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 Jason Beck Mailbag: 2008 Season

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PostSubject: Jason Beck Mailbag: 2008 Season   Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:06 pm

02/18/2008 9:36 PM ET
Mailbag: Who will snag 'pen spots?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers Tigers fans' questions
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

Who has the inside track for the open spots in the Tigers' bullpen, and do you think that Zach Miner will be considered the sixth starter, but sent to Toledo so he can remain "stretched out" in case a replacement is needed in the rotation?
-- Patrick O., Costa Mesa, Calif.


At this point, I'm not sure there is an inside track for the bullpen spots, if for no better reason than nobody knows for sure what to expect from Francisco Cruceta and Denny Bautista. They have great arms, but they haven't produced the results yet in the big leagues. Even in winter ball, they had some up-and-down performances. If one or both of them emerge, that affects the picture. If neither do, then the Tigers have to figure out where to go from there. Jason Grilli is an experienced reliever with upside, while Yorman Bazardo has a good arm but is converting over from starting.

As for Miner, he's kind of in between. He's expected to be stretched out at some point, but he still could fit in a relief role. The fact that he still could be optioned to the Minors doesn't help his cause, but if he's outpitching everybody else, I don't think he'll be doomed to Triple-A because of it.

In all I have read and heard about the upcoming season, the depletion of the Tigers' farm system with all the trades made recently and bullpen candidates, I never hear Macay McBride mentioned. Wasn't he supposed to have high potential when acquired last year? What is the story on him?
-- James C., Grand Ridge, Fla.


The plan on McBride is to stretch him out as a starter this spring and try to recapture some of the success he had in that role earlier in his career. Plus, Seay and Byrdak appear set as the left-handed options for the bullpen.

Is everyone writing off Jacque Jones for left field? Isn't this guy a pretty good player? I thought he was a leadoff hitter at one time. With his speed and if he can bunt, he could really be a bother to other teams. How is he on defense?
-- Gerry H., Erie, Pa.


I don't think Jones is getting written off, but I think he's being overshadowed by some of the bigger names the Tigers brought in over the offseason and by some of his numbers last year.

Jones is an interesting player because of last season's splits (.233 average first half, .332 second half) and the fact that his track record suggests a lot more power than he showed in 2007. He was a leadoff hitter early in his career in Minnesota, but that was five years ago, and he won't lead off with the Tigers. He reported to camp early and has been among those working with outfield coach Andy Van Slyke on defensive drills before the full squad reports.

Now that the Tigers have their set position players, is Gary Sheffield going to be strictly in a DH role?
-- Brian E., Swartz Creek, Mich.


Not strictly, but the vast majority of his games will be at DH, especially early in the season. He could still end up in the outfield on spot occasions and start there when the Tigers have Interleague games on the road and lose the DH spot.

With single-game tickets set to go on sale in March, when can a Tigers fan expect to learn what the team's promotional schedule plans are for the upcoming season?
-- Jason M., Flint, Mich.


The Tigers just released their promotional schedule on Monday. You can check it out here.

In your notes recently you ended the article by saying, "Partial season-ticket plans do not include Opening Day or the option to buy postseason tickets." It was my understanding when I purchased my 41-game partial season-ticket package that I would have the opportunity to purchase postseason tickets if we are in the playoffs. Hopefully this was a rare oversight by you. Please clear up this situation for me.
-- Jeremy D., Au Gres, Mich.


According to Bob Raymond, vice president of ticket sales and service, new 41-game-ticket holders who just ordered their plans are entered into a random drawing for the chance to buy postseason tickets.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck Mailbag: 2008 Season   Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:28 pm

03/17/2008 4:38 PM ET
Mailbag: Is Bautista a lock for the 'pen?
Tigers beat reporter Jason Beck answers fans' questions
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

What are the chances that Denny Bautista will make the team? As a season-ticket holder this spring, I have been impressed with him. He has great velocity and control on the mound. With all of the injuries in the 'pen Denny could fill that seventh or eighth inning spot nicely.
-- James C., Orlando, Fla.


Barring a late collapse, he appears to be a safe bet, especially with Fernando Rodney expected to start the season on the disabled list. His Spring Training stats speak for themselves, for what that's worth, but his stuff has been the key. He has consistently spotted his fastball well with velocity, and he has avoided getting himself into trouble with walks, which was an anchor tied to him in his other stops.

Bautista has been a intriguing player to watch this spring because of his history. He has always impressed teams with his arm but couldn't put everything together in the big leagues during his previous stops in Kansas City and Colorado. He could look great one outing and couldn't find the strike zone the next. But he threw very well in winter ball, and the Tigers picked him up in a minor trade the day of the Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis deal, and those wild outings haven't come up here in camp.

Am I correct in thinking that Marcus Thames and Jacque Jones will split time depending on the pitcher?
-- Max P., Ann Arbor, Mich.


Jim Leyland says that it's not going to be a strict platoon, but yes, they will share time in left field. Leyland added that Thames will also get some starts in first base and right field on days that Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez are off.

Leyland seems to want to get Thames a good number of at-bats and keep his bat fresh. We'll see how the mix works out.

Silly question. I have been to a couple of the Tigers Spring Training games in Kissimmee and Viera, and both games they wore their home hats with the white olde English 'D' instead of the traditional orange 'D' away hats. Are the Tigers giving up their orange D hats?
- Dan S., Melbourne, Fla.


Someone else asked about that earlier this spring. The Tigers don't wear the orange 'D' hats at all in Spring Training, even for road games. It's just simpler using one set of hats when you have so many players in camp to outfit early on.

I'm wondering about the reasoning behind sitting Granderson so much against left-handers this spring. I realize that he struggles against lefties, but he's not going to get any better if he never gets to play against them. It seems to me that Spring Training would be the perfect time to get him some swings against lefties. Are they worried that that will somehow have a negative impact on his approach against right-handers?
-- Alex M., Ann Arbor, Mich.


Part of the reason for sitting him early was that Leyland wanted to get him some rest over the first couple weeks and save his energy for the regular season. He was in the lineup against Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez last Friday before that game was rained out, so I think he'll get some looks at lefties over the next week and a half.

Could Brandon Inge's contract be career-ending? I ask this because it seems his contract is the main reason teams do not want to trade for him. If this is the case, what could be done so he could be dealt?
-- Justin R., Saint Clair Shores, Mich.


No contract is career-ending. Sometimes they're career-continuing, as the Tigers have found out over the years. But yes, the contract is proving to be a big obstacle in Detroit's efforts to trade Inge. The only thing the Tigers can do about that, really, is to up the portion of the contract they'll pay in future years. But depending on how much they'd have to pay, it reaches a point where they have to ask if it makes sense to keep the player at that price, even if only to trade him later.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck Mailbag: 2008 Season   Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:33 pm

Bautista at least deserves a shot....best pitcher in camp this entire spring!!
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck Mailbag: 2008 Season   Sat Mar 22, 2008 11:28 am

sure was nice to see him...
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