Possible Bullpen Help For The Tigers

As many people in the baseball world know, the Tigers have a lot of money coming off the books. Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and Magglio Ordonez just to name a few.

The first half of the season showed us one of the best bullpens in the game powered by Phil Coke and Jose “Papa Grande” Valverde. Unfortunately, as good as they were in the first half, they were equally as bad in the second. It seemed as if no lead was safe. After Joel Zumaya went down, the team went down. So, I want to look at some of the options the Tigers have to fix the late inning problems.

TREVOR HOFFMAN: The all time saves leader is in an interesting predicament. He struggled in 2010 and ultimately lost his closing job to John Axford. It is unclear if Hoffman will retire or give it one more try. Much like Kenny Rogers did in 2006, he could mentor some of the younger pitchers. I would not offer anything more than a 1 year contract worth about $2MM with bonuses based on performance, but if he were to comeback, I think he would fit in well in Detroit.

RANDY CHOATE: Choate is considered a lefty specialist and that would definitely be his assignment regardless where he signs. It seems as if every great team has a reliever who specializes in lefties. If you think of the 2006 World Series bound Tigers, they had Jamie Walker fill this role who would be more or less of a one and done pitcher. Though important, this role is not one that you want to spend too much on and a 2 year deal worth $6.5MM would work just fine.

JOAQUIN BENOIT: Benoit was signed to a minor league contract last year by the Rays, but ended up with the MLB club and did great. He was a great set up man and perhaps one of the better available relievers around. I would offer something along the lines of 3 years and $11MM.

HEATH BELL: San Diego said this week that they would be willing to listen to offers for Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell. Heath Bell might not be as realistic as others, but is still worth talking about. Bell could fit in as a set up man in Detroit. I could only imagine, Verlander goes 7, Bell comes in for the 8th, and then Papa Grande closes it out. Game over. I would offer Ryan Strieby, Cale Iorg, and cash considerations or a player to be named later for Bell.

There are others that could possibly come to Detroit, but I think that these 4 are worth taking a chance on. I think that 1 or 2 of them would be perfect. Bullpen help is definitely a priority though.

Ivan Nova

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about Ivan Nova. We both think that he will have a good career, but the big question is how good. I think it is time for people to start talking about the 23 year old out of the Dominican Republic.

Nova was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Yankees back in 2004. In December of 2008, he was selected by the San Diego Padres as a Rule 5 draft pick. Nova would not stay with the Padres for long though. After spring training of 2009, Nova cleared outright waivers and was sent back to the Yankees where he pitched for their AAA affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. He would continue to play in Scranton in the 2009 season and ultimately began the 2010 season with the club. In May of 2010, Nova was promoted to the MLB Yankees and made his major league debut on May 10. Despite throwing 3 innings of shutout baseball out of the bullpen, he was sent back to Scranton. He was recalled on August 21. In this second trip to the majors, he made his first MLB start and went on to replace Javier Vazquez in the Yankees rotation. He finished the 2010 season with a record of 1-0, 4.11 ERA, and 23 strikeouts. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iv%C3%A1n_Nova

Nova throws a 4-seam fastball, changeup, and a curveball. His fastball averages at 94.4 MPH but has been clocked as high as 97.5 MPH. His changeup averages at 86.91 MPH and does not vary in velocity. (87.3 MPH is the hardest changeup he’s thrown) He throws a curveball, but struggles to find the strike zone with it at times. He throws it at an average speed of 82.4 MPH and is capable of throwing at a peak of 86.3 MPH. The fastball finds the strike zone 70.2% of the time as well as the changeup which finds the zone 62.5% of the time and the curve is a strike 33.3% of the time. Source: www.brooksbaseball.net

Okay, now that I have all that info out of the way, I can tell you my opinion on him. I love Ivan Nova. I believe that the Yankees have a great pitcher on their hands. In my opinion, he compares to Andy Pettitte in a lot of ways. Nova has a little trouble with finding the zone at times and could benefit from some good, “target practice,” if you will.

There is one problem though…. how long will he be a Yankee for? The Yankees are known for having great prospects and trading them. I have heard the Bronx Bombers linked to names such as Zach Greinke, Joakim Soria, and Prince Fielder. There is no doubt in my mind that Nova would be packaged if any of these players were traded to New York. The Brewers (Fielder) are looking for pitching and the Royals (Greinke and Soria) wouldn’t exactly refuse to take one more pitcher.

I can only hope that Joe Girardi doesn’t make the same mistake with Nova as he did with Joba. I would hate to see Nova on a strict 3-inning limit. That whole concept is ridiculous but that’s another story.

By the way, in Game 3 of the World Series, Texas is beating the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the 7th.

Free Agent Talk: Carl Crawfod

As we all know, Carl Crawford is a
free agent after the World Series. It seems that the chances of him re-signing
with Tampa is slim to none. So, I’m going to do what I do best, speculate.

 

Crawford is going to want big money
in his next contract which narrows is down to the following teams: Yankees, Red
Sox, Cubs, Phillies, Mets, Tigers, White Sox, Mariners, Angels, Giants, A’s,
Dodgers, and Twins.

 

Next, he will want to play left
field, this narrows it down to the Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies, Tigers, White Sox,
Mariners, Angels, Giants, A’s, Dodgers, and Twins.

 

He will want to bat at the top of the
order, which narrows it down to the Red Sox, Cubs, Tigers, White Sox, Angels,
A’s, Giants, and Twins.

 

I think these seven teams are going
to be the ones who make the big runs at him. I know that he lives on the west coast,
which might give the Angels, A’s, and Giants a bit of an advantage. I also feel
that the White Sox will start to lose interest as they focus more on Adam Dunn.

 

Pros: Fast, Run Producer, Will Steal
40-70 Bases, Will Hit 15-20 Homeruns, Top of the Order Type Batter, Great
Defense (.991 career fielding %)

 

Cons: Injury, the turf in Tampa may
have taken a toll on his knees. Beware if signed to a long contract.

 

Verdict: Do not sign him to an 8 year
deal. A 3-5 year contract with mutual options are great. He is a great player
but the knees scare me and I don’t think you will have the same great player in
8 years.

 

Prediction: I think he will sign a 7
year deal with the Angels worth about $17MM per year. Perhaps a mutual option
for an 8th year if he has 500 plate appearances.

Playoffs

 

The 30 MLB teams have been narrowed down to 8 teams. It is time for the playoffs. So far today we have seen 2 games played and 1 in progress.

The big story is Roy Halladay’s pitching performance in today’s NLDS match-up between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds. The Big Red Machine sent Edison Volquez to the mound and the Fighting Phil’s sent Mr. Harry Leroy “Roy” Halladay III. Volquez went 1 2/3 innings giving up 4 hits, 4 runs, (all earned) and 2 walks. That was all the Phillies need as the bullpen was able to hold the Phil’s to 4 runs, but the Doc was dealin’. Halladay went into the 9th throwing a shut-out and a no-hitter giving up nothing but a meaningless walk to the Red’s right fielder, Jay Bruce. The first batter of the 9th was the Cincinnati back stop, Ramon Hernandez and quickly flew out to second basemen Chase Utley. Then Miguel Cairo pinch hit for pitcher Bill Bray. Cairo flew out in foul territory to the third basemen Valdez. Then the all-star second basemen, Brandon Phillips, came up. Like all of the other Red’s, Phillips was 0 for 3. Then on a 0-2 slider, Phillips hit a slow dribbler right in front of home plate and the Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz nearly over ran it, but recovered to throw out Phillips. The game was over. Roy Halladay threw a no-no in front of 46,411 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. It was enough to rename a month after Halladay’s nickname, “Doctober.” This was the first time since Don Larson’s perfect game in the World Series in 1956 that a pitcher threw a no hitter in a playoff game. It’s Amazing. Halladay took the win and Volquez took the loss.

Earlier in the day the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays faced off. The Rangers sent ace south-paw Cliff Lee to the mound while the Rays countered with an ace lefty of their own in David Price. Price went 6 2/3 innings giving up 5 runs, (4 earned) 9 hits, and punched out 8. Cliff Lee was great going 7 innings, 1 run, (earned) 5 hits, and striking out 10. Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina both went deep for Texas as Molina led the offense for Texas going 3-4 with 1 homerun and 2 RBI’s. Ben Zobrist was the only Ray to leave the yard. He led the offense going 2-4 with 1 homerun and 1 RBI. The Rangers were able to take Game 1 at a score of 5-1. Cliff Lee got the win and David Price got the loss. Neftali Feliz shut the door for Texas with a shaky save but a save none the less.

The Yankees and Twins are currently playing in the bottom of the 7th with the score at 6-4 with New York in the lead. I’ll have more on that game tomorrow.

That’s about all that’s going on in the MLB Playoffs tonight. The San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves play tomorrow at 9:30 PM ET on TBS.

Christmas In July

Now that we are on the brink of hitting the trade deadline, I thought I would make my Tigers trade wishlist.

The Tigers starting pitching has been anything but consistant. The Tigers need starters. The Tigers have been the only team to send a scout to watch Dan Harren from Arizona. Interim  General Manager Jerry DiPoto was quoted in saying, “We’re not to the point right now where we’re aggressively a Harren trade.” DiPoto has also stated that Harren could be shopped at some point. Harren is 7-8 with 4.60 ERA.

Another starter the Tigers have showed interest in is Cubs south-paw, Ted Lilly. Lilly’s name has been thrown around for a few different teams. I am not as crazy about Lilly as Harren unless Ryan Theriot was involved in the trade. That being said, the Tigers could throw in a couple extra B or B+ prospects and get Stephan Drew.

The Tigers have also stated that they’re interested in bullpen help. The have scouted Oakland A’s Michael Weurtz and Craig Bresslow as well as Marlins Leo Nunez.

A name that the Tigers have not been linked to but should put an offer out there for is the Prince. Prince Fielder has been talked about in a trade with Chicago. If the Tigers could put together a package that might involve a starter from the Brewers could work out. For example: Prince Fielder and Randy Wolf for Jacob Turner, Ryan Streibey, Andy Oliver, Ryan Perry and/or Daniel Schlereth, Cale Iorg and Daniel Fields. That is a good deal on both sides. The Tigers are constintly saying that they have 7-8 big league ready so its time to make a trade. With 50+ comeing off the books at the end of the season you have to imagine they could afford him but what they can’t afford is to let him go to Chicago without a fight.

Detroit could also you a catcher such as Toronto’s John Buck or Washington’s Ivan Rodriguez. I could see a simple trade with the Nat’s like Alex Avila for Pudge. It would be nice to see the return of #7.

Half Way Home

 Well, we are a little over half way through the season and Tigers fans have a lot to be happy about and one of them is there all star first basemen. I knew he was high up in all of the tripple crown stats but I didn’t realize how high, in fact, after 82 he is winning the tripple crown in the entire majors. He is deffinitly the first half MVP. The funniest part though is that he isn’t even starting the all-star game. That is deffinitly pathetic. He is on pace to have over 40 homeruns, about 150 RBI’s and hit in the .340′s. When you try to match up stats, there is only one other player who can be put into the same sentence as Cabrera, and that would be Mr. Jose Alberto Pujols. They are on in the same. Now I know that every Cardinals fan is outraged but just look at the stats. Since 2008, which was Cabrera’s first season in Detroit, they have very similar numbers. Now Cabrera’s (92 homeruns, 303 RBI’s and .315) numbers are a little lower than Pujols’s (104 homeruns, 312 RBI’s and .331).

The Tigers are currently 45-37 and .5 game ahead of the Twins in the ALC. They are going for the sweep against the O’s tonight at 7:05. Max Scherzer is pitching for Detroit and has been pitching very well since coming back up from AAA Toledo. Hopefully the Tigers can take the game.

The Season is Nearly Among Us

As I look outside my window here in Detroit, I see sunlight,I hear birds chirping, and best of all… no snow. This can only mean one thing, spring is here. The Tigers are playing preseason games and the Opening Day seats are sold out, dang. Cabrera finished rehab, Damon is ready to win, and perhaps best of all is that the D-Train may still have a little bit more steam in his engine that we thought. I mean have you seen his spring stats. I’m rooting for him as the 5th starter. Maybe he can pull a few wins out of the air. Nothing serious, just something like 12 wins and an ERA around 4.00. That would be a win in my book. You pretty much know what your getting out of Cabrera. He’ll bat .310-.320, hit 35 homeruns, and drive in 100 runs. Damon will steal some bases, but won’t get a high average. He will be very clutch though, when there is a runner on base or we need a big hit, he clock in. Verlander, I don’t know. He’s having a bit of a rough spring, but then again, he made a run at the Cy Young last year, so. You can fill in the blanks, he is to much of a gray-area pitcher for me to guess. Austin Jackson will be better than Curtis Granderson, but the similarities are kind of scary.

2006-Curtis Granderson stands on the foul line as the national anthem plays on opening day

2010-Austin Jackson will do the exact same thing

2006-Curtis Granderson heads to the plate as the 1st batter of the season

2010-Austin Jackson will do the exact same thing, again

2006-Curtis Granderson headed out to take center

2010-Austin Jackson will do the same exact same thing… yet again

2006 and 2010-Detroit has opening day in Kansas City

Spooky, aye.

Well, I guess what I’m trying to say is, GO TIGERS!

 
 
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