Tiger Predictions Take 1
40 Days til the Opener as of this typing, and thank goodness it is in Toronto, so they can (and most likely will) close the roof to avoid the fun of playing the 1st game of the season when it is 37° outside!
I wanted to get this post up so everyone can see where I'm at before even one game is played, before one pitch is thrown, before one homer is hit, before Leyland has one smoke, and before Gene Lemont adds one more inch to his waistline (ok, those last two have probably already happened). This way, if any of the predictions below come true, I can refer back to this post in September and say "I told you so", or "You heard it here first".
I will start with the pitching staff today, because I think it is wide open, and then get to the position players later in the week (and yes, they will have played a game by then). I was going to try to get it all in one post, but it got a little long.
So without further ado (which I believe is spelled wrong), here are my bold predictions and surprises for the pitching staff for the 2009 Detroit Tigers baseball season:
I think Verlander will bounce back and be fine, giving you what I hope are his "normal" 15 - 20 wins. Verlander seems arrogant to me, and after being rookie of the year in 06, and having a good 07 with a no-no mixed in, I think he thought he could go out there every 5th day, grab a baseball, and go 6+ innings, and have a chance to win. This isn't true, and I think 08 humbled him a bit. Look for the old JV in 2009.
I have no idea what Jeremy Bonderman will do. It would not surprise me if he ends up with 13 - 16 wins, hell it would not surprise me if he flirts with 20. It also would not surprise me if he struggles to get 9 wins. He seems to be such a head case, that I will make no bold predictions with Bondo, and hope for the best.
Galaraga somewhat falls in the same category as Bonderman. I really don't know. Was 08 a fluke, or the norm? We will know the answer to that question by mid-may after a handful of starts. Have AL hitters figured him out a bit, and can he adjust if they did? I hope 2008 was no fluke, and I have a feeling that it wasn't. Look for a similar pitcher in 2009, with 12 - 15 wins, and an ERA in the mid to high 3's.
Edwin Jackson...this guy better be good, because it cost the Tigers Matt Joyce. My question is if he was so good, why did Tampa get rid of him so quickly? I have done no homework on this guy, and have no idea what to type. My only prediction is that if he doesn't do well, his nickname will quickly become Ed-LOOSE.
5th starter...the question as I type this is who will it be. It sounds like it will be Nate Robertson, Dontrell Willis, or Zach Miner, with 2007's 1st round draft pick Rick Porcello having an outside shot. It is this spot in the rotation that leads into my starting pitching surprise!!!!!
I think Willis will bounce back. I don't know why (as being a lowly blogger from Fowlerville, I have no inside info). The D-train was just too good to forget how to pitch. Early reports out of lakeland are that he looks good, and I think he comes in relaxed, focused, and healthy this season, and will win the last spot. I also think he will be in the 15 win range again, giving the bengals 200 innings. All reports are he is a good guy, good to have in the clubhouse, so I hope he sures up the back end of this staff.
Overall I'm comfortable with the starting pitching. Why, I don't know, and I realize that every spot has a question mark, and the bottom could have fallen out of the whole thing before June. I think the addition of Rick Knapp as pitching coach was a great move, and will be a huge X-factor and will help the pitchers immensely. The problem is when they hand the ball over to the pen in the 6th or 7th inning, can those guys shut the door?
I really only like two things about the pen that I will get to in a minute. There are more question marks with the pitchers out beyond the LF wall than there are with the starters.
Let's go back to the starters for a moment to talk about the pen. If my "scenario" holds true and Willis gets the nod for the final spot, this puts Miner and or Robertson in the pen (if this happens though, I believe Nate will get delt, I feel 2006 was his peak). I really like Miner (or Robertson even) in long relief. Furthermore, I like Nate at as 7th or 8th inning guy. See below for my bold bold prediction for the bull pen.
I will not talk about Rodney until he proves he can pitch 1/3rd of an inning without walking two guys. I'm frustrated he is being considered for the closer spot, and why the f--k can't he wear his hat straight. If he doesn't live up to his "potential" early on this spring, they should leave him in Lakeland when they head north, or drop him off in Toledo, it is right on the way.
Next is Brandon Lyon, which I'm not a huge fan of, but I feel this is a good signing. They got him cheap and added a bunch of incentives to motivate him, and if it doesn't work out, they don't loose much. I don't think it will work out though, that is the problem. Basically you got Todd Jones, with much less confidence in himself, just ask the Diamondbacks. A 2.43 ERA before the break is outstanding, the 8.46 that he had after the all star game is of concern. For you non baseball fans, that is giving up almost one run per inning pitched, and that is not very good...horrible would be a better word to describe it.
So my little mini surprise for the bullpen is that Bobby Seay will be a servicable lefthanded specialtist again this year. I think he returns back to 07 form when he took over for the departed Jamie Walker. Last year lefties hit him better than righties, which again is not good for your left handed specialist, but I think he reverses the trend this year. Robertson could also fit this role as (again except for 2008) has been much better vs. lefties over his career.
Now onto my bullpen surprise Joel Zumaya will be unhittable this year, and be your closer by years end. Comerica will be like the old Municipal Stadium in the movie Major League, replace Wild Thing Rick Vaughn with Zoom, and replace the song "Wild thing" with the begining guitar rif of Jimi Hendrix's Vodoo Child that Zumaya comes out to, and the Copa will go nuts when he comes in...lets just hope he keeps away from guitar hero!
Like Willis, he is focused, intense, and healthy, and early word is that although his velocity isn't back in the high 90's (yet), he now has a big league curve and change-up. Can you imagine waiting on a 97+ fastball, and all the sudden he drops a curve on you, or pulls the string on a 85MPH change? If he stays healthy, and things are working like reports say they are, I think Joel is set up for a big 2009!
So now onto my bold, bold prediction...Miner and Macay McBride will be your long relief guys. As I mentioned, I like Miner, but not McBride, put any name in there, it would just be a filler, (use any of the following names if you like, Robertson, Freddy Dolsi, Clay Rapada, or even Ryan Perry could make the club). I guess options are good, but none of those particular options send a chill down my spine (maybe Robertson as I said), and that worries me.
Now onto the boldness of this prediction, this is what your backend will look like:
7th inning...Robertson. I've thought for a while, Nate might be a good back end guy. He is usually good for three innings, so put him in there for one, and he might have enough stuff to make it work. At first, he will not like this, but after coming in late during close games, he will come to love the situations (think 2006 ALCS). I know it is out there, that is why it is BOLD!
8th inning...Brandon Lyon, or Juan Rincon. Have a feeling about Rincon being paired up with Rick Knapp who he worked with when he was in Minnesota. He might just be my "small mini surprise" for 2009.
Closer...Joel Zumaya. For all the reasons I listed above and more, he will be your closer for 2009, and for years to come! Just quit playing f--king video, and helping people move! You play a video game for a living, and will soon be rich, pay someone to help you and your family move!!!!!
So there are my pitching predictions for 2009. Check back in a few days to get the position players stuff. Here are a couple teasers:
Cabrera to have a HUGE year.
Ramon Santiago will be your starting SS by June 15 (Adam Everett might already be hurt or hitting .187)
Oh yea, Inge will be better, but not great...I just pray he can somehow hit .240.
Thanks for Stopping By - Dan