Fungoes

Saturday Non Sequiturs: Memories of 2003, Infante’s Future and Wang Chung Tonight

Catching up on this and that while the temperature hits 111 on my back porch — in the shade.

Earlier today I tweeted the recap of the June 29, 2003, Tigers/Diamondbacks game at Comerica Park. The most notable nugget from the boxscore was Jose Valverde‘s six-pitch, four-strike, three-batter save. What a difference 10 years can make. Of the players appearing in that game, only Valverde, Andres Torres, Ramon Santiago and Fernando Rodney are still in the majors.

Then-Dbacks manager Bob Brenly is back in Arizona’s TV booth (from where he was plucked in 2001 to replace Buck Showalter). Alan Trammell and his Tigers bench coach Kirk Gibson have swapped roles and now lead the Diamondbacks. And, we know where Jose Valverde is these days.

Baseball really is the game of retreads.

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Every time I see Omar Infante make a nifty play or have a multiple-hit game, I can’t help but think back to 2009 and Placido Polanco. Coming off a Gold Glove season in which he hit .285, the Tigers didn’t offer him a contract and handed the keys to second base to the (still) unproven Scott Sizemore.

Are we heading toward a replay after this season with free-agent-to-be Infante? I sure hope not.

When the Tigers cut Polanco loose after five-ish seasons, he was 33. Infante turns 32 the day after Christmas. Why would they part ways with him again? Hernan Perez is hitting. 299 at Erie these days and earned a sip of coffee last season with Detroit, but is he the answer at second base? I’m not so sure.

I’d like to see Infante re-signed for two more seasons and keep at least part of the keystone combo intact for awhile … and avoid another Sizemore situation.

What do you think?

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Like most Tigers fans, I’m waiting for Victor Martinez to thaw from his low-.200s freeze. He will, right? Yes, I think he will and it will likely be after the All-Star Game. I don’t mind Jim Leyland riding it out with Martinez in the five hole. What other option do they have? None, really.

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When Leyland selects reserves for the All-Star Game in two weeks will Drew Smyly be among the final roster? I think he should be. I mean, look at his line coming into play today:

W L W-L% ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9
3 0 1.000 2.25 28 7 2 48.0 36 12 12 1 14 48 1.042 2.6 9.0

Yeah, that’s an All Star.

***

By any chance did you catch this story last week on Gary Sheffield, Baseball Agent, in The New York Times? Sheff’s only client is Jason Grilli and here’s some gold from the agent himself:

As a middle reliever in Detroit, Grilli had used sinkers and curveballs to minimize his pitch count and save the rest of the bullpen.

Sheffield did not approve. As with everything, he was blunt in his assessment of his client.

“I told Jason my honest opinion of his pitching style, and he knew I didn’t like it,” Sheffield said. “I let him know, ‘Your stuff and your results don’t match up.’ He’s a big guy with a hard sinker and filthy slider, and when I see that, I think that’s closer stuff — he just had to believe it. Just because someone tells you you’re not that type of pitcher, that don’t mean anything to you.”

Man, I miss Sheff.

***

Finally, enjoy this bit of ’80s goodness courtesy of Dr. Frasier Crane:

Have a great weekend.

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Fungoes

2010: The Year in Lists

2011Calendar.jpgA year ago, we were still stinging from Game 163 and not certain how the Tigers would respond to a crushing end to the 2009 season. Would they regress to 2008’s disappointment or regroup to erase the memory of the ’09 collapse?

The answer was: they’d be relevant. And that, ladies in gentlemen, is the extent of the analysis in this post. Instead of a deep dive into 2010, let’s look at the year in the form of randomly selected lists:

2010 At A Glance*

  • Record: 81-81, 3rd in American League Central, 13 games back of Minnesota
  • Days in First: 13, the last on July 10
  • Biggest Lead: 1, last on July 7
  • Farthest Behind: 15.5 on Sept. 15
  • Most Games over .500: 11, last on July 10
  • Most Games under .500: 5, last on Aug. 19
  • Longest Winning Streak: 7, June 11-18
  • Longest Losing Streak: 7, July 11-20
  • Most Runs Allowed: 15, June 9
  • Most Runs Scored: 13, Aug. 15
  • Longest Game (innings): 14, July 19
  • Times Shutout by Opponent: 10
  • Times Opponent Shutout: 5

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Fungoes

Good Decisions by the Tigers? Huzzah!

flipacoin.jpgOn Monday, Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Heyman wrote a column in which he highlights the top-20 decisions made by MLB teams in the past year. In Heyman’s view, the Tigers made two of the top decisions:

3. The Tigers’ acquisition of Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer and Phil Coke in the three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.
This was the most unpopular of moves at the time in Detroit. It’s way early to say for sure, but as of today it looks boffo, with Granderson starting slowly (.240 average) in New York and Jackson (4-6, 5.05 ERA) doing the same in Arizona. Austin Jackson is a Rookie of the Year candidate, providing Gold Glove-type defense, perhaps the most valuable piece in the deal that saved the Tigers beaucoup bucks. Scherzer has shown only flashes of greatness, and Coke is a middle reliever. But the Tigers look like they received a star, while setting themselves up to improve their offense (by getting Johnny Damon) and bullpen (Jose Valverde) with the money that was saved.

And, here’s the other:

11. The Tigers’ decision to let Magglio Ordonez’s contract vest.
They could easily have not played Ordonez to save themselves a lot of money, but they did the proper thing by fielding their best lineup, which included Ordonez, as they tried, ultimately without success, to secure a playoff spot.

[snip]

His wife was going through a cancer battle last year, so Ordonez understandably underperformed. And the Tigers did the right thing by standing by him.

Rob Neyer takes a closer look at this one today.

I wonder if the Tigers releasing Gary Sheffield last spring training and DFA’ing Dontrelle Willis last month were anywhere on Heyman’s list.

What do you think about Heyman’s assessment — and Neyer’s?

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Fungoes

Series Preview: Tigers vs. Diamondbacks

Dbacks.jpgThe Tigers welcome the Diamondbacks to town this weekend and it will be a series dripping with irony and plot lines.

Some will focus on the return of Dontrelle Willis and Edwin Jackson. Others will welcome back D-backs’ bench coach and Tigers legend (at least in my mind) Kirk Gibson.

Still others may peer at Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew and imagine him alongside Carlos Guillen in the Tigers infield.

No matter what your perspective this weekend, the Tigers are entering another series that is winnable, if not sweepable. (Hint: The D-backs are 9-25 on the road this season.)

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Fungoes

Tigers Today: June 18, 2010

Tigers’ Record:

36-29, 2nd place; 1.5 GB Minnesota

Today’s Game

Tigers vs. Diamondbacks | 7:05 p.m. ET – Comerica Park | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Armando Galarraga (2-1, 2.67 ERA) vs. Dontrelle Willis (1-0, 1.80 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

Tigers 8 – Nationals 3 | Fungo Recap

Tigers History Lesson

On this Date in Tigers History

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Fungoes

Friday Freehans: Interleague Gumbo

BillFreehan.jpgInterleague play is back! What’s that? You haven’t missed it?

  • As the Pirates come to town let’s do an interleague reset: Since interleague play started in 1997, the Tigers have compiled a 124-108 record, 57-33 in interleague games at Comerica Park. This year they’re 1-2.

  • In a related note, here’s the good news coming into this weekend: The Tigers’ next three series are against teams that are an average of nine games under .500. Then again, their last three series were against teams that are an average of 10 games under so draw whatever conclusions you will.

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Fungoes

Wednesday Walewanders: D-Train/D-Backs Debrief, Photoshop Magic and Whatnot

spaghetti.jpgOh so much to talk about on a searing Wednesday afternoon in the desert as I watch Edwin Jackson toss a masterful game only to (assuredly) endure another Diamondbacks bullpen self-immolation.

  • Speaking of the D-backs, the excitement is palpable in Phoenix. Dontrelle Willis will start on Saturday for the Arizona against the Rockies. Poor Dontrelle; he gets dealt to a club with an offense even worse than the one he leaves behind in Detroit. Manager A.J. Hinch may look to him to pitch well and hit for average. Plenty of tickets available at Chase Field. You first.

  • You have to appreciate the Photoshop skills of the folks at ESPN.com — and the speed at which they deploy them. When I posted about Billy Buckner this afternoon, the photo I used showed him in his Arizona colors. Moments later I hit refresh — presto — he’s sporting the old English D.

  • In case you were wondering, Carlos Guillen has played 45 innings at second base since his return from the disabled list and fielded all 22 chances without an error. He certainly looks comfortable — and smooth — at second. Would you agree?

  • We got only a tasting of interleague play last month and the price we pay is a heaping helping of it in June. But according to the results of last week’s Pulse Check Poll, many of you will be delighted:

    What’s your feeling on Interleague Play?

    • Keep it. (59%, 67 Votes)
    • End it. (21%, 24 Votes)
    • Keep it, but reduce the number of games. (20%, 23 Votes)
    • Total Voters: 114

    If you can, take a moment and click your vote in this week’s poll –>

  • I promise this the last Willis reference I’ll make…at least in this post. In doing the every-five-days math starting with his Saturday start against Colorado, there’s a chance that he could start against the Tigers at Comerica Park on June 20. Imagine that scenario.

Finally, remember Colby Lewis? He pitched three innings for the 2006 Tigers (0-0, 3.00 ERA) but is now major part of the Rangers’ rotation. Here’s a nice story by Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan on how Lewis resurrected his career.

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