Thursday, June 26, 2008
Timo Perez DH
Mike Hessman SS
Jeff Larish 3B
Brent Clevlen CF
Matt Joyce RF
Fernando Seguignol 1B
Erick Almonte 2B
Max St. Pierre C
I was taken aback by this lineup. I read somewhere that Leyland wanted Larish playing in places other than first base. I assumed if Larish ended up at third, Hessman would be at first. I'm curious how Hessman and Larish played on the left side of the infield, as both are being challenged defensively.
What is there to lose by doing this? Maybe the team will give up a few more hits, but guys blocked by incumbents need to be able to play multiple positions to secure a bench spot in the future.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
The pitchers will be divided into six parts. The higher levels will include Detroit, Toledo, and Erie. Lakeland, West Michigan, and Oneonta comprise part 2. The GCL, DSL, and VSL teams will round out the pack. I'll run through starting pitching first and then relief pitching. Today, we'll look at the starting pitchers at the upper levels.
Justin Verlander, 25
97 IP, 4.55 ERA, 36BB, 62K, 9HR
.270 BABIP, 43% GB, 4.29 FIP
Kenny Rogers, 43
88.2 IP, 4.97 ERA, 36BB, 36K, 8 HR
.301 BABIP, 44% GB, 4.78 FIP
Nate Robertson, 30
90 IP, 5.60 ERA, 26BB, 61 K, 12 HR
.332 BABIP, 42% GB, 4.31 FIP
Jeremy Bonderman, 25
71.1 IP, 4.29 ERA, 36BB, 44K, 9 HR
.300 BABIP, 48% GB, 5.05 FIP
Dontrelle Willis, 26
11.1 IP, 10.33 ERA, 21BB, 5K, 2 HR
.172 BABIP, 41% GB, 9.97 FIP
Armando Galarraga, 26
71.1 IP, 3.03 ERA, 29BB, 49K, 6 HR
.194 BABIP, 49% GB, 4.15 FIP
Eddie Bonine, 27
12.1 IP, 5.84 ERA, 5BB, 3K, 3 HR
.293 BABIP, 44% GB, 6.08 FIP
This is the group most responsible for the team's initial struggles, and most responsible for the recent resurgence. Fortunately, LD% is available for the Major League pitchers. Justin Verlander has only allowed 14.7% of batted balls to be liners, while teams are hitting Nate Robertson (19.4%) has been hit harder. Between the line drive rate and 12 homers, it seems that Robertson, despite the solid k rate, isn't getting any bad breaks from his defense, but instead has been giving up well hit balls. In recent weeks, Verlander has re-emerged as the staff ace. Kenny Rogers is getting things done with smoke and mirrors again. We've thought he would tail off before, but hasn't yet. Yes, Dontrelle Willis was that bad, and it's just further proof that BAA really isn't a good statistic to use as a measuring stick for pitchers. Galarraga has been discussed in detail, as his peripherals suggest he should be doing much worse. That seems likely, which is unfortunate, because he has gone from a bonus pitcher to necessity. Meanwhile, Eddie Bonine has already allowed three homers. That could spell trouble in the future, and explains why the Tigers are doing things like talking to Freddy Garcia, stretching out Aquilino Lopez, and refusing to give Casey Fossum the release he's earned.
Eddie Bonine, 27
74.1 IP, 4.48 ERA, 14BB, 46K, 6 HR
.325 BABIP, 57% GB, 3.69 FIP
Chris Lambert, 25
78.2 IP, 2.97 ERA, 29BB, 61K, 4 HR
.291 BABIP, 38% GB, 3.45 FIP
Virgil Vasquez, 26
72.1 IP, 5.10 ERA, 14BB, 55K, 11 HR
.335 BABIP, 42% GB, 4.48 FIP
Yorman Bazardo, 24
55.1 IP, 5.86 ERA, 19BB, 40K, 12 HR
.361 BABIP, 49% GB, 5.64 FIP
Jeremy Johnson, 26
46.2, 5.79 ERA, 16BB, 26K, 6 HR
.335 BABIP, 46% GB, 4.82 FIP
Armando Galarraga, 26
12 IP, 2.25 ERA, 1 BB, 11K, 1 HR
.204 BABIP, 50% GB, 2.73 FIP
Dontrelle Willis, 26
16.1 IP, 4.41 ERA, 7 BB, 11K, 2 HR
.304 BABIP, 50% GB, 4.76 FIP
Lauren Gagnier, 23
20 IP, 4.05 ERA, 12BB, 21K, 1HR
.377 BABIP, 44% GB, 3.58 FIP
I think once you look at their groundball rates and fielding independent stats, you start to see why Eddie Bonine was chosen over Chris Lambert. Lambert has been a bit lucky this season, but still could be the next choice if Bonine falters. Virgil Vasquz missed some time with a shoulder injury, a condition that could explain his step back this year. Coming into the season as the next in line for a starting role, he has been passed over twice now. Vasquez's disappointment doesn't even rival Yorman Bazardo, who has taken a huge step back this year after starting the season in the bullpen. The guy has allowed a slugging percentage that is now pushing .600, meaning he has been pounded pretty good. In the one game I saw him pitch in Toledo in addition to his three disasterous games in Detroit, I've noticed Bazardo's velocity has been sitting mostly in the high 80's. While that is a tell-tale sign of a possible injury, a guy who relies on his changeup will struggle if the differential between his fastball and change decreases. Jeremy Johnson is out with an elbow injury, and nobody even noticed. It's been six years since he rocketed through the system before undergoing massive shoulder surgery. Here you see why Galarraga got the nod in April after Willis' injury. You can also see that Dontrelle struggled in his time with the Hens. Finally, Lauren Gagnier only got promoted because he was in line to start on the day when Toledo needed a starter. He's been a pleasant surprise both with the Hens and with the Whitecaps.
Luke French, 22
85.1 IP, 4.85 ERA, 34 BB, 36 K, 4 HR
.342 BABIP, 48% GB, 4.29 FIP
Danny Christensen, 25
80 IP, 3.73 ERA, 34 BB, 43 K, 9 HR
.272 BABIP, 45% GB, 4.99 FIP
Andrew Kown, 25
81.2 IP, 4.85 ERA, 23 BB, 36 K, 13 HR
.289 BABIP, 47% GB, 5.33 FIP
Ben Fritz, 27
56.1 IP, 5.59 ERA, 16 BB, 32 K, 7 HR
.348 BABIP, 45% GB, 4.70 FIP
Josh Rainwater, 23
48.1 IP, 4.84 ERA, 21 BB, 32 K, 1 HR
.344 BABIP, 44% GB, 3.63 FIP
Luis Marte, 21
12.1 IP, 3.65 ERA, 9 BB, 7 K, 1 HR
.250 BABIP, 53% GB, 5.41 FIP
There's not a whole lot to see here. French is young for the league, but the strikeout rate is beyond alarming. He'll probably need to repeat the level next year. Christensen, acquired for Roman Colon this offseason, has put up the best superficial numbers, but it looks like he's had his share of breaks. Kown also looks like he's been a bit lucky this year, and like the rest of this staff, has struggled. Ben Fritz was a Rule 5 pick this past offseason, and missed some time due to shoulder problems. It looks like he's been on the wrong side of the 8-ball, but there's not much promise there. The fourth round pick from five years ago, Josh Rainwater is the most intriguing of the healthy players in Erie's rotation. His peripherals suggest that his ERA should be a full run lower, and the strikeouts have started to come on of late. Luis Marte blew through the Florida State League, but struggled in his two starts before going down with an elbow sprain. There's been no word on his rehab progress, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he needed to undergo Tommy John Surgery as a result of this injury. That would be quite the setback for a guy who burst onto a lot of radars with his performance this year.
There hasn't been a more disappointing group this year than the starting pitchers at the upper levels. While the ones at the big leagues have underperformed for much of the year, the bigger story is the declining depth. Guys like Virgil Vasquez, Jordan Tata, and Yorman Bazardo were thought to be options if things went wrong, but all three have taken themselves out of the running this year. Meanwhile, the Erie rotation is almost completely lacking prospects, as nobody has proven themselves ready for a look at even the AAA level.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Much was made about Bautista's velocity, but he struggled to throw strikes and that got him in trouble. Still, if you take out his outing before going on the DL with shoulder problems, his ERA is a minuscule 2.04. Meanwhile, he's only walked one guy in his 5 2/3 innings since returning from the disabled list. This demotion seems unwaranted, unless the plan is to stretch him out, similar to Aquilino Lopez. I have a hard time believing Bautista gets through waivers, considering he hasn't pitched poorly this year.
Once again, when you have three right-handed relievers in Zumaya (.199/.291/.321), Rodney (.233/.332/.385), and Miner (.268/.345/.405) who have small right/left platoon splits for their careers. I don't see the need for a second lefty. I especially don't see the need for a second lefty who has been rocked in his time with the big club. Finally, I don't see the reason for sending another hard thrower who is outperforming the second lefty through waivers.
I'm thrilled to have a healthy Joel Zumaya back on the team, but this has been the latest in a series of poor moves in managing this bullpen. I'm beginning to realize the value of Zumaya and an effective Rodney goes well beyond their ability to get guys out. Jim Leyland has continually shown that he is incapable of correctly deploying his relievers. This latest affair with Casey Fossum is just more proof.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
- Marcus Thames is red hot. While this is getting plenty of attention, I just wanted to give credit where he's due. Hopefully he doesn't start swinging for the fences to keep up this "streak."
- I really hate to keep ripping on ESPN announcers, but another one of my pet peeves came up yesterday during the Rice/LSU College World Series game. A left-handed pitcher balked on a throw over to first. I couldn't tell from the camera angle, but the pitcher either stepped towards home plate or swung his foot back towards second before throwing to first. Either one of those motions would be a balk, but neither of the announcers had a clue about what was done. My new favorite target Karl Ravech just sounded lost, and analyst Robin Ventura started talking about the pitchers back leg breaking or something along those lines that is nothing near a balk. The point is that neither was capable of explaining how the pitcher balked, something that I would expect somebody getting paid thousands of dollars per game to be able to explain. I really do believe that before somebody announces a game on national television, they should memorize and be tested on baseball rules, so that their ignorance isn't spread to the masses.
- Speaking of terribly ignorant announcers, I was watching the Giants' feed of the series, and Mike Krukow had some "gems." After Michael Hollimon's first error, he stated Hollimon was known for his defense. This is a laughable notion for a guy who has been purely carried by his bat. He also seriously said baseball is so simple that it is "Just a big game of catch." I really wish that was the case. There were more where I shook my head, but they aren't coming to mind right now.
- Speaking of Michael Hollimon, he needs to do a better job in the field if he wants to be considered for any sort of long term role.
- I'm really considering taking down the "Free Ryan Raburn" propaganda. Between Thames dominating, Raburn struggling, and his increased playing time; I'm beginning to think he doesn't need to be freed.
- I happened to be in the room when one of the shouting ESPN angry sportswriter shows was on last week after the Dontrelle Willis demotion, and it occured to me that people still think that A ball is the lowest rung of minor league systems. Lakeland is still above West Michigan, Oneonta, and the Gulf Coast Tigers, but I wouldn't expect one of the shouting sportswriters to know this.
- I don't know which GCL outfielder I'm more looking forward to following this year: CT Tang or Alexis Espinoza. Londell Taylor and D'Andre Vaughn apparently also have high ceilings, but I still have vivid memories of Robbie Sovie.
- To think, I had already started my draft of the fire sale post...
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I would hope that Fossum is sent out soon. Whether it is the corresponding move to Joel Zumaya's return or if it is to make room for a superior second lefty (Hello, Clay Rapada and Ian Ostlund!) this is another proverbial bullet that needs to be taken out of Jim Leyland's gun before he shoots the team in the foot anymore.
Monday, June 16, 2008
April 25, Toronto: Optioned to AAA Syracuse.
May 12, Toronto: Recalled from AAA Syracuse.
June 11, Toronto: Optioned to AAA Syracuse.
September 21, Toronto: Designated Aquilino Lopez for Assignment.
July 30, Colorado: Purchased the Contract from AAA Colorado Springs.
August 3, Philadelphia: Claimed off waivers from Colorado and optioned him to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
August 20, Philadelphia: Recalled from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
December 16, Philadelphia: Sent outright to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
April 20, Detroit: Purchased the contract from AAA Toledo.
May 4, Detroit: Optioned to AAA Toledo.
May 6, Detroit: Recalled from AAA Toledo.
May 13, Detroit: Optioned to AAA Toledo.
June 7, Detroit: Recalled from AAA Toledo
June 10, Detroit: Designated for Assignment
June 11, Detroit: Optioned to AAA Toledo.
August 11, Detroit: Recalled from AAA Toledo.
August 19, Detroit: Optioned to AAA Toledo.
August 30, Detroit: Outrighted to AAA Toledo.
How do you use options? According to the Biz of Baseball:
If a player is not sent to the minors during a year, an option is not used.The one section of this rule that I overlooked is the 20 day requirement. A player must be on optional assignment for 20 days in order to use an option. In 2005, Lopez spent only 17 days on optional assignment, thus he did not use an option that season. Aquilino Lopez had an option remaining opposed to what I erroneously reported, and thus was able to be sent to Toledo to be stretched to starting.
If a player is on the 40-man roster in spring training but optioned to the
minors before the season begins, an option is used.
If a player’s optional
assignment(s) to the minors total less than 20 days in one season, an option is
A player may be eligible for a fourth option year if he has been
optioned in three seasons but does not yet have five full seasons of
professional experience. A full season is defined as being on an active pro
roster for at least 90 days in a season. (If a player is put on the disabled
list after earning 60 or more days of service in a single season, his time on
the DL is counted.) The 90-day requirement means short-season leagues (New-York Penn, Northwest, Pioneer, Appalachian, Gulf Coast, Arizona Rookie, Dominican and
Venezuelan Summer Leagues) do not count as full seasons for the purposes of
determining eligibility for a fourth option.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
1.) Why not Fossum?
2.) Is Rodney even an upgrade over Lopez, who has been the team's most effective reliever so far?
I understand that the move is to try and stretch Lopez into a starter, giving the team another starting pitching option in reserve. But do the Tigers really expect a pitcher who has walked just seven batters while posting a 2.67 ERA this year to clear waivers? Given what teams pay for this type of pitcher at the trading deadline, I get the feeling Lopez will be claimed. I hope I'm wrong, but if the Tigers do lose a solid reliever, rest assured that Casey Fossum didn't get a chance to excercise the July 1 opt out clause in his contract.
Update: Lopez does have an option remaining. I guess this move makes sense to give some depth at starting pitching. If Lopez was out of options and was exposed to waivers, this move would have been much more questionable. I hope Fossum is the guy sent out for Zumaya, though.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Magglio Ordonez, 34
A week ago, I would have advocated exploring a trade of Magglio Ordonez. He seemed like the perfect sell high candidate, and with the bunch of corner outfielders who had the potential to cover right field, it seemed like it may have been a good opportunity to reload. Now, after a sweep of the White Sox, an easier schedule coming up, and a resurgent pitching staff, there seems to be a window to get back into this thing. If that doesn't happen, I'd at least test the waters with Magglio come july. Also, don't pay attention to the expected values. He's always had high BABIP, so it's pretty reasonable to assume continued success from him.
Brent Clevlen, 24
Actual: .176/.286/.176 (Toledo: .324/.417/.620)
Expected: .227/.238/.117 (Toledo: .272/.373/.568)
Clevlen's main problem is contact. He struggles with the whiffs, and those struggles seem to be on the brink of ending his future in Detroit. He hit very well for Toledo, but the .412 BABIP suggests that to be somewhat of a mirage. It's still enough for Jim Leyland to justify playing him, hoping he can recapture some of what he provided as Curtis Granderson's platoon partner two summers ago. There's an outfield rotation in Toledo right now, with Jackson Melian getting a lot of time in right field. I already covered him with the left fielders, and trust me, he doesn't deserve any more coverage.
Deik Scram, 24
Jeff Frazier, 25
Casper Wells, 23
Actual: .273/.333/.545 (West Michigan: .240/.351/.447)
Expected: .182/.250/.454 (West Michigan: .195/.313/.402)
Deik Scram has been overrated as a prospect, mostly because of his age. A 23 year old putting up the numbers he did in A-ball last season wasn't exactly impressive. As a college senior, he needed to move fast, and to his credit, he has. Unfortunately, he seems overmatched in Erie. Jeff Frazier's return to the organization has been a pleasant surprise, but he won't be showing up on any prospect lists anytime soon. Neither will Casper Wells, whose fast start at Erie is likely the result of a small sample size to date.
Brennan Boesch, 23
Luis Salas, 19
Boesch has been a disappointment, and probably needs to be held back a level next season. His lack of pitch recognition seems to be his downfall, and any hype resulting from his decent debut at Oneonta and big time ceiling is now overshadowed by his complete lack of offensive performance. Before you get too excited about Salas (actually a centerfielder, I just wanted to get him in today), realize it's only 19 plate appearances. Still you have to wonder how the plans may change for the young Venezuelan if he continues to excel in Lakeland.
Kody Kaiser, 23
Cory Middleton, 22
Kaiser is doing well again in his Ryan Raburn role. He's probably not worth getting excited about. Now failing for the second time in West Michigan, it is hard to believe that Cory Middleton is just 22.
Victor Dionisio, 18
Robinson Figueroa, 18
There's going to be a lot more than how well they do in a few at bats that will determine if these guys can make it to the states. For perspective on the sample size limitations of looking at the numbers for a season just two weeks old, the difference between Figueroa's actual and expected line is just one single.
Avisail Garcia, 17
Garcia just turned 17 Thursday. I'll let that sink in and consider that he has been pretty impressive for a guy who would have been playing in his junior year of high school.
Perhaps next time through, I will lump all of the outfielders together. I'm beginning to realize that may have been a more efficient and accurate way to portray the state of the system, given that outfielders tend to be somewhat interchangeable. As with most of the positions, the trend has been a solid incumbant at the top, decent reinforcement at Toledo or the Detroit bench, and various degrees of struggling prospects falling off the radar as you get further down the system. Ordonez is one of the team's best players, and barring some team knocking Dave Dombrowski's socks off in a trade offer for him, he will be for another couple of seasons. The immediate need for right field help doesn't exist, but it would still be nice if guys like Boesch would take a step forward and give the Tigers options for the early part of the next decade.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
He's also the first minor league Rule 5 pick to make the Tigers that I can remember. I'll have to check later to see if any other players acquired in this overlooked phase of the free talent draft have made the Tigers' roster.
Upon checking, I have discovered that Jose Macias and Buddy Groom were each minor league Rule 5 picks.
Monday, June 09, 2008
ESPN showed Dave Dombrowski in an animated phone conversation right after today's disaster. There is no way that Willis will be on the active roster five days from now. Willis, having five years of service time, must grant permission to be sent to the minor leagues. He seems like a good guy who knows that it would be for his own good to work things out away from the active roster. Willis does have options, so he will not have to pass through waivers to go down... not to say that anybody would want to pick up the rest of this albatross of a contract.
Who takes his place?
This is the bigger concern. With Jeremy Bonderman out for a while (Will Carroll says it's possible that he could return before the end of the season, but don't get your hopes up), somebody will need to be moved into the rotation. I was going to scan the system for starting pitchers next week, but we can see that for all of the struggles in Detroit this year, Toledo and Erie are lacking alternate options.
I will rule out Zach Miner, who seems to have been moved permanently to the bullpen. The default choice will have to be Casey Fossum, who was dominant in his time with the Mudhens. As bad as he was in his first outing, he is the only player aside from Armando Galarraga to pitch well out of Toledo's rotation.
In Toledo, Virgil Vasquez has struggled and missed time with a shoulder injury. He's back and pitching somewhat better. I'm betting Fossum gets the gig for the time being, but Vasquez will be the next option, unless you think Chris Lambert is for real. Despite a 3.38 ERA, the strikeouts aren't there. There seems to be a sentiment that he isn't going to keep this up. He's probably option number 3.
Remember Jordan Tata? He's having the same problems that Willis is having... for Lakeland.
Yorman Bazardo was thought to be the team's sixth starter this year. He's not fairing much better in Toledo than he did up with the big club, with a 5.57 ERA with the Mudhens. The good news is that his walks are down, but he will still get pummeled with a promotion.
Jeremy Johnson is posting a 5.79 ERA in Toledo's rotation. Eddie Bonine rounds out the rotation, and is his typical mediocre self.
So Toledo doesn't provide much of anything, how about Erie? Rather than go through each pitcher, I will point out that the strikeout leader for the Seawolves is reliever Anthony Tomey with 33. Neither Luke French, Danny Christensen, Andrew Kown, Josh Rainwater nor Ben Fritz are capable of pitching well in Erie at this moment, let alone Detroit.
Luis Marte was skyrocketing through the system, and is now out with a sprained ligament in his elbow. To my knowledge, he's still trying to rehab it, but he won't be coming up any time soon.
There will inevitably be Rick Porcello speculation. I don't think he's close to ready at this point, and with the season on the brink of being a lost cause, I don't think this is the correct situation to rush a prospect.
In short, Fossum, Vasquez, and Lambert are the top three options. In other words, keep an eye out for the waiver wire. This could get ugly.
I wish I would have gotten around to looking at this before the season, because I could have taken credit for thinking Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria would have worse seasons as they move into a tougher division to hit. While I think that is part of the reason they have failed to live up to expectations, there likely is more to the equation.
I first started to look into this when I saw some fantasy baseball transactions over the past week. Travis Hafner was dropped in one of my leagues; Victor Martinez was benched for Dionar Navarro in another. I had high hopes for Billy Butler in one of my leagues, only to see him tank and end up in AAA. One owner was thrilled to have Delmon Young finally hit a home run this week. Oh yeah, this Tigers offense isn't exactly on pace to put up 1000 runs. Something seems to be amiss in the American League Central.
Interestingly enough, this is not the case. I wrote that whole introduction before crunching the numbers, and the results surprised me.
I'm about to introduce a statistic called Divisional Effect. This will be similar to a team's park effect, where the team's runs scored and allowed within the division are divided by the runs scored and allowed outside of the division, multiplied by 100 and rounded to the nearest integer to make things pretty. The Divisional Effect will have two components: oDE, which measures the effect on runs scored and pDE which measures the effect on run prevention. American League Central teams ended up with a oDE of 105 and a pDE of 100. This suggests that American League Central hitters actually do better within the division. Another look at the depressed numbers of AL Central hitters would seem to suggest otherwise.
I've run out of time for now. I will have more on the Divisional Effect later in the week. I just came up with it this morning and want to refine some things before coming to conclusions.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Saturday, June 07, 2008
That was an exciting game today. It took a while and a few defensive miscues by the Cleveland outfield to spark the rally, but the Tigers sure made them pay. That is the offense that needs to show up more frequently if this season isn't going to be a lost cause.
My best wishes go out to Jeremy Bonderman. Blood clots are a potentially serious condition, and I'm glad it was nipped in the bud. Some other players who have had similar conditions are David Cone, Aaron Cook, Kenny Rogers, and Hank Blalock. I wish him well in his recovery, but I'm very curious about his recovery and if he can still be the same pitcher after this.
Just as I was getting ready to post this, Ravech says sarcastically "At some point, Sportscenter will begin." We get it. You don't want to be there.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Aquilino Lopez is on the berevement list with Denny Bautista getting recalled from his rehab.
Clete Thomas heads to the DL with a sprained ankle with Brent Clevlen coming up from Toledo.
Ramon Santiago was placed on the DL after his shoulder seperation and Michael Hollimon is up in his place.
Lopez's berevement stay should be short lived, at which point the Casey Fossum experiment will likely be over. Brent Clevlen was hitting the ball hard in Toledo and has earned this call up for the time being, and Hollimon was the likely choice to fill in as the utility infielder. Could he now have a shot at winning the 2009 starting shortstop gig?
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Speaking of players who fell because of Bonus demands, there is a premium article on BaseballProspectus.com today with computer projections of each of last year's draft picks. To put it nicely, Porcello's projection was not pretty, as his top comparable was Jon Garland. The main reason is the extremely low strikeout rate. Even for a high level, this is quickly becoming a major red flag for the young pitcher. Hopefully all the talk of him working primarily with his fastball and not his breaking stuff is true.
Buster Posey just went to the Giants, as they call his bluff. Hosmer and Posey, two of the guys who were thought to be potential drops have now been taken.
And the first rounder was Ryan Perry, a big hard throwing reliever out of Arizona. Will he be moved to the rotation? Will he stay in the pen? Will he be ready this year? I'm not enamored with the pick. He seems like a hard thrower with command problems and a fast, yet hittable fastball. Then again, I'm far from a scout, and there wasn't much available. After all, I didn't like the Verlander pick either.
I wasn't exactly thrilled with the rest of Day 1 either. Satterwhite, Green, and Jacobson all seem like virtual clones. One thing to note is that it won't be fair to judge them on their performances. All three pitch in the difficult SEC, and they all throw hard. If they can straighten things out, the potential is there. There was a definite trend with the first four picks. I didn't agree with the selection, but if one of them turns into a solid bullpen arm, the draft is a success. The fifth round saw Alex Avila, the son of assistant general manager Al Avila. This is not like drafting Colin Kaline or Wade Lamont. Avila is a legit prospect out of the University of Alabama, having moved from the infield in high school to catcher at Alabama. Finally, sixth rounder Tyler Stohr is another hard throwing relief type.
On one other note, the most surprising moment of the draft was the spot where ESPN panned to Al Kaline, Al Avila, and Willie Horton. Kaline was laughing so hard, and it was the first time I've ever seen him even crack a smile.
2. 1975 184.8 Lou Whitaker
3. 1974 149.0 Lance Parrish
4. 1998 85.4 Jeff Weaver
6. 1992 51.8 Bobby Higginson
7 1980 40.3 Glenn Wilson (Willie Hernandez)
9. 1991 38.1 Justin Thompson
10. 1984 37.9 Mike Henneman
11. 1978 35.6 Kirk Gibson
13. 1983 32.6 Jeff Robinson (Mickey Tettleton)
15. 1972 31.6 Verne Ruhle
You can see a typical draft typically produces most of its value between 2 and 15 years after the draft occurred. It's probably best to wait at least 8-10 years to evaluate a draft or wait until no players remain from the draft. Finally, a few bits of random information:
- Gene Lamont was the first player ever taken by the Tigers in the draft. As of this moment, his son, Wade was one of the last players taken and signed from last year's draft.
- Andrew Miller was the first Tigers' draft pick to play in the Major Leagues the year he was drafted. For all the talk of how the Minors weren't needed "back in the day," that day was a time when baseball rules basically prohibited players from the Minors.
- First overall picks in the June Draft? Matt Anderson was the only one, although Steve Kemp was taken first overall in the January Draft.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
I was out of the country last year and had to watch the international feed of the World Series and ALCS. To put it nicely, O'Brien made me long for the Buck/McCarver combo. His constant bias towards the Red Sox was beyond disgusting and tough to listen to. Why do I bring this up now?
I tune into the Red Sox vs. Rays game on ESPN, and it took not one pitch in Evan Longoria's at bat for O'Brien to mention Eva Longoria. I had one of my "shout at the announcer" moments after that one. I find it hard to handle games that O'Brien announces, between the completely phony Al Michaels impression, the Boston homerism, and the utter cluelessness, he is hard to listen to. Going for the easy, banal, and overplayed link the first time you see Evan Longoria play is putrid on so many levels.
For all the talk of timely hitting, starting pitching, infield defense, everybody is missing the true reason the Tigers are losing: Dave O'Brien.
Total WARP: 292.0
General Manager: Jim Campbell
Scouting Director: Bill LaJoie
Best Pick: Alan Trammell, 2nd Round, 104.3 WARP
Peak Season: 1983, 31.4 WARP
First Ten Picks plus notables:
1-2) Pat Underwood, P, Kokomo, IN, 5.5 WARP
2-2) Alan Trammell, SS, San Diego, CA, 104.3 WARP
3-2) Scott Johnson, C, LaVerne, CA, 0 WARP
4-2) Dan Petry, P, Placentia, CA, 42.0 WARP
5-2) Jack Morris, P, Brigham Young U., 52.6 WARP
6-2) Laurence Douglass, SS, Salem, NH, 0 WARP
7-2) Ozzie Smith, SS, Cal Poly, Unsigned
8-2) Glenn Gulliver, SS, Eastern Michigan U., 0 WARP
9-2) Charles Farmer, C, Brooksville, FL, 0 WARP
10-2) Michael Burns, P, Alma College, 0.1 WARP
15-2) Roger Weaver, P, SUNY-Oneonta, 1.5 WARP
32-2) Kip Young, P, Bowling Green State U., 3.9 WARP
1-1) (Jan.) Steve Kemp, OF, U. of Southern California, 82.1 WARP
Wow. You could make the case that this is the best collection of talent ever drafted in a single season by any team. I will now attempt to show how much this draft helped the Tigers:
- Assuming that a league average player provides 5.0 WARP per season, this draft's total of 292.0 equates to roughly 60 equivalent league average seasons.
- No other draft provided 20+ WARP in one season. This draft did it every year from 1979 through 1986, for a total of eight times. It also eclipsed the 30 mark twice, in 1983 and 1984.
- There is no doubt that 1984 does not happen if this draft did not go as well as it did. In fact, much of the success the Tigers had in the 1980's would not have happened.
For the second year in a row, Detroit had a high pick in the first round, and for the second year in a row, that player flopped, as Pat Underwood simply didn't produce in the big leagues. Have no fear, as a young shortstop from San Diego was taken in the second round and proceeded to become the greatest shortstop in team history. Like his double play partner, Trammell has been abused by the BBWAA in the Hall of Fame voting, but that is to be expected, as several guys who do the voting are incapable of thought. The underrated Dan Petry and overrated Jack Morris were back to back. I was surprised to see that Petry went earlier in the draft, but both had fine careers for the Tigers. I should point out that Jack Morris was a free agent after the 1986 season, so any production from him after that time was left out.
Now we get to the seventh round pick, the answer (for at least the next five years until John Smoltz's induction or if the BBWAA gets their head out of their collective rectums regarding Trammell) to the trivia question: who is the only Hall of Famer drafted by the Tigers? The answer of course is Ozzie Smith. I get the feeling the Tigers not being able to sign him would have been much more bemoaned had Alan Trammell not had the career he did. It's still interesting to think how much Tigers history would have changed if he was signed. Would Trammell have been blocked? Would one of the two shortstops be traded? Would Trammell move to third?
Steve Kemp's total of 82.1 WARP is a bit dubious. First, he was taken in the January portion of the draft, which really wasn't part of the June draft. Also, it was the timely trade of Kemp to the Chicago White Sox for Chet Lemon that led to a majority of that total. Kemp was a fine player in his time with the Tigers, and Chet Lemon did hold down the center field position for most of the 1980's. It was still a fine use of the first pick of the January draft, as there was no other player taken in that first round draft who held down a Major League job.
This was just an amazing draft. If anybody knows of any other drafts by other teams that could compete with this one, we can compare them if needed. Regardless, if anybody gets too excited and declares this week's draft the best ever, kindly remind them of the talent accumulated in 1976.
Curtis Granderson, 27
Clete Thomas, 24
Granderson, like Miguel Cabrera, has taken an unfair amount of heat for the team's struggles. It was pretty clear that his season last year was a bit more than what he was capable of and his batting average seemed likely to come down. Combine the fact that it is very hard to hit in the American League this season, and Granderson's "expected" performance is about what should have been projected for this year. It's important to note that his strikeout rate is continually decreasing and his defense is still amazing. His diving play in the 8th inning last night was a thing of beauty. It's unfair to criticize players when you should be criticizing your own expectations.
I expected Thomas' expected numbers to be low. He seemed to be finding the holes through the first couple of weeks of the season. Clete's biggest asset is still his arm, which would have saved the game last night had Pudge been able to snag the throw that was right on the money.
Clete Thomas, 24
Freddy Guzman, 27
Even in Toledo, Clete has been pretty much as expected this season. He struggled a bit, which enabled Joyce to get the call over him when Jacque Jones was finally let go. Ultimately, he got hot again and is back with the big club.
Don't judge Guzman too harshly because of those numbers. He is very fast, and has probably turned his fair share of ground outs into singles.
Justin Justice, 23
Freddy Guzman, 27
A chain reaction ensued when Jacque Jones was released. Joyce moved up to Detroit, Guzman took his place in Toledo, and Justin Justice moved from left field in Lakeland to center field in Erie. As was the case when he moved up from Oneonta to West Michigan and from West Michigan to Lakeland, Justice has struggled to adjust to the level. That will have to change quickly if he wants the door to the big leagues to remain unlocked.
Jeramy Laster, 23
Justin Justice, 23
Laster has the raw tools that scouts love, but he has always had problems knowing which pitches to swing at. Already with over 80 strikeouts, that problem hasn't gone away this season. Justice was playing well before his promotion, but there are some signs he may have been a bit lucky.
Kyle Peter, 22
David Chadd's nephew is very fast, but doesn't have much else in the offensive toolbox.
Luis Castillo, 19
Luis Castillo moves from the VSL to the DSL. This is presumably a promotion of sorts, made easier by the fact that Castillo, a Panamanian, doesn't have a summer league in his own country. He's a long way from the big leagues and has his work cut out just to make it stateside.
Alexander Moreno, 18
Moreno, signed sometime between the publication of the media guide and the beginning of May, has been a pleasant surprise. It's hard to use the line drive rates that come out of the VSL. It's going to be up to Moreno's performance to find out if he's for real.
After trading the top two center field prospects in the organization and signing Curtis Granderson to a long term deal, it was pretty clear which basket the Tigers put all of their eggs. Despite his struggles this season, Granderson will remain an asset to the club for the duration of his contract. This is a relief, since it is hard to say any of the prospects can be counted on in any sort of a center fielder of the future role. Moreno bears watching, as does Laster if he ever figures out the strike zone. There are also several toolsy outfielders in extended spring training who will be in this mix as soon as the late season leagues kick off. Overall, the system doesn't have much in the way of center field talent down on the farm, but it's simply not needed, no matter how many irrational criticisms are thrown Curtis Granderson's way.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Casey Fossum has been dominant in Toledo and had a July 1 out clause in his contract. There have been concerns about his fastball velocity, but this gives the Tigers a second lefty in the pen while Seay is struggling and Willis returns to the rotation. Still, Fossum has been pretty bad in the bigs the past couple of seasons. The one time Red Sox ace of the future is now a mopup guy for the Tigers.
Total WARP: 184.8
General Manager: Jim Campbell
Scouting Director: Bill LaJoie
Best Pick: Lou Whitaker, 5th Round, 109.0 WARP
Peak Season: 1983, 17.2 WARP
First Ten Picks plus notables:
1-3) Les Filkins, OF, Chicago, IL, 0 WARP
2-3) John Murphy, P, Brooklyn, NY, 0 WARP
3-3) Bob Grandas, SS, Flint, MI, 0 WARP
4-3) Jason Thompson, 1B, Cal St. Northridge, 22.2 WARP
5-3) Lou Whitaker, 2B, Martinsville, VA, 109.0 WARP
6-3) Jeff Reinke, P, USC, 0 WARP
7-3) Dana McManus, P, Chapman U., 0 WARP
8-3) Steve Powers, P, U of Arizona, 0 WARP
9-3) Andrew Lopez, SS, UCLA, 0 WARP
10-3) Vince Diaz, C, Miami, FL, 0 WARP
Jan 1-4) Tom Brookens, SS, Mansfield CC, 17.4 WARP
Jan (Sec) 1-2) Dave Tobik, P, Ohio U., 11.2 WARP
Jan (Sec) 4-2) Dave Rozema, P, Grand Rapids CC, 25.0 WARP
It's no secret that the mini dynasty of the 1980's was built around the drafts of the mid 1970's. Unlike the 1999 and 2003 drafts when the third overall pick was wasted, the 1975 draft made up for Les Filkins with a star player in the fifth round. I'll leave the discussion of the BBWAA and their unfair treatment of Lou Whitaker for another day, but he made this draft. Note that his performance after 1992 does not count towards this discussion, as he hit the free agent market at that time. Jason Thompson was a quality player for a couple of years before struggling and being dealt to California for Al Cowens. The "other" phases of the draft didn't come into play in 1974, but did here. Tom Brookens (note that he was drafted as a shortstop... there really isn't such a thing as a third base prospect) was taken in the January draft, while Tobik and Rozema went in the secondary phase of the January draft.
Even in the second greatest draft in team history, eight of the first ten draft picks failed to make the show. Make this yet another warning when it comes to getting your hopes up about draft picks.
The top draft in team history is tommorow. I'll give you a hint: it's not 2007.
Monday, June 02, 2008
We went through two more starting left fielders. Marcus Thames did well in his time out there, but it looks like Carlos Guillen could get more time in left. I'm not sure that a move to the outfield will help a guy who has had problems with his knees and hamstrings, but putting Brandon Inge at third base will help the infield defense. It looks like this is just something to give Jim Leyland an option, and I have no complaints about this.
Fernando Rodney is off to Toledo with Joel Zumaya off to Lakeland to begin their rehabs. If all goes well, both will have to be up by the end of the month. It will be important to watch these guys carefully, as shoulder injuries are nothing to downplay. Zumaya has a reputation to getting ahead of himself in these situations, something that could lead to possible setbacks. Getting them back will be helpful, but only because Leyland won't have to be creative with the bullpen.
On the Joyce/Thomas swap, I felt this was a lateral move. The team was able to capture a hot streak out of Joyce before some of his free-swinging tendencies got exposed. He goes to Toledo for playing time, while Thomas comes up to the bench for a while. The creative use of this last roster spot has been cool to watch, as several younger guys have come up to get a shot.
The decision to try to bring Dontrelle Willis back into the rotation has been met with some resistance, mostly because of the effectiveness of Armando Galarraga. I won't disagree that Galarraga shouldn't be the victim here, but it's pretty clear that he is due to come crashing back to earth. The creative part about this decision is having them split the next start. The really cool part about this is that if Willis struggles with his control, Galarraga can step in before the game gets out of control. If Willis does well, he can go 4-5 innings and Galarraga can take over. It's a creative solution to a potential problem, and I actually like it.
I wouldn't put too much stock into draft projections that have the Tigers taking reliever Josh Fields with the 21st pick. I don't think they will be looking for a quick fix relief pitcher in the first round. It's just neither a high percentage nor a high potential move.
Total WARP: 149.0
General Manager: Jim Campbell
Scouting Director: Bill LaJoie
Best Pick: Lance Parish, 1st Round, 96.9 WARP
Peak Season: 1980, 15.6 WARP
First Ten Picks plus notables:
1-16) Lance Parrish, C, Walnut, CA, 96.9 WARP
2-16) James Taylor, P, Estill Springs, TN, 0 WARP
3-16) Steve Viefhaus, IF, St. Louis CC, 0 WARP
4-16) Melvin Jackson, SS, Lemoyne-Owen CC, 0 WARP
5-16) Ronald Martinez, OF, Ventura, CA, 0 WARP
6-16) William Poland, P, La Cracenta, CA, 0 WARP
7-16) David Balbierz, P, Hilbert JC, 0 WARP
8-16) Dan Morogiello, P, Brooklyn, NY, Unsigned
9-16) Jake Battle, P, Detroit, MI, Unsigned
10-16) Mark Fidrych, P, Worcester, MA, 14.8 WARP
19-16) Bob Sykes, P, Miami-Dade CC, 37.3 WARP
Admittedly, a lot of this draft's value comes from players acquired. Lance Parrish had a fine career with the Tigers, but it was the Tigers' 1987 selection of Travis Fryman in the compensation round that shot up his value. Bob Sykes clearly wasn't the second-best player taken in the draft, but being dealt for Jerry Morales and Aurelio Lopez did a lot for the value the Tigers got out of his pick. There was a whole lot of nothing between Parrish and 10th round pick Mark Fidrych, whose story is so popular that there is no point in me telling it.
This was a very interesting draft on a few notes. First, this was Bill LaJoie's first draft as scouting director. I honestly don't know what role he played in his new role, but the Tigers had some pretty horrible drafts before he took over, including the disasterous 1973 (0.1 WARP) draft. Second, you can see how it was very boom or bust and also notice how the draft was mostly high school and junior college players. I'm not going to make a case for either, but it is pretty much what you would expect out of a draft with mostly high school players taken. I'll get to the top two drafts over the next two days, but those who know anything about the Tigers in the past 40 years should have a pretty good idea who was taken in those drafts.