Trade Deadline…

This weekend was a fun one to be a Detroit Tigers fan. They swept the Chicago White Sox who came into town with a 1.5 game lead and left trailing by 1.5 games. Miguel Cabrera hit a 457 foot homerun for his 300th career dinger too today. I myself, have enjoyed it on a different level. I got to meet in person at the local mall near me both Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson and have each of them autograph a jersey. Fantastic times and hopefully more of that to come soon. Now onto business. The trade deadline is coming up real quick and even though the Tigers are playing real well right now, doesn’t mean they can’t get better.

Most of the rumors going around is that the Tigers are looking firstmost for a starting pitcher. Many pitchers names have been thrown around including Ryan Dempster. Other player names are Marco Scutaro and other second basemen. My honest opinion is that there is no need to get a starting pitcher as the rotation we have now is just fine.  JV has been JV, and Max Scherzer has really started to come in his own as of lately. Throw in that Fister is finally healthy this season and Porcello has been good, but not great. Porcello still seems to have a rough outing here and there, but seems to be having more quality starts than early exits this season.  Drew Smyly has been real good for a rookie when he can stay on the field. The starters have been able to throw at least 6 innings and have quality starts almost every game. Which then makes Leyland use the bullpen when he wants and not when it is needed. Also with Jacob Turner getting a couple starts right now, there are technically 6 starting pitchers. Plus if we trade for another starting pitcher now, then another starter would have to go eventually to make room for Turner when the organization feels he is ready for the Bigs permanently.

My theory is at this point of the season is that not a single player on the team is 100%. The long season and grind is too much for anyone to go all season feeling perfect. So this injury for Smyly I feel is merely minor and something that he could pitch through with no problem. I see this as a ploy to limit his innings as the Tigers already said they were going to do and give Jacob Turner a few starts before July 31st to see if maybe he is ready now for the Major Leagues. If so we could see someone, possibly Porcello traded off for bullpen help or that right handed second basemen the Tigers badly need. Let’s face it, room has to be made sometime for Turner. So the Tigers need to determine if now is a good time and could possibly afford to take lumps from Turner in order to pick up a bat for a run for the playoffs this year. We could find out that Turner still needs more time (I deffinently think so) and the team is better off waiting until the off-season to look at their options, or try trading away some of those AAAA pitchers in Toledo for that extra bat. That is my best advice, is to try and package Adam Wilk, Casey Crosby, and Andy Oliver for any trades this year. The team is starting to really gel together and play extremely well. Alot like what they did at this VERY exact same time last year and went on to go to the ALCS.

Interview with Austin Schotts

I have had a chance a chance to interview the Detroit Tigers 2012 3rd round pick Austin Schotts. I have Followed him on Twitter since the day we drafted him in June and he has returned the favor and Followed me back. Over the past month he has taken lots of time to not only reply back to me but to alot of his newfound fans on Twitter and it has been alot of fun. Most times it is baseball related, but every once in awhile we get a laugh in here and there about other things. I think this shows alot of character about him, reminds me alot of Curtis Granderson and when I got a chance to meet him at Tigersfest right before he became a regular in the Tigers line-up. I can’t wait to see what this kid will do in the future as he has already gotten off to a torid start in the Gulf Coast League. I am hoping this may be the first of a few more interviews over time as he progresses through the minors and if I am lucky, even to the majors.

 

1) What was that phone call like when you got drafted? Who called you and how did you feel. What was going through your mind?

Austin – I was sitting around the computer watching with my family.  I knew that if I didn’t get picked in the top 3 rounds that I was going to go to college instead.  Several of the kids in my area had been called and the third round was half way over.  I remember my mom saying how proud of me she was and how God must have had a different plan for me.  It was all going to be ok.  I had turned in my seat to get up because there were only a few picks left and I figured college was where I was going. As I started to get up from my chair I heard my name!  Pick 121 by the Detroit Tigers.  We all just started screaming and crying.  To go from a low to a high in like 20 seconds is a crazy feeling!  About five minutes later the Tigers called and congratulated me.   It was one of the happiest days of my life!

 

2) How hard/easy was it to decide to bypass college to start your professional baseball career now? Did it matter by what round you went?

Austin – I had decided that if I didn’t get drafted in the top 3 rounds I was going to college.  I got a great scholarship to play baseball at Oklahoma State so it was a win-win situation for me.  A lot of people had said that I wasn’t as well known as a lot of the others and if I went to college first I would be a higher draft pick.  In the end, my dream is to play baseball in the Bigs.  With that being said, it was not hard to bypass college.

 

3) You are off to a hot start, but what are your goals finishing this season and into next year? Is it based off of stats or which level in the minors you can get to? Or something else?

Austin –  My goal is to finish as strong as possible. I really don’t know how it works with moving up.  Hopefully whoever makes that decision will see something I am doing and like it.  I want to move up as fast as I can.

 

4) Were you surprised that you were moved to CF after high school knowing the Tigers have a franchise CF in Austin Jackson and Tigers are in need of a SS of the future?

Austin – I heard that I would be moved from short stop to center field draft day on the computer.  Nobody had really ever said anything about it.  I miss playing short stop and the fast pace of the infield, but in the end I am just so glad to be playing every day for such a great team.  You never know what opportunity you will be given so I will be ready for whatever comes my way.  I can play infield or outfield and have no problem competing against anyone.

 

5) I see you are wearing jersey #3, you know if you plan on keeping it that you may have to have a conversation with Alan Trammell when you make it to the Bigs?

Austin – This is the first time I have ever been #3.  If #3 helps me play as well as he did then hopefully I can keep it! That would be an honor to wear #3 for Detroit!  Either way, it would be awesome to get the chance to meet Alan Trammell! If they bring me up to the Bigs I will take any number they want me to wear!

 

6) I know you said you got your first professional homerun ball back, but have you kept anything else as a souvenier or momento? First jersey, pants, socks?

Austin – I used to keep all my home run balls growing up but stopped doing that in high school.  I still have some of my old little league hats and stuff.  My mom has always video taped everything so that’s really what we have to remember things by.

 

Thanks again and take your time. I know you have alot going on and have to keep up with other family and friends and preparing each day for a game. Won’t bother me if it takes a couple weeks.

Austin – Thanks for all of your support!  You don’t know how much it means to me.  I hope that I can make you and the rest of the Tigers fans proud of me.  I promise I will be working my hardest at all times

 

I know those last few sentances were not part of my questions I asked, but that was his response back to me and again shows his character and how much it means to him to do what he does and see how the fans are supporting him. Thank you again Austin for doing this and best of luck finishing your first taste of professional baseball with the Gulf Coast League Tigers.

Austin Schotts Stat Line: 20 Games, 28/76 for a .368 Average, 5 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 Homerun, 14 RBI’s, 10 Stolen Bases, .425 OBP, .500 Slugging.

You can find Austin on Twitter under the handle @austinschotts and you can see for yourself how much he interacts with his fans.

 

All-Star Break Grades

Tonight is the All-Star game and I figured I would follow along like most Detroit Tiger columns and post my grades for each player and as the team as a whole so far after 86 games. First of all if you didn’t know the Tigers are only 1 game behind last year’s pace (2012: 44-42, 2011: 45-41) as far as team record goes. So anything can happen. They are starting to click a little and the offense really has picked up recently. But onto the grades.

Starting Line-Up:

1) Austin Jackson: A+ – This has been the breakout season we all have been waiting for. If he keeps this up we may see him move into a spot in the line-up to really put up more production as noted in a previous post.

2) Quintin Berry: B – I know he has been a huge surprise, but he has holes. One, he can easily be over powered by anyone with a fastball 93mph or higher. And second, he may always put himself to catch anyball put in play, but he doesn’t always catch it. One thing for it to go off the end of the mitt, but not the palm of it. If he catches more and starts to catch up to some heat, he gets a better rating.

3) Miguel Cabrera: A – Not an A+ rating, but this is more because…………..he is doing exactly what he does every season. His production is up from last season, but more along the line when he hit 38HR and had 126 RBI’s just a couple seasons ago. He should of been the starting 3rd baseman at the All-Star game, NEXT!

4) Prince Fielder: A- – His HR & RBI numbers could be better, but he is starting to heat up. Notorious of being better in the second half every season. So lets just wait and watch and hopefully enjoy.

5) Delmon Young: C+ – Homering in 4 straight games saved him from getting a C grade. He has the potential to be more dangerous and more consistant than what he has done so far.

6) Brennan Boesch: D+ – Not injured, just straight up slumping all year. Has shown flashes of 2011 a week here and there, but nothing substantial. Needs to shorten swing and stop thinking so much like his name is Brandon Inge at the plate.

7) Jhonny Peralta: C- – All numbers across the board are sub-par for career numbers for Jhonny. Not going to compare to last season as that is unfair. The glove (more so arm accuracy) has been shaky at times too.

8) Alex Avila: D+ – Still showing his knee(s) never fully healed from the abuse from last season. Has swung with more confidense since getting good news from his last MRI, but I don’t think he will recover to save this season.

9) Ramon Santiago: C – Defense has been a bit sloppy at times, maybe even losing a step or two. The bat could be better, not going to ask for anything above .270, just better than .230 like right now.

 

Overall: C+ – The offense ranks in the middle of most categories, but should be top 5 or even top 3 with the line-up they have. It needs to continue the improvements of recent if they want to get back to the playoffs.

 

Starting Rotation:

1) Justin Verlander: A – Again like Caberea, he isn’t getting an A+ simply because he is doing exactly what we all thought he would do. Glad to see he gets the starting nod in the All-Star game tonight. My Verlander jersey will be on during his time on the mound.

2) Max Scherzer: C+ – Most numbers are up this year, including innings pitched, wins, strikeouts. But so is his ERA. Early inconsistency on the season shows in this grade. I expected he would do well, just an ERA closer to 4.00, not 5.00.

3) Doug Fister: D – I thought Doug would join up with JV to be like a Yin-Yang combo, but injuries have derailed that. Lets hope for a great second half.

4) Rick Porcello: C+ – New year, same problem. Inconsistent. Done.

5) Drew Smyly: B+ – This grade is more concieved from what to expect from a rookie, not completely based off of stats. Verry happy to see that 10 strikeout performance in person, but it was the Royals, lol. Not including his stint on the DL and the Tigers haven’t had to worry if Drew could not just win, but keep that 5th spot. Also with that 15 day break it helped Detroit’s plan on his inning limits for the season.

Pitching performance overall: B- – This is the combination of both the starting rotation and bullpen. Valverde has been disapointing, but Benoit, Villarreal, and Below have more than made up for it. Coke could be doing better, but at times has eaten up alot of innings.

 

My next post will be my Q & A with the Detroit Tigers 2012 3rd round pick Austin Schotts. I have submitted 5 questions to him on Twitter to answer and will post them along with his answers within the next week or two. Very excited with what he has done so far.

Austin Schotts stat line: 16 games, 26/61 (.426 Ave.), 5 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homerun, 12 RBI’s, 8 stolen bases, .478 OBP, .590 Slugging Percentage, 1.068 OBPS

What to do with Berry once the team gets healthy.

So, what to do with Quintin Berry once we get everyone back from the DL (Avila & Dirks). Do you play the hot hand and give Berry more starts, perhaps even being a regular? Or do you continue to play Boesch and D.Young since they have more major league experience? At this point of the season, I would go with whoever is the hot hand and right now that is Quintin Berry. After today’s 5 for 5 performance he is batting .333 and is 9 for 9 in SB’s in his short time with the big team. I don’t think Leyland can afford to keep letting players who are underperforming to keep playing as much as they do. Plus Quintin most deffinently brings a whole new dimension to the team in terms of speed, athletisicm, and defense. Imagine Jackson in his usual spot in CF, Dirks back in LF and Berry in RF then. That is a very fast outfield who can get to practically anything hit into the outfield saving bloop hits. Plus the speed can overcome some lack of arm strength simply by getting the ball back to the infield quicker.

The other thing then is what spot in the lineup would Berry go with Austin Jackson holding down the leadoff spot and Andy Dirks possibly going back to the second spot once he is healthy. Do you move Dirks? AJax? or simply move Berry to last in the lineup. I have an interesting idea. With Austin now showing patience at the plate and showing some power would a move to the 5th spot in the lineup be the next move and let Berry take over the leadoff spot? I know that means the team would leadoff with 2 lefties, but maybe have 1 lineup for righties, and one for lefties. So here are my 2 proposed lineups then.

Righties:

1) Berry – RF

2) Dirks – LF

3) Cabrera – 3B

4) Fielder – 1B

5) Jackson – CF

6) D.Young/Boesch – DH

7) Peralta – SS

8) Avila – C

9) Santiago – 2B

 

Lefties:

1) Jackson – CF

2) Dirks – LF

3) Cabrera – 3B

4) Fielder – 1B

5) D.Young/Boesch – DH

6) Peralta – SS

7) Avila – C

8) Santiago – 2B

9) Berry – RF

 

Leyland can play with whoever is DH’ing and playing the outfield giving some players a rest on the field, but keep the bat in the lineup. Berry should get the start 5 out of every 6 games. This allows everyone to stay fresh and you have your best bats and better defenders on the field and we should see a resurgence in the offense we all have been waiting for. Berry can wreak havoc on the basepaths distracting the pitcher to leave the ball over the plate for anyone following Berry once he gets on. He has been striking out alot, but you can’t ignore someone who gets a hit once every 3 at-bats.

 

Well needed update

Well we are now 60 or so games into the season and thus far as I don’t need to tell you the Tigers are not living up to expectations……..so far. Some players are doing what we expected, some are breaking out, and there are alot who we can’t keep on the field healthy. So I will try to analyze each player who is a regular and try to make some new predictions for the rest of the season.

CF – Austin Jackson – Spent 3 weeks on the DL and we are so glad he is back. This is what the Tigers envisioned when they recieved him from the Yankees as part of the Granderson deal. Now who may win out on this deal? Quite possibly more valuable than Miguel Cabrera right now. End of season line: .315 Ave., 18 HR’s, 65 RBI’s, .405 OBP, .530 Slug. (Comeback player of the Year Candidate)

LF – Andy Dirks – So I told you all he will win EARN the starting left fielder spot and has taken off before the recent achilles tendon problem. Has great bat control, good base running skills and taking advantage of his chance at being a regular. End of season line: .290, 8 HR’s, 40 RBI’s

3B – Miguel Cabrera – Well everyone thought he couldn’t play at third base again and has done great. Don’t think we have to worry about what he does with the bat. Starting to heat up right now with his homerun pace. End of season line: .315 Ave., 35 HR’s, 125 RBI’s, .550 Slug

1B – Prince Fielder – Highest batting average thus far in his career hasn’t also meant an increase in production. Has had an increase in producing over the past 2 weeks. Hope it means his mashing has just begun. End of season line: .295 Ave., 30 HR’s, 105 RBI’s, .500 Slug

DH – Delmon Young – Aside from off the field issues, he has had a sub par start on the season. Has had a few 3-game stretches that he has put together, but nothing substancial. End of season line (if still with Tigers): .250 Ave., 12 HR’s, 50 RBI’s

RF – Brennan Boesch – Has struggled most of the season, had a good week long stretch recently, but looks to be going back to those bad habits. Needs to relax and stop thinking (i.e. Inge?) End of season line: .250 Ave., 15HR’s, 60 RBI’s

SS – Jhonny Peralta – Another player not performing up to expectations so far. has started to have some better swings and I think this is the one player on the team who will dig himself out of the hole before season’s end. End of season line: .280 Ave., 15 HR’s, 50 RBI’s

C – Alex Avila – Struggled for the most part of the year, got hot, then injured. I think the Tigers need to give him more time to make sure he is 100% when he comes back. Maybe even DH him more once he returns. Seems like the knees are already giving him problems this year, but Leyland has been giving him proper time away from behind the plate, just hasn’t worked out so far. End of season line: .260 Ave., 10 HR’s, 45 RBI’s

2B – Ramon Santiago – Typical contributions from Ramon this season. Won’t breakout, nor really weaken in his production. He is mainly on the field for his glove and above average speed on the base paths. End of season line: .210 Ave., 3 HR’s, 25 RBI’s

Overall the offense has actually done well with getting on base and getting hits. The difference between this year and last year is getting those hits with runners in scoring position and all that late-inning magic we saw in so many comebacks last year. This is where we are really missing Victor Martinez. Even though there is a slight chance he might be able to comeback in September I hope the Tigers just tell him to take it off regardless and make sure he is 100% next season. The Tigers will let Delmon Young walk and V-Mart will take over the DH spot. Now for the Starting Rotation…

1) Justin Verlander – As expected he is getting his fair share of work in and continuing isi streak of games consecutively pitching at least 6 innings. Has a very good ERA, leads the AL in K’s and is in top 10 of many categories. Furthermore, he is being more economical and more starts are near that 110-115 pitch limit I suggested instead of 120-125 each time. End of season line: 2.70 ERA, 16 Wins, 240 K’s (Top 10 in Cy Young)

2) Max Scherzer – 1 game phenominal, next 2 mediocre. Needs to be more consistent from game to game. I really like the new wind-up with going over the head to try to get more balance. I really want him to do well, has the potential to break-out any time and be the pitcher he knows he can be. I think in time in the second half we will see improvement as he gets more use to the new wind-up. End of season line: 4.80 ERA, 14 Wins, 200 K’s

3) Doug Fister – Has been dealing with an injury on and off all season. Hopefully that was the last of it and today’s start is what we see the rest of the year every 5 games. May of got his first win of season today, but his now 2.60 ERA can’t be ignored. So far has had bad luck in run support. I predict Doug will have the best second half of any AL pitcher due to him missing time, so the arm is much, much more rested. End of season line: 2.40 ERA, 12 Wins, 100 K’s

4) Rick Porcello – Another starter trying out the new over the head wind-up and has been inconsistent. I like the idea, but results have been not as good as Scherzer’s. Still hasn’t lived up to expectations of being a highly regarded draft pick and he may have already plateaued. I know he is a ground ball pitcher on a team that isn’t that athletic on the infield, but he has been hit hard this season. End of season line: 5.00 ERA, 10 Wins, 100 K’s

5) Drew Smyly – So far he has been the second best starter behind JV. Big knock against him is he hasn’t pitched into the 7th inning at all this season, but that is not entirely his fault. Only his 2nd season as a pro and team (Leyland) have said they have a plan for him on his pitch/inning counts. Some of his starts have gone 6 innings and he had only thrown 85-95 pitches and was pulled. Team seems to be set on 30 starts, 160 IP as a limit before his stint on the DL. Let that blister heal and he will be back to have a good rookie season. End of season line: 4.50 ERA, 8 Wins, 125 K’s (Top 10 in Rookie of the Year)

The bullpen has been shaky at times, but great seasons by Benoit, Villareal, Below are showing through though. Valverde st probably pitching his last season as a Tiger, has lost his confidence and feel on his splitter. Alberquerque is due back sometime in July and will be a boost to help take some relief off of Coke as long as Below and Villareal continue to put up lights out numbers. Benoit should get some consideration as an All-Star but won’t because he is a set-up/middle reliever and not a Closer.

Overall I still think this team has a real good chance to get back into the thick of things, but probably won’t win the division by 15 games as predicted by many. May use Casey Crosby and/or Andy Oliver to trade to get a second baseman or another starting pitcher near All-Star break.

Predicted All-Star(s) – Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Justin Verlander

Coming soon will be an interview with the Detroit Tigers 2012 3rd round pick (2nd team overall pick) Austin Schotts. Real good kid who I talk to on Twitter and has agreed to answer some questions for me to use on my blog. So if you have Twitter, go follow him (@austinschotts). He gets back to many of his fans on questions asked to him and even was kind enough to follow me back on Twitter.

 

Predicting the Standings, Wild Card Teams, and Playoffs

Here is my prediction of the team standings, wild card teams and playoffs for the 2012 Major League baseball season:

AL East:

1) Tampa Bay

2) New York

3) Boston

4) Toronto

5) Baltimore

 

Al Central:

1) Detroit

2) Kansas City

3) Chicago

4) Minnesota

5) Cleveland

 

AL West:

1) Los Angeles

2) Texas

3) Seattle

4) Oakland

 

NL East:

1) New York

2) Florida

3) Philadelphia

4) Atlanta

5) Washington

 

NL Central:

1) St.Louis

2) Cincinatti

3) Milwaukee

4) Chicago

5) Houston

6) Pittsburgh

 

NL West:

1) Los Angeles

2) Arizona

3) San Francisco

4) San Diego

 

AL Wild Card: Texas over New York

ALDS: Detroit over Tampa Bay, Los Angeles over Texas

ALCS: Los Angeles over Detroit

 

NL Wild Card: Florida over Arizona

NLDS: Los Angeles over Florida, New York over St.Louis

NLCS: Los Angeles over New York

 

World Series: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games.

25 Man Roster

Time to update my thoughts on who is going to make the opening day roster. Not alot of surprises in my mind, but a couple changes from my initial thoughts a couple posts back. First Leyland has said that he is going north with 13 positional players and 12 pitchers, which makes my idea of 2 long-relief pitchers out of the question. So, lets see my updated guess at the team that will be named the Detroit Tigers starting April 5th against the Red Sox.

Positional players:

1st base – Prince Fielder

2nd base – Ryan Raburn

3rd base – Miguel Cabrera

Shortstop – Jhonny Peralta

Catcher – Alex Avila

Left Field – Andy Dirks

Center Field – Austin Jackson

Right Field – Brennan Boesch

Bench:

Catcher – Gerald Laird

IF/OF – Don Kelly

IF – Ramon Santiago

IF – Danny Worth

Yes, I still think Inge is done. His issue at third base was hitting, and it was said with him trying out at second base will be how he hits this spring. The Tigers have given him every chance to make this team, including using him as the DH today so all he has to do is focus on hitting the ball and went 0 for 3. His average is .154 and if the Tigers are serious about putting together the best team, then they will let him go. You argue that we would be paying alot for a player not on the team, but look at what the team did when V-Mart went down. That just says Illitch wants to win, and win NOW. So they will say goodbye to the Brandon Inge era. Dirks makes this team easily over Clete Thomas. Everyone says there is a competition, but there isn’t. Thomas has a better glove, but batting .200 with close to no pop. Dirks is an average fielder, but batting .395, hard to ignore that. Worth gets the nod also even though he has missed time this spring due to injury, but has came on strong and spraying the ball around for a great average this spring. You don’t have to worry about his glove or arm, they are A+ at all three positions he can play (2nd, 3rd, SS) This looks to be an outstanding line-up that is going to get plenty of runs on the board.

Pitching Rotation:

1) Justin Verlander

2) Doug Fister

3) Max Scherzer

4) Rick Porcello

5) Duane Below

Bullpen:

Phil Coke (Mid-Relief/Lefty Specialist/7th)

Daniel Schlereth (Lefty Specialist)

Luis Marte (Mid-Relief)

Colin Balester (Long Relief)

Octavio Dotel (7th/Set-Up)

Jaoquin Benoit (Set-Up)

Jose Valverde (Closer)

Nothing drastic here. I appologize for not including Colin Balester in my first impression on who makes the team the first time. I got a chance to watch him in a game and you have to like his stuff, but can he control it. You can see why the DBacks had him at Triple-A last year even though he is 25 and had a 4.54 ERA there. He can have trouble finding the strike zone with his secondary pitches. The Tigers are going to give him a chance to prove why they traded a former first round pick (Ryan Perry) for him straight up. He seems to have better poise and composure than Perry, but it looks like we gave up one wild righty for another thinking a fresh start will do them better. Now my reasons the Tigers will go with Duane Below as the fifth starter. He has put up solid numbers, including against basically the Yankees starting line-up in his last start. But Drew Smyly has had a great spring also. I think in the end they will go with the fact that Below has some major league experience and Smyly hasn’t pitched above Double-A. Andrew Oliver has had a good srping, then had a horrible outting walking 5 batters and imploding. Jacob Turner had a setback and has already been sent to Triple-A. This sets up a phenominal rotation for the Mud Hens and alot of talent ready to bounce on the chance if Below stumbles. Luis Marte has had a terrific spring and gets the last spot in the bullpen. I don’t know what to do around the All-Star break once Al Alburquerque is ready again. Will have to wait and see how everyone is throwing then.