Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bad Idea

Well, when he was acquired I had this fear.  Now, looking at today's spring lineup, it has come to fruition.  Josh Anderson is leading off and playing left field with Curtis Granderson moving down in the lineup.

Curtis Granderson was a perfect table setter, with his numerous doubles and triples complementing the singles hitting Placido Polanco very well.  Moving him down in the order, assuming 18 PA's per spot in the lineup, will mean that Granderson will bat roughly 72 fewer times than he would batting leadoff.  Using PECOTA's projections, that's somewhere between 2 and 3 homeruns lost and between 26 and 27 total bases lost.  Simply put, having Curtis Granderson batting leadoff allows the Tigers to maximize the amount of times one of their best hitters comes to the plate.  Moving him down in the lineup is a bad idea.  If the idea is to use Anderson as some kind of table setter, batting him ninth would make a ton of sense, if not for the platoon disadvantage created by having two lefties back to back.

However, it's possible that today's spring lineup is nothing to get worried about and it's just an attempt to allow Anderson to bat as often as possible in front of the Tigers' staff.  Let's hope that's the case.

Great News!

Hey Oh!  Gary Sheffield is long gone.  No longer is the DH spot being held down by a sore spot in the lineup.  No longer will the Tigers have to put Gary Sheffield in the lineup when his injuries suggest he should be riding pine.  No longer will Carlos Guillen have to sit when he can't play the field.  No longer will... well, the same thing for Magglio Ordonez.

This is great news that can only be ruined if the Tigers come out and say they are giving Josh Anderson a starting gig.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Josh Anderson for Rudy Darrow

The big news today is the Tigers' acquisition of Josh Anderson for reliever Rudy Darrow.

On the surface, this looks like an odd move.  The Tigers have had somewhat of a roster crunch at the back end of the bat, and acquiring a player like Anderson, who is out of options, only excacerbates that flexibility.  However, Anderson could be a quality fit for this team.
  • With the gimpy Carlos Guillen and potentially gimpy Magglio Ordonez patrolling the corner outfield spots, it would be nice to have not only somebody who can come in and pinch run for those guys, but can play some late inning defense as well.
  • I just addressed pinch running, but Anderson's a very good base stealer, who could provide an asset late in a close game.
  • With Curtis Granderson on the team, there's no risk of the manager falling in love with him and playing him everyday in center.
  • Rudy Darrow is just a basic relief prospect with a funky enough delivery to suggest he won't stay healthy long enough long term.  The value given up is okay.
  • Clete Thomas can play every day instead of rotting on the bench.  The same goes for Ryan Raburn, whose defensive liabilities have relegated him to trade bait.
This trade also could mean the end for Marcus Thames, whether he's injured, traded or released.  Barring an injury to Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, or Magglio Ordonez, his talents are basically redundant.

On another note, I would really like to wish Dontrelle Willis the best.  Even if the Anxiety Disorder isn't affecting him, it's not anything to mess with.  His pitching goes to the backburner now as everybody tries to make sure everything is right upstairs with him.

A Feared Reunion

In 2007, the Tampa Bay (then) Devil Rays had an awful season, going 66-96. As everybody knows by now, they turned that around very quickly, going 97-65 last season and going to the World Series.

Two years ago, one of their biggest problems was their bullpen. What leads they did have could not be held. According to the numbers at fangraphs, the Devil Rays had a -7.84 Win Probability Added total, meaning they cost their team something on the order of 15 or 16 wins over the course of that season.

Enter 2008, now called the Rays, Tampa Bay's relievers, put up a +9.30 total, meaning they helped their team win 18 or 19 times over the course of the season. Without including the effect that an improved defense and rotation had on their improved late inning pitching, the Rays' bullpen accounted for a roughly 30 win turnaround. Let's look at this 2007 bullpen and see if any of these names look familiar:

Name, Games
Gary Glover 67
Al Reyes 61
Brian Stokes 59
Shawn Camp 50
Juan Salas 34
Scott Dohmann 31
Casey Fossum 30
Dan Wheeler 25
Grant Balfour 22
Ruddy Lugo 11

A good chunk of the Rays' improvement came from gutting this dreadful pen. Stokes, Camp, Dohmann, Fossum, and Lugo were gone before the end of the calender year. Juan Salas missed much of last season with injury and visa issues before being cut this offseason. Glover and Reyes were phased out of the Rays' plans over the course of last year before being released during the summer months. Only Wheeler and Balfour stayed on board, and both have admittedly pitched well since this awful season.

Apparently, the Tigers have looked at this formula and think the way to build a succesful bullpen is through picking up as many castoffs as possible from the worst ever bullpen. This started with Gary Glover and Casey Fossum last year. These are names that many Tigers' fans would like to file away with the likes of Lino Urdaneta and Brian Maxcy after having failed miserably with the team last year. Finally rid of the short term crappiness that was Glover and Fossum, the offseason, Ruddy Lugo was signed to a minor league deal to eat some innings in Toledo. This was an acceptable role for a guy who really isn't that good.

I thought this was a coincidence for a while, and then I saw rumors that the Tigers were close to acquiring Brian Stokes, the worst pitcher in the worst bullpen ever, for Ryan Raburn. Yes, Raburn is part of a roster crunch, but he does have an option. Unless he was claimed on revocable waivers (because his debut was more than three years ago), he can be sent to Toledo to alleviate a roster crunch. It certainly helps to have capable players down there. But this isn't about Ryan Raburn. The fact is that the Tigers were ready to give up something more than a bucket of swept up sunflower seed shells for a 29 year old pitcher with a career 79 ERA+ in yet another attempt to recapture some of that 2007 Devil Rays magic.

Like with Rich Aurilia and Carl Pavano, consider this bullet dodged.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I know I promised top to bottom roster predictions, but I just could not come up with educated guesses for the rosters. Between numerous question marks with the Major League pitching staff and an unprecedented influx of players from Venezuela and the Independent Leagues, there are a lot of unique cases in this year's minor leagues that make things very hard to project. I guess every now and then it's okay to just say "I don't know."

On an unrelated note, I have been taking a bit of a break from baseball. Between moving and starting a job in three weeks and obsessively following college basketball lately, there hasn't been much content here of late. For that I apologize. However, I will be posting on a new sister site at Boilers Thoughts when college sports related content comes to mind.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Congratulations Yurendell

Tigers farmhand Yurendell de Caster had the game winning hit for the Netherlands as they beat the Dominican Republic for the second time in the World Baseball Classic. This was a classic game that involved the underdog Dutch team scoring two off of Carlos Marmol in the bottom of the 11th inning to win 2-1. Just an incredible game. Congratulations go out to de Caster!