Monday, May 12, 2008

Odds and Ends

  • There has been a lot of Jeremy Bonderman discussion. Thanks to the wonderful Fox/MLB Saturday Afternoon blackouts, I was unable to watch Saturday's game. Jim Price seemed to notice a blatant mechanical flaw with Bonderman in the first inning. Clearly, things have not been right with him. I said before the season to watch his fastball velocity and the sharpness of the slider to see if he's healthy. Neither of those pitches are optimal, and it turns out his fastball command has been an even bigger issue. I'm not convinced his injured elbow healed with rest. It's pretty clear he's not himself. Given Bonderman's history of concealing his elbow problems, a decline of pitch quality and repeated mechanical flaws may be all the Tigers will have to go on before it's too late. My hope is that they are proactive with this, even if it means an Eddie Bonine getting a couple of starts.
  • The Mudhens have the top three hitters in the International League and four of the top six hitters according to equivalent average. Mike Hessman and his 14 homers have him in first place, followed by the resurgent Brent Clevlen and Jeff Larish. The now promoted Matt Joyce places sixth on this list. On the surface this is good news, but it can highlight some flaws.
    • If you have several players dominating in AAA, their performance is simply going to waste. While there are only so many roster spaces, these guys are doing no good beating up on International League pitching.
    • This shows the problem of having a high payroll team. The players simply can't be shuffled in and out. If Gary Sheffield was a rookie making the league minimum, his performance to date wouldn't be tolerated and would have been sent to Toledo a long time ago.
    • The good news is that there is some offensive depth. I disagreed with a lot of the preseason assertions that the Tigers have a depth problem. It's pretty clear by looking at the current bench and the reserves in AAA that the Tigers should be able to withstand some injuries (when the player doesn't try to stubbornly play through them, killing the team in the process).
    • How can the Tigers go about utilizing some of this depth? As I've already alluded to, placing Gary Sheffield on the disabled list would free up one roster spot. He's just not a good player when he's trying to play through these injuries. Marcus Thames is also starting to look like a redundancy, and it may make sense to ship him out for some pitching depth. Mike Hessman is earning an opportunity to help the team. I also think that Jeff Larish could solve a lot of these left-handed bat issues.
  • The Venezuelan Summer League kicks off today. It's hard to preview the league, given that there is very little information out there on most of the players. I just wanted to alert those who follow the minor leagues that there is a new batch of players to track.

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