August 12, 2014

A $hort Lament on the Status of the Baseball Club of Detroit

That does not say Lamont

This team continues to disappoint. After the amazing run in 2006, the Tigers fell short in 2007, stunk up the place in 2008, lost a lead of epic proportions in 2009 (remember game 163?), finished around .500 in 2010, and won the Central Division in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Struggles at the plate in 2012 (World Series) and 2013 (ALCS) showed up in the postseason. We all know about the bullpen.

I was excited that this team was one finally built for Comerica Park — the first time the Tigers had constructed such a team since the park opened in 2000. And, as would totally NOT be expected, the Tigers flat out SUCK at home.

The starters have to start going at least seven innings and possibly eight. The bullpen is in shambles. There may be no fix. I think we try too hard to turn all relievers into "hard" throwers, alá Casey Fein. The offense, ah, ahem. The Tigers are discovering why JD Martinez and Rajai Davis are lifelong part time players in the Major Leagues.

Max Scherzer may leave in the off season. I expect him to sign with the Angels. What else might happen? Where do they go from here …

Is Nick Castellanos going to be an effective defensive third baseman? I wonder if his bat will ever heat up, as well. Again, Davis and Martinez are part–timers playing full–time innings. Torii Hunter may not get his WS ring in the D. He, too, may have to join the Angels (again). Andrew Romine …

I wrote this post on paper yesterday — then, last night, Justin Verlander got wasted by the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Now, comes word that his shoulder is sore and has been for a while. Ah, why didn't anyone know?

Two thoughts from Detroit News sportswriter Lynn Henning on Twitter today:



Am I the only one who thinks that Brad Ausmus may have lost control of the team? The whole debacle/confusion over who was going to pinch hit for Verlander in the second inning is mind blowing. What is going on? I bet we find out. 


August 10, 2014

The Detroit Dilemma

It's where the bulls are penned 

Tigers bullpen issues go "way back…"

It's amazing the way the game has changed since the mid–70s. I believe it's because of the amount of money spent on both starters and relievers that baseball teams force pitchers to specialize. I remember when young pitchers would come up "back in the day," they would relieve a little bit, spot start, and over time determine where they fit in the rotation — if at all.

Back then, there weren't pitch counts — at least they weren't discussed publicly. Pitchers came out of the game when they were tired. It wasn't when they reached 100 pitchers, or 110, or whatever. Or they came out when they were in a jam and a reliever would come in with one out and the bases loaded. Then, that dude would pitch the eighth inning and ninth inning, too. Maybe throw 50 pitches. And do it again the next day. It was a different world.

I consider Rich "Goose" Gossage to be one of the best closers ever. But, early in his career he was a starter for a couple of teams before become an elite ballplayer.  

I've written before that I'm not a fan of the modern bullpen set–up. A starter throws a quality start through six innings; then, the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning guys pitch. The closer, the modern dude who comes in and is expected to throw 15 pitches and get a save, regardless, really, of the game situation. I am "old school," I suppose. I wish, no I love it when, a starter takes the mound in the ninth inning. I guess it's nostalgia.
I could see the 2015 bullpen as shaping up as tough: Jim Johnson, Joakim Soria, Joel Hanrahan, and Joe Nathan — that's a stable of closers for a bullpen.
The Tigers have an incredible stable of starting pitchers. Rarely, do they even pitch in the eighth inning. These guys should be pitching later into games, especially considering the shape of our bullpen. I won't fault Dave Dombrowski because I thought signing Joe Nathan was an incredible move and that it would be major part of the Tigers run to the American League Championship. In fact, with all the guys signed but not playing and the guys traded for and on the team, I could see the 2015 bullpen as shaping up as tough: Jim Johnson, Joakim Soria, Joel Hanrahan, and Joe Nathan — that's a stable of closers for a bullpen. That doesn't even include current guys Al–Al, Chamberlain, or the long–lost Rondon.

We could say the Tigers bullpen issue is their achilles heal; however, with Miguel Cabrera not hitting and that overall effect on the complete Tigers line–up, it's looking shaky that the Detroit Nine will even offer much in the postseason.

Papa Grandé was good, bad, and ugly during his tenure in the Detroit bullpen. 

If the offense doesn't perk up, the team start playing better overall, and/or the bullpen get it together, it's going to be an early fall of golf and such. Which would make Prince Fielder happy — but I suppose he's had the whole season off.

I don't know what moves Dombrowski can make at this point, but it's almost like something has to happen. The window of opportunity is getting tighter. The only negative comment I would even consider making about the David Price deal is that the Tigers don't necessarily need a starter — YET. We'll see what the off season holds for the Motor City baseball team.

 
Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers catalyst and two–time MVP. Prince Fielder protected him in the line–up last year but faded in the playoffs and decided he'd had enough. He alienated the Tigers fan base so much that Dave Dombrowski pretty much had to jettison him. 

August 05, 2014

CLASS

David Price has class

David Price, who will debut tonight for the Tigers in New York, took out a full–page ad in the Tampa Bay Times today to thank the Rays and the city for all the support.

One change General Manager Dave Dombrowski made when he took over more than a decade ago was to get character into the clubhouse, not just talent. It appears from this newspaper piece that David Price combines talent and character.


Welcome to The D, David. I think you'll enjoy your new team and city, as well.

August 04, 2014

The PRICE you pay

The PRICE of BASEBALL 

I have to give Dave Dombrowski credit. He decided that he had a chance to get David Price from the Tampa Rays and he made it happen. It's similar to when the Tigers acquired Miguel Cabrera in 2007 or Prince Fielder in 2012 or even when the Tigers dealt for the relatively unknown Doug Fister. When Dombrowski gets the opportunity he makes it work.

We need the marquees to read something like this — 2014 — again! 

The PRICE for PRICE wasn't too extreme. Maybe the young short stop traded away will come back to haunt us for years but more than likely, another John Smoltz situation doesn't present itself too often. More likely is that we may decide to acquire him for the stretch run eight years later alá Andrew Miller and the Boston Red Sox.

Speaking of that, can you believe the sudden and defining turn over on the Red Sox roster. It makes you wonder about the Beard Power and how STRONG Boston was last October. Was it a fluke? It's hard to call it a fluke when the team won three World Series in 10 years, but last fall could have been much different had the Tigers reliever(s) not given up grand slams to David Ortiz and Shane Victorino. That Big Papi slam turned the course of the series, established that Torii Hunter's best defensive days were behind him, and made us suddenly realize that we had bullpen problems. At least those are solved, right.

I didn't set out to write a sarcastic post. I started out to say that I like the Price trade regardless of the "price." I think the Tigers starting staff is one of the best I've seen in my 40 years as a baseball fan. I remember when our best pitcher was Nate Cornejo. He never developed into whom they expected him to be, but who did off that '03 squad. Amazingly, there were some solid players on that team — it was just young, inexperienced, and not too incredibly talented. Some role players did emerge, however.

I always thought it would be cool to see the Spirit draped in a Tigers jersey. Finally, got that chance in '12. Still a cook memory how Detroit rocked for the Series. 

I used to call the Yankees the Red Wings of MLB. Now, I have to consider the Tigers the "new Yankees." It seems that when they make up their mind, they go for it. Sure, we haven't won a World Series yet, but it's sure fun trying rather than pretending. With Joba Chamberlain on board, maybe the Tigers have enough BEARD POWER to make a run at the title this year. If the bullpen can get grounded and develop roles, it should be another fun October in the D.

Thanks, Mr. Dombrowski.

Chris Brown, are you ready for this? 

July 18, 2014

Legends!

Ernie Harwell and Sparky Anderson 

I never even realized that the skipper was in the background when I took this photo at Tiger Stadium. I always looked forward to summer nights and the radio with Ernie and Paul describing the action from the Corner. Ernie Harwell called the action of Tiger games for many years. It's hard to believe that both of these legends have passed. Time sure does fly. The guys I grew up rooting for, they're all in their 50s or 60s these days. Oh no! That means I'm in my 40s ...

Road Games

Opening Day in Another City

Every city has its thing. Kansas City has great barbeque. Steve did not apprecaite watching the dudes doing the cooking sweating — it looked like the sweat just added flavor to the meat. Arthur Bryant's, ladies and gentlemen. 

In a strange twist of luck, a group of us attended Opening Day in Kansas City in 2006. Of course, one of us had predicted that it was "gonna be the year" because of this and that and, of course, the addition of Jim Leyland as manager. A lifelong, diehard Tiger fan, I think I predicted they would win most years — with the exception of about 1990 through 2005. We call that era the dark days …

We flew into Kansas City and took in a great week–end of site seeing and baseball. We even were able to get into the ballpark and watch the Tigers' Sunday workout. We drove into the parking lot jamming some Kid Rock and just wanting to develop a plan for Monday. Instead, we decided to see if we could go into the park — and the security guy let us.


You remember that Opening Day. The one where Chris Shelton (above, with Trevor Thompson) knocked the ball around and looked like he would be the MVP. Yeah, we knew he wouldn't but it was still cool, considering somehow he made the team over Carlos Pena who was a big part of the Jeff Weaver trade from 2002.


Anyhow, I had lunch with Kenny (red shirt, above) the other day and we got to talking about how we're all so busy and never have time to do much as a group anymore. Then we started talking about how fun it was in Kansas City back in '06. Kenny said, "Maybe we should pick a road series every year in July and just go." That sounds like a good idea …

There's no Opening Day party like a Detroit Opening Day party, though …


July 11, 2014

Detroit

The Rock City


The Motor City


One time, the greatest city in America! 


July 10, 2014

CCSS — The Political "Curriculum"

Why the controversy? 

Is it political? Is it a curriculum? 

It's interesting all the controversy about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I've asked questions all along — but my major question was why Michigan had to jump on board because the Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs) and the High School Content Expectations (HSCEs) already were some of the best curriculum in the United States.

Photo by http://blog.libbylevi.com/

Frequently, I would tell my staff that Michigan got it right when they rolled out the GLCEs and HSCEs several years ago. Michigan created a culture of curriculum in the 1990s when they rolled out the original Michigan Curriculum Framework (MCF) first arrived. I was a youngster in education then, but really dove headfirst into the framework, aligning my English classes with the MCF. I spent countless hours and did all I could to line things up and create lesson plans and unit plans that incorporated the "framework."

After nearly 20 years of work, Michigan now has the CCSS — or does it? The assessment program, Smarter Balanced Assessment, has been put on hold as the Michigan legislators have passed legislation and a budget that would require the development of "MEAP 2" — Michigan Educational Assessment Program #2 — because the former MEAP (we won't digress there!) is not retired. Actually, we educators don't know what the state assessment will be 10 months from now …

The main thing about the CCSS is that it requires students to problem solve and work with more rigor. And, if you're in education, you know that teachers frequently say, "These kids don't know how to think." My thought — huh? — is that if we begin early in a student's education teaching him/her "how to think," e.g. problem solve, work with rigor and more thought, that type of statement will go away.

So, to sum it all up, the only controversy I can see is that the CCSS are so similar to what we're already doing in Michigan that the final pieces (rigor, problem solving, etc.) would be easy enough to put in to place without causing a supposed major shift in curriculum (CCSS is not necessarily a new curriculum but a new thought process) and making student learning MORE POLITICAL than it already is.