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by user Stoutand
While sitting in my Con Law class today I felt a sharp pang in my stomach. My first instinct was "I'm never eating Chicken Shawarma again d*** it," but after a moment I realized this wasn't the side effect of indulging in some Middle Eastern food yesterday but was the need for me to write a season preview for the Detroit Tigers. This guide has nothing to do with sabermetrics, so if you are a robot and your name is Rob Neyer and you want to replace everything that makes baseball fun and interesting with a cold objective analysis of the game, just stop reading right now because this post will not be for you. Seriously though I know nothing about sabermetrics and that's because I loathe math and given the chance I'd punch Euclid of Alexandria in the mouth and smash up his geometric tablets....but I digress. Also there will be times I'm sure when this preview will read like schizophrenic word salad but that's because I'm crazy for baseball (I also suffer other various forms of mental illness). But enough with introductions it's time to present your 2006 Tigers.
Owner: Mike Ilitch. I like Ilitch, sure he may be a crappy baseball team owner, but being a college student I appreciate the way he revolutionized the low end pizza market by introducing the five dollar Hot and Ready pizza. Sure it's the most processed food this side of Smore flavored Pop-Tarts but its affordable and I don't have much money...it's like I found my soul mate. Although I am keeping the old boxes on top of my fridge so when I'm found dead after having a stroke they'll know what caused it. I wish I could see my death certificate just to see: Cause of Death: Little Caesers. Anyways Ilitch has vowed to get more involved because nothing lights a fire under an owner like Death's cold icy hands approaching you (Ilitch will be 77 this July), and he's recently upped payroll and spent money to improve the whole teams infrastructure, because he doesnt want to be remembered as the worst owner in Tigers history, so I'm going to enjoy this before he becomes senile authorizes signing Todd Jones to a two year deal...........Oh no.
Manager: Jim Leyland. Like I've said before I like Leyland because he looks like a friendly chain smoking janitor. I also like the fact that he filled his staff with early 90's Pirates: Andy Van Slyke, Don Slaught, and Lloyd McLendon. The only exception was pitching coach where the Tigers hired Chuck Hernandez. What the hell Leyland, you're telling me Zane Smith isn't available for that job.....John Smiley....anybody.
Ivan Rodriguez: I think Pudge will have a bounce back season this year after using last season getting adjusted to not being able to use steroids anymore..... Whoops. I think Pudge will try to prove he's not finished, or beginning to go into that precipitous decline that hits catchers around his age, and have a solid season of doing Pudge things, and if Leyland is as good at keeping the clubhouse in check as he's supposed to be I don't think Pudge will be allowed to be the petulant little baby he reportedly was for most of last season, especially after the team traded his completely insane, gun-toting, torturer, best friend Ugie Urbina last year.
Vance Wilson: What the hell is he doing back. I love Vance and his BluBlockers, but doesnt he realize Detroit is where backup catchers go to die? Mitch Meluskey, A.J. Hinch, Matt Walbeck, Mike DiFelice, are all buried underneath the Tigers old bullpen....and that's just in the last 4 years. Congratulation Vance, now could you try to hit better than .197......thanks.
Chris Shelton: I'm intrigued by Shelton and guarantee I'm going to draft him about 5 rounds to early in my fantasy baseball draft Monday night. (Note: Last year I did this with Oliver Perez and....well you know how that turned out.) I still believe that Shelton looks like he should be an overzealous sales rep at Best Buy telling me the Xbox 360 is the most overrated console since 3DO, rather than a professional baseball player, and nothing beats the crowd reaction when they show his face on the 100 foot scoreboard before his first at bat, the gasps from people unprepared for such an event resounds throughout the stadium as though they had just seen The Phanton of the Opera, but all I care about is if he hits .300 with 25 homers and 90 RBI's.
Carlos Pena: I'm not going to spend much time on Pena because he might not be with the team by the time I finish this post. But I will say he has the most Luis Gonzalez "Holy crap I can't believe the Tigers gave up on this guy" potential....and that scares me. However I don't think the Tigers can afford to waste time on him anymore.
Placido Polanco: I like Polanco, but I'll never be able to get over the shape of his head. It appears in my nightmares, and I think I'm the only one who is noticing it's expanding, until one day it cracks open and a little alien falls out, a la The Head from that old MTV cartoon. Hopefully it doesnt happen this season, because I don't like the idea of Omar Infante playing everyday again. The two best examples I can think of to describe Polanco's head, and I wish I could take credit for thinking these up, are 1: His head is actually a Milk Dud and, 2: He is storing food in his cranium like a hamster.
Carlos Guillen: If he's healthy he's in the second tier of shortstops in all of MLB. However that's a big if. Since he's been in the Big Leagues he's torn his ACL, contracted TB from Jane Austen, broken his hip, suffered leprosy, the Bubonic Plague and battled Hysterical Pregnancy. Here's hoping to a healthy season and a .315 average 15 homeruns and solid D.
Brandon Inge: I can't believe he is the longest tenured Tiger. He looks 16. I hope he can continue to steadily improve this season, avoid a second half collapse, and become a more consistent defensive player. He makes some spectacular plays and then kicks around some of the most basic, although Im not sure there are basic plays at a position where the ball screams at you at 100 MPH from 90 feet away.
Omar Infante: I'm a little concerned that on the Tigers official website he's listed as the only backup for 2nd base, SS and 3rd base. It just seems like its spread a little thin. Can't they sign Craig Paquette again.... I think he owes us money still after his pathetic tenure in Detroit. Anyways Omar seems like he was hurt from being rushed through the system and comes in a close second to Pena in the "Holy Crap" potential race.
The Meat Hook: The Hook always seems like a good guy, but I think last season started to wear on him. There is a certain shelf life when it comes to playing for the Tigers, usually after about five consecutive seasons, a player realizes "Oh my God, this team will never improve, I wasted my prime on a crappy team in a crappy city thats cold 10 months out of the year.", and they start pouting. It happened to Higginson, it happened to Juan Gonzalez in about 7 minutes, and it even broke Steve Sparks, arguably the most laid back, funniest guy to come through the organization in years. However instead of sulking Dmitri got motivated and dropped his weight down to a Jabba the Hutt-esque 900 pounds and I admire that kind of dedication. Hopefully this will keep him from being slowed by nagging injurues that have haunted him in the past and he'll post a solid season.
Craig Monroe: The Tigers gave him a decent one year deal this off season so he didnt feel the need to steal belts from Target anymore, which is good because God knows we have to fight that temptation everday. He also came back from having a breaking ball snap off about 8 inches right into his crotch last season against the White Sox. My friend T.J. is inexplicably in love with Monroe, which makes me not want to like him, but I can't resist.
Curtis Granderson: He's the front runner for the center field job over my favorite player Nook Logan, so I'm inclined to not like him emotionally. But my rational side lets me know that he really is the better player of the two and deserves the job. I also think he has 20/20 potential, from center field which the Tigers havent really had since Chester Lemon roamed the outfield at Tiger stadium. However I also remember feeling the same way about Kimera Bartee.
Magglio: I don't think Magglio will ever live up to his contract, but I hope he can at least give us a few solid seasons, maybe with a couple of 35 HR 100+ RBI seasons, Please (I know it's not happening but I can dream right) before turning into a DH. He battled so many injuries last season that I don't feel comfortable passing judgment on him yet, so I'm just hoping for the best, (how's that for analysis and you said I needed Sabermetrics...Ha).
Nook Logan: He is my favorite current Tiger and it's not even close. Hopefully he can make the team by living on Dmitri's shoulder talking shit, and eating scraps of food out of the Meat Hook's beard, hell he might actually gain weight. I've always had a soft spot for slap hitters who bat about .270 with no power and are disruptive as hell on the basepaths. He also gave me the highlight of last season, even more so then when Dmitri homered three times on opening day, when he robbed 2 homeruns in the same game against Baltimore. I remember watching the game at my house and jumping onto my couch after the second grab, and it's not often a Tigers game will make you do that. So it was devastating for me when I read in Danny Knobler's excellent Blog (seriously though, how many bodies are in Knoblers crawl space.....5, 10...my friends and I have been guessing at this for years) that the Tigers were seriously considering trading the modern day Otis Nixon before the season began. After reading it I wanted to tug on Nook's jersey and go "say it aint so Nook" but security got there first.
Alexis Thames: The battle for the last outfield spot is between Alexis Gomez and Marcus Thames, it really doesnt matter who wins this spot, although I'm rooting for Thames because it seems like the Tigers have been jobbing him the past couple of seasons and I think he deserves a chance, especially to provide a little pop off the bench, which this team is sorely lacking
1: Kenny Rogers: The Gambler has been sick for the past week battling the flu, or whatever VD he contracted from a Lakeland floozy, but he is still scheduled to start against the Royals on Opening Day. I'm mildly excited about Rogers and I think he will be solid this season. I predict he'll go 14-10 with a sub 3.80 ERA and that his pitching style is perfectly tailored for Comerica Park. I also have a feeling that Rogers may enjoy one of those crazy Jamie Moyer type seasons, where he inexplicably wins 18 games and befuddles and outsmarts opposing batters for an entire season. However this is coming from the same person who compared Wil Ledezma to a young Pedro Martinez in last season's preview, which means I'm hopelessly optimistic or, more likely, completely delusional.
2: Jeremy Bonderman: For some reason I'm down on Bonderman, and not just because he continues to remind me of a toad. Well down is a pretty harsh word, because I still believe he will be an excellent pitcher, I just don't believe he will ever turn into a surefire number 1 starter/elite pitcher/stopper that I, and many other people, thought he would/could be. I know he is still young (23) but I get the nagging feeling that he may be leveling off, and will never be more than a 15-16 win 4.00 ERA guy, which is still great, but not as good as I was hoping, which was a probably unrealistic belief that he would be a perennial All-Star/second coming of Curt Schilling. It seems as if he's been slow to develop a third plus pitch to his repertoire and runs the risk of getting shelled when his slider isn't finding the strike zone and hitters can just sit back and mash on his fastball. I think this lack of a third pitch will be what keeps him a second tier starter and out of the elite class. Here's hoping he proves me wrong and continues to improve or unveils an improved changeup, however I'm going to be patient with him and temper my expectations and say he goes 15-10 with a 4.30 ERA.
3: Nate Robertson: This guy just spent his time in Lakeland getting his ass rocked after what was an undeniably disappointing second full year in the big leagues. The thing that concerns me the most about Nate is his declining strikeouts. I don't know if this is because hitters started to catch on to what he was doing after seeing him a few times or what, but regardless it's safe to say that Nate has got me a little concerned heading into this season. Also it seems as if Nate has started 95% of the games (seriously I don't plan on going when he pitches, but I swear to God he pitched on 3 consecutive days last year just because I was in attendance,) I've attended in the past two seasons, and I might just be getting a little sick of seeing his face and goggles every time I go to Comerica. I predict 9-12 4.50 ERA.
4: Mike Maroth. Maroth freaks me out, because he bears an uncanny resemblance to my old room mate in college, whose name was also Mike. Mike and Mike look exactly alike and I wish I had a picture of my old roommate with me that did not contain full frontal nudity, so I could post it on this site to show the similarities. (Come on this is a family site, I know parents and their children gather around their computers to read what I posted as if they were eagerly awaiting the delightful racism of the Amos and Andy show). I always had the theory that my roommate popped out of Mike Maroth's back after Maroth got wet a la Gremlins......not sure where I'm going with that.......anyways I'm looking forward to Mike Maroth being Mike Maroth and winning 13-14 games and posting a mid 4 ERA. If anything I think he'll continue to incrementally improve as he becomes older/wiser/craftier, like the aforementioned Jamie Moyer.
5: Justin Verlander. To say I'm giddy about the Verlander era is an understatement. To say I'm frothing at the mouth and in an immediate state of arousal at the mere mention of his name, would also be an understatement. Seriously though HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GUYS F***ING MINOR LEAGUE STATS!!!!!! Has anyone in the 100+ years of baseball posted a 0.28 ERA in Double A? Also unlike Bonderman he already has 3 major league ready plus pitches, A sharp curve, a fastball that tops out at about 100 MPH and an off speed pitch. I'm not expecting anything huge this season because he still has some control problems, and he's inexperienced, but I do think there will be times this season where he pulls out a 7 IP 3 H 1 ER 8 K line and is just downright filthy. I think he has the potential to be the future Number 1/ace of the staff although that might still be a few years away. For this season I'll say he goes 7-6 with a 4.20 ERA.
Todd Jones: Hmm, the season hasnt started and our aging closer has already found his way onto the DL. This sounds awfully familiar........oh that's right, because we just went through this shit last year with Troy Percival. I know Jones isn't on the DL for something as serious as elbow problems, (he has a pulled hammy), but this just seems like a bad omen. At least we now know that we will get to go another two weeks before we have to hear Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows ad nauseum, and we should cherish this short yet precious time.
Fernando Rodney: He's back in the closer role, with Jones on the DL. Rodney has got one of the filthiest change ups in all of baseball when he has it working, which unfortunately is only about 70 % of the time. When he doesnt have it he turns into Franklyn German, which is never a good thing. He's also my favorite for "Tiger most likely to appear on COPS," only because it looks like he spends the early innings of the game freebasing in the bullpen. (That last line is why I'm so popular with children.)
Bobby Seay: Who the f*** is this guy, he was released by the Rockies for crissakes because he had an ERA over 8.00..........oh that's right, he's left handed, which means he'll always have a job in the big leagues under the C.J. Nitkowski Rule. I swear to god when I have a kid I'm tying his right arm behind his back, and then sit back and watch the money roll in.
Jamie Walker: The other lefthander, only this guy can actually get people out. I'm nominating him for "Tiger reliever most likely to get trotted out each day until his arm either A: explodes, or B: detaches from his body." Previous winners include Mike Myers, Sean Runyan, and that worthless piece of no talent garbage named Al Levine.
Chris Spurling: I hate this guy, I hate his stupid tattoo, and his ridiculous 48 gold chain he wears around his neck, and that meatball he served to Juan Uribe last season, which was the beginning of the end for Trammell, yet he doesnt go away, so I respect that.....I guess....moving on.
Jordan Tata: I think this would make a great porno name, not as good as Zesty Alvarado, but close. Tata is currently on the team because of Jones being on the DL, and he's put up impressive minor league numbers, I could probably give them to you but it's late and I'm tired , but trust me they were impressive, and why would you read this site if you didnt trust me.......
Jason Grilli: He's from Royal Oak and played for Italy in the WBC, where he was impressive despite having to pitch in a tight mint green tracksuit, that doubled as the Italian teams uniforms. Forget it I'm gonna see how many Italian stereotypes I can get in about Grilli. He is believed to have the shortest temper on the team threatening to fight Chris Shelton after Shelton allegedly insulted Grilli's mom's spicy meatball recipe. He petitioned the Tigers to change their uniforms to white chef hats, and when told no, he told team officials to "Shut up a yo face." His team photo on the Tigers website is a picture of Luigi from Super Mario Bros. (I know Ive lost what little credibility I had in the last few sentences and possibly ruined a political career, and if any Italians want to beat me up I'll be on the lookout for your IROC Camaro........sorry I can't stop.)
Joel Zumaya: I can't wait until five years from now when our rotation has Verlander and Bonderman as the anchors, and Zumaya is in the back of the pen closing things out with an unhittable/nasty 100MPH fastball. I'm either going to look back on that last sentence in five years as me being a sage, or it will make me cry because things didnt go as planned, knowing the Tigers I'm going with the latter.
Finally my Central Division Standings Prediction
- Chicago White Sox: Their pitching is just too deep, and they added a huge bat in Thome who I think has a couple of good DH years in him
- Detroit Tigers: The surprise team that could win 88 games
- Cleveland Indians: I think they'll slide some because I don't like their pen, and they have Jason Johnson......I hate that guy.
- Minnesota Twins: I look at their lineup and I don't see how they'll score, I'm also not buying the Joe Mauer hype.....not yet.
- Kansas City Royals: I'm not going to joke about the Roylas....being a Tigers fan I can empathize with their fan base, and its painful......Sorry
Tue 04/04/06, 4:25 pm EST