Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thoughts after 3 innings Tigers, White Sox Wednesday on Smyly, Avila, Abreu, Castellanos

- Strong evidence suggests Drew Smyly is much more effective as a reliever than a starter. He has allowed 14 home runs in 101 innings as a starter. He has allowed just four home runs in 86 1-3 innings as a reliever. He is 7-0 with a 2.50 ERA as a reliever. As starter, he entered today with an ERA above four. You can reduce the number of left-handers he faces from the bullpen. He has a great curveball, thrown from a very high arm slot. which is devastating against them. Lefties were hitting just .199 against him entering tonight. Right-handed hitters were hitting .256, but with impressive power numbers.
- The more I see of  White Sox rookie first baseman Jose Arbeu the more impressed I am. He is going to put up some huge numbers in the White Sox little home ball park.
- It was only a flyout, because he didn't quite pull the ball enough, but you can see where Nick Castellanos is going to drive more than his share of home runs. He has a very live bat and excellent hitting approach for a 22-year-old rookie.
- There are a lot of Alex Avila bashers out there, and hitting below .200, which he was until last night, isn't acceptable. But he usually has a pretty guy eye at the plate and is capable of putting up an OPS above .700. That would be acceptable given he is solid defensively. His OPS is getting close that more

Red Wings need much better effort - with emphasis on "effort "- to comeback against Bruins

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Detroit Tigers, Dave Dombrowski and the worst trade of all time?

A long-term general manager is not judged by one trade. Good thing for Tigers' general manager Dave Dombrowski he has a lot of gems to pull out of his back pocket to display (Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer, etc.) when the Doug Fister deal is raised.
That's because it has been a stinker and the stench just keeps getting worse.
Sunday, the Tigers released shortstop Alex Gonzalez. He played just nine games as a 37-year-old displaying less range than a fantasy camper. He hit a hundred-something and his WAR was minus 0.6., which shouldn't come as a surprise. It was minus 1.2 last season.
Alex Gonzalez: Gone but not soon to be forgotten
The Tigers traded Steve Lombardozzi, the utility player they acquired as part of the Fister trade in the winter, to Baltimore for Gonzalez, who could have been signed as a free agent.
The Tigers paid Gonzalez $1.1 million for what was essentially a failed 14-game (nine played) audition. He was paid 78.571 per game. What addition to the G-Rod retirement fund.
Lombardozzi reminds nobody of Ozzie Smith at SS, but he was OK there in spring training. Andrew Romine and Danny Worth are better than Lombardozzi at SS, but why just move him for nothing? He has played most days for Baltimore at second base and done reasonably well. A salary dump? Hardly. Lombardozzi is rocking a $518,000 salary for 2014.
In fairness to Dombrowski, Ian Krol has helped the Tigers some already should be a good piece to the bullpen. He has touted left-handed pitching prospect Robbie Ray as being the key to the move. Ray is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA at Toledo, averaging five innings per start and could at some point replace Drew Smyly in the rotation if it is deemed Smyly means more to the Tigers in bullpen than starting. But, at this stage, that's a big "if."
The trade hasn't looked nearly as bad as it might if Fister were not on the disabled list with a lat strain after having some elbow issues during spring training. Fister has started throwing at the Nationals' extended spring training program, and could return in three weeks, according to latest reports.
Can you imagine if he were off to a 3-0 start like he was last year, and this was going on?
Yikes. It was unpopular trade at the time, and looks less promising by the day.

My Column: Deep but uncertain presents unique challenge for Detroit Lions

Replay of our live chat today. We do this every Monday at 1 p.m. Join in next week:

It's all about how Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings respond to subpar performance Sunday at Boston

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thoughts after two periods Red Wings, Bruins Game 2

- The Red Wings have been outplayed in this game, but should still be at least tied. The Red Wings just can't afford to allow soft goals. Jimmy Howard did that in the first period. And he didn't come up with the big save at the end of the second period, giving back the momentum the Red Wings' got when Luke Glendening scratched in a goal. As good as Howard was in Game 1, he hasn't been in Game 2. Bottom line.
- The Red Wings have adjusted a lot better to the Bruins crashing to the net than they did in the first period. Maybe it's just a natural letdown from winning Game 1, but it shouldn't have come as a surprise.
- Gosh, are the Red Wings a better team with Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup. He is just very threatening and you can tell how difficult it is for the Bruins to adjust not only to his skill, but his strength. The Red Wings will get even better for a playoff run, obviously, if they Henrik Zetterberg returns.
- This game isn't over. Boston seems uptight at times with its favorite status. An early goal, and the Red Wings could win this thing. The key is Howard. No more soft goals. And he must come up with a big save or two.
- The Red Wings power play has been brutal. That has to change, too.
My column: Deep yet uncertain NFL Draft presents unique challenge for Detroit Lions

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pavel Datsyuk goal spectacular but it was Jimmy Howard Night in Boston

My column on Red Wings beating Bruins in Game 1:
Jimmy Howard: Big saves in big Game 1 win

Friday, April 18, 2014

My thoughts on the Red Wings 1-0 victory over Boston Friday

Thoughts after 2 periods Red Wings, Bruins Game 1

- The Red Wings are playing a very good road playoff game so far. They have avoided odd man rushes, stayed out of the penalty box and their quickness has been very to annoying to the Bruins. Detroit has had more and better scoring chances.
- Having two power play opportunities and not scoring on either is not a good thing for the Red Wings. You know there is a strong probability the next call is going to go the Bruins' way.
- Brendan Smith is right the middle of everything for the Red Wings. I don't know if that is good or bad, though. He has done some very good things tonight, yet been on the brink of a couple disastrous mistakes. Kind of unnerving isn't it?
- Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk both had golden chances to score goals tonight and didn't finish. They must if the Red Wings are going to win.
- The more I see of Tomas Jurco, the more I like him. He has done well tonight on the forecheck.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Despite obvious flaws, Tigers have had just what they need

Thoughts after 7 innings Indians, Tigers Thursday

- At least the Tigers have a lead to protect today. Ian Kinsler has been the difference in the game, but it shouldn't mask that the Tigers haven't played that well. There have too many errors and a lot of little mistakes. But the Tigers have gotten away with it, at least so far.
- The Tigers bullpen remains very iffy. There is no way to gauge who they can or can't trust from down there. Phil Coke's ERA is nearly 12. Al Alburquerque has been wildly inconsistent. Ian Krol seemed to be a find, but today's outing was awful. Could be we'll see what Joe Nathan has today. Now that will be interesting...
- Alex Gonzalez hasn't not hit well and sometimes just doesn't make the routine play. Andrew Romine is better defensively and a left-handed hitter. It's not like Gonzalez is raking. He's not even hitting .200. I do wonder why Romine isn't playing more.

Thoughts after 4 1-2 innings Indians, Tigers Thursday

It's kind of the same old lament, I know, but the Tigers are making it a lot easier for Indians' starter Danny Salazar, who struggled with injuries this spring and early this year, by having seven right-handed bats in the lineup. It's hardly a coincidence, when the Tigers scored their only run, Victor Martinez's hit, left-handed, was the key blow. Conversely, the Indians are making it much more difficult, hitter-by-hitter, for Justin Verlander because they have so lefty hitters in there (8). Again, it's not a coincidence Verlander went over 100 pitches in just five innings. What would I do to correct the situation. How about Tyler Collins sent to Toledo and replaced by Ezequiel Carrera, who is off to a decent start for the Mud Hens. The "other" Cabrera is a left-handed bat. What is the point of having Collins on the club at this point?
- That was very nice at bat by Austin Jackson in the fourth. With a runner on third and less than two outs, the Tigers merely needed Jackson to lift a fly ball and he did it.
- I don't think Tigers' rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos, is a disaster defensively, but he needs to make that play. Period. It changed the entire course of the game.
But Verlander can't complain about it. He didn't help himself with an error in the fourth.

My column. Why I think the Bruins will defeat the Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thoughts after two innings Indians, Tigers Wednesday

- This is a reality, which may not make Tigers' fans that comfortable, but Anibal Sanchez did display a lot of inconsistency before he pitched with the Tigers. This type of outing in which he lacked command of the baseball wasn't that uncommon when he was with the Marlins. His career WHIP coming into tonight is 1.333 with a large sample size. Both Sanchez and Max Scherzer outperformed their track records by a wide margin last season.
- It seems like Austin Jackson is not nearly the base stealing threat he was when he originally joined the Tigers. I thought it was a good call by manager Brad Ausmus to send him. I'm surprised he didn't make it.
- I'm sure Terry Francona doesn't fine his pitcher's for walking hitters, but he probably should after Zach McAllister walked Alex Avila in that situation.

My column on Joe Dumars ultimate legacy with the Pistons: