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May 05, 2010

And He Stood There Like The House By The Side Of The Road

Any of you that follow this blog, or check out my Facebook page can probably gather without a magnifying glass that I’m somewhat of a baseball guy.  Yesterday baseball lost, not only one of its great broadcasters, but it’s great men, and the world lost one of the nicest human beings to ever grace the planet.  I’ve never met Ernie, but several people have, and maybe even some of you reading this have, and they can all say that what I typed above is not an embellishment or exaggeration.


I’m fortunate enough to have grown up during part of my prime baseball years listening to Ernie.  I will never forget him.  I also have very fond memories of George Kell, and Al Kaline calling games when I was growing up, but before the days of the Pro Am Sports System (who remembers PASS?), Fox Sports Detroit, and cable television, one or two games a week were on TV, so if you were a diehard baseball fan you listened to Ernie on WJR.
 

Too many broadcasters today are “homers”, too big a fan of the teams they are broadcasting.  While I do like the quirkiness of Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson, the TV announcer for the White Sox (I do like how he quickly says “he gone” when an opposing player strikes out), it isn’t classic play by play game calling.  He is a fan, saying things like “get up there” when a ball is hit trying to coax it over the wall for a home run.  This is over the top.
 

Ernie was what you rarely see in broadcasters anymore.  He was a Tiger fan, make no mistake about it, but he did it in such an eloquent way, that you barely noticed.  The way he could visualize with words, you almost felt like you were watching the game on the radio.  He was a master at letting the game come to you by saying nothing, letting the sounds of the stadium radiate through the radio for a moment before he began speaking again.  And finally you never went to long without knowing the score of the game thanks to a little hour glass that Ernie had with him in the booth.  And I will always smile when I think of him saying “thank ya Paul” coming out of a commercial break when Paul Carey would hand the mic back over to Ernie after reading an ad or announcement.
 

And now that he has passed, you are hearing stories of how great a person he was, inviting random fans to lunch and dinner, going out of his way to greet fans at spring training and at Tiger Stadium.  He was truly a great person treating everyone the same from the owner of the ball club to the janitor that cleans the urinal troughs at Tiger Stadium; everyone seemed equal in Ernie’s eyes.
 

In my mind, Ernie was truly the best broadcaster ever to sit behind the microphone, and will never be replaced.  I know I’m a biased Tiger fan, and I never had the fortune of listening to Mel Allen, or Jack Buck, but Ernie was #1 when it comes to base play by play guys.
 

1a on my list (again in my humble opinion) is Vin Scully.  I’ve called Vin “the Ernie Harwell on the left coast” for a while.  Both of them had the same uncanny ability to become part of the background of a baseball game, while being the primary voice that tells everyone what is going on.  The game was first, and the play by play voice was only there to add to it, not to overshadow it.  Truly a skill that I think is under appreciated.
 

Over the course of my career, I've made a handful of trips to LA for work.  Aside from the weather I really don't like LA, and rarely look forward to going.  One thing I do look forward to is the possibility I might get to listen to Vin Scully  I don't know if it's because he called the 1984 world series for the Tigers (at the time I was 10) but I've always enjoyed listening to Vin Scully call a game.   So I thought Mr. Scully could say it better than I could ever type.  This excerpt is from the Dodger broadcast last night after Vin had learned Ernie passed away.  I’ve attached the link, and then the text in case you can’t get to the video, but watching and hearing it is the only real way to appreciate Mr. Scully, and of course Mr. Harwell.
 

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2010/05/vin-scully-talks-about-ernie-harwell/1
 

I have a problem and I hope you will understand and bear with me.
One of the finest men we have ever met and a great broadcaster, he's in the Hall of Fame, Ernie Harwell, the voice of the Tigers for so many years, who started with the Dodgers broadcasting in 1948, passed away today.
 

The strike two pitch is outside, ball one.
 

But there's a great story about Ernie, who came to the Dodgers in 1948 and '49, then he went to the Giants, and then he was with the Detroit Tigers from 1960 to 1991, and from 1993 through 2002.
 

The pitch to Reed Johnson is down and away.
 

So I really want to salute him and at the same time I don't want to get in the way of the ballgame, so see if we can possibly do both.
 

Two-and-two the count to [Reed] Johnson.
 

Before Ernie Harwell ever made it to the big leagues, he established a record, as Reed hits it foul down the line.
 

What happened was, in 1948, the Dodgers were in Pittsburgh on an off-day. Red Barber was going to play golf at the Pittsburgh Field Club, and instead he hemorrhaged and was rushed to an emergency hospital, and the Dodgers had one announcer — a good one — by the name of Connie Desmond. But one announcer with a full season ahead is pretty tough.
 

Two-two pitch is high, ball three.
 

Now, Branch Rickey, who ran the Brooklyn Dodgers, had a friend by the name of Arthur Mann, who ran the Atlanta Crackers in the Sally league. So Branch Rickey called Arthur Mann and said, "I need your announcer." And Arthur Mann said, "I need a catcher."
 

Here's the three-two pitch coming up to Reed Johnson. Fastball lifted back of first, down the line. A trio of Brewers, it'll be the right fielder Corey Hart making the play, and we have one out.
 

So a deal was set up. The Dodgers sent a catcher, Clint Dapper, to Atlanta. And the Atlanta club sent Ernie Harwell to the Brooklyn Dodgers. So Ernie was the first and only baseball broadcaster to be involved in a trade.
 

He was such a lovely man, everybody loved Ernie, and eventually he just stole the hearts of everybody in Detroit and the state of Michigan, and for that matter anybody who loved baseball.
 

Russell Martin takes high, ball one, one and oh.
 

Ernie was blessed, I mean really blessed. He lived to be 91, and he was married for over 67 years, to the same lady by the name of Lulu.
 

There's a ground ball to short. Up to get it is Escobar, takes care of Martin. So we have two down in the first inning.
 

Well, Ernie passed away just about two hours ago or thereabouts. I never could say God bless you to Ernie because God had blessed him indeed. And from what I heard, the last time I talked to him a couple of weeks ago, he was ready to go. He was totally and completely at peace. You and I should be that lucky.
So anyway, we say goodbye to Ernie today. Detroit's in Minnesota. I wish they'd been at home, but they weren't. And we have lost a very dear, gentle soul, Ernie Harwell.
 

Okay, two out, first inning, no score....

Thanks for stopping by -- Dan

August 22, 2009

Scuffed Baseballs

I recently noticed an odd happening in baseball that quite frankly I'm shocked it took me 35 years of life, and 30 years of watching baseball (ok, 25 years closely) to realize.

The pitcher getting a new baseball after chucking one in the dirt.

It's not that I've never noticed the pitcher get a new ball after he throws one in the dirt, or one is fouled off at home plate, I noticed that a long time ago.  Since it happens about 40 times in an inning, you can't help but notice.

And I understand why it is done.  The scuffs on a baseball could give the pitcher an advantage (or even a disadvantage) and dictate where the ball is heading, and what type of spin is on it.

What I never noticed before until a couple weeks ago is that a pitcher will pitch a ball, the batter will hit it into the ground with a hardened wooden object (this would be the bat) it rolls across grass (or turf) and dirt, into a leather mit.

The fielder then grabs the ball out of said mit, fires to first...here we will assume worst case and say he throws into the dirt.

The first baseman scoops the ball out of the dirt (now the 2nd time it hit the dirt) and into his leather glove.

Batter is out.

Ball is then thrown "around the horn" (1st base to short to 2nd, to 3rd back to the pitcher...the order sometimes changes, but it is pretty close to this) where the pitcher gets it back and gets ready for the next batter.

One pitch into the dirt, new ball.

One hit into the dirt, fielded, thrown into the dirt, fielded, and tossed around a bit for fun, no new ball

Why isn't this ball replaced after it was abused during a "routine play"?

Thanks for Stopping By - Dan

August 07, 2009

Labatt Blue Vision

I am a baseball snob.  I think I know the game, and I know I know more than most people about the game.  I understand the rules of the game.  I understand the strategy of the game, and when to do what in what situation.  I know depending on the personnel each team has, the strategy changes.

One of my pet peeves is when people try to talk about the game who obviously don’t have a clue what is going on.  I know it is their right to enjoy a game just like I do, and to be a fan just like I am.  I also know they have a right (protected by the constitution in fact) to talk about whatever they want, but when ignorant fans talk about stuff they clearly know nothing about, it sends shivers down my spine, and I just want to get up and bitch slap them across the face (this is what makes me a snob).  I hear this mostly on sports talk radio (including from the show hosts from time to time), and every now and again from fans in attendance at the games I go to.

The latter situation happened at my most recent game, an 8 – 2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday August 4th, 2009.

Me and a fellow baseball snob, my friend Todd, decided to head down to Comerica to watch Jarrod Washburn's Tiger debut.  Todd knows as much, if not more on certain topics about the game than I do, and is just as big a Tiger , and baseball for that matter, fan as I am. 

During the 3rd of 4th inning of the game on Tuesday Todd and I had a couple of ignorant fans sit directly behind us.  One of them who sounded drunk (they were both drinking, but not knowing the guy I wasn’t sure if he was sober, buzzed, or drunk, maybe he talks like that all the time, you know, slurred gargled words) was truly clueless.  He was saying some of the most asinine things that I finally turned to Todd and said, “I might have to blog about this guy”…which I’m doing right now!  Because he sounded drunk, and was drinking during the game, Todd decided he was watching the game through “Labatt Blue Vision”.

I really wish I had a pad of paper and a pen to write down what he was saying, because I knew I would not remember all the drivel he was spewing, but here is a summary of what me and Todd could remember from the game on Tuesday.  I tried to put them in order of what I though was the least to most clueless, enjoy.

1.       After Thames grounded out to third, his response was, “how hard is it to hit a ball to right field?”

a.       This was somewhat funny, because Thames is, for the most part, a pull hitter.

b.      This was made somewhat funnier because of the fact that he pronounced it exactly as it looks with a ‘long A’, and not as “Tims” which is how it should be pronounced.

2.       Asked, “ who is this Laird guy, is he a new guy we picked up?” As the Tiger catcher was headed from the on deck circle to the plate.  Yes, he is a “new guy” we got him in a trade on December 8th, 2008 he’s been our starting catcher all year.

3.       His buddy (who knew a little more, but remember everything is relative) asked if he saw the walk off home run that Ryan Rayburn hit last night (the 8/3/09 game).

a.       Although a walk off home run was hit on Monday, it was Clete Thomas, not Rayburn who hit it.

4.       He said Inge was stupid for not going on the DL to rest his torn knee ligiment to “get better for the end of the season”.

a.        I will cut him a little slack here, it isn’t everyone (just us snobs) that reads detroittigers.com, mlb.com, the baseball sections of foxsports.com, si.com, and espn.com, and the tiger sections of detnews.com, and freep.com almost every day to catch up on what the Tigers (and their farm system) is doing, so he might not have read that the trainers and doctors have said that resting the injury won’t help it, he might as well wait out the season and have surgery this winter.

5.       While watching the bottom of the lineup, without any provoking, he all the sudden says, “the problem with our offense is the bottom of our lineup is no good, because Inge bats between Laird and Everett.  I mean what is Leyland thinking that Laird is going to drive in Everett?”

Ok, this one was hard for me and Todd to grasp (and as Todd said, in an email Wed evening, “I’m still trying to wrap my head around this logic”) so here is what is wrong with the above statement:

a.       1st off the bottom of the lineup of even the best teams is often flawed, THAT IS WHY THEY BAT AT THE BOTTOM!

b.      Often times, you put your best defenders who don’t put up the best offense numbers at the bottom.  This pretty much describes Inge (whose defense speaks for itself), Everett (known for his solid glove, although I wonder this year sometimes), and Laird (who throws out close to half the runners who try to steal on him, which is HOF type numbers).

c.       The bottom of the Tigers line up on this day was: 7. Inge, 8. Laird, 9. Everett.

d.      So with the above mentioned line up in place, I’m not sure how Laird would ever drive in Everett unless they batted around in an inning, which is still mathematically impossible to do.

And we will save the best for last…

6.       After the Tigers leadoff hitter stuck out during his 2nd at bat, he complained how that was a horrible at bat, because the batter struck out on three straight pitches.  (At this point I turned to my friend Todd and asked if he was watching a different game?) He continued to state that Granderson is horrible at hitting left handed pitching (which in his defense is actually a true statement), but you had to keep him in the game because his glove was so good. (And it was at this point my friend Todd replied to me, “oh yea, he has to watching some replay of a game on a portable TV or DVD player” keep reading)  He continued, stating that you really want a right hander in against the left handed pitcher, but because of his defense, you had to start Granderson.

Lets see, where to begin with this one…

a.       The tigers leadoff hitter did strike out, but it was on a 2 and 2 count, and he had fouled off 4 pitches during the at bat, so aside from the strike out, you could argue it was actually not a bad at bat.

b.       Wilken Rameriz was the said leadoff hitter, not Granderson

c.       Rameriz is a right handed hitter, and was clearly hitting from said right side during this at bat, and his pervious at bat to lead off the game.

d.       Granderson never entered the game, not even as a defensive replacement.

They left after the 6th inning, and did not return.  I guess in a way, they made a 8 - 2 snoozer a little more entertaining.

 Thanks for Stopping By - Dan

April 14, 2009

Who Is Overrated?

8 games into the season, and I'm begining to become impatient with ignorant baseball fans.  Recently on a "social networking site" I made a comment to a college friend of mine about Brandon Inge being overrated.  After a couple back and forth's about Inge (and a warning from my wife to her not to get into a baseball arguement with me), they sent the following message:

I will fight to the bitter end to defend Brandon...just so you know. If you want to talk about overrated we should probably start a converison on Caberra. I think with the amount of money they are paying him, he should be able to field and hit. He can hit, but his fielding is scary...I mean it should not be considered an outstanding play because he has to stretch a little to get the ball...a first baseball should stretch. It's pretty sad that Palonco calls him off any fly ball that comes near Caberra. It is like they are down right afraid of his fielding. That is overrated!

Not mad...I am just loyal :)

I saw your pictures from opening day...that is awesome. I am hoping I might make it to opening day of these times. I don't think you could have asked for a better game result...the Rangers got spanked!! Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come!

Go Tigers!!!

I was caught off guard.  How do you go from Inge being overrated to Cabrera being overrated?  Inge is an arguement, no card carrying baseball snob would ever even think to suggest that Cabrera is overrated, but this person just did.

They also can't spell "Cabrera"

So I tried to be nice, trying to appreciate a Tiger fan (female by the way, increasing the level of patience I would exhibit with her slightly, and also making me keep her nameless, and refrain from giving her a nickname like the one I gave to dipshit) and replied with the following: 

Inge has to hit, that is my only point as long as he does what he is currently doing, I'm happy. If he starts to hit below .240, I will go back to my overrated statement. I don't care how good his glove is, your 3rd baseman has to hit.

As far as your Cabrera statement, you absolutely must be smoking crack up there in the Lansing area, you can not argue that at all. He may be a triple crown candidate this year, and will most assurdely be a MVP candidate! First basemen are traditionally your lesser fielders, and Cabrerra is one of the best fielding 1st baseman in the league. I can pull up range and fielding percentage stats if I have to. Being a former 3rd baseman helps him at first. To say his fielding is "scary" is just plain wrong.

Compare Cabrera's big contract and statistics with Inge's big contract and statistics, Inge would hands down win the most overated player argument. Sorry, you have no leg to stand on in saying that Cabrera is overated...especially compared to Inge.

She followed up with this assinine re-statement of her first assinine statement:

I will never submit to this agruement! Caberra IS overrated. Wait until his next game...I guarantee Palonco will call him off any infield fly balls. Wait, I will go further...Caberra will make at least one error. Today's game looks to be rained out...we will have to wait until the next... 

I have no idea why she keeps up with this argument point that Cabrera is a bad 1st baseman, because Palonco calls him off?????  AND, his fielding percentage is currently 1.000, but more on that below.

So here is the reply I sent just before I typed this blog.  (My wife gave me the idea to use this as a blog, so I decided to mail it in a bit, an use this email chain as an entry, hope you enjoy). 

Let me apologize in advance for the length of this message, settle in.

Ok (person to remain nameless), here we go...

First off, I'm going to assume you are an intelligent baseball fan, and I don't have to explain to you that the middle infielders have the right of way over the corner guys, and take charge with fly balls.  This happens in the outfield as well.  So Polanco (which you spelled wrong) calling off Cabrera means absolutely nothing, because IT IS HIS JOB TO DO SO!

Now, since baseball is such a statistical game, I would assume you have some numbers to back up your claim, otherwise it is just an opinion (which is wrong by the way).

1st lets compare Cabrera with your boy, Mr. overrated Inge.  I won't even get into the offensive numbers, because it is a no contest, Cabrera soundly beats Inge hands down in every offensive catagory...well except strike outs, Inge has him beat there.

Now defensively I won't even begin to say that Cabrera is as good as Inge, Brandon is a better defensive third baseman (and Inge might be the best defensive third sacker in the AL), but take a look at the numbers, and they are closer than most would think.

Again with your understanding of the game, I'm sure you know that fielding percentage is the measure of how good a player is defensively.  This is the comparison of how many chances a player has in the field compared to the number of errors he has.  Here is how Cabrera stacks up against your boy:

CAREER FIELDING PERCENTAGE:
Inge: .978
Cabrera: .974

hmmmmm, .004, pretty close.

Next, lets look at 2006, and 2007, the last years both of them played third base.

Inge: .958
Cabrera: .951

hmmmm, again relitively close with a difference of only .007.

But Cabrera is now a first baseman, and I contend, one of the best in the AL...hell, in baseball.  Again, I will now back this up with actual numbers (being the dork engineer and baseball geek that I am).

With the exception of maybe two other teams, any major league team would trade whoever they have playing first to get Cabrera.  St. Louis would probably keep Pujols, and Philly would probably keep Howard.  EVERY OTHER TEAM WOULD TAKE CABRERA IN A HEART BEAT, this isn't only my opinion, you will find a lot of baseball people who would agree.

So lets compare Cabrera's salary and stats with what most would consider the top two first basemen in the league (all numbers from 2008):

AVERAGE:
Pujols: .357
Howard: .251
Cabrera: .292

Pujols is a stud, and I will concede now he is probably the best first baseman in baseball right.  Had Cabrera not switched leagues and started slow, he would have hit around .320.  He is proving that this year, currently hitting just under .500.  Also, Cabrera is 25, and Pujols is 29.  Four years from now, Cabrera will be the best, you heard it here first.

HOME RUNS
Pujols: 48
Howard: 37
Cabrera: 37

Cabrera lead the AL in home runs last year.

RBI's
Pujols: 116
Howard: 146
Cabrera: 127

Howard lead baseball by far in RBI's last year. Cabrera was third in the AL, and fourth in baseball.

So he was in the top 10 in batting average, lead the AL in Home runs, and was third in RBI's.  Still thinking he is overrated?

How about defensively:

FIELDING PERCENTAGE
Pujols: .996
Howard: .988
Cabrera: .992

Slightly worse than Pujols (see above statement), better than Howard, and keep in mind this was Cabrera's first year at 1st base, he improved during the year, and is already much better this year (currently his fielding percentage is 1.000...no errors).

Onto the money.  The all make too much, but you have to compare apples to apples, so lets look at their salaries:

Pujols: $14.5 Million
Howard: $15 Million
Cabrera: $14.3 Million

Cabrera makes the least, but is right in line with these guys.  There are also a couple other First baseman who make around the same amount of money who have much worse stats than Cabrera.

So if you still think he is overrated, I really don't care, you can't argue with numbers, math doesn't lie, and they are laid out in front of you above.

I just hope you can come to appreciate your All Star, future hall of fame 1st baseman and enjoy watching one of the best ever, next time you head to Comerica.

(this was fun!)

I left her a few loop holes, lets see how good she is, and see if she can find and manipulate them.

Thanks for Stopping By - Dan

April 06, 2009

Tiger Predictions Take 2

Well, since the season is now officially one game (and one inning as of this typing), I thought I would look back at my entries and see where we stand with my predictions.

After looking back, I quickly realize why I'm not a baseball columnist, and just a blogger.  To steal a line from the movie Dumb and Dumber: I was way off!

I still have the standing bet with dipshit that Inge will not hit .260 with 15 homers (and I still would not mind loosing that bet).  Also, me and dipshit bet that Ramon Santiago will be your starting shortstop by 6/15.  Since Everett has already been hurt...in spring training...I still ike my chances on this one.

I never did get to the position player predictions, and honestly wouldn't have said anything ground breaking had I posted a blog about them.  I would have repeated my Ramon Santiago thing above, said Cabrera would have a major year (going out on a limb I know), and the defense would be much improved.  I also would have said that Granderson and Polonco will be their usual selfs (again another limb), Guillen would be fine in left, and Ordonez is a very underated right fielder.  Is he outstanding defensively? No, but he is very servicable, and not a horrible defender like some would suggest.

Well Guillen already looks destined to play DH (as he was "rested" the first game of the season)...and I would have never predicted Sheffield would be released, good riddance by the way.

Ordonez has got to start hitting for power again, and not singles like he was doing the last 10 weeks of 2008.  His .320 average does the Tigers much less good if he is hitting singles.

We will have to see how it goes.

But lets look at my pitching predictions:

I said Verlander will return to form, this we can not comment on.  He looked like total dog piss in the opener, but lets not panic just yet (although I'm concerned), will have to wait a few starts to see where he is at.

I said I have no idea what Bonderman will do.  Still don't as he started the year on the DL.

Galaraga is still wait and see, as well as Edwin Jackson who just had a 1-2-3 1st.

Ahhhh, the fith starter.  I said it would be Dontrell Willis, and that he would bounce back.  Unless you consider being on the disabled list with "anixety disorder" bouncing back, you could once again insert the line from Dumb and Dumber here.

Let me now say that Willis is done, and I actually made my self write 1000 sentences that said "I will not make boneheaded predictions about 5th starters again" as punishment.

I also wrote that the tigers can't bring Porcello north.  Willis, Robertson, Miner, and the Bonderman injury left the Tigers with no choice, it had to be him.  Look for Miner and Porcello to battle it out until Bonderman is healthy, if Porcello is the guy, they will move Miner to the pen.  If Miner is the guy, they will send Porcello to Erie.  If Bonderman's shoulder suddenly explodes, things will stay as is.

No matter what, Porcello will be closely watched to keep pitch counts and innings down.

When it comes to the bullpen, I was still way off, but not as bad as I was with the starters...which isn't saying much.

Robertson is in the pen, so my prediction that he will become a late inning guy could still hold true.

Lyon has been horrible, so my comment of not liking the signing still stands.

I said Bobby Seay will be your lefthanded specialist, and he had a good spring, so this one is on track.

My suprise was that Zumaya will be unhittable and your closer...oops is an understatement!  He is on the DL as well, and now I wonder if he will ever be able to pitch again.  He may be another Matt Anderson, or Mark Fidrich.

I said Juan Rincon will be the 8th inning guy, and this looks good as his spring ERA was 0.00 (although he looked only slightly better than dog piss in the 8th last night).  I'm surprised that he hasn't been talked about as the closer, he has looked good this spring! 

Rodney as a closer still keeps me up at night.  Seriousely I've been having nightmares that I'm being attacked by a crooked hat.

So that is it going into the season.  I really don't think you can say this team will be bad this year, I also don't think you can say they will be good, too many questions, and what if's. 

I guess the good news is that the core of this team from 2007 that did ok, and that many thought would win it all last year is still in tact.  The defense will be better, which will help out the pitchers.  The offense will still be there, and should put up plenty of runs.

The bad news is the pitching has way to many what if's, and needs a lot of them to turn into sure things for this to be a good year.

Lets hope Verlander can bounce back, Galaraga wasn't a one hit wonder, Jackson can improve and live up to his "stuff" Bonderman can come back, Porcello can handle the pressure and work load of a MLB season, and that the bullpen can shut the door.

Yep, a lot of what if's, and I don't feel good about very many of them, and don't expect much this year.

Here's to hoping I'm wrong, and 2009 turns into 2006.

Thanks for Stopping By - Dan

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 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

January 14, 2009

1st Report on the Tigers

Breaking away from the racing and random theme for a bit.  With pitchers and catchers reporting in just about a month, lets talk some baseball.

A couple moves this week created a level of frustration on my part and that is what made me decide to blog on the baseball topic.

Derek Lowe signed with the braves, 4 years for $60 million, and John Smoltz signed a one year deal with the Sox for $5.5 million.  My frustration comes from the fact that I think the Tigers did not even try to get either of these guys.

Now if they did and it wasn't reported anywhere (not in the papers, not on TV, no magazines, no internet, no blogs), which I doubt, then I take back everything in this blog entry.

Instead, they trade a promising prospect in Matt Joyce for Edwin Jackson (who might possibly have been the 6th member of the Jackson 5 had he not had so much talent on the mound...ok, that is totally speculation).  Now Edwin might prove to fulfill all his potential they claim he has, and as a Tiger fan, I hope he does, but why did they pull this trigger so quick?

(if he sucks, I've already projected his nickname will be edLOOSE)

I don't think Lowe and Smoltz went for outrageous price tags.  Smoltz might have been a good guy to get for two years (if he took one year for 5.5, maybe he would have done two years for 8 - 10 million) until Porcello is ready, similar with what they did with Rogers in 2006...that worked out ok.  No one has any idea how Willis and Robertson are going to be, so maybe it would have been wise to try to get Lowe or Smoltz AND Jackson.

Don't think I'm hung up on Smotlz and Lowe, it isn't the guys more than the fact that the Tigers are trying to fix this thing on the cheap.  Illitch spent a bunch of money last year, and it didn't work out (to say the least), so he has totally done a 180, and is way too gun shy, and won't spend a penny this off season.

I do like the Laird signing, I think he is a solid backstop that will give you a .250 stick somewhere down at the bottom of this still pretty potent lineup.  I'm not the biggest fan of the Everett signing at SS, but I won't berate Dombrowski too much for that (I still think Santiago should have gotten his shot, and still predict he will be your starting SS by June).  My hope was that he was doing the defensive fixes inexpensively, to spend some money on a closer, or some starting pitching help.

This proved to not be the case as they are entering spring training with captain crooked hat Fernando Rodney as the closer, and the same pitching staff they had last year minus Rogers, add Jackson.

I hope I'm wrong folks, but I think this is a .500 team at best for 2009.  Way too many ifs, most of which I didn't even mention and will save for another entry.

Thanks for stopping by - Dan