Archive for the ‘Detroit Tigers’ Category

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers

There was a time, not even one year ago, that it appeared Victor Martinez might be on his way down. For the better part of three months in 2013, VMart was terrible. He had no power and no position, a DH unable to produce much offense.

And then, suddenly, he was fine. Better than fine, really. Victor Martinez started the second half of the season and was good as new.

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MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at St. Louis Cardinals

The game of baseball is so overflowing with cash right now, the owners need to hand some over to the players at some point, right? If you can’t give a record-setting contract to Miguel Cabrera, then who can you pay? If a two-time MVP and former Triple Crown winner isn’t worth the risk, who is?

Isolated case as this might be, there are limits to everything. Even a team and owner as rich as Mike Illitch and the Tigers have their limits. At some point, paying to ensure one of the greatest players in team history never leaves comes at a real cost.

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees

Spring Training is probably twice as long as it needs to be. The players universally arrive to camp already in peak physical shape, such that a player who comes to camp out of shape is mocked and derided and roundly questioned.

But the owners like selling tickets and the players like all the off days so, for now, it is a six-week odyssey. All anybody in uniform wants from Spring Training is survival. Just head north (or west) in one piece and the spring is officially a success.

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MLB: Detroit Tigers-Workout

The Detroit Tigers are a great baseball team. They were last year, they were in 2012, and they were in 2011. The Tigers reached the American League championship series in each of these years, advancing to the World Series in 2012 only to be swept by the San Francisco Giants.

The Tigers have been a great team over the last few years because they have great players – lots of them. Their best player emerged from an infamous battle with alcoholism and their best pitcher hit his peak with gusto. The team did a great job supporting Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander with more talent, taking on salary and acquiring the likes of Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Torii Hunter, to name a few.

The Tigers begin their 2014 campaign with a slightly different look. Gone is Jim Leyland, the grizzled face of the team who also oversaw three 90 wins seasons in his 8 year tenure. Former player Brad Ausmus is the new bench boss and he inherits a job that is both incredibly difficult and easy at the same time.

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Detroit Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski and newly named Tigers manager Brad  Ausmuspose together during a press conference in Detroit

Yesterday the man tasked with taking over for Jim Leyland, Brad Ausmus, took to the airwaves for a “get to know you” session with the local radio crew in Detroit. Tigers blog Bless You Boys have the rundown, which includes two very important quotes.

The first of which is in response to a SABR-based question. Despite a birth certificate that looks the part, Ausmus admitted he is “really not” a sabrmetrician. And you know what? That’s okay.

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Texas Rangers Photo Day

The Detroit Tigers made two moves in the last two days with very different goals. First, they traded a very good pitcher for what looks like a very minimal return – a utility player and a nice prospect in exchange for one of the, what, 20 starters in baseball over the last three years?

Doug Fister is really good but was about to get more expensive and they have more than their share of fine starters so fine: you deal from a position of strength, Dombrowski. You do it with the internet’s blessing. Everybody has bills to pay, we get it.

But then the Tigers turned around and gave dollars and years to Joe Nathan, a closer. A capital-C Proven Closer who also happens to be 39-years old. All the Tigers goodwill quickly evaporates because CLOSERS NOT CLOSERS. Overpaying for saves is the Cardinal Sin, one from which even the wiliest GMs cannot recover.

But, as always, there is a middle ground between screaming about saves and improving a professional baseball team. The pendulum of overrated/properly rated swings violently. The Tigers added a great pitcher to the bullpen – a definite area of need. This is a good thing for their chances in the immediate future.

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Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers had one of the best rotations in baseball last season. Probably the best, if we’re being honest. Keeping such a juggernaut together takes money, however. Lots of money.

Justin Verlander makes a mint, Max Scherzer is due a mint, Anibal Sanchez just signed for 5/6 of a mint, Rick Porcello is a Super Two which puts him on the fast track to mintdom. Which leaves Doug Fister, who just happens to be an excellent pitcher.

Having excellent pitchers is great for baseball business but having all those expensive arms in the fold was bound to catch up at some point. Rather than moving Porcello, it is Fister the Tigers opted to swap, sending him to Washington to join the the new Best Rotation in Baseball.

The package in exchange for the ground ball machine/very good pitcher Doug Fister seems light, mostly because we don’t know as much as about Robbie Ray as we should. This is the second time Doug Fister’s been traded for an oddly underwhelming package.

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