30-1 MLB countdown previews: #1 Tigers


Sometimes teams have a fluke like run to the World Series and then load up on talent the following off season. The 2012 Detroit Tigers had a nearly stacked team, led by Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander and the eventual 2012 AL MVP Miguel Cabrera. The reason they were thought to be stacked was the late off season signing of free agent 1B Prince Fielder to a 9 year contract. The Tigers, however, did not have a big first half in 2012 and needed a strong final two months to get into the post season. The Tigers only won 88 games in spite of the expectations, and nearly lost the ALDS against Oakland, winning in five games. The Tigers played their best baseball in the ALCS aganist the Yankees but were swept in the World Series by the San Francisco Giants.
The Tigers will get DH Victor Martinez (.330, 12, 108 in 2011) back this season. Delmon Young held that role that season, but he is off to Philadelphia. Torii Hunter (.313, 16, 92) comes over as a free agent from LA and takes over in RF. As solid of an offensive player he is, he improves the teams’ defense just as much. 2B Omar Infante (.272, 12, 43) mans the position for the entire season with SS Jhonny Peralta (.239, 13, 63) due for a bounce back season as he sets to test free agency and his next big contract. Austin Jackson (.300, 16, 66) patrols CF with Andy Dirks (.322, 8, 35 in 88 games) expected to play LF. Catcher Alex Avila (.243, 9, 48) hopes to perform closer to his 2011 form (.295, 19, 82).
Then there is Fielder (.313, 30, 108) and AL Triple Crown winner Cabrera (.330, 44, 139). The lineup could get even better with the addition of top prospect Nick Castellanos, who could be ready this season. Avisail Garcia and Quentin Berry provide depth in the OF, with Ramon Santiago, Matt Tuiasosopo and Don Kelly all useful options off the bench. The Tigers should line up like this: Jackson CF, Hunter RF, Cabrera 3B, Fielder 1B, Martinez DH, Peralta SS, Avila C, Dirks (eventually Castellanos) LF, Infante 2B.
In addition to this lineup, the Tigers possess possibly the best starting pitching in all of baseball. Verlander (17-8, 2.64, 239 Ks in 238 1/3 IP) had a “down” season compared to his 24-5, 2.40, 250 Ks in 251 IP season of a year ago. Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74) had 231 Ks in 187 2/3 IP. Doug Fister (10-10, 3.45) and Rick Porcello (10-12, 4.59) move down in the rotation to make room for Anibal Sanchez (9-13, 3.86) , who signed a 5 year, $88 million deal to stay in Detroit. Sanchez pitched to a 1.77 ERA in 3 starts (4 ER, 0.984 WHIP in 20 1/3 IP).
While much has been said about the Tigers lack of presence in the back of the bullpen, I see an answer that will stop critics from stating the Tigers lack of a closer. His name is Al Alburquerque. Alburquerque pitched to a 0.68 ERA in 8 games after missing time in 2012 due to injury and was 6-1, 1.87 with 67 Ks in 43 1/3 IP in 2011. If given the chance, he will be a solid closer. Top pitching prospect Bruce Rondon will start the season in the minors and should help out at some point. Phil Coke (2-3, 4.00), Joquin Benoit (5-3, 3.68 with 84 Ks in 71 IP) and Octavio Dotel (5-3, 3.57) will provide set-up relief with starting pitcher candidate Drew Smyly holding the job as the long man/ spot starter. Former Tigers closer Jose Valverde, as well as former MLB closers Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Wilson remain as free agents and could come to help for cheaper as the season goes on.
I think the Tigers have more talent than any other team in all of MLB. I think there is too much talent this time for the team to not reach expectations. With that comes the possible pressure of having to live up to said expectations. They struggled with less talent and high expectations last season, with the White Sox leading the AL Central for a good part of the season. The Tigers tied the Dodgers for the highest over/ under this season at 90. I think the Tigers will finish over, at 96-66, first place in the NL Central. In my opinion, only injuries can ruin what at the least should be an easy regular season division championship. What I think is best about this team and the spot they are in, they still have the farm system to made a trade to be even better. And the leadership of GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland puts them at in an advantageous position.

RHP Kyle Lohse: Top five teams that should have interest


    A lot of attention has been given to free agent RHP Zack Greinke, and rightly so as he should get a contract in the excess of $100 million. Former Cardinals RHP Kyle Lohse (he is unlikely to return) is coming off a career season, but has done very well in the majority of his five year career in St Louis. Entering age 34 for the 2013 season, he should get himself a multi-year deal better than the one he signed with the Cardinals before the 2009 season. His 2008 season where he was 15-6, 3.78 in 33 starts and 200 IP got him his 4 year, $41 million deal with St Louis. His last two seasons, particularly his 2012 season, should get him a deal which should pay him about $13-$15 million a season at a length of about 3 or 4 years.  

    Lohse led the NL in winning percentage (.842) with his 16-3 record in 2012. He seems to have defined himself as a ground ball pitcher and it has been very good over the past two seasons. He also had career highs in IP (211), Ks (143) and WHIP (1.090). He was 14-8, 3.38 in 2011, after going 15-6, 3.78 in 2008, so he will not be getting rewarded for one season like he was in his last contract. Though few larger market teams will be in the mix, as the preference is usually in power pitchers, Lohse will get a lot of attention and there should be several suitors. I have selected five of the most likely destinations and explained why I think he will end up at my number one choice.

5. Detroit Tigers: While some can say Detroit can use Lohse as a contingency plan if they are not able to bring back Anibal Sanchez, I think the Tigers may be able to benefit more from having Lohse than Sanchez. Having Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello all being hard throwers, balancing it out Doug Fister and Lohse may be best for the makeup of the rotation. The Tigers seem poised, however, to retain Sanchez.
4. San Diego Padres: I have said before that I expect the Padres to be active during this offseason. They have a new ownership group that seems like it may be willing to spend. They should fly under the radar when it comes to OFs like Josh Hamilton, BJ Upton, Juston Upton and Josh Willingham. Lohse would be interested in pitching his home games in San Diego, one of baseball’s most pitcher friendly parks.
3. Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers are now without three fifths of their 2012 opening day rotation, as Shawn Marcum will likely leave as a free agent, joining Greinke and Randy Wolf missing from last year’s mix. Yovanni Gallardo was missing some of his dominance of past seasons and the Brewers can use a number two starter. Lohse could marvel in more abscurity playing in Milwaukee after spending the past several seasons doing the same.
2. Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles, in my opinion, would be one of the best fits for Zack Greinke. It seems however, he will end up in Los Angeles with the Angels or Dodgers. The Orioles should be in the mix for a starter like Lohse, as they will also be looking at Edwin Jackson and Sanchez, among others. Lohse should be able to keep the ball down in hitter friendly Camden Yards.
1. Kansas City Royals: The Royals have been serious about upgrading their starting rotation, something they strongly feel was the reason they were not in contention in the AL Central. They have traded for Ervin Santana and signing Jeremy Guthrie to a three year contract. Lohse would put the finishing touches on a solid offseason, putting the Royals in contention with the Tigers and White Sox. Their rotation will be improved with Lohse, Santana, Guthrie, followed by a mixture of Bruce Chen, Vin Mazzaro and Luke Hochevar- if the three are retained. They also have LHP Mike Montgomery almost ready to help the big league club as well as Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino recovering from Tommy John surgery. It is realistic to expect the first three to keep the team in many more games than last season.

Trying to explain the struggles of the Detroit Tigers

Trying to explain the struggles of the Detroit Tigers

Notes from a Semi-Regular Tradition

Sunday was my first opportunity to get to the ballpark in 2012, so I grabbed a friend, put on some black and headed to Sox Park for Jackie Robinson Day!

I’ve seen some great baseball on Jackie Robinson Days past, all of which were pitchers duels (my drug of choice), but with a Rick Porcello v. Chris Sale matchup looming, I wasn’t expecting much. The pair would end up surprising me, but that wasn’t all:

  • This was the FIRST April baseball game in Chicago I have ever attended where a hat, gloves and scarf were not needed. No joke. I was in a t-shirt. Sweating at times.
  • Miggy can play D. I hung two stars on my scorecard for him, including a barehanded grab-and-throw that nailed a speedy Alexei Ramirez at first.
  • I understand the importance of Jackie Robinson Day and all, but is it necessary that EVERY player and EVERY coach wears the same number 42? It is a scorecard junkie’s worst nightmare! Every time I looked up I had no idea who was doing what.
  • And those ugly throwback ’72 Sunday home game red-pinstriped White Sox unis didn’t last past the 70s for a reason. They are HIDEOUS. Throw them out! Along with Alex Rios!
  • It was a day game. Sure it was a bit overcast, but there was sunlight. Plenty of it. But that didn’t stop the White Sox personnel from turning ALL the stadium lights on like it was a night game! There was WAAAAY too much light. WASTED light! I know ‘Merica is a nation of excess, but good grief.
  • Despite the new uniform, Prince Fielder is still fat.

Hate me ‘cuz I take tedious notes, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!



A four-run second inning help leads the Phils to a 5-3 win over the Tigers.

A four run outburst in the second inning leads the Phils to a 5-3 win over the Tigers.

The Phils took a 1-0 lead in the second as, with runners on the corners, and with nobody out, Ross Gload hits an RBI single, knocking in Raul Ibanez, who had earlier doubled, then went to third on Delwyn Young's single, while sending Young, who had just singled, up to second base. One batter later, Brian Schneider made it a 4-0 Phils' lead as he hits a 3-run home run, his first home run of the spring, scoring both Young and Gload. The Tigers would get a run back in their half of the second as, with runners on the corners, and with nobody out, Brennan Boesch hits into a double play, 3-6-3, scoring Miguel Cabrera, who had earlier singled, then went to third on Victor Martinez's single, while wiping out at second base, for the inning's first out, Martinez, who had just singled, making it a 4-1 Phils' lead. The Tigers would make it 4-2 Phils in the third as, with the bases loaded, via a single to Don Kelly, a walk to Andy Dirks, moving Kelly to second base, and a single to Will Rhymes, moving both Kelly and Dirks up a base, and with one man out, Magglio Ordonez hits a sacrifice fly, scoring Kelly from third. The Phils would increase their lead in the seventh as, with two men out, Jeff Larish hits a solo home run, his first home run of the spring, giving the Phils a 5-2 lead. The Tigers would get that run back in the ninth as, with two men on, and with nobody out, Audy Ciriaco hits into an RBI ground out, 6-3, knocking in Argenis Diaz, who had earlier singled, then went to third on Ben Guez's double. That would be the final score as Mike Zagurski would end the game by striking out both pinch hitters Ryan Strieby and Scott Sizemore.

Joe Blanton gets the win (1-0, 3.09) as he pitched five strong innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out three. Ryan Madson recorded his first spring hold as he pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit while striking out a batter. J.C. Romero recorded his first spring training hold as he also pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits. David Herndon received his second spring hold as he pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit, while striking out a batter. Mike Zagurski recorded his first spring save as he pitched an inning, giving up a run on two hits, while striking out two. Rick Porcello took the lost (0-1, 4.50), as he pitched three innings, giving up four runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out two. Adam Wilk and Jose Valverde then followed for three scoreless innings, as they together gave up two hits (one hit each) and a walk (Wilks). Duane Below then followed for an inning, giving up a run on one hit, while striking out a batter. Brad Thomas and Ryan Perry then followed with two scoreless innings, giving up no hits between them.

The Phils had nine hits in the game, with Raul Ibanez leading the team with two hits, a single and a double, raising his spring training average to .240. Jimmy Rollins (Single), Placido Polanco (Single), Jeff Larish (Home Run), Delwyn Young (Single), Ross Gload (Single), Brian Schneider (Home Run) and Wilson Valez (Single) had the other seven Phil's hits, two of which were a three-run home run (Schneider) and a solo shot (Larish). Gload had the other Phil RBI.

The Phils' Grapefruit League record is now 7-6.

Detroit Tigers: Fantasy Baseball Preview 2011

This is our second installment of team fantasy previews. We did the Red Sox last time and we will be doing the Padres, Reds and Braves in the coming weeks. Today we focus on the Detroit Tigers.


The Detroit Tigers were as mediocre as you can get in 2010, finishing with an 81-81 record which was good for third place in the American League Central.  Miguel Cabrera (.328/.420/.622, 38 HR 126 RBI)  was anything but mediocre, as he carried the offense and almost walked away with the A.L. MVP award.

 General Manager Dave Dombrowski went out this offseason and got some offensive help for Cabrera in the form of free agent catcher Victor Martinez.  Martinez will see most of his time at DH, but will still be eligible at the very thin catcher spot for fantasy owners. Martinez and Cabrera along with Justin Verlander give fantasy owners their three go-to-guys in Tiger uniforms come draft day.  There are a few Tigers under the radar that could have a surprising impact on the 2011 season and push your fantasy team over the top.




Max Scherzer - SP (195.2 IP, 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 184 K)   
Scherzer had a very solid 2010 season despite a demotion to Triple-A for two weeks in May.  The demotion was a wake up call for the former first round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The right-hander went 11-7 with a 2.46 ERA after being called back up to the big club.  Scherzer has been highly touted since being drafted out of University of Missouri in 2006.  He has shown flashes of greatness in each of his first three seasons, but has lacked consistency, which is common to many young pitchers. The St. Louis native took a huge step after his demotion last season and became much more aggressive in the strike zone.  Consequently his walks went down and his effectiveness went way up.This will be Max's fourth season in the majors and he is slotted to fill the number two spot in the Tigers' rotation. This could finally be the season where it all comes together for Scherzer, giving the Tigers a much feared one-two punch at the top of their rotation.  According to Mock Draft Central, Scherzer's average draft position among starting pitchers is 50th.  He could be a tremendous value late in your draft.
Rick Porcello - SP (162 IP, 4.92 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 84 K)
Rick burst upon the scene for the Tigers in 2009 creating huge expectations for him in 2010.  Porcello failed to meet those expectations and took a big step back last season with an ERA almost a run higher than it was in 2009.  The New Jersey native was a sexy pick for fantasy owners in 2010 and a year later he seems to have fallen off the fantasy baseball radar, as his average draft position in mock drafts among starting pitchers is 95.  Porcello still has tremendous upside and just like Scherzer, he seemed to learn a lot from his mid-season demotion to the minors last year. He is a former first round draft pick and the ability is still there, so look for the right-hander to have a season like the one he had in 2009.
Casper Wells - OF (99 PA, .323/.364/.538, 4 HR, 17 RBI)
It was definitely a small sample size, but when Wells was called up in last season, he produced at the plate.  The Tigers enter the season without Johnny Damon in left field and with an aging Magglio Ordonez in right field.  Ryan Raburn was just signed to an extension to be Detroit's every day left fielder, but Wells is a natural right fielder.  Ordonez is 36-years old and injuries along with age have caught up with him.  Wells appears to be a promising hitter who took a big step forward last season hitting by hitting 21 home runs in Triple-A.  Look for Wells to start the year back in Toledo but keep an eye on Ordonez, if he struggles with injuries Wells should be the guy the Tigers call up first and if he hits like he did last season he may be in Detroit for a long time to come.



Sports Betting 

Do the Tigers need another starting pitcher?


  • We have to ask this question on a day where the Detroit Tigers traded Dontrelle Willis to the Arizona Diamondbacks. That means that two of the 25 men who made this roster in spring training are either gone, or playing Triple A ball with the Toledo Mud Hens. I speak of course of Scott Sizemore, but more on him in a different post.
  • How confident are Tigers fans in the starting rotation? Myself, not all that much. As of June 1, 2010 the starting rotation looks like this:
  • 1.Justin Verlander
    2.Jeremy Bonderman
    3.Armando Galaragga
    4.Rick Porcello
    5.Max Scherzer
  • Based on their 2010 stats I am only confident in Verlander. So far he is 5-4 with a 3.75 era. Bonderman has been ok with a 2-2 record and a 3.78 ERA. Porcello has suffered a sophomore slump with a 4-5 record and a 5.27 ERA. Galarraga is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA but has only appeared in three games after losing a rotation spot in Spring Training. Scherzer spent a few game rehab assignment in Toledo and worked on his mechanics but so far has 2-4 record with a 6.42 ERA. Of course he did have the 14 strike out game against the Oakland A's in just a little more that five innings.
  • However, based on that I think we can only feel confident in two of these spots, and really only in Verlander. In my mind that makes me think that the Tigers have to add a starting pitcher to the mix to contend in 2010
  • They could promote Phil Coke or Eddie Bonine from the bull pen, Zach Miner is lost for the year to surgery, and the Tigers have few arms in the minor league system read to move up to the big club. Maybe Alfredo Figaro gets another shot as his stats with Toledo are not terrible. Maybe LJ Gainger who has spent time at Erie in Double A ball and Toledo gets a shot at some point.

  • The point here is that is too many maybes. The Tigers need another legitimate starter to place in the third spot behind Verlander and Bonderman if they are serious about contending for the division crown this season. If Scherzer can continue to pitch like he did on Sunday maybe this all becomes a moot point. However as of right now I feel like the Tigers need another front of the rotation arm.
  • That of course means they would have to make a trade. The argument then becomes who they would be willing to trade. I see no untouchable players on the big league roster that are untouchable beyond Verlander, Porcello, Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson.  I would be willing to part with any one else, especially Magglio Ordonez.
  • It looks like Magglio is going to come up short of the numbers he will need to kick in an automatic contract for 2011 for 15 million dollars. That means he will be a free agent so the only real question is can the Tigers win the 2010 division crown without him? Personally I don't think so, but getting something for a player that is not likely to be here in 2011 is always a sound policy. A better plan seems to be a trade of Carlos Guillen and prospects
  • Carlos is having an ok year at the plate and might be attractive to a contender come the trade deadline. When we ask the same question about him the answer is more of a yes. I think the Tigers could contend for the division crown without him, so a trade of Guillen and some prospects might be workable. Of course the deterrent there is Guillen is still owed 13 million dollars next year and has a partial no trade clause.

    The other problem here is the nearly 22 million dollars the Tigers are now paying Dontrelle Willis to play for the D-Backs and Nate Robertson to play for the Florida Marlins. That makes any move hard to swallow, and the question that has to be answered first is can they win this division in 2010? As of right now I say they cannot, and should not make any deals. They should retool for 2011 when nearly 53 million dollars will come off the books and the Tigers can rebuild the roster in free agency, and promote from within.

    With that amount of money coming off the books the Tigers could be big players in free agency if they chose to. They could also gut the current roster in trades and give up on 2010 if they chose to. Either way it seems big changes are coming for this team. Only the thought that they can contend in the rest of 2010 will prolong the stay of the current roster.

  • Related Links:
  • •Detroit Tigers news and notes
    •MTR Michigan.com
    •MTR Baseball.com
    •2010 Detroit Tigers payroll
    •The Business of Major League Baseball
  • The Filibuster

    Hi Jeff.  You are always saying mean things about the Tigers and making
    fun of Allen.  They seem to be doing pretty well with all these young
    guys, though.  Do you think you might have been wrong, even though you
    always tell us not to hate you 'cuz you're right?

    Quincy, IL

    tiger dog.jpg

    While I certainly detest the notion that my impervious and oft-uppity colleague, Mr. Allen Krause, and his infectious worldview have now tainted the minds of my dear family and friends back home in Quincy, IL, please remember have no problem telling you the truth:

    The Tigers still suck.

    They're pretenders.

    Off to a good start…

    Yet destined to fail.

    I think.

    Of course, I have been wrong once or twice in my life; but I still co-write a hit blog so I'm not sweatin' it.  And neither should you.  It's May.  Sure, the Tigers are holding their own… for now.  Austin Jackson, Scott Sizemore, Rick Porcello, Brennan Boesch… indeed, the future is bright in Detroit.

    But not this year. 

    Sizemore just got sent down.  Porcello is overrated.  Austin Jackson is more Mark Reynolds than Ichiro Suzuki… and I haven't even mentioned the impending doom of Dontrelle Willis (it will happen eventually).  I just don't think the Tigers have what it takes to play this well the entire season.

    By August their youngsters will have petered out… the old timers (Damon) will be thinking about fishing in Cabo with Joe Mauer and that MLB The Show guy… and once again the murder rate in the Motor City will be the most talked about thing in Michigan.

    Not the Tigers.


    And for all you river-rat Q-towners, like Leslie above, who are considering siding with Mr. Krause and his lacking baseball acumen, just remember who buys the beers when he's back home.  Yeah.  That's what I thought.

    So go ahead and hate me 'cuz I spitz it straight.  Just don't hate me 'cuz I'm right.



    (Image courtesy of 9GAG)


    Something on your mind?  Want to see Jeff and Al sweat (separately, not
    together, eww)?  Think you got a real stumper?  Send us your Filibuster
    question(s) by commenting or emailing them to us at

    ***Tiger Woods' little black book also welcome. It's been a while for Al and I'm tryin' to help a brother out.

    2010 Detroit Tigers Starting Rotation


  • As the 2010 Grapefruit League gets ready to begin, the Detroit Tigers have two big question marks in their starting rotation. Who will be the fourth, and the fifth starting pitcher? It seems Ace Justin Verlander, Sophomore Rick Porcello, and the newly acquired Max Scherzer are locks for the Tigers rotation leaving up to four candidates to fill it out.
  • These five men: Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, Armando Galarraga, and Phil Coke will do battle this spring to determine the other two starters. Since it seems that the Tigers would like to have one left handed reliever so, either Robertson or Coke will be in the bull pen.
  • For Bonderman, who has battled back for two years from circulatory surgery. If he can prove he is healthy he gets one of the spots. If not he enters the bullpen as the long reliever to start the season. So far it looks like Bonderman has regained his form from 2006, and he could make a strong push to a starting rotation return.
  • Robertson is also recovering form some surgery, last June Robertson had elbow surgery and he looks to be more like the 2006 Nate than the 2007 Nate. However it seems Nate' big problems come after he has gone through the opponents lineup once, so maybe the bullpen is where he belongs.
  • While many seem to think Dontrelle Willis looks like a new man, I don't buy it and I think he is all used up. That would leave Galarraga who was impressive at times in 2008, but really seems to becoming something special again. At 28, Galarraga would be great in the Tigers rotation or tempting trade bait to address another need on this team.
  • Related Links:
  • •Detroit Tigers news and notes
    •MLB Complete.com
    •Detroit Sports Complete
    •Detroit Sports History

    Verlander, Cabrera part of a bigger plan


  • It is kind of scary to think that in 2012-2013 Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera will eat up nearly a third of the Detroit Tigers payroll. That is assuming of course that the payroll figure stay where it is at around 120 million dollars per year. However this seems to be Tigers General Manger Dave Dombrowski's plan. He intends to build a team around his first baseman and star pitcher, and that means the Tigers are going to have to develop a few position players in their minor league system, and hope their pitching prospects work out.
  • Before we get to that we have to realize for this plan to work, Scott Sizemore is going to have to step up and play a great second base, Ryan Rayburn is going to have to step up and play one of the corner outfield positions, and the Tigers will have to find a viable prospect to play short stop.
  • On top of that Austin Jackson is going to have to prove sooner rather than later that he can play center field, Rick Porcello is going to have to continue to develop, and Max Scherzer is going to have to step up and prove he can be the third starter.
  • In the bullpen Jose Valverde is going to have to provide some steady years as Closer while Daniel Schlereth develops and the Tigers find a role for Phil Coke and Ryan Perry continues his development. All in all that is a lot of stuff that would need to go right, and we can bet right now that some of it won't.
  • In the end the 2009 fire sale, was a move designed to save some payroll space to insure that they could keep Verlander, after the 2010 season several bad contracts will be coming off he books and Dombrowski will get another change to add a piece of two through free agency.
  • While it is not a bad plan, it is a plan that needs a lot of things to go right, maybe they will and we can truly talk about Dombrowski's baseball genius, but maybe they won't and we will be talking about who the Tigers should hire to replace him. We shall see, and hopefully the team can play well while we do.
  • Related Links:
  • •Detroit Tigers News and Notes
    •Detroit Sports Complete.com
    •MLB Complete.com
    •Detroit Sports History
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