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 Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX

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PostSubject: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:11 am


After struggling last season, Dontrelle Willis
could emerge as another lefty option in Detroit's bullpen. (AP)

02/10/09 8:14 PM EST
Inbox: How will rotation shake out?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers Tigers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

I have been reading about all of the new prospects and acquisitions that could possibly end up in this year's pitching staff, but I struggle to see how it will all fit together. Outside of an injury, Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Armando Galarraga and Edwin Jackson all seem assured of a place in the rotation. But with three viable contenders (Zach Miner, Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson) for the fifth spot, I am curious what will become of the two candidates that are not selected. My guess is that Miner will be the best candidate, but will end up in the 'pen because he has demonstrated worth there in the past, leaving either Robertson or Willis to be the odd man out. Do you see the Tigers releasing either of these players, or will they force them into the bullpen and just try to make it work? Will there even be room in the bullpen, given all the new arms?
-- Tom F., Oregon, Ohio


There's the possibility of converting Robertson or Willis into a reliever. After all, Robertson and Willis are both left-handed, and there's only one lefty assured of a spot in the bullpen so far -- Bobby Seay. Depending on how they all pitch, there's also the possibility that the Tigers could try to trade one of them for a team needing pitching.

I know the Tigers are sticking to a strict payroll, but I read quotes from owner Mike Illitch that he will spend next year. What's the philosophy behind this if there are great bargains out there?
-- Randy T., Detroit

Part of it looks like an economic decision, obviously. Still, other than Gary Sheffield's $14 million salary and the potential end to Placido Polanco's reasonable contract, the Tigers don't have much more payroll coming off the books next offseason barring any trades, and part of that will be offset by salary increases to Curtis Granderson and Miguel Cabrera. But I also think the bargain angle is being hyped up quite a bit as we near Spring Training. Everybody wondered why Ben Sheets was still on the market until he came up with an elbow injury that requires surgery. There are a few valuable guys out there, but there are also a lot of guys who are still out there for durability concerns, a perceived weakness in their game, or players still holding out for a better offer -- or the hope that a team has a need arise in Spring Training.

It seems that no one is addressing the Tigers' predominantly right-handed lineup, both at bat and on the pitching staff. Is this going to prove to be a big weakness on this team over the course of the season?
-- Lynn M., Fuessen, Germany

I think in an ideal world, the Tigers would like a more balanced lineup, but not at the expense of their other priorities -- especially on defense. If their hitters in the top half of the lineup perform to their capabilities, they're expected to be able to hit right-handed pitchers. Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez and Polanco all hit right-handers well last year. Sheffield and Brandon Inge did not, but the difference wasn't vast against lefties, either.

As for the pitching balance, keep in mind that the biggest struggles in the rotation last year arguably all came from left-handers -- Willis, Robertson and Kenny Rogers. It'll be interesting to see, though, how the bullpen mix plays out in terms of a potential second lefty reliever, as mentioned above.

I just don't get it. Teams can win without a starting left-handed bat. Why is the Tigers' front office so obsessed with having one at the expense of benching Marcus Thames? I feel like this guy deserves an everyday spot in the lineup, despite his mediocre defense. He's pretty much guaranteed producing big numbers if given the chance; he's done so already as a role player!
-- Tim R., Maumee, Ohio


I know that has been a question surrounding Thames in the past, and the trade for Jacque Jones to get a left-handed bat left Thames out of the lineup last year, but lefty-righty balance has nothing to do with having Thames on the bench now. Carlos Guillen is a proven hitter when he's healthy, and once the Tigers made the decision to move him to the outfield, there was no competition.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:40 am



02/23/09 9:30 PM EST
Inbox: What's in Porcello's repertoire?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers Tigers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

There's been some discussion among Tigers fans and Minor League fans as to what Rick Porcello threw coming out of high school and what he's throwing now. I see from your previous article that last season he worked mainly on the curveball and not the slider. Was this because his slider was so good that it didn't need much work, or was it because he's scrapping the slider altogether and just going with three pitches? Or is there another reason?
-- Dan H., Grand Rapids, Mich.


Porcello had worked with a slider and a curveball coming out of high school, but Tigers instructors wanted him to focus his efforts on developing one of them. They chose the curveball and the upside of developing a consistent one to go with his power arsenal. Pitching coach Rick Knapp said Monday, however, that he'll use both of them for now, and then they'll talk about whether to use one or the other, or both, or try to combine them somehow.

Jim Leyland mentioned that two players were keys to the Tigers' success this year, Joel Zumaya and Brandon Inge. Did he or can you expand on the reasoning on Inge? Is Leyland expecting him to hit better than .220? Obviously his defense will be solid, but what makes him a "key"?
-- Jim H., Caledonia, Mich.


The key to which Leyland referred is how much offense the Tigers get from Inge. If he can somehow recapture some of the offense he put up in 2006, according to Leyland, it would be a big addition for the Tigers at the bottom of their batting order.

Is there a possibility that Jeff Larish could end up platooning with Inge at third? This would get his left-handed bat into the lineup with more regularity.
-- Kevin O. Milford, Mich.


The plan is for Inge to be the everyday third baseman. While I understand the upside of getting Larish's bat into the lineup somehow, the Tigers want Inge and his glove at third regularly while giving him a consistent diet of at-bats to see if the adjustments he made at the plate pay off.

Why doesn't Curtis Granderson run more? Is it Leyland not sending him? We know his speed is second to none. I believe Granderson only had 12 steals in 140 or so games. Not a lot for a leadoff hitter with his speed.
-- Matt W., West Palm Beach, Fla.


Granderson has always had a bit of a perfectionist mentality in him, one that makes him want to eliminate mistakes. Leyland and coaches believe that plays a role in his decisions on when to steal -- that he waits sometimes for the absolute right situations to go. The upside of that approach is that he has been caught stealing just five times in 43 attempts over the past two seasons, one reason why he led the American League in baserunning rating last year according to Bill James Online. The flip side is that he takes fewer chances, and Leyland has already brought up the desire to get him to run more. Baserunning coach Andy Van Slyke worked with him on that in 2007, and the result was a more aggressive mentality on base hits in which he looks for extra bases out of the batter's box.

I know that the Tigers have a ton of long-ball capabilities. What I can't understand is why small ball was not used more last season. So many runners were left on base last year. And with a struggling staff on the mound, wouldn't you think they would find a way to manufacture runs? This year invites another powerful lineup if everyone stays healthy, but how surprising would it be to see a few more bunts and sacrifices? After all, most championships are won with a balanced offense.
-- Mark Z., St. Clair Shores, Mich.


Leyland has talked this spring about wanting to see better baserunning out of his team, such as going from first to third on a single and scoring from first on extra-base hits. In that sense, I think you could see an attempt at creating more runs on the basepaths. But other than Adam Everett and Placido Polanco, this really isn't a team of talented bunters.

Also keep in mind that you want bunts to set up better scoring opportunities. Having Everett bunt over Inge to set up Granderson creates a better opportunity than, say, using it with someone in the middle of the order to create an RBI opportunity for somebody lower down.

Why hasn't there been an official retirement announcement regarding Kenny Rogers? Did I miss something?
-- Carol S., Plainwell, Mich.


Nope. It's up to the player to announce his retirement. Rogers hasn't said anything official as to whether he's retiring.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:18 pm

About that Tiger bullpen today
BECK'S BLOG
Posted on July 4, 2009 at 3:06 PM

Jim Leyland has a few more relievers available than you might think. He'll rest Freddy Dolsi for the rest of the series, and he wouldn't mind doing the same with Joel Zumaya, but everyone else is available. There was a big box of Cap'n Crunch in the pregame food spread just to make sure.

The one lineup decision made in light of last night's marathon was at catcher, where Dusty Ryan will get the start. The Tigers will rest Gerald Laird, while Joe Mauer is the DH for the Twins. Both caught all 16 innings last night. In Laird's case, he's the first Tiger to catch that many innings in a game since Brandon Inge caught a 16-inning game and a 17-inning marathon in 2003.

Denard Span, meanwhile, is again in the Twins lineup, and Leyland is running out of ideas for how to pitch to him.

"We've tried everything," Leyland said. "We just haven't been able to get the guy out. Hopefully tomorrow's another day. He hits .350 off left-handers, and he hits our right-handers, too. We just haven't been able to get the guy out for whatever reason.

"I don't know. I'm thinking about throwing [him] the blooper pitch. I'm dead serious, too. I'm not kidding you. I'm thinking about trying to get in his head a little bit and have a guy throw a blooper ball. We did it with Sheffield one time. I'm seriously thinking about it. Throw the old blooper ball, let him wind up, trying to hit it out of the park, maybe get him out of sync for a little bit. Because he kills us. We just don't get him out."

TIGERS

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. Thames, DH
  5. Raburn, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Ordonez, RF
  8. Ryan, C
  9. Everett, SS
P: Edwin Jackson

TWINS

  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Brendan Harris, SS
  3. Joe Mauer, DH
  4. Justin Morneau, 1B
  5. Jason Kubel, LF
  6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
  7. Brian Buscher, 3B
  8. Jose Morales, C
  9. Nick Punto, 2B
P: Francisco Liriano


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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:39 pm

Leyland on French, Miner
BECK'S BLOG
Posted on July 4, 2009 at 4:30 AM

The Tigers' first pitching change of the night seemed almost like a previous night's game by the time the Tigers rallied ahead for good in the 16th inning Friday night/Saturday morning, but the move from starter Luke French to Zach Miner ended up playing a big role in this game. French, while walking two hitters and working deep into counts on others, managed to keep his outing from far worse with timely outs. Miner, after retiring Michael Cuddyer to strand two runners in the fifth, allowed five of six batters to reach base safely in the sixth, capped by back-to-back triples that drove in three runs and set up the game-tying sacrifice fly.

The rest is a long bit of history.

"Everybody's got to make their contributions tonight," Leyland said. "Because Zach had a bad night, it cost us a lot. That's just the way it is. That can't happen. You've got a 7-2 lead. You've got to go in there and get us three outs. That's just the way it is. I'm not upset with Zach; I'm just making a point. That's why I talk about every pitcher making a contribution. ...

"This game should've never gotten to this point. You've got to come in and stop it right now. It's 7-2, You've got a free run, nobody on base. He just didn't get it done. He was up with everything and he had a bad night. But he's been doing a great job, too. I want to make that clear."

On French, Leyland suggested the rookie left-hander's 10-day layoff left him rusty.

"I think a lot of that was from the layoff," Leyland said. "So he did fine. He actually came out of it doing fine."

As for Saturday's bullpen, Leyland said everyone should be available but Zumaya, whom he said he's going to rest at least Saturday and possibly Sunday after 50-plus pitches.

(AND DOLSI, AS BECK STATED IN HIS OTHER JULY 4TH POST.)



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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:18 am

Tigers rank 4th among MLB clubs in TV ratings
BECK'S BLOG
Posted on October 13, 2009 at 11:50 AM

According to Sports Business Journal, FS Detroit saw a 10.1% increase in its ratings for Tigers telecasts up to 6.89, fourth-highest among regoinal sports networks for Major League clubs behind the Red Sox on NESN (9.46), Cardinals on FS Midwest (7.97) and Phillies on Comcast Sports Net (7.13). The Twins on FS North (6.25) rounded out the top five, even though they had a big drop.

FS Detroit reported record ratings for at least two Tigers games down the stretch of this year's playoff race.


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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:13 pm

Inbox: Is a veteran closer an option?
MLB.com's Beck answers Detroit fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

11/02/09 11:17 PM EST

With the Tigers' lack of financial flexibility and so many closers on the market this year, what are the realistic options for the back end of the bullpen? Is the team more likely to use some combination of Ryan Perry and Joel Zumaya, or do you expect the Tigers to fill the role via free agency?
-- Matt F., Chicago


Zumaya and Perry are potential options at closer, but neither is positioned as the Tigers' top option heading into November. Though Zumaya is on track to come into Spring Training healthy, the fact remains that three straight injury-shortened seasons leave it next to impossible to count on him in any role until he can stay healthy for a long stretch. If Zumaya can do that, and if he can progress on his secondary stuff, then I think he enters the closer picture. For what it's worth, after all Zumaya's history with this club the past four years, he turns just 25 years old next Monday.

Perry, seemingly the closer in waiting, is in a similar situation that Zumaya held a few years ago before the injuries. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski talked about that possibility in his end-of-season discussion, saying some in the organization feel Perry is ready to close. Still, if you look at Perry's game logs and how he was used down the stretch, he didn't have a single opportunity for a hold after Sept. 8, let alone a save chance. His situations over the final two months usually involved keeping the Tigers close in games they were trailing, or filling innings in a blowout.

I'd expect the Tigers to look on the open market for late-inning help on a short-term contract, whether it involves bringing back free agents Brandon Lyon or Fernando Rodney or bringing in someone else. On the surface, one would like their chances at keeping Lyon a little more than Rodney, especially if they can offer the closer's role. But the relief market was so unpredictable last year that I don't think you can tell ahead of time what's in and out of reach for many teams looking for relief help. Detroit didn't really pick up discussions on Lyon last offseason until around the holidays.

Does the organization see a possible replacement for Adam Everett at shortstop in Brent Dlugach? Sure, he's not much of a hitter, but neither is Everett, and Dlugach is supposed to have a very solid glove. Plus, he'd be far cheaper. Thanks.
-- David T., Winston-Salem, N.C.


Dlugach has some extra-base punch, which he credits to his work at Triple-A Toledo with hitting coach Leon "Bull" Durham, but I get your point. I think the Tigers would prefer a veteran at short, possibly Everett if they can work out a deal, but not necessarily. It would be very interesting if Detroit had rookies on both ends of its double-play combo. I think Dlugach provides a good insurance option, though, in case of injury.

This is killing me and I can't find a consistent answer, even after consulting the rule book. Until Rodney had his one official blown save, he was considered perfect in save opportunities. But I clearly recall a game against the White Sox that went into extra innings in which the Tigers threw a runner out at the plate to stay in the game and then Miguel Cabrera hit a homer in extra innings to win it. As I recall, Rodney walked the bases loaded in the ninth inning with a three-run lead and all of those runners scored, although Jim Leyland may have taken him out before all three scored. Why is that not a blown save?
-- Mark F., Toledo


You're thinking of the June 9 game at Chicago, when Rodney walked all three batters he faced before Leyland pulled him for Lyon, who struck out Jermaine Dye, gave up a run-scoring walk to Jim Thome, then a two-run double to Paul Konerko to tie the game. Once Lyon entered, that became his save situation, and he took the blown save once he gave up the hit to Konerko that tied it. The fact that those runs were charged to Rodney don't matter. The rules for saves are different than the rules for runs charged and wins and losses. As it turned out, Lyon stayed in for the 10th and retired the side in order for the win after Cabrera's homer.

I am wondering where things stand with Dusty Ryan. Is he projected to make the big league roster in 2010 and even possibly start? Gerald Laird is mostly known for his defense, so I didn't know if they planned on him being the starter next season or not. Thanks.
-- Tim C., St. Louis


As it stands now, the Tigers would most likely head into next season with a mix of Laird and Alex Avila behind the plate. Ryan would be an insurance option while getting more time at Triple-A Toledo.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:12 pm

Inbox: Any value in trading Cabrera?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

11/24/09 5:42 PM EST

Recognizing this is a bit radical, but what are the chances that the team would look to trade Miguel Cabrera to get a couple of young position players to fill in some of the team's more glaring needs (i.e. left field and shortstop)? Unloading his contract would allow you to spend the money to keep Placido Polanco, Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney.
-- Tom, Oregon, Ohio


I don't write off the idea that the Tigers could listen to interest in Cabrera at this point. If there's a chance to land a bevy of young talent that gives the team a better chance to win now and later, it makes sense to listen, given the situation. As one industry observer said, with a team that talented that didn't win, it doesn't make sense to have several untouchables. Still, listening and pursuing are two different things, and a few reasons make a deal unlikely.

First, Cabrera's contract dramatically reduces the number of teams that could take on such a deal, and of those clubs, there aren't many needing a first baseman. Boston fits the situation, given its rumored interest in San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez, but its strength is young pitching rather than young hitting. And without a number of other teams, it's difficult to drive up the market. That's what makes players such as Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson more realistic targets.

The Tigers, ironically, might be better situated to handle Cabrera's contract than several other teams. Yes, $20 million would be a huge number to take off the payroll, but the teeth of the deal really comes in the five years beyond 2010, after the club loses more than $50 million and as much as $60 million in contracts. The only players currently under contract beyond 2011 are Cabrera and Granderson, though the Tigers would like to have Justin Verlander signed long term, too.

The other factor is that for all the economic issues surrounding Detroit and the organization -- and those troubles affect owner Mike Ilitch like everyone else -- the fact remains that Ilitch likes star players on his team. He demonstrated it with the Red Wings and Steve Yzerman, and with the Tigers and Ivan Rodriguez. Ilitch pushed to acquire Cabrera two winters ago to add a young star hitter to the lineup. To trade him after two years and no postseason berths would essentially be an admission that the trade was a mistake.

What are the Tigers' options for the back end of the starting rotation? Is it likely to be in-house options only or could there be free-agent veterans such as Randy Wolf from the Dodgers?
-- Jacob P., Toledo, Ohio


Unless the Tigers get a Major League-ready young starter in a trade, which is very possible, the rotation will be filled in-house. Jeremy Bonderman will be back as a starter as long as he's healthy, while Armando Galarraga and Nate Robertson will be trying to show they're back.

Jason, I know you may think this sounds ridiculous, but would it be possible for the Tigers to trade Cabrera for Roy Halladay? I know this will never happen, but it WOULD make the Tigers a better team.
-- Bobby J., Romulus, Mich.


I think you just answered your own question.

What do you see GM Dave Dombrowski and the front-office staff doing with Justin Verlander this year? Since he is eligible for free agency in two years, do you lock him up for three or four years or let New York or Boston "woo" him? Thanks.
-- Rachel G., Fenton, Mich.


If the Tigers are going to sign Verlander long term, this is the time to do it. The baseball marketplace has changed a lot in the past couple years, but a pitcher who's just a year away from free agency very rarely passes that up for a new contract. Dombrowski has said more than once this offseason that he wants Verlander to be a Tigers pitcher for a long time.

The flip side of that, of course, is that Verlander has to want to sign. It'll take a lot of money, no doubt, but as trade rumors and discussions swirl around this team, a big consideration should be to give Verlander a chance to win in Detroit. He's an intense competitor, as everyone in Detroit knows. Clearing a ton of payroll and talent to try to sign Verlander long term defeats the purpose.

I attended an Erie SeaWolves game, where Wilkin Ramirez played third base for that game. He looked great over there. Why not turn him into that with all of the outfielders we have?
-- Ken V., Erie, Pa.


I think you're referring to 2008, when Ramirez played two games at third base at Erie. He started his pro career at third, but committed 69 errors in 170 games there over three seasons before the Tigers moved him to the outfield.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:14 pm

Inbox: Are back-loaded deals an option?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers Tigers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

11/30/09 10:00 AM EST

With money tight for 2010, but $59.1 million in contracts likely expiring the following year (Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis, Brandon Inge and Magglio Ordonez), do you see the possibility of a back-loaded contract to the right free agent who is young enough to fill a need for a few years? It would seem to make sense since it would keep the fans happy in 2010 without the budget taking a big hit when the money isn't there.
-- Greg S., Marysville, Ohio


Not a big contract, no. I think the days of heavily back-loaded contracts are on hiatus given the questions about the economy long-term, especially in Michigan.

Why did the Tigers allow Ordonez's huge option to kick in for 2010? Even though he came on late in the season -- very late -- he's not worth close to the $18 million he'll be paid next year. I have to believe they could have gotten a better outfielder for half that money. They have too many bad contracts as it is, and they should have cut that one loose.
-- Joe B., Buffalo, N.Y.


I know it's a big question in hindsight, especially given the Tigers' payroll situation, but that wasn't the primary concern at the time. Ordonez was one of the most productive hitters they had going for the final two months, and they would've had to get through the playoff race without him. There still wasn't certainty about Carlos Guillen playing the outfield every day, and both Clete Thomas and Marcus Thames were slumping down the stretch. That also doesn't include the distraction that an Ordonez release would've brought onto a team fighting for a postseason spot -- which, if they would've made the playoffs, would've brought in a good amount of money.

My question is about road trip offdays, especially ones relatively close to home, such as on September 21st of this year when the Tigers had the day off between series in Minnesota and Cleveland. Can you speak to what the team did on that day or what they generally do? Do they stay in Minneapolis, get into Cleveland or do they head home for the day? Also, how much control do players have over situations like these? If a player wanted to go back to Detroit for the day, would they have that option?
-- Aaron, Saginaw, Mich.


When the Tigers have an offday in the middle of a road trip, they always travel on to the next city and spend the offday there. In the case of that September road trip you mentioned, they flew from Minnesota after the Sunday game and spent Monday in Cleveland. Some guys played golf. Others were tourists for a day. Others just used the offday to catch up on sleep.

Players are free to head home if they want and can set up their own transportation, but they have to make sure they're back to get to the clubhouse on time for batting practice and meetings at the start of the next series. In the case of the Cleveland series, some players had their families drive over from Michigan, since it isn't far.

My question is why the Tigers don't just move Guillen back to his old position at shortstop and play Ryan Raburn as the starting left fielder? Raburn really showed up towards the end of last season, and sending him back down to Triple-A would be a waste.
-- Tyler U., Toledo, Ohio


Raburn won't be heading back to Triple-A -- he's out of options -- but I see your point as far as trying to get him playing time. The problem with moving Guillen back to shortstop is whether he has the range to do it, and whether he can stay healthy doing it. Though Guillen believes he can still play the infield, the Tigers are skeptical on both counts, which is why they moved him out from short two years ago.

Could Alex Avila be a potential starter by the end of the year? Gerald Laird was amazing at throwing out runners, but Avila appears to be a much better hitter and is not bad behind the dish as well.
-- Brian P., Webster, N.Y.

The potential and the hope are certainly there. The focus with him will be on getting him more work with the pitchers and on polishing his defense, since he's still relatively new as a catcher. He isn't there yet, but he's progressing in a hurry.

What are the possibilities that Jeremy Bonderman goes the John Smoltz route and becomes an option for closer?
-- Sam W., Livonia, Mich.


Not strong. Given that the Tigers have a few young relievers either ready for the big leagues or a year away, any Bonderman move to the bullpen would likely be a short-term fix. It would be different if, say, the Tigers didn't have Ryan Perry, Robbie Weinhardt and Cody Satterwhite coming up.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:15 am

Jason Beck is a genius.
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:08 pm

Inbox: How will Magglio fare in 2010?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers Tigers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

12/14/09 3:03 PM EST

Why is everyone saying that Magglio Ordonez is a waste of money? He really showed up at the end of the season, and he's why they even made it to game 163. He also played a pretty great left field. Do you think he will start in a slump like this past season or will he pick up as hot as he left off?
-- Monica S., Los Angeles


I think Ordonez is going to have a rebound season, at least as a pure hitter. I'm not saying he'll hit for a lot of home run power -- those days might be past -- but I think the doubles and run production should make up for a lot of that. In many ways, I think the second-half Ordonez this past season is more like what I would expect next year. I don't think many people realized how much his mind was on his family situation and his wife's health. He had the kind of the year none of us would wish on anyone.

Manager Jim Leyland was saying much the same thing to reporters at the Winter Meetings last week. He's predicting at least 90 RBIs for Ordonez.

What I worry about with Ordonez is how fans will react if he gets off to a slow start. If he becomes the scapegoat for the Tigers trading Curtis Granderson, it could be a tough year. It also wouldn't be right. He didn't make the decisions; he signed a contract five years ago, before Granderson was even a starter in Detroit.

Do the Tigers have a backup plan if Scott Sizemore doesn't work out? Now that Placido Polanco is gone, it seems to me they should have a veteran to at least platoon with Sizemore, seeing that he is a rookie with no big league experience.
-- Peter L., Waterville, Ohio


Ramon Santiago is a big part of the backup plan. He'll spell Sizemore a decent amount regardless, possibly a little more than he did with Polanco. If, for whatever reason, Sizemore isn't starting, Santiago can shift over to second base, with Brent Dlugach as a potential utility infield option.

What do you think the chances are of Carlos Guillen playing second base if Sizemore is not ready? If the Tigers trade Miguel Cabrera, do you think it will be Ordonez or Guillen at first? Neither wants to be a DH.
-- Frank, Milford, Mich.


None. There was some well-reasoned speculation that Guillen's comments in October were his attempt to move in at second base if Polanco left, but the Tigers were firm in having Sizemore take over. Guillen could conceivably play first base if needed, but in that kind of situation, whoever played first would be a placeholder until Ryan Strieby makes the big leagues.

I have read that scouts don't believe Santiago is an everyday player. Based on what information? I see a player who has performed well in the limited role he was given. Coaching logic suggests that when an opportunity for a player like that opens up, he gets a shot to start every day. What shortcomings do the scouts see that we don't?
-- David H., Zeeland, Mich.


It isn't simply scouts, but the Tigers. The thought process is that Santiago, despite his excellent offseason training, wears down over time when playing every day. Part of the evidence has been his past two seasons, when he has gotten off to fast starts at the plate and then tailed off. However, Santiago looked revitalized at the plate over the final month or two.

All this being said, Adam Everett's return and Sizemore's arrival puts Santiago in line for close-to-regular playing time next year.

We are excited about Casey Crosby, a Warrenville, Mich., friend of the family. What can you tell us about how he might fit into Detroit's plans for next year?
-- Chuck W., Warrenville

I know expectations are running sky high for Crosby after his standout season at Class A West Michigan, but I'm not sure you can plan on him in Detroit quite yet. He's still just a couple years removed from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, and I expect the Tigers to bring him along carefully, kind of like how they limited his workload and pitch counts this year. I'd be thinking more towards 2011 than 2010.

Is there a possibility for Joel Zumaya to go the Joba Chamberlain route and begin work to be a starter? He seems terribly wild when he comes in for relief, throwing as hard as he can for one inning. Wouldn't he be better off learning to pace himself over six or seven innings?
-- Joshua D., Ludington, Mich.

Not much of a possibility, at least not for now. For one, he currently stands as one of the more experienced relievers they have, and one of their few relievers ready to close now if they don't acquire a closer this offseason. Second, I don't see starting as the cure-all for a pitcher's issues, Zumaya included. It might get him to mix his pitches more and learn to spot his fastballs better, but that's why the Tigers stretched him out over longer outings every so often when he came back. And his last outing of the year was a 36-pitch performance in which he gave up the lead at Yankee Stadium and remained in the game to try to finish out the inning.

Does anyone know when TigerFest is this year?
-- Thomas F., Findlay, Ohio


Drove by Findlay on the way back from the Winter Meetings last week. Adhered to the speed limit.

Anyway, TigerFest is Saturday, Jan. 23, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET at Comerica Park. Tickets are now on sale.

During this past season, GM Dave Dombrowski mentioned that there were around 10 Major League-caliber prospects in the Tigers' Minor League system. Was this an exaggeration, or should we realistically expect contributions from young arms in the near future?
-- Daniel M., Brighton, Mich.


I remember that remark, and that stood out to me, too. You shouldn't expect contributions from 10 young relievers, if that's what you're asking. But most scouts agree they have quite a few relief prospects if the performances match the arms. Not all of them will, but some of them should. That goes back to another thing Dombrowski says, that you can't have enough pitching. Some of these guys, such as Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt, could start arriving next summer or later in the year.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:44 pm

How do I ask Mr. Beck a question? Hmmmm... Some email addy maybe?
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:15 pm

gdennis59 wrote:
How do I ask Mr. Beck a question? Hmmmm... Some email addy maybe?

click on Inbox: How will Magglio fare in 2010? and you will find a form to ask your question.


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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:44 pm

Inbox: Any big signings expected?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers Tigers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

12/21/09 10:00 AM EST

(click here to go to main article if you want to ask Beck a question. You will find a form there to ask your question.)

My question to the Tigers is basically this: Next year they will have over $59.1 million coming off their payroll, and in two or three years they will have Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez coming off their payroll, too. I'm counting close to $80 million with just seven or eight players. What are the Tigers going to do during the next two or three years with all that money coming off the payroll? Will they go ahead and sign some marquee free agents in 2010 and 2011?
-- Martin W., Detroit


I know folks are speculating on the big-name free agents set to hit the market next winter, but I don't see the Tigers going back to that route. I just don't. All that talk and the fact that so many people have picked apart the vesting options in Ordonez's contract, the one that he signed five years ago, makes me think people forget how tough it once was to get free agents to consider Detroit.

While the Tigers aren't in the same situation, I don't think that challenge has vanished, even after three winning seasons in four years. I think Detroit could look at certain free agents who can complement the team it has, like it did in recent years with Kenny Rogers, Todd Jones and Brandon Lyon, but not a free-agent haul. It's just not that easy.

Will we ever sign a proven veteran pitcher or two that can lead our starters, or are we just going to keep rolling the dice on Minor League players hoping to find a diamond in the rough? The Tigers are famous for spending on big bats, but never seem to spend money on big arms. Don't get me wrong, hitting is very important, but you'll never win a championship without a solid pitching staff. We also have more losing seasons than winning ones. Maybe it's time we tried the opposite spending methods. Your thoughts?
-- Craig R., Westland, Mich.


I'm thinking starting pitching is the lesser of Detroit's questions right now. The Tigers have invested big in young pitching through scouting and the Draft precisely so they can avoid having to overpay on free-agent starting pitching. That's why four of Detroit's last six first-round Draft picks have been starting pitchers who signed above slot, and they've given Detroit a pretty solid foundation for a rotation. Any big money that goes into starting pitching this winter is going to go toward trying to re-sign Justin Verlander.

We seem to be great at drafting, signing and developing pitching talent, but lousy with positional players. Is this just a matter of placing more focus on pitching or is there something else going on here?
-- John H., Cobourg, Ont.


Indeed, the Tigers draft and scout by the philosophy that they can never have enough pitching. And if they end up having a lot, the belief goes that it's easier to trade pitching for hitting than vice versa. The Miguel Cabrera trade, for instance, sent four pitchers and two position players back to Florida.

What are the chances of the Tigers signing Jim Thome to a one-year deal? They could use his leadership and left-handed bat.
-- Daniel M., Lansing, Mich.


Pretty much none. Thome is just about a full-time designated hitter at this point, and the Tigers don't want one of those.

Eddie Bonine pitched well down the stretch. Are the Tigers considering giving him a shot in the rotation?
-- Robert R., Grandville, Mich.


He'll get a look in Spring Training, yes. General manager Dave Dombrowski said at season's end that he couldn't rule out Bonine getting the last spot in the rotation, and it isn't by accident that they've kept him on the 40-man roster so far. I don't think he'll be the first choice, and maybe not the second, but he has a chance to be a swing man.

Why don't the Tigers cut Ordonez and save $16 million and not try to re-sign Fernando Rodney? That way we keep Cabrera and sign Verlander long-term.
-- Ryan V., Lincoln Park, Mich.

Because unlike football, baseball contracts are guaranteed. The Tigers will owe Ordonez $18 million in 2010 whether he's on the roster or not.

We all know about the 2010 option that kicked in for Ordonez last year. But isn't there another option for 2011 that is out of the team's control if he gets a certain number of at-bats?
-- Casey C., Saint Joseph, Mich.

Correct. Ordonez has a $15 million club option for 2011 that automatically kicks in if he gets either 135 starts or 540 plate appearances this coming season. If it doesn't vest, the Tigers can choose to decline the option.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:48 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
gdennis59 wrote:
How do I ask Mr. Beck a question? Hmmmm... Some email addy maybe?

click on Inbox: How will Magglio fare in 2010? and you will find a form to ask your question.

Awesome. You rock Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:22 pm

Inbox: Should Magglio bat No. 2?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers Tigers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com
01/04/10 12:29 PM EST

To ask Jason Questions, click here then fill out form on the page.

Manager Jim Leyland says he likes some power in the number two spot in the batting order. How about putting Magglio Ordonez there? Up until last year, he was a power hitter. And even if his power has faded, last year proved that he is still a .300 hitter -- a valuable asset in that spot in the order.
-- Dominic P., Eugene, Ore.


It's an interesting concept, and it isn't the first time somebody has e-mailed with that idea. If what we saw from Ordonez in 2009 is what we'll see from him in 2010, namely expert hitting without a lot of power, then it makes you think.

One potential snag is that unlike Placido Polanco, Ordonez hasn't traditionally been the type of hitter to advance runners on groundouts, something Polanco could do skillfully. Ordonez did it at times last year, but that wasn't a regular role. Get past that, and the other question becomes who the Tigers can bat in the middle of the order in his place along with Miguel Cabrera. Is it Carlos Guillen? Brandon Inge? How about Ryan Raburn? Other than those hitters, there aren't really any other realistic options right now. For that last reason, Ordonez might end up more valuable batting third than second.

In response to a question from a previous Inbox, you wrote that Ordonez' 2011 option kicks in if he has 135 starts or 540 plate appearances in 2010. Are you sure about that? If he had 131 starts last year and 518 plate appearances in 2009, wouldn't he need 139 starts or 562 plate appearances in 2010 in order for the contract to vest?
-- Rod S., Northville, Mich.


In this case, no. Ordonez's contract allows him two different ways to vest his 2011 option -- one based on games started or plate appearances in 2009-10 combined, the other based on those same categories in 2010 alone. Because he wasn't an everyday player throughout last season, the single-season standards are easier to reach than the two-season marks.

What's the rationale behind not signing Fernando Rodney? Does the management really think Joel Zumaya or Ryan Perry are ready to close? Perry may be the future, but I think we can agree he's not a closer right now. Zumaya has to prove he can stay healthy and throw strikes first. What's the plan to replace a closer that converted 37 of 38 last year?
-- Andrew M., Ann Arbor, Mich.


The Tigers would've been interested in re-signing Rodney on a one-year contract, but they weren't going to do a multiyear deal at a lucrative salary. They've rarely ever done multiyear contracts for relievers -- Todd Jones and Troy Percival are the two major cases -- and they didn't feel like Rodney was the exception. Plus, with Perry or one of the other Tigers relief prospects expected to be ready to close in 2011, if not sooner, the Tigers don't necessarily want to lock up that spot long term.

How many rookies do you expect the Tigers to carry into next season?
-- Jake W., Fruitport, Mich.


Too early to tell right now, but the best guess would be two, plus catcher Alex Avila, who still qualifies. Scott Sizemore is the safest possibility, but even that isn't absolutely certain if he has a hard time getting back up to game speed after his ankle surgery last fall. Austin Jackson should have a good chance, and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said he's expected to start in center field, but he's still going to have to earn the job. If he doesn't, that could drastically improve Casper Wells' chances. None of the relief prospects seem like good shots to make the team out of Spring Training at the moment, though guys like Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt might not be far behind if the Tigers need bullpen help.

What do you think the Tigers are going to do after this season for third base? Could you see them re-signing Inge? Are there any prospects worth considering that may be ready by 2011? Or will they have to go the free-agent route?
-- Andrew Y., Canton, Mich.


Third base is one of the most glaring holes in the Tigers' farm system, and has been for a while. Other than moving Raburn back into the infield, Detroit has no obvious in-house successors for Inge once his contract expires next winter. How healthy Inge stays this summer could go a long way toward determining whether the club could try to keep him, but that doesn't guarantee he'll be back. The big theme others have pointed out about this offseason is the renewed emphasis on defense by teams in their signings, and that definitely works in Inge's favor if he hits the open market.

Are the Tigers working on an extension for Justin Verlander? Not much has been written on this topic, so I thought I'd ask.
-- Eric H., Ottawa Lake, Mich.


Not much has been written because neither the Tigers nor Verlander nor his representatives are commenting on even whether negotiations are taking place. But given team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski's limited comments that they want Verlander to be a Tiger for a long time, it's safe to say that's a goal of theirs.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:52 pm

Inbox: Will Zumaya bounce back from injury?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers Tigers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

01/11/10 3:50 PM EST

To ask Jason Questions, click here then fill out his form on the page.

I read something about Phil Coke as a possible starter; I just saw his statistics in Double-A and Triple-A and they were decent. A left-handed starter in the Tigers' rotation should not be automatic, but with the plethora of Tiger arms, this should be considered. What do you think?
- Charles G., Lincoln Park, Mich.

The question regarding Coke as a starter is whether he can pitch the same style in that role that he did as a reliever last year. Some folks who saw Coke in both roles say he threw harder -- 3-5 mph harder -- and more effectively out of the bullpen, which is what happens with more than a few successful relievers. It's tougher to maintain that velocity when you're throwing more pitches as a starter, obviously.

No question, it would be good for the Tigers to have a lefty in their rotation, especially if that rotation is stacked with power right-handers depending on Jeremy Bonderman. I'm not sure the Tigers would make Coke a starter solely for that reason, though, if they didn't think he would be nearly as effective doing so. Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis could have some impact on that, but it's awfully hard to project that happening this far out.

The better factor from that standpoint, and the big factor in the Tigers' favor, is that they have so many lefty relievers who could contribute. They could conceivably have three southpaws in their bullpen even without Coke if Daniel Schlereth and Brad Thomas step up alongside Bobby Seay and Fu-Te Ni.

What is the basis for believing Joel Zumaya could be a closer, or even a setup guy? The questions about him only deal with his health, but even when he was throwing 100 mph last year, he still got hit -- hard and often.
-- Joe B., Buffalo, NY

Actually, his issues the last couple years have usually been more about hitting the strike zone than getting hit, His hit totals weren't good either, obviously, but five of those 34 hits he gave up over 32 innings came in his final outing of the season July 17 at Yankee Stadium, where he said his shoulder flared up and where he was left in to finish out the inning with 36 pitches.

Bottom line, you're right about the questions. Zumaya has issues beyond health that he needs to fix, and they basically revolve around getting a better mix of pitches rather than relying too much on his fastball. But Zumaya gets that, and when he was healthy last year, he put in his work trying to make those changes. Nobody's guaranteeing he's going to do it, but if he does, you have the makings of a very effective late-inning reliever. We're not just talking about a serviceable guy here.

I realize he has a significant contract, but why so much loyalty for Carlos Guillen? Do the Tigers fully expect him to rebound this year? He is an 11-year veteran who has played four or five full seasons, that seems like a lot of trust for too great a risk. -- Matt B., Grand Haven, Mich.

You're right, the contract is significant. You can't shrug that off, and you can't trade it. At this point, it's a risk you have to take. Still, if he's even relatively healthy, Guillen is not only starter worthy, but better than most of the hitters currently on the team, not to mention a switch-hitting bat in a predominantly right-handed hitting lineup.

I know the injury history is hanging over Guillen, and it should, but I do think he's getting a little bit shortchanged. He had at least 109 games played and 450 plate appearances in seven of his previous eight seasons before last year, when he did not post an .800 OPS for the first time in six seasons as a Tiger. His legs -- the source of much of that injury history -- have been healthy for two years, when his injuries have been to his back and shoulder.

Those numbers were down last year, but consider this: Take away that miserable opening stretch before he went on the DL in May, and Guillen hit for an .874 OPS over the final two-plus months after he came back, batting .262 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 221 plate appearances. A lot of that came batting left-handed against right-handed pitchers. Even when he slumped down the stretch, he drew 18 walks over 72 plate appearances.

Is he a risk with the injuries? Absolutely. But there's also a very nice reward if he can overcome those.

Are the Tigers going to do the caravan tour this year? They need to get out and meet the fans after all of the changes they made. -- David, Dearborn, Mich.

The Tigers will have their winter caravan once again, David. They'll be on the road Jan. 20-22, leading up to TigerFest Jan. 23 at Comerica Park.

Full schedule and roster of players and coaches should be out shortly, but two events with the Tigers' nearby Minor League affiliates are already out. Manager Jim Leyland, Scott Sizemore, Jeff Larish, Eddie Bonine and Don Kelly are scheduled to be at the Toledo Mud Hens' Fandemonium dinner Jan. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at Lucas County Arena in downtown Toledo.

On that same night, the West Michigan Whitecaps will hold their annual winter baseball banquet in Grand Rapids, where new Tigers first-base coach Tom Brookens, top pitching prospect Casey Crosby and assistant GM Al Avila are among the scheduled guests.

Does Ryan Strieby have the ability to play third? Would the Tigers look at seeing what he can do playing the hot corner?
-- Mike C., Eastpointe, Mich.


Not really. He has a big body, and unlike Larish, he was primarily a first baseman in college. The Tigers see left field as their best chance of finding another position for him.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:12 pm

We should just give up on Dontrelle. He's not getting anywhere. Convert him maybe and then we can talk.
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:18 pm

gdennis59 wrote:
We should just give up on Dontrelle. He's not getting anywhere. Convert him maybe and then we can talk.

I agree, if he stinks in ST, then let him play outfield!. He used to be a good Left hand batter!


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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:37 am

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
gdennis59 wrote:
We should just give up on Dontrelle. He's not getting anywhere. Convert him maybe and then we can talk.

I agree, if he stinks in ST, then let him play outfield!. He used to be a good Left hand batter!

I say don't even give him the option to pitch anymore. Something in the shoulders and arms are clearly screwed.
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:04 pm

Inbox: Was Valverde deal too costly?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers Tigers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

01/18/10 4:54 PM EST

To ask Jason Questions, click here then fill out his form on the page.

Could the Tigers have worked out a sign-and-trade deal to get Jose Valverde without giving up their Draft pick?
-- Drew W., Toledo, Ohio


Technically, no. Once a free agent signs, he isn't allowed to be traded until June 15. The sign-and-trade possibility came up last winter when Type A free agent Juan Cruz was having trouble finding a team, but the Royals instead chose to give up the pick (a second-rounder in their case) and sign him. The Players Association reportedly would have had to give its blessing to let a sign-and-trade happen.

In Valverde's case, the Astros would have been much more interested in getting the Draft picks. They have to restock the farm system. Keep in mind, the Astros are getting two Draft picks, not one. They get a compensation pick near the end of the first round as well as the Tigers' first-round pick, the 19th overall.

Why did the Tigers sign Valverde for 2 years at $7 million per year when they probably could have signed Fernando Rodney for less money?
-- Brad S., Guelph, Ontario


I do not quite understand the logic of getting rid of Rodney, a proven closer in the American League, to the Angels who signed him at $11 million for two years. And now the Tigers are signing Valverde at $14 million for two years, who has no track record in the American League. Please explain.
-- Yosef K., Israel


The Tigers valued Valverde over Rodney. While the Tigers were at least willing to entertain a two-year contract with Brandon Lyon, they never offered a multiyear deal to Rodney. Valverde has a longer track record in the closer role, and a better history of pitch control. That doesn't mean Rodney isn't going to be effective long term, but the Tigers felt like Valverde was a safer pick for the investment. It's also worth pointing out that Valverde was still available at this point in the offseason with little competition from other clubs.

How much of Placido Polanco's solid second half had to do with becoming a free agent?
- John J., Sterling Heights, Mich.


I noticed that topic written somewhere, too, in suggesting that Polanco's second half was a salary drive. I don't buy it. If anything, I think it was the opposite.

I talked with Polanco during his slow start, and one of the topics that I brought up was the contract. He didn't want to talk much about it, but it wasn't difficult to tell it was weighing on him. By contrast, he was much more relaxed talking about his situation over the summer, soon after he started hitting again. He seemed to have an outlook that whatever happens, happens as far as the contract, that it was out of his control.

Guys like Polanco don't go on salary drives. They don't back off and then pick it up. Guys like Polanco usually play at a consistent level, which is what made him so valuable during his time in Detroit.

I'm planning on going to Spring Training this year and notice that there's going to be a split-squad game for the Tigers while I'm down there. Based on today's trends in Spring Training, a split-squad game is generally "mixed" among some veteran players and lots of rookies, correct? In other words, the two games aren't as clear cut as rookies and Minor Leaguers here and veterans and All-Stars there, right? Not asking for any promises ... just base it off history, please. Thank you.
-- Nick W., Mount Pleasant, Mich.


For the most part, that's right. There's an unwritten rule from Major League Baseball that teams are expected to send a representative squad on the road for Spring Training games. In other words, they're expected to send at least a few guys from their projected roster on a trip for a game. The expectation would be less for a split-squad game, but it's still there. Sometimes injuries prevent that from happening, but you get the idea. I've never heard of that being enforced, but teams notice those types of things in dealing with each other. For instance, when the Mets sent very few name players to Lakeland for a game a couple years ago, that drew some attention among Tigers people.

For what it's worth, Tigers manager Jim Leyland says each spring that he makes an effort to put a representative roster on every trip, even for the split-squad games. And the Tigers rosters have reflected that. For that matter, Leyland usually goes on the road on a split-squad day to send a message.

Recently there has been speculation that Johnny Damon could land in Detroit. However, I feel that Rick Ankiel might be a better fit. He is better defensively, at the bat and with arm strength. This could essentially allow Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen to platoon at DH, since both of them have diminishing defensive skills. Do you see the Tigers making a possible play at Ankiel? He could also be a fallback just in case Austin Jackson is not prepared for the move to spacious Comerica Park.
- Brian C., Grand Rapids, Mich.


Based on the past season and a half, I would question the opinion that Ankiel is better with the bat. Most of the reports this offseason, including recently, suggest Ankiel is looking for a longer-term contract, which would probably be an issue in Detroit. Incidentally, Ankiel and Damon are both represented by Scott Boras.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:33 pm

Inbox: Is Galarraga a starting option?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

01/25/10 4:14 PM EST

To ask Jason Questions, click here then fill out his form on the page.

Am I missing something? It seems that Armando Galarraga should not be so quickly forgotten. I've seen lots of hypotheses about the potential fifth starter. Some of the lists actually had Dontrelle Willis on them. Surely, Galarraga is not so far gone that he has less chance than Willis of earning that fifth rotation spot. Is there any real reason people seem to have given up on him?
-- Brian C., Essexville, Mich.


The Tigers haven't forgotten about Galarraga. Actually, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski mentioned Galarraga highly at TigerFest and cited strong scouting reports from Venezuela, where he pitched in four games for Caracas. More important, Galarraga sounded confident when he talked Saturday, a sense that was missing most of last year. He also felt a lot better around his elbow, where he had lingering pain hampering him down the stretch.

I believe confidence is crucial for Galarraga. He has to get back to attacking the strike zone, and to do that, he has to believe in his ability to get outs when hitters put the ball in play. Hitters swung at just 43 percent of Galarraga's pitches in 2009, compared with 45 the year before, and his first-pitch strike percentage dropped from 61 to 58. More importantly, when he talked, he didn't sound like a guy who believed in his ability like he did in 2008. He wasn't cocky by any means that year, but he was quietly confident.

Dombrowski said the Tigers received a lot of trade interest on him, but they weren't looking to deal him. If Galarraga can get his confidence and aggressiveness back, there's no reason why he can't take that fifth-starter spot.

Who is likely to play third while Brandon Inge is doing rehab until the end of spring? Who is playing third in Toledo, for that matter, in case of injury?
-- Tom C., Bay City, Mich.


My guess would be that Don Kelly gets a good amount of time at third. So could Jeff Larish, even though he was outrighted Monday, and maybe Ramon Santiago. To answer your second question, remember Kory Casto, a Minor League free agent the Tigers signed this winter. The Tigers haven't announced all their camp invitees, but if he gets one, he'll get some play.

What are Larish's chances of making the 25-man roster? It seems like his lefty bat and his ability to play third base could be a good fit with Inge coming off knee surgeries.
-- Rod S., Northville, Mich.


His chances looked better before he was outrighted to Toledo on Monday. Still, he's going to be in camp as a non-roster invitee, and I think this is a big camp for him. He's a lefty power hitter on a team that desperately needs power and balance from that side, so the opportunity's still there. The Tigers saw enough in him a year ago that they wouldn't package him to Seattle in trade talks for J.J. Putz. Prospects can fall a long way in a year, I know, but even that's a long way to go.

One of the big talks about the Tigers' outfield this year is Austin Jackson. I like the idea of him starting in center field this year, but has Wilkin Ramirez been taken into consideration for this position? He's got mammoth power and has the potential to be a five-tool player.
-- Andrew J., Ann Arbor, Mich.


Ramirez can be a fallback option in center, but he doesn't really have the experience or the profile there for a full-time role. He never played center until last year, when he started a couple games at Toledo and followed with some time there in the Dominican League. He also has work to do to polish his overall outfield game.

Will Tigers outfielder Clete Thomas have a chance to play outfield in 2010?
-- Matthew S., Inkster, Mich.


Jim Leyland made a point of mentioning Thomas as somebody the Tigers have to watch in Spring Training during his remarks at TigerFest. Sort of like Larish, they need to figure out what they have with him and whether he can be a valuable left-handed bat off the bench. He's not only another option for center field, possibly the next option after Jackson, but he has the chance to see time in all three outfield spots. Moreover, Leyland sees him with the potential to be an everyday outfielder someday.

With so many big-name second basemen on the market right now, why are the Tigers sticking with Scott Sizemore? Is it the money or the competition?
-- Brady N., Vicksburg, Mich.


It's because they think he has the chance to be good, and they believe he's worth bringing along and working into the lineup now. There's definitely a financial advantage, and the Tigers are taking advantage of that, but they wouldn't be slotting him in at second if they didn't believe he's ready. Dombrowski, for that matter, talked Saturday about the potential for him to contribute with his bat immediately.

Really, this is a bigger picture question. No matter what the free-agent market, no matter what enticing player might be still unsigned who might've put up nice stats last year or a couple years ago, you still have to mix in your own young players. The Tigers haven't done enough of that with position players the last few years, but it's time for that to start happening. If this team is going to contend long term, they absolutely have to develop their own position players.

Bring Sizemore along now, let him work alongside Adam Everett, and you have the chance to establish him in a good clubhouse before you bring along a young shortstop in a year or two to go with him. If you drop that strategy and sign a stopgap at second now, you make the transition that much rougher in 2011 or 2012.

Why are the Tigers against the idea of bringing in a true DH such as Jim Thome? He's a left-handed bat with some pop and is more than familiar with AL Central pitching.
-- Ray T., West Palm Beach, Fla.


He's seen as only a DH at this point, which the Tigers don't want, and he's nearing age 40. He's still an offensive contributor, but Detroit is trying to get away from a roster of older players with limited versatility, not add more of them.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:49 pm

I dunno, I say we should sign Orlando Hudson to a one year deal, same with Thome. Whether he's aging or not, and even if he only does DH.

Our offense needs a burst, Thome would definitely bring that. And I think I'd trust Sizemore a little more if he would spend a year platooning with Hudson and learning the ropes from someone as good as him.
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:37 pm

Inbox: Sizemore to start at second?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

02/01/10 5:25 PM EST

At this stage, would it make sense for the Tigers to do anything else but keep Sizemore at second base all year long? Also, it seems that using Carlos Guillen to back up second base from time to time would help in developing some of the Tigers young outfielders and keep Guillen in the lineup.
-- Steve W., Auburn, Ind.


I think if you're going to start Sizemore at second, you pretty much have to give him some security there to keep him from looking over his shoulder. The Tigers have hinted at that, with manager Jim Leyland saying during TigerFest that you have to accept the ups and downs that go with a rookie starting position player. That doesn't mean you don't have insurance on the roster in case things go completely wrong, but it means that the decision to start Sizemore has to include a healthy dose of patience.

As for Guillen backing up at second, while I'm pretty sure Guillen would like that, I don't see the Tigers going for it. They want to commit Guillen to the outfield if they're going to use him there. I'd be surprised if they didn't carry two bench players with middle-infield capabilities, whether it's Ramon Santiago and Don Kelly, or Santiago and another signing, or at least Ryan Raburn as an option at second. That would allow Santiago into the shortstop mix a little more.

How do the Tigers plan to use Rick Porcello this year? Specifically, will he be on a strict pitch count this year as he was last year?
-- Mark B., Grand Rapids, Mich.


I had a good talk with pitching coach Rick Knapp about that during TigerFest, and I asked Leyland about it, too. Plans aren't set on that yet and probably won't be until camp, but the general impression is that the restrictions will be looser. That said, there'll still be some restrictions. I think you'll see his pitch counts closer to 100 more often than last year, but still not like what you would see with others in the rotation. He has a year under his belt, but he just turned 21.

What do Tigers players do after TigerFest? Do they go back to their native countries, head to Florida, or stick around in Detroit for a while?
-- Kyle D., Commerce, Mich.


The vast majority of them either head to Florida or head home. The one player who usually sticks around is Nate Robertson, and he lives here. Even so, this is usually around the time of year he packs up his stuff and makes the trip to Lakeland.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Tue Feb 09, 2010 10:57 pm

Inbox: Odds improving on Damon?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers fans' questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

02/09/10 6:36 PM EST


To ask Jason Questions, click here then fill out his form on the page.

What are the odds that the Tigers land Johnny Damon? He seems like he would fit well here. He could fill a spot in the top of the lineup so we don't have two rookies there. He may not have the best arm, but he is a proven left-handed bat that could help lift the Tigers back on top.
-- Andy E., Monroe, Mich.


I'd say they're fairly good now. Damon's interested in coming to Detroit, of course. Hey, he's even a fan of Steve Yzerman, apparently.

More important, Tigers officials are believed to be warming to the idea of bringing him in, if it's at the right price. The one obstacle in the equation is the contract, with agent Scott Boras clearly looking for a two-year deal. It's still something that could thwart a signing, but considering where both sides stand -- it's the most logical fit for Damon, and a logical leadoff option for Detroit -- there's a good opportunity to find a middle ground to get something done.

Instead of considering Damon -- and having to deal with Boras -- why couldn't Carlos Guillen fill the intended role? He could probably hit leadoff almost as well. And though he isn't a great left fielder, he's probably as good as Damon. He certainly throws better. And he is a switch-hitter. With more power. Where's the downside?
-- Joe B., Buffalo, N.Y.

I'm actually one of the few who think Guillen could handle batting leadoff. His walk rates the last couple of years have been by far the highest of his career, his pitches per plate appearance numbers are trending higher, and he's still one of the smartest baserunners the Tigers have. However, manager Jim Leyland has indicated he needs Guillen to bat in the middle of the order, probably after Miguel Cabrera. Without him, the choices for a No. 5 hitter drop off a bit.

Everyone I've asked says Damon is a better outfielder than Guillen, aside from the arm. He has a huge experience advantage, obviously, and he moves around the outfield much better.

Daniel Schlereth had control problems last season when Arizona rushed him to the Majors. Will he stick with the Tigers out of Spring Training or start the season at Triple-A?
-- Kevin O., Milford, Mich.


Schlereth presents a pretty intriguing decision for the Tigers. If they didn't have so many relief options, especially from the left side, I'd say his talent could earn him a spot in the bullpen, much like Ryan Perry last spring. As it is, I think he's going to have to make an impression to make it tough on the coaching staff. Either that or the Tigers are going to have to trade some relief to make room.

Why did the Tigers not go after Adam Kennedy as a possible second baseman to mentor Scott Sizemore and back up at third?
-- Lex K., Huntsville, Texas


The Nationals, Twins and Indians all had a second-base job to offer Kennedy. That wasn't going to happen in Detroit, where Sizemore is the starter if he's healthy. As for mentoring, that's something Adam Everett will most likely be doing as the double-play partner. It could be a neat chapter in the career of Everett, who had a chance to play alongside Craig Biggio coming up with the Astros but has never played alongside a regular rookie second baseman.

Why is there no talk of Casper Wells playing center field? Seems like he would be in the discussion after such a great Arizona Fall League showing. -- Darin A., Saint Johns, Mich.

The Tigers see Wells as more of a corner outfielder, maybe a part-time option in center. I expect Wells to come out in Spring Training and try to prove them wrong. He did a lot of training and speed work after the Arizona Fall League with the idea of gaining an extra half-step or so.

What do the Tigers plan to do when Ryan Strieby is ready for the Majors? They have Cabrera locked up for a long time and they both play first base. Would they move Cabrera to DH, move Strieby to another position, or trade one (probably Cabrera)?
-- Tony W., Purcellville, Va.


The Tigers moved Strieby to left field down the stretch last year at Double-A Erie and plan to work him out there this spring, precisely for that reason. If Strieby can hit in the big leagues, they'll find a way to get him in the lineup.

In hindsight, does the trade of Luke French for Jarrod Washburn ever come up in conversations? I really like French a lot. He looks like a durable, controlled lefty.
-- Matt W., West Palm Beach, Fla.


It does occasionally, but really, there's not much to discuss. The Tigers were aware Washburn had knee issues, but felt he could continue to pitch through them effectively, as he had for most of the season before the trade. They misjudged it, but so did a few other teams that were interested heading into the Trade Deadline last July.

If you feel that way about French, you won't feel any better if Mauricio Robles gets to the big leagues in a few years. A few folks who saw him pitch in Lakeland, Fla., over the summer -- including Guillen on his rehab assignment -- raved about him. That said, if Washburn had pitched anywhere near healthy, the price probably wouldn't be a story.

I've seen it hinted at that the Tigers might package Ryan Raburn and a pitcher (Bobby Seay) to get an everyday left fielder from a National League team. After looking over the options, I see only three outfielders who bat left-handed who may be available: Nyger Morgan, Chris Dickerson and Kosuke Fukudome. Do see any of these guys potentially being added via trade?
-- Charlie C., Grand Rapids, Mich.


I don't see Morgan going anywhere, and I'm not sure Dickerson doesn't end up as the left fielder in Cincinnati. Fukudome will make $26.5 million over the next two years, so he probably isn't leaving the Cubs.

That's the problem with expecting Spring Training trades to fill needs. It's easy to point at as a generality and hope for one, but in reality it's tougher to find a match. Remember, we all were wondering a year ago whether Marcus Thames or another extra hitter would be traded in a big deal, and the only swap was a Minor League pitcher for Josh Anderson. That doesn't mean a trade won't happen this spring, but the market at the end of Spring Training rarely looks the same as it does going in.

How about a little ink for Ramon Santiago, who played on the Caribbean Series champion, started and played EVERY game at shortstop and batted .316 for the Series?
-- Mark A., Vashon Island, Wash.


We don't really deal in ink here, but for the Ramon Santiago Fan Club, we can absolutely get him some pub. Seriously, the Caribbean Series is a huge deal in the Dominican, and it's great to see Santiago not only end up a champion, but end up playing such a big role to get Escogido back to the top.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:28 pm

Inbox: Why isn't Damon signed?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers fans questions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

02/15/10 5:14 PM EST


To ask Jason Questions, click here then fill out his form on the page.

Why is it taking us so long to sign Johnny Damon?
-- Jacob K., West Bloomfield, Mich.

What we know is that Damon was in Hawaii this past week, reportedly taking part in a charity golf tournament that took place over the weekend. What we don't know yet is whether he made up his mind while he was out there. Speculation had him deciding on a team by the end of this past week, but that apparently didn't happen.

Keep in mind, position players still have a week before full-squad workouts begin Feb. 23, so Damon -- or his agent, Scott Boras -- could drag this on and he could still be in somebody's camp on time.

If the Tigers happen to sign Damon, why didn't they just keep Curtis Granderson? He is a lefty and a great center fielder. They will be paying a heavy price for Damon. The reason they traded Grandy was to clear some money, but if they sign Damon, what's the point?
-- Ashley H., Dorr, Mich.


Fair question, and one that's popping up a lot lately. The first thing I'd offer up is that the Granderson trade wasn't simply about money. They knew they could get some younger players and prospects by trading Granderson -- especially at this point in his career -- and Edwin Jackson, more than they could get for a lot of other Tigers aside from Justin Verlander or Rick Porcello, and they went for it. You can't ignore the financial flexibility they got out of it. This is the same team that couldn't offer arbitration to Placido Polanco. The other factor is that plans change, and Boras is good at what he does in these situations.

With all the interest concerning Damon, I am wondering why Jermaine Dye isn't on the Tigers' radar. It seems to me that you might be able to sign him on a one-year contract for a reasonable price. I understand the need for an "on-base" guy at the top of the order to help take the pressure off of Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore, but how about some extra power further down in the order?
-- Tom, Seymour, Conn.


The big conflict with Dye is that he's a right-handed hitter, of which the Tigers already have many. He's also coming off what was a down year for him, though his .340 on-base percentage was pretty nice considering his .250 average. He batted just .179 after the All-Star break with a .297 slugging percentage.

Doesn't it seem like there is to much emphasis being placed on the Tigers signing Damon? It almost sounds like he is being touted as the savior of the 2010 season. Nothing has changed since the trades of Granderson and Jackson, unless you factor in Jose Valverde. Don't you think the Tigers should let Spring Training play itself out and then maybe make a big trade that could make a major impact on the 2010 season? That seems like what team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski has had in mind all along.
-- Steve W., Auburn, Mich.


I agree there's some hype going on with Damon. Part of an agent's job is to build buzz for his client, and again, Boras is very good at that. Still, you can't deny that having a hitter like Damon at or near the top of the order fills a big need for these guys. If you accept the idea that the Tigers needed more runners on base for Miguel Cabrera to drive in last year, then having effective hitters in front of him is a big deal.

To answer the second part of your question, I don't think you can count on making a big trade in Spring Training. You don't know that you're going to have a pitching surplus, and you can't count on other teams having impact hitters on the trading block while also needing what you have. Situations change for teams so often from the start of camp to the end of it that you can never be sure. If a team feels it has to add something or somebody, if it's major, it's best to get it out of the way.

Why don't the Tigers bring in some of the veterans left on the market? They have nothing to lose by doing so. I am concerned because only about 60 percent of the club is proven MLB players. There are some big bats left and utility players available.
-- Jon R., Harrison, Mich.


First, they do have payroll to lose. I know big numbers are being thrown around on Damon, but it isn't play money. Second, there's a very slight, very important transition when a proven Major League player becomes a player on the downside of his career. If you're talking about a percentage of proven players, the 2008 Tigers had a pretty high mark. But what was proven on Jacque Jones, Edgar Renteria and Gary Sheffield turned out to be a lot different than what the Tigers got out of them that year. For all that has been made of trading Jair Jurrjens to get Renteria, they also traded Omar Infante to get Jones.

Do the Tigers really want another over-the-hill player who can't hit, field or throw? Damon fits right in with Renteria, Sheffield, Jones, Jose Mesa and the rest of the over-the-hill gang. The Tigers continue to try players on the downhill part of their careers. Why not go with rookies? At least they may improve.
-- John F., Grand Rapids, Mich.


You know, you and Peter could have a good argument over this. I'd suggest, though, that Damon probably doesn't fit in that group. His recent offensive numbers are stronger, he doesn't have the injury history, and by all reports, he keeps himself in good shape.

Happy Chinese New Year! I saw last week that this is the Year of the Tiger. This means we can't lose, right?
-- Gary R., Troy, Mich.

Hate to break it to you, but the Detroit Tigers have never gone to the playoffs in the Year of the Tiger. In fact, the last Year of the Tiger was 1998, when Detroit lost 97 games. Good news: That's one of just two losing records the Tigers have posted in the Year of the Tiger, the other coming in 1974.

Somehow, though, the Year of the Tiger is good for the Astros, who have won their division each of the last two instances in '98 and '86. Not that it matters to many Detroit fans, but it figures, since you can always find a match between the Tigers and Astros.

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 BLOG - INBOX   Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:06 pm



Thursday postgame: Busy day for Sizemore
BECK'S BLOG
Posted on March 11, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Some days, the timing just works out well for a story. Before Thursday's game against the Phillies, manager Jim Leyland said that Scott Sizemore's situation "is really an issue right now," Sizemore got a peppering of ground balls behind Justin Verlander in the game. He got to some of them, including a Placido Polanco-esque sliding stop and throw behind first base to rob Brian Schneider (thanks to Getty Images for the photo at right), and he couldn't get to others. The bigger point is that he didn't really look hobbled, and he came out of it fine.

"Everything went real well today," Sizemore said afterwards. "Tons of balls hit in my direction, had to try to get to all of them. Yeah, it felt pretty good. I had to go both ways. There were a couple hit in the middle, a couple hit in the hole. It felt good. My angles [of approach] weren't quite right for my range, but I'm not far off, maybe just a step off."

It was a good day for Sizemore's ankle, but they won't all be like that. He'll have days when it probably isn't feeling good. He accepts that. It seems to be something that worries Leyland a bit, though.

"I have to watch that thing," Leyland said of Sizemore's ankle.

In that process, he's watching how much Sizemore plays each day. The problem with that is that he's trying to make sure Sizemore gets at-bats.

"If I'm only going to play him five or six innings, I probably should move him up in the lineup so he gets an extra at-bat, which I will do at some point," Leyland said. "But I'm also trying to get an idea what our lineup's going to look like. I'm very careful saying it, because I don't want to put any pressure on him. It's a little bit of a tough situation. I have to keep him healthy, but I've got to get him ready, too."

He's living up to his prediction that he'd be watching Sizemore like a hawk.

Sizemore is trying to make the best of the ups and downs.

"I'm hoping the longer it goes, the better it feels the whole time," Sizemore said. "But I think with any injury like that, you're going to have good days and bad days. Some days, it'll be sore, and some days it'll feel phenomenal. I'm prepared for both, and I know those days when it hurts, it's just going to have to be gut-check time, really bear down and focus and get the job done."

Sizemore also had a bit of a baserunning blunder when he doubled off first base on a foul pop-up behind the bag, but Leyland said, "It was just a freak thing." The wind knocked the ball around, and Sizemore said he thought it was going to fall in fair territory behind the first baseman. Still, both of them said it was probably better to stay on the bag there and give up the force out at second rather than risk the double-play.

Other tidbits:


  • Joel Zumaya gave up a leadoff home run to Raul Ibanez in his lone inning of work, but the wind helped the ball clear the left-field fence. It was one of the few balls that really had help from the wind, because both Verlander and Joe Blanton seemed to be getting a lot of ground balls. Zumaya said he threw about three breaking balls in his outing, and that he'll probably focus on that pitch rather than his changeup this spring. "The changeup's going to be banned," Zumaya said.
  • Thursday was the second straight game Verlander noticed hitters trying to jump his first pitch of an at-bat, because he was so good at first-pitch strikes last year. Don't be surprised if there's an adjustment coming.
  • How cool is Johnny Damon? When he noticed the postgame spread came from Burger King, he told the story of how he dressed up as The King (from the commercials) for Halloween a few years ago.
  • Ryan Raburn followed Sizemore at second base today.
  • Lost in the hitting stats is the fact that Jeff Larish, the forgotten man, is 5-for-12 with no strikeouts so far this spring. Leyland said Wednesday he talked with Larish to let him know that they hadn't forgotten him and to play his game.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:42 pm

Sizemore finally feeling it at the plate
Beck's Blog
Posted on March 15, 2010 at 10:37 PM

We've rambled on and on all spring about Scott Sizemore's ankle and whether it would allow him to be ready for the regular season. We've done very little to ask the same question about Sizemore's bat.

Monday was a big day in that respect.

What had been a slow spring for Sizemore with a .150 average entering Monday got a jump start against the Jays. It wasn't just about the leadoff home run his first at-bat, but the two other balls he hit hard in two other at-bats. One went for a base hit, the other for a line out.

"Good to finally get a few knocks and feel somewhat confident in there," Sizemore said afterward.

Sizemore said he has worked some with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, but not a whole lot yet. He's going by feel with his swing at this point rather than getting too much into mechanics. Monday was a big day for him on that.

"Today was the first day I really felt like I had an idea of what everything was going on in there: Contact point, hands, feet, legs," Sizemore said. "I could kind of feel what I was doing in the box today. So yeah, it felt good. Today was a big step in the right direction, for sure."

Leyland could sense that step.

"He's getting his feet wet," Leyland said. "If you make a mistake in there, he's got some power."

As for the ankle, Sizemore said it felt good today with the exception of the end, when it felt a little sore. He thinks that had a little bit to do with sitting around between innings and letting it cool down too much. He's going to have to find ways to keep it loose during long innings in the dugout, especially back in Detroit in April with the weather cool. He has some little tricks he has done on his own, such as calf raises, but the point is to keep it moving. So if you see Sizemore constantly standing and moving around in the dugout, that'll be why.
Still, it's sounding like the ankle is becoming less and less of a question. Jim Leyland said today he was told by the medical staff that Sizemore is about to be removed from the daily list of injuries Leyland receives each day.

Other tidbits:


  • It was bound to happen sometime, but the first simulated game of Tigers Spring Training is on for Thursday at 11am, when the team will line up hitters to take swings off Max Scherzer. That move allows Dontrelle Willis to get the start in the main game against the Astros at 1:05. That game will be broadcast online at MLB.TV, on MLB Network nationally and FSN Detroit locally. The cameras make for a very interesting addition to Dontrelle's comeback attempt.
  • Didn't write much about Armando Galarraga's start, but it was up in down. He'd move ahead of some hitters and then fall behind on counts the next batter. As Leyland pointed out, "His command was inconsistent."
  • In case you're wondering which pitcher is starting where for Friday's road split-squad game, here it goes: Rick Porcello will face the Yankees at 1:05 in Tampa, then Jeremy Bonderman will face the Braves at 6:05 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.
  • Two more scoreless innings Monday from first-round pick Jacob Turner, who didn't have a whole lot of trouble doing it. One longtime scout who saw Turner pitch in the 'B' game against the Astros earlier this month said he compares favorably to Rick Porcello, someone who has the stuff and the composure and could be ready in a year or two.
  • Mike Rabelo spent last year trying to get over shoulder problems, and he said more than once he was simply happy to be healthy and catching again. So you can imagine his frustration at being sidelined the last few days with right oblique soreness suffered when he took a swing during batting practice. He was moving around today, so it doesn't seem as severe as what Marcus Thames had last year, but that doesn't mean he's on the rebound yet.


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:28 pm

Michael Young to Tigers? Not happening
BECK'S BLOG
Posted on February 8, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Michael Young has asked the Rangers for a trade after shifting positions three times in recent years. The Tigers don't have a clear-cut starter at second base, one of Young's old positions, nor do they have a clear No. 2 hitter in the lineup. Sounds like a match, right?

Not happening, for a few very big reasons. Word from the Tigers is that they're not in on that. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told MLB.com Tuesday morning that their infield is set, the same as it was a couple weeks ago. They're not pursuing any deals.

Though Dombrowski didn't go into detail -- can't talk about players from other teams for fear of tampering -- several reasons show why it wouldn't happen. First, Young has veto rights on trades to all but eight teams, and the Tigers aren't one of those teams, according to MLB.com TR Sullivan. The Rangers are dealing with just teams on that list, Texas GM Jon Daniels told reporters Monday. Young reportedly would consider teams outside that list on a case by case basis, but at the end of the day, there's a reason for the list.

Second, and just as important, is Young's contract -- $16 million a year for the next three seasons. For any player, that's a huge obligation, even if the Rangers end up willing to pay part of that. It's not just about the money, but the years.

For a 34-year-old infielder, it's especially about the years. The Tigers let Polanco walk as a free agent at the same age two years ago, even declining the chance at arbitration. Granted, the Tigers were looking to trim payroll at that point, but there also wasn't much of a market for Polanco as a second baseman. He's now the Phillies third baseman. Young, meanwhile, hasn't played the middle infield since 2008, when he was still Texas' starting shortstop.

If the Tigers had the flexibility and the desire to add a veteran second baseman, they likely would've done it already. For those contract terms, it would've arguably made more sense for them to pursue Dan Uggla -- a younger second baseman and a right-handed power hitter -- when he was available in the fall.

Some readers have suggested the Tigers could send Carlos Guillen to Texas in the deal to free up salary space, at least for this year (a $13 million year for Guillen in the last season of his contract). But with Guillen coming off microfracture surgery in his knee, not expected to be game ready until mid-March and with a long injury history, his value to other teams just isn't there. Plus, he has full no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the Majors, the last five with the same team), and the idea of a part-time DH probably appeals even less to him than it does to Young, especially in a contract year for Guillen.

When it comes down to it, The Tigers are serious about trying to leave room for developing young talent, and second base is one area where they have it between Scott Sizemore, Will Rhymes and Danny Worth, plus Brandon Douglas on the horizon. Doesn't mean all these guys are going to pan out, or that any of them will approach Young's production, but they have enough depth to expect somebody to separate themselves from the group. And with Carlos Guillen added in, they have enough candidates to believe they can get some production out of that spot this year. And any deal for Young anywhere would be a deal made for this year; he'll be 36 for the last year of his contract in 2013.


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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:33 pm

I feel like they should have tried to deal for him. Frown
He's a great hitter for average, and he's a great veteran presence to have around anyone. He could mentor Sizemore and anyone else at the infield positions and contribute just as much on the field.
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PostSubject: Re: Jason Beck BLOG - INBOX   Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:51 am

gdennis59 wrote:
I feel like they should have tried to deal for him.
He's a great hitter for average, and he's a great veteran presence to have around anyone. He could mentor Sizemore and anyone else at the infield positions and contribute just as much on the field.

I would have liked seeing him as a tiger, but Detroit was on his no trade list, so Texas/Detroit would have had to convince him that a trade here was good. Also, he is still due a big chunk of change "$16 million a year for the next three seasons." We would have had to convince Texas to pick up a chunk of the salary.Now a trade of him for Carlos would have worked.


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