Today’s Tiger: Chris Brown

Chris Brown

  • Born: Aug. 15, 1961 in Jackson, Miss.
  • Died: Dec. 26, 2006 in Houston
  • Acquired: Traded by the Padres with Keith Moreland to the Tigers for Walt Terrell on Oct. 28, 1988.
  • Seasons in Detroit: 1 (1989)
  • Bats: Right Throws: Right
  • Height: 6′ Weight: 185 lb.
  • Uniform Number: 35
  • Stats: .193 avg., 0 HR, 4 RBI, .449 OPS

Perhaps no other word best describes third baseman Chris Brown like enigmatic.

After a promising start to his career with the Giants in 1985, his .271 average and 16 homers earned him a fourth-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year Award, and an All-Star Game appearance in ’86, Brown began frustrating his managers and his teammates with a string of questionable and bizarre injuries. In fact, he never appeared in more games than he did that rookie season (131).Chris Brown 1989 Tigers 3

By the middle of the 1987 season Brown was shipped to the Padres with Keith Comstock, Mark Davis and Mark Grant for Dave Dravecky, Craig Lefferts and Kevin Mitchell.

He didn’t fare well in San Diego either, hitting .232 in 44 games. In 1988 he hit just .235 in 80 games.The Tigers were in complete freefall when they traded Walt Terrell to the Padres for Brown and Keith Moreland, whose best years were behind him.

Why Detroit thought Brown and his “Tin Man” reputation would be transformed under Sparky Anderson is mystifying. His reputation for injuries — real or imagined — ranged from shoulder tenderness, a bad tooth and a sore eyelid. At least those are the more legendary ones and who knows if any were true.

In Detroit, the Chris Brown Experiment — such as it was — got off to a poor start when he arrived to spring training overweight. It ended after just 17 games, 11 hits and a .193 average. Worse yet, if possible, was a .909 fielding percentage in that time. On May 19, he was released.

A few weeks later he was signed by the Pirates but never appeared in a big-league game for them.

Brown died in a mysterious Houston house fire on Dec. 26, 2006, at the age of 45. According to this MLB.com story:

Brown was employed by Halliburton Co. in Iraq, driving and repairing 18-wheel fuel trucks, and in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press, he said, “It’s a place I would’ve never thought 20 years ago that I’d be.”

His final career line: .269 average, 38 home runs, 184 RBI and a .725 OPS.

Tuesday Tananas: Tiger Stadium’s Finale, Fister’s Dominance, and Meat Loaf’s Birthday

Things keep looking up for the Tigers. The ALDS is fast approaching, Wilson Betemit is playing tonight and Ozzie Guillen is leaving the American League. Good times.

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The Tigers are in first place, 13 games ahead of the Indians.

Today’s Game: Tigers vs. Indians – Max Scherzer (14-9, 4.37 ERA) vs. RHP Jeanmar Gomez (5-2, 3.52 ERA) | 7:05 p.m. – FSD/1270 AM and 97.1 FM

This season against the Indians, Scherzer is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA. Lifetime he’s 3-3, 4.79 ERA.

Did you know that Scherzer has never thrown a complete game or a shutout in his major-league career?

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Leading Off: The Tigers crushed the Indians and Ubaldo Jimenez Monday night 14-0. Doug Fister was his usual phenomenal self: eight innings, three hits, no walks, nine strikouts. And, 74 percent of his 109 pitches were strikes.

ALDS Start Time (Maybe): Matt Dery (@deryNBA) posted this on Twitter: “According to reports, Tigers would either host Bos or TB at 5 pm Friday for Game 1 or play at NYY at 8:30 fri night.” If it’s a 5 o’clock game, looks like I’m leaving work early.

The Tigers enter tonight’s game versus Cleveland having won 28 of their last 37 games dating back to Aug. 19, a .757 winning percentage — tops in the majors.

On this date in 1999, the Tigers played their final game at Tiger Stadium — an 8-2 win over the Royals. Homers by Karim Garcia, Luis Polonia and Robert Fick power the Tigers behind Brian Moehler.

We knew Doug Fister was good, but this is ridculous. From Elias Sports Bureau:

Remember at the trading deadline when the biggest-name pitcher moved was Ubaldo Jimenez? On Monday he was outpitched by a player whose trade received considerably less attention, Doug Fister. Fister improved to 8-1 since joining Detroit, making him only the fourth pitcher in the post-WWII Era to have at least eight wins with no more than one loss for a team after pitching for another major-league team earlier that season. The three others: Randy Johnson (10-1 for the 1998 Astros, after starting with the Mariners); Doyle Alexander (9-0 for the 1987 Tigers after starting with the Braves); and Rick Sutcliffe (16-1 for the 1984 Cubs after starting with the Indians.) Fister will end the season with a seven-game winning streak and Justin Verlander has won his last 12 decisions. They’re the first teammates to end a season with each on a winning streak of seven or more games, mainly or exclusively as a starting pitcher, since 1993, when Jason Bere and Wilson Alvarez of the White Sox each won their final seven decisions. The pair preceding Bere and Alvarez was Doyle Alexander (9) and Walt Terrell (8) for the 1987 Tigers.

I was talking to a friend of mine today about possible successors to Ozzie Guillen and we did a quick review of higher-profile bench coaches around the majors. One name he brought up was Kirk Gibson’s bench coach, Alan Trammell. While I fully support Tram getting another shot at managing, I can’t abide by him taking over the White Sox. Oh, and did you see where former Tigers manager Buddy Bell is in the mix for the Sox’ gig? Oy vey.

Happy 67th Birthday to Gary Sutherland. He hit .251 with a .295 on-base percentage with the Tigers from 1974-76 and played primarily at second base.

Checking in on trade pieces: In 31 games with the Mariners since the July 29 trade, Casper Wells is hitting .216 with seven home runs, 15 RBI and a .742 OPS. Meanwhile Charlie Furbush is 3-7 with a 6.62 ERA in 10 starts, and Chance Ruffin is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 appearances.

Why should you keep watching baseball this week?, asks Rob Neyer. One reason he offers is to see if Jose Valverde can keep up his perfect-save routine:

Valverde’s been phenomenal this season, and is only seven saves from tying Tom Gordon’s American League for consecutive saves (over different seasons). And the best part is that Valverde’s doing all this with lower strikeout and higher walk rates than his career norms.

Wanna bet he blows one in October? I don’t know. I predicted Lidge would blow a postseason save after his perfect 2008, but he didn’t and the Phillies won the World Series.

On this date in 1986, Jack Morris shut out the Yankees 1-0 in 10 innings, raising his record to 20-8 and snapped Don Mattingly’s hitting streak at 24 consecutive games.

I’ve had seller’s remorse on Omar Infante for a couple of years now — and especially since Placido Polanco was set free after the ’09 season. Infante just signed a two-year, $8 million extension with the Marlins. He enters tonight’s game batting .279 with seven home runs, 49 RBIs and only eight errors in 146 games. He’d look pretty good playing second for the Tigers these days, no?

Finally, Happy 64th Birthday to Meat Loaf.

Today’s Tiger: Chris Brown

Chris Brown

  • Born: Aug. 15, 1961 in Jackson, Miss.
  • Died: Dec. 26, 2006 in Houston
  • Acquired: Traded by the Padres with Keith Moreland to the Tigers for Walt Terrell on Oct. 28, 1988.
  • Seasons in Detroit: 1 (1989)
  • Bats: Right Throws: Right
  • Height: 6′ Weight: 185 lb.
  • Uniform Number: 35
  • Stats: .193 avg., 0 HR, 4 RBI, .449 OPS

Perhaps no other word best describes third baseman Chris Brown like enigmatic.

After a promising start to his career with the Giants in 1985, his .271 average and 16 homers earned him a fourth-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year Award, and an All-Star Game appearance in ’86, Brown began frustrating his managers and his teammates with a string of questionable and bizarre injuries. In fact, he never appeared in more games than he did that rookie season (131).

Brownchris.jpgBy the middle of the 1987 season Brown was shipped to the Padres with Keith Comstock, Mark Davis and Mark Grant for Dave Dravecky, Craig Lefferts and Kevin Mitchell. He didn’t fare well in San Diego either, hitting .232 in 44 games. In 1988 he hit just .235 in 80 games.

The Tigers were in complete freefall when they traded Walt Terrell to the Padres for Brown and Keith Moreland, whose best years were behind him. Why Detroit thought Brown and his “Tin Man” reputation would be transformed under Sparky Anderson is mystifying. His reputation for injuries — real or imagined — ranged from shoulder tenderness, a bad tooth and a sore eyelid. At least those are the more legendary ones — who knows if they were true.

In Detroit, the Chris Brown Experiment — such as it was — got off to a poor start when he arrived to spring training overweight. It ended after just 17 games, 11 hits and a .193 average. Worse yet, if possible, was a .909 fielding percentage in that time. On May 19, he was released. A few weeks later he was signed by the Pirates but never appeared in a big-league game for them.

He died in a mysterious Houston house fire on Dec. 26, 2006, at the age of 45. According to this MLB.com story:

Brown was employed by Halliburton Co. in Iraq, driving and repairing 18-wheel fuel trucks, and in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press, he said, “It’s a place I would’ve never thought 20 years ago that I’d be.”

His final career line: .269 average, 38 home runs, 184 RBI and a .725 OPS.

Tigers Today: July 21, 2010

BallTherapy.jpgTigers’ Record:

48-44, 2nd place; 3.5 GB Chicago

Today’s Game

Tigers vs. Rangers | 7:05 p.m. ET – Comerica Park | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Max Scherzer (6-7, 4.74 ERA) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (9-5, 3.42 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

Rangers 8 – Tigers 0

Continue reading Tigers Today: July 21, 2010

Tigers Today: July 14, 2010

BallGrassXSmall.jpgTigers’ Record:

48-38, 2nd place; 1/2-game behind White Sox

Today’s Game

All-Star Break

Yesterday’s Results

National League 3 – American League 1

Continue reading Tigers Today: July 14, 2010

October Surprise Part 4: Bullpen Collapses in Game 3

As the Tigers and Twins square off for the biggest series of the year with the division title hanging in the balance, we continue our look back on the last great race in Tigers history: 1987 and the seven games against the Toronto Blue Jays in the season’s final 10 days. Today: Game 3.


American League East Standings: September 26, 1987

Team Record Pct. GB
Toronto 95-59 .617 –
Detroit 92-61 .601 2.5

BallTherapy.jpgIf the Tigers suffered any ill effects from the previous two games, they certainly didn’t show it in the third game of the series.

Detroit pummeled Toronto’s ace Dave Steib, tagging the right-hander for six runs on four hits in just 2.1 innings. Matt Nokes drove in six runs in his first two at bats: a first-inning two-run homer and a grand slam in the third.

The Blue Jays were having nearly as much fun with Detroit starter Walt Terrell. In his 2.1 innings, the Blue Jays came up with four runs on seven hits. The Tigers attacked five additional Toronto hurlers for a 9-4 lead in the fifth inning. Toronto wouldn’t go away quietly, tacking on three more runs. Heading into the bottom half of the ninth Detroit clung to a 9-7 lead.

Continue reading October Surprise Part 4: Bullpen Collapses in Game 3

October Surprise: Tigers and Jays Battle for ’87 Division Title

ViewFromOutfieldXSmall.jpgOver the next week, we’ll watch the Tigers and Twins play head-to-head to decide the American League Central.

While this plays out, let’s look back at the final two weekends of the 1987 season when the Tigers and Blue Jays squared off for seven heart-pounding, one-run games that would ultimately decide the American League East title.

Today, Part 1.


“I’m telling you, everything is going to come down to our seven games with Toronto.” — Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson, Sept. 21, 1987

Entering the 1987 season, little was expected of the Detroit Tigers. Just three seasons removed from a wire-to-wire championship season, the Tigers were considered mere also-rans in a division filled with potent lineups, solid pitching and the defending League Champions, the Red Sox.

Adding to an already challenging divisional landscape, the Tigers faced life without their All Star catcher and cleanup hitter, Lance Parrish. The Big Wheel rejected the Tigers’ two-year, $2.4 million contract offer and instead signed a one-year $800,000 deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

That’s why in the first weeks of the 1987 season the story in baseball was not the Detroit Tigers. Hardly. The Milwaukee Brewers’ 13-0 start captivated the baseball world. After 13 games the Tigers had a less-imposing 6-7 record. Twenty games into the season Milwaukee had stormed to 18-2, four games ahead of New York, followed by Toronto (12-8), Baltimore (9-11), Detroit (8-12) and Cleveland (6-14).

Continue reading October Surprise: Tigers and Jays Battle for ’87 Division Title

A Tigers Birthday Roundup

It’s been quite a week for birthdays in the Tigers’ galaxy, starting with May 2. Let us review.

Remember these guys?

  • Jim Walewander, 46 — A fan favorite in 1987 and ’88, Walewander captivated the media with tales of his aluminum-foil window treatments and affinity for the Dead Milkmen, described in Wikipedia as a “satirical punk band.” The prototypical good-glove-no-stick guy, Walewander played exactly 162 games in his career — 141 with the Tigers, nine with the Yankees in ’90 and 12 with the Angels in ’93 — with a .215 average, one homer and 14 RBI. He actually had one more steal than RBI. He wore number 32 with Detroit.

    Gater.jpg

  • Keith Moreland, 54 — This short-timer had a brief Tigers career (90 games, wearing number 30) in the awful 1989 season. The Tigers traded Walt Terrell to the Padres for Moreland and Chris Brown. He was traded to the Orioles near the trade deadline for Brian Dubois.
  • Steve Grilli, 59 — Jason‘s dad pitched in 69 games for the Tigers (wearing the same number 49 that Jason would wear 30 years later) over the 1975-77 seasons with a 4-3 record, 4.51 ERA. He also pitched in one game for the Blue Jays in 1979.

  • Gates Brown, 69 — Who doesn’t love the Gator? Left-handed hitting, number-26-wearing William James Brown played 13 seasons with the Tigers as a pinch-hitter extraordinaire. His two best seasons were 1968 (.370) and ’71 (.338). For his career (1963-75) he finished with a .257 average, 84 homers and 322 RBI. He later served as hitting coach, leaving after the 1984 season because the Tigers wouldn’t give him a raise into the obscene $70,000 range. I may be off on the dollar amount. If I am, my brother will remember it precisely.

And some others…
RickLeach.jpg

May 4

  • Brian Maxcy, 37
  • Rick Leach, 51

May 5

May 6

  • Phil Clark, 40
  • Tom Bolton, 46

May 9

  • Ron “Action” Jackson, 55

The 20-year career: it's the new 10!

You want some spirited debate (of the non-Iowa Caucus variety, that is)? Try the Internet. More specifically, browse the comments of any Rob Neyer piece on ESPN.com — especially when he’s writing about the Hall of Fame.

Today Rob raised a terrific Tigers-related question in his column titled: Trammell being unfairly judged? (Insider only).

Actually, he first points to an article on BaseballProspectus.com in which Joe Sheehan shares his mock ballot. Guess who ain’t on it? Tram.

Once again, Trammell’s candidacy is the most difficult one to evaluate. He was one of the best players in baseball at his peak, and was part of the bridge from shortstops as singles hitters to the better players we see out there today. On the other hand, he had a fairly short peak and a short career. I’m wary of the defensive numbers on him, as his home park was notorious for its high infield grass. With so much of Trammell’s statistical case built on very good defensive stats at his peak, the twinge of doubt I feel about their validity makes me nervous. My bigger objection, though, is to the way his career ended. Trammell was done as a full-time player at 32, which is awfully early for a 20th-century position player being pushed for Cooperstown. Like Rice, Trammell would have been a Hall of Famer with a more typical decline phase. Instead, he had 10.2 WARP, total, after 32. I’m leaving him off, again.

Whoa. The grass at Tiger Stadium is being held against Trammell? Who the —? What the —?

It appears Mr. Neyer isn’t sure what to make of it either.

[W]hile it’s true that a typical decline phase would make Trammell’s career stats look a lot better, I don’t think Trammell’s (apparently) atypical decline is a reason to leave him out of the Hall of Fame

(snip)

I am not saying that Trammell’s 2,365 career hits constitute, by themselves, a great case for the Hall of Fame. I’m saying we shouldn’t hold Trammell’s decline phase against him, because his career accomplishments are right in line with plenty of Hall of Fame shortstops.

Two, while I’m intrigued by the notion that Trammell’s solid defensive credentials — he won four Gold Gloves, and Bill James has him as a Grade B-minus shortstop over his entire career — are partly the result of the high grass in the Tiger Stadium infield, I’d sure like to see somebody do some actual work on this one. Yes, sinkerballer Walt Terrell’s home/road splits were massive when he pitched for the Tigers, particularly from 1985 through ’87.

Ah, Walt Terrell. Oh, and Sheehan isn’t voting for Jack Morris either.

As I said at the outset. If you’re an ESPN Insider, check out the comments on Rob’s post. Some people need to lighten up.

P.S. Happy 59th Birthday to short-time Tiger pitcher Ike Brookens, cousin of long-timer Tom.