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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Betzold: Why are the Tigers resting at .500 and where will they go from here?

I didn’t mention Rod Allen’s recent riff of “you don’t need range to have a good defense.”...because my Glasgow Coma Scale numbers hadn’t come in yet.

The Tigers’ few overall weaknesses — an unimpressive bench, shaky infield defense on the right side — shouldn’t be fatal over the course of a long season. But in the first month of this season, the bullpen has been a shambles. And that is a major dilemma.

I’ll pass over the glaring lack of infield range (particularly the gaping gap between an immobile third baseman and another third baseman who’s playing shortstop) with a smirk at Rod Allen’s recent on-air remark that “you don’t need range to have a good defense.” Allen must be one of the few remaining baseball commentators who think that fielding percentage is the hallmark of defensive prowess rather than an indicator that fielders are failing to get to many hit balls. And I’ll agree that Miguel Cabrera’s offense far outweighs the runs he gives away at third base (but his defense should have been a bigger factor in last year’s MVP vote).

...It may be that the skipper’s bullpen tactics have been dictated more by necessity than anything, like when Rick Porcello came into a blowout to pitch two innings of relief and give the relievers a rest. That harkened back to the way fifth starters used to be used. And it makes me ask: with their four solid starters, why don’t the Tigers keep those four on a strict rotation, with four days’ rest between each start whenever possible, and use both Porcello and Drew Smyly as swingmen? Each could be an irregular fifth starter and available from time to time as a long reliever. Leyland is halfway to this solution already. Take the next step, and try to use the Big Four as often as possible on regular rest, with Porcello and Smyly filling in as starters and providing more bullpen options.

...The big question for the Tigers is not so much on the field but with their manager. Can Leyland find a plausible end-of-game strategy? Can he stop overusing marginal major leaguers Don Kelly and Matt Tuiasosopo? Can he somehow talk Martinez into being VMart again? This pennant is his to lose: he’s got the horses, and it now just depends on how he handles the reins.

Repoz Posted: April 24, 2013 at 06:29 AM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Bug Selig Posted: April 24, 2013 at 07:06 AM (#4424173)
I'm puzzled as to why the Tigers didn't grab the recently-available-for-free Casper Wells. Tuiasusopo, even as a platoon starter, is a joke.
   2. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: April 24, 2013 at 07:28 AM (#4424176)
Ah, the annual Tigers-are-only-at-.500-when-they-should-be-raping-and-pillaging-the-the-whole-damn-American League story!
   3. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 07:53 AM (#4424185)
I would have liked them to pick up Wells too, when he was available for $$$ recently. I'm not worried about the team overall. They are making aggressive moves to fix the team's biggest weakness (the bullpen). I am a little puzzled by an offence that looked so good the first couple weeks going ice-cold on the West Coast, but that's baseball I guess.

Smyly to the rotation, Porcello to relief. This guy's solution seems pretty reasonable too, though. Overall, I still see around 90-95 wins and an early exit from the playoffs.
   4. bobm Posted: April 24, 2013 at 08:12 AM (#4424199)
2013 Tigers after 18 games: 9-9
2012 Tigers after 18 games: 10-8
   5. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 24, 2013 at 08:14 AM (#4424201)
Wasn't this a theme most of last year? The Tigers aren't perfect but they should be fine and once they're in the playoffs that's a pretty scary team with Verlander and Scherzer at the top of the rotation.
   6. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 08:33 AM (#4424211)

Sure, but the team this year is significantly better on paper than last year's team. Hunter, Martinez replacing Delmon and Boesch is a massive upgrade, so is a full year of Infante over half a season of Raburn and Santiago at second. They have Anibal Sanchez for the whole season too. But yeah, I'm not worried about the team right now.
   7. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 08:46 AM (#4424216)
Can he somehow talk Martinez into being VMart again?


He's a 34-year-old former catcher who just missed an entire season to injury. This may well be the end of the line, no matter what Leyland says to him.
   8. beer on a stick Posted: April 24, 2013 at 08:53 AM (#4424220)
Can Leyland find a plausible end-of-game strategy? Can he stop overusing marginal major leaguers Don Kelly and Matt Tuiasosopo?


Probably not.

I am a little puzzled by an offence that looked so good the first couple weeks going ice-cold on the West Coast, but that's baseball I guess.


The Tigs are something like 14-36 in their last 50 games at the Big A. They have been very fortunate not to meet the Angels in the play-offs the last few years.

They always struggle out west. Even the '84 team had problems out there. They went into OAK at 35-5 and promptly got swept. That time zone just screws with their mojo.

   9. ASmitty Posted: April 24, 2013 at 09:18 AM (#4424236)
Seems like a strange article to write when the Tigers have played 50% of their games on the west coast.
   10. AROM Posted: April 24, 2013 at 09:19 AM (#4424237)
They always struggle out west. Even the '84 team had problems out there. They went into OAK at 35-5 and promptly got swept. That time zone just screws with their mojo.


Only in sports could that possibly be relevant. Since everyone from the 84 team is retired and many of the current Tigers hadn't even been alive in 1984. I'm not criticizing, seems like we all make those connections.
   11. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: April 24, 2013 at 09:24 AM (#4424241)
I fully expected the Royals and Twins to fight it out for AL Central supremacy this season, so I'm not at all surprised.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4424247)
Is it too early to say this is a MUST WIN series?

Yes, yes it is.
   13. beer on a stick Posted: April 24, 2013 at 09:34 AM (#4424249)
Only in sports could that possibly be relevant. Since everyone from the 84 team is retired and many of the current Tigers hadn't even been alive in 1984. I'm not criticizing, seems like we all make those connections.


It's not just that one instance. They have been struggling out on the West Coast since I was a child listening to Ernie and Paul on my transistor radio. Winning West Coast swings are few and far in between for them.

FWIW, I think most Eastern time-zone teams struggle out there, and most Western time-zone teams struggle when in the East. It just seems that the Tigs have it rougher than most teams when they do the LA(A)-OAK-SEA run.

Good thing they got this years swing out of the way early, and all in one shot. And for me, 9-9 is perfectly acceptable at this point. The fireworks won't really start until the weather warms up in Detroit anyway.

   14. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 24, 2013 at 09:39 AM (#4424254)
All you want to do at this stage of the season is not completely #### yourself. The Tigers did that a few years ago (2008?) where they had a terrible start. The Red Sox the last few years have done the same thing getting off to terrible starts where simply going .500 over the first 20 or so games would have had them in the playoffs 2 of the 3 years. The Tigers aren't off to such a bad start that it's worth being too worried about. The bullpen is a legitimate concern but it's also the area where it's easiest to make an in-season change to fix the problem.

I think V-Mart and Avila are the guys to legitimately worry about. As noted above Martinez is at a stage of his career where he might not bounce back and while Avila isn't going to be this bad I think it would be fair to question if he's the star he looked like in 2011. There's nothing wrong with a 1.5-2.0 win catcher but it's a little disappointing considering how good he looked.
   15. chemdoc Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:22 AM (#4424291)
They always struggle out west. Even the '84 team had problems out there. They went into OAK at 35-5 and promptly got swept. That time zone just screws with their mojo.


The sweep was in Seattle.
   16. TomH Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:26 AM (#4424298)
Q: Why are the Tigers resting at .500 and where will they go from here?
A1: Because they have scored80 runs and allowed 74, and have been a tad unlucky to win 9 games instead of 10.
A2: They will continue their 87-win Pythagorus pace, more or less, which oughta be enough to win the AL Central.

my Q: why did this deserve a title implying panic and fear?
   17. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4424313)
I was listening to the Seattle broadcast of a Tigers-Mariners game not long ago. In one inning, one of the announcers said that the Tigers were "the best defensive team in baseball" because they had only made one error and the "best-hitting team in baseball" because of their batting average.
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:43 AM (#4424320)

I was listening to the Seattle broadcast of a Tigers-Mariners game not long ago. In one inning, one of the announcers said that the Tigers were "the best defensive team in baseball" because they had only made one error and the "best-hitting team in baseball" because of their batting average.


I will guess Rod Allen. He is beyond terrible.
   19. beer on a stick Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4424347)
The sweep was in Seattle.


Really? My memory is definitely not what it used to be. Either way, it's still a fight for them any time they venture out there.

I will guess Rod Allen. He is beyond terrible.


How did the Tigers go from Ernie Harwell/Paul Carey (radio), and George Kell/many good color men, including Al Kaline (TV), to what they have doing PBP now? Jim Price is a beloved member of the '68 team, but GAAAH he's annoying. And Dickerson always tries to make a routine single sound like it just won the World Series or something. Why does he constantly yell? Someone tell him its baseball, not wrestling.

I don't get to hear the TV guys, but I have heard stories...
   20. Cooper Nielson Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4424378)
<em>I will guess Rod Allen. He is beyond terrible.


How did the Tigers go from Ernie Harwell/Paul Carey (radio), and George Kell/many good color men, including Al Kaline (TV), to what they have doing PBP now? Jim Price is a beloved member of the '68 team, but GAAAH he's annoying. And Dickerson always tries to make a routine single sound like it just won the World Series or something. Why does he constantly yell? Someone tell him its baseball, not wrestling.

I don't get to hear the TV guys, but I have heard stories...<em>

Mario Impemba is the play-by-play guy on TV, and IMHO he's rather good. He has a good voice and he's "positive" without being a homer. While he's not exactly "progressive" in terms of new-school sabermetric thinking, he seems reasonably intelligent and open-minded. He never annoys me.

Rod Allen doesn't add much, but at least he's good-natured. It's hard to hate him, even if you don't think he's very good.
   21. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4424418)
It wasn't Rod Allen, because it was the Seattle radio crew. I don't know if it was Rick Rizzs or whoever does color.

Having suffered through Rick Rizzs and Bob Rathbun as the Tigers radio announcers, I never complain about Jim Price.

At least all of these guys are a lot better than John Sterling. He's the worst I've ever heard.
   22. Crosseyed and Painless Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4424429)
Every time Fox Sports Detroit shows Fielding Percentage I want to throw something at the TV.

Is it just me, or is ESPN a little more forward-thinking when showing statistics than Fox Sports? I seem to notice a difference.
   23. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4424432)
How has V-Mart looked physically? He's always been one of my favorite players, and while the average isn't there so far, he has more walks than K's.
   24. ASmitty Posted: April 24, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4424470)
Martinez has had some tough-luck outs so far; I'm confident his average will rise. His power, however, which was already waning, may be gone for good.
   25. ASmitty Posted: April 24, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4424474)
Mario Impemba is the play-by-play guy on TV, and IMHO he's rather good. He has a good voice and he's "positive" without being a homer. While he's not exactly "progressive" in terms of new-school sabermetric thinking, he seems reasonably intelligent and open-minded. He never annoys me.

Rod Allen doesn't add much, but at least he's good-natured. It's hard to hate him, even if you don't think he's very good.


Yeah, I like Detroit's TV team. I find baseball to be an amiable, relaxed sport, and Detroit's TV crew is an amiable, relaxed crew. The radio team is AWFUL.
   26. McCoy Posted: April 24, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4424477)
This just in. Visiting teams don't win as many games as home teams.
   27. Moeball Posted: April 24, 2013 at 12:34 PM (#4424484)
It just seems that the Tigs have it rougher than most teams when they do the LA(A)-OAK-SEA run.


I wonder if any of it has to do with the parks? Even though the Tigers have decent pitching (particularly with Verlander at the top of the rotation), they seem to be better known for their hitting, or maybe there is just more media focus on that? At any rate, all the west coast teams have pitcher's parks (actually I think it's been for several years now), and maybe psychologically the Tigers hitters press a little more when they head out west? The parks in Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle are all going to reduce fun-time for the hitters and unless the Detroit pitching equally takes advantage of the parks, it's going to mean a long, painful road trip.
   28. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 24, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4424486)
shaky infield defense on the right side


On the right side? Has he seen the MVP statue they planted at third?

Evidence suggests the Tigers are a terrible defensive team. They are tied with Miami for 2nd worst defensive efficiency in all of baseball, just .001 above the Yankees in last.
   29. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4424633)

Victor has a .207 BABIP. He'll hit. It's early.
   30. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: April 24, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4424654)
I haven't seen a ton of Tigers ball this year, but I can off-hand recall at least a few instances where V-Mart smoked the ball right at a fielder.

I like the Tigers' TV crew. As someone mentioned, Mario has got a good voice, seems reasonably intelligent w/r/t the game and statistics, and he's enthusiastic about the team without letting it blind him from items worth criticizing. Rod is a homer, but not so much that you want to reach into your television set and grab his neck a la Hawk or even some of the more annoying crews in Pittsburgh, Colorado, and DC.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4424737)
They are tied with Miami for 2nd worst defensive efficiency in all of baseball, just .001 above the Yankees in last.

I'm surprised the Yankees aren't further in last given the crew of has beens and never weres they're trotting out.
   32. SG Posted: April 24, 2013 at 03:09 PM (#4424746)
On the right side? Has he seen the MVP statue they planted at third?


I think he means 'their' right side since he then goes on to discuss Cabrera and Peralta.
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4424752)
I think he means 'their' right side since he then goes on to discuss Cabrera and Peralta.

I don't get the hate for Peralta's D. UZR thinks he's quite good. BRef and DMB have him as dead average.

The bad IF defenders are Cabrera and Fielder, but of course they more than compensate with the bat. The MIs are probably at least average.
   34. ASmitty Posted: April 24, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4424794)
I don't get the hate for Peralta's D. UZR thinks he's quite good. BRef and DMB have him as dead average.

The bad IF defenders are Cabrera and Fielder, but of course they more than compensate with the bat. The MIs are probably at least average.


I think Detroit is pretty strong up the middle. Avila and Infante are plus-defenders, Peralta is average, and Jackson is excellent. The corners are a bit dicier, with Hunter being good, Dirks being mediocre, Cabrera being below average, and Fielder being poor.

All told, however, the defense is better than last year's model.
   35. Bug Selig Posted: April 24, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4424987)
Victor has a .207 BABIP. He'll hit. It's early.


It's almost as if he has little power and glacial speed. Wait a sec...

How has V-Mart looked physically? He's always been one of my favorite players, and while the average isn't there so far, he has more walks than K's.


Especially if you give him credit for the walks issued by teams itching to face him. I liked the signing. I liked him in 2011. I even like him as a guy. I can, however, smell the glue factory from here.

EDIT: Prince only has 2 IBB's so far. It feels like a dozen, and I'm sure each cost the Tigers 45 runs and several games in the standings:-)
   36. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 24, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4424991)
Victor has a .207 BABIP. He'll hit. It's early.
Yeah, except that he's a 34 year-old former catcher coming off knee surgery, and he has 1 XBH in 66 AB so far. A little more luck would help (and be expected), but I don't think it's a given that his career .314 BABIP is attainable any more, especially hitting that well with power.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4424992)
It's almost as if he has little power and glacial speed. Wait a sec...

Yeah, the 0.015 ISO would worry me a lot more than the .190 BABIP. Only 1 double and 0 HRs in 77 PA. Ugh.
   38. cardsfanboy Posted: April 24, 2013 at 05:15 PM (#4424999)
EDIT: Prince only has 2 IBB's so far. It feels like a dozen, and I'm sure each cost the Tigers 45 runs and several games in the standings:-)


I just looked at Prince's stats so far this year, and I'm still trying to find out when he's going to fall apart due to his fatness that everyone seemed to predict with his signing, add in that he was going to the superior league and he was going to be lucky to post a 130 ops+...
   39. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4425004)
I just looked at Prince's stats so far this year, and I'm still trying to find out when he's going to fall apart due to his fatness that everyone seemed to predict with his signing, add in that he was going to the superior league and he was going to be lucky to post a 130 ops+...

No one expected him to fall apart at 29. The worries are at 32+. And he's signed to big money through age 36.
   40. cardsfanboy Posted: April 24, 2013 at 05:29 PM (#4425018)
No one expected him to fall apart at 29. The worries are at 32+. And he's signed to big money through age 36.


Several people were worried he wouldn't even be good at 29 since he was coming from the inferior league.

   41. Walt Davis Posted: April 24, 2013 at 07:18 PM (#4425119)
Oh-oh, pitchers may have rediscovered the hole in Austin Jackson's swing or found a new one. Or he's in the mother of all slumps That massive improvement in K-rate is not so massive now. His last 27 PA features 10 Ks and a line of 040/111/080. That is one terrible week.
   42. ASmitty Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:45 PM (#4425296)
Martinez goes 2-5 with two doubles tonight. As I said up thread, he's been hitting the ball harder than the slash line suggests.
   43. Swoboda is freedom Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:26 PM (#4425319)
The sweep was in Seattle.


Really? My memory is definitely not what it used to be. Either way, it's still a fight for them any time they venture out there.


I thought they were sweepless in Seattle.

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