It has not been a typical off-season in Detroit. There hasn’t been much snow. It hasn’t been consistently really cold. The Redwings aren’t playing up to their usual standard. The Tigers have traded their “face of the franchise” prompting many to believe that it was time for a fire sale. Then they turned around and signed Valverde and shelled out the big bucks for Verlander. As I said, it has not been a typical off-season in Detroit.
However, it is the most recent news that has caught my attention as being most unusual. The Tigers have, apparently, convinced Andres Galarraga to become Miggy Cabrera’s mentor for the spring training season. Sure, on the surface this seems like it might be a good move. The Big Cat was known as an excellent defender and has the gold gloves to prove it. He also was an offensive weapon that received mvp consideration on more than one occasion. He would probably have received more votes for the Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for the suspicion that he had used steroids. But all things considered, why wouldn’t he be a good mentor for Miggy?
They both play firstbase. They both hit the heck out of the ball. They both come from Venezuala. They both had issues involving alcohol, their wives, and the local police at the end of last season. Yes, this is where I raise my eyebrows. I am not saying that the two are going to tear up Lakeland, Florida on some massive bender where they beat up puppies but, at the same time, I am completely convinced that this is the greatest idea. Maybe the two will be good for each other. Maybe Lakeland had better look out. I know I can’t wait to see how things turn out.
Mlbtraderumors.com is reporting that Yorvit Torrealba is going to sign with the San Diego Padres for $1.25 million. Not really a huge deal but he will be a nice addition to the Padres. This deal is also another failing on the part of the Mets who have failed to sign anyone of significance besides Jason Bay this year. All off-season the Mets have been said to have had their eyes on Torrealba and now, once again, they have lost out.
I am not saying that Torrealba is a great catcher in the majors…but this leaves the Mets with a bunch of supporting cast-style catchers this season. What is this team doing? Not a bad lineup but their rotation and their catching leaves a lot to be desired.
Johan Santana is great but he can’t carry a whole pitching staff. When your pitching staff is weak one of the best ways to get it over the hump is to get a good catcher. I don’t know if Torrealba was that catcher but the Mets sure haven’t filled the need.
Now they are stuck with a second class rotation and catching. This coupled with the fact that Beltran just had surgery and will be out for a while (the Mets only put a bandaid on this with the acquisition of Matthew) leaves them in a similar position as last year…fighting for fourth place in the NL East.
Alright…I am laying it all out on the line Tiger fans. Detroit is not quite ready for the upcoming season. Unlike most of the people I know who are Tiger fans, I don’t think that the season is over already (much like I didn’t think that the season was over last year in late September.) However, the Tigers ARE a few moves away from contention.
First, they need to make a signing. I believe that Johnny Damon is available. This gun for hire brings experience and a real clubhouse presence with him whereever he goes. The D needs to jump on this guy and his price tag has come down. Just call him Discount Damon because his options have become very limited. I believe that this is a realistic goal and there is a good possibility that it will happen.
Second, maybe a thirdbaseman might be in order. I know that Inge has been filling that role for the last few years but it is time for a change. I am not overly impressed with his defensive work and I am certainly not impressed with his bat. There is a guy still out there that will come cheap but I am not sure if he is healthy enough. If he is, this is the guy. He has power, he has grit, and he probably won’t cost that much. His name is Joe Crede. Get him.
Third, and I know this may not be popular, but let’s get rid of Leyland. I like old school but this may be too much. I am tired of big time game decisions being decided because this guy had a gut feeling. It’s time to manage the ballgame. There is no time for Jimmy to decide whether he is going to pull his starter or it is just indigestion anymore.
That’s it. It’s not much but three key moves will move the Tigers that much closer to October glory and I am not even sure if they have to go through with the third move but last season left a bad taste in my mouth and I know that the manager has to take on some of the responsibility for a finish like that.
I have a confession. I want to be honest and come clean. But first…my intro. I spent the younger years of my life moving around from town to town across Canada. Throughout all of my moving about I was lucky enough to have a home base…Windsor, Ontario. Windsor is where my grandparents lived and where my Aunt and my cousin lived. Because of this transient lifestyle that my father chose for me I never really had a favorite baseball team. I was always a baseball fan but never had a childhood team that I was able to fall in love with. In time, as a ten year old through my teenage years, I found my teams due to the players that played with them. Because of Dale Murphy I loved the Braves. I rooted for them through the eighties when they finished last more often than not. In 1985 I fell in love with the hapless Redsox and Wade Boggs and a rookie named Roger Clemens. Also in the eighties I rooted for the Athletics with their dynamic duo of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. The Mariners also became a favorite in the mid-eighties with players like Harold Reynolds, Ken Phelps, and Jay Buhner. As you can tell…I love baseball and a lot of the teams that come with it. BUT here is where things get a little difficult for me to talk about. I think that I am a Tigers fan.
I know…I know. My friends know too. I am often their harshest critic. Living across the river from Detroit since I was in grade 8 has given me constant exposure to the Detroit Tigers. They are the favorite team of most of my family members and most of my friends. Due to my difficulty with conforming to authority and basically everything, I fought as hard as I could against rooting for the Tigers. I give up. I have given up before. In fact, in my life I have owned three Tiger hats…two of them as an adult.
This time, however, I am not giving up because of peer pressure or the fact that they reside so close to where I live. This time I give up because the Tigers need me. They need me to root as hard as I can so that they will win. They need me to criticize, not harshly like before, in order to help them improve. AND THIS WILL HAPPEN.
Don’t get me wrong. I am still cheering for the Sox with all my heart. Ichiro and the Mariners will get my love too. I will still watch TBS when the Braves are on. I am just taking on a new lost puppy by the name of the Detroit Tigers.
I already listen to at least 50 Tiger games a year. I already listen (almost daily) to Detroit sports radio listing their rants and raves about the Tigers. This transition should not be hard. This year I am taking on (AGAIN) the Detroit Tigers. FAIR WARNING…I am no slappy. I will call ‘em as I see ‘em.
I guess this is also a good time to say that I feel that my blog has lacked focus. I have been blogging since October and have been trying to find myself. It’s hard for me to blog from the perspective of my other favorite teams (the Sox, Braves, Mariners) because I don’t live in or near the cities they reside in and I can’t get an accurate feel for how the general public feels at any given time.
I am revamping my blog and I am revamping my own baseball experience. I am going to root for and blog for the team that I know best…THE DETROIT TIGERS. So this is it. I am not going to give up on my other teams but I am going to root, root, root for the home team and I am going to blog about it.
STRAP ON YOUR SEATBELTS.
A lot of people talk about the quality of the game we all love and sometimes the idea of contraction comes up. I spent my teen years in those turbulent and very fashion conscious eighties and I fondly remember the MLB having 26 teams (and at least six or seven player from each team with 40+ homeruns…maybe a slight exaggeration.)
However, I am not going to talk about contraction today. Whilst reading through the little blurbs at mlbtraderumors.com I came across a most interesting selection that stated that 37 major leaguers who had been selected to at least one all-star game still remained free agents. It got me to thinking, “why not expand the majors to 31 teams.” I could be the GM of the newest franchise…the Orlando Carlisseans. Why that name: well, Orlando is in Florida where many people spend their retirement years and a lot of these players are close to 65 years old and the Carlisseans because Lando Carlissean was in the Star Wars movies and I thought it was funny.
So here we go with my 25 man roster.
c Mike Sweeney
1b Carlos Delgado
2b Felipe Lopez
3b Joe Crede
ss Rich Aurillia
lf Johnny Damon
cf Garrett Anderson
rf Jermaine Dye
1. Pedro Martinez
2. John Smoltlz
3. Paul Byrd
4. Jason Schmidt
5. Livan Hernandez
1. Eric Gagne
2. Flash Gordon
3. Shawn Estes
4. Chan Ho Park
5. Mike MacDougall
6. Eric Milton
2. Brian Giles
3. Gary Sheffield
4. Geoff Jenkins
5. Tony Clark
6. Aaron Boone
There you have it. I’m not quite sure if this team is playoff bound but if they got there they wouldn’t have the jitters. This is a group of guys that have been there and done that.
It looks like Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers are finally listening to me. (Why I am not on the payroll is beyond me…I just try to help teams that reside close to my home even if I do not really care for them that much…maybe it is because I like Ernie Harwell and Chet Lemon so much.) Anyway, I digress. The Double D in the D is finally listening to reason and the Tigers are trying to sign Justin Verlander to a long term deal.
I am one of the few people in the area who actually thought that the Tigers got a good deal in the whole Granderson thing but this would be THE off-season move of the year for Detroit. When you have a talent like Verlander in your rotation you need to lock him up as soon as possible. As soon as a guy like that hits the open market teams like the Tigers (teams who have not been experiencing playoff baseball with any regularity lately) do not have much of chance to sign him. As soon as rumor come up that pitchers like Verlander are going to hit the open market all of the Big Market teams are rubbing their hands together and plotting as to how to aquire him.
For the sake of the Tigers I really do hope that they get him signed up and can keep him in the D for another five years. He is an ace and every time he gets on the bump the Tigers have a great chance at victory. Mr. Dombrowski, no worries…you can steal all of my good ideas without giving me any credit. Here is my next one…if Porcello has another good year…LOCK HIM UP.
WOW!!! I know that he has had a couple of pretty bad years since he signed his huge contract with the Diamondbacks but now Seattle is picking him up for the league minimum. Eric Byrnes will be playing at Safeco this year and Arizona will be footing most of the bill. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
I realize that his career has had some ups and downs and that he has only put together one year that can be considered really good but the potential is always there…AND (to make things really nice for Seattle) he will be coming off the bench. He can play all three outfield positions and all three of those positions are currently filled. Worst case scenario is that the Mariners have a fast guy with some power who is not afraid to get dirty spelling guys here and there and getting pinch hit at bats.
Another plus to this situation is that the Mariners seem to have a pretty good shot at making the playoffs which means that we will not be exposed to his irreverant commentary stylings on the Fox coverage in October…AND THAT MEANS he will also be keeping his hair under his hat. Nice move for the Ms. I am looking forward to seeing what he does in Seattle this year.
What is going on in Queens? I can’t figure it out. You would think these guys would want to win. Just a few short years ago they were in the playoffs. Last year they were 70 and 92 and 23 games out in the NL East. Three years ago they were so close to going to the big dance and seemed to have the players in place to do something. Looking at their positional players they still look like a good ball club. But then you look at the rotation. What a mess.
Now, despite a strong lineup on paper, they still look like the fourth place team that they were last year. The Mets have one of the best pitchers in the majors in Johan Santana but after that there is no one. Pelfrey, Maine, Perez, and Nieve make up the other four spots. Nieve hasn’t played enough for the jury to be in on him yet but the other three guys are just not good enough to help the Mets contend in the East this year. The only team with a starting rotation in their division that could be considered just as bad is the Nationals and at least they are trying to improve by going out and acquiring Marquis.
The Mets are a major market team and should be in the hunt for a playoff spot every year. Every off-season they should be targeting trades and free agents to shore up their weaknesses. What have they done so far this off-season? They did pick up the best in show of the FA class in Jason Bay. This should add a little pop to their lineup. Other than that they have traded away pitching for Gary Matthews Jr and re-signed Tatis. The Matthews trade may have been out of necessity because Beltran went under the knife and nobody knows for sure how long he’ll be out. At least they will get a good glove out of Matthews but, with the exception of one year, he hasn’t done much with the stick and just became a super overpaid bench player for the perennial playoff contender Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim California Los Angeles. Granted, the Bay signing did make their lineup stronger and the trade for Matthews may have been a smart move but they still haven’t addressed their weakest area…the starting pitching. If I was a Mets fan I would be going crazy right now. I don’t even like the Mets and I AM GOING CRAZY right now. What is wrong with this team? Why won’t they go after another starter? Why am I stuck in my crappy job when the Mets could hire me (really inexpensively) to be their GM? Why does it bother me so much that the Mets can’t figure things out for themselves?
All I know is that in another month or so I am going to do my predictions for the upcoming season and if the Mets can’t remove their heads from their <bleeps> I am going to be forced to pick them to come in last in the East. They certainly aren’t going to compete with the Phillies (who actually went out and made their rotation better and also have a better lineup.) They are not going to be able to compete with the Braves (who have two of the best young pitchers in baseball supported by two very good older pitchers in their rotation…their lineup may not be quite as good if the Mets are healthy but their pitching is far superior.) Florida’s young rotation will also be much better than the Mets’ and their young lineup will allow them to compete at a high level. That leaves the Mets fighting it out with the Nats for the bottom spot in the NL East…again.
This is a story of greed, corruption, and the Death Star. Yes…it does involve the Yankees and Scott Boras. (Before we go on I must remind our young readers that this story is completely fictional and any resemblance to things that are actually happening in the mlb today are completely unintentional.) It also involves a young jedi by the name of Johnny Damon. Our story begins many moons ago. Young jedi Johnny began his training (on an MLB scale) in 1995. He spent six seasons in Kansas City honing his talents. He then moved on to Oakland for a year.
This is where our story starts to get a little more interesting. From 2002 until 2005 he played for the rebel forces of the Boston Redsox. While playing for these perpetual underdogs, the young jedi gained cult status. He also managed to help blow up the Death Star. In 2004 the rebel forces had their backs against the wall as the Evil Empire looked to advance to the World Series. Johnny and the Redsox managed to defy the odds and defeat the evil Yankees and then go on to October glory. This cemented Johnny D as a Boston icon…or so it would seem.
After another successful season wearing the B, Johnny left the Redsox. He left the Sox and the rest of the rebel forces for none other than the Yankees. Apparently, the emporer used some sort of mind cleansing on the young jedi that he could not overcome ($$$$$$$$$$) and he turned his heart to evil. In the above picture you can see the transformation. Once, Johnny could allow his hair and beard to grow but there is no room for individuality when you are fighting for Darth Vader and the rest of his storm troopers. Notice how an evil smirk has replaced his kindly grin.
How did Lord Vader and the Emporer affect this kind of change in the young jedi? Well, children, the answer is simple. They had help. They had the help of one who is equally evil. They had the help of Boba Scott Boras. Boba Scott lured Johnny in with his promises of millions. In the picture to the left, Boras can be seen obviously plotting evil schemes. But what scheme could be nearly as evil as sending a once promising jedi warrior to the dark side? The answer, of course, was to convince this same once promising jedi warrior that he was the most valuable commodity on the free agent market. Boras convinced Johnny that the Yankees would have to pay him much more than he was worth for more than a year (even though everyone and their mother knew that the Yankees would go after Carl Crawford in the next off-season.) How does our story end? Well, Johnny D was a victim of his own greed. He was too much even for the mighty Yankees to afford. The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t play with the Death Star, Darth Vader, the Emporer, the Yankees, or Boba Scott because they are all evil. When you play with evil things, evil things happen to you. Now Johnny D will be forced to play somewhere that will not have as good a shot at a championship and for a lot less money than he could have had if he had not fallen into the trap of a very real evil: GREED. So, boys and girls, let us focus on not being greedy and never wearing Yankees caps (no matter how great the temptation.)
It looks like Johnny D will have to find a new playground to run around in now that the rumors are circulating that New York only has $2 million to spend on another left fielder. Apparently, Hal Steinbrenner is more attached to the concept of a budget than his father was. Now Damon must pay the consequences of joining forces with the Empire. Now that the Yankees have won the World Series, Johnny will be callously discarded.
I just find it funny that the Yankees are, all of a sudden, aware of budgets. Ever since I can remember, the George Steinbrenner and the Yankees Organization has gone after (and frequently acquired) whomever they have wanted. In a lot of cases this strategy hasn’t worked out for New York but that’s what makes life so funny.
I know that, even with Hal tightening his belt, the Yankees will probably always have the highest payroll in the MLB but it kind of makes me sad to know that this could be the end of an era. Baseball might just get a little closer to fair on the highest level now that the Yankees are not going to throw caution and their wallet to the wind. The ability to do that was the thing that fostered my (and probably many others’) anti-Yankee sentiments.
I just want everyone to know that, despite the fact that Johnny will probably sign elsewhere due to the Yankees fiscal constraints, I will still hate the Yankees. After all isn’t this what makes baseball the greatest and most intriguing sport of all.