Kurt Bio PictureHolly Bio PicBy:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

Well, fans have seen enough Tiger pitching this spring to identify where the issues are. They reside with the usual suspects. Our writers will concentrate on one of those pitchers today, whose future is very much in doubt.

Holly and Kurt 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’s the question.

It is still very early in spring training, but Anibal Sanchez looked horrible in his first start. If this continues, what do you expect the Tigers to do about him?


Zimmermann, Pelfrey, Lowe and Sanchez – 4 pitchers of concern and 4 different ways of addressing what to do with them should they seriously falter. One will stay because of a lengthy, very expensive contract that no other team will touch, 2 who have just one remaining year and minimal player rights that give the team options but the remaining one will be the sticking point. Anibal Sanchez.

Granted, he pitched in just his first exhibition game, but the man looked totally lost, was visibly upset on the mound and told reporters that he had “no clue” what was wrong. Several scouts said his pitches clocked at the high 80’s.

Personally, I’m surprised he still hasn’t sought the advice of a sports psychologist, the secret weapon of many pitchers. He was a haunted man last year when he pitched and certainly not helped by Ausmus who kept him in games until he was shelled.

But until the team, and Sanchez, try new things, the Tigers are limited in what they can do with him. He’s a 10-and- 5 guy so he can veto a number of moves the Tigers may attempt.

How they address him, should things not pan out, will tell volumes about the team. Because reality says that the $22 million he is still owed won’t be shrugged off especially since they won’t be able to recoup any of it and it will still count towards the luxury tax. It will, however, give us a clue about how Chris Ilitch will run the team and where the priorities lie.

Make no mistake; it won’t be up to Brad to decide if Anibal makes the roster. There’s too many zeroes tied up in the decision so it will be kicked upstairs to at least Al Avila who will definitely have to run it by Chris. Big money has a tendency to keep players on the roster even if they are not deserving.

God help us all if he is given a starter’s spot solely because of the money.

But Avila could also expose him to waivers and if a team grabs him, they either pick up Sanchez’s salary or both teams negotiate an actual trade. If he clears waivers, the Tigers could convince him to head to Toledo to work on his game without the pressure found in Detroit.

We’ve seen countless examples of guys who have stayed with their teams despite stats saying otherwise because, in the end, teams are loathe to simply dump salary and receive nothing in return.

Quite frankly, the Tigers have nothing to lose by sending him to Toledo. He can fill some needs there, work on righting the ship without impacting the standings and potentially help with a spot call-up or two should Tigers pitching become decimated by injuries this year.


We have seen this look before from Anibal. No apparent injury, but plenty of doubt and discouragement. It makes for a difficult situation for the Tigers should this continue.

After last season when he had so much trouble heading beyond the 5th inning, I had hoped there may be a role for him in the pen not unlike what he provided during the playoffs against Baltimore a couple of years ago; something late in the game.

But his confidence has been shattered since then, with injuries thrown into the mix. And the combination of the two has turned Sanchez into a pitcher we just don’t recognize anymore. His ability to locate pitches has left him, velocity is down and he no longer has the ability to keep hitters off-balance.

So what do you do if all of this continues? Well, to me he is headed to the waiver wire. And given his price tag, he would probably clear it. After that, it is up to him what he is willing to accept to try to get his groove back.  Because it hasn’t been around for a while. Late last season, he was allowed to work out the kinks with the big club.

But this year, he would have to put on his big boy pants and consider a stint with Toledo, assuming he clears waivers. The Tigers, given the importance of this season, can’t afford to have anyone but their best pitchers on the mound this season.

Once April hits, only your best pitchers should head north, not your biggest investments. This reminds me. The next question will be what to do with Pelfrey. Because he and Sanchez are the 2 head scratchers on this staff.  And the question has less to do with their roles on this team than whether they belong on it at all.

So many of you have asked Totally Tigers to include pictures, audio, interviews and polls.  Well, now you’ve got ‘em! 

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If you’re not following us on Twitter, here’s what you’ve missed just in the past couple of days:

      Why the Mets pulled the plug on trading for JD over the winter

      Why the Dodgers were very interested but ended up not trading for Kinsler & JV

      The proof that JV was a better pitcher last year than Porcello keeps on a’ comin’

      Miggy’s new leadership role

      Machado may just be a keeper

      Al Avila keeps filling Toledo with veterans

      More predictions from the pros about where the Tigers will finish

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15 thoughts on “ONE TOPIC – TWO TAKES

  1. Haven’t heard too much of the use of a sports psychologist . Steve sax and Rick ankiel would have been fixable ? Are there recent examples of success ?
    And if we worry about one inning out of Sanchez then should we also worry about Norris ?


    • Hi, Rick – As one example, I watched a panel discussion with 6 Hall of Fame pitchers who all said that they owed so much to their psychologists. John Shmoltz even said he wouldn’t have had the stats he did if it wasn’t for his. Most teams have at least one on their medical staff. Thanks for continuing the dialog! – Holly


      • Hi, Helen – Great question which prompted me to research. It appears that Willis was diagnosed with anxiety disorder twice while with the Tigers. But there was no proof that they got him help and some in the media called out the Tigers for not doing more than “wringing their hands.” Instead, they claimed he had a “blood disorder.” One can probably assume that some turn towards the medical explanations, in part, so the team can recover some of the salary via insurance. Thanks for keeping the conversation going! – Holly

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Best option for Anibal is Toledo. He can focus while preserving his dignity.
    Repeated exposure to public failure is detrimental to him & the team. They certainly need their best, & Sanchez must prove he still belongs in that category.


  3. Why didn’t Sanchez seek out a sports psychologist? The question should be, “Why didn’t the Tigers send him to one?” Ausmus now thinks Nick may have worked on his speed over the winter. Don’t they know? Why are the Tigers so PASSIVE in the offseason programs and health issues of their players?

    Liked by 1 person

    • This comment seems right. Is there good evidence that successful teams are more proactive in this respect?


      • Hi, Vincent – Good question. Statistically, I don’t think a correlation can be done. But in my research about teams and their resources, the ones who win on a regular basis have more resources and programs for players than teams who only win occasionally. The Cardinals are the poster team for this and actually have requirements in a number of areas that their players have to complete and certify in during the off-season. Thanks for continuing the dialog! – Holly


  4. Pelfrey and Lowe (5-13 combined) was money wasted. Two other “additions” in Al Avila’s first off-season fiasco, Salty and Aviles, batted .171 and .210, respectively. It was wise for the owners to lock the vault in Al’s second off-season.


    • Hi, Max – Willis was in the last year of his contract and traded halfway through the season for another player. The Tigers paid some of that contract, which amounted to somewhere less than $6 mill, Thanks for keeping the conversation going! – Holly


  5. We missed out on the play offs and possibly the best record in the AL because of Sanchez and pelfry. I also believe part of the reason we lost max was the money wasted on Sanchez. Wasted contract’s on the usual losers is a basic wash compared to max,porcello and a needed reliever Andrew Miller.


  6. Who says my Mud Hens want either Sanchez or Pelfery? Here’s a better idea. Since those two can usually get through the batting order once, let each pitch 3 innings with Zim doing the final 3 every 5 days. The only way I can think of to have a chance of winning with them on the team. You re going to use at least 3 pitchers each time one of them starts anyway….


  7. Any indication anywhere his issues are of a personal nature and it has affected his performance on the mound the past couple of years? Ballplayers are people too. He might be going through something.


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