Entries Tagged as 'tigers'

RIP Sparky Anderson

As most of you know, Sparky Anderson died last week at the age of 76.  No doubt, he was one of one of best managers of the 70s and 80s.  As a Cub fan, I didn’t relish the days they had to play the Big Red Machine.  The amazing part was when he left the Reds, he wasn’t done.  He guided the Tigers to two first place finishes and a World Championship.

Tiger Tales has a good collection of links to articles about Anderson.  And Sports Illustrated has a real nice photo gallery (via StumbleUpon) that spans the life of Sparky including a photo of him in a Phillie uniform back in 1959. 

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Gerald Laird: Did the Suns play that bad?

An odd story coming out of Phoenix… mlb.com reports that Detroit catcher Gerald Laird was arrested along with his brother Brandon who is a minor leaguer for the Yankees.  The pending charge for Gerald is assault after trying to interfere with another arrest after a Suns-Celtics game. 

"While [security guards] were trying to arrest the suspect for disorderly conduct, the [Laird brothers] interfered and assaulted the security guards," Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill told the AP.

One, I’d like to hear Laird’s side of the story and two, why couldn’t he hit like this during the 2009 season (ok, that was a cheap shot).

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Throw Another Log on that Old Hot Stove

curtis-granderson-stealsSo far, the biggest trade was the three-way deal involving the Yankees, the Diamondbacks, and the Tigers.  New York got All Star centerfielder Curtis Granderson, enough said, they got the best player in the deal.  Arizona got starting pitchers Edwin Jackson & Ian Kennedy.  While Detroit landed centerfield prospect Austin Jackson, starting pitcher Max Scherzer, and a couple of lefties for their bullpen Phil Coke & Daniel Schlereth.

The Texas Rangers traded starter Kevin Millwood to the Orioles in exchange for reliever Chris Ray and Rule V selection Ben Snyder, the move was designed to free up money so Texas could sign free agent starter Rich Harden.  The Rangers had enough money left over to acquire thirdbaseman Mike Lowell for catching prospect Max Ramirez from the Red Sox.  Boston is interested in signing free agent thirdbaseman Adrian Beltre.

Pirates reliever Jesse Chavez has to be wondering whether it’s safe to unpack his bags, as he’s on his third team this offseason.  He was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, who just dealt him to the Atlanta Braves for reliever Rafael Soriano.  The Braves no longer needed Soriano, since bringing in Billy Wagner & Takashi Saito.

The Chicago White Sox brought in former Seattle Mariners closer J.J. Putz to replace Octavio Dotel, whom they chose not to retain.

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2009 MLB Rookies of the Year

roy625nov162009Back in the middle of September I was assigned the task of predicting who would win the rookie of the year awards.  Now two months later the winners were announced, Oakland A’s reliever Andrew Bailey in the American League and Florida Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan.  I had predicted Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler in the NL and Rangers SS Elvis Andrus in the AL.

In 2008 the A’s converted Bailey from a starter to a reliever in AA Ball in 2008.  Andrew immediately experienced success in the bullpen, carrying that success over into the 2008 Arizona Fall League, and on into the 2009 regular big league season.  He finished the season with 26 of 30 saves, a 6-3 record, a 1.84 ERA, with 91 strikeouts & 49 hits allowed in 83′ innings, and was Oakland’s lone All Star representative.

Chris Coghlan also enjoyed a conversion that enabled him to star in the big leagues, the former infielder was moved to leftfield.  He brought his bat out to the outfield with him, batting .321 with a .390 OBP, with 31 doubles, 6 triples, & 9 home runs, as the Marlins leadoff hitter.

Elvis Andrus, my choice for AL Rookie of the Year, the Rangers 21 year old shortstop out of Venezuela, finished 2nd in the balloting behind Bailey.  Elvis batted .267, with 33 stolen bases, 72 runs scored, & 128 base hits, with a very impressive range factor in the field of 4.86.  Right on the heels of Andrus was Detroit’s 20 year old righthanded starting pitcher Rick Porcello (14-9 & 3.96 ERA).  The 6’9″ Tampa Bay’s righthander, Jeff Niemann (13-6 & 3.94) was next, he was 17-0 with a 1.70 ERA as a Junior in 2003 with Rice.  Then came The Sporting News choice for Rookie of the Year, the White Sox very own, thirdbaseman Gordon Beckham (.270, 28 doubles, 14 homers, 63 RBIs).  Rounding out this crop of AL rookies was another pitcher from Oakland, southpaw Brett Anderson (11-11, 4.06 ERA, & 150 strikeouts in 175′ IP).

Closely behind Coghlan, over in the Senior Circuit, was The Sporting News choice for NL Rookie of the Year out of the University of Northwestern in Evanston, IL, Philadelphia’s lefthander J.A. Happ (12-4 & 2.93).  A distant 3rd was Atlanta’s phenom righthanded starting pitcher Tommy Hanson (11-4, 2.89, & 116 K’s in 127″ IP).  The Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen wasn’t far in back of Hanson, batting .286, 26 doubles, 9 triples, 12 homers, 74 runs scored, to go along with 22 steals, while playing a very good centerfield for the Buccos.  Next up the Brewers thirdbaseman Casey McGehee received some love, .301, 20 doubles, 16 homers, & 66 RBIs.  Interestingly six other rookies received very little support in their quest for league’s top rookie honors.  They were Randy Wells of the Cubs (12-10 & 3.05), Pittsburgh slugger Garrett Jones (21 HRs & .293), Padres SS Everth Cabrera (25 SBs & 59 runs), my choice Dexter Fowler Colorado outfielder (73 runs, 27 SBs, 29 2Bs, & 10 3Bs), Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra (.290, 21 2Bs, 8 3Bs, 60 RBIs), and last, but not least, Cardinals centerfielder Colby Rasmus (22 2Bs & 16 HRs).

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Guest Blogger: Hardball Cooperative’s James Bailey looks at the AL hunt

Each day this week, The Baseball Zealot will be featuring special guest bloggers who will be giving their predictions on the 2009 MLB end-of year-awards and postseason matchups.  Today, James Bailey gives us his take on the AL divisions.

james James Bailey is a former editor of Baseball America and is now editor and major contributor to a new baseball blog, Hardball Cooperative.  You can thank Bailey whose idea of more collaborative work between baseball blogs which gave me the idea for this week-long guest blogging project.   When pressed, Bailey says he followed the Seattle Mariners but like a lot of us admits to mostly following his fantasy league players now.  Ah, the times we live in. 
 

Every time it looks like things are about settled in the American League, one of the down-and-outers sneaks back into the picture. A week ago the Tigers were on the brink of backing into the Central Division crown. They woke up Thursday morning with a 4.5 game lead, down from 7 games just 10 days earlier. The Twins, who have won four games in a row, are growing ever closer in Detroit’s rear-view mirror. The teams have seven head-to-head matchups remaining, starting with a three-game set this weekend.

 

The Central may be the tightest race in the AL, but it’s not the only one left to be decided. We technically have open contests in the East and West as well, though the Yankees and Angels hold leads of 6.5 and 6 games, respectively. The gap in the wild-card race is stretching out, though the Rangers, at 6.5 games behind the Red Sox, aren’t giving up hope quite yet. They have two different routes to the postseason. Both are dependent upon them winning at close to a .750 clip and getting help from above. Considering Michael Young and Josh Hamilton are spending more time on the trainer’s table than in the lineup, their odds are staggering. Still, with seven contests remaining against the Angels, they have the opportunity, at least on paper, to make headway.

 

While the Twins and Rangers are still breathing, it’s looking more and more like we’ll see some familiar matchups in October. If the standings hold the way they are now, the Red Sox and Angels will meet for the third consecutive year. Boston won that series both times. The other divisional series would match the Yankees and Tigers.

 

Here’s a breakdown of the races in each division:

AL East

 

The Yankees, who were three games behind Boston at the break, have gone on a tear since then, winning at a .729 clip (43-16). Their+89 run differential is the best in baseball over the second half. They looked to be pulling away from the Red Sox until Boston’s 7-game winning streak pulled them to within a stone’s throw of a miracle. There’s no one else to worry about, however, as the Rays were eliminated from the East race over the weekend.

 

The Yanks lead the majors in runs, and it’s not close. Their 843 runs are 45 more than the Angels, the next closest team. It’s not all a product of Yankee Stadium, either. They have tallied 414 runs on the road and 429 at home. If there’s an area of concern for the AL’s best team, it’s the starting rotation, where only C.C. Sabathia owns a sub 4.00 ERA. Andy Pettitte (13-6, 4.14) will be there when it matters, but the Yanks have to be getting a little nervous about A.J. Burnett, who has gone 1-5 with a 6.14 ERA in his last nine starts. That includes four games in which he’s allowed six or more earned runs. Joba Chamberlain has been even worse since the start of August, going 1-3 in eight starts with a 7.09 ERA in 33 innings. If they have a lead to hand to their bullpen, Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera are likely to hold it for them. But they’ll need more than Sabathia and Pettitte to get them through the playoffs.

 

It’s been pitching that has spurred Boston over the last week. In six of their last nine games they’ve allowed 1 run or less (two shutouts). Even Daisuke Matsuzaka, who missed most of the season due to injury, has contributed, with six scoreless innings on Tuesday. Boston has the best team ERA of any legitimate contender, and they figure to get even stingier when they pare down to their playoff rotation. Their offense has heated up over the second half, scoring 165 runs in August alone.

  

Team W-L Pct. 2nd Half Since 8/1 Since 9/1
New York 94-53 .639 43-16 32-11 11-15
Boston 86-58 .597 32-24 26-16 10-4
 

Key Injuries

New York: None. Pettitte missed his start this week due to shoulder fatigue, but the Yankees are hopeful that won’t linger.

Boston: None. Kevin Youkilis has battled back spasms this week. He expects to be back to full strength soon.

 

Remaining opponents

New York: Seattle (3), Los Angeles (3), Boston (3), Kansas City (3), Tampa Bay (3)

Boston: Los Angeles (1), Baltimore (3), Kansas City (4), New York (3), Toronto (3), Cleveland (4)

 

AL Central

 

It’s Detroit’s to lose, and they just might do that. The Twins are closing the gap, thanks to a four-game winning streak, and the White Sox are lingering because the Tigers refuse to close the door on them.

 

Detroit’s +7 run differential hardly becomes a division leader. Since June 1, the Tigers have actually been outscored 450 to 412. Their pitching, led by Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, has been among the best in the league. The offense is another story. The Tigers rank 10th in the AL in scoring, with just 668 runs. Miguel Cabrera is having a fine season, but he’s the only well-rounded threat in the lineup. Curtis Granderson and Brandon Inge have hit for power, but they’re hitting just .250 and .233, respectively. Magglio Ordonez, who has his average up to .291, has done most of his damage against lefties.

 

Joe Mauer is one of the leading contenders for AL MVP honors, and a dramatic run to the division title would certainly enhance his case. He lost his best protection when Justin Morneau bowed out this week, though he hasn’t stopped hitting. Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer need to get hot and stay hot over the next two weeks if the Twins hope to sustain their charge. A rotation that includes Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing hardly seems up to the task at hand, but stranger things have happened.

 

The White Sox have posted losing records in two of the first five months of the season and were no better than two over .500 in any of the others. Yet they’re mathematically breathing in the Central. Maybe, just maybe, this division doesn’t deserve a representative in the postseason.

 

Team W-L Pct. 2nd Half Since 8/1 Since 9/1
Detroit 78-67 .538 30-28 25-19 9-6
Minnesota 74-72 .507 29-28 22-21 8-7
Chicago 72-74 .493 27-31 19-23 8-6

Key Injuries

Detroit: None. Joel Zumaya is done for the year, but he wasn’t a key player this season for the Tigers.

Minnesota: Morneau was diagnosed this week with a stress fracture in his back and he’s finished. That leaves a huge hole in the lineup, though the Twins are winning without him. Kevin Slowey has missed the second half of the season and won’t pitch again this year.

Chicago: It’s hard to call Jake Peavy a key injury, as he has never thrown a pitch for the Sox, though they must have envisioned him in the rotation when they pulled the trigger at the deadline.

 

Remaining opponents

Detroit: Kansas City (1), Minnesota (7), Cleveland (3), Chicago (6)

Minnesota: Detroit (7), Chicago (3), Kansas City (6)

Chicago: Seattle (1), Kansas City (3), Minnesota (3), Detroit (6), Cleveland (3)

 

AL West

 

The season hardly unfolded the way any Angel fan would have hoped, with the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart and the sluggish start by the team. But in the end they found their way to the top of the division, where everyone expected them to be all along. The West looked to be a division with a front-runner and three favorites for fourth place, but the Rangers stepped up and have given the Angels something of a challenge. They’re too far back now to make a charge with some of their key offensive weapons barely upright.

 

If the Angels can push hard for another week or so, they should clinch early enough to rest their starting pitchers a little going into the first round of the playoffs. It’s their offense, however, that could use some reinvigoration. They’ve scored more than three runs just four times in 15 September games. MVP candidate Kendry Morales has just four RBIs in September after hitting 10 homers and driving in 33 runs in August. Bobby Abreu, who is second on the team with 96 RBIs, has picked up some of that slack, hitting .347 with 10 RBIs this month.

 

It’s been an up-and-down year for the Rangers, but if they finish too far on the down side of that to make the postseason, they won’t have any shortage of reasons. Their collective health will be near the top of the list, but the three losing months on their resume haven’t done them any favors (10-11 in April, 11-15 in June, 14-15 in August). They have looked like one of the best teams in the AL at times, when they’ve had the offense and their young pitching in synch. Scott Feldman (16-5, 3.65) and Tommy Hunter (8-3, 3.23) have exceeded all expectations on the mound. Veteran Kevin Millwood looked rejuvenated early in the year, but over the second half he’s just 2-3 with a 5.32 ERA in nine starts and is averaging only five innings per game. His tank appears to be near E.

 

Team W-L Pct. 2nd Half Since 8/1 Since 9/1
Los Angeles 86-59 .593 37-22 25-19 8-7
Texas 80-65 .552 32-26 22-22 8-7

 

 

Key Injuries

Los Angeles: They’re as healthy as they’ve been all year, though their pitching staff would look deeper with Kelvim Escobar and Scot Shields in the pen.

Texas: Josh Hamilton’s season has been one injury after the next. He’s missed the past two weeks due to back troubles, and now he’s got a tight glute to deal with. It’s possible he’ll play again, but considering how long he’s been out he’s unlikely to contribute much. Michael Young has also missed most of September with a hamstring injury. He’s close to returning, but not to full strength. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is done for the season and faces surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.

 

Remaining opponents

Los Angeles: Boston (1), Texas (7), New York (3), Oakland (6)

Texas: Los Angeles (7), Oakland (4), Tampa Bay (3), Seattle (3)

Thanks, James for the great analysis.  Tomorrow we will have our last installment in our guest blogging series with David Pinto looking at the National League.  Stay tuned for that.  Check out all the great articles from our previous guest bloggers from this week.

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Carl Pavano shuts down Tigers and maybe shuts up critics

I admit I snickered a bit when I read the news release about Minnesota trading for starting pitcher Carl Pavano.  My first reaction was: Is the Twins’ pitching really that bad off? 

Since 2004 when Pavano won 18 games with Florida, there have been continual trips to the DL not to mention countless disappointments for Yankee fans save for those who were smart enough to not to get their hopes up.  Pavano won only nine games between 2005-2008 including missing 2006 altogether.  This year with Cleveland, he has won nine games already despite a 5.37 ERA.  A positive stat for Pavano:  only 23 walks in 125+ innings.

Well, Carl Pavano may have quieted his critics a little after his first start tonight.  Against rival Detroit, he pitched seven scoreless innings in the Twins’ 11-0 victory.  Pavano was efficient, facing only 27 batters and throwing only 90 pitches.  And yeah, his control remained intact, walking none. 

Minnesota is within striking distance of first place in the AL Central.  With today’s win, they are only 4.5 games back behind first place Detroit and 2.5 behind second place Chicago.  The Twins put out the usual line that Carl Pavano is what they need to win down the homestretch.  I wonder if Pavano’s performance tonight helps them convince themselves of their own PR-speak (it shouldn’t surprise them TOO much, Pavano owns the Tigers.  He came into the game with a 3-0 record and a 1.93 for the season against them). 

Carl Pavano won’t come out and pitch shutout ball every start.  But it’s POSSIBLE he could be a productive member of their staff.  But the big issue with Mr Pavano is his health.  Hopefully for the Twins’ sake, history does not repeat itself.

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Leyland shows what he’s got for charity

MLive.com should get an journalistic award or something for managing to use “Jim Leyland” and “Sexy” in the same headline.

The article was in reference to Leyland taking off his shirt to support Tiger OF Curtis Granderson’s charity event called “Passport to the Wines of the World” which supports his Grand Kids Foundation.

Midway through the event was when things got a tad seedy.

(Comedian Jeff) Dye mentioned that Jackson, like Perry, had tattoos. Jackson’s tattoos could only be revealed by removing his shirt, so he asked his manager’s permission.

"You take your shirt off, I’ll take mine off," Leyland yelled from the middle of the room.

Jackson obliged by removing his shirt and showing off his tattooed back and arms. He then demanded his manager keep his word. Leyland came up to the stage and said he would remove his shirt as long as the picture did not end up on TV or in the newspaper.

Thank goodness for that.

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Magglio=Sampson??

Magglio Ordonez is off to a poor start this first half and his July isn’t improving (4 for 20).  With only 14 extra base hits so far this year, rumor has it they are calling him “Singlio”

Now there’s talk of platooning him with callup Clete Thomas.

Maybe he shouldn’t have cut his hair after all.

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Magglio selling his hair for a good cause

magshair

Want Magglio Ordonez’ chopped hair clippings?  Me neither.  But somebody does.  Ordonez cut his hair and it’s being sold on Ebay for a good cause. 

If you are itchin’ (poor choice of words, I know) to run your fingers through Mags’ locks, be prepared to pony up because the current bid is $5100. 

magspost

Magglio post-haircut

The proceeds will go to Imerman Angels which is a foundation which in their words “connects a person fighting cancer today ("cancer fighter") with someone who has beaten the same type of cancer ("cancer survivor"). The relationship provides a fighter the opportunity to ask personal questions and receive encouragement from someone who is uniquely familiar with the situation.”

The auction winner also gets 18 tickets in his skybox for the September 15th game plus an autographed bat.  Act now!  The listing will only be up for 10 days. 

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Old Tiger Stadium ruled to be demolished

tiger-stadium-opening-day

A judge lifted the stay of execution for the old Tiger Stadium and ruled that demolition of the ballpark can continue. 

Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards rejected a request by the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy to issue a preliminary injunction preventing further demolition of the stadium. He also lifted a temporary restraining order issued Friday afternoon that halted work begun just hours earlier.

 

Edwards agreed with attorneys for the city that the nonprofit group likely can’t raise the funds for a proposed $33.4 million redevelopment project, noting there is little financing in hand after years of work.

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