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February 24, 2009

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:

STARTING PITCHING

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?

BULL PEN

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

February 23, 2009

You're A Tool

Following a previous post about how it is a strange relationship between a gearhead and his vehicles, I will continue with that thread and talk about a gearhead and his tools.

Some of you know I recently had the misfortune of getting laid off from my job working for an automotive supplier.  I was recently called back (for now) and while I was moving back into my tool box I realized something that might make for a good post.

On a side note, it is odd how my observations of events, things, activities around me have changed slightly since I've joined the blogger ranks.  Things that I used to see that I found interesting, are now things that I believe would make a good post, or other people who read this might find interesting.  That is the light bulb that goes off now, and the one that went off when I was putting my tools away.

A while back my job outfitted me with what could loosely be called a "set of tools" to help me perform my day to day duties.  These are tools from Harbor Freight (HF from here on out), and many of you know the positive thing about HF is that they sell cheap tools.  You also know the bad thing about HF is that...they sell cheap tools.  In the infancy of my work tools life, I had to replace a file (you know a file is of high quality when you are filing on some steel, and notice the shavings that are being produced are from BOTH the steel piece you are working on AND the file!) a 12oz hammer (I know there is no need to even mess with a 12oz hammer...which is somewhat the point of this post), and a 4mm 1/4 drive socket that became a circle after only a couple dozen uses.

Because of the lack of quality in some of the tools, and just the lack of some tools that I needed, I decided to buy some tools on my own, that I would keep at work and take them should I ever leave.  This list includes but is not limited to:

Diagonal Cutters or "dikes" as they are often referred to, and that is how I refer to them, because dikes is a cool word.  Also what sounds better and more manly in a shop or garage?  "Hey, can you toss me those diagonal cutters," or "Hey, can you toss me those dikes?"  Case closed.

Standard Pliers (the pliers provided were poor, and would open during normal use, unacceptable).

Vise Grips (see the trend starting with the lack of pliers given to us)

4.8v Minimite Dremel Tool

Craftsman ratcheting bit driver (with bits, we go through T-25 torx bits like water here at work)

A real set of files (see story above)

A 9 volt Black and Decker drill motor (which is really a glorified screw driver, but the work provided drill motor is "hard to find" at times)

I found something odd. I was packing up for what was then my 93 day weekend, and after just listing these items above, I knew exactly what was mine and what belonged to work.  I didn't have to think back and remember, or mentally go over when I bought what.  I opened up my work tool box, and what was mine and what was works was instantly apparent, with no issues or problems.

Then I realized that this is not the first time this has happened.  I've been working with someone be it with work stuff, or personal stuff, where you are helping someone, or they are helping you, and over the course of the project, various tools are brought out, and used, and when the project is over, each guy knows what is his, and what isn't.  You go through the check list with everyone that was working with you...this is mine...this isn't mine...this is yours...whose is this, and with rare exception you leave the project with all your tools.

Who knows why this is?  Maybe from working with them so much, maybe the feel they have in your hand, you know what is yours. 

I would compare it to when women talk about getting married.  One woman might question if she is with the right guy, and ask, how do you know?  The other woman will say, "OH, YOU JUST KNOW!"  The same can be said with a man and his tools, the conversation might go like this:

(I know it would be odd for a woman and a man to be talking about his tools...in the garage that is...but just work with me)

Woman: "Is this your wrench?"

Man: "Yes."

Woman: "How do you know? it doesn't have your name on it or anything."

Man: "OH, I JUST KNOW!"

Thanks for Stopping By - Dan

February 16, 2009

Brandon Inge and Money in the Bank.

While at a "gathering" recently, I got into a heated discussion about Tiger 3rd baseman Brandon Inge.  This discussion was with a good friend of mine, childhood friend infact, and a friend knowledgable with the ins and outs of the best game on the planet, baseball.  For this post he will remain nameless (some of you I'm sure know who he is), but for the purposes of this particular story, we will call him Dipshit.

The debate actaully started a couple weeks ago...Jan 29th to be exact when we were both in attendance at a Detroit Red Wings game.  While sending a few text messages back and forth, talking about all things sports, which naturally led to baseball, Dipshit sends me the following text (which he told me to keep, because it was so bold, so I did):

"Brandon Inge will hit .282 this year with 24HR's, 82 RBI's, and less than 85 strike outs"

My reply was that Inge will have 85 CHECK SWING strike outs alone.  Dipshit said he just had a warm fuzzy about Inge this year, and I asked him if they were selling crystal meth in section 216 (where his seats were at the game that night).

(what you can't see in the picture is the catcher starting to fire the ball down to 3rd after another Inge K)

Fast forward to a party that was actaully at Dipshits house, and the debate was again stirred up (with the help of a few beers and a shot or two).  Dipshit again starts with his warm fuzzy about Inge this year.

Dipshit has since backed off his .282 prediction, now stating .260 with 15 HR's (no mention of RBI's or SO's).  I still thing this is a bunch of poppycock, and ask another friend at Dipshit's party with some baseball knowledge if he thinks Inge will hit .260 this year.  "OH NO FU--ING WAY, NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!" was his reply.

Now don't take this post as an anit-Inge one.  I do like Inge, and I hope he does hit .260...hell, I hope he hits .240!!!!!!  He is a good to better than good fielder (everyone save your he is the best definsive 3rd baseman in the game, this is going a bit too far), but your 3rd baseman cannot hit .205 (like he did in 2008), just can't happen.  If  he does this, he has to replaced, I don't care how good his glove is.

So to make it official we put a little wager on the issue.  I stated to Dipshit, that if Inge hits .260 with 15HR's, the Tigers will make the playoffs, so I would pay for playoff tickets to a game.  If he doesn't and the Tigers make the playoffs, then Dipshit is buying.  If the Tigers don't make the playoff's, we will have to come up with something else.

Also, speaking of .200 hitters, we placed a side wager that Ramon Santiago will replace another .240 career hitter in Adam Everett by June 15th.  Either because of lack of performance, or injury, Santiago will finally get the shot he deserves and be your starting SS by June 16th.

So there you have it, it is now documented.  I really think I'm a winner either way.  If Inge hits .260 and the Tigers make the playoff's I will gladly buy two tickets to a game, that means the Motor City Kitties are in the playoff's, which is good.  If he doesn't hit it, I will get a free ticket, or whatever we decide on if they are on the outside looking in.  I guess the only bad thing is if Inge goes like 5 for 5 on the last day of the season to up the average to .260001 to officially hit .260, but the Tigers are a 10 games out of the wild card (which I think they will be), then this would suck!!!!

Thanks for Stopping By - Dan

February 06, 2009

Bug Winter 09 Project Installment One

I've never really minded bugs, except for ants.  Can't stand ants.  Had my wife wanted a older 'Ant' instead of a 'Bug', we might have had some issues, and hell, might not even be married at the moment.

But she wanted a Bug, so as many of my faithful readers might know, I got her one, a 1966 black one.  Like a lot or cars that are 42 years old, it needs some TLC to stay road ready.  Last winter after it was purchased, the objective was to get it safe, so it got the basics.  Now it is onto improvements, and the list for this winter has three basic things, listed in order of importance:

1. Remove and replace (R&R) rear torsion arm bushings.

These are shot and causing the back end to sag.  The lowered look aint too bad, but...much like on a woman...saggin in one place and not another aint good.

2. Update wiring...infact, probably tear out existing wiring, and replace with totally new harness.

As I continue to work on this car, I find all kinds of "neat" stuff with the electrical system.  Wires that are wire nutted together, stripped wire ends soldered to connectors on the other wire, wires twisted together and taped, or wires simply just twisted together period, no tape, no nuts, nothing!

3. New carb and possibly intake.

This is the most expensive, and with my current employment status, probably the least likely to happen.  The car will run fine, but behaves like it is starved for fuel.  This is probably because it has a Solex carb that is off a SINGLE PORT 1500cc engine...this bug has a DUAL PORT 1600cc. I've done all I can with tuning to get it passable, it needs some more volume, more fuel, MORE POWER.

So we started with the R&R of the torsion arm bushings.  Still being new to this whole VW air cooled thing, I approach each project with caution, and really try to analize everything before I remove the first bolt.  I quickly realized that this job would be much easier with the fender off.  Analizing the fender removal, I first notice that you have to remove the bumper.  Analizing the bumper, it appears that the removal of the bumper, and then the fender is just removing 8 bolts, and some rubber grommets.  I tear into this little "pre-project".

All goes fairly well.  I do notice that removing the bumper and the fender involves the removal of 12 bolts, and not just 8.  Seems the fender was missing 4.  This little bundle of joy is just full of surprises.

Right after I get the fender off, my wife calls on the way to the gym from her place of employment.  "Wait til you see your bug!!!!" I say.  "WHAT DID YOU DO?!?!?!" she replies.  I'm a little frustrated with her doubt.  Doubt with my cooking skills is one thing, but when have I ever failed her when it comes to an automotive project? 

Side note: If you ask her that question about certain home improvement projects, I'm sure she could come up with half a dozen stories off the top of her head.  This is an entirely differnt blog entry all together.  Back to the automotive project question.

When have I ever failed her on an auto project?  Never!  They put up fight at times, and they have won some battles, but when it comes to me vs. the automobile, I'm undefeated, and feel that I do some pretty good work!  I'm reminded of one of my favorite Darth Vader lines from the "first" Star Wars (I know, I know, episode 3, the first one was the fourth one, which came out in the 90's.  All you Star Wars geeks, save your comments and emails) when one of Vader's men is questioning the vulnerability of the Death Star say the following line using your best Darth Vader Impression...and throw in the heaving breathing to really make the effect "special":

"I find your lack of faith disturbing."

This is what I felt like saying, but chose not to.

Instead, To put her mind at ease, I sent a picture to her phone, which maybe wasnt' the best plan, because this was the picture:

The project actually went pretty smoothly.  Fender came off with little issue, and thanks to the advice of a VW nut that I went to college with who resides in Wisconsin (some of you know who this certain Polish Asasian is) and an article that he emailed to me, the spring plate came off pretty easily as well.

Another side note: I'm knocking on wood furiousely as I type this, and would like you to do the same as you read this.  It came apart to easily, I'm EXTREMELY concerned with the difficulty level of getting it back together!

So the spring plate was removed from the trans axle

And the torsion arm bushing removal was pretty straight forward.  In the picture below you can see the exposed torsion arm which is red, or orange depending on your monitors resolution, and the degree of your own color blindness.

Next is the same thing on the driver side, then to actually scrounge up enough cans to get the money, to buy new bushings, and put them in.

After that it will be onto the electrical stuff.  Check back for updates.

As always, thanks for stopping by - Dan