Blogs > Out of Left Field

A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

#AskDave: Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski takes over team Twitter account to chat with fans

Saturday, December 8, 2012

TigerFest returns to Comerica Park after one-year hiatus

After taking a one-year hiatus — thanks to the construction at Comerica Park, including the renovation of the scoreboard — the ever-popular TigerFest returns to the stadium this offseason, just eight weeks from now.

Comerica will open for seven hours (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) on Saturday, Jan. 26, allowing fans to reconnect with the defending American League champions well before Spring Training rolls around. Tickets, which are priced at $25 for adults, $12 for kids 12 or younger, go on sale Friday. Tickets can be purchased online, or at 866-66-TIGER.

"We're thrilled TigerFest will be back at Comerica Park in 2013," Tigers vice president of marketing Ellen Zeringue said in a press release. "Tigers fans will have the opportunity to see some of their favorites including Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder, and the newest Tigers including Torii Hunter. We're also giving all fans who attend TigerFest a free commemorative Miguel Cabrera Triple Crown pennant."

One of the main attractions will be the main stage, which will feature appearances by Tigers players, coaches and front office members, as part of a two-hour "Fan Conference."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tigers acquire a pair from Rule 5 draft swaps

[Erie catcher James McCann (middle) tags out Harrisburg's Jeff Kobernus (bottom) in a Double-A game last season. Acquired from the Red Sox after Thursday's Rule 5 draft, Kobernus may make it onto the Tigers' big-league roster before McCann does.]

While they did not select any players themselves in the big-league portion of Major League Baseball's Rule 5 Draft, the organization was active in the process anyway, swooping in and trading for a pair of players picked by other teams Thursday.

Detroit traded minor-league utility man Justin Henry to the Boston Red Sox for the rights to second baseman Jeff Kobernus, and sent cash to the Mets for the rights to left-hander Kyle Lobstein. Under the  stipulations of the Rule 5 draft, the Tigers must keep the players on the 25-man big-league roster for the entire season, or offer him back to his original team for $25,000.

While in principle that seems a bit constricting for an organization trying to assemble a World Series-caliber roster, the moves themselves make sense, considering the Tigers' needs at the back end of the roster.

Drafted by the Sox out of the Nationals organization, the oft-injured Kobernus could give the Tigers a boost in athleticism at the utility spot. A .279 hitter in four minor-league seasons, the former third-round pick has compiled 120 stolen bases in 290 games, 95 in the last two years with the Nats' high-A and Double-A affiliates. With the ability and athleticism to play infield or outfield, Kobernus could replace the departed Don Kelly, or challenge Ramon Santiago or Danny Worth for a reserve infield spot.

"My agent Steve (Cantor) had called me and let me know it was a possibility (of getting picked), but I was trying not to think too much about it," Kobernus told Baseball America's John Manuel. "When he called this morning, I was excited. I was lucky and happy to be part of the Nationals organization, but going to the Tigers, a team that's been waiting for years to win a World Series and that expects to win every year, I'm just excited to be a part of that."

A ninth-round pick of the Tigers in the 2007 draft, the light-hitting Henry hit .300 for Triple-A Toledo last year, but had just four career home runs.

The Mets drafted Lobstein out of the pitching-rich Tampa Bay organization, where he was almost exclusively a starter, compiling a 30-30 record and a 3.85 ERA in nearly 500 innings over 91 starts, none of them above Double-A. If he sticks with the big-league team, he could be rotation protection or slot into a long relief spot, like Duane Below from a year ago. He'd give the Tigers a third lefty out of the bullpen, behind Phil Coke and Darin Downs.

In the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft, the Tigers selected outfielder Eliezer Mesa from the Oakland A's system, but lost left-handed pitchers Jay Voss (St. Louis) and Efrain Nieves (Toronto).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tigers trade Oliver to Pirates for minor-league catcher

The Tigers did pull a trade at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., but it was just a minor move, on Wednesday swapping disappointing minor-league lefty Andy Oliver (above left) to the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor-league catcher Ramon Cabrera.

A second-round pick in the 2009 draft, Oliver was once considered one of the bright young prospects in the organization, but stalled at the upper levels the last few years. He got four spot starts in 2010, and two in 2011, but never got the call last season. He was 0-5 with a 7.11 ERA in seven career starts with the Tigers' big-league club, giving up 37 hits (including six homers) and 29 runs in 31 2/3 innings pitched.

He was moved to the bullpen at Triple-A Toledo midseason last year, after continuing to struggle in a starting role (4-9, 5.18 ERA).

A 23-year-old native of Venezuela, Cabrera has spent five seasons in the Pittsburgh minor league system, spending all but one game of the 2012 season at Double-A Altoona. The right-handed hitter hit .276 with 50 RBI and a career-high tying three homers in 112 games at Altoona, after establishing career highs in average (.343), hits (112), doubles (25) and RBI (53) at high-A Bradenton in 2011.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tigers send Lamont to the bench, Brookens to third

The furniture has been rearranged, but all the comfortable old couches are still intact.

The Detroit Tigers finally announced a slight shift in the responsibilities for members of the coaching staff, with Tom Brookens taking over as the team’s third base coach.

Rafael Belliard, who’d been in charge of the infielders before, takes Brookens’ old spot as the first-base coach, while Gene Lamont moves from coaching third into a more traditional bench coach role. Manager Jim Leyland’s oldest friend on the staff, Lamont had held that role — of the primary advisor and sounding board for the manager — in all but title, anyway.

It was a move — one that Leyland described as “rearrang(ing) the furniture just a little bit” — that had been in the works for a while, but one that hadn’t been finalized before, or divulged until now.

The Tigers announced the switches to reporters in attendance at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday.

Making the move had nothing to do with fan/media criticism of Lamont as a third-base coach, something that reached a crescendo with his gamble to send Prince Fielder home from first during Game 2 of the World Series. “Difficulty is, nobody wants to talk to you, unless you (screw) up,” Lamont said afterward.

That criticism something that Leyland vociferously disagrees with, and something that had little to no impact on the decision.

“No. It has nothing to do with that. We’re going to rearrange one piece of our furniture and it has nothing to do with anybody’s results this year or the job they did. We just think it’s time maybe to make this move,” Leyland said two days after the end of the World Series, the day he and the team announced he was coming back on another one-year contract.

Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski was asked about the impending move the same day.

“The way I’d answer this question is that we’ve had some conversations for a lengthy period about making some possible transitions with responsibilities,” Dombrowski said, “nothing reflective upon what’s happened in the year past.”

By all accounts, the tone was the same Tuesday, when the announcement was formally made. 

"Gene is as good as any third-base coach in the league," Leyland was quoted as saying by Chris Iott of MLive. "Terrific judgment. Terrific. But it might be time for him to come over to the bench with me and put Brookie out there."