Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My thoughts on Justin Verlander's outing - and James McCann

There are two ways of looking at Justin Verlander's outing tonight. One is that he used to deal like Gerrit Cole is for the Pirates tonight, and doesn't anymore. The other, is Verlander did make progress. He adjusted well after a bad start and kept the Tigers in the game. I think he is going to contribute significantly to the Tigers as the season moves on. He did hit 96 mph and started to show better command. Ultimately, Verlander's outing tonight was much more good than bad.
- I've viewed James McCann as similar to his manager, Brad Ausmus, as an MLB catcher. He is fundamentally sound, smart and athletic with some, but not a lot, of pop in his bat. But there are signs he may be better than that if hits his upside. His throws tonight have brilliant. He's started to show some power. And he is starting rake against right-handers, not just lefties.

My column. Detroit Pistons risked Darko 2.0 by drafting Stanley Johnson instead of Justise Winslow: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150628/pat-caputo-detroit-pistons-risked-darko-20-by-drafting-stanley-johnson-instead-of-justise-winslow

My column. Jordan Spieth proof nice guys finish first, not last: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150627/pat-caputo-jordan-spieth-proof-nice-guys-ultimately-finish-first-not-last

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How the Tigers at 70 games stack up to notable teams from their past

Are the Tigers contenders or pretenders this season? This is how the current edition of the Tigers stacks up against their recent teams, and some of their most notable teams of the past:
2015 - 36-34, 5 1-2 games out AL Central
2014 - 38-32, half-game up AL Central (lost ALDS to Baltimore).
2013 - 39-31, 3.5 games up AL Central (won ALDS over Oakland, lost ALCS to Boston).
2012 - 34-36, 3.5 games out AL Central (won ALDS over Oakland, won ALCS over Yankees, lost World Series to San Francisco).
2011 - 38-32, tied for AL Central lead (won ALDS over Yankees, lost ALCS to Texas)
2010 - 38-32, 1.5 games out AL Central (didn't make the playoffs)
2009 - 39-31, 1 game up AL Central (lost one-game playoff for division to Minnesota)
2008 - 32-38, 6 games out AL Central (didn't make the playoffs)
2007 -  41-29, tied for AL Central lead (didn't make the playoffs)
2006 -  46-24, 1.5 games up AL Central (as wild card won ALDS over Yankees, won ALCS over Oakland, lost World Series to St. Louis).
2003 - 18-52, 20 games out AL Central (119 losses most in Tigers' history).
1987 - 38-32, 6 games out AL East (lost ALCS to Minnesota).
1984 - 52-18, 8.5 up AL East (won ALCS over Kansas City, won World Series over San Diego).
1972 - 38-32, 2 games down AL East (lost ALCS to Oakland).
1968 - 43-26, 6 1-2 games up AL (won World Series over St. Louis)

My column. Disappointing Tigers fortunate they still have something to play for in 2015: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150622/pat-caputo-disappointing-detroit-tigers-fortunate-they-still-have-something-to-play-for-in-2015

My Column. If necessary, Detroit Pistons should trade up for Mario Hezonja: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150620/pat-caputo-if-necessary-detroit-pistons-should-trade-up-to-draft-mario-hezonja

Monday, June 22, 2015

The bad part of the Tigers' 7-5 win over Cleveland Wednesday

Monday, June 08, 2015

My thoughts on Detroit Tigers first two draft picks

Kyle Funkhouser
The Tigers' 2015 MLB Draft is going to be defined by two factors. They stretched a bit, in my opinion, by taking Beau Burrows, a high school pitcher from Texas, a shorter (6-0) right-hander, who throws hard (mid 90s) at 22nd overall. With the next pick, Nick Plummer, the outfielder from Birmingham Brother Rice High School, was chosen by St. Louis. He was expected to go within the top dozen selections. If  the rare, these days, first-round worthy local product takes off, and Burrows doesn't, it will come back to haunt the Tigers badly.
There was a time when organizations were hesitant to take short right-handers in the first round, but it's changed because of the success Greg Kimbrel and Greg Holland, hard-throwing right-handers who aren't tall, are having as closers, It's why you hearing about Burrows being projected as a reliever.
I followed the progress of Kyle Funkhouser, a right-hander from Louisville, closely this spring. I can't believe he lasted until 35th overall, taken by the Dodgers, one pick after the Tigers selected Tennessee outfielder Christin Stewart, who was a very good college player, but is lacking one standout tool, at least according to the draft experts. Stewart was projected as a late second- or third-round pick. The Tigers weren't the only organization to move Funkhouser down their board (I thought he'd go in the top dozen picks). But it was also two premier organizations that snapped up Plummer and Funkhouser, a pick after the Tigers each time. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

My column. Timing may not be right for Jim Harbaugh to have immediate success at Michigan: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150606/pat-caputo-timing-may-not-be-right-for-jim-harbaugh-to-have-immediate-impact-at-Michigan

My column. Stanley Cup, NBA finals examples of what should be for the Red Wings and Pistons: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150607/pat-caputo-stanley-cup-nba-finals-reminder-of-what-should-be-for-detroit-red-wings-and-pistons

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Some observations after watching the Lions OTA Wednesday

- Eric Ebron dropped a couple passes in individual drills, but made some good plays during the team portion of the workout. You can see a sense of purpose with Ebron's effort and the way he is being pushed by the coaching staff. When asked about Ebron after the OTA, head coach Jim Caldwell kind of put him in the category of "all young players." Yet, it's obvious the expectation is dramatic year-to-improvement from Ebron's disappointing rookie year. It would not surprise me if Ebron takes a major step forward in 2015.
Eric Ebron: Heat turned up
- Running back Theo Riddick is just a really good player. He's very smooth as a route runner and has great hands. He lacks home run speed when put on a clock, but you'd never know it watching him practice. There is a niche for Riddick as a third-down back in the league. He will play a long time in the NFL because of it.
- Undrafted rookie running back Zach Zenner got a couple reps in the team portion. It's shocking he wasn't drafted based on his speed and elusiveness. He didn't look out of place at all.
- It was the first time I have seen Haloti Ngata in football gear. What stood out was the size of his ankles. They are huge. There is a strong base there. He moved well. He did talk afterward about how the scheme is different in Baltimore and that he is going to have to adjust to rushing more up field more, but he is certainly appears capable.
- Ryan Broyles and Lance Moore look like very similar players. It will be interesting if either becomes the Lions' third receiver.
- The Lions depth defensively is so much better than it used to be. That's especially true in the secondary, especially at safety. It was wise for James Ihedigbo to get in for the off-season program, or he wasn't going to hold on to his starting job. Backups Isa Abdul-Quddus and Don Carey are capable players.

My column. Farmington Hills' Alex DeBrincat likely on fast track to NHL stardom: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150527/pat-caputo-farmington-hills-alex-debrincat-on-fast-track-to-possible-nhl-stardom

Sunday, May 24, 2015

About Anibal Sanchez and his recent struggles

There are many concerns about Tigers Anibal Sanchez, and they are more than understandable. Is hurt? How come he is allowing so many home runs?
Sunday Sanchez was lit up like a pinball machine by the Houston Astros, blowing a lead and despite striking out 11. He doesn't appear to be the same pitcher he was in 2013 when he won the AL ERA title at 2.57.
Sanchez's pitches don't have some level of movement as before. His velocity isn't down. It's been roughly like this most of his career, just slightly below 92 MLB. His big thing is funky movement on the pitch from a high arm angle. Everything has flattened out for him, including his off-speed pitches, and he has become decidedly hittable.
But is a reality. Sanchez didn't present himself as a top of the rotation starter when he was with the Marlins. His career ERA entering Sunday was 3.62 and his FIP 3.50. He hasn't been a dominant pitcher as much as inconsistent. In truth, 2013 was an aberration for his career.
I do believe he will pitch better than this at some point. Come on? A 6.12 ERA?.
But I can't say I'm shocked. At five years, $80 million, the Tigers rolled the dice a bit with Sanchez when he was riding high, but this is probably a case of pitching finding his level.

My column. You shouldn't like Max Scherzer, Ndamukong Suh and Mike Babcock for leaving Detroit: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150523/pat-caputo-you-shouldnt-like-max-scherzer-ndamukong-suh-and-mike-babcock-for-leaving-Detroit

My column. Why Tigers ultimate fate likely lies with Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez and Bruce Rondon: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150521/pat-caputo-ultimately-fate-of-detroit-tigers-likely-lies-with-verlander-vmart-and-rondon

Thursday, May 21, 2015

An improved Nick Castellanos? How evidence is starting to suggest it

Nick Castellanos' traditional statistics weren't bad for a 22-year-old rookie last year, but the Tigers' third baseman's advanced metrics were disappointing. He had a negative WAR (minus 1.4 baseball-reference.com version). His defensive ratings across the board were shocking below average. He had a high percentage of extra base hits, but otherwise his offensive statistics were not necessarily stellar.
And it's not like he still doesn't have work to do. For example, Castellanos has an on base percentage below .300.
But there is progress. He is a plus WAR player this in 2015 year, albeit at just 0.2. His defensive metrics are much better, suggesting the work Castellanos did on his range has paid off. He is also starting to hit. He drilled a two-run homer to left field today off Astros right-hander Scott Feldman in the fourth inning. Last night, his bases-clearing, bases-loaded triple won the game for the Tigers. It came on a 2-2 pitch with two outs after he had fought off several nasty offerings from Brewers right-hander Jonathan Broxton. Castellanos is just 23, and has a solid approach at the plate (he tends to pull breaking balls and drive fastballs the other way). There are still times he looks like a weak link in an otherwise mostly formidable Tigers' batting order. But it's getting to be less, and there is a chance he will be a good MLB regular someday sooner instead of later. The year-to-year improvement Castellanos has made shows promise, not doom.

My column. With the safety net of Mike Babcock gone, it's time for GM Ken Holland to deliver for the Red Wings: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150520/pat-caputo-with-safety-net-of-mike-babcock-gone-time-for-gm-ken-holland-to-deliver-for-detroit-red-wings