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.

No Hitters? No-Hitter!

Thumbs Down.jpgIt seems awfully unfair for a guy to throw a no-hitter against a team that evidently has no hitters, doesn’t it?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t see any of Monday night’s bizarro-rama — Max Scherzer also had a no-hitter going into the sixth?! — because I was out at a family thing. (I think I would have put my marriage in jeopardy had I attempted to participate in Baseball Tonight Live on ESPN.com while at the restaurant.)

Nevertheless, I listened to the Rays’ announcers call the ninth inning on XM Radio on my way home. What a weird experience that was. The last time the Tigers were no-hit — June 2, 1990, by Randy Johnson — I couldn’t have listened to the Seattle feed even if I wanted to.

Whoa. Got off track there.

Anyway, what are Tigers fans supposed to do now? Their team is still — astonishingly — a mere three games out of first place at the end of July. You can’t give up on them, can you?

After all, on July 26, 2009, the eventual division champion Twins were one game under .500 and in third place just four games out.

Apple to apples? Not even close. Even though the Twins lost Justin Morneau they surged. Without Magglio Ordonez the Tigers are already showing signs of retreat.

So what if the Tigers pick up a hitter or two this week? Does Adam Dunn give them enough of a jolt — and protection for Miguel Cabrera? More than Aubrey Huff did last year. Would it help to bring Jermaine Dye back from retirement home? What about Carlos Delgado? Or Joe Crede?

Now this post has taken a turn toward the absurd. But that’s what we’re facing, isn’t it?

Even if Dave Dombrowski manages to add a few pieces will they be enough. It’s hard to believe they would be.

But he better get someone to hit the ball. Otherwise, Matt Garza‘s no-hitter might not be the last we see against the Tigers this year.

Game 162: Vintage Verlander

ESPN highlights available here.
ScorecardXSmall.jpg

The Score: Tigers 5 – White Sox 3

The Gist: You couldn’t ask for more than Justin Verlander delivered on Sunday afternoon in the Tigers’ home finale of the as-yet-undecided 2009 season. Ryan Raburn went yard twice and the resurrected Magglio Ordonez went 4 for 4 to power most of the offense. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tigers game without a wasted inning with a starter, this time John Danks, on the ropes. A win is a win, though this win would’ve been better on, say, Thursday.

The Quote: “I wasn’t sure right away I was going to get there.” Curtis Granderson, referring to either his diving catch in the eighth which saved the game from looming disaster OR the Tuesday playoff game in Minnesota.

The Stat: 12 and 13 – The Tigers’ record this year on Tuesdays

Magic Digit: 1

Up Next: Tigers @ Twins – Tuesday, 5 p.m. ET on TBS

Rick Porcello (14-9. 4.04 ERA) vs. Scott Baker (15-9, 4.36)

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2009 Player Profile: Magglio Ordoñez

Magglio Ordoñez #30

  • Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 215
  • 2008 Stats: .317 – 21 HR – 103 RBI

Few hitters can weather a 50-point drop in batting average and still be within shouting distance of a batting crown. But that’s how 2008 shaped up for Tigers rightfielder Magglio Ordoñez. Ordonez Magglio

The 2007 A.L. batting champ served up an encore performance in 2008: .317, fifth in the league, 22 home runs and 103 RBI. Certainly, having Miguel Cabrera batting ahead of him helped Ordoñez see more strikes in 2008, but since joining Detroit in 2005 all he’s done is hit.

Last season, Ordoñez fluctuated from month to month — .296 in April, .350 in May; .266 in June, .386 in July — but finished the season strong, batting .330 in the second half and mounting a credible defense of his batting title.

Ordoñez is a top-tier hitter thanks to a stroke that can deftly handle pitches across the strike zone, but the closer the pitch is to the inner-half of the plate the better. Like most power hitters, he can crush a fastball but he takes more delight in change-ups from righties — a .407 average when he hits one — and curves from southpaws, an astounding .600 clip.

At 35, Ordoñez shows no sign of slowing and looks at home as the Tigers’ cleanup hitter. And that should worry A.L. pitchers, again, in 2009.

The Top 10 Tigers Stories of 2008: #5 – The Emergence (and Trade) of Matt Joyce

Number 5When I began pulling together this list over the past month or so, it became clear that possibly the only positive story to come out of the Tigers season was the emergence of Matt Joyce. Joyce finished the 2008 season with a .252 average, 12 homers and 33 RBI in 92 games.

At long last, the Tigers appeared to have developed a left-handed power-ish hitter who could take over one of the corner outfield slots perhaps as soon as 2009.

But, when Jim Leyland announced that left field would be Carlos Guillen‘s position next season and when it became more apparent that Magglio Ordonez was going nowhere this offseason, Joyce’s role went from promising to fuzzy — at best.

Nevertheless, Joyce was a sign of progress in the Tigers’ farm system beyond pitching depth and maybe a budding star.

Until he wasn’t…at least in Detroit.

Three weeks ago he was dealt to his hometown of Tampa Bay for pitcher Edwin Jackson. From what we’ve read, the acquisition of Jackson will be a winning one for the Tigers. And in the end maybe it will be.

Still, it would be nice to see a young position player develop into a star — or something close to it — wearing the old English D.

20 Years Later, a Tigers Player Again Comes Up Short in MVP Award

The chances of the Tigers’ Magglio Ordonez winning the American League Most Valuable Player award seem to dwindle every time Alex Rodriguez comes to the plate.

This certainly should not be the case. Ordonez brings these monster stats to the ballpark this afternoon:

  • .360 batting average
  • 53 doubles
  • 28 home runs
  • 137 RBI
  • .431 on-base percentage
  • .592 slugging percentage
  • 1.023 on-base plus slugging percentage

Still, he’s not likely to win the MVP.

A crime? Yes. But only a misdemeanor. When you take a look at A-Rod’s eye-popping numbers through Friday night, you’ll see the main reason why he’s going to win:

  • .309 average
  • 30 doubles
  • 53 home runs
  • 151 RBI
  • .418 on-base percentage
  • .637 slugging percentage
  • 1.064 on-base plus slugging percentage
  • Plays on a playoff team

The Baseball Writers Association of America, the voters of all post-season awards, will likely select A-Rod as the MVP because he’s on a playoff team. That’s because the BBWAA loves winners, plain and simple.

Most of the time.

In 1987, the Cubs’ Andre Dawson took home the National League MVP. The Cubs record? 76-85 good for last place in the N.L. East, 18-1/2 games out.

So much for the winners thing.

That same season, Alan Trammell‘s MVP-caliber year failed to measure up to that of Toronto’s George Bell—at least in the minds of the writers. Bell put together a phenomenal year. But, unlike Trammell, he failed to deliver when it counted: with his team’s season on the line. We’ll get to that shortly.

One can argue that Ordonez’s season, backed by a stratospheric batting average, shouldn’t be dismissed merely because the Tigers won’t be playing in the postseason and because Rodriguez and the Yankees will. Let’s face it: that’s going to be the reason Ordonez doesn’t win.

While it’s not the first time we’ve heard this argument, it wasn’t applied in 1987.

Looking at the final 11 games of the 1987 season, Trammell appeared to have pulled ahead of Bell for the MVP award. Over that span—in which Detroit played seven thrilling, one-run games against Bell’s Blue Jays—Trammell hit .381 with two homers and six RBI. More impressive was his performance in the seven games against Toronto: .417, one home run and four RBI. In fact, Trammell delivered the game-winning hit in the eleventh inning on the next-to-last game of the season, a win that put the Blue Jays on the brink of a historic collapse.

As for Bell, his ’87 campaign didn’t end quite as impressively. In his final 10 games, including three games at home against the Brewers, Bell batted a modest .250 with no home runs and just two RBI. In the final series against the Tigers in Detroit, Bell hit an anemic one-for-11 with no RBI.

In the end, and despite a career year, Trammell narrowly lost out to Bell in the MVP voting. Bell captured 16 first-place votes to Trammell’s 12 in one of the closest ballots in baseball history. Trammell and the Tigers advanced to the A.L. Championship Series; Bell went home to San Pedro de Macoris.

The BBWAA loves winners? Not so much. At least not in 1987.

Twenty years later, Tigers fans will find themselves holding out hope the BBWAA will see Ordonez’s 2007 campaign as superior to A-Rod’s.

Chances are, Ordonez will find himself in the same position as Trammell in ’87 and Cecil Fielder in 1990 and 1991: long on stats, short on hardware.