posted bond and was released early this morning.

We all remember the incident late in the 2009 season, before the Tigers lost the Central Division Title to the Twins.

I certainly hope that the Tigers get Cabrera the help it seems that he desperately needs. I don’t know Miggy, but he is approaching the midway point of what can be a Hall of Fame career. I hope he can find away to take care of the problems he has as a person, let alone as a baseball player.

Dave Dombrowski, please work with this man’s agent, and your team, and give him the help he needs.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tigers not interested in Michael Young;“Make or break” for Zumaya; Tigers on TV

As the countdown to Spring Training continues, and by the way, Pitchers and Catchers have to report to Lakeland on Sunday, for workouts that start on Monday, for your Detroit Tigers, a couple of interesting articles appeared on the Web this week.

First, the Tigers have said they were not interested in trying to pursue Texas Rangers Infielder/DH Michael Young, who has requested a trade from the AL West winner. Young is a 10 and 5 player, meaning he has 10 years MLB service and 5 with the same team, and he can veto a trade to any but 8 teams, and the Tigers are not on that 8 team list. GM Dave Dombrowski said that as far as he is concerned, the team is in the “same place” they were 2 weeks ago, the infield is set. You can read more at Jason Beck’s blog here.

One of the sites that I frequent is MLB Trade and yesterday they posted an article about Joel Zumaya. Is it as they say a “Make or Break” year for the Tigers reliever?

I believe that it is. Zumaya was slated to be the Tigers “Closer in waiting” after his spectacular rookie 2006 season, but as it says in the article, since then Zumaya has been on the 60-day disabled list 5 times since the start of the 2007 season. If Zumaya had been able to remain healthy Detroit wouldn’t have had to sign Jose Valverde during last year’s off season-not to imply the signing was a bad decision.

Zumaya’s career has been highlight radar-gun breaking appearances when healthy, but mostly injury after injury after injury. Zumaya says that he’s healthy and on track to start the season “pain free”. Only time will tell. IF Zumaya can prove he can pitch an entire season, specifically THIS season, he would be one of the anchors of a bullpen that could help the Tigers go deep into the playoffs and, if things go well, into the World Series. He would also secure himself a potentially long-term contract somewhere for 2012.

Also yesterday the Tigers announced that all but ONE game of the 2011 season will be on TV for 2011, and that game could also work its way into being on TV as well, as long as the Tigers are making a playoff push. The only game that (for now) won’t be on TV is the Saturday Sept 17 game at Oakland, and as Jason Beck points out, it too, could end up being televised.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On Monday the Detroit Tigers agreed to contracts with 8 of the players on their 40-man roster as the team is now just days away from the start of Spring Training.

Among those signing contracts were Pitchers Charlie Furbush and Phil Coke, who is slated for a spot in the starting rotation for Detroit after spending the majority of his major-league career pitching out of the bullpen.

Also, news from this past weekend, as former Tiger Woodie Fryman passed away last Friday night. Fryman joined the Tigers during the 1972 season, and went 10-3 with a 2.06 ERA helping the Tigers win the AL East title under Manager Billy Martin.

Fryman won 141 games in a career that spanned form 1966 to 1983. Fryman pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs and Montreal Expos, for whom he was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1995, as well as the Tigers.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bonderman won't return to Detroit; Interest from Tribe?

Earlier this month rumors were floating about, that there was a chance that Jeremy Bonderman would be offered a contract to return to Detroit.

In an article that appeared on the Detroit News website on Tuesday, General Manager Dave Dombrowski said there was no chance that the 8-year veteran would return to the Tigers. Dombrowski also indicated that Vladimir Guerrero wasn’t “a good fit”.

This afternoon, there were indications that Bonderman wouldn’t appear to be a complete stranger for Tiger fans, as reports came out that the Cleveland Indians were “close” to signing Bonderman to a deal.

If those rumors end up being true, look for Bondo to sign a Minor-league contract with an invitation to Spring Training with Cleveland, where he could make the rotation with a strong spring training performance.

2011 Tigers Preview: The Bullpen

Heading into the 2011 season, the Tigers bullpen stacks up with Jose Valverde as Closer, with newcomer Joaquin Benoit taking on the role of primary set-up man, Ryan Perry and Joel Zumaya will try and get to Benoit, with Daniel Schlereth, Brad Thomas and Robbie Weinhardt filling out the remainder of the Bullpen.

The long relievers for Detroit will be Daniel Schlereth, the son of former NFL lineman Mark Schlereth, Brad Thomas and Robbie Weinhardt, who will have some spring training competition from Al Alburquerque. Schlereth and Thomas will also split time in the role of ‘left-handed relief specialist”; to face left-handed batters in key situations.

Jose Valverde will once again be the Tigers closer. The two-time NL saves leader (2007 & 2008) finished 9th last year his first with Detroit and in the American League. For his career Valverde, averages 10.7 K/9 IP and 24 saves with a 3.15 ERA, which is exactly what you want from your closer. Valverde also only had 3 blown saves for the season, in 2010.

Setting up Valverde, will be Joaquin Benoit, who comes to Motown after spending 2010 in Tampa Bay as the Rays primary set up man. The 33-year old brings a career 31-28 record with a 4.47 career ERA with him. GM Dave Dombrowski signed Benoit to a to a 3-year $16.5M contract after a career best season in Tampa. Part of the problem last year was inconsistency in close games getting to Valverde to slam the door shut, and if Benoit picks up where he left off in Tampa, the Tigers will be in quite good shape.

The Benoit signing also allows the Tigers to take some pressure off of soon to be (Feb 13) 24-year old youngster Ryan Perry who has pitched in 113 games the past two seasons in the Tigers Bullpen with Flashes of brilliance and loads of inconsistency. While compiling a 3-6 record and 3.69 ERA over his career, Perry has struck out an average of 7.6 batters per nine innings, but also walked 4.4 BB/9.

Perry and Joel Zumaya, who is trying to shake the injury bug and prove he can pitch effectively, will help get to Benoit and Valverde. Zumaya, who hasn’t pitched a full season in Detroit since his rookie year of 2006, says that he is in good health for 2011, and if Detroit can get a full-season of Zumaya, the Tigers will be really tough to beat.

Bullpen: Thomas, Weinhardt, and Schlereth will all be improved for 2011 over last year, and Schlereth could fill Zumaya’s role albeit from the Left side, later on in the ‘pen if Zumaya succumbs to the injury bug yet again. In Benoit and Valverde the Tigers have two of the best in the American League at the back-end of the Bullpen, all they need from the starters is to get to inning 5 or 6 and the Tigers bullpen crew could nail down a victory.

The White Sox and Twins all have had serious losses in their pitching staffs, so the advantage in the A.L. Central bullpen battle should end up with Detroit.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Baseball junkie

So I have to admit I might be a baseball junkie.

A line from the Tampa Bay Rays press conference where former Tiger Johnny Damon and his old Boston Red Sox teammate, Manny Ramirez were officially introduced as Rays.

Damon was asked how many games he anticipated playing this season

Damon: "I would love to play 162 games, will it happen? Probably not, but my body is my temple, it always has been, I've learned over the years how to say healthy."

Manny: "Let's do this, (looking and pointing at Damon) you play 100, I'll play 62, that's what we gotta do."

Laughter from everyone.

Great line, but I am sure plenty of Rays fans are hoping the statement doesn't prove to be accurate.

Personally, I laughed REALLY, REALLY hard when I heard it. Maybe Manny can start his own comedy tour when he retires. I can see it now, the "Manny-being-Manny" comedy tour. I don't think that the boys from the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" are worried, though.