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.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

REPORT: Cabrera has told Tigers he's willing to move back to first base

With as much gusto as Miguel Cabrera welcomed the opportunity to switch back to third base when the Detroit Tigers acquired Prince Fielder two years ago, it begged a question:

How would Cabrera feel about moving back to first base, now that Fielder’s gone by way of trade?

The answer: Just fine, apparently.

Cabrera told El Universal that he already told the Tigers he wanted to play first base, the Venezuelan newspaper tweeted out this afternoon.

Despite the fact that Cabrera won two American League Most Valuable Player awards — almost exclusively with his bat, mind you — after making the move to third base for the sake of the team in 2012, first base would make the most sense for a player of his age. Especially since he’s coming off sports hernia surgery at the beginning of the offseason.

“I think when you look at Miguel, and think of him in the future, you think of him at some point needing to go back over there to first base. The difficulty would be, as you look past a couple of years, if we’re in a position where we could ever extend him, it would be a position where neither Prince nor Miguel liked to DH on a consistent basis. They’re willing to go over there for a day or two, but they don’t really like doing that, so if you’re going to move forward with both of them on your club, the only way to really do that — if neither one of them want to DH — is to have Prince at first and Miguel at third. So it does create the flexibility (now),” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said last week, after eliminating the logjam by dealing Fielder.

But the Tigers said at the time they dealt Fielder to Texas they hadn’t sought Cabrera out to get his opinion on the potential of moving positions again. Before acquiring Fielder in January 2012, the Tigers did reach out to Cabrera to get his OK.

“We really haven’t talked to him about going back to first base. I know he likes playing third base. Of course, we haven’t talked to him about it, because we didn’t see the immediate need,” Dombrowski said.

“And that’s a conversation that we eventually would have had with Miguel, and we’ll see with the timing of that conversation — if it takes place now, or if it’s still in the future.”

If the Tigers do listen to Cabrera, and move him back to first base, where he made 592 starts between 2008 and 2011, that would clear the path for 2010 top draft pick Nick Castellanos to move in at third base.

“I would love to be that guy at third base,” the natural infielder said in an interview on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM.

Cabrera may miss Fielder as a friend — his own Twitter feed showed immediately after the trade, and he told El Universal, “Fielder was a great friend, but those are things that managements are responsible (for) ... (He) will always be my friend.” And he may miss him in the lineup.

But he’ll still be willing to do what’s best for the team, apparently.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tigers sign Phil Coke to a 1-year deal for 2014, avoiding arbitration

The Tigers agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Phil Coke, they announced Thursday, avoiding arbitration with the left-handed reliever.

Coke is the first of seven arbitration-eligible players the Tigers will either have to come to terms with, if they're to keep general manager Dave Dombrowski's record intact of avoiding arbitration hearings.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Last year, Coke made $1.85 million. Tim Dierkes of projected Coke to make $2.1 million in arbitration.

Coke had a less-than-effective season in 2013, posting an 0-5 record with a 5.40 ERA, and allowing left-handed hitters to hit .299 against him. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

REPORT: Tigers and Rangers have agreed to a deal to swap Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder

If the Detroit Tigers were indeed concerned about how they were going to budget enough money to pay for extensions for Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer, that part has been worked out.

According to a report from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Tigers have agreed to a deal with the Texas Rangers to send Prince Fielder to Texas in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler. [UPDATED: The deal is official, with Fielder and $30 million headed to Texas for Kinsler.]

The Rangers were a player for Fielder when he was a free agent, before he signed his nine-year, $214 million contract with Detroit in January 2012.

One of the players blocking the Rangers’ super prospect Jurickson Profar, Kinsler fits a need for the Tigers at second, and comes at much lower price tag than Fielder. He’s signed through 2017 on a $96.5 deal. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported that the Rangers are getting cash in the deal, and the trade is merely pending the commissioner's approval.

The Tigers have options to fill the role of Fielder at first base, too, as they could simply move Cabrera back across the diamond (he moved from first to third to accommodate Fielder), and put prospect Nick Castellanos at third. Or, they could leave Cabrera where he is, and put Victor Martinez at first, and shop for a designated hitter.

That part, however, will work itself out.

Now, the Tigers will have the ability to hang on to both Cabrera (free agent after 2016) and Scherzer (free agent after 2015) with extensions.

Heyman also reported that there may be another player headed to the Tigers in the deal, but he had not confirmed it.

Fields, Lobstein headline seven prospects added to Tigers' 40-man roster

Facing a midnight deadline to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft by placing them on the 40-man roster, the Detroit Tigers purchased the contracts of seven players they did not want to lose.

Pitchers Kyle Lobstein and Justin Miller, as well as first baseman Jordan Lennerton, were added from the Triple-A Toledo roster, as were outfielder Daniel Fields and shortstop Eugenio Suarez from Double-A Erie and Single-A Lakeland pitcher Jose Valdez and outfielder Steven Moya.

The moves leave the Tigers with 39 spots filled on the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft at December’s Winter Meetings. Generally, teams only protect those players who are likely to be selected and kept on the big-league roster by another MLB team — i.e. those who are close to being ready to contribute at the big league level.

Lobstein came to the Tigers organization in the aftermath of last year’s Rule 5 draft, when the Tigers traded for his draft rights, then acquired his long-term rights from the Tampa Bay Rays by trading catcher Curt Casali after spring training.

He was 13-7 with a 3.27 ERA in 28 starts split between Erie and Toledo last season, and was the Tigers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month in May.

A 26-year-old right-handed reliever, Miller is a former Rangers farmhand still coming back from 2012 Tommy John surgery. He was signed to a minor-league deal by the Tigers in September, after Texas released him.

Ranked the Tigers’ No. 3 prospect last season by, Fields is former sixth-round pick of the organization out of Detroit U-D Jesuit who finally seems to be shaking off a few injury-plagued seasons. The son of former Tigers hitting coach Bruce Fields, the organization’s current minor league hitting coordinator, Daniel Fields hit .284 with 10 homers and 58 RBI for Erie last season, ranking 10th in the Eastern League in hitting.

Slotted just behind Fields on that prospect list, Suarez hit .254 with 37 extra-base hits and 45 RBI in 111 games with the Sea Wolves.

Moya ranks No. 11 in the Tigers’ organization, according to, and the enormous (6-foot-7, 230-pound) power hitter had 36 extra-base hits and 55 RBI for the Flying Tigers in Lakeland last season, three years removed from Tommy John surgery of his own.

The soon-to-be 28-year-old Lennerton hit .278 with 43 extra-base hits for Toledo, earning a spot on the World Team for the Futures Game in July, and was awarded with a Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove after the season.

Valdez is a 23-year-old right-handed reliever who racked up 33 saves between West Michigan and Lakeland last season, earning selection to the Midwest League Midseason All-Star team.

No one was removed from the Tigers' 40-man roster, meaning the couple of non-tender candidates are safe for the moment. Prospects Melvin Mercedes, Casey Crosby, Jose Ortega Ramon Cabrera, Dixon Machado, Francisco Martinez and Hernan Perez were already on the 40-man roster.

Monday, November 18, 2013

REPORTS: Tigers have added Omar Vizquel to staff, to coach first, infield and baserunning

A key to making out a coaching staff is to hire people who complement the head coach or manager’s skill set.

So far, new Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has done just that, hiring folks who have big-league coaching (or managing experience) to fill out his coaching staff.

He reportedly added another on Monday, tabbing former big-league shortstop Omar Vizquel as his new first base coach.’s Alden Gonzalez confirmed reports out of Venezuela that Vizquel had left his role as a roving instructor for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to join the Tigers. Venezuelan journalist Wilmer Reina confirms he’ll fill the dual role of infield coach — as Rafael Belliard did on Jim Leyland’s staff last year — which is a perfect resource for a Tigers team with questionable infield defense. Vizquel will also tutor the Tigers in baserunning, something else they haven’t been very good at in recent years. [UPDATED: Tigers confirm the hiring of Vizquel, Wally Joyner, Mick Billmeyer and Matt Martin.]

It’ll also be a resource to have a coach perfectly fluent in Spanish, something the Tigers felt was important to have — enough so that it was one of the selling points for interviewing a guy like San Diego Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, who ended up with the Cubs.

It’s a skill not lost on the new manager, either.

One of the things that most impressed Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski about Ausmus during the interview process was that the former catcher had taken it upon himself to learn Spanish.

“I think it’s important, because what it shows you is, he’s committed to learning his profession. He took Spanish lessons separately, to learn how to do that. I think it’s very important. And it’s an important part of our game,” Dombrowski said at Ausmus’ introductory press conference.

“First of all, he emphasized, he said, ‘I am not fluent.’ But I think it’s important to be able to communicate with the Hispanic players, in their own language at times.

“Now, we’ll also have somebody on our staff that is completely fluent, whoever that may be.”

Clearly, that’ll be Vizquel, who can communicate lots of things from experience to a team that includes a number of Spanish-speaking players. He also might be able to impart a thing or two about playing shortstop to a youngster like Jose Iglesias.

A 46-year-old native of Venezuela, Vizquel played 24 big-league seasons, and more than 2,700 games at shortstop, winning 11 Gold Glove awards.

Vizquel joins a coaching staff that includes holdovers Jeff Jones as pitching coach and Gene Lamont as bench coach, as well as at least three newcomers. Reports Sunday had Wally Joyner joining the Tigers as hitting coach, and Mick Billmeyer added as the bullpen coach. Both were with the Phillies last season.

The Tigers have one coaching role left open, which could be an assistant hitting coach, or another role at Ausmus’ discretion.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A look back at the DFM award predictions for the 2013 MLB season

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Miguel Cabrera wins back-to-back American League MVP awards

Usually, it’s less about how you start than how you finish.

At least that’s how the old adage goes.

In the case of the 2013 American League Most Valuable Player race, Miguel Cabrera wasn’t penalized for a injury-plagued slow finish to the season. He won his second straight award based on his historically strong start, one that allowed him to cruise to his third straight AL batting title.

He beat out finalists Mike Trout of the Angels and Chris Davis of the Orioles, who won the other two legs of the Triple Crown, leading the majors in RBI and home runs in his breakout season. Cabrera was listed first on 23 of 30 ballots, and won by more than 100 points (385-282). [Full voting results here.]

Cabrera was also the only one of the finalists to help his team to the postseason, as the Tigers won their third straight AL Central title. But his late season swoon — he hit .278 with one homer and seven RBI in September and .262 with two homers and seven RBI in 11 postseason games — were a large part of the reason the Tigers fell short of their World Series aspirations.

His torn groin required surgery to repair in the offseason.

“He wasn’t 100 percent for the whole last month and a half. In my book, that makes him every bit more the MVP than it would’ve otherwise,” teammate Justin Verlander said after the Tigers’ loss in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. “I think 90 percent of baseball players would’ve been sitting on the couch, not playing, dealing with what he’s dealt with this year.”

The Tigers have now claimed three straight MVP awards (Cabrera’s two, coupled with Verlander in 2011) for the first time in franchise history.

Cabrera is the first Detroit Tiger to repeat as AL MVP since Hal Newhouser in 1944-’45. The last repeat AL winner was Chicago’s Frank Thomas in 1993-’94.

The only other back-to-back AL winners were all Yankees: Roger Maris (1960-’61), Mickey Mantle (1956-’57) and Yogi Berra (1954-’55). Chicago’s Ernie Banks (1958-’59), Cincinnati’s Joe Morgan (1975-76), Philadelphia’s Mike Schmidt (1980-81), Atlanta’s Dale Murphy (1982-’83), Barry Bonds (1992-’93 and 2001-’04) and St. Louis’ Albert Pujols (2008-’09) all won consecutive MVP awards in the National League.

Only eight players have won three or more.

Cabrera won his third straight AL batting title (.348), but Davis far and away led the majors in home runs with 53, and edged Cabrera (138-137) in RBI.

Davis led all of baseball in total bases (370) and extra-base hits (96), and isolated power (.348).

The Tigers’ slugger also led the majors in slugging percentage (.636) and OPS (1.078).

Trout led the majors in WAR (wins above replacement, 9.2) and paced the AL with 109 runs scored. He was second only to Cabrera in on-base percentage (.442-.432), but led the big leagues in runs created (145.1).

[Trout’s WAR lead over Cabrera was 9.2-7.2 in Baseball-Reference’s version, and 10.4-7.6 in Fangraphs’ calculations.]

Cabrera’s Cy Young-winning teammate, Max Scherzer, got one third-place vote and six more down-the-ballot votes, finishing with 25 points, 12th overall. Torii Hunter got one ninth-place vote.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Max Scherzer wins 2013 American League Cy Young award

His teammates acknowledged it.

His former manager rewarded him for it.

His peers endorsed it.

And now those who cover the games have signed off on it, reiterating Max Scherzer’s preeminence among pitchers in the American League, voting him the Detroit Tigers right-hander as the recipient of the 2013 Cy Young award.

Scherzer (203 points) beat out fellow finalists Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma (73) and the Rangers’ Yu Darvish (93) for the award, which was announced Wednesday evening. Scherzer received 28 of the 30 first-place votes, with the other two going to teammate Anibal Sanchez and Chicago’s Chris Sale.

Scherzer was the only pitcher named on all 30 ballots. [Click here for full voting results]

He becomes the fourth different Tigers pitcher to win the award, joining Denny McLain (1968, ’69), Willie Hernandez (1984) and Justin Verlander (2011).

“To get recognized (means) so much, and just validate(s) everything I was able to accomplish this season,” Scherzer said on Wednesday’s show on MLB Network Television, unveiling the award.

It was the most recent winner, and Scherzer’s current teammate, who said what all of the Tigers were thinking, dismissing any controversy there may have been amongst pundits and fans when manager Jim Leyland chose Scherzer to start the first game of the playoffs.

“Max is the best pitcher in the American League, the only reason this is being brought up is what I’ve done over the last couple of years,” said Verlander, who also won the AL MVP award in 2011. “And like I said, Max without a doubt is the best pitcher in the American League, and he absolutely earned this.”

He also earned the start in the All-Star Game from his manager, something no one had a problem with at the time. In fact, the rest of the pitchers in the AL more or less understood the stellar season Scherzer was having, even before he finished 21-3.

“Scherzer, without a doubt,” Sale told’s Scott Merkin of his own probable Cy Young preference. “I know a lot of people raise questions just because of the lineup he has behind him. But at the same time, you still have to go out there and pitch well. You look at all his other numbers, strikeouts, walks, innings pitched. All that stuff. He's probably got the best numbers of anybody. ...
“I don’t care who you are pitching against, who you have on your team. You still won 20 games and there’s something to be said for that. All of his numbers match that, so I think he’s the guy. ...

“Shoot, I’ve had three where I gave up eight (runs) this year,” Sale joked with Merkin. “He’s never had that really bad game. He’s just been consistent the whole year.”

The players supported that theory with votes, endorsing Scherzer as the AL Pitcher of the Year in the Players Choice Awards, something which meant as much to Scherzer as anything.

“You know what? The thing that meant most was to get voted by the players. To get the respect, to win the vote for the Players Choice Award means the most,” Scherzer said on MLB Network TV’s “Hot Stove” show last week. “Those are my peers, those are the guys I compete against. So for me, I already feel like I’ve achieved a major recognition by receiving the respect of the players.”

The Tigers were 25-7 in games he started this regular season. By way of comparison, the Tigers were 25-9 in games started by Verlander in his Cy Young and MVP season in 2011.

He led the majors in wins and win percentage.

One of his biggest negatives, though, was that he got more run support than any other starter in baseball, but he was also unbeaten when the Tigers scored three runs or more for him. And he only had seven outings where he allowed more than three runs.

He also led the AL in WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched), opponent’s on-base percentage and OPS (on-base plus slugging), and was second in strikeouts, strikeout rate, hit rate and opponent’s batting average.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Miguel Cabrera named Tiger of the Year again for 2013

DETROIT — Miguel Cabrera became the first player to ever be named Tiger Player of the Year more than three times, bringing home his fourth such honor, and second in a row.

The award, announced Tuesday afternoon, has been given out annually by the Detroit Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America since 1965.

Of the 25 votes cast, 17 went to Cabrera and the other eight went to pitcher Max Scherzer.

Cabrera has now won the award in 2008, 2010, 2012 (pictured above) and 2013. Justin Verlander (2009 and 2011) is the only player to interrupt Cabrera’s run since he joined the Tigers.

The 30-year-old Cabrera led the American League with a .348, becoming the first Tigers player to win three straight batting titles since Ty Cobb (1917-’19). Cabrera finished with 137 RBI, giving him 100 or more in his first six seasons with Detroit, joining Harry Heilmann (1923-29) as the only two players in the franchise’s history to pass the century mark in RBI in six or more consecutive seasons.

Since joining the Tigers in 2008, Cabrera is the AL leader with 615 runs scored, 1,153 hits, 227 home runs, 737 RBI and a .588 slugging percentage.

The defending AL MVP, Cabrera is one of the finalists to again take home the BBWAA-voted MVP award, which will be announced Thursday.

Previous winners:
1965 – Don Wert
1966 – Al Kaline
1967 – Bill Freehan
1968 – Denny McLain
1969 – Denny McLain
1970 – Tom Timmerman 
1971 – Mickey Lolich
1972 – Ed Brinkman 
1973 – John Hiller
1974 – Al Kaline
1975 – Willie Horton
1976 – Mark Fidrych 
1977 – Ron LeFlore 
1978 – Ron LeFlore
1979 – Steve Kemp
1980 – Alan Trammell
1981 – Kirk Gibson 
1982 – Lance Parrish
1983 – Lou Whitaker
1984 – Willie Hernandez 
1985 – Darrell Evans
1986 – Jack Morris 
1987 – Alan Trammell 
1988 – Alan Trammell
1989 – Lou Whitaker
1990 – Cecil Fielder 
1991 – Cecil Fielder 
1992 – Cecil Fielder 
1993 – Tony Phillips 
1994 – Kirk Gibson 
1995 – Travis Fryman
1996 – Travis Fryman 
1997 – Tony Clark and Bobby Higginson (tie) 
1998 – Damion Easley 
1999 – Dean Palmer 
2000 – Bobby Higginson
2001 – Steve Sparks
2002 – Randall Simon 
2003 – Dmitri Young 
2004 – Ivan Rodriguez 
2005 – Placido Polanco
2006 – Carlos Guillen 
2007 – Magglio Ordonez 
2008 – Miguel Cabrera
2009 – Justin Verlander 
2010 – Miguel Cabrera
2011 – Justin Verlander
2012 – Miguel Cabrera 
2013 – Miguel Cabrera

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tigers release 2014 spring training schedule

The Detroit Tigers unveiled their 2014 spring training schedule Wednesday.

It begins on Feb. 25, with the traditional game against Florida Southern College, and includes 35 games in 33 days, before concluding with a game against the Washington Nationals in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 29.

Opening day is March 31 in Detroit, hosting Kansas City, beginning the 2014 regular season.

Tigers Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter win Silver Slugger Awards for 2013

Unsurprising that one of the top offenses in baseball during the regular season should be represented by more than one winner of a Silver Slugger Award.

Both Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter took home the Louisville Slugger-sponsored honor, announced Wednesday.

It’s the fifth time Cabrera has won the award, and the third time (2010/1B, 2012/3B) since joining the Tigers. Hunter’s only other Silver Slugger award came in 2009, as a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Despite a debilitating groin injury that limited him in the final month of the regular season and in the playoffs, Cabrera won the American League batting title for the third straight year (.348), finishing second in the AL with 137 RBI and 44 home runs — a better statistical campaign than his Triple Crown year in 2012.

“It kind of breaks your heart, to be honest with you, to see him out there the way he has to be out there and the way he is right now because you know he's hurting. He's tough as nails. I have so much respect for him. Everybody is conscientious these days about people earning their money. You talk about somebody who is earning their money, this guy feels like he owes it to the Detroit Tigers and our fans to be out there, he owes it to the team,” now-departed manager Jim Leyland said of Cabrera’s effort in the playoffs.

“He's out there, he's doing the best he can. It breaks your heart as a manager. It's really a shame, to be honest with you, for the whole baseball world because they're not getting a chance to see him at his best. This time of year, people are turning on the TV, they love to see these guys. Obviously I think he's the best player in the League. To not be able to see him at his best because of a physical ailment, it hurts a little bit, but that's just the way it is, and you live with those things.”

Hunter hit .300 for the second time in his career, finishing at .304 with 84 RBI, 17 home runs and 37 doubles.

“He's done very well on the field. He's obviously a tremendous athlete, tremendous guy. One of the toughest players I've ever managed. But what he's done on the field has been the biggest thing for us. He's gotten big hits, he's a good defender. Doesn't run quite as good as he used to. He's a very good player, and he's tough,” Leyland said of Hunter during the playoffs.

“That's really why we signed him. When we signed him, we got exactly what we thought we were going to get. And he's done a terrific job. And I think this time of year a lot of the veteran players are a little older. They get a new life, it's a new breath of fresh air. And I'm sure that's the way Torii is feeling right now.”

The winners were announced in a special program on MLB Network television Wednesday evening.

For all of the Tigers' offseason awards, CLICK HERE.

Jeff Jones returns as Tigers' pitching coach, Dave Clark added to coaching staff

DETROIT — There are five well-paid gentlemen who are very happy at this moment.

The entire Detroit Tigers starting rotation should be elated at the news that Jeff Jones is returning to the staff as pitching coach, added Wednesday to new manager Brad Ausmus’ staff, along with third-base coach Dave Clark.

Both signed two-year deals with the club.

Jones was instrumental in helping both Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello develop the breaking pitches that enabled them to be more effective against left-handed hitters, as well as in helping Justin Verlander figure his way out of his season-long funk by the postseason.

Collectively, the pitching staff and rotation set numerous records for strikeouts this season, under Jones’ tutelage.

After numerous stints as the Tigers’ bullpen coach, Jones took over the pitching coach role on July 3, 2011, after Rick Knapp was fired. His contract with the team expired at the end of this season, but it was clear the Tigers wanted him to return.

“We are in the process of looking at possible pitching coach candidates. I know Jonesy from when I was here,” Ausmus said Sunday. “And certainly is a prominent name on that list. But right now, we haven’t made any final decisions, but that will be (coming shortly).”

Gene Lamont was named the bench coach immediately upon Ausmus’ hiring, the first holdover from outgoing manager Jim Leyland’s staff. Jones is the second.

Leyland’s hitting coach, Lloyd McClendon, was named the Seattle Mariners’ manager Tuesday night.

Clark coached both first and third base in five seasons on the coaching staff in Houston, and was the interim manager at the end of the 2009 season, when Cecil Cooper was fired. He managed for six seasons in the minor league systems in both Houston and Pittsburgh, and was the Pirates’ hitting coach for two seasons (2001-02), while McClendon was the manager there.

As a player, he spent parts of 13 seasons in the big leagues, with six different teams.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

His loyalty unreturned by Tigers, McClendon gets consolation in Mariners job

DETROIT — Like good deeds, which — as the saying goes — rarely go unpunished, loyalty quite often goes unreturned.

Even if it’s merely an appearance, or an unintended consequence of the world in which we live.

All being a good soldier for seven years on the coaching staff of Jim Leyland netted for hitting coach Lloyd McClendon was an interview — which both sides thought went well — for a chance to be Leyland’s successor, and then the unfortunate slap in the face of finding out he didn’t get the job when the news leaked Saturday night.

That was hours before general manager Dave Dombrowski was able to place a call to McClendon himself, letting him know that the Tigers’ managerial position had gone to Brad Ausmus instead.

“I couldn’t help (Saturday) night. I don’t know what happened. That (leak) wasn’t from us. I don’t know where that came from. I had to wait this morning to start calling people, until it was late enough where I wasn’t waking them up,” said Dombrowski, who was apologetic for the completely unintended sequence of events.

“It’s hard. He’s been with the organization a long time. He interviewed very well. Presented himself well. I like him personally. He’s done a lot for us. I just told him we were going in a different direction, with somebody I thought would do a real good job for us.”

For McClendon, there’s at least a consolation prize.

The news came Tuesday night that he will be named the new manager of the Seattle Mariners. He’d interviewed for the job three years earlier, when it went instead to Eric Wedge. It will be his second managerial stint in the big leagues, after spending five seasons as the Pirates’ manager, prior to his eight-year stint in Detroit on Leyland’s staff.

“He has integrity, he’s well-respected, so I’d recommend him very highly. And I like Lloyd McClendon a lot, I’ve gotten to know him very well,” Dombrowski said Sunday. “Very, very nice person. Good person.”

After starting as the bullpen coach in 2006, McClendon had been the Tigers’ hitting coach since. Under his tutelage, Tigers hitters captured four American League batting titles (2007, 2011-13) and one runner-up finish (2010) in McClendon’s seven seasons as hitting coach.

Add that role to the list of jobs that Ausmus still needs to fill on his staff. So far, only bench coach Gene Lamont is a definite holdover from Leyland’s staff.

For that, at least, Leyland himself is happy.

He may — out of loyalty — have wanted the search for his successor to turn out differently. At one point, Dombrowski trimmed him out of the loop, already knowing Leyland’s feelings on the issue.

“I spoke to Jim (Sunday) morning. Jim has always known about Brad, because he knows Gene Lamont so well,” Dombrowski said.

“I talked to Jim when we were driving to dinner with Brad, which would’ve been Monday. I did not call him anymore, because I did not want to put him on the spot. He loves Mac — and he should love Mac — because he worked for him. And I love Mac. But Jim has even more affinity for him, because he worked with him, day-in and day-out. And I didn’t think it would be fair to ask him any other questions in that regard. And he made it clear he wouldn’t feel he’d be slighted if we didn’t reach out to him in that regard. Today when I spoke to him, he said he was very happy for him, he’s happy for Gene that he’s back, and said ‘I’ll help him, however I can.’ He’s a resource.”

Miggy, Iggy and Max are finalists for BBWAA awards

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America unveiled its three finalists for each major award on Tuesday, and it’s no surprise that the Detroit Tigers are all over the lists.

Miguel Cabrera, the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, is a finalist for the award again this season, along with Baltimore’s Chris Davis and the Angels’ Mike Trout. The winner will be revealed on Thursday, Nov. 14.

Max Scherzer is a finalist for the AL Cy Young, along with the Rangers’ Yu Darvish and the Mariners’ Hisashi Iwakuma. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Scherzer and Cabrera were honored with similar recognitions in the Players Choice Awards on Monday.

Shortstop Jose Iglesias is a finalist for the AL Rookie of the Year, along with the Tampa twosome of Chris Archer and Wil Myers. The winner will be unveiled Monday, Nov. 11. Iglesias was a finalist for the Players Choice AL Outstanding Rookie award, which went to Myers.

Boston’s John Farrell, Cleveland’s Terry Francona and Oakland’s Bob Melvin were the finalists for the AL Manager of the Year award.

All four of the BBWAA awards will be announced in hour-long shows on MLB Network on the respective dates. For all of the National League finalists, you can go to

Monday, November 4, 2013

Miggy and Max clean up at Players Choice Awards

Miguel Cabrera cleaned up in the Players Choice Awards again Monday, repeating as both the overall Player of the Year, and American League Outstanding Player. It’s the third straight year a Tigers player has won the POY award — Justin Verlander won it in 2011.

Max Scherzer won the AL Outstanding Pitcher award. Five Tigers were finalists for awards this season.

To top it all off, it was announced that Cabrera will be on the cover of the “MLB 14: The Show” video game, which will be released in the spring. [Here's a look at the teaser trailer.]

Tigers make no qualifying offers to eight in-house FAs

The deadline to extend qualifying offers to impending free agents was 5 p.m. Monday. As general manager Dave Dombrowski indicated Sunday, the Tigers did not make qualifying offers — set at $14.1 million this year — to any of their eight in-house free agents, making them free to negotiate with any club, starting at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.

That does not preclude the Tigers from trying to bring any of them back — it just means they were not willing to risk giving a pay raise of 100 percent or more to any of the free agents, in order to guarantee they’d get something in return if they left, namely a compensatory first-round pick in June’s draft. [For more on the process, CLICK HERE.]

The Tigers would still like to retain at least a couple of the eight free agents, although Dombrowski said it was “highly unlikely” that Jhonny Peralta would be one of those, considering they have their everyday shortstop in Jose Iglesias.

Second baseman Omar Infante could be back, but Dombrowski said, “We like (Hernan) Perez a lot.” The Yankees have reportedly expressed interest in Infante, if they cannot come to terms with their own free-agent second baseman, Robinson Cano.

Set-up man-turned-closer Joaquin Benoit is probably the most likely to return to the Tigers.

“You want to bring a closer back. We’re going to have a closer, so we’ll want to pursue somebody to pitch at the back end of the bullpen,” Dombrowski said. “Joaquin is in that group, but there are a lot of closers out there. It’s the one area where there are a lot of guys. That’s the one area I think we need to address, with him or someone else. And then we’ll look at the rest of the club.”

The Tigers are holding organizational meetings this week, and will set the offseason priorities then.

Iglesias named Tigers' top rookie by DSBA

Jose Iglesias was named the Tigers Rookie of the Year by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association. The DSBA has selected the team’s top rookie since 1969.

Quintin Berry won the award last season.

Iglesias, who came over in trade at the July 31 deadline, led the American League with 35 infield hits, and was second among AL rookies with 106 hits and 31 multi-hit games. He’ll be presented with his award prior to a home game in 2014.

The slick-fielding shortstop was credited with the top Web Gem play in 2013 by ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” crew, but did not play enough games at shortstop to warrant consideration for a Gold Glove.

There’s an chance he’ll be among the top vote-getters when the Baseball Writers’ Association of American unveils its AL Rookie of the Year on Nov. 11. Iglesias finished second to Tampa’s Wil Myers for the Sporting News’ AL Rookie of the Year.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Brad Ausmus introductory press conference live blog

The Detroit Tigers were expected to announce the hiring of first-time manager Brad Ausmus as their 38th skipper in a press conference at Comerica Park on Sunday.

The press conference starts at 4:30 p.m.

REPORTS: Tigers have settled on former catcher Brad Ausmus as next manager

Experience doesn’t mean what it used to.

Just ask first-time skippers like Mike Matheny, or Bryan Price or Matt Williams — guys who’ve gotten big-league managerial gigs in the last few years without an ounce of managerial experience.

Brad Ausmus may be the newest addition to that list.

Several published reports late Saturday, first from Adam Spolane of SportsRadio 610 in Houston, have the 44-year-old Ausmus headed back to Detroit to finalize a deal to become the Tigers franchise’s next manager.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports later confirmed it with a source of his own.

Currently a special assistant to the general manager in San Diego, Ausmus was interviewed by the Tigers on Monday. He interviewed with the Cubs Friday.

He’d previously interviewed in Washington, where Williams ended up with the job, replacing the 70-year-old Davey Johnson. The inexperienced Price got the gig in Cincinnati after the 64-year-old Dusty Baker was fired.

Outgoing Tigers manager Jim Leyland, himself 68, alluded to turning the team over to a younger voice.

At 44, the former catcher Ausmus is that.

His only prior managerial experience? As the skipper of Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic.

“It’s not rocket science, it’s people science, and Brad is excellent at dealing with people,” Padres vice president of player development Randy Smith, the former Tigers GM who traded for Ausmus twice, said in an interview on Detroit 105.1 (WMGC-FM) last Monday. “He always has been.”

The predecessor to Dave Dombrowski as Tigers GM, Smith brought Ausmus to Detroit Twice by way of trade. Dombrowski brought four people in to interview for the job — Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, Padres bench coach Rick Renteria and Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach — but apparently has settled on Ausmus, before the Cubs can.

It’s a job that both Jim Leyland — the former manager, who stepped down two days after the Tigers’ ouster from the American League Championship Series — and his bench coach, Gene Lamont, have said might be better off in the hands of an experienced manager.

Lamont went as far as to say “sometimes it doesn’t become the easiest team to manage.”

Smith didn’t think that would be a problem.

“I do know that, in my mind, there’s no doubt he’s going to be a successful manager, and reward somebody when they give him that opportunity. I’m as sure of his success as I was when I hired Bruce Bochy,” Smith said.

“Brad’s got the right temperament, he’s smart. ... Brad’s going to be a good manager, whether it’s in Detroit or someplace else."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A look back at the Digital First Media baseball writers' predictions for the 2013 MLB season

Wanna grade us on how we did picking this season's division and pennant races in baseball? You might wanna grade on a curve ...

Here is a look back at how Digital First Media baseball writers nationwide thought the races would stack up this season.

We got some right, but ... boy did we ever get others wrong. (If you're interested, here are how the Out Of Left Field predictions looked this season.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tigers decline option on Jose Veras' contract, lose Tuiasosopo, Downs to waiver claims

The Detroit Tigers’ bullpen makeover is underway.

Friday, the team announced it was declining the $3.25 million club option on the contract of Jose Veras, their trade deadline acquisition.

Veras was considered one of the sure things for the wide-open 2014 bullpen at the time the Tigers traded for him, given the affordable nature of the option year. It’ll cost $150,000 for them to buy him out of the option year. [UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Saturday that the option was $4M, thanks to an escalator clause that tripped when he passed 45 games finished.]
Darin Downs, also won’t be a part of the 2014 relief corps, as the Houston Astros announced Friday they’d claimed the lefty reliever off waivers from the Tigers.

Matt Tuiasosopo was claimed off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Tigers announced. In a procedural move, Danny Worth was removed from the 60-day disabled list.

Considering what they gave up to get him, the Veras move was a surprise. The Tigers traded promising minor leaguers Danry Vasquez and David Paulino to get the Astros’ closer, using him as their primary set-up man.

The return on that investment? An 0-1 record, two saves and a 3.20 ERA in 19 2/3 regular-season innings, and a 3.60 ERA in six postseason appearances.

Veras appeared in just one of the Tigers' five postseason wins. Appeared in five of six losses, including Games 2 and 6 of the American League Championship Series, when the Tigers gave up the two crushing grand slams. He’ll probably be remembered most for giving up the dagger of a grand slam to Shane Victorino in Game 6 of the ALCS, but he also gave up the one-out eighth-inning double to the No. 9 hitter, Will Middlebrooks, that eventually set up David Ortiz’s game-tying grand slam in Game 2.

Closer Joaquin Benoit is a free agent, as is veteran Octavio Dotel, while Phil Coke could possibly be a non-tender candidate.

The other two moves weren’t as shocking as the first.

Tuiasosopo hit .329 with six homers and 22 RBI in the ifrst half off the season, before falling off the map in the second half, hitting just .152 and striking out 32 times in 23 starts. He finished with a .244 average, seven homers and 30 RBI on the season, and was left off the playoff roster.

A 28-year-old with a tremendous story of professional perseverance, Downs pitched in 29 games with the Tigers this season, after making his big-league debut in 2012. He has a career ERA of 4.34 in 56 innings pitched, and made a number of trips up and down from Triple-A Toledo. Born in Southfield and originally selected in the 2003 amateur draft, the Tigers signed Downs as a minor-league free agent in November 2011.

He was not on the playoff roster in either of his two seasons with the Tigers.