Cameron Maybin Emerges at Last

Perhaps “at last” is a skosh strong. After all, Cameron Maybin is still just 24. But as Jerry Crasnick writes today, in San Diego the former Tigers top pick is starting to reach the level of performance Detroit (and the Marlins) had expected:

… Maybin is Exhibit A of the wonders that result from talent colliding with opportunity. After more ups and downs than your average debt-ceiling negotiations, he’s found a home as San Diego’s resident leadoff hitter, fly chaser and catalyst.

(snip)

Maybin, acquired by the Padres from Florida in November in a trade for relievers Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica, got the 2011 season off to a rousing start with a home run and a diving catch in St. Louis on Opening Day. Given the green light to steal by Padres manager Bud Black, he’s succeeded on 26 of 28 attempts. And his monthly batting averages — .247 in April, .263 in May, .288 in June and .315 in July — are testament to his personal growth.

(snip)

“This is the first time in two or three seasons where I’ve felt comfortable,” Maybin said. “I’m not worried about the consequences of going out there and trying to get a hit every night. Even if I have a bad week or a bad month, I feel like these guys are still with me.

I’ve often wondered if Maybin would’ve had the opportunity to develop with the Tigers. But, when I watch Austin Jackson I think they got a modified version of Maybin in the Curtis Granderson trade.

At any rate, it’s nice to see Maybin with a team that’s rebuilding and that can invest the time to watch him develop.

Tigers Prospects Dry Up After Arizona Fall League

Note: This article first appeared on ESPN.com’s SweetSpot blog today.

When the Tigers traded Scott Sizemore to the A’s over Memorial Day Weekend, it brought an abrupt and mildly startling end to his tenure as Detroit’s second baseman of the future. The Tigers, after all, anointed him as the heir apparent to Placido Polanco almost immediately after they lost Game 163 to the Twins in 2009.

Polanco was eligible for arbitration, which coincided with the Tigers’ momentary spending freeze, and soon he was back with the Phillies doing everything fans in Detroit had come accustomed to: steadiness in the field, reliability at the plate.

But back to Sizemore. The Tigers sent him to the Arizona Fall League – “a graduate school” for top prospects, according to the AFL Media Guide – in 2007 and again in ‘09 in what they undoubtedly expected to be a final tuneup before handing over the keys to second base to him for the foreseeable future.

Within days of the 2009 AFL season, Sizemore’s ankle was broken as he attempted to turn a double play and his fall league experience went kaput. It didn’t stop the Tigers from hoping that he could recover in time for spring training.

Fast forward to May 27 when he was dealt to Oakland for David Purcey (himself an AFL graduate) and the book was closed on Sizemore’s career in Detroit: 65 games, a .223 average, .605 OPS and a mere three home runs. Not legendary stuff and certainly nowhere close to Polanco’s track record.

Continue reading Tigers Prospects Dry Up After Arizona Fall League

Tigers Today: April 4, 2011

OriolesTigers’ Record

1-2; 4th place, 1.5 GB Royals

Today’s Game

Tigers @ Orioles | 3:05 p.m. ET – Baltimore | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Rick Porcello (0-0) vs. Jake Arrieta (0-0)

Yesterday’s Results

Tigers 10 – Yankees 7

Continue reading Tigers Today: April 4, 2011

So Where Was I … ?

InboxI suppose you can call it a lack of foresight. Specifically, putting the word “daily” in your blog’s title sets a certain expectation that, frankly, is tough to meet — especially for someone like me to whom writing tends to be more ebb than flow.

Thanks for your patience as I still try to get the hang of this blogging while working the 8-to-6 shift.

***

What was the point of Tom Gage‘s column on Monday? So Mike Ilitch came to Lakeland and left without talking to the media — big deal.

Maybe the man didn’t feel well. Maybe he wasn’t in the mood. Maybe the trip to Spring Training was squeezed in an otherwise busy schedule.

Gage seems to be making a lot out of Ilitch’s in-and-out visit — that somehow the long-term contract status of Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland is now more in jeopardy than it is.

I’m not buying it. You?

Continue reading So Where Was I … ?

How are Former Tigers Faring in 2010?

Rearview Mirror.jpgLooking around the majors there are plenty of former Tigers doing well — and some not so well. Here’s a look at some of the more notable players and their current numbers:

  • Placido Polanco, Phillies: .314 avg., 6 HR, 42 RBI, .348 OBP. Currently fifth in the N.L. in hitting, which is just another reason the Tigers (and fans) are regretting his departure.

  • Omar Infante, Braves: .347 avg., 7 HR, 37 RBI, .837 OPS From Rob Neyer: “At the moment, he doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify [for the batting title]. To reach 502, he needs another 169 in the Braves’ 38 remaining games.”

  • Andres Torres, Giants: .287 avg., 13 HR, 57 RBI, .869 OPS. Torres is the embodiment of stick-to-itiveness. Nearly a decade after he was touted as a centerpiece of the Tigers new wave of young talent, he’s downright essential to the Giants offense. Good for him.

    Continue reading How are Former Tigers Faring in 2010?

Tigers Today: April 4, 2010

BehindHomePlate.jpg

Tigers’ Final Spring Training Record: 18-12-2

Today’s Game

Off Day in Kansas City

The Tigers will conduct a 1 p.m. workout on Sunday at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium in preparation for Opening Day.

Jeremy Bonderman remained behind in Lakeland and will pitch in a minor league game on Sunday before joining the club in Kansas City.

Yesterday’s Results

Brewers 13 – Tigers 12

The Tigers rocked Brewers pitchers for five homers (Austin Jackson, Magglio Ordonez, Ryan Raburn, Danny Worth and Jeff Larish) but the bullpen obliterated another sterling performance by Rick Porcello (4.1 innings of two-hit, walk-less pitching).

Of particular wretchedness was Joel Zumaya who surrendered five runs without registering an out. Phil Coke didn’t fare much better: three earned runs in just a third of an inning.

Oh, and in his final spring tuneup, Dontrelle Willis gave up five hits in his three scoreless innings. Keep those fingers crossed.

Continue reading Tigers Today: April 4, 2010

Nate Odds and Ends

In case you were wondering, here’s what Nate Robertson looks like in a Photoshop-driven Marlins get-up. NateMarlins.jpg

Here’s what Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez had to say about his new starter:

“I know that he’s a pretty good pitcher. … “There were a couple of years that he threw right around 200 innings. He’s a workhorse. Coming to the National League, where teams haven’t had a chance to see him much, maybe he can help us out.”

Nate will join former Tigers Cameron Maybin, Burke Badenhop and Cody Ross on Florida’s Opening Day roster. Andrew Miller was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans last week.

Tigers Feeling Buyer's Remorse?

CarSalesman.jpgThe other day I sent an instant message to Ian Casselberry asking if, perchance, the Tigers may be feeling some buyer’s remorse regarding the Miguel Cabrera trade.

I admitted to Ian that it’s way early but that doesn’t mean that panic is not setting in everywhere around Comerica Park — but never at Fungo HQ!

So, I’m lobbing it out there: Are the Tigers wondering what they signed themselves up for over the next seven years?

Maybe.

Fast-forward to this afternoon and the latest installment of Jayson Stark‘s Rumblings and Grumblings on ESPN.com. This time he reviews the off-season trades and the Tigers’ deals are getting anything but passing grades.

6. Braves-Tigers (RHP Jair Jurrjens and OF Gorkys Hernandez for Edgar Renteria): “At this point, Atlanta has won that deal,” said one scout. “Jurrjens [4-2, 2.84] has been their most consistent starter.”

Ouch.

And if you think that’s a harsh assessment, get a load of this:

Continue reading Tigers Feeling Buyer's Remorse?

Vance Wilson's St. Patrick's (Birth)Day Celebration

Catcher.jpgThree quick hits:

  1. This past weekend my wife and I traveled to Indian Wells, Calif., to watch the second round of the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament.

    When you take away the two-hour line to park and the gale-force winds, we had a great time watching some big-name players including Lindsay Davenport, Ana Ivanovic, Carlos Moya and defending champ Rafael Nadal.

    Between matches I pulled out my recent issue of Sports Illustrated and read about youngsters and teams making noise in big-league camps. The first snippet was on Tigers phenom Rick Porcello:

    Already Porcello, who has a repertoire of a mid-90s fastball, curve, slider and changeup is drawing comparisons to Josh Beckett (and even Jim Palmer) and stirring talk of a possible late-summer debut.

    Jim Palmer? No pressure there. Though, with all the young talent the Tigers have brought along — or traded — in the past few years, I find myself longing for the days of Sparky Anderson‘s predictions. Can you imagine what Sparky would have said about Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and Porcello?

    And while I’m glad the Tigers are high on Porcello, why even toy with a post-Sept. 1 callup? What’s the rush?

  2. With a name like Michael Patrick McClary you can imagine that St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal in my family. Yet, March 17 is probably a much bigger day for Tigers catcher Vance Wilson who happens to have the good fortune of a St. Patrick’s Day birthday. He’s 35 today.
  3. Did you happen to catch the Dontrelle Willis topic on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters on Sunday? It appeared that they needed a hook to talk about the Tigers and asked the panel if the D-Train would be running on time this year now that he’s with a better team. The consensus? A resounding “yeah, probably.”

The Monday Report

My son woke me up at 5:45 this morning so I had some time to catchup on my reading and thinking…

  • Call me naive, but I thought the Kenny Rogers thing would be a slam dunk, even with The Scott Boras Factor. Now that Rogers, who turned 43 on Saturday, is testing the market — the market for a mid-40s pitcher coming off a season virtually lost to serious injury that is — one has to wonder if the Tigers have used up the patience they reserve for dealing with Boras. From everything I’ve read, most still expect a deal to get hammered out. And I tend to think so too if only because Dave Dombrowski doesn’t seem to be a cut-off-the-nose-to-spite-the-face kind of guy.Speaking of Rogers, I thought I’d stumbled upon major news over at Yahoo! Sports when I read in this Tigers rumor:

    According to the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Tigers and free agent lefty Kenny Rogers have parted ways.  

    If you read to the story referenced in the piece you’ll see that nowhere does it say Rogers isn’t coming back. Perhaps a little fact checking would help.I’m intrigued by the Dontrelle Willis thing but can’t fathom what it would take to acquire him (for starters, Brandon Inge, perhaps?). Sure seems like a drastic change of course going from re-signing Rogers to dealing for Willis.Ah, but you gotta love the smell of hickory on the Hot Stove.

  • Our man Ian Casselberry notified me of the Omar Infante-for-Jacque Jones trade this afternoon. I think it’s safe to say Ian and I were both underwhelmed by the move. As Jon Paul Morosi suggests, this is likely a stop-gap solution until Cameron Maybin is ready for prime time, all the time. If that’s the case, I supposed I can live with it.

Still, you have to believe that somewhere in the Dominican Republic, Timo Perez is wondering what he has to do to become more than a September call up.But probably not in those words.

  • If you missed it, Joel Zumaya turned 23 on Friday. Here’s hoping his birthday wish was for health and wellness. And, while the Lions were stinking up University of Phoenix Stadium yesterday, Jason Grilli and Chuck Hernandez were celebrating birthdays. A belated #31 to Grilli and #47 to Hernandez. To help you plan your card and gift shopping, here are the upcoming Tigers birthdays of note: Nov. 18 – Gary Sheffield (39); Nov. 19 – Preston Larrison (27); Nov. 29 – Tony Giarratano (25); Nov. 30 – Ivan Rodriguez (36). 
  • Mr. Casselberry and I also wondered aloud who the Tigers backup catcher would be on Opening Day. Vance Wilson should be ready to come back and reclaim his job, but Mike Rabelo certainly made a case for himself in 2007. Too bad one of them can’t play another position — or that Ryan Raburn can’t catch. Ian thinks Rabelo comes North. I’m undecided but tend to think Wilson will rejoin the team if he has anything that resembles a decent spring.