HOT STOVE LEAGUE Well, the hot stove league action has prompted me to revive the old Blog. The report today is that the Tigers have signed Rondell White. Previously they inked Fernando Vina.
I have read that they overpaid for both guys but as a Tiger fan, I say good. It's Mr. Ilitch's money and I'm glad to see him spend it on a second baseman and an outfielder rather than a left winger or another goalie.
It only makes sense that Detroit will need to pay a bit of a premium over what other teams are offering to overcome that 43-119 stigma.
It also says in today's paper that they have offered 5 years/$50 million to Miguel Tejada and that he countered with 7 year/$105 million. Dave Dombrowski didn't give specifics but said the difference between the Tigers' and Tejada's position was "immense."
Wouldn't that be something if Detroit could lure Miggy in? It seems that if they can't get him, they will next target Rich Aurilia. I guess the Santiago/Infante keystone combo show will be opening in Toledo next season.
Two guys who's places are set for next season according to manager Alan Trammell, are centerfielder Alex Sanchez and catcher Brandon Inge. Both have starting spots that are set, according to Tram.
I guess that helps explain why we need to upgrade offense at the other spots so much.
For those of you who don't think Dave Dombrowski can build a winner. First of all, he has already built one world champion. Second, he has done much to build the current Florida Marlins who are two wins away from the World Series. An article in yesterday's Detroit Free Press says it much better than I could so I quote it here in its entirety.
October 11, 2003
Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski ran the Marlins from their expansion birth in the early 1990s through 2001. All but five players on Florida's 25-man playoff roster can be traced to Dombrowski. Many of them entered the organization on his watch; others (noted below with an asterisk) have arrived since Dombrowski's departure in trades that involved Marlins from the Dombrowski era.
Starting rotation: Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, Mark Redman*, Dontrelle Willis*.
Bullpen: Nate Bump, Braden Looper, Carl Pavano*, Michael Tejara, Ugueth Urbina*.
Catching: Mike Redmond.
Infield: Miguel Cabrera, Luis Castillo, Alex Gonzalez, Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, Mike Mordecai*.
Outfield: Brian Banks, Jeff Conine*, Juan Encarnacion*, Juan Pierre*.
Note: Dombrowski also traded for right-hander A. J. Burnett, perhaps the most talented of the Marlins' starting pitchers. Burnett is on the disabled list.
Former Tigers on the Marlins:
Encarnacion: Acquired last season from Cincinnati, which obtained him from the Tigers in the Dmitri Young trade after the '01 season.
Redman: Obtained from the Tigers in January for pitchers Gary Knotts, Nate Robertson and Rob Henkel.
Perry Hill: First base and infield coach. He coached with the Tigers in 1997-99.
Sorry for the delay in writing about anything. And sorry for an even longer delay since I wrote about the Tigers. Maybe I need to get on a schedule of writing each Sunday this off-season like Peter Gammons used to do with the Boston Globe.
What to say? Nice finish by the boys but I can't join in the group who say that it's some type of building block for 2004. Bobby Higginson understood that and made light of the finish. I think Trammell had the right perspective, giving the team credit for finishing strong and playing hard right to the end.
The best news of the week, however, was Mike Ilitch's statement that the Tigers will be active in the off-season, pursuing free agents and spending some money. I'll believe it when I see it but Ilitch does have a track record of bring in talent via free agency. Unfortunately it's all been with the Red Wings and not the Tigers.
Tom Gage had an interesting column in the Detroit News today discussing who might stay and who might go this off-season. On some of them, I hope he's right because it means considerable upgrades have been made.
The starting pitchers he believes will return are Maroth, Bonderman and Robertson. He says Robertson will battle for the 5th starter spot. I will guess that the only minor leaguer ready to battle for it is Rob Henkel. That'd mean the Tigers would have acquired two starting pitchers by trade or through free agency. I think that's needed. Cornejo, Knotts and Loux aren't the answer, though Cornejo is an innings eater and still only 23.
Gage had most of the bullpen returning---Walker, Patterson, Rodney, Matt Anderson and Spurling. He surmised that Roney, Ledezma and German will start at AAA. I'm not so sure that Ledezma isn't ready. German has a big-time arm if he can find the control he showed at Toledo.
In the everyday lineup, Gage projects Inge at catcher, Pena at first, Munson at third, Higginson in right, Sanchez in center, Monroe in left and Young at DH. Danny Klassen is the likely handyman. That means the Santiago-Infante experiment would be over up the middle, replaced either via trade or free agency.
That wouldn't be bad but I still think maybe those guys can play, given the opportunity for some seasoning.
If those guys are the ones who stay, that'll mean the ones to go include Cornejo, Infante, Santiago, Halter, Morris, Witt, Knotts, Loux, Torres and Petrick. I like Petrick myself if he was put back behind the plate.
If Cornejo could be traded for a starting 2B or SS, maybe I could see that. I still am of the opinion that the Tigers' need offensively is not 2B or SS or even catcher. Those positions can be covered up offensively if strong players are there defensively. Where the Tigers are not matching up is in the traditional power positions of OF, 1B, 3B and DH.
I believe that Pena and Munson were below average this year but they need to stay because they will only get better and are the foundation. We can blame Higginson's season on injury but I think the guy is done. His 100 RBI, .300 season of a few years ago is now looking very much like the exception rather than the rule.
Monroe is a lefty-killer but he can't play everyday. Sanchez is a huge liability in CF and can't get on base enough to make his speed work for him on a consistent basis. Witness his bunting at every opportunity the last couple of weeks of the season. At least it looks like he realizes he can't hit.
Dmitri is solid at DH and with his salary, he's not going anywhere.
I hope Mr. Gage is right. I hope we can trust Mr. Ilitch to shake things up a bit this off-season and give Tram something to work with for next year.
I saw the best thing to hit Comerica Park this season on Sunday night---Bruce Springsteen. After leaving the Lions' game early and standing in line on and off for four hours, I was treated to the show of a lifetime.
With my general admission tickets in "the pit", I was in the third row right in front of the stage. I met a lot of other Bruce fans who travel around the country to see and hear him. I also was ruined on any other concert and any other way to see a concert.
What a night. Three hours plus by a 54-year old man giving his all. If only the Tigers could give that kind of effort...
Speaking of the Tigers, Bruce took note. He said that he understood that it'd been a tough year in Comerica Park and that he was going to do his part by performing a rock and roll exorcism on the place.
Later when he played Glory Days, I couldn't help but think of all the opposing pitchers who'd "throw that speedball by (the Tigers), made (them) look like a fool."
For those who are interested, here is the set list of songs he performed for the faithful:
1. Souls of the Departed
2. The Rising
3. Lonesome Day
5. Empty Sky
6. You're Missing
7. Waiting on a Sunny Day
8. The Promised Land
9. Local HERO !
10. Because the Night
12. No Surrender
13. Mary’s Place
15. Into the Fire
16. My Beautiful Reward
17. Bobby Jean
18. HEATWAVE (with Martha Reeves)
19. Glory Days
20. I’m Goin’ Down
21. Born to Run
22. Seven Nights to Rock
23. My City of Ruins
24. Land of Hope and Dreams
26. Dancing in the Dark
Quite honestly, lately I've been trying to forget about the Tigers' miserable season. I have actually gone to bed a few nights recently without knowing whether the Tigers won or lost. That hasn't happened for a few years with the exception of west coast trips.
But something today sparked my interest and maybe my loyalty. A column by Rob Parker. I've got to say that Detroit is cursed with some of the worst columnists in the country. Maybe it's the price they pay for being blessed with Mitch Albom.
Parker is probably the worst of the worst in my opinion. Nothing but negativity, mixed in with overtones of racism. In today's rant he argues for Dave Dombrowski to be fired and replaced with Bob Watson. The Bob Watson? Is he kidding us?
Typical for Parker's columns, he gives us conclusions with any support. He says that "(g)iving Dombrowski more time is no guarantee that he'll all of a sudden start making the right decisions and stop making the mistakes he has made almost from the minute he got to town two-plus years ago."
What mistakes were those? Of course Parker doesn't tell us. Trading Jeff Weaver for Jeremy Bonderman, Carlos Pena and Franklyn German?
He does give some insight into what Dombrowski's sins were.
He writes, "Dombrowski, who came highly regarded to the Tigers from Florida, has done a lot of damage in a short tenure. His two biggest mistakes: hiring Manager Alan Trammell and putting together one of the worst rosters in baseball since the 1962 expansion Mets."
No surprise that Parker criticizes Trammell now. He thought the job should have gone to Bruce Fields or Willie Randolph back in January. No mention of what mistakes Trammell has made to make him the biggest mistake Dombrowski has made. Not just none in this column, none in any of his columns that I reviewed doing a search on www.detnews.com.
The other obvious thought would be that hiring Trammell was a mistake because the Tigers have lost so much. Well, not so fast there. What did Parker think about the idea of playing to win this year vs. playing the youngsters to give them experience?
Well, on March 31, just after Opening Day, he wrote, "This season isn't about winning. If it were, half of these players on the roster would be in the minors. This season should be about players like Pena, the young players trying to get valuable experience at this level right here, right now. It definitely shouldn't be about older players getting prime-time at-bats. That won't help in the future."
I wonder what Willie Randolph and Bob Watson would have done differently.
I could continue to pick apart that ridiculous column. Let me stop after I point out the most obvious thing. Not only are Parker's opinions suspect and unfounded, he can't even get the most basic facts straight.
Remember the sentence I quoted at the beginning of the story? "Giving Dombrowski more time is no guarantee that he'll all of a sudden start making the right decisions and stop making the mistakes he has made almost from the minute he got to town two-plus years ago."
Too bad that Parker couldn't even check to see when Dombrowski was hired by Detroit. He was named president on December 6, 2003. Randy Smith was still GM. Dombrowski took over as GM when he fired Smith and Phil Garner on April 9, 2002.
Man, stupidity gets my blood flowing. The good news is that it gets me passionate about the Tigers again. Maybe we can knock off Halladay tonight.
MORE INGE FANS
Well, the Brandon Inge fan club continues to grow on a daily basis. First, skipper Trammell declares that the Tigers aren't looking for a catcher in the off-season. Then John Hunt of USA Today Sports Weekly says "Brandon Inge is finally showing his power/speed upside. The Tigers catcher is a good athlete who one day will be a solid fantasy catcher."
Then the topper came yesterday from Lynn Henning of the Detroit News wrote: "Turn to Brandon Inge. Everyone who has watched him closely during the past month sees a different hitter, a developing hitter. Will he have All-Star grade numbers next season, or in the future? Probably not."
"But when you can play a key position with the athleticism Inge regularly shows, all you need do is hit .260 or .270 with 20 home runs. Two months ago it would have been silly to have suggested as much, but you can see Inge's development is no illusion. He should reach those numbers beginning next season."
Like I said yesterday last week, I like Inge. I think he can hit .250/.330/.500 vs lefties. That's pretty good for a catcher with a rocket arm like he has. I still don't think he's shown that he can hit righties. In no way, have I seen any signs, even in this hot streak that he's capable of hitting .260 or .270 with 20 homers.
Bonderman has been sharp out of the pen for the Tigers, earning one, maybe two more starts. I hope Tram isn't just responding to the criticism he's gotten nationally for pulling Bonderman out of the rotation. The talking heads on ESPN accused him of pulling him to avoid losing 20. I just think the kid's thrown enough innings. To me the success in relief proves it. When he gets rest, he pitches well. I think he's tired and needs to shut it down for the year.
Rough weekend for me. MSU loses just like the old MSU. Doesn't matter if the coach is Perles, Saban, Williams or John L. The Spartans can fall apart on a moment's notice. Then to follow that up, U of M rips Notre Dame. Of course, my night was topped off by De La Hoya losing to Shane Mosley. I like Sugar Shane but you have to pull for Oscar. Who else would give the other fighter a thumbs up after getting jobbed in the decision? Good man.
FAIR AND BALANCED REPORTING
I told you earlier how much I liked Brandon Inge (vs lefties). Now this from the fine folks at Rotoworld:
Brandon Inge - DET - C - September 11
Speaking about Brandon Inge, manager Alan Trammell said, ''The way it's
looking right now, going into the off-season, we wouldn't be looking for a
catcher.'' Inge continues to play well defensively. He posted an 894 OPS
in August after coming back from the minors Aug. 7, but so far in
September his OPS is only 393.
As much as I like the guy (and have him on my SOM team), I don't think he's an everyday catcher. I think he needs to play vs lefties and be the defensive replacement vs righties.