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”

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.

Tigers Today: July 6, 2010

PickOffSmall.jpg**Sorry this one’s coming late in the day. I was traveling and got online later than expected. This one include information about tonight’s win and Monday’s too.**

Tigers’ Record:

45-37, 1st place; 1/2-game lead over Twins

Today’s Results

Tigers 7 – Orioles 5 (11 innings)

Yesterday’s Results

Tigers 12 – Orioles 9

Continue reading “Tigers Today: July 6, 2010”

Game 65 Recap: Bonderman Sharp, Offense Relentless

Jeremy Bonderman threw seven strong innings and the offense added 19 hits as the Tigers defeated the Washington Nationals 8-3 on Thursday afternoon.

The victory caps a second straight series sweep, and overall 6-game win streak, a stretch in which the Tigers have scored 37 runs on a whopping 70 hits.  It’s a pleasant sight for Tigers fans, who had recently endured a stretch where the cats had lost 12 of 18 with the main culprit being a stagnant offense.

Miguel Cabrera extended his league-leading RBI total to 59, going 2-for-5 with a double and three RBI.  Alex Avila went 2-for-4 with a long double in the 2nd inning, driving in two runs.

Not to be lost in the offensive onslaught is Jeremy Bonderman, who allowed just two earned on five hits while fanning seven in seven innings of work.

Continue reading “Game 65 Recap: Bonderman Sharp, Offense Relentless”

Report Card: Tigers at the Quarter Mark

Note: I began writing this report card at the 40-game mark but ran into computer troubles and wasn’t able to post it. Though the Tigers have blown past that milestone I’ll still submit it for your consideration.

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If you’ve followed the Tigers for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with Sparky Anderson’s old saying about giving a team 40 games before drawing any conclusions. Last Wednesday night Justin Verlander handcrafted the Tigers 5-1 win over the A’s on Wednesday and gave the Tigers a 23-17 record at the 40-game mark. So, is it time to draw conclusions?

Why not?

Continue reading “Report Card: Tigers at the Quarter Mark”

The Non-Sequiturs: Nixing the ESPN Jinx, Poll Results and Poetry

CoffeeCupCeramic.jpgFor several reasons, I had an uneasy feeling during last night’s win over the Yankees, not the least of which was Brad Thomas getting the emergency start.

But the more I watched and considered the situation, the better I felt. After all, the Tigers only needed three to four innings out of Thomas and they could hand it over to Eddie Bonine, then the back end of the ‘pen.

Both guys were solid and showed a national TV audience why the Tigers are hanging around the upper floors of the A.L. Central: the relief corps, of course. This is a much more preferable scenario than the tension that normally accompanies a Dontrelle Willis start.

Other thoughts rattling around my brain:

  • While it wasn’t ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, it was an ESPN national broadcast, and it sure was nice to see the Tigers perform capably. In case you hadn’t noticed, they’ve stunk up the airwaves during their ESPN appearances since 2008.

  • Speaking of pitching, the Thomas experience has worked out twice this season, but I think we’d all agree that we’d rather see a bona fide starter. And who would Fungo readers like to see in that rotation, if given the choice? Here are the results of last week’s Fungo Pulse Check:

    Who Would You Rather See Join the Tigers Rotation?

    • Armando Galarraga (49%, 119 Votes)
    • Eddie Bonine (23%, 56 Votes)
    • Someone Else — Anyone Else! (20%, 48 Votes)
    • Zach Miner (8%, 20 Votes)
    • Total Voters: 243

    Be sure to vote in this week’s poll –>

  • I posted this on Twitter last week but it’s worth mentioning again: James Finn Garner crafted a nice poem on Ernie Harwell at Bardball.com. As usual, it’s great. Check it out here.

  • With the win Monday night, the Tigers are now 508-470-6 all-time at home against the Yankees, and 20-20 all-time at Comerica Park.

That’s all I got.

Game 18: Tigers 8 – Rangers 4

ESPN highlights available here.
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The Score: Tigers 8 – Rangers 4

The Gist: For the first time in nearly nine years, Brad Thomas took the hill as a starter and did enough to keep the Tigers in the game until the offense took over in a kooky fourth inning. With two outs that inning, Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago scored on a wild pitch when the ball ping-ponged off the brick backstop and rolled toward Gene Lamont along the third-base line.

Winning-pitcher Eddie Bonine (2-0), Joel Zumaya and Jose Valverde combined with Thomas to hold the Rangers scoreless over the final seven innings. Johnny Damon drew three walks — a season’s worth for Pudge Rodriguez.

The Quote: “They’ve been getting us our wins.” — Damon, on the Tigers’ bullpen.

The Stat: 5 – The number of strikeouts by Zumaya on his two innings of work.

Up Next: Tigers @ Rangers | Sunday – 3:05 p.m. ET

Rick Porcello (1-1, 6.46 ERA) vs. former Tigers RHP Colby Lewis (2-0, 3.12 ERA)

On the air: FSD/1270 AM & 97.1 FM

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