Blogs > Out of Left Field

A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to defend their three straight American League Central titles.

Friday, August 22, 2014

REPORTS: Tigers miss out on Rusney Castillo, who signs with Red Sox


Having traded their center fielder of the present, the Detroit Tigers needed a center fielder of the near future.

By trying to outbid the rest of baseball for the services of Cuban defector Rusney Castillo, the Tigers had hoped that they could install him in center for the next few years.

That would have given them a way of replacing Austin Jackson, who was dealt to Seattle at the trade deadline, at least until first-round pick Derek Hill — an Austin Jackson clone picked out of high school in this summer's draft — is ready to go in a few years.

They’ll have to take another route to fill the gap, though, as multiple reports Friday had Castillo picking the Red Sox over the Tigers.

While most thought the Tigers were a finalist for the player's services, general manager Dave Dombrowski said in an MLB Network Radio interview the team was informed early Monday that they were out of the bidding, and hadn't had contact since then.

It's not surprising, given how high the bidding actually went.

Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported it was a six-year, $72-million deal, a record first contract for a Cuban player.

Castillo is represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, which negotiated Robinson Cano’s monster deal in the offseason. Since he’s older than 23, and played five professional seasons in Cuba, he is not subject to baseball’s international signing limitations.

The 27-year old Cuban star is a speed merchant who would be a natural fit in almost any team’s outfield, but could also play infield.

And, at a solid 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, he’s got more tools than just one, flashing power at his July 26 showcase at the University of Miami. Baseball America’s Ben Badler compared him to a young Rajai Davis, the Tigers’ current primary center fielder, and the man he would have most likely supplanted in Detroit.

Since Castillo hasn’t played an organized baseball game in more than a year, and has yet to obtain a work visa to play baseball in the U.S., it could have been a rush for the Tigers to get him ready for the postseason.

Dombrowski said in the MLB Network Radio interview that all of their plans for Castillo were aiming toward 2015, and he was never in the team's plans for this year.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No run support sticks David Price with rare complete-game, one-hit loss


David Price’s first trip back to Tampa Bay as a member of the Tigers was historic, all right.

Just not sure how memorable it’ll be for him, since his new teammates couldn’t muster any offense to support him. 

Despite no walks, and not even going to a three-ball count on a hitter — “I want a guy on or out in 3 pitches or less,” he’s said — and retiring 23 straight after the first-inning triple, Price earned his first loss in a Tigers uniform.

According to research on BaseballReference.com, Price is the 17th pitcher in baseball’s modern era (and first since Charlie Hough in 1986) to toss a complete-game one-hitter, without allowing an earned run, and still lose.

He’s the first to ever do it without walking a batter, and just the second to have the one hit be a triple.

It's the seventh time this season the Tigers have been shut out, and the second time this month they lost 1-0.

Upcoming rotation for the Tigers, as Justin Verlander rejoins the mix


With Justin Verlander coming through Thursday's light bullpen session fine, he'll slot back in to the Tigers rotation for the doubleheader on Saturday, allowing us to project the sequence out another turn through at least the following weekend.

Here's a look at how the rotation is likely to stack up going forward:

MINNESOTA SERIES
Friday, Aug. 22 — Robbie Ray, LHP
Saturday, Aug. 23 — Buck Farmer, RHP and Justin Verlander, RHP
Sunday, Aug. 24 — Max Scherzer, RHP
——off day——
NEW YORK SERIES
Tuesday, Aug. 26 — Rick Porcello, RHP
Wednesday, Aug. 27 — David Price, LHP
Thursday, Aug. 28 — Robbie Ray, LHP (or Justin Verlander, RHP)
CHICAGO SERIES
Friday, Aug. 29 — Justin Verlander, RHP (or Max Scherzer, RHP)
Saturday, Aug. 30 — Max Scherzer, RHP and Buck Farmer, RHP
Sunday, Aug. 31 — Rick Porcello, RHP

The next big question mark will be where to slot Ray back into the rotation, after Friday's start.

With the off day Monday, the Tigers could give Porcello and Price an extra day, then skip Ray on Thursday, and go with Verlander on five days' rest. The problem with that plan is that Scherzer would likely go Friday on normal rest, leaving the Tigers with the probability of starting two rookies, Ray and Farmer (or another minor leaguer), in the doubleheader at Chicago on Saturday, Aug. 30.

More likely, the Tigers will give an extra day to everyone in the rotation, allowing them to pitch Scherzer and Farmer in the twinbill.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

REPORT: Tigers' Justin Verlander expects to pitch in Saturday's doubleheader


Justin Verlander hasn’t had the season he’s wanted — but at least he’ll not have to go on the disabled list, since he considers it likely he will be back for Saturday’s doubleheader, having dealt with the inflammation that’s sidelined him for nine days.

Verlander told reporters in Tampa that he’ll throw a light bullpen Thursday and he’s definitely penciled in for one of the two Saturday games in Minnesota, according to MLive’s James Schmehl.

"I would say it's strong to quite strong," Verlander said of the possibility, as the Detroit Free Press' George Sipple reported.

That’s a huge news for Verlander, who hadn’t ever missed a start due to injury until this week, and has still never been on the DL.

“It means a lot to me. I’m very prideful of that, and I’ve put in a lot of work for that. I’ve actually never missed a start before, so it’s going to be tough. I guess now I’ll just hang my hat on not going on the DL, and stay off that,” he said last week, admitting that he didn’t know of he could get back to 100 percent that quickly.

“We’ll see. I’m excited to get back out there. Whether it’s 100 percent or not, I’ll be ready to pitch.”

After leaving his Aug. 11 start after just one inning, and getting an MRI the next day, Verlander had not touched a baseball until Tuesday, as the team’s medical staff worked to clear up the inflammation in his throwing shoulder.

Tuesday’s side session was to determine whether he could take the next step, and return to throwing or not. If he couldn't go by Saturday, it was possible he'd have to be put on the disabled list, anyway, to allow the team to bring up another arm.

In the interim, Verlander had sought second opinions on the diagnosis from various doctors, which came back with the same conclusion.

Robbie Ray will start Friday, Schmehl reported, while Buck Farmer will be recalled to start the other of the two Saturday games.

Tigers get the last laugh when Miguel Cabrera takes an intentional walk


It’s supposed to be a “pick your poison” proposition, when you set up a lineup.

Which guy do you want to be beaten by? This one, or this one?

For the Tigers, it’s worked out well any time an opposing manager has decided that they don’t want to be beaten by two-time defending American League Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera, and hand him an intentional walk.

And if there were questions about how Victor Martinez would protect Cabrera in the absence of the traded Prince Fielder, there should be none now.

In seven situations where Cabrera has been walked intentionally in front of him, Victor Martinez has gone 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs, adding two bases-loaded walks, and driving in 10 runs. The Tigers have won all eight games in which Cabrera has drawn an intentional walk.

In Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon tried the strategy twice, with a 50 percent success rate.

In the ninth inning, Jake McGee got Victor Martinez to pop out in foul territory, ending a budding threat, and keeping the game tied at 5-5.

In the 11th, though, it didn’t work so well, as Maddon had Grant Balfour load the bases to face Martinez, and Balfour — who’d infamously gotten into it with Victor Martinez in last year’s playoffs — issued a five-pitch walk to force in the go-ahead run. It was the first time since 2010 (Ramon Santiago, May 15 vs. Boston) that a Tigers player drew a bases-loaded walk in extra innings.

Cabrera has been walked twice this season with players other than Victor Martinez hitting behind him. Austin Jackson hit a two-run ground-rule double against the Padres in April, while J.D. Martinez had a fly out against the A’s in July.

MIGUEL CABRERA'S INTENTIONAL WALKS
Date  Inn. Opp. Result
4/12......9th.....SDP....Austin Jackson 2-run ground-rule double
5/23......5th.....TEX.....VMart lineout deep RF (productive out)
5/30......5th.....SEA.....VMart 3-run HR
6/24......7th.....TEX.....VMart bases-loaded walk, RBI
7/2........3rd.....OAK.....JD Martinez fly ball
8/2........5th......COL.....VMart 3-run HR
8/13......7th......PIT.......VMart bases-loaded single (2 RBI)
8/19......9th......TBR.....VMart foul pop-out
8/19.....11th.....TBR....VMart bases-loaded walk, RBI

Victor Martinez: 3-for-5, 2 bases-loaded walks, 10 RBI
Tigers as a team: 4-for-7, 2 walks, 12 RBI

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Talking Tigers on ChicagoLand Sports Radio on Monday



I went on ChicagoLand Sports Radio Monday afternoon, and talked a little Tigers and American League Central race with host Clinton Cole.

Here's the audio from that radio segment:


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lineups for series finale between Mariners and Tigers


The two playoff contenders meet for the final game of the season series, with the Tigers a half game behind Kansas City for the AL Central lead, and a half game ahead of the Mariners for the second Wild Card slot.

DETROIT TIGERS (66-55):
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Ezequiel Carrera, CF
Miguel Cabrera, DH
Victor Martinez, 1B
JD Martinez, RF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Andrew Romine, SS
Rajai Davis, LF

Pitcher: Robbie Ray, LHP (1-2, 5.31 ERA)

Seattle is 26-16 in games against a left-handed starter, third-best record in the AL behind Oakland (20-13) and Detroit (25-17).

SEATTLE MARINERS (66-56):
Austin Jackson, CF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Chris Denorfia, RF
Logan Morrison, 1B
Chris Taylor, SS
Jesus Sucre, C

Pitcher: Chris Young (11-6, 3.20 ERA)