Thursday, April 25, 2019

One Month In...

We are just about one month into the season, so let's see where we are at, shall we?

First, I think that the schedulers can not give any scheduled off days in April and maybe even May, since the weather will give you them anyway. Save those off days for later in the season when we're making up all these rain/snow-outs and need a break. But that's not about the Tigers.

I know, it's still early, but the Tigers are blowing all the expectations away. I don't think anyone was expecting this. Really early on, it was our pitching and defense carrying the team and all our wins came when Shane Greene closed a game. (Seriously, how amazing has he been? Did anyone see that coming?)

The rotation was kind of in flux after losing Michael Fulmer. And don't get me wrong, we still miss him. Just imagine how much better we'd be with him. But Zimmermann looks like he just might be good this year, Moore and Ross were turning out to be surprisingly solid (before we lost Moore), Boyd is just astonishing and is going to be our rock it seems, and Turnbull is performing amazingly well for a guy who has barely started above Double A before joining the rotation. With Moore out, now Norris will finally get a chance to show what he can do when he's healthy. I'm excited for him.

The bullpen hasn't been too shabby! Besides Greene's dominance, we've had surprising contributions from guys like Farmer and Alcantra. VerHagen has been injured for a few weeks, so he is a bit behind the others and our Rule 5 guy, Reed Garrett, is holding his own so far (future blog post on the RUle 5 to come). Jimenez is scuffling right now but he'll figure it out and get back to being our lock-down eighth inning guy.

You look at the Tigers' position players and it's not that impressive. We don't have a lot of big names but these guys come to play and play with grit. Our catchers are throwing out everybody! It's not going to be long before teams just stop running on us. Early on, (and this is actually still the case), it all came down to pitching and defense. If either or both were having an off-day, we probably weren't going to win.

Ahh, the offense. It's an enigma. Once again, the contributions are coming from surprising places. Christin Stewart, before he got hurt, and Niko Goodrum were two of our best bats early on. Pretty much everyone is struggling to get going. Castellanos and Cabrera are still homer-less. It's odd but not worrisome. No one expects this to go on much longer. Harrison getting dropped from the lead-off seems to be helping him and hopefully he can take this back when he gets moved back up.

We've had quite a few injuries already this year, some that have taken out our guy for the season, but we were a cobbled together team to begin with, so more young guys doesn't change much. No one expected much from this Tigers team but they don't care what anyone expects. They come to play and give it their all. So far, it's keeping them relevant and interesting to watch. You have a feeling they can win almost any game. Most of their games have been close and they are doing well in the late innings and extra innings. It's exciting and I think even the most dour critics are having to sit up and take notice.

There is a lot of season left and anything can happen, but so far, this Tigers team is encouraging and fun to watch. They make you believe they just might be a force in the Central. Playoff bound? Probably not. But making other teams sweat and work for their places? Sure thing! 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Welcome to 2019!!!

It's been some time since I've had anything to write about.

The offseason was fairly uneventful for the Tigers. We said goodbye to some players (James McCann 😢) and signed a few guys to small deals. Nothing earth-shattering.

No one expects the Tigers to do well at all this year. I don't imagine us winning anything, but I don't see why we have to have a losing season. Time will tell, but so far, things are very encouraging.

Our pitching is PHENOMENAL!!!!! We don't have Fulmer and Norris isn't in the starting rotation. Two of our starters were guys we were taking a chance on and one is essentially a rookie and MAN! They are just dominating every. single. game. And not just the starters. Our bullpen has been fantastic. The pitchers are keeping us in every game.

Defense has been sparkling. We've made some errors but overall it seems to be going well and there have been some really fantastic plays when it counts (late innings of the last game in Toronto, anyone?). In addition, it sounds like our baserunning is much improved. I'm hearing guys take the extra base, move up on throwing errors, even steal! It's been fun.

Okay, now you'll want to talk about the bats. Guys, the bats are the least of our worries. We are actually starting to hit and now we need to score the guys who get on, but we can't have it all at once, can we? We're probably not going to be bombing the ball, but doubles are just about the best thing ever, plus, we are walking a lot, which is always good.

Here we are, eight games in, and the Tigers are 5-3. We've played scrappy and have had a chance to win almost every game. We are not getting blown away and we have a lot of young guys. It's a long season but it's off to a great start.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Looking Back // 2018 Season Recap

I feel like this season went better and worse than expected. Guys, I'm really frustrated and there were a lot of tears of frustration cried. Some days, I almost wish Jim's "baseball gods" existed, just so there was someone to blame; something that might be causing this, rather than just dumb luck.

The Tigers were not going to be making a playoff run. I didn't expect that. But we were down and then we were kicked lower. Oh, you already have a young team? Well, play most of the year without Miguel Cabrera. Let's injure your rotation a bunch, have your over-paid veteran continue to underperform, and your other two pitchers not be all that great. 

We basically played the entire year with a Triple - A team. 

Super frustrating. 

But we were a much better team than the numbers indicate. Despite not having a good rotation for most of the year, despite having a Triple - A team, despite not having Miguel, we played hard. Here's a number for you: 52.

We played 52 one-run games. Yes, we lost more than we won, but we were in those games until the last out, many times having the tying or winning run on base. Some might say that those facts show how bad we were. I disagree. Our Triple - A Tigers fought hard. 

There were mistakes. Grueling mistakes at terrible times. There was awful luck, when everything was going wrong for us and right for the other teams. Nothing would land for us and every bloop and blimer landed for them. For some reason, that's the way things tend to go. If you're bad, everything possible is going to seem to go wrong. If you're good, it all goes right. (Unless you're the Tigers. Then it doesn't matter. Sorry, still bitter from 2013). 

This was a year of personal development. Castellanos continues to improve and mature. And, I'm sorry, but I just don't understand how he grades out so poorly. He's supposedly one of the worst right fielders in the game. Sometimes I wonder if the numbers accurately represent reality. 

The bullpen, guys! The bullpen was really pretty good. Guys made leaps and bounds out there. Don't worry about Greene. No one is more upset than he is and I have to believe that he'll figure it out this off-season and come back like the 2017 Shane Greene. Jimenez is looking impressive and a bunch of other guys either solidified their standings as solid relievers or really showed up. 

It was a brutal year. But every day it was a new day and I could believe (for the most part) that we could win that day. It's been said that the White Sox are a year ahead of the Tigers in the rebuild process. Well, guess who was ahead of whom at the end of the year? People keep saying it's going to be years until the Tigers are even decent again. After this year, with what I saw and heard, I don't believe it even more than I did at the beginning of the season. 

Look, really look, at how we played. Think about what could happen if most of these guys stay here and play again together next year under the same coaching staff. You know they'll all be working hard this off-season, many of them playing winter ball to grow even more. We just might win more of those 1-run games and maybe even be a threat to teams. I'm not saying we win the division, but maybe put some pressure on the leading team. I don't think it's that much of a stretch. 

Especially if a couple of things actually go our way for once. Baseball is skill, yes, but it sure seems to be an awful lot of luck as well. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

All - Star Break Review

I expected to post way more this year, but I get busy and don't make this blog a priority. We're halfway through the season and I thought I really needed to put some thoughts out on our season. Here goes.

The Team

I think that our record does not accurately reflect our team. We are way better than we were expected to be at the start of the year, and we have played really hard. The argument can be made that a good team would win the close games that we've lost, but when you look at all the young guys we have on our team, exacerbated by all our injuries, and I think we are doing well, all things considered.

The losses are frustrating. I get it. I feel it too. It's no fun to listen to us lose all the time. But I focus on the positives, like the young guys learning and improving game after game. Like the scrappiness and fight that the Tigers show so often. The "experts" were predicting years of suffering for Detroit baseball. But based on what I'm seeing this season, I don't see it taking years. No, I don't think we'll be in the World Series next year, but a year or two, at the most, and I think we'll be back in contention; a team to be reckoned with. Maybe that's my optimism speaking a little bit, but I think the projections are on the negative side. We'll just have to wait and see.

The Surprises

We all can agree that there have been some major surprises on this team. Leonys Martin, Victor Reyes, Jeimer Candelario - who are these guys? There were question marks up and down the lineup and in the bullpen. It's not been the smoothest sailing, but I've been impressed at where the help has come from over this first half. I honestly think that's why the projections were so bad. We had all these unknowns, so people were giving us low expectations. But the Tigers don't like low expectations. These guys aren't accepting the defeat written out for them at the beginning of the season. It might be inevitable, but they aren't going down without a fight. 

Two of the biggest surprises might be Jordan Zimmermann and Joe Jimenez. Let's just be honest - most people, including me, wondered if Zimmermann would ever be good for us. Even now, I'm a bit wary of crying 'victory' just yet, but the signs are definitely encouraging. 

After what happened with Rondon, I was cautious with my expectations of Jimenez. I'm wondering if he saw all that occurred in the situation with Rondon and learned from it. He's looking like he might actually make it as a closer. I hope he can because that would be amazing for the team moving forward in this rebuild.

Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez

If you want evidence that life is not fair, look no farther than baseball. Miggy is finally healthy for the first time in a couple of years, and he has a season-ending injury in a year when we already have enough to deal with. These types of frustrations make me half wish Jim Price's "baseball gods" were real so I could have something to be mad at. 

The other side of this coin is, like in the past couple of years, the Tigers are getting a taste of what life without Miggy is like. No one wants to really think about this fact, but Miggy won't be here forever. We have to learn to hit and win without him, or we're really going to be hurting after he retires. I hope we don't have to live without him permanently anytime soon, but these stretches that he's been on the DL are a taste of what will be coming, whether we want it to or not. 

Victor Martinez is the new Anibal Sanchez for me. I appreciate him as a player and all the things he's done for us in the past. But now he's just hindering the team. Starting last year, I've been saying that one thing that might help Miggy is not playing nine innings in the field. He'd make a great DH, but he can't move there as long as we have Victor. I like Martinez. He was a great player. But I'm ready for him to retire. 

Those are some of my thoughts at halfway through. What do you think? Let's talk (please keep things clean and civil). 

If you have not signed these petitions yet, take a look. If you like what you see, please send them on to others who would be interested as well. Thanks!

Tell The MLB Commissioner "No Pace-of-Play Rules"

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


I am blown away.

This is not what I expected. It's not even what I hoped for.

Our pitching is... dominating.

Let's be honest for a moment. There wasn't a lot certain about our pitching going into this year. You know what you'll get from Fulmer, but he has to stay healthy. Boyd you had a pretty solid idea of, and in the bullpen, your only certainties were Alex Wilson and Shane Greene. The rest? Huge question marks. 

Would Zimmermann be the pitcher of the first month of his career with the Tigers? What would new acquisitions Mike Fiers and Francisco Liriano do? Who would get the fifth starter job? And the bullpen was even more unknown.

I almost wonder if all the low expectations and rejection of sorts of the Tigers are making the guys want to prove something. There are zero expectations for this team. That hasn't been the case in years. Maybe that makes a difference. 

Our starting pitching is strong. Yes, we're losing, but it's early and unusually cold for this time of year, so I'm not worried about our bats. But our pitching is keeping us in every game. During the spring, based on what I was reading and hearing from Jim and Dan, I was not happy about Fiers and Liriano. They sounded like they were going to be hindrances. Not as such so far. They have turned out two solid starts each. 

The bullpen has been quiet incredible. There has been a hiccup here and there, but overall, guys are shutting down the opposing batters. We really didn't know what a lot of these guys were capable of, or they had been so up and down, you never knew what you'd get. 

It's early. Pitching is going to go into slumps. But look at how these guys are doing when it's cold and they can't feel their hands or grip the ball. I think there performance in these conditions are very promising for us going forward. 

No one is expecting anything great from us this year. I just wonder if these guys have set out to prove the baseball world wrong.  

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Let's Talk Opening Day 2018

I love Opening Day. Even this year, with all the new faces and the realities hanging over us, it's still a brand new season and a fresh start. I'm going to discuss my thoughts about the game, the season, and a few other things too. 

We'll start with the season at large. I'm an optimist, but I'm also a realist. I don't see us making the post season. They could surprise me, but I don't see that as a realistic expectation. However, I don't think we're going to be as bad as everyone thinks. I see no reason why we can't have a winning season. One thing that I think sportwriters and others view as a downside is our young, fairly inexperienced players (though that's what they've been wanting for years). People say that they are too much of an unknown. 


They might blow up or they might blow us away. It's 50/50 and I'm going to lean on the side of them surprising us.

We won Opening Day. It won't say that in the record books, but it's like Galarraga's perfect game. Everyone knows it happened. We'll talk about the win/loss in a minute. But first, there was a lot of encouraging things in that emotional rollercoaster of a baseball game. 

Jordan Zimmermann - I'm not a Zimmermann fan. He's here and it is what it is, and I get that he's been hurt. I was pleased that he did so well yesterday. Hopefully, he'll be a decent pitcher for us (finally) this year. It was a positive performance that he can build upon. 

Baserunning - The Tigers new baserunning strategy started already. I'm sure we'll make mistakes, as this is something we haven't done a lot of before, but each time an extra base is taken successfully, confidence grows that, hey, maybe we can do this. 

Defense - We made some errors, but we also made some terrific plays! Ian Kinsler will be deeply missed, but I think Iglesias and Machado will be able to hold down the fort. McCann threw out his first two basestealers of the season. 

A disappointing outcome, but we battled. We missed some opportunities and made some mistakes, but we fought and scrapped and that's encouraging to me.

I'm reeeaaalllyyy hoping replay improves this year, but this was not a good start. I was excited for it when they introduced the system, but it's gone downhill each year since the first one. I'm not sure about this, but is there a way to let New York know what you want them to review? Like, to say, "we want you to look at whether Cervelli tagged Castellanos, rather than seeing where the runner's foot was?" If you can't do that, it needs remedied NOW. And, I'm sorry, but when both teams know the runner was safe, when the radio and TV guys, who know their stuff; all these people said Nick was safe. They can't all be wrong. Instant replay needs fixed or it's doing more harm than good.

In case you missed the post, I have a petition to the Commissioner about his pace of play initiatives. Please read it and if you agree, sign and pass it along to others who you know would care about this.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dear Sports Writers, Please Make Up Your Mind

I think that people just like being pessimistic and depressed. There's something to be said for being realistic, but you can be realistically optimistic. What on earth am I talking about? Baseball projections.

All the projections are predicting a terrible season for the Tigers this year. But not just this year, no, Tigers fans are being told to buckle their seatbelts for several years of heartbreak. I am so frustrated by this for several reasons.

The standard line for the past few years has been that the Tigers are too old; we're an aging team. Guess what? We're young now, and suddenly it's an issue. Which is it? Are young teams good or bad? This is what I'm saying; these people will never be satisfied. We had a team of veterans and youngsters, but we were "too old" and that was a problem, if you listen to the writers. Now, we have a team where the veterans include James McCann and Nick Castellanos (who only have four or so years each under their belts). It's a little weird, to be sure, but hey! We're young now. This is good, right?

Apparently not. I mean, it's good to get young, but that also means that we have to wait for the guys to grow and mature (become veterans) before we'll be any good. But hold on? At that point, who wants to guess what the narrative will become? Right! That we're getting "too old". And the cycle repeats. 

Let's tackle this idea that a young team has several years of tough knocks to endure. I take you back in time to 2014, when the Royals went to the World Series. Everyone was talking about how many young guys were on that team. Sixteen of players on their roster were 25 or younger. Their average age was 31.5 years old. Looking at that team, they were a great mix of youth, prime, and seasoned veterans. The next year, when they won the WS, fourteen of their players were 25 or younger, but their average age was 30.3. 

How about the Cubs from 2016? All anyone was talking about was their youth! Twenty of their players were 25 and younger and their average age was 29.4 years old. Tell me again that young teams can't do well.

I'm not saying that I think we'll win the World Series this year. I'm not even saying that we'll make the playoffs. This is where realistic optimism comes in. No one wants to set themselves up for disappointment. A lot of our players this year are relatively unproven. So we really can't say one way or another how they'll do, because we just don't know. That drives a lot of people nuts, so they just say we'll be awful to keep expectations low. I get that. I'm not expecting a postseason run. But I do expect us to play well. I'm hopeful for a winning season. 

If you build hopes up too high, you'll be destroyed when things crash. But if you don't hope at all, how is that any way to go through a season, much less life? People swing from one extreme to another. I try to live in the middle, with realistic optimism.