We’re now so far into the Post-Jhonny Peralta Era that we’re starting to talk about his possible, potential and highly unlikely and not improbable return to the Tigers for the last weekend of the season – and presumably the postseason. This whole saga calls to mind a couple of things. First, it’s how fleeting these controversies can be. In the course of five days, the Tigers trade for José Iglesias, keep him warm at third base for a couple of games, watch Peralta get suspended and then … crickets. Or what seemed like crickets.
I’ll admit there have been several game situations in which I wished Peralta was in the lineup, but for the most part it’s bygones. What about you?
The second thing is that when you think about all the things we Detroit fans have endured over the years, we haven’t witnessed a key player at the center of huge MLB-wide story. Think about the occasions when the national spotlight shone on a Tigers player it was,by and large, for positive reasons. Here are the stories that come to mind:
Am I missing anything? I don’t think so.
The last baseball scandal I can remember which remotely approaches Biogenesis is the mid-’80s Pittsburgh cocaine trials, but no Tigers were implicated in that one. But this time, man, the Tigers were in the thick of it. (Unlike when fringy player Exavier Prente “Nook” Logan was named in The Mitchell Report back in 2007, but he was hardly a household name or an essential part of the Tigers future – or present for that matter.)
Even though he’s working out with the Tigers now, I still can’t imagine we’ll see Peralta again in a Tigers uniform. Stranger things have happened, I suppose, but I can’t see the Dombrowski/Leyland Administration brining that level of distraction to the club during a playoff run.
Apropos of nothing:
- Now, can we talk about Rick Porcello? Actually, I’d rather not; it’s too frustrating. Some other time.
- I can’t believe I’m writing these words: I wish the Mets were better than they are. This is quite a statement given my deep-seated hatred of those mid-‘80s teams led by Davey Johnson. The only redeeming quality from those clubs was my favorite undervalued Tigers player: Howard Johnson. I always felt like he was the solution to Sparky’s third-base problem but instead, the skipper saw the future at third with Tom Brookens, Chris Pittaro, Darnell Coles, Jim Morrison and whomever else they could plug into that spot. And more often than not, it was Brookens. Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah, the Mets. Never mind.
- If the Tigers’ current situation leaves you unsettled, contrast it with last year’s Sept. 10 dilemma: they were three games back of the White Sox. A 5.5-game lead over a flawed Indians club works better for me.
- I was glad to see Tony Paul’s article last week on how this team is not the 2009 Tigers – and it’s not simply because there’s no Dane Sardinha, no Zach Miner, no Fu-Te Ni. This team just doesn’t have the feel of a club that will cool along with the September temperatures. Am I wrong? (Just for fun, look back on some of the names on that ’09 roster. Oy.)
- Don’t look now but thanks to his four-hit night on Tuesday Alex Avila is hitting .221.
Finally, speaking of Pittsburgh: congratulations to the Pirates and their fans on a long-deserved winning season. Pittsburgh officially might have suffered more years of losing baseball than Detroit fans, but we’ll always have this on them and any other awful team: 2003.
The holidays put a serious cramp in my news-following style. Not sure how too much time results in not enough time, but that’s what happened over the past two weeks.
- I was bummed out by the passing of Bill Lajoie and began writing a little something … and then realized I’d already written it back in November.
- Peter Gammons put together a roundup of 10 “overlooked baseball success stories” from the past year and placed at number-three Miguel Cabrera:
Cabrera is on the outskirts of history. Whatever mistake he made in September 2009, he addressed, and he has now placed in the top five in the MVP race four of the past six seasons. In his eight seasons playing for the Marlins and Tigers, in ballparks that were not exactly built for hitters, he has averaged just under 31 homers and 110 RBIs. His .388 on-base percentage speaks volumes about his growth, and his OPS+ through age 27 is 145. Pujols’ was 167 at that age, Henry Aaron’s 153, Ken Griffey’s 150, Frank Robinson’s 148. That is the air Miguel Cabrera breathes. In his seven full seasons in the Majors, he’s averaged more than 157 games played. He turns 28 on April 18. The next day, Joe Mauer turns 28.
- So Zach Miner signs with the Royals.
“There were a few teams that checked in, and the Tigers and the Royals were the most aggressive,” Miner wrote in an e-mail to MLB.com. “But in the end, we just felt like K.C. was going to be a very good opportunity going forward, not only for this year, but for a few years down the road.”
I can understand the guy wanting a fresh start if he’d had a bad experience in another city, but if the choices are Detroit or Kansas City, how do you choose the latter? I suppose you choose it based on your chances of seeing more action, though I thought Miner had a decent shot at supplanting Armando Galarraga at the backend of the Tigers’ rotation. Maybe not. I thought this quote in Jason Beck‘s story was interesting: “I … loved playing for Jim Leyland.”
He did? Whenever Leyland came out to the mound when Miner was pitching, it seemed as if Miner wanted to run and hide.
- Mark Simon at ESPN’s Stats and Info Blog has written a couple of interesting posts on the Tigers’ offseason moves — one here on Joaquin Benoit, another here on Victor Martinez. If you listen to ESPN’s Baseball Today podcast, you’ve no doubt heard Simon from time to time. I enjoy his stuff and, if you haven’t already, recommend you add him to your daily rotation.
It’s almost kickoff time for Michigan State and Michigan. Enjoy the bowl games and have a Happy New Year.
Here are some Tigers thoughts for you to chew on while I ponder how Zach Miner can still be on the 15-day disabled list.
- MLB announced the rosters for the Futures Game held prior to the All-Star Game in Anaheim and the Tigers will have two representatives: Double A Erie — and soon-to-be-big-league — lefthanded pitcher Andy Oliver and Triple A Toledo outfielder Wilkin Ramirez. Oliver was named to the U.S. Team, while Ramirez was selected to the World Team. Ramirez saw action in the Futures Game at Yankee Stadium in 2008.
- I was asked to give readers of MetsToday.com some insight into the 2010 Tigers. You can see how I did here.
- According to the Tigers press notes, the club enters tonight’s game hitting .285 with 69 runs scored, 27 doubles, a triple and 14 home runs in 14 games during interleague play in 2010. Detroit is fifth among all major league clubs with a .285 batting average during interleague action this season. Wow. It certainly doesn’t feel that way, does it?
Finally, Happy 91st Birthday to Al Molinaro, who played Al, the owner of Arnold’s, in “Happy Days.”
In the back of our minds we expected, then we hoped, to see Zach Miner pitch for the Tigers in April, then May, then…
Well, we’re not going to see Miner at all this season, and who knows if we’ll see him again in Tigers uniform. The club announced today that the right hander will have season-ending — wait for it — ligament reconstruction surgery — a.k.a. Tommy John surgery — on Friday in Los Angeles.
Miner, a valuable if not altogether aggressive part of the Tigers bullpen the past few seasons, is not signed after this year and may not return. As Lynn Henning notes:
[A]lthough he will remain Tigers property until he comes off the disabled list, at which point his roster situation will be determined.
With Miner lost, it looks like Brad Thomas can breathe a tad easier — again. Now if word comes that Bobby Seay (left shoulder strain) is officially through for the year, Thomas can stop going month-to-month on that condo lease.
For several reasons, I had an uneasy feeling during last night’s win over the Yankees, not the least of which was Brad Thomas getting the emergency start.
But the more I watched and considered the situation, the better I felt. After all, the Tigers only needed three to four innings out of Thomas and they could hand it over to Eddie Bonine, then the back end of the ‘pen.
Both guys were solid and showed a national TV audience why the Tigers are hanging around the upper floors of the A.L. Central: the relief corps, of course. This is a much more preferable scenario than the tension that normally accompanies a Dontrelle Willis start.
Other thoughts rattling around my brain:
That’s all I got.
Fenway Park is inching its way toward Metrodome and U.S. Cellular Field status in the heart of this Tigers fan. Anyway…
- I’ve long been a fan of the Oakland A’s. Admittedly, it was because I loved their gold, green and white ensemble they wore in the 1970s, but also because of Billy Martin‘s Oakland clubs in the early ’80s. The other day I picked up “Champions: The Story of the First Two Oakland A’s Dynasties and the Building of the Third” by Glenn Dickey, at the library.
The first chapter, fittingly, is about long-time A’s owner Charlie Finley. Dickey shares this nugget: Before Finley bought the Kansas City A’s, one of his many failed attempts to buy a club included the Tigers. Can you imagine? Denny McLain and Charlie Finley? And we thought Jim Campbell was cheap…
- I can’t abide by Batting Stance Guy.
- If you’re an autograph hound, and I mean that lovingly, you can score a Zach Miner and Clete Thomas autograph on Saturday. Just donate new or gently used baseball equipment, or who provide a cash-money donation, at ABC Warehouse at 30280 Plymouth Road in Livonia from 12:30-1:30 p.m.
The donations benefit Gloves For Kids, a program designed to provide Detroitâ€™s youth the proper sporting equipment to participate in organized baseball and softball. Tell them The Fungo sent you…and be prepared for a blank stare.
Wanted to mention a couple of housekeeping items. Over the years I’ve grappled with the notion of advertising on The Fungo; I don’t want to clutter up the site with stuff that you have no interest in. You might have noticed that I added an Amazon block ad to the sidebar and Google Ads w-a-a-a-y down the page. A couple of things to point out. I control the Amazon ad and I’ve customized it so it shows only Tigers-related books. So, if you click on the ad and end up buying a copy, I get a morsel of revenue. And I mean morsel.
The Google Ads are there more as an experiment than anything else. I’ve had an Adsense account for about five years and in that time I’ve accrued a whopping $50 in revenue. (Google only cuts checks for $100 or more, so at my current pace I’ve got another five years before I get paid.) Of course, if you feel moved to click an ad, by all means do so.
Bottom line: I’m not going to get rich on these but every little bit helps.
Some Monday morning fungoes, adapted from today’s Game Notes:
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Tigers’ six runs in the eighth inning to overcome a 4-0 deficit yesterday afternoon against the Rangers marked the first time the Tigers have won a game after trailing at least 4-0 in the eighth inning or later since July 2, 1993. The frustrated club that day was also the Rangers, also 6-4 and also in Detroit.
- Miguel Cabrera is among the major league leaders in numerous offensive categories during the month of April since the start of the 2004 season. Cabrera is tied for second among active players with 100 RBI during that stretch, while he is fourth with a .600 slugging percentage, tied for fourth with 88 runs scored, fifth with 31 home runs and seventh with a .328 batting average.
- Yesterdayâ€™s victory capped a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers, marking the Tigers first sweep of a season-opening series at home since winning both games of a two-game set against the Oakland Athletics April 13-15, 1993. The three-game winning streak to start the home schedule is the longest by a Tigers team since winning the first five games at home April 13-18, 1993.
- Still worried about the bullpen? Yes, it’s early, but hey, Tigers relievers have now retired 24 consecutive batters dating back to the ninth inning of Fridayâ€™s game against the Rangers. After allowing seven runs — five of them earned — in the first two games of the season, the bullpen has posted a 2-0 record and 1.76 ERA (15.1 IP/3 ER) over the last five games. Opponents have batted .098 (5 for 51) against Tigers relievers during that stretch.
Finally, a word about today’s starter, Zach Miner. Since the start of the 2007 season, Miner has posted a 2-3 record and 3.16 ERA in 11 appearances (two starts) against the Chicago White Sox. Miner has recorded the win in each of his last two starts against the White Sox, posting a 2.25 ERA.
- 4-3, 1st Place in A.L. Central, .5 games ahead of Chicago
- Streak: W3
- Home Record: 3-0 / Road Record: 1-3
- Miguel Cabrera: .520 avg., .586 OBP, .960 SLG, 3 HR, 10 RBI
- Placido Polanco: .346, .393 OBP, .462 SLG
- Gerald Laird: .318, .400 OBP, .455 SLG
- Brandon Inge: .304, .448 OBP, .870 SLG, 4 HR, 7 RBI
- Carlos Guillen:.182, .345 OBP, .273 SLG
- Adam Everett: .238*, .333 OBP, .286 SLG
- Curtis Granderson: .241, .281 OBP, .483 SLG
*Though, wouldn’t we all be happy with .238 for the season from Everett?
Up Next: White Sox
- Today: Zach Miner vs. Gavin Floyd
- Tomorrow: Rick Porcello (0-1, 7.20) vs. John Danks (0-0, 0.00)
- Wednesday: Armando Galarraga (1-0, 1.29) vs. Jose Contreras (0-1, 7.20)
Tigers vs. White Sox
- All-Time Record: 990-979-15
- All-Time at Home: 523-458-5
- All-Time at Comerica Park: 32-49
- All-Time at Chicago: 467-521-10
The results of our most recent poll indicate that loyal Daily Fungo readers would prefer Dontrelle Willis (43%), Zach Miner (38%) or perhaps even Felipe Lira as the Tigers’ fifth starter over Nate Robertson (19%).
Nevertheless, we want to continue our series of player profiles today with The Nater for two reasons — actually three, I just thought of a third: First, he made more starts last season than either Miner or Willis. Second, I already had the profile written. Last, we’ll do our friend and avowed Nater Hater, Ian Casselberry, a favor and get it out of the way.
Nate Robertson #29
- Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 225
- 2008 Stats: 7-11, 6.35 ERA
The Tigers had no shortage of pitching frustrations in 2008 and one could argue that the most perplexing of all was Robertson. Once considered a core member of the rotation, the lefthanderâ€™s performance in â€™08 raised questions about whether he could physically and mentally take his game to a higher level. In fact, Robertsonâ€™s season was so off-kilter that he found himself in the bullpen after a 5-8, 5.26 ERA first half.
Things improved little after the All Star Break and the 31-year-old enters 2009 as a major question mark. However, if any Tigers pitcher is likely to adopt the mantra of new pitching coach Rick Knapp â€“ throw first-pitch strikes â€“ itâ€™s Robertson, who had above-league-average success in this area in â€™08. (Nearly 60 percent of his initial offerings were strikes.)
A reversal of fortune for the Tigers in 2009 will be tied closely to Robertsonâ€™s ability to rediscover his command â€“ especially his slider â€“ and log quality starts. The club hopes an off-season exercise regimen designed to improve his flexibility will help him in the short and long term. Barring a Spring Training meltdown, expect him to return to the rotation in 2009 and to stay out of the bullpen.
Tigers fans have spent much of this dreadful season watching games with one eye — and often two — covered, so watching tonight’s game, featuring Dontrelle Willis‘s low-key return, through your hands should seem routine. (By the way, Rob Neyer, for one, isn’t expecting much out of the D-Train tonight.)
What are we to make of the pitching lineup this week in Arlington?
Two-thirds of it looks like a game out of 2003.
I don’t want to be a defeatist here, but let’s face it. Unless something magically unforeseen happens, the Tigers could depart Texas with the back end of a .500 season intact — i.e., 81 losses. Which means they’d have to run the table and have the Twins and White Sox tied on Sept. 28 — requiring game 162 be played in Chicago — and win that game to finish 81-81.
Doesn’t look promising, does it? Take heart. Word out of Detroit is that Milt Wilcox is starting game one in Cleveland Friday night.