Monday, April 30, 2007

Bird watching

Baltimore comes to Detroit for 3 games, opening with Daniel Cabrera facing Jeremy Bonderman. This has the potential to be a gem if each pitches to his potential. Of course, that means limiting walks for Cabrera and getting out of the first inning for Bonderman. Cabrera tossed a gem against Detroit on April 9. Bonderman is due for some good luck.

Adam Loewen (2-0, 3.20) takes on Chad Durbin (1-1, 6.65) in the middle game of the set. Loewen struggles with walks, too, but the Tigers historically aren’t a team that draws many walks. That’s changed somewhat for the better this season, but we’ll see how it goes. Knocking Loewen out of the game doesn’t guarantee success, either, because the O’s pen – thanks in part to former Tiger Jamie Walker – has been solid. Durbin was great last time out, but I expect a return to earth.

I’m guessing the series comes down to Wednesday’s clash between Steve Trachsel and Nate Robertson. I like Nate in this spot, which hopefully means the Tigers take the series, 2-1.

Meanwhile, Maggs is scorching. He’s got at least 1 RBI in 10 of last 11 games. He’s .486/.558/.919 in last 10 with 3 HR and 18 RBI. For everything that’s gone wrong so far, the Tigs are still 13-11, which is 5th best in AL. Unfortunately, Cleveland, Minnesota and Chicago also are in the Top 6.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

No hits? no runs? No problem.

Despite the general awesomeness of the Mets' offense, they have a tendency to make the strangest pitchers look like Cy Young contenders. This weekend was a prime example, as they scored a grand total of three runs in eighteen and one-third innings against Jason Bergmann (career ERA prior to Sunday's game: 5.25), Jerome Williams (2007 ERA after six shutout innings on Saturday: 6.11) and Matt Chico (2007 WHIP: 2.07). I've come to accept in recent years that rookie starters will make the Mets look hapless regardless of their actual talent level, but getting nearly no-hit by a veteran mediocrity like Williams is a bit much.

In total the Mets scored ten runs in three and one-third games, doing nearly half of that damage in a four-run twelfth inning on Saturday. For the most part, the Mets who had been hitting before this series kept hitting and those who hadn't been didn't start. Jose Reyes went three-for-twelve with three walks, a double and four stolen bases. He's now hitting a mere .343/.435/.576, but is on pace to finish the season with a Rickeyesque 112 walks and 112 stolen bases. Carlos Beltran went four-for-thirteen with one walk, one double and a home run that provided the only scoring in Sunday's game. He's hitting .333/.394/.625, just barely enough to outpace Moises Alou (.349/.400/.482) and Shawn Green (.360/.418/.551) for the best line among Met outfielders.

But while those who patrol the grass continue to pound the ball, Reyes's dirtbound compatriots are having more trouble. Jose Valentin (.279/.359/.471) is off to a fine start with both bat and glove, but he left Saturday's game with discomfort in his knee and flew to New York to get it tested on Sunday, although it doesn't appear to be anything too serious. Then there's David Wright and Carlos Delgado. Wright drew five more walks this weekend, keeping his OBP at a healthy .388, but his .329 slugging percentage isn't so pretty. Still, it beats Delgado's .187/.265/.264 line. But then, even Paul Lo Duca (.225/.288/.282) can beat that.

Fortunately, the Mets again got enough good pitching to take two of three games in this series. Oliver Perez got the loss on Friday, but his start was encouraging in that he had one bad inning and didn't fall completely apart. After giving up three runs in the first inning, he allowed just one more, going seven innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. He wasn't dominant, but giving up four runs in seven innings is going to be good enough for the Mets' offense on a lot of nights. Tom Glavine and John Maine chose not to take that chance as they allowed a total of one run in thirteen innings on Saturday and Sunday. Maine again kept his wildness within reason, walking three while striking out eight in seven innings.

The Mets (15-8) are third in the league (and the division) in runs scored with 126 as they head home, but no team in the majors has allowed fewer than their 75 runs. The Marlins (11-13) have been the NL's offensive juggernaut thus far with 134 runs scored and they will come to Shea for three games starting Monday. Orlando Hernandez (2-1, 2.53) may or may not start game one for the Mets as a sore shoulder will have him consulting with a medical professional. Mike Pelfrey (0-2, 7.90) and Perez (2-2, 3.86) are scheduled to follow him in he rotation. Scott Olsen (2-1, 6.23), Ricky Nolasco (0-0, 20.25 in relief) and Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 4.39) will almost surely start for Florida. Fortunately for the Mets, only one NL team has allowed more than 134 runs this season and that team is the Marlins, who have allowed 135.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


The Tigers suffered their first blowout of the season Saturday. Zumaya struggled again Friday and Detroit lost another game it led after 6. But the real reason for my visit today is to post this note stolen from Billfer at the Tigers Weblog:

Entering today, Placido Polanco had swung and missed 3 times this season. Three. I forget the exact number, but Billfer had Polly with 90+ consecutive swings with contact.

An observation from last night: Polly came to bat with a runner on base and the OF playing him to go the other way. Tigers talking head Rod Allen noted the defense and mused about Polly pulling the ball. Polly choked up and blooped a double to left for an RBI.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bang, Zoom

Joel Zumaya's candor yesterday in discussing his meltdown the previous night in Chicago was refreshing. Among other things, Zumaya admitted he'd gotten a big head and said his immaturity proves he's not ready to be a closer yet.

O's Remain on Pace

The O's kept pace with the Yankees by dropping both ends of a 2 game set with the Red Sox, settling the question of AL East supremacy once (and for all for O's fans at least) and extending their losing streak to 4 games.

O's starters pitched well but faltered late and the heretofore sensational bullpen got its' comeuppance in both contests. O's pitching surrendered 17 walks in the two contests extending their AL league leading total to 97 and remaining on pace to lead the league in that hallowed statistical category.

The O's offense turned in their customary anemic performance facing Schilling and Beckett in the 2 games.

O's pitching leads the AL in walks and strikeouts. It feels like the young pitchers are enamored with the K to the extent that they always go deep in counts. Just get the damn at-bat decided already!

Now it's off to Cleveland and then Detroit. Can't wait!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Numbers, and what do they mean?

I was reading that Jim Leyland's not too concerned about Sean Casey's sub-.200 BA because Casey's not striking out much and still adjusting to AL pitching. That sent me to look at Casey's stats. We've been led to believe Casey is a patient hitter who rarely strikes out and possesses a high OBP. The latter two points are true, but seem to have little to do with patience.

This year, Casey has 9 K and 7 BB. He is seeing an average of 3.4 pitches per plate appearance. Craig Monroe, another sub-.200 hitter, has 25 K and 5 BB. He is seeing an average of 4.6 pitches per PA. Brandon Inge, another high K/low BA guy at the moment, is seeing 4.22 pitches per PA. Obviously, the deeper you go into counts, the more likely you can whiff.

Sean Casey rarely strikes out more than 50 times in a season. He also rarely walks more than 50 times. In 2005, he batted .324 with a .381 OBP. He saw an average of a paltry 3.22 pitches per plate appearance. Casey goes up there and gets his cuts. It would appear Casey's career OBP is high because he's got a high BA.

I would guess Casey's struggles might have to do with his bat speed? Maybe his bat has slowed just enough that balls he used to take down the right-field line are flyouts to RF and the balls that used to find the gaps are flyouts to CF. Merely speculation. Consider that he hit one double every 13 AB in 2004. That figure dropped to one double every 16.5 AB in 2005, one double per every 18 AB in 2006, and one double per every 23 AB this season. Granted, he's gotten slower, but this is most troublesome.


The Tigers-White Sox game tonight has been rained out, meaning Detroit leaves town having won the only game played in the mini-set. Now, back home to face the Twins!

Hanging (with) Chad

We will say "congratulations" to Chad Durbin after getting his first ML win since 2004 with his best Greg Maddux (in his prime) impersonation last night. Durbin simply tossed 8 innings of 3-hit, no-run, no-walk, 9-K ball in damp, cold Chicago. It looked like he really had his breaking pitches going for him. Granted, Tiger-killer Jim Thome (1.144 career OPS vs. Detroit) and Jermaine Dye were out of the lineup for the White Sox, but so what.

This much Jim Leyland must have known about Durbin, if you let him pitch enough, he'll mix in a gem. In 2000, he compiled a 12.30 ERA while giving up 48 hits and 21 BB in 30 IP during an eight-game span. His next start was 8.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R vs. Cleveland. Unfortunately, he couldn't sustain it, giving up 9 H and 5 R in 4 IP his following outing. Durbin has 3 CG, so he's capable of giving you a good game here or there.

We're hoping for more heres.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A very special episode of Growing Pains

In Mike Pelfrey's first two starts, he at least managed not to fall completely apart. There wasn't too much to be encouraged by beyond that, but for a guy only a year into his professional baseball career, it was something. Start number three did not even reach those lofty heights and the day may be approaching when the Mets have to reevaluate their short-term plans for their first round draft pick of two years ago.

The previously punchless Colorado Rockies came to life at the sight of Pelfrey's fastball on Thursday, pounding him for six runs on eight hits and one walk in three innings, knocking him out of the game before he even had a chance to bat. Pelfrey now has an ERA of 7.90 in 10.2 innings with six strikeouts, seven walks and two home runs allowed. He's given up a total of twenty hits. There's been a lot of talk from Mets announcers this year about Pelfrey choosing to pitch to contact and generate ground balls rather than going for strikeouts and, if this really is his intent, early on it looks to be about as good an idea as it sounds like. One of the differences between Pelfrey's time in the majors and his brief but excellent stint in the minors in 2005 is that in the minors he was striking out more than a batter per inning whereas in his major league career he's struck out exactly one batter per walk allowed. The Mets' infield defense may be very good, at least up the middle, but getting outs without having to rely on your defense is still a surer route to success if you can pull it off. These three starts don't provide a very large sample on which to judge these ideas, especially since Pelfrey got knocked out of each of them before the end of the sixth inning, but the early results are not encouraging. Pelfrey's still just twenty-three and has a history of success in college in the minors, but he may not be quite ready to dominate major league hitters. It would not be the first or even the five hundredth time that Spring Training success failed to mean a damn thing.

Pelfrey's pummeling could not quite erase the memory of the first two games of this series, each of which went rather well for the Mets. Games one and two featured excellent starting pitching performances, from John Maine and Orlando Hernandez, respectively. Each pitched at least seven innings with Maine allowing one run and Hernandez none. Maine got plenty of offensive support while El Duque had to settle for watching extra inning heroics from the bench. Jose Valentin and Carlos Delgado each homered in game one and Damion Easley provided a dramatic two-out, two-strike, game-tying blast in the bottom of the tenth inning of game two to set things up for the inevitable Endy Chavez-fueled victory. Scoring just thirteen runs in three and a third games against the Rockies' pitching staff is a bit of a letdown for the Mets' offense, but at least they escaped with a couple of wins.

The "teams they really ought to beat" segment of the first-place Mets' (13-7) schedule takes its show on the road this weekend as they make a stop in the NL East cellar to take on the Nationals (6-15). Oliver Perez (2-1, 3.31), Tom Glavine (3-1, 3.07) and Maine (3-0, 1.71) will start for the Mets as they try to improve upon the two-game split these teams battled to two weeks back at Shea. None of them pitched in that series. Neither did Matt Chico (1-2, 6.38), Jerome Williams (0-4, 7.77) nor Jason Bergmann (0-1, 3.27), who will take the hill for the Nats this weekend.

The new Fonz

Antonio Alfonseca, signed for $700K, at this point looks like a pretty good pickup by a guy who did nothing to improve the Phillies bullpen.

O's Keep Pace

The Baltimore Orioles are 11-9 through 20 games following an exhilarating 3 game sweep of the division rival Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend which they capitalized on immediately by dropping 2 straight to the Oakland A's. The O's remain 2 games back of Boston by virtue of the Red Sox sweep of the Yankees over the weekend followed by dropping 2 straight to Toronto.

The O's stand 3rd in the AL in pitching (ERA), 3rd in fielding (PCT) and 8th in hitting (AVG).

Their lofty standing in pitching is largely due to the bullpens' spectacular performance through 20 games. The starting pitching has been less than stellar, but has shown signs of strength. The O's just placed Scott Williamson on the DL with a right elbow problem. Could be the last we see of him.

O's fielding has tightened up since the opening week of the season standing at 12 errors committed through 20 games after committing 8 errors through 9 games.

O's hitting has been sporadic thus far. They've beaten a few left handers which is good, but they haven't beaten any pitchers who have pitched well. I don't know if you can fashion a winning record over the long haul by only beating lousy pitchers or good pitchers who have an off game. On the up side, Jay Payton is off the DL and having a good start. Ramon Hernandez is due to be available for today's game against Boston. Getting these two guys active significantly improves both the offense and defense.

The O's are 7-2 in the AL East.

So, it's Orioles vs. Red Sox in a 2 game set for AL East Supremacy! (of the first 22 games).

Division wars

The Tigers face Chicago (twice) and the Twins (thrice) over the next 5 days. I hope Detroit can get at least one in Chitown; with Chad Durbin pitching tonight, the better shot is tomorrow with Nate Robertson on the hill.

Here is how tough the Minnesota series could be: Johan Santana has the worst ERA of the three starters the Twins will send out. Ramon Ortiz (2.48) and Carlos Silva (2.74) will toss the first two games before Santana (3.44) meets Jeremy Bonderman in the finale. On the bright side, two of the Tigers' starters -- Justin Verlander (2.08) and Bonderman (3.18) have lower ERAs than their opponents.

Beyond that, Detroit just needs Craig Monroe, Brandon Inge and Todd Jones to get straightened out. Given the Tigers' starting pitching depth, I wonder how long GM Dave Dombrowski will wait to explore trade possibilities. Dombrowski will look to improve this team, I'm sure. It's too early to panic, but as tough as the AL Central is, one can't afford to wait too long.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The season in a game

The Tigers' 9-8 loss at Anaheim today was a microcosm of the season. Jeremy Bonderman continued his habit of giving up first-inning runs, getting touched for 4; Detroit showed its resilience by rallying late, taking an 8-7 lead on Magglio Ordonez's 2-run homer in the 9th; the bullpen collapsed and couldn't make it stand.

At least the Tigers got a split. Now it's time to tangle with the White Sox again.


Detroit pounded Jered Weaver in a 9-5 win last night. Curtis Granderson hit Weaver's first pitch for a home run, and the rout was on. Gary Sheffield got his stroke going with a 2-for-4 effort that included two runs, an RBI and a walk. Surprisingly, the only Tiger among the top six in the lineup not to have a multi-hit game was Placido Polanco, who was hitless. Granderson, Sheff, Maggs, Guillen and Pudge all came through. Casey, Monroe and Inge went 0-for-11 at the bottom of the lineup as their woes continue.

Mike Maroth could only go 4.2 innings as he struggled with his control. He gave up 5 walks and 7 hits while yielding three runs (two earned) on 105 pitches. Jason Grilli got the win with 2.1 innings of no-hit relief.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Go west

The Tigers go to Anaheim for a two-game West Coast swing. Mike Maroth faces Jered Weaver in tonight’s contest.

Detroit is 3-0 in Maroth’s starts this year, even though Maroth has been inconsistent, at best. He doesn’t throw hard or strikeout many batters, so he usually gives up his share of hits, but this year opponents are batting .328 against him. Still, Maroth missed most of last year because of elbow surgery, so he might just need a little more time to put it all together. He was the Tigers best pitcher last April. Weaver has made only one start this year because of bicep tendonitis.

Tomorrow, the snake-bitten Jeremy Bonderman faces Kelvim Escobar. Bonderman has been brilliant, especially when he gets past the first inning. Escobar will be coming off the DL to pitch Tuesday. Normally, I’d say this gives the Tigers an edge, but Escobar is 8-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his career vs. Detroit.


Sports Illustrated recently had a feature about Chris Drury of the Buffalo Sabres, and what makes him a winner. I had the pleasure of covering Drury in the 1989 Little League World Series when his Trumbull, Conn., upset Taiwan for the title. It was the first LLWS I covered. The SI story talks about what a fierce competitor Drury is, and I saw it firsthand.

One day, I was chatting with Chris while Taiwan was playing one of its mid-week games. The conversation turned to the Taiwanese. Chris, gazing at them from atop the hill behind centerfield at the LLWS complex, commented with absolute disdain, "They think they're going to win. F*ck them." There was no false bravado in his voice, just honest confidence.

At that moment, I believed Trumbull had a chance. When I reported to others in the press section that I thought Trumbull could win it all, it was dismissed as the thoughts of a rookie reporter who didn't understand the Taiwan machine.

Chris has been one of my favorite athletes since that day on the hill.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Braves? Again?

The Mets' offense remained hot over the last five games, putting thirty-six runs on the board against the Marlins and Braves, even smacking around Dontrelle Willis and John Smoltz along the way. They were able to take two games in Florida with relative ease, but bad defense and relief pitching allowed Atlanta to win two of three at Shea. At least the starting pitching was pretty good.

John Maine and Orlando Hernandez both pitched well in Florida, each allowing two runs in seven innings. Maine continued to walk too many batters, four this time, but he also struck out seven, which, along with allowing just two hits, helped him get away with it. El Duque, meanwhile, fanned ten, allowed just three hits and two walks, and would have allowed only one run if not for a David Wright error.

The worst start this time through the rotation belonged to Mike Pelfrey, who gave up four runs in five innings on six hits and two walks, while striking out three. He also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. Pelfrey hasn't been completely embarrassed in either of his first two starts, but he's clearly got a lot of work to do before he'll be a dependable piece of this rotation. But the Mets' offense and the rest of the rotation is good enough to let him work through his issues at the major league level for at least a little while longer and it's not as if any of the possible replacements at AAA are very enticing.

On the subject of working through issues, Oliver Perez bounced back with a terrific performance on Saturday. He lasted six and two-thirds innings and gave up two runs on nine hits but the real story was how consistently he was hitting the strike zone. He struck out nine and walked none, throwing 72 of 98 pitches over the plate between the letters and the knees. Proclaiming him cured now would make about as much sense as writing him off after his last start, but I'm back to being excited by his potential.

The more dependable but less spectacular Tom Glavine took the mound on Sunday and would've had career win number 294 if not for a spectacular collapse on the part of the Mets' bullpen and defense. Glavine gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings, striking out five. He wasn't dominant, but he left the game with a three-run lead. With two outs in the seventh, the Mets' lead was still 6-3, but then a long fly ball to right field found the glove of Shawn Green shortly after which it found the ground below the glove of Shawn Green, opening the door to a Scott Schoenweis-fueled three-run inning. Green's play was not ruled an error, but the ball that bounced between Jose Valentin's legs at the start of a three-run eighth inning was. Aaron Heilman didn't do any better a job limiting the damage than did Schoenweis. Willie Randolph still seems to be figuring out what he's got as far as the bullpen is concerned. Hopefully he'll be able to discern the difference between Heilmand having a bad day and Schoeneweis pitching like Schoeneweis.

While Green playing defense badly is no more surprising than Schoenweis failing to record outs, it is hard for me to campaign for the Met right fielder's benching when he's hitting as well as he is. He homered on Friday and Sunday, giving him three home runs on the season, or three more than David Wright and Carlos Delgado have combined. Green is hitting .338/.411/.569 on the season, which is probably enough to make his avant-garde interpretation of the position of right fielder tolerable.

Of course, the Mets' offense isn't entirely the Shawn Green show. Jose Reyes (.370/.452/.644) and Carlos Beltran (.357/.420/.671) remain unstoppable and Ramon Castro made the most of some playing time this week, hitting his second and third home runs of the year, putting him at .353/.450/.882 while Paul Lo Duca struggles at .245/.317/.321. Wright (.273/.348/.368) isn't hitting for any power and Delgado (.211/.268/.278) isn't hitting at all, but after just seventeen games with plenty of guys picking up the slack, I'm not ready to panic just yet.

Up next the Mets (11-6) will host the Rockies (8-11) for three games. Maine (2-0, 1.93), Hernandez (2-1, 3.24) and Pelfrey (0-1, 5.06) are the scheduled starters for the Mets. Taylor Buchholz (1-0, 5.68), Aaron Cook (0-1, 4.00) and Josh Fogg (0-1, 6.61) will start for Colorado. Presumably the Mets' offense will make them feel at home.

Pluses and minuses

After seeing the Tigers lose the first two to Chicago, I'm thrilled to get one of the series. Marcus Thames hit a 2-run homer with 2 outs in the 9th to force extra innings today and Placido Polanco won it with a single in the 12th.

On the down side, Detroit is still struggling with the bats and the bullpen continues to be shaky. Thames, Craig Monroe, Sean Casey, Brandon Inge and Gary Sheffield all are hitting below .187. The pen's ERA is 4.78 and fourth-worst in the bigs.

On the bright side, the Tigs are 10-8 despite these woes. Detroit has won four games this season in which it trailed in the 9th. Only one loss has been by more than 2 runs and the Tigers have led or been tied after 6 inning in each of their last five setbacks. The starters, for the most part, have been solid to outstanding.

If the bats come to life, which would seem a reasonable expectation, and the pen, particularly Fernando Rodney, regains its form, Detroit will be in excellent shape. Rodney's woes have been blamed, in part, on a sore neck.

Maybe the Tigers are lucky to be 10-8 when they easily could be 6-12. Maybe the AL Central is lucky they're struggling when they could be 15-3. They're not playing like a top team right now, but they're grinding out wins, and that's probably the biggest positive so far.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Here come the Sox

The Tigers begin a 3-game series with the White Sox tonight; a clash between the AL's last two World Series reps. Chad Durbin faces John Danks in the opener, followed by Nate Robertson vs. Jose Contreras and Justin Verlander vs. Jon Garland.

Durbin has given up 17 hits in 8.2 innings, indicating he’s been spending too much time around Jose Mesa. Danks is a lefty, which should be to the Tigers’ advantage with right-handed bats like Pudge, Sheff, Maggs, Monroe, Thames, and Inge. I’d feel better if some of those guys were hitting better at the moment.

Robertson and Verlander went a combined 1-7 vs. CWS last season. We might get a small indication whether Robertson’s success through the early part of this year represents a step up. Contreras seems to pitch well in Motown (3.35 ERA).

Chicago has won two in a row, including Mark Buehrle’s no-no, heading into this series. The Tigers were last seen watching the bullpen spoil Jeremy Bonderman’s day. If Detroit wins 2 in this series, I’d be thrilled.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My, my Myers

From the way some people are reacting, you'd think the Phillies moved Koufax into the bullpen. Brett Myers is a good starting pitcher. He's 54-42 with a 4.42 ERA. I have doubts he was ever going to live up to his projected status as a No. 1.

Granted, he's only 26. But this is full season 5 in the bigs, and he's regressed since 2005. Putting Myers in the bullpen seems to make sense because of his demeanor and his numbers. Over the course of his career, Myers has held batters to an average of .253 on pitches 1-15, .258 on 16-30, .225 on 31-45, .288 on 46-60, .275 on 61-75, .275 on 76-90 and .279 on 91-105. Clearly, he's at his best on pitches 1-45. Last season mirrored his career: .223 on 1-15, .243 on 16-30, .216 on 31-45, .275 on 46-60, .242 on 61-75, .324 on 76-90 and .293 on 91-105.

I would think Myers will be the future closer. That suits me fine.

This is all possible because Jon Lieber is still around. People have said Eaton should have been the one to go to the pen, not Lieber, but I heard Gillick explain that Eaton is a slow starter, which isn't the kind of pitcher you want coming out of the pen. The numbers back that statement up: Eaton is best on pitches 31-76.

Another thing, Eaton's career record of 55-46 and 4.45 ERA isn't much different from Myers' record in virtually the same number of games.

Standing up

Jeremy Bonderman pointed the finger after yesterday's disappointing loss to KC, but only at himself. Todd Jones apologized to everyone and says he probably ruined their off day today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What a waste

I can't say I'd blame Jeremy Bonderman if he tore up the Tigers clubhouse today. Todd Jones blows his first save of the year, at JB's expense. Not that I'm going to be tough on Jonesy after going 7-for-7 to open the campaign, but it's another great effort from JB and nothing to show for it. Not only will Bonderman register his fourth no decision in four starts this season, Detroit will fall to 1-3 in his starts (unless there is a rally in the bottom of the 10th). This for a man who has given up 18 hits and 4 runs in his last 27 IP.

Phalling phlat

I haven't thought much about this, but the thought I have given leads me to this: The Phils have to be the strangest team in MLB. How can a team that's No. 1 in OBP in the NL and No. 3 in OPS have so much trouble scoring runs? Obviously, Utley and Howard going 5-for-32 is a factor. But you'd still think they could produce a little something.

I'm a little concerned about Howard. I was suspicious of him entering last year, and his performance got me to change my mind. Now I'm hoping last year wasn't the irregularity.

Unless things change quickly, I'd say Charlie Manuel has to go. I'm not blaming Charlie. In fact, I've always defended Charlie (and would have helped pay whatever fines would have come as a result of punching Howard Eskin). But the Phils are in need of a shakeup. This would basically send this message to the players: Look at what you did to the manager you (supposedly) loved playing for.

Having been an assistant women's college basketball coach for two years, I think the strategy aspects get overblown to some extent. Charlie might not be a tactician, but I do think he is great at working with personalities. That's what the game really is about these days. Jim Leyland's performance last year would be another example.

Of course, great pitching helps, too. The Phils' pitching is last in ERA, last in opposing BA, last in OPS allowed, and second-to-last in pitches per inning. On the bright side, Brett Myers says he's fixed a flaw in his delivery that will benefit his fastball. We'll see.

Let's hear it for Global Colding

The Baltimore Orioles are 1-4 in games contested at room temperature and 6-3 in games contested at a temperature below 50 degrees. Given the likelihood that the O's have seen the last of cold weather games (they're indoors at Tampa Bay now and head to Toronto next), I hope this is not a telling observation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

At least the Phillies can look forward to a good draft pick next year

It seems only Mother Nature can prevent the Mets from beating the Phillies because the Phillies themselves aren't much good at it. After two days and two nights of rain, the Mets saw the light and the light's name was Freddy Garcia. A thirteen-hit attack led by Moises Alou combined with solid pitching and good defense to give the Mets their third win in four games against the NL East favorites.

Five Mets had two hits each including Alou, both of whose were home runs. Jose Valentin had a pair of doubles and Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran each stole two bases, though Reyes was picked off of second base once. The Mets also drew six walks, two of which were intentional. Paul Lo Duca had to leave the game after taking a foul ball to his bare hand, but it is apparently nothing serious and Ramon Castro went two-for-two with a walk in his absence.

Despite the offensive outburst, Tom Glavine didn't exactly have an easy road to win number 293. He allowed just one run in six innings, but six hits and five walks meant he needed a lot help from his defense to keep the Phillies from crossing the plate. The infield obliged by turning three double plays, raising their league-leading total to twenty-one for the year. They probably can't keep up this ridiculous pace all year, but then they'll probably stop walking a batter every other inning at some point, too.

Up next, the Mets (8-4) head to Florida to face the Marlins (6-7) for a pair. John Maine (1-0, 1.54) and Orlando Hernandez (1-1, 4.00) will start for the Mets. The Marlins will send out starters from both ends of the "people you've heard of" spectrum with Dontrelle Willis (3-0, 3.32) going in game one and Rick Vanden Hurk (0-0, 3.86) taking game two. Maine and Hernandez have both struggled somewhat in limited career action against the fish, with ERAs of 4.50 and 5.19, respectively. Willis, of course, is 11-2 with a 2.02 ERA against the Mets. Vanden Hurk , on the other hand, had never pitched above A-ball prior to this year and has yet to record a decision in a professional baseball game. I would imagine his parents are still very proud of him.

Speak softly ...

Placido Polanco's big stick keeps thundering. Polly tripled, homered, scored three runs and drove in the game-winner with 2 outs in the 8th to lift the Tigers to a 7-6 win tonight over the Royals. Detroit blew a 5-2 lead as KC rallied for a 6-5 edge, but the Kitties kept clawing.

Maggs had 3 hits and 3 RBI while Marcus Thames homered. Sheffield's RBI double, scoring Polanco, tied the score at 6 in the 7th.

But back to our man, Polly. At the plate in the eighth, Tigs color analyst Rod Allen noted that since the start of the 2005 season, Polanco leads all active players with a .388 average with men in scoring position. One pitch later, Polanco lashed a single to drive home Infante with the winning run.

Polly batted .396 in 96 AB with RISP in 2006 and .380 in 100 AB in 2005.

To your health

This from the Detroit News:

Marcus Thames is over the flu, but it spread to the coaching staff. Rafael Belliard and Andy Van Slyke were suffering from it.

The cause, according to (Jim) Leyland? "None of them smoke."

Pudge is phat

Pudge hit a grand slam off Zack Greinke last night for his third homer of the year. All 3 have come vs. Kansas City. This shouldn't be much of a surprise. Lifetime, Pudge has played 154 games against the Royals. In 589 at-bats he's got 210 hits (.357), 48 doubles, 21 homers, and 101 RBI. He's got a .956 career OPS vs. KC, his second best against any AL team; he's got a 1.031 mark vs. Tampa Bay.

The Tigers turned last night's game into their first lopsided win, but not before Jose Mesa spoiled what should have been an easy night for the bullpen. Mesa has been a train wreck. He's given up 2 runs in 3 of 4 appearances, twice only getting one out. Opposing hitters are batting .467 off Mesa. I don't know if they could do any better hitting off a tee, which might be a better way to go for Detroit.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Take me out to the Ballgame (redux)

The O's Sam Perlozzo and Royals Buddy Bell exchange lineup cards prior to their April 12th tilt. Picture was taken with a Motorola Razr cell phone camera.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Royal treatment

Detroit got a split in Toronto, although that seems disappointing now after having the chance to take 3. The bats continue to sputter, seeming to do just enough, or not just enough. The Tigers have scored 10 runs twice this year, in 10-9 and 10-7 wins. They've scored two or fewer runs on four occasions, losing 3-1, 6-2, 2-1 and 2-1. In between are 6-5, 3-2, 3-1, 4-1, and 5-4 wins and a 5-3 loss. On the bright side, they're in every game. On the down side, so are their foes.

Kansas City comes to Comerica for 3 games now. The Tigs will send out Verlander, Maroth and Bonderman, which should lead to positive results, especially if Detroit would hit for Bonderman they way it does for Maroth.

The Royals counter with Zack Greinke, Jorge DeLaRosa and Gil Meche, which are their 3 top arms. Greinke is a Tiger killer: 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA in nine career appearances against the Tigers, and 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA at Comerica. He probably will get locked into one of those 2-1 type games with Verlander, who has had success against KC.

DeLaRosa baffled the Tigers earlier this season. Meche got hit by Detroit earlier this year, but has been good since. But the way Bonderman is pitching he'll need to be great.

Detroit should take 2; I hate to be greedy and ask for a sweep. If the Tigers can win 2, they would be on pace to win 97 games, which is terrific for a team that's batting .229 and slugging .357.

A little momentum for the White Sox series would be nice.

Get him in the first

Jeremy Bonderman has given up 6 runs in 3 starts this year, with 5 coming in the first inning. That makes his first-inning ERA 15.00 and his ERA 0.50 the rest of the way. Lifetime, Bonderman has yielded 88 runs on pitches 1-15 and given up a .316 batting average. The span represents 100 innings.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Learn to speak Canadian

Main Entry: 1hal-la-day
Pronunciation: 'how-l&-"dA, Britain usually 'hä-l&-dE
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English hAligdæg, from hAlig holy + dæg day
2 : a day on which one is exempt from work; specifically : a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event
3 chiefly British : VACATION -- often used in the phrase on holiday (sic); often used in plural
4 : a period of exemption or relief
5 :chiefly Canadian : every fifth day from April through September

Usage: The Blue Jays bullpen celebrated the Halladay by watching a ballgame.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

My 25 yr. old nephew says he knows Mike Flanagan (O's EVP, Baseball Operations, '79 Cy Young Award, etc...). Claims he met him in a restaurant and then Mike Flanagan bought him lunch. My nephew took me to the ballgame last night. Section 38 is behind home plate, Row CC is 8 rows deep and Seat 4 is behind the right handed batters box.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Maybe this is what Jimmy Rollins meant by "the team to beat"

The Mets took Rollins up on his offer in two out of three games despite less than stellar starting pitching. On Monday a Rollins error opened the door for the Mets to take batting practice against the Phillies' bullpen in a seven-run eighth inning. Overall they scored eleven runs despite just one extra base hit. Wednesday's game saw Adam Eaton somehow hold them to just two runs on four hits and three walks over seven innings. The bats showed signs of life on Thursday scoring five runs on nine hits including two doubles and a triple. The New York offense leads the National League with 54 runs scored through nine games.

The Mets have allowed the second fewest runs in the league, 23, but this series was not a great one for their starters. On Monday John Maine had to be removed with two outs in the fifth inning having already allowed five hits and six walks, though he was wily enough to limit the Phillies to just two runs. Oliver Perez was not so wily on Wednesday, walking seven in two and two-thirds innings, giving up three runs despite allowing just one hit. Tom Glavine's trademark craftiness could not quite overcome the cold, windy conditions at Shea on Thursday as he gave up three runs on three walks and four hits, including two Rollins home runs, in six innings.

Perez's meltdown is obviously the most troubling of the three. He pitched a good first inning before completely losing his control in the second inning. Perez has had outings like this before, for example last June 23rd when he walked seven in three and two-thirds innings. Last April he walked five batters in a start shorter than five innings twice. There's no reason to think that this disaster will completely shatter his confidence and ruin him forever. It's disappointing after his good spring and excellent first start to see that he may still be the same guy he was the last two years.

The leisurely pace of these first two weeks is about to speed up as the second-place Mets (6-3) don't have another day in the next fortnight. Luckily they get to ease into this stretch with a series at home against the Nationals (2-8). Mike Pelfrey (2-1, 5.48 in 2006) will be called up to make his season debut on Friday. He will be opposed by the theoretical ace of the Nats, John Patterson (0-2, 9.35). Patterson has a career 5.18 ERA against the Mets in twelve starts, having allowed fourteen home runs in 64.1 innings.

Orlando Hernandez (1-0, 1.38) will start Saturday afternoon's game for the Mets. El Duque has been quite successful thus far despite a K:BB ratio of 6:6 and two home runs allowed in thirteen innings. Shawn Hill (0-2, 3.09) will go for Washington. Given that this game will start at 1:10 on a day when Fox is showing games around four, I expect to have some trouble watching it on MLB.TV.

John Maine (1-0, 1.54) will try to rebound from his rough second start on Sunday with the aid of a very beatable opposing offense. Rookie Matt Chico (0-1, 7.27) will see if he can get the Mets out after not having much luck against the Marlins or Braves.

Walk on the wild side

I guess the Phils literally did so last night, thanks to Oliver Perez. It's almost unbelievable you could go oh-fer with the bases loaded, yet still score 3 runs in those situations. Since our resident Phillies expert is too busy studying and trying to stay on the Dean's List, I'll say it for him: Woo hoo!

While I have the stage, one thing that irks me is when people criticize a GM for his failure to make moves, yet don't provide examples of what should have been done. Phil Sheridan in today's Philly Inquirer states "Gillick did too little in the off-season to fix the bullpen." That's all. But what were his shortcomings? Failing to offer Jose Mesa more than the $2.5 million he got from Detroit? Not giving Roberto Hernandez or LaTroy Hawkins more than $3.5 million they got from Cleveland and Colorado, respectively?

There's no help out there. Anyone that is any good got mad deals, like Jamie Walker picking up $12 million for 3 years. I love Jamie Walker and he was a great Tiger, but you can't give him 3 years at this point. Danys Baez, who blew 16 saves last year and 8 the previous season, got $19 million for 3 years.

More than likely Gillick acted responsibly rather than ineffectively.

Heading north

Thanks to Craig Monroe's slam, the Tigers win another series, 2-1. Verlander gave another solid performance, much like the other guys -- Bonderman and Robertson -- at the top of the rotation. So far that troika has tossed 38 innings, giving up 28 hits and 14 walks while striking out 29 and posting a 1.66 ERA.

Now it's off to Toronto for a 4-game set. I'd be happy with a split here. Mike Maroth faces Tomo Ohka tonight and a victory would be nice. Tomorrow night is one of those "worth the price of admission" matchups: Bonderman vs. Halladay. Chad Durbin squares off against A.J. Burnett on Saturday and Robertson faces Josh Towers in the finale.

On paper, it's clear why it would be helpful for Maroth to win tonight. As good as Bonderman is, you have to give Halladay the edge tomorrow and Burnett a big advantage against Durbin. We like Robertson vs. Towers. Of course, predicting baseball games is probably the most difficult proposition out there, so who knows.

The Tigers are tied with Minnesota for first place in the AL Central.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Polly 3, Orioles 1

The Detroit players and manager were singing the praises of Placido Polanco after last night's game. Polly forced a poor throw on what should have been an inning-ending double play, allowing 2 runs to score. He had a sacrifice fly to give the Tigers a cushion in the eighth. Then he made a diving stop and threw out Nick Markakis to end the game with Tejada on deck.

"He is my favorite player," winning pitcher Nate Robertson said. Nate gave a pretty impressive performance, himself, and like Polly might be vastly underrated/underappreciated. I was down on him earlier in his career, I admit it. But this guy is turning into an above-average starter, and he works fast, too.

Leyland on Polanco: "He's an excellent, excellent major league player. He's the total baseball player. He's more talented than most people think."

If you want a ring, go to Helen Hunt for it

During last night's Orioles vs. Tigers broadcast, they showed a picture of the Tigers AL championship rings (which they'd just received). Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer (Orioles talking heads) discussed the stunning beauty of the ring and commented on the great season the Tigers completed in 2006, etc....

Then Gary Thorne asked Palmer how the Tigers 2006 AL Championship ring compared to his rings. Palmer claimed that the Tigers ring was much better because he did not have any AL Championship rings. That's right. None.

Jim Palmer was a member of 6 AL Champion Orioles teams in his career ('66, '69', '70, '71, '79, '83) and no Oriole received a ring for any of those titles. Palmer and the rest do have 3 World Series Championship rings ('66, '70, '83).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fred Lynn going to Hall

Fred Lynn, who holds the honor of being my favorite player of all time, was among those elected today to the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

I don't recall how Lynn became my favorite player. It most likely had something to do with the fact I was 9 when he was ROY/MVP and the Red Sox were probably frequently on Game of the Week. Maybe it was because he was originally drafted by the Yankees, but didn't sign. (Which I had no knowledge of at the time, but could have perhaps sensed.)

I do remember trying to run and carry my glove like him while patrolling the outfield as a Little League player. I also remember This Week in Baseball closed its show every week with a clip of Lynn leaping over a wall to take a homer away from (I believe) Dan Ford. I used to recreate that catch in the backyard all the time.

Here's a note on Lynn from the story about his election to the Hall: Lynn batted .320 with 28 home runs and 111 RBIs, and helped USC win three consecutive College World Series from 1971-73. He went on to become the American League MVP and Rookie of the Year in 1975, a nine-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the All-Star game MVP in 1983, when he hit the first grand slam in the midsummer classic.

Not mentioned above, Lynn also was the 1982 ALCS MVP even though his Angels lost the series to the Brewers. Lynn was merely 11 of 18 in the five-game set. In 1985, Lynn was the 10th highest-paid player in the game, making a whopping $1.09 million.

I always wonder how great he could have been if not losing so many battles with outfield walls. In 1979, Lynn batted .333-39-122 with 116 R. He led the AL in BA, OBP (.423) and SLG (.637). He finished fourth in the MVP voting and didn't get a single first-place vote, probably because teammate Jim Rice was fifth in the MVP balloting.

Wanted: Baserunners

Detroit is off to a sluggish 3-3 start, and it could be worse if not for Pudge's homer Sunday in KC. Brandon Inge is still looking for his first hit of the season and the team overall is struggling at the plate, batting just .231. Only Polanco, Pudge and Granderson are hitting over .238.

But, it's only 6 games into the season, so it's far too soon to start getting antsy. If the Tigs can go 3-3 while batting .231, I guess that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I expected to find Detroit struggling with men in scoring position, but found the opposite -- also a good sign. The Tigers rank sixth in the AL in OPS (.781), BA (.279) and R (20) with men in scoring position.

What they need, though, is more of those chances. Detroit ranked 11th in AB (43) with men in scoring position; it might have been worse if Seattle and Cleveland actually got to play some baseball last week.

Millar time

Kevin Millar signs autographs during spring training in Fort Lauderdale. Fans in the centerfield and rightfield bleachers took delight in referring to Millar as "Nature Boy" Ric Flair while he was doing his running out there. (The term "running" being used loosely.) Millar responded by flexing.

Curse the Red Sox

Kevin Millar homered yesterday for the Orioles for the 2nd consecutive game. As he rounded the bases, it occurred to me - the Red Sox left Millar get away and they haven't been back to the World Series since!

Monday, April 09, 2007

If it's April 9

The Phillies must be 1-6.

The Kruker said on Baseball Tonight that Philadelphia is one of the worst fundamental teams in the game. "There's not a lot of things they do right," he stated.

Hard to get much debate here.

Apologies to Daniel

I posted below that Daniel Cabrera never went a game without allowing a walk in his major league career. I was wrong. He had done it once. The date was June 5, 2005.

Against Detroit.


So much for patience

After praising the Tigers for their improved base-on-balls rate, they fail to pick up a free pass from Daniel Cabrera! Heretofore, this was thought impossible.

Do you know when Cabrera last pitched a game without giving up a walk? Me either, because it's never happened during his major league career, which dates back to 2004. He's averaged 5.5 BB/9 IP lifetime.

Meanwhile, Chad Durbin, who moved into the rotation because of Kenny Rogers' injury, lived up to his past performances. He gave up 6 ER. Rogers only once last year gave up 6 or more runs in a start, so Chad's gonna have to buckle down from here.

Somewhere I read that Chad Durbin is healthy this season for the first time in a while; which, was followed by the statement that a healthy Chad Durbin is still Chad Durbin.

Sock it to me

A-Rod off to a good start in NY? Gotta be the shoes. No -- wait -- look just a little higher. Then look at pictures of A-Rod from 2006.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


There was talk during spring training that Gary Sheffield's arrival already was having a positive effect on the Tigers at the plate in terms of drawing more walks and working deeper into counts. So far, in the regular season, Detroit is averaging 4.20 walks per game, up from 2.65 in 2006. The strikeouts are down slightly, from 6.99 to 6.80.

Stealing a series

The Tigers escaped KC with 2 out of 3 thanks to Pudge blasting a 3-run dinger in the 9th today. Maggs started the rally with a double, Guillen walked and Pudge homered. Apparently, the Royals thought Pudge might be bunting and Riske grooved a high fastball that Pudge destroyed.

Detroit got very little going against Brandon Duckworth in the first six-plus innings. They started to show some life in the seventh and eighth, but were unable to score. Bonderman gave up another first-inning run, but pitched well overall for the Tigs.

Yesterday, Maroth didn't pitch great, but got the win, which was nice. Granderson, Pudge and Sheff homered.

KC isn't an awful team. The Royals went 46-53 over their last 99 games last season and have some good young talent. Mark Teahen looks legit and if super rookie Alex Gordon starts hitting, they could give teams trouble. Of course, the pitching is suspect, which probably will keep them from being better than 70-75 win team.

Next stop, Baltimore.

Wishful thinking

The Orioles rebounded from yesterday's stunning 10-7 loss to the Yankees with a 6-4 victory today to win 2 of the 3 game road series.

Erik Bedard pitched 7 innings for the O's (7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 5 K) allowing 3 earned runs in the bottom of the 1st and scattering two singles in innings 2 through 7. The bullpen got nicked for a run in the 8th following a leadoff triple by Johnny Damon.

For the first time in the 2007 campaign, O's defenders played the entire game without committing an error.

A 2 run home run by Kevin Millar and a 3 run shot by Paul Bako highlighted the O's offense.

The O's record is 2-4 in the first six games, all on the road, against the defending Central Division champion Twins and the defending East Division champion Yankees. They now go home to Baltimore and take on the defending American League champion Tigers in a 3 game set.

Thru the 1st week of the season, the O's stand 12th in the AL in hitting, 13th in pitching and 13th in fielding.

If only the pitching and fielding were as good as the hitting....

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Maybe if they set the Cuyahoga ablaze

"Like all things current, cool and hip, global warming hasn't yet reached Cleveland."

- ESPN Talking Head reporting on the Cleveland Indians home opener against Seattle, which saw a temperature of 30 degrees and a snowstorm which delayed and eventually postponed the game.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Pen woes

The Tigers bullpen was a key to their success last season, but so far in 3 games has been largely ineffective. Detroit's relievers have given up 11 runs in the Tigs' 1-2 start. Tonight, 40-year-old Jose Mesa got rocked in his debut after missing two games because of a suspension. He gave up a double, triple and single to take the loss in the 3-1 setback in Kansas City.

Detroit was 9-0 in KC last year.

Justin Verlander only gave up two hits and an unearned run in six innings for the Tigers, but struggled with his control. He gave up five walks, all during a two inning span. Most of the trouble came with his curveball, which seems to be the problem he had in spring training. The good news is there's no trouble with his velocity; he hit 100 a few times and was in the high 90s when he needed to dial it up.

The Tigers bats were also ineffective tonight against Jorge DeLaRosa, he of the 5.88 career ERA. Of course, it was a brutal night for hitting -- windy and cold.

Hopefully, Detroit will heat up with the weather.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Walk the walk

Of course, it's not even a week into the season, but right now Jimmy Rollins' assertions that the Phils are the team to beat in the NL East look silly. (If you didn't think that already.)

The Mets go to St. Louis and smack the Cards around to the tune of 20-2 in 3 games while the Phillies have managed to run and relief pitch themselves out of two wins vs. the Braves. With the concerns surrounding the Philly bullpen, this might not be an apparition.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Defense rests

It was pretty nice to read how fired up the fans were in Detroit for Opening Day. Even the players have been impressed with the love being shown. Sure, things didn't go the way we'd hoped yesterday, but overall it was a good day. Now, it's time to move on and focus on this year.

I liked Charlie Manuel batting Victorino in the 2 spot with Howard 3 and Utley 4. I'd think that's certainly the way to go against right-handers. Of course, Victorino has got to produce to make it worthwhile.

Stanley mentioned defense in his post today. Last Friday, I bought the Baseball Prospectus in the hopes of understanding this sabermetric stuff. Anyway, I started looking at their defensive ratings and noticed some interesting things.

First, the Tigers, not surprisingly, rated well. Sean Casey was a -2 in 46 games at 1B (-2 means he allowed 2 more runs than the "average" 1B over 46 full games, which was what Casey played for Detroit after arrriving via trade). Placido Polanco was +7 in 106 games at 2B (which means he saved 7 runs over the "average" 2B), Carlos Guillen was -11 in 138 games at SS, and Brandon Inge was +22 in 156 games at 3B.

Craig Monroe was -1 in 104 games in LF, Curtis Granderson was +19 in CF over 147 games, and Magglio Ordonez was -4 in 142 games in RF. Pudge was +16 in 118 games behind the plate.

So, up the middle the Tigers were +16 with Pudge, +7 with Polly, -11 with Guillen and +19 with Granderson. Other than Guillen's number (and he was +2 in 2005 and +15 in 2004), those are some very good figures. And no one at any position was terribly below average.

Then, I looked at the Phillies. First, I like the comment on Burrell that "no matter how close he seems to be to catching the ball, he's still only halfway there." Burrell, though, only rated -2 in 109 games in LF. Here are the interesting numbers: Chris Coste -8 in 49 games at catcher, Ryan Howard -15 in 157 games at 1B, Chase Utley -11 in 152 games at 2B, Aaron Rowand at zero in 101 games in CF.

I'm not sure what these numbers really means, but maybe the blame heaped on the pitching staff is somewhat misdirected. Jimmy Rollins' +9 in 154 games at SS and Abraham Nunez's +5 in 70 games at 3B don't do too much to offset the damage done elsewhere.

Checking on the Orioles, Ramon Hernandez was +2 in 125 games at catcher, Kevin Millar was +6 in 91 games at 1B, Brian Roberts was -2 in 133 games at 2B, Miguel Tejada was +6 in 148 games at SS, Melvin Mora was -18 in 151 games at 3B, Brandon Fahey was -1 in 43 games in LF, Corey Patterson was +3 in 123 games in CF, Nick Markakis was +6 in 105 games in RF and +2 in 23 games in LF, and Jay Gibbons was +2 in 40 games in RF.

O's debut

The Orioles 2007 debut in Minneapolis last night has generated considerable agita around here. On the up side, there were plenty of positives, however, the negatives compiled into a 7-4 loss at the hands of the Twins.


The offense scored 4 earned runs in 6 innings off of Johan Santana. Granted, it was only Opening Day and Santana did not yet have his dominating stuff, but he is left handed and that is often enough to stymie the O's offense.

Jay Gibbons returned from an injury riddled 2006 campaign and went 2-4 with 2 doubles and an rbi. Gibbons is now 8-15 lifetime against Santana.

Tejada homered.

The bullpen worked 3 1/3 innings allowing 1 unearned run. O's pitching walked a mere 3 batsmen.

Rightfielder Nick Markakis notched 2 assists, nailing runners at home and 2nd base.


O's starter Erik Bedard got hammered. 4 2/3 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 2 HR.

The Orioles defense committed two errors.

The negatives list is a short one, but critical. Poor starting pitching and shoddy fielding will almost always add up to a loss. There is good reason to expect that Bedard will pitch much better than he did last night. The fielding, however, was shoddy last season and again last night. C'mon glovemen, catch the damn ball!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The defense begins

Hard to believe the Tigers will be out to defend the AL pennant when they take the field tomorrow against the Blue Jay. Here is the lineup Jim Leyland will send into battle:

CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, DH Gary Sheffield, RF Magglio Ordonez, SS Carlos Guillen, C Pudge Rodriguez, 1B Sean Casey, LF Craig Monroe, 3B Brandon Inge. Jeremy Bonderman gets the start. He was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts against Toronto last season and held the Jays to a .205 BA in 12 IP.

Polanco flirted with .500 during the spring and is being considered a candidate to win the AL batting title. He hit .295 last year and batted a combined .331 for Philly and Detroit in 2005, so it's not far fetched. Michael Young led the AL at .331 in 2005 -- Polanco's .338 average in Motown didn't figure in the race because he didn't have enough plate appearances in the league after coming over from the Phils.

I read that Granderson likes to eat dinner at McDonald's when he's in a slump -- double cheeseburgers with no onions are his preference, although he says anything off the dollar menu is OK. Hopefully, he's not making many trips to the golden arches this season.

Detroit finished the spring 21-10-3.