Wednesday Walewanders: This, That, The Other

SpaghettiI would have posted these items sooner today but I’ve been consumed by the game Word with Friends on my iPad and iPhone. Who knew a Scrabblesque game could be so darn addictive?

  • I was going to write about how Michael Young‘s contract with the Rangers spurred the Tigers to sign Carlos Guillen — and fast — during the 2007 season. As often happens, Ian beat me to it and no doubt did a better job.
  • Who would you rather have in the bullpen: Enrique Gonzalez or Chad Durbin? Me too. The good news? Durbin’s available. Bad news, the Tigers won’t go after him.

    Wait, you chose Gonzalez? Never mind.

  • Staying with the former Tigers pitchers theme for a moment, Mark Simon at ESPN’s Stats and Info Blog looked deeper into Armando Galarraga‘s struggles in 2010 and what he needs to do with the Dbacks in ’11 to get back to his ’08 — yes, ’08 — performance:

    Our Inside Edge video review data shows that his 90-mile-per-hour fastball got swings and misses six percent of the time, among the lowest rates in baseball.

    When he threw a sinking fastball, he actually had more balls hit in the air than on the ground (the opposite of the desired result)

    When Galarraga threw his slider and an opponent made contact, he allowed a hit 35 percent of the time, well above the league norm (right-handed hitters in particular, had a lot of success against it). He also ranked among the major league leaders in home runs allowed by right-handers on breaking pitches, with 10, twice as many as he allowed two seasons earlier.

    At least he won’t frustrate Tigers fans anymore.

  • You might have heard that after a few years off, Maple Street Press will be publishing a Tigers annual, cleverly titled Tigers Annual 2011. You’ll see lots of familiar names in the table of contents including yours truly. Kurt from Bless You Boys edited the project. I contributed a piece on the 1961 Tigers, a club that won 101 games but didn’t win the pennant. The book won’t be published until next month but you can order a copy here.
  • Six years ago today the Tigers picked up Kyle Farnsworth and cash considerations from the Cubs for RHP Roberto Novoa, infielder Scott Moore and outfielder Bo Flowers.

Finally, Happy Birthday to the biggest Tigers fan in my family, my Dad.

Sunday Snacks: RIP Woodie Fryman, A Fantasy Camper Says Goodbye and More!

When I was just starting to collect baseball cards, the first thing I always did upon opening a new pack was to flip the card over to see if the player ever was a member of the Tigers.WoodieFryman

Because my memory latches on to such random things, I clearly remember when I turned over the 1977 Topps Woodie Fryman card and saw that he played for the Tigers from 1972-74.

Fryman passed away on Friday in Lexington, Ky., at the age of 70.

Fryman won 141 games from 1966-83 with the Expos, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs. He pitched primarily in relief late in his career, saving 17 games for Montreal in 1980.

Fryman had four career one-hitters – including a nearly perfect game when he was a Pittsburgh rookie. He gave up a leadoff hit to the New York Mets, the runner was caught stealing and Fryman didn’t allow anyone else on base.

In 1972, Fryman joined the Tigers in the middle of the season and went 10-3 with a 2.06 ERA for them, helping Detroit win the American League East.

He was elected to the Expos Hall of Fame in 1995.

I was too young to see Fryman work his half-season magic. Do any of you remember seeing him pitch for the Tigers?

  • My friend Chuck passed along this story which appeared last week in The Wall Street Journal. The piece focuses on Bill “Pappy” Holcomb, a 71-year-old retired autoworker, who’s ending his 22-season Tigers Fantasy Camp career.The main thread of the story is the aging of Fantasy Camp attendees:

    The Tigers this year had 190 campers, with an average age of 54. In 1985, the average age was 44. Teams that started their camps more recently tend to have a lower average age, around 50, but they also find themselves catering to older, more-infirm players.

    Be sure to view the slideshow that accompanies the article. You’ll see a photo that includes Steve Kemp.

     

  • In our most recent Fungo Flash Poll we asked, If you could choose one, which Tigers killer would you like to see in Detroit?
    1. Grady Sizemore (20 percent, 199 Votes)
    2. Denard Span (17 percent, 171 Votes)
    3. Joe Nathan (16 percent, 162 Votes)
    4. Jim Thome (13 percent, 129 Votes)
    5. Carl Pavano (12 percent, 116 Votes)
    6. Paul Konerko (11 percent, 106 Votes)
    7. Michael Cuddyer (9 percent, 85 Votes)

    Others receiving votes: Joe Crede, Luke Scott and, based on an interesting perspective, Todd Jones.

    I was stunned to see Sizemore earn the most votes and expected to see Konerko or Thome at the top.

    Thanks to the nearly 1,000 voters in this poll. Watch for another poll soon.

     

  • I’m still amazed that the Tigers cut ties with Jeremy Bonderman. As I said on the podcast last week, the Tigers could certainly use someone of Bondo’s caliber for spot starting a la Eddie Bonine or Chad Durbin, et al. Instead it looks like he’s headed to Cleveland and the Plain Dealer‘s Terry Pluto explains why:

    They did offer him a minor-league contract, but he rejected it. The market for Bonderman is slim because of that 6.50 ERA (and 13 HR in 73 innings) after the All-Star break — when his average fastball dropped from 92 mph to 88. The Indians believe fatigue was the reason.

    (snip)

    The Indians are looking at Bonderman because you can never have enough starting pitching.

    Apparently the Tigers think you can.

     

  • This story isn’t Tigers related but it’s fascinating nonetheless. If you’ve followed the Bernie Madoff story even peripherally over the past few years, you know the devastation his Ponzi scheme has inflicted on countless people.This article in The New York Times provides a window into Madoff’s ties to the Mets’ owners — and what role Madoff played in managing the deferred income included in player contracts.

Finally, if you, like me, are a sucker for the Dos Equis commercials featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World, The New Yorker introduces us to the actor who plays him.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Familiar Faces in Playoffs for Tigers Fans

2010postseasonLogo.jpgNot sure if this makes the postseason more or less interesting to you, but if you watch each league’s division series you’ll likely to see lots of former Tigers:

Yankees

Rays

Rangers

Giants

Braves

Phillies

Tuesday Tananas: Fred Lynn, Ted Power and Don Draper

bananas.jpgIs it just me or were there a lot of Aug. 31 trades made back in the day? Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s it seemed that Oakland was always adding a big name at the deadline — Willie McGee, Ruben Sierra, Harold Baines. Just asking.

Friday Fungoes

I’m all over the board this morning:

  • Remember Macay McBride? He spent this season on Toledo’s DL and is a long, long shot to make the 2009 Tigers. Nevertheless, today’s his 26th birthday. (Happy Birthday to infield coach Rafael Belliard, too. He’s but a pup at 47.)

    WoodBats.jpg

  • According to Baseball Reference, 100 years ago today “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was introduced by singer Billy Murray. The song writing team of Albert Von Tilzer (music) and Jack Norworth (lyrics) created the song having never seen a game.
  • Thirty-five years ago this week the Tigers acquired Ben Oglivie from the Red Sox for Dick McAuliffe. If the Tigers had held on to Benjie instead of dishing him off to the Brewers for Jim Slaton a few years later, Oglivie-for-McAuliffe could’ve been the steal of the decade.
  • For some reason this year’s postseason seems to be painfully long. I’m already tired of Tropicana Field, Fox’s closeups and, of course, Tim McCarver. And who thought cowbells in a domed stadium was a good idea?
  • In one week, the World Series will be over and teams can start making trades. I’m eager to see if the Tigers are trigger happy again this year. Somehow I doubt they’ll jump into any moves before the Winter Meetings. You?

Finally, while the Rays are the fashionable pick in the Series, find it in your heart to root for former Tigers Chad Durbin and Matt Stairs.

Go Blue. Go Green.

Wednesday Walewanders: LCS Edition

CoffeeCupCeramic.jpg

  • So this is what we’re left with: rooting for former Tigers still playing in the ALCS and NLCS. The Phillies’ Matt Stairs and Chad Durbin, the Rays’ Carlos Pena, and the Red Sox’s Sean Casey are a Tigers fan’s only connection to playoff baseball.

    Was I the only one who thought Stairs’ bomb on Monday night at Dodger Stadium was a carbon copy of the one he hit at Comerica Park on the last day of the 2006 season? Fortunately for Stairs and his teammates they had Brad Lidge to hold a lead. (By the way, when in the postgame interview Fox’s Ken Rosenthal mentioned Stairs being 40, it was the first time I’ve reacted by thinking: Hey, watch it. I’m 40!)

    I honestly don’t know what to say about Pena. For him, I’m glad he’s found his groove. For the Tigers, well, let’s put it this way: Imagine the roster issues the Tigers would’ve dealt with this year if they had Pena in the mix. Oy vey. But good for Carlos, his fellow Rays and their dozens of fans. I’m enjoying every deliciously exposed chink in Red Sox Nation’s armor. If you want to read what Pena’s thinking about these days, read his playoff blog on MLB.com.

    As for Durbin and Casey, the Tigers could’ve used both of them this past season but for different reasons. Durbin would’ve spared us the Eddie Bonine Experience while Casey’s personality might have been a soothing influence on a prickly clubhouse.

    Bygones.

  • Wow, Leo Mazzone doesn’t make the Tigers’ short list of pitching coach candidates? Tell me this is some sort of smokescreen. Or joke. Or inexcusable oversight. How can Mazzone not be at the top of the list? Sure, Rick Peterson is a good choice and a solid Plan B. But Mazzone seems to be a no brainer. What do you think?

  • I keep thinking that Nate Robertson will end up out here in the desert next season with catcher Miguel Montero heading to Detroit. I’ve been beating the Montero Drum all season to Ian at BlessYouBoy.com — so much so that Ian has reportedly started coding an eyes-rolling emoticon for Google Talk instant messaging. Better late than early, a week or so back the Free Press‘s Jon Paul Morosi got on board the Montero Express.

  • Congrats to Eric Howell of Clawson who correctly answered our Name That Tiger Quiz. The correct answers: Chuck Scrivener, Eric Munson and Steve Foucault. Eric received a copy of George Cantor’s Tigers book, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

  • Sean Heyboer, an Orlando-based Tigers fan, launched a new Tigers blog recently, titled Trumbull and Michigan. Check it out when you get a chance.

Double-D Cookin' Up Some Hot Stove Fun

Are you kidding me?When Mike first broached the possibility of Dave Dombrowski‘s blockbuster this afternoon late this morning by forwarding me Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal I thought it must’ve been some posturing and cheap talk.When I nosed around ESPN.com and saw Peter Gammon‘s blog entry saying there was some validity to it I let my mind wander a bit as to what the lineup would look like.When fellow teacher and baseball coach Paul Diegel e-mailed with news his buddy told him the deal was happening (Maybin and Miller straight up for the two), I knew it was too good to be true, and put those pipe dreams to bed.By the time I left work this evening and turned on sports yappers it was apparent there was still some smoke billowing up from these smoldering trade talks.And finally, when I heard Steve Phillips on WXYT say it was pretty well done I darn near drove off the road.I do realize the ramifications of this deal – a farm system left as barren as an 85-year-old post-menopausal woman – but I also realize this deal isn’t quite the same as that Smoltz-Alexander deal of 20 years past. For starters, Dontrelle Willis (25) and Miguel Cabrera (24) are nowhere near as long in the tooth as Doyle Alexander (37) was in 1987.Sure, the Tigers gave up a ton of prospects, but they did so for two bonafide Major Leaguers who haven’t yet reached their prime.I got no beef with the deal especially since it probably means Brandon Inge is on his way out of town. You aren’t really going to pay him $6-million+ a year to be a super-utility guy, are you? But hey, it’s not my money. If Mr. I gives the greenlight to this, then have Inge work as a catcher every chance he gets so he can take over for Pudge Rodriguez next year. With the offense that would be around him, Inge can return to his light-hitting catcher role for all I care.For his next move Dombrowski will no doubt try to move Inge, Marcus Thames, Chad Durbin, and Ryan Raburn for whatever prospects he can find. Certainly he needs to reload his minor-league pitching somehow.Of course my main questions walking away from this deal are as follows:Are there any other Dombrowski-era Marlins worth acquiring (what with Gary Sheffield, Nate Robertson, Edgar Renteria, et al)?How many times will Willis (a .508 sluggling percentage last year) pinch-hit this year?