THE X-FACTOR

By:  Holly Horning

Well, the Hot Stove season was a yawner, but we can’t say the same thing about spring training, can we? First, it’s who will end up playing CF – quickly followed by JD’s injury further complicating the outfield strategy.

Combine that with the unexpected. Sanchez came back from the dead. Then Boyd exceeded all expectations with his evolution and now, Norris got shelled and has a “dead arm.” We suddenly have a situation where 3 pitchers have defied the expected odds. As such, the starting rotation has now turned into a horse race where it will probably go down to the wire and involve a photo finish.

If Norris doesn’t rebound in his next – and last – start, he just may be the odd man out. But even if he does, this race is not as “slam dunk” as many believe. Because Anibal Sanchez has the clear advantage in winning that last rotation spot.

The team may not say it just quite yet, but let’s not forget that baseball is a business and money factors into every decision, along with the rules about player options and the preference for veterans. And any decision about Sanchez will not only involve Ausmus, but Avila as well. And if we’re talking moving all that money into the bullpen, it will probably have to be flown by Chris Ilitch, too.

The reasons for what to do with each of these three goes well beyond the simplistic thought that performance dictates everything. Let’s review why we shouldn’t be surprised if and when Anibal is added to the rotation:

1. Salary – Teams pay through the nose for starters, not relievers. Sanchez is owed a minimum of $22 million and the Tigers would be loath to have that amount of money idling in the bullpen. Boyd and Norris are making league minimum.

2. Boyd and Norris both have options left which means much greater flexibility in how and where they are used.

3. No question about it – Sanchez has been lights out since tweaking his delivery. He had a no-hitter going into the 7th inning of his last game. No one else has pitched that well for so long this spring.

4. Ausmus mentioned that the rookies need to learn how to go deeper into games, which is a product of their inexperience. Given that the bullpen is still unreliable (and currently ranked at #26 this spring), the better strategy would be to put someone in there who can eat more innings.

5. Would the Tigers prefer to have a rotation with 3 veterans or 2? A starting pitching staff with the majority of them experienced or a majority of them with minimal MLB experience?

6. It’s not like anyone who gets sent down to AAA won’t be back. Last year, the Tigers had 9 different starting pitchers and rumor has it that a regular bus route from Toledo to Detroit was added for this reason.

7. Sanchez has what no one else does. Miguel Cabrera is on his side.

So why is #7 important? It’s because there is a track record of Miggy having input into what happens on the team. And it’s because he and Sanchez are best friends. Just go to their feeds on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and see how much time they spend with each other when they aren’t at the ballpark. They also live near each other in the off-season. And played for the same team before both coming to the Tigers.

Gone are the days when the manager ruled the team. He was given carte blanche to do what he wanted and was paid more than the players. But not today as only 4 managers make $3 million or more per year with most around the $1 million mark.

Managers are getting into trouble – some even being fired – because they happen to tick off the franchise faces. The guys who carry the team on their backs and make a ton of money. It serves no one well when your star player is unhappy. Managers like Bobby Valentine and Matt Williams got released because the players who matter didn’t like their ways. Who are owners going to back? The guy making $32 million on a long-term contract or the manager making 1/32nd of that?

Managers now speak of the careful line they have to tread as they seek to influence the players. Not that Ausmus would even call out a player, but the Tigers would obviously consider both Miggy’s and JV’s opinions before finalizing the rotation. Even though this is a baseball team, there are always politics at play.

They called Miggy before signing Prince Fielder to run the trade past him in advance of making the official offer – and he graciously moved to third base so it could happen. Mr. I called Cabrera to get his input on how the players liked Brad back in 2015. He was also consulted about the big trade-offs that same year before they happened.

So it sounds logical that he would support his best friend, a fellow Venezuelan who also happens to be from the same hometown, in his quest to make the starting rotation. And we may also suspect that another Venezuelan, Victor Martinez, has also weighed in. Afterall, when politics came into play before the WBC, and Omar Vizquel was “fired” as manager, it was Miggy and VMart who stepped into the fray and demanded Omar be reinstated. And he was.

Something else to consider is that 9 of the 40-man roster all hail from Venezuela. There is a bond between those of the same country so certainly the Tigers consider the cliques that form within the clubhouse.

And finally, there is the advantage that being a veteran with an established track record offers. Teams are much more likely to select the guy who has established friendships and work history with other similar players. Even more if this is the guy whom the top players want. The ones with minimal MLB experience don’t yet have these relationships.

Is it fair? Maybe not. Money, experience and top performers who throw their support behind specific candidates all play crucial decision-making roles in every industry. Baseball is no different from any other industry out there.


 If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent

TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

The word on the street is that Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching for the Tigers. Will our writers address this one or just let it go? Oh, I think you know the answer.

As has been the norm, Kurt and Holly have not shared their answers to today’s question. It’s the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.


Is auditioning Anthony Gose as a pitcher a desperation move or a worthy experiment?


KURT

This is out of the box thinking – the kind we don’t see from this team, right? Well maybe if it was management’s idea, instead of Anthony himself.

If anyone was desperate, it was Gose not the Tigers. For him to suggest it was like saying, hey, I used to pitch! If it works out, you get to keep me and you won’t have to see me hit anymore!

Geez! What do we owe this guy anyway? Most of us can’t believe he has been here this long with all the trouble he caused in the minor leagues last season.

But on the other hand, I foolishly thought he might make it all the way back this spring with the Tigers’ desperate need for outfielders to solve their centerfield and for the meantime, rightfield vacancy as well. How’s that for desperate?

So, here he sits, once again, in the minor leagues, and if it tells you anything about what is ailing the Tigers most, it’s the farm system. A team really has to be thin and devoid of talent if they would keep someone like Gose around for a potential shot as a pitcher sometime down the road.

I found it funny that the Tigers felt the need to reassure us by saying he would still be playing outfield, but they would also give him some bullpen sessions on the mound. Well, thanks so much. What a relief. Wouldn’t want to risk all the dividends we have received from Gose as an everyday outfielder!

So is this desperate or a worthy move? It’s only a worthy move for someone who has worked hard and given us everything he has to contribute to this team. But Gose has done plenty of damage in this organization and really hasn’t earned another chance at any position. Just cut him and call it what you want. In fact, maybe cutting him would be the worthy move.


HOLLY

When I heard the news I had to double-check the calendar to see if it was April 1st. But after shaking my head and doing a little research, it’s a desperation move, but not for the reasons you may believe.

First of all, this cat has more lives than a real one. With what other team can you have a weak bat, refuse to take live batting practice, ignore your coaches’ suggestions, get demoted, curse out your manager, walk away from the game, no-show for the next, get suspended, be put on waivers, clear waivers….. wait for it, I’m almost done….. fail in winning back the CF spot to a rookie and several veterans (whew!) and now be given another chance?

My first thought is that the Tigers’ soft spot for supporting former players and managers has shown itself again. No surprise why “Never Can Say Goodbye” started playing in my head again.

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/looking-over-his-shoulder/

My second thought centered around the team trying to avoid the inevitable social media storm that would happen when he was released. The hailstorm of criticism over even trading for him – and giving up Devon Travis. Could it be that management is just hoping they can bury him in the minors and he will quietly fade away?

My last thought was the hope (and several fervent prayers) that the Tigers are not so truly desperate for pitching that they were forced to accept Gose’s suggestion of trying to convert him.

The rationale offered publicly was that he pitched in high school and threw in the 90’s. Teams did it with Sean Doolittle and Kenley Jansen – the only problem was that these guys had just turned 21 when they were converted. Gose will turn 27 this summer and his high school days were almost a decade ago. Not all that similar now, is it?

But the real problem for me is that they green-light this unusual, long-shot out-of-left-field idea. Like the Tigers don’t have bigger and better priorities on their list? The Gose Experiment will take valuable time, resources and attention away from whatever farm system level into which he gets placed. He’ll take up a roster spot and spend time with a pitching coach which will all come to the detriment of other players. Then, of course, there’s playing time which means time that another player, with better odds, should be getting.

The Tigers have a farm system in desperate need of focused attention and resuscitation. I simply cannot believe that trying to turn an outfielder 3 years shy of age 30 into a pitcher is a good way to allocate time, priorities and that sense of urgency that allows seems to be missing.


 If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent

KINSLER MUST CALL OUT TIGERS

By:  Kurt Snyder

How dedicated are the Tigers to winning? How selfless are they? Have they formed a bond as a team? Do they have a pulse, a drive? Do they show enthusiasm?

If you want to call someone a 5-tool player, well, you know, I guess I want to know what tools they possess beyond the talent.

Managers have never had it so difficult. It is their job to make their group of players a team.  There are different personalities. Different nationalities. Different pay scales. And yes, different levels of intensity. Or they have different ways to show their intensity.

There are no rules for how they should act. There are examples of stars in this game who never seem to show a pulse, who show very little expression on their faces. But many are winners. It works for them. No one will be critical of them if they help the team win.

But if these seemingly emotionless players do not perform, the level of criticism among the fan base will rise. Fans will begin to question their will to win. For the most part, they struggle with cerebral athletes. They identify more with the guys who show that fire while they succeed.

Take Ian Kinsler for instance; an incredibly popular player in Detroit. Why? He’s a worker. A competitor. A winner. A leader. And a heck of a baseball player. The superlatives can go on and on. He’s got fire, intensity and desire – characteristics you would like to see the whole team have.

Take Cam Maybin for instance. The Tigers traded him after last season. The response? Well, you had 2 segments of people comment. One side said he’s injury prone and not worth further investment. The other side? They talked about his fire. His leadership. His enthusiasm. He had fun,  he made everyone around him loose, and for those reasons alone, he will be missed.

To remain strong and bonded throughout a 162-game schedule, you need as many of those players as you can get. They help to develop a potentially explosive bond.

Explosive? Yeah, I think so. Get 25 players on the same page, with the same lofty goal, the same high level of intensity and it can be explosive. And that’s the kind of mindset that can be lethal heading into a pennant race.

It’s not just about talent. You need all of it. And there has been a common complaint about our hometown Tigers. They have been accused of being listless in their approach. They have been viewed as lacking in many of these areas. And doesn’t it say a lot when one player like Maybin can turn heads? It makes it evident that you don’t have enough of those players. You want the team to turn heads with that kind of attitude, not 1 or 2 players here and there.

Ian Kinsler said something after the WBC that I felt was very telling. “I play with a little more emotion than most players during the season. Everybody has their own style!”

Kinsler may have ever-so-slightly, called out his team. What he says is true, everyone has their own style. And that’s fine if every style combined, builds a high level of energy. But on this Tiger team? It just doesn’t happen to be the case. At least that’s the way it looks on the field, where it matters the most.

We can only hope this pivotal season will energize this team and take them to another level.


 If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent

ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE

By:  Holly Horning

These are interesting times for us Tiger fans. We’ve spent the past 10 years living the good life. A life filled with fine and splashy player acquisitions, an owner never afraid to spend and a collection of stellar players. Multiple years in a row of division titles, October baseball and a couple of turns in the World Series. Only 2 years in the past decade with records below .500.

Yet, the tide of fan happiness is changing. You read it in the newspapers. We see it here in our blogs. Yes, the window of opportunity has been closing over the past couple of years and fans, understandably, are nervous. They fret that one of the greatest dynasties of Tigers will go unrewarded and never see that ring. They wonder what could have been. What should have been.

Why the Tigers have been so unsuccessful at winning it all is a discussion for another day.

It’s not hard to understand why so many fans are pessimistic. Why so many are currently seeing doom and gloom. We’ve gotten used to 10 years unlimited abundance. Ten years of knowing that Mr. I and Dave Dombrowski would deliver Christmas, Hanukkah and Festivus all rolled into one and place it upon our doorsteps.

And now? Well, it’s been a disappointing off-season filled with……….. nothing. One that tests us to remember the last time this happened. A time that many of us are afraid to revisit.

But given all of this, there are fans of other teams, more often than not, who would love to change places with us. Fans who wouldn’t mind rooting for a team that is likely to be competitive once again and finish above .500. Fans who would love to follow a team that has a good chance of remaining competitive for all or most of the year.

Thus the point of today’s blog is about perspective. An attempt to disprove that “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Because, no matter what happens this year, there is still quite a bit going on with the team that we can appreciate. And that, despite the blunder of not having a legit CFer, some good decisions have actually been made.

And sometimes, we need to remind ourselves to enjoy the good. Sometimes, we need to savor the sweet, especially when we’re dealing with a little more bitter.

So what can we point to as we deal with our nervousness over the starting rotation, how CF will play out and injuries to two crucial players? I’m glad you asked…..


1. It didn’t take long for the first worries about Max Scherzer to appear. His broken knuckle has been an issue since last summer and will continue to impact how and what he throws. Imagine having that contract around until 2028 with another $171 million to go. The Tigers dodged a bullet here because no matter how this shakes out, another 12 years and that money will end up being an albatross.

2. David Price’s condition is regressing and causing concern among Red Sox brass. Only in the second year of his contract, he is still owed $187 million with 6 more years of service. This is making Justin Verlander’s contract of just 3 more years at $84 million look pretty good. Which of these 3 aces would you rather have wearing the Old English D?

3. Fulmer, Boyd and Norris – 3 young pitchers and all under team control. The nucleus of the near-future starting rotation. It doesn’t get much better than this. And this scenario worked pretty well for the Mets over the past couple years.

4. Despite the problems created by too many pitchers for too few starting slots, it’s always a good thing to have a surplus of potential starting pitchers. There are teams still looking to fill in the gaps of their rotations.

5. Rich Dubee has started to visibly make his mark with the starting rotation. The youngsters are developing and those struggling are showing improvement with some rather dramatically.

6. Dave Dombrowski was the best at trades but his old-school style of trading young talent for expensive players is now considered outdated. Dombrowski remains adamantly opposed to analytics so it will be interesting to see if he remains effective at getting the desired players. It was time for him to move on.

7. The push for the Tigers to finally embrace analytics and sabermetrics could only come with the departure of Dombrowski and the ascension of Chris Ilitch. Ilitch, with an MBA, is known for his analytical skills and data-driven decisions. His leadership, along with the new and expanding department, will be the catalysts for offering new and better ways of assembling a winning team.

8. Gone are the days when anointing a closer was an afterthought. It appears the Tigers have a viable closer in Joe Jimenez who should smoothly transition into KRod’s role.

9. Credit it to analytics, but it appears the Tigers are moving away from the typical model of a slow, lumbering, defensively-challenged player. More athletic players are being developed for 4 different positions.

10. The youth movement for the team is looking promising. Jimenez, JaCoby Jones, Boyd, Fulmer, Norris, Machado, and Ficociello have either just arrived or will be part of the regular roster in the near future.

Can you add to this list?


 If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, KUDOS & CONCERNS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

So what’s new? At the end of the week, it’s good to gather all the little stories and drop them into your lap to enjoy.

Saturday’s segment is a day to touch on as many issues as possible. Let’s see what Holly and Kurt have on their minds this week. They don’t share their Saturday topics and it’s only for the readers’ benefit. So, expect a wide array of thoughts.


HOLLY

KUDOS

We’re starting to see the first real visible impact of hiring Rich Dubee as pitching coach. Boyd and Norris have made measurable advancements in expanding their repertoire this season while Dubee’s and Ausmus’ tandem work with Sanchez appears very promising so far. The real worth of a coach is his impact on the young and those struggling, as well as the overall performance of the entire group and so far, things are looking much better – at least with the starters.

CONCERN

Our worst fears about the dangers associated with the WBC have been realized with Miggy’s lat injury. Omar Vizquel was in no position to allow him to continue his at-bat (there is video of Cabrera grimacing in pain after his swing) – or to diagnose and report his injury to the Tigers as “tightness” when it was later revealed that Miggy heard something “pop” in his back. Still can’t understand why he was allowed to play, given his history, especially when the Angels would not allow Mike Trout to participate because of injury concerns and his importance to the team.

COMMENT

Speaking of WBC injuries, when Didi Gregorius sustained his in one of the games, the Tigers and Reds both reached out to the Yankees to propose trading their shortstops. Further proof that the Tigers plan on keeping Dixon Machado and eventually trade Jose Iglesias, because he becomes a rental after this year and will lose substantial trade value as a result. Make no mistake, his agent, Scott Boras, will take him to free agency at the end of 2018.


KURT

CONCERN

What else can it be – it’s Miggy. For several days, we have been worried about JD’s foot, but we at least know what his timeline looks like. The biggest concern now is Miggy, with no timeline for his return – pretty scary;  here we go again.

CONCERN

The big news out of Team USA’s WBC victory was Ian Kinsler, and it wasn’t his home run. He may regret his comments about the Dominican and Puerto Rican teams and their exuberant style of play, despite his attempt to further explain them.  But regardless, hopefully there will be no ill will from his teammates in response – the Tigers don’t need to compound things with chemistry issues.

KUDOS

Jim Leyland represented himself well in his last tour of duty as a manager but this was no easy task. You don’t just throw the All-Stars out there and watch them win; strategically managing in the WBC while still keeping an eye on the innings restrictions and then winning it all.  It had to be very satisfying for Leyland.


 If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent

OPEN MIKE!

microphoneHappy Friday! It’s time again to head into the weekend hearing from our readers.   You have the rest of the week to hear from Kurt and Holly, today is the day to let them know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Friday is now the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can get those juices flowing.

Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.

We can’t wait to get your thoughts on the following topic.


 Are you at all impressed by how Jim Leyland managed Team USA in the WBC?


 If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent

 

 

BOYD TO TOLEDO NOT BEST IDEA

By:  Kurt Snyder

Sometimes you don’t pull the trigger on a risky but potentially great idea until you have no other choice. Sometimes you stifle creativity in favor of a safer alternative.

Last season, the Tigers, after watching Michael Fulmer wow them during spring training, still sent him to Toledo to start the season. No one batted an eye. Shane Greene had “won” the 5th spot in the rotation, and no one batted an eye. It was the safer way to go. The Tigers weren’t ready to take the plunge with the best pitching prospect they had received in their 3 deadline deals from 2015.

But Shane Greene got hurt – and the Tigers had no choice but to turn to Fulmer. And aren’t we all glad that they did? The Tigers had the luxury of something they haven’t had much of for quite a long time; young minor league talent primed and ready to step in and provide immediate dividends in an area of need.

So here we are in 2017. We have a similar situation but different all at the same time. We have 3 pitchers. Two that have attracted all the fan scrutiny that they can possibly handle, who have shown signs of solving their issues on the mound. Mike Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez.

Then, we have Matt Boyd. Potentially, he could be this year’s Michael Fulmer. The circumstances are a bit different. But the results could end up being the same.

Given the Tigers’ investment in both Pelfrey and Sanchez, most would fully expect, agree or not, that both would come north with the team. One for the pen and one for the rotation. All signs point to Sanchez beginning the season in the rotation. He’s pitched extremely well since his adjustment with his release point. It’s been 2 outings, but hey, that’s spring training. I don’t have the option of a bigger sample size or a regular season scenario that would make his recent success more credible.

So do you know where I am headed? I’m not so sure you do. You see, I believe the Tigers need to cut their losses with Mike Pelfrey. A reader of ours was adamantly against the common notion that Pelfrey would be the best candidate to pitch out of the bullpen. Well, I happen to agree with his…uhh…disagreement. Stop the madness. The guy gives up a lot of hits, something you can’t afford when he comes jogging to the mound out of the pen.

I don’t want to hear any more about how much better he looks in Lakeland. He looked good a few times last season, too. But this has been a failed experiment. A bad deal. A poor hunch. A 2-year mistake.

So let’s purge ourselves of the problem. Let’s quit looking for a role for him based on money. Cut him! And let’s concentrate on pitchers who have had success with the team. Anibal Sanchez has been said to be one of the hardest workers on this staff. He has had big years with the Tigers. And he takes poor performance so personal, you can’t help but feel badly for him.

The Tigers’ management of him has been atrocious over the years. Limiting the damage is not something they have been good at when Sanchez wasn’t right. And now that he is perking up again, it’s really important to nurture his renewed confidence.

But I will not go hog-wild over his improvement down in Lakeland either. Sure we all hope this is some kind of renaissance with Anibal. But we will have to wait on that.

My suggestion will not be what it seems. Matt Boyd, who has been nothing short of brilliant all spring, deserves a spot in the starting rotation. And we shouldn’t do it to reward him. We should do it to take full advantage and get as much productivity out of someone who could be emerging in Michael Fulmer fashion.

It’s not the first time we have seen him do well. He pitched well the last third of last season. He’s improving. And he may take off. Remember ‘younger and leaner’? Well let’s walk the walk. Put Boyd with the starters and Sanchez with the relievers.

And if Sanchez wants to be part of that rotation, well, then give him an opportunity to bust down the doors of the pen and give the Tigers no choice but to supplant someone who may not be faring as well.

We might find out that person is Matt Boyd. But we also might find out that Anibal Sanchez could be that missing link in the pen, not unlike Drew Smyly was for the Tigers just a few short years ago.

We have precedents for all of this. Let’s not make the more comfortable decisions. Let’s make choices that may have the potential to produce the biggest and most successful impact.


If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent

WHAT IF?

By:  Holly Horning

Less than a month ago, we pretty much knew how this Tigers’ roster was going to shake out. Pelfrey and Sanchez were going to be kicked out of the rotation, the young pitchers whom Dave obtained were going to be in and Machado was going to be the player saved from waivers. Only the CF position seemed a toss up.

Only now, what seemed impossible – or not even on our radar – has happened. And it throws the fates of half the expected 25-man roster potentially to the winds. Suddenly, we aren’t certain who is going to fill the starting rotation, bullpen, bench/utility or 2/3rds of the outfield.

Two spots in the starting rotation are now potentially up for grabs. Pelfrey is improving with each appearance and Sanchez has been lock down for 9 innings, allowing no runs. It’s not a coincidence that this immediately followed an intense throwing session with Dubee and Ausmus who may have unlocked the secret to his return.

Will this be enough for them to return to the rotation? Obviously, a bigger sample size is still needed but don’t discount the weight given to $30 million. When you spend that much, you want your money’s worth. You also don’t want to be known as the team having two of the game’s most expensive relievers ever. And wasting this amount of money is often a case for someone getting fired. This means that the argument to return one or both of them as starters will be pushed in earnest.

And there’s also the need for depth. The Tigers last year used nine different pitchers as starters. No matter how this shakes out, don’t expect these two to go anywhere.

The biggest question of all is what happens to Norris and Boyd if this all plays out. Let’s not go there just yet.

But if Pelfrey and Sanchez should find their seats have been moved to the BP, it will then impact the current relievers. If the Tigers end up carrying 8, potentially up to 1/4th of their bullpen may be forced out.

Add to this the spreading drama in the outfield. It is no longer contained to CF, especially if JD Martinez is out for the start of the season with a suspected foot injury.

Early in the spring season, it was assumed that the CF position would be a platoon race between Collins, Gose, Jones and Mahtook. But now Romine is being seen regularly in the outfield which may be based upon multiple strategies. Either the Tigers don’t see a viable CF platoon situation currently or they are trying to justify keeping both Machado and Moya away from waivers.

It is baseball’s version of musical chairs with the intent to keep as many players as possible and hoping that one is not suddenly left without a chair – or position.

Moving Romine, at least part-time, to the outfield opens up more opportunity for Machado in the infield. And Romine’s presence in CF could be a stabilizing force if JD has to go on the DL.

Could you envision an outfield of Upton, Collins and Moya? The thought of it is quite sobering. But Romine makes it more palatable with his experience and versatility. Moya, surprisingly, has the most experience playing RF so with a potential injury to JD, he gets the nod. If Moya is exposed to waivers and claimed, the Tigers don’t have a viable RF replacement beyond a spot start or two.

The Tigers have less than 2 weeks to sort this all out. The first clue will come on Friday when the Tigers receive the latest test results on JD’s foot. It’s anyone’s guess which players’ chairs will be removed once the music stops.


If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent

ONE TOPIC – TWO TAKES

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Sometimes fans overreact to team and player performances during the spring. But spring training does give you clues that may shed light on how healthy a player is or how effective they will be when the real season starts. So this brings about an interesting question.

Kurt and Holly have not shared their answers, and that’s the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.


Yes, it’s just spring training, but it does offer clues to the season. With less than 2 weeks before Opening Day, what is your overall impression of this team so far?


KURT

Key injuries always seem to dictate which direction this team heads. It’s a shame that this is the first thing you think of when you have to form an overall impression. But injuries, especially early ones, often plague the team before they can even get started; and true to form, JD’s foot is dominating the news from Lakeland.

They will scramble to sort out their outfield situation, which isn’t ideal, but these things continue to happen to the Tigers; how they overcome this will help define the team’s success.

With all that being said, some things have been quite encouraging.

Starting pitching will be our strength. If you can base anything on spring training performance, it’s quite evident that JV is ready. He looks dominant and ready to roll.

The other standout in the rotation has been Matt Boyd. This guy seems to be on the rise and he appears to be ready to take that next step. But we will have to see how it translates beginning next month.

And finally, you always look for signs early in the season for someone to emerge; someone unexpected. Will it be a rookie? Will it be someone acquired in a trade? Every successful team has at least one unexpected contribution; someone impactful who helped to make a difference between winning and not. The Tigers will certainly need a few to emerge; but I would like to focus on one possibility.

Anibal Sanchez – one very lost and perplexed pitcher for most of the spring, spent a bullpen session with his manager, Brad Ausmus. An adjustment was made with his arm slot which included an experiment with holding the ball further away from his head before cutting it loose. Ever since, Sanchez has been virtually unhittable. It’s been a small sample size, 9 innings I believe, but most importantly, he has shown some life.

We have been waiting for Brad’s leadership qualities as a former catcher to blossom for the benefit of this team, and this would be a huge step in the right direction.


HOLLY

This is a very different team since mid-March than we saw in February and even earlier this month. It wasn’t about the string of losses and the worst spring training record in baseball – it was about a team that simply didn’t mesh at all with pitchers who couldn’t find the strike zone and hitters who couldn’t make contact with the ball.

They were a team that couldn’t string 2 wins together until a week ago and were getting blown out of games by a wide margin – but now, they’ve won 7 of their last 9 with consistent run production and better pitching. It appears this team is finally starting to gel. Thankfully.

Starting pitching is the least of my worries with JV, Fulmer and now Boyd doing well. Zimmermann and Pelfrey are still TBD but the significant improvement to Sanchez’s pitching is going to complicate the final rotation selection. If he continues down this impressive path, the Tigers are going to keep him as a starter instead of making him the world’s most expensive reliever at $22 million.

When it comes to hitting, that’s a tougher subject to critique given that a huge chunk of the players in Lakeland won’t be making the roster because of the mass exodus to the WBC. And that’s probably my biggest complaint – to allow your most important players to take an extended leave of absence in your final year of solid competition. Once they return, there is still the time needed for them to once again get accustomed to their teammates and the rhythm of play.

Fifteen players and assorted coaches are gone with 2 guys who are pivotal to winning – Miggy and KRod – who, of course, got injured. Other teams refused to allow their top players to compete because of these reasons. And the injuries have started earlier and with greater frequency now that Collins, JD, Iggy, Fulmer and Castellanos, who are suffering from nagging injuries (or worse), have been added to that list. And the season hasn’t even started.

Aside from some promising rookies, the situations of the infield vs the outfield are as different as black and white. One offers comfort while the other induces nightmares and unfortunately, the latter may just get worse. The injury to JD may set off a chain reaction where the Tigers are forced to keep certain players over the preferred ones in order to fill holes that have no other options.

And that’s the most interesting thing about the team this year. They have gone from what was expected to be mostly straightforward decisions into a complicated scenario based upon unexpected resurrections and injuries.

Ideally, you always want to be able to formulate your roster based upon talent and not upon situations that force you to make decisions because of the money involved or the lack of depth.


If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent

NO DEFENSE FOR MOYA IN RIGHT

By:  Kurt Snyder

Well, we have certainly been here before. The ramifications of JD Martinez’ foot injury will have wide-ranging effects on the Tiger roster. What happens in right field to compensate for the time he will miss will determine where the team is headed at a number of positions.

So let’s take a look at our options by asking a few questions.

Do the Tigers still have the luxury of sending Jacoby Jones to Toledo to start the season?

Is Tyler Collins still a candidate to platoon with Mikie Mahtook in center, or is he now someone to be considered to take over in right?  Given his injury situation, who knows where he stands.

Is Anthony Gose, who seemed on the outside looking in, now a candidate to platoon in center?

Is Stephen Moya now the odds on favorite to take over in right field?

The press seems to think so. But this option is quite a bit more complicated.  If Moya, who is out of options, makes the Opening Day roster, the Tigers risk losing Dixon Machado (also out of options).

Which of the 2 have more value to the Tigers in light of JD’s injury? Well, given the sudden premium for outfielders, does Moya get the nod? With a regular potentially starting the season on the DL, it’s hard to imagine the Tigers putting any outfielder on waivers.

This would be a tough break for Machado and his future with the Tigers. He’s a talented kid and would surely not clear waivers. But right now, it’s all based on need. Of course, we are still awaiting word on how long Martinez will actually be out, but all indications are that it will be quite a while.

This may all but sew up Machado’s status with the big club. Andrew Romine’s versatility gives him a leg up and is all but guaranteed a spot on the roster as a switch hitting infielder / outfielder utility man – the prototype for what you want coming off the bench. Machado? He’s a shortstop. Period.

So, this whole thing is a big old muddled mess. Another Tiger injury and another scramble in response, is awaiting us.

So what’s the recommendation? We know the players. We know the options. What we don’t know is how long this will be a problem. We don’t know how long JD will be out. But what has been the biggest issue with the Tiger outfield? Defense, of course. In fact, JD is ranked as one of the worst defensive outfielders in the American League.

So, attacking this situation defensively may be the smartest move. Don’t drop Moya into right field to replace Martinez. You would downgrade the position both offensively and defensively. Why would you do that?

The Tigers must ask themselves a question. Who’s their best defensive outfielder? You are not going to replace JD’s offensive production, so in response, you need to save runs instead. Anthony Gose is your best outfielder, and now quite suddenly he may be part of the solution.

You take your pick on where he should play. He has played a fine centerfield for Detroit while he has been here. And he played both center and right when he was in Toronto. In fact, history tells us that your best outfield arm belongs in right field. And as we know, Gose has a gun.

So you decide on the combination of outfielders. Who should stay? Who should go? Anthony Gose would be one of the more logical choices to help fill the void. As for Moya? As for Machado? Tough call.


If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent