Random Thoughts Before Game 5

In no particular order:

  • From the what-if file: Imagine the added dimension a healthy and capable Daniel Schlereth would add to the Tigers bullpen.
  • Kevin Kennedy was asked what he’d do if the Tigers have a four-run lead going into the ninth and Justin Verlander at a 120 pitches. His answer? “I know what Jim will do … ” Kennedy said Leyland will likely go to his bullpen; it’s what he’s done all year. And that’s what makes us all so queasy.

The Tigers and Athletics will battle in the fifth and deciding game of the American League Division Series this evening at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. It marks the eighth time in the club’s post-season history the Tigers have had a series go to the maximum number of games. Detroit has compiled a 3-4 record in the previous seven series. The Tigers won Game Seven of both the 1945 and 1968 World Series and Game Five of the 2011 American League Division Series, while the team suffered the loss in Game Seven of the 1909, 1934 and 1940 World Series and Game Five of the 1972 American League Championship Series. 

  • Everyone I talk to today tells me that I should feel great about Game 5 with Verlander on the mound. But why don’t I? It’s because my gut tells me he gets too amped up for these big starts and gets dinged for early runs – like Coco Crisp‘s leadoff homer in Game 1. So, here’s what the Game Notes say:

Verlander is making the 10th start of his post-season career this evening. In his previous nine starts, he is 4-3 with a 4.96 ERA (49.0IP/27ER) and 59 strikeouts. Verlander is 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA (12.1IP/5ER) and 17 strikeouts in two starts against the Athletics during his post-season career. 

Yeah, but … looking at his career numbers he’s given up 48 hits in those 49 innings. Plus 30 runs and 24 walks. And, before his Game 1 start last Saturday, his career ALDS ERA was over five. I’m not trying to be negative, only trying to express why I’m hesitant to crown him a true big-game pitcher yet. We’ll know better after tonight.

Finally, Happy Birthday, Dmitri YoungJeff Larish and Gregg Olson. Enjoy the game tonight, folks.

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”

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

Continue reading “2010: The Year in Lists”

Monday Mankowskis: Inge and Peralta More Alike Than You Think

No Tigers baseball for a week, how are you managing? Here in Phoenix we’re prepping for another season of Arizona Fall League action. (More on that later.)

In the meantime, here are some odds and ends from the last week:

  • If you’re still coming to grips with the notion of Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta manning the left side of the Tigers’ infield next season, here’s something I noticed that will either make you feel better or worse – and nowhere in between.

    Based on this year’s stats, it appears that Inge and Peralta are practically twins:

    2010 Stats Inge Peralta
    Games 144 148
    At bats 514 551
    Hits 127 137
    Home Runs 13 15
    RBI 70 81
    Average .247 .249
    On-base Percentage .321 .311
    Slugging Percentage .397 .392
    OPS .718 .703

    Of Peralta, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski last Sunday said: “We don’t know what we will do with his ($7.25 million) option, but would like him back next year as our shortstop.”

    I’m like many Tigers fans: skeptical, at best, about Peralta as a full-time shortstop. True, he’ll bring more pop to the position than either Danny Worth or Ramon Santiago. But that’s not saying much, is it? As for his defense, the 2010 edition of Baseball Prospectus described Peralta as “increasingly immobile.”

    Gee, if we wanted an immobile shortstop, why not give the job back to Carlos Guillen?

    Discuss.

    Continue reading “Monday Mankowskis: Inge and Peralta More Alike Than You Think”

Welcome to Chaos Manor

scared-help.jpgAbout 36 hours before the Tigers game ended last night, Ian and I were interviewing Lynn Henning of The Detroit News for episode 119 of the podcast.

During the conversation, I mentioned that the Magglio Ordonez contract has really worked out well for the Tigers and, on the other end of the contract-karma spectrum, Carlos Guillen appears to be aging before our eyes. And we all agreed that Ordonez has turned out to be a good deal for the Tigers and that, well, poor Guillen’s knees just won’t allow him to age gracefully.

Little did we know.

In the span of three innings Saturday night their season at worst crumbled completely or, at best, their offense got dramatically retooled. After two consecutive victories, Tigers fans seemed to have come down off the ledge and were ready for a meaningful August — and quite possibly, September. Now, who knows?

The short-term fix, as you’ve already learned, includes infielder Will Rhymes and the now-versatile Jeff Larish. Both were part of the Tigers’ Arizona Fall League contingent in 2008, so it’s time to see if they really are the top prospects we’ve heard about.

My gut is telling me that this season is now effectively over. As Tony Paul writes in the News this morning, the Tigers now have too many holes to fill and Dan Haren, Ted Lilly, Stephen Drew, simply aren’t enough spackle — no matter how good they are.

No one wants to concede the division to the Twins or, God forbid, the White Sox on July 25. But after sifting through the wreckage from Saturday night, how can we believe the Tigers will be a factor in this race?

I’d like to be surprised, but I think the focus of this team has become, all of a sudden, 2011.

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”

Roster-palooza: Avila Heads North, One Decision Remains

Coach Clipboard.jpgIn the latest episode of the podcast, Ian and I reviewed the looming roster decisions facing Jim Leyland and the Tigers. Today we have answers.

All that’s left to decide is the 25th man. Will it be Don Kelly or Clete Thomas? They both bat from the left side, so you can cross that off the list of criteria.