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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TigerFest put on hiatus for this offseason

The Tigers will not hold TigerFest at Comerica Park this January, as originally planned, according to a story on MLB.com. The stadium will be undergoing renovations at the time — including upgrades to the largest scoreboard behind the left-field stands — and there are no alternate facilities available in the area for the scheduled date.

According to the story, the Tigers Winter Caravans will still be held.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Tigers choose not to tender a contract to 2B Will Rhymes


While the second base position for the Detroit Tigers — one of their expressed positions requiring offseason attention — is shaping up to be all the usual suspects, there’s one less name in the hopper now.

The franchise announced Monday that it was not tendering a contract to Will Rhymes, their 2011 Opening Day starter at the position, making the 28-year-old a free agent.

That leaves utilityman Ramon Santiago — who re-signed with the club for two years at the start of December — and Ryan Raburn as the probable platoon, unless the Tigers make another move.

It’s been a merry-go-round of a position since the Tigers chose not to retain Placido Polanco after the 2009 season. None of the last three players to start the season at second base — Polanco in ’09, Scott Sizemore in ’10 and Rhymes in ’11 — remain on the roster. Six different players have started at the position in two seasons.

The diminutive Rhymes, a career .291 hitter in 633 minor league games, hit .304 in 54 games as an injury replacement at the end of the 2009 season, earning himself a shot at making the big-league club in spring training last year.

He did one better, earning the start on Opening Day, but — thanks to a .206 batting average — lasted just 28 games before the hot-hitting Sizemore took his spot. Rhymes would play in just one more game at the big-league level — a pinch-running cameo in Baltimore in mid-August — before the September call-ups.

Rhymes, who hit .235 for the season with the Tigers, did not make the postseason roster, but he made waves during the playoffs, nonetheless. A late-night post to Twitter during the American League Championship Series, questioning on-the-field moves, may have hastened his departure from the organization, although GM Dave Dombrowski denied that on the record, according to MLive's Chris Iott.

Worth noting: There have been increased social media restrictions on MLB players worked into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Matthew B. Mowery covers the Tigers for The Oakland Press. Email him at matt.mowery@oakpress.com and follow him on Twitter @matthewbmowery. To get updates on the team sent to your phone, text “Tigers” to 22700. *Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Tigers make bullpen swap, trading former first-rounder Perry to Nats for Balester

Once thought to be the Detroit Tigers' "closer-in-waiting," it became clear that the franchise became tired of waiting for former first-round pick Ryan Perry.

The Tigers shipped the enigmatic reliever — picked 21st overall in the 2008 draft — to the Nationals on Friday, getting right-handed reliever Collin Balester in return. A former fourth-round pick of the Expos in 2004, Balester has only been a reliever for two seasons, after starting 22 games over his first two years in Washington.

"We felt Ryan Perry could benefit from a change of scenery," Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told MLB.com's Jason Beck on Friday. "Ryan did not have a guaranteed spot on the club at this time. But he also didn't really fit this three-inning type of role."

Perry finished the 2011 season with a 5.35 ERA, a WHIP of 1.622, and almost as many walks (21) as strikeouts (24) in 37 innings. The 24-year-old was sent to Toledo three times in 2011, once for rehab after an eye injury put him on the disabled list in May, and twice more to work on mechanical issues, trying to get his delivery more repeatable.

"He's at the point where he needs to step it up for us. I mean, he's got a lot of ability," Dombrowski said at the start of the offseason, before reiterating his 'value' to the team at the Winter Meetings. "His arm speaks for itself. He's an upper 90s guy and his slider's pretty good at times. When he goes down to the minors, his change-up is very good too. He very seldom throws it here. But we haven't been able to get him over the hump at the big league level, and we need to do that. He needs to do that. Kind of a combination. He's in one of those areas right now where you send him down to Triple-A and he dominates. And then you bring him back and he has a hard time getting over that. We think he can do that, but he does need to prove it."

In Balester, the Tigers get a right-handed reliever who throws nearly as hard as Perry, but posted better strikeout numbers (62 in 56.2 innings of relief over the last two seasons). The Tigers will use him in a long relief role, with the seventh- (recent signee Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke), eighth- (Joaquin Benoit) and ninth-inning (Jose Valverde) roles already taken.

“Acquiring Collin Balester from the Nationals today adds another good arm to our organization,” Dombrowski said in a press release Friday. “He has shown the ability to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen in the past, a role we are looking for him to fill for our club in 2012.”

Of note for fans, Balester has a Twitter account (@ballystar40), as well as a web site (CollinBalester.com).

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tigers bolster bullpen by adding veteran RHP Dotel

Tigers fans may have wanted their team to nab a young stud prospect, collectively waiting with bated breath for news of a big-splash signing or trade to come out of Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Instead, it appears they’re getting a more practical early holiday gift — the baseball equivalent of socks — in the form of an old warhorse, veteran reliever Octavio Dotel.

Reports had the 13-year veteran on the verge of signing with the Tigers late Wednesday night, giving them another reliable option at the back end of the bullpen. That need was most glaring in the postseason, when the Tigers went almost exclusively with three pitchers — closer Jose Valverde, set-up man Joaquin Benoit and left-handed specialist Phil Coke — in relief.

[UPDATED FRIDAY, DEC. 9: The Tigers confirm having signed Dotel to a 1-year contract with a club option for 2013. Reports had it worth $3.5 million. “We are pleased to add an established reliever like Octavio Dotel,” Tigers GM David Dombrowski said in a release. “He has been successful in various roles throughout his major league career and his addition to our club solidifies our bullpen for the 2012 season.”]

CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler reported that the Tigers had manager Jim Leyland telephone Dotel — against whom right-handed batters have hit just .202 over the years — to express the team’s interest.

The 38-year-old Dotel appeared in 12 of the 19 postseason games for the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals this fall. He was traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Cardinals in the eight-player deadline deal that included Colby Rasmus and former Tiger Edwin Jackson as its centerpieces.

If he does not re-sign with the Cardinals, Dotel will be headed for his sixth team in 23 months, and will have pitched for a MLB-record 13 teams in his career, including Detroit’s American League Central rivals, the Chicago White Sox (2008-09) and the Kansas City Royals (2007). Only Matt Stairs has played for as many teams in his career.

Ranked as a type-A free agent, signing Dotel will not cost a team a draft pick, thanks to changes in the free-agent compensation rules written into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

It fits with Detroit’s offseason theme of minor retooling. Detroit re-signed utility infielder Ramon Santiago to a two-year deal, and back-up catcher Gerald Laird to a one-year contract. Collectively those two contracts add up to just $5 million, far less than came off the books with a handful of free agents, including Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez.

Given the perception that the Tigers have money to burn, they have been linked to a slew of big names throughout Winter Meetings, including former Mets shortstop (and Marlins signee) Jose Reyes, former White Sox left-handed starter Mark Buehrle (another Miami-bound free agent), Cubs free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez and A’s left-hander Gio Gonzalez, but haven’t really been close to making any of the moves.

Much was just rumor or conjecture.

Of potential talks with the free-agent Buehrle, who reportedly was looking for a long-term deal with a no-trade clause, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters, “We haven’t had any.”

He also said the Tigers made no offer to Reyes.

The asking price for Gonzalez in trade purportedly included top prospects Jacob Turner and/or Nick Castellanos, as well as a young, inexpensive outfielder like Brennan Boesch, but was apparently too steep for the Tigers.

The one big name that the Tigers may still be pursuing might be Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, a five-tool outfielder who could potentially hit leadoff for them, increasing the team’s speed in the outfield and on the basepaths. Dombrowski confirmed this week that he’d recently flown down to the Dominican Republic to visit with Cespedes in person.

Matthew B. Mowery covers the Tigers for The Oakland Press. Email him at matt.mowery@oakpress.com and follow him on Twitter @matthewbmowery. To get updates on the team sent to your phone, text “Tigers” to 22700. *Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Report: Brandon Inge involved in six-car accident

The only true Tigers news to come out during the Winter Meetings so far is a bit of bad news: WXYZ reported Tuesday afternoon that third baseman Brandon Inge had been involved in a six-car accident earlier that morning near Ann Arbor.
According to the report, police said they did not issue any citations, and reported no major injuries.

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