2004-10-15T10:39:22.790-05:00Tigers Withdraw Offer to Justin Verlander - Baseball America, 10/14/04 Apparently, Verlander was asking for the moon: a major league deal that would ensure him a slot on the Tigers' 40-man roster and increase his earning potential sooner, and a hefty increase over the $3,350,000 bonus that Kyle Sleeth signed for after being drafted by the Tigers in 2003. This appears to continue the Tigers' dreadful record in obtaining good top-tier talent with their #1 draft pick. Here's a sobering statistic: in the last 20 years, only four of the Tigers' #1 picks have ever had even a decent MLB season: Tony Clark, Justin Thompson, Jeff Weaver and Matt Anderson. The jury is still out on whether Eric Munson can join that group. But suffice it to say that they Tigers have had awful luck with their #1's. Take a gander at the #1 picks the team has made in the last 20 years: Randy Nosek Phil Clark Bill Henderson Steve Pegues Rico Brogna Greg Gohr Tony Clark Rick Greene Matt Brunson Cade Gaspar Mike Drumright Seth Greisinger Matt Anderson Jeff Weaver Eric Munson Matt Wheatland Kenneth Baugh Scott Moore Kyle Sleeth Yeesh -- doesn't look too good, does it? (Just who the hell was Cade Gaspar, anyway?) OK, so, just to make lemonade out of lemons: just because a player is picked #1 in the draft does not necessarily mean he is going to be a stud player in the bigs. Just taking a look through the #1 picks in the last 20 years: http://www.geocities.com/chuck_hildebrandt/Draft_History_Number_1_Picks_1985-2004.htm You can clearly see this is the case. Yes, some of the greatest players in the game today, such as Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Todd Helton, J. D. Drew (the last overall #1 or #2 not to have been signed), and Lance Berkman, among others, are on this list. But so many others -- Vlad Guerrero, Adrian Beltre, Jim Edmonds, Bobby Abreu, Miguel Tejada, Scott Rolen, Jim Thome, Ivan Rodriguez, and of course Albert Pujols, are not. Mike Piazza is famous for both being the greatest hitting catcher in history and for being a 62nd round pick taken by Tommy Lasorda as a favor for a family friend. This is especially true of pitchers. Of the top 40 pitchers in VORP (top 20 AL, top 20 NL) this year, only eight were first round picks: Jake Westbrook; C.C. Sabathia; Ben Sheets; Mark Mulder; Chris Carpenter; Jaret Wright; Brad Lidge; and Jeff Weaver. The other 32 top pitchers were all passed up in the draft by every other team, some of them multiple times. The fact is, a #1 draft pick is not as essential for MLB as it is for the NFL or NBA, which have many fewer rounds and rely on institutions completely out of their control for player development. Also, an entire class of player -- those born outside the U.S. and Canada and who do not play organized ball in either of these countries -- fall completely outside the amateur draft system. There have been talks about expanding the draft to include international players, but this idea resides in limbo for the moment. So, what does this mean for the Tigers short-term? This appears to free up some money to make good on Mike Ilitch's threat: increase payroll spending to bring aboard major league-ready talent in order to improve the Tigers right away. Watch for them to become very active in the free agent market over the next several months. [...]
2004-10-13T11:07:21.766-05:00By now everyone has heard about the death of Ken Caminiti. Stories about him have focused mostly on his life, his family, his various addictions, and the impact his death might have on the future of steroid testing in MLB. But there is an interesting discussion going on in the Detroit Tigers newsgroup about the Caminiti story. The question is basically coming down to this: was Ken Caminiti a bad guy for allowing himself to get mixed up in drugs, or was he a victim of his addictions and thus unable to break free from them? The thread in question started off this way: "Apparently Caminiti would do anything to excel. I think the idea is not that you'll do anything, but that you'll do the right things. God bless his soul now - that's all that's left for him. As for the players still with us, one wonders if the MLBPA might actually consider getting serious about the issue of steroids and move more aggressively to get rid of them. I'm not much for unions, but I'd rather be in a union that acts in my best interest rather than a union that wants to shield me from any check or balance on my behavior - even behavior that might kill me." The discussion quickly turned to moral terms: "You know, I'm having a hard time feeling sorry for the guy. He was a perfectly healthy person, had plenty going well for him, and he really pissed away his life by continuing his drug habits. I feel badly for his family and friends, and hope this serves as a lesson for anyone in the same sad habit to get their act together, but I just don't know that I feel sorry for the guy." This statement generated this response: "Well, he's certainly not an innocent victim, and you might even argue, I suppose, that he deserved his fate. But I thank God that I haven't gotten everything I've deserved in life. Since I've enjoyed mercy and grace, I'm genuinely sad that people like Ken Caminiti and Bubba Helms will not be able to enjoy any more of it. "Call me a sucker, I guess. When irresponsible people destroy their own lives, it breaks my heart every time." Which led to this: "Ugh, I have to get into this discussion. This statement "When irresponsible people destroy their own lives, it breaks my heart every time." really hits home for me. I have a brother who is a heroin addict and I have been raising his children for the last eight years. We legally adopted them when the state took away their parental rights, so the fact that when you said "irresponsible people destroy their own lives" you HAVE to realize it's not just their own lives that are affected. Think about all the innocent crack babies out there, they did nothing wrong but are going to have a life of lowered intelligence, irregular behavior and many more problems. I, personally, have no feelings, good or bad, about this Caminiti dude. I just wonder how many people he has screwed over with his drug usage. I'm sure his addiction ruined many people's lives around him. Those are the ones to feel bad for." The response to this: "Exactly. Ken Caminiti pissed away his life and tampered those of others. I was at a walk for ALS Sunday. I did Race for the Cure this year for a friend who left behind a husband and 4 year old son. There are plenty of kids that are in the same boat that John's nieces/nephews are in or are like my nephew who won't ever know one of his real parents (which in a roundabout way is good since the creep doesn't deserve to know what a wonderful kid he is ignoring). I feel bad for people like this, that are thrown disadvantages and heartbreak through the fault of someone else or no one in particular. Ken Caminiti had it made compared to some. But he chose to slowly kill himself anyway. I have a hard time feeling badly for someone like that." So the conclusion the group seemed to be coming to was that Ken Caminiti was a sinner who willfully destroyed the lives of his children in order to gain whatever advantage for himself. But then, out of nowhere, came another point of view -- a beautifully written point of view -- from someone named Donna, whom I had n[...]
2004-10-11T08:22:45.910-05:00Report: Mets seek to interview Gibson for manager - Freep, 10/11/04
2004-10-10T20:26:33.250-05:00With the Cubs collapse of late September came the quest among the media and the fans to point the finger of blame to explain why the team didn't make the playoffs. Many people, of course, fingered Sammy Sosa, since he is the guy making $17 million and therefore is the perfect target for such criticism. Of course, his unprofessional behavior on the last day of the season didn't help his protestations contrary to that criticism. (But then, many people in Chicago never embraced Sammy Sosa anyway.)
2004-10-10T11:32:52.326-05:00Bonderman Can Win 20 - Detroit News, 10/10/04
2004-10-10T10:20:10.076-05:00Believe me, I understand the complexities of cobbling together existing fielding statistics to arrive at a definitive assessment of how many runs players and teams save or allow by their defensive play. Or more exactly, I understand that I don't know it, and nobody else really does, either. Much greater minds than you or I have been stumped by this riddle. However, I'm on the leading edge of the MTV Generation, so I want an answer, like, now. So rather than spend the next several years studying this enigma, I'm going to serve up an ad hoc system that took me all of about three hours to think about and develop. In this system, I take three basic defensive measurements -- Fielding Percentage, adjusted Range Factor, and Zone Rating -- and mix and match a team's ranking within each for each position. (Adjusted Range Factor reflects the factoring out of strikeouts from total outs, since current the RF measurement penalizes teams that play with high strikeout pitching staffs.) The blended ranking -- or "metaranking" - that results essentiallys sum the rankings in each. But rather than summing them up directly, I weight the rankings for each position based on the relative importance each metric counts for the position. For instance, for SS and 2B, the weighting is: FPCT*1 + aRF*3 + ZR*5 = metaranking. The ability to get to maximum balls hit in your area is very important, and the actual error rate on those balls are relatively negligible. On the flip side, for 1B, the weighting is FPCT*2 + aRF*1 + ZR*1. For this position the ability to handle all types of throws cleanly is most valued, with less emphasis on range, thus more emphasis on fielding percentage. Please note that the weightings I apply are not based on any statistical analysis I did for each position. It was more like, wet my finger, stick it in the air, and use the prevailing winds (and my 35-year knowledge of baseball) to arrive at what seems to be a reasonable weighting for each position. Here is a link to how each team in the AL metaranks at each position: http://www.geocities.com/chuck_hildebrandt/Positional_PVT_2004_post.htm And, this being a Tigers blog, the Tigers' 2004 final fielding stats: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/teamfieldstats?team=det Here is how the Tigers rank against the best and worst teams at each position. The set of three numbers next to each position indicate the weighting of ranks in FPCT, aRF and ZR respectively; the set of three numbers next to each team indicate that teams rank in each of those three metrics: 1B (3/1/1) First: Detroit 1/9/5 = 17 Last: Seattle 12/14/10 = 60 Carlos Pena has been a solid, sharp 1B for the Tigs, but Dmitri Young surprisingly turned in 211 innings of perfect play at 1B, so that helped Detroit achieve a #1 ranking here. 2B (1/3/5) First: Toronto 5/1/6 = 38 Detroit: 6th 13/4/7 = 60 Last: Seattle: 12/14/10 = 104 Omar Infante drove most of the Tiger rating with over 800 innings, and he was a shade above average. Jason Smith and Fernando Vina pushed up the team's aRF in their 500 innings. And you gotta admit: Seattle is awfully consistent (and consistently awful) so far. SS (1/3/5) First: Oakland 4/2/2 = 20 Detroit: 5th 6/4/7 = 53 Last: Texas: 9/13/13 = 113 Another respectable showing for the Tigers as Carlos Guillen clocked 1,150 innings here. Couple with his .318/.379/.542 A-Rod-imitative offensive performance, he was clearly the best shortstop in the league this year. In fact, if he could have played 160 games, Guillen would have had a fairly legitimate shot at an MVP award. 3B (1/2/2) First: Oakland 2/1/1 = 6 Detroit: 12th 13/5/14 = 51 Last: Anaheim 11/8/13 = 53 This is what not having a major league-quality 3B will do for you: put you two points from the bottom in fielding metarankings. When you need Brandon Inge to outperform everyone else to keep you out of the basement, you know you have trouble. This is a key reason I added 3B to our list of Tigers' nee[...]
2004-10-09T14:21:05.090-05:00Tigers pick up Colby Lewis -- Freep 10/9/04
2004-10-06T23:04:29.070-05:00The awful miscue that Manny Ramirez made in the field in the sixth inning of tongiht's game, which led directly to the Angels' two runs, was definitely rec league softball level. Chris Berman then said something that made me immediately suspicious: he inferred Manny Ramirez was a pretty good fielder when it comes to making spectacular catches, but on the the easy ones ... well, sometimes ...
2004-10-06T19:16:35.043-05:00Was reviewing Lee Sinins' final stats package for the American League, looking through the part discussing Runs Created Above Average (RCAA). This refers to how many Runs Created an average player contributes above or below the average player at that position, adjusted for things like park factors and whatnot. I uploaded that portion to my website -- please click here:
2004-10-06T16:37:37.096-05:00... Brandon Inge? There is no one (except the most optimistic of his immediate family members) who, or nothing (not even the most optimistic of PECOTA projections) that, could have predicted that this flailing, wimpy, MLB-worst hitter of a year ago today would blossom into the .287/.340/.453 hitter of 2004. The question is, then: is his performance this season sustainable? Does it represent actual improvement, a move to another level of hitting, or is this more like a Norm Cash-esque spike season wrought Inge-sized? To try to determine that, let's review a few of the statistics that might help diagnose his season and provide a realistic prognosis. Q: Is Inge more patient at the plate this year? Is he taking more pitches and thus seeing better pitches to hit? A: Inge's pitches per PA: Year PA #Pit Pit/PA 2001 202 753 3.73 2002 351 1479 4.21 2003 366 1487 4.06 2004 458 1807 3.95 He may be seeing better pitches to hit, but it's may not be because he's seeing more pitches or is being more patient than before. What's missing from this analysis is how many balls and called strikes he took (more = more patient), and how many foul balls he hit (more = not more patient). But given the information at hand, it's safe to say that he's not more patient this year than before. Q: Is Inge hitting with more power this year? A: Inge's ISP (Isolated Power, SLG-AVG): Year AVG SLG ISP 2001 .180 .238 .058 2002 .202 .333 .131 2003 .203 .339 .136 2004 .287 .453 .167 One saving grace of Inge's hitting profile had been that he's had pretty fair power for a catcher -- that is, not that which you would expect from the worst hitter in the majors. Inge had in fact average power, since AL catchers' positional ISP tends to be in the .125 to .140 range. This year Inge kicked it up a notch, to .167. Of course, he spent a little more than half his defensive innings at 3B, and his ISP this year is more reflective of a 3B positional average. But players don't hit better or worse based on the position they play (although you could argue that it might be so for catchers because of moving away from a more physically demanding position). That is, just because Inge moved to 3B doesn't mean he's going to hit like an average 3B all of a sudden, simply because of the move. So, I think we can call this a likely step up in power for Inge, particularly since at 27 he is at an age we see this kind of bump up in power. Q: Was Inge consistent in his batting stats during the year? A: Here's how Inge did on a month by month basis: Month AB AVG OBP SLG OPS April 54 .333 .410 .574 .984 May 68 .235 .307 .338 .645 June 43 .372 .431 .628 1.059 July 49 .204 .226 .408 .635 Aug 85 .306 .362 .424 .785 Sept 98 .286 .324 .408 .732 Oct 11 .273 .273 .727 1.000 Not real consistent, but then, it's not unusual to see players' monthly performances vary widely during the course of the year. (Even Barry Bonds varied from .472/.696/1.132/1.828 to .250/.532/.452/.1.074. What other player wouldn't want that worst month line of his?) However, you can see where the months of April and June stand out as being outstanding for Inge, and did a lot to increase his season numbers overall. The interesting thing here is that with more playing time late in the year, Inge did not regress to his MLB-worst form of prior years, instead posting a for-him-respectable batting line. Q: How did Inge's BABIP fare this year versus prior years? A: Inge's BABIP: Year BABIP 2001 .230 2002 .272 2003 .243 2004 .322 This to me is the most interesting stat of all. BABIP stands for "batting average on balls in play", essentially subtracting home runs and strikeouts to see how a player hits when he hits the ball to where fielders could potentially turn it into an out. This number is generally stable for hitters, but could go up or down depending on whether there are [...]
2004-10-06T12:20:48.163-05:00Trammell will stay through '06 season - Detroit News 10/6
2004-10-05T18:48:26.456-05:00Tigers proved to be a pretty good power hitting team this year, finishing with 201, good for fifth in the league. Moreover, they made some hay in the news toward the end as Marcus Thames' two homers on Saturday gave them 11 players with 10+ home runs, setting a major league record.
2004-10-05T19:31:30.570-05:00PARTLY SUNNY, 72: Tigers complete 29-game turnaround, but still have long way to go - Freep 10/4 Goofy numerical wordplay aside, this appears to be a typical John Lowe article: valid on some fronts, off-base on others.John is right in that the Tigers have a long way to go. Seventy-two wins is a great step, and more than the 66 that I myself had predicted (largely due to their overachievement in offense), but it's not a reason to pop the corks.But John undermines his own credibility by stating that Comerica "achieved the difficult feat of being friendly to both the home run and the triple". While that's true of the triple, Comerica is absolutely not friendly to the home run, as this ESPN park factor analysis indicates. For those of you too lazy to click, Comerica yields 13% fewer home runs than the average park (23rd among MLB parks), but 79% more triples (tops in the majors by a hair). Given the ease with which reporters can check their assertions before they commit to them on paper, this kind of lazy reporting should not be tolerated.Regarding Lowe's statistic that 58 home runs have landed between the new LF and old LF fences: If that's true, that would have reduced the total home runs at Comerica from 182 to 124 -- essentially making the park factor for HRs 59. That's probably right, since the HR park factor in 2000 was 61 and in 2001 was 69.Interesting stat: The Tigers definitely were hurt by Comerica on the HR front, with 87 at home versus 114 on the road. Opponents, however clobbered HRs against Tiger pitching at the exact same rate in Comerica as on the road -- 95 each. Coincidental? Yes.Interesting, too, how Higginson says he had "10 great years" in Detroit. I don't know whose record he's looking at, but it's more like two great years, four fair-to-decent years, and four lousy years. GENE GUIDI: More moves needed for better '05 - Freep 10/4There are basically five things Guidi says the Tigers need for next year. Let's take these in order, then let's add a few:1. A couple of strong late inning arms.I'm OK with this assertion. Tigers did well with Jamie Walker, Esteban Yan (despite Guidi's ambivalence) and Ugie (God bless him), but otherwise, we had the 3rd worst relief corps in the AL, and got positively awful performances from Al Levine (especially first half), the departed Darryl Patterson, Gary Knotts, and the soon-to-be-unemployed Steve Colyer. Relievers are cheap and plentiful.2. A reliable CFNo argument here. I'm thinking offensively as well as defensively. Alex "Run 'Til You're Out" Sanchez is a disaster at the plate (despite his freakish ability to hit bunt singles), on the basepaths (19 SB but 13 CS) and in the field (9 errors, most in the AL, in just half a season; subpar range factor and zone rating). Nook had a very good tenure in CF this year, and while he's not as good at the plate as even Run 'Til You're Out, he is only 24 and he has more future than Alex, who might make good trade bait. Might Nook be ready for prime time next year? I know Curtis Granderson is considered the CF of the future, but Nook could make a good placeholder until that day comes.3. Top-drawer starting pitcherThis is on the wish list of many teams. Why should we be any different? There are lots of good names out there, too many to even speculate. But I wouldn't mind seeing the Tigers make overtures for Brad Radke, Jaret Wright, Odalis Perez or Matt Clement. I think this is the move to make for 2005 given the state of our system. Dobrowski is spinning it as a strength, but with the likes of James Baldwin, Shane Loux, Andy Van Hekken, Pat Ahearne and Matt Roney down there, I'm not holding my breath. Preston Larrison and Kenny Baugh are still made of glass, and Kyle Sleeth is probably due no earlier than 200[...]