The Yin and Yang of Johnny Damon

BallBatGrass.jpgYahoo! Sports’ Steve Henson says Scott Boras — bagman for Johnny Damon — saved the Tigers’ season. Them’s fighting words.

[Tigers owner Mike Ilitch] whipped out his checkbook and, just like that, Damon became the Tigers’ left fielder for 2010.

Luckily for Dombrowski. And for manager Jim Leyland. Both are consummate pros with solid track records, but without Damon they were headed pell-mell for disaster.

Were the Tigers headed for disaster without Damon? No way; they’d have made some other move to steady the offense, but probably not as nifty a move as Damon.

Continue reading “The Yin and Yang of Johnny Damon”

Wednesday Walewanders: Just Barely

spaghetti.jpgThere are about 29 minutes left of Wednesday, so I can still file this collection of Tigers thoughts and make my self-imposed deadline.

  • Did you see that Hall of Famer and Detroit Stars centerfielder Norman “Turkey” Stearnes will be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame on Friday? The article in the Nashville Tennessean begins with this anecdote:

    Norman “Turkey” Stearnes could work for Walter Briggs. He just couldn’t play for him.

    During the offseasons between leading the Negro League in home runsseven times, the Nashville native worked in a Detroit car factory owned by Briggs, who also owned the major league Detroit Tigers.could work for Walter Briggs. He just couldn’t play for him.

    Stearnes hit .400+ three times and posted a .350 career batting average with the Stars, the Nashville Elite Giants, the Montgomery Grey Sox, and the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

  • I’ve had it with the Johnny Damon saga. Here’s hoping that Dave Dombrowski and Mike Ilitch gave up dealing with Scott Boras for Lent. Assuming they’re Catholic, of course.

  • I tweeted about this but it’s worth repeating (at least I think it is): On this date in 1995 Sparky Anderson lit the flame that burned his bridge to Mike Ilitch when he refused to manage replacement players. He was put on an involuntary leave of absence but probably would’ve been fired if someone hadn’t talked Ilitch down from the ledge. Quick quiz: Who managed the faux Tigers in Sparky’s absence? Answer: Tom Runnells.

Whew! I made it.

Rogers Gambling with His Legacy in Detroit

Each day, the Kenny Rogers situation gets more and more bizarre, doesn’t it?How did the Tigers end up holding the bag after Rogers claimed “Motown or nowhere” for 2008? Surely Scott Boras has a role in it — but given how badly the A-Rod thing appears to have blown up in his face, he might not want to press his luck with Rogers’ future.But seriously: how did we get here?Almost two years ago Tigers fans wondered loudly what the Tigers were thinking when they signed 41-year-old hot head Kenny Rogers for two years.A year later, Rogers — improbably — was the toast of the town. His three dazzling 2006 postseason starts will be etched in the memories of Tigers fans for decades.Unless they aren’t.Detroit fans, I believe, are among the best at forgiving and forgetting with athletes that blaze a trail out of town and return as a member of the opposition. (Remember Grant Hill‘s return? Brendan Shanahan‘s? Joey Harrington‘s? Ahem.)This time, though, I think even Detroiters may be forgiven if they greet Kenny Rogers the Ranger or Mariner or Athletic with the same vitriol they (and I) dished out at the 2005 All Star Game. (If you want the skinny on Rogers’ potential suitors, read Ian‘s top-notch post.)From toast of the town to mere toast in less than a year? That’s what happens when you roll the dice on your legacy — a legacy that was not much to speak of (or speak of positively) before 2006.As the days pass and Rogers doesn’t sign with the Tigers, Dave Dombrowski is doing the wise thing by kicking the tires on plans B, C and, quite possible, a plan D.For Rogers, though, the clock is ticking on his place in Tigers history.Roll those dice, Kenny. But don’t be surprised if your chance of returning to Detroit comes up snake eyes.

The Monday Report

My son woke me up at 5:45 this morning so I had some time to catchup on my reading and thinking…

  • Call me naive, but I thought the Kenny Rogers thing would be a slam dunk, even with The Scott Boras Factor. Now that Rogers, who turned 43 on Saturday, is testing the market — the market for a mid-40s pitcher coming off a season virtually lost to serious injury that is — one has to wonder if the Tigers have used up the patience they reserve for dealing with Boras. From everything I’ve read, most still expect a deal to get hammered out. And I tend to think so too if only because Dave Dombrowski doesn’t seem to be a cut-off-the-nose-to-spite-the-face kind of guy.Speaking of Rogers, I thought I’d stumbled upon major news over at Yahoo! Sports when I read in this Tigers rumor:

    According to the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Tigers and free agent lefty Kenny Rogers have parted ways.  

    If you read to the story referenced in the piece you’ll see that nowhere does it say Rogers isn’t coming back. Perhaps a little fact checking would help.I’m intrigued by the Dontrelle Willis thing but can’t fathom what it would take to acquire him (for starters, Brandon Inge, perhaps?). Sure seems like a drastic change of course going from re-signing Rogers to dealing for Willis.Ah, but you gotta love the smell of hickory on the Hot Stove.

  • Our man Ian Casselberry notified me of the Omar Infante-for-Jacque Jones trade this afternoon. I think it’s safe to say Ian and I were both underwhelmed by the move. As Jon Paul Morosi suggests, this is likely a stop-gap solution until Cameron Maybin is ready for prime time, all the time. If that’s the case, I supposed I can live with it.

Still, you have to believe that somewhere in the Dominican Republic, Timo Perez is wondering what he has to do to become more than a September call up.But probably not in those words.

  • If you missed it, Joel Zumaya turned 23 on Friday. Here’s hoping his birthday wish was for health and wellness. And, while the Lions were stinking up University of Phoenix Stadium yesterday, Jason Grilli and Chuck Hernandez were celebrating birthdays. A belated #31 to Grilli and #47 to Hernandez. To help you plan your card and gift shopping, here are the upcoming Tigers birthdays of note: Nov. 18 – Gary Sheffield (39); Nov. 19 – Preston Larrison (27); Nov. 29 – Tony Giarratano (25); Nov. 30 – Ivan Rodriguez (36). 
  • Mr. Casselberry and I also wondered aloud who the Tigers backup catcher would be on Opening Day. Vance Wilson should be ready to come back and reclaim his job, but Mike Rabelo certainly made a case for himself in 2007. Too bad one of them can’t play another position — or that Ryan Raburn can’t catch. Ian thinks Rabelo comes North. I’m undecided but tend to think Wilson will rejoin the team if he has anything that resembles a decent spring.