Wednesday Walewanders

company man.JPGI’m down to my last box of Girl Scout Cookies — Thin Mints, don’t you know — but despite this unfortunate circumstance, I present the Wednesday Walewanders.

  • Rob Neyer yesterday linked to this list of The Worst Contracts in Baseball and, no, the entire Tigers roster does not appear. But there is some significant Detroit representation: five lousy contracts. Take a peek for yourself. What do you think? How bad is it?

  • With the positive reaction to Edwin Jackson‘s Tigers debut last week I thought I’d check in on Matt Joyce‘s Spring Training so far. And based on this, it has not been a good one — at least not yet.

  • Happy Birthday to former Tigers outfielder Hiram Bochachica, perhaps the best name ever. He’s 33 today. On July 25, 2002, the Dodgers traded Bocachica to the Tigers for a player to be named later and minor leaguer Tom Farmer. The Tigers sent Jason Frasor to the Los Angeles Dodgers to complete the trade on Sept. 18 of that year. Frasor’s still hanging around as reliever for the Blue Jays.

  • The no-brainer continues.

  • I’ll admit that I was watching the Manny Ramirez saga more closely than I typically would. Why? Because I was bracing myself for Ken Williams‘ and the White Sox’s stealth swoop-in-and-sign. You know they were thinking about it.

  • Of course I like Marcus Thames. Who doesn’t? I’d just rather see Brent Clevlen make the team this year.

Finally, a public-service message wrapped in a question. Since launching The Daily Fungo in 2006, I’ve been trying to avoid running the ubiquitous Google ads for two reasons:

  1. No one likes them.
  2. No one clicks them.

Now the question: If I were to drop some ads into the site — very few and very unobtrusive — would it bother you as a reader? I’m not sure that I am going go to bring in ads, but I wanted your thoughts. (If I did decide to run ads, don’t be afraid to click them.)

2009 Player Profile: Edwin Jackson

Edwin Jackson #36

  • Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 210
  • 2008 Stats: 14-11, 4.42 ERA

EdwinJacksonHead.jpgWhen the Tigers traded Matt Joyce to the Tampa Bay Rays for Jackson, Detroit fans scratched their heads – and not only because Joyce appeared to have a future in the Tigers outfield. Jackson is an unknown quantity outside of the A.L. East and the Tigers have only faced the righthander four times since 2006 for a total of 16 innings (1-0, 3.38 ERA, 12 K). He became expendable in pitching-rich Tampa despite a pedestrian 2008 (14-11, 4.42) due mainly to the emergence of David Price, but from most accounts, the Tigers landed themselves a gem and a durable number-three man in the rotation.

The 25-year-old Jackson features a mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider – and batters hit just above .200 when facing the slider. In 2009, watch for Jackson to stick with his formula for success: working the lower half of the strike zone and the corners of the plate – up and away on lefties, high and tight on righties. And, if he can maintain his low rate of walks per nine innings (2.5), Jackson will pay rapid dividends for the Tigers.

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.

Joyce Goes Home, Tigers Fans Go “Huh?”

Meet your new number-three starter: Edwin Jackson. Or maybe he’s number two. Who knows? All we do know is that the Tigers made the most curious trade since…since…Dickie Noles-for-Dickie Noles?

While the Mets, Mariners and Indians were swingin’ a 12-player trade (with J.J. Putz as the centerpiece) the Tigers were not zeroing in on a closer, instead they were dealing for a starting pitcher.

The 25-year-old Jackson won a career-high 14 games in 2008 at the back end of the rotation during Tampa Bay’s breakout season. He posted a 4.42 ERA to go with his 14-11 record, pitching 183 1/3 innings, allowing 199 hits and 77 walks while striking out 108. Jackson’s arrival adds some more certainty to a rotation that faced major question marks at the back end. Justin Verlander and Armando Galarraga are the only certainties from last year, while Jeremy Bonderman is expected to be back to full strength after missing the second half of last season following shoulder surgery.

Ian offers some hefty analysis of the deal here.

Lynn Henning suggests that this deal could be a signal that the Tigers’ are concerned with Jeremy Bonderman‘s progress. That or the Tigers are hedging their bets against another poor season by Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis.

Or both. What do you make of this trade?

Matt Joyce for Edwin Jackson

I really want to give Dave Dombrowski the benefit of the doubt on this one. I really do. But I am not seeing it.

Matt Joyce is a lefthanded power bat, something the Tigers have needed for a while, who could take over at either of the corner OF spots once Sheffield was gone and either Maggs or Guillen could move to DH. I guess the Tigers think Jeff Larish can play outfield, too.

While the Tigers needed an influx of major-league ready arms, closer was the most pressing need. Edwin Jackson has a great arm, but he’s had plenty of problems finding the plate. Granted, he’s young and could come around.

Someone want to talk me down on this one? I’m all ears.

Catching Up on a Week of News

Catcher.jpgEvery time I sat down to write about a bit of Tigers news in the past five days, another shoe would drop and I’d think “I’ll write about both of those items.” Then another and another, etc.

So, as I wait out this Tigers/White Sox rain delay from bright, sunny Phoenix, it’s time to weigh in on:

  • Todd Jones’s Retirement. The decades-old joke in Detroit is that the most popular person in the city is the Lions’ backup QB and/or the Red Wings’ backup netminder. I think we can now add the Tigers’ setup man to that punch line. Detroit is unusually cruel to its closers. Less than a year after Willie Hernandez won the 1984 Cy Young and MVP awards, he started getting booed and it’s never stopped. Mike Henneman did too, but to a much smaller degree. The Tigers were so unwatchable during Todd Jones‘s first tour of duty in Detroit, that often he was the only bright spot. Come to think of it, he was a welcome sight then because it mean the Tigers were in line for a rare win.

    But what was it about Jones in his second stint as a Tiger? What made it so infuriating? Sure, he got 93 saves in just under three seasons but his ERA was always around four and … ah, what’s the use? Jones is a good guy and I’m sure he’ll be missed by his teammates. I guess. For me, though, I’ll never be able to forgive him for not being Joe Nathan.

    Continue reading “Catching Up on a Week of News”