Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It Is About The Pitching

For the most part, the Tigers have taken a wise course of action this off season. In other words, they are not doing anything stupid like moving too much of their excess pitching. Humberto Sanchez in the Gary Sheffield deal was more than enough. There was so much focus, after the World Series, about what was wrong with the Tigers, and not enough about what was right, which is their pitching. It's true. They do have six legitimate starters - Kenny Rogers, Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, Mike Maroth and Wilfredo Ledezma. It is also true their staff is balanced toward left-handers. But it is also true that the most difficult aspect to procure in baseball is good left-handed pitching. Also, Rogers is in his early 40s, and his contract runs out after this season. The way the Tigers are shaping up, there is pitching to support a possible departure by Rogers, especially considering the Andrew Miller factor. The Tigers should be contenders deep into the future if for no other reason than their pitching. It would be a shame if they wasted it in panic-stricken deals. Good too see they are not doing that.

Random thoughts

- The Pistons announcing their games as sellouts is a joke. I know they are prideful at The Palace, but lets not venture into the land of the ridiculous.

- Tom Izzo is doing a great coaching job with his Spartans. Defense wins games. These guys are playing defense.

- Craig Monroe is an underrated player. Nobody had more clutch hits than he did last season for the Tigers. Why is everybody so quick to want to trade him? Jim Leyland indicated at the winter meetings the Tigers will not move Monroe. Smart man.

- The Lions should have a shot against the Vikings Sunday. Minnesota has a good defense, but QB Brad Johnson has just been awful lately.

- My Heisman Trophy ballot: 1) Troy Smith, Ohio State; 2) Darren McFadden, Arkansas; 3) Michael Hart, Michigan


Anonymous Nick P said...

Hey Book,
5-6 years of a competitive, maybe even contending tigers team, sounds like a dream!

In the midst of all this BCS nonsense, and Lions "football", very very quietly, we could be looking at a nice college basketball season. UofM 8-1, MSU 7-2 including a nice win over Texas, and cracking the top 25 this week. Obviously, its early, and big ten season hasn't even started, but both teams are where you would want them, so far so good.

11:23 AM 
Blogger ThinkingMan said...


I think you are right on a lot of levels about the Tigers' pitching situation:

1. While we appear to have an abundance of starters, that can change in a hurry - just ask the Cubs. In my mind, baring any unforseen injuries, the Tigers have three rock-solid starters in Bonderman, Verlander and Robertson. I didn't include Rogers in that mix because of his age. I think he'll pitch well again, but at his age you just don't know when he's going to hit that wall.

2. Mike Maroth is a question mark until he proves otherwise.

3. Guys like Ledezma, Tata, and Minor haven't proven that they can be consistent winners at the Major League level.

4. Although I've said different earlier, trading Bonderman or Robertson at this juncture doesn't make sense. The great thing about pitching is that there's always a need. If Rogers pitches well, if Maroth comes back strong and if one of the young guys step up, perhaps then you look at a move - IF IT'S NEEDED - near the trading deadline.

5. Let's face it. The Tigers will never be able to compete for the top free agent hitters. Having outstanding pitching is probably the only way they're going to remain a contender for a prolonged period.

12:15 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I agree on everything you mentioned about the TIgers. I think they have a great foundation built. I just hope that if they can improve the team even better then you do so, but no need to make some stupid trade just for the sake of making a deal and bringing in an overated player.

Is there anybody more over rated then J.D. Drew in baseball. Not in my mind good luck Red Sox. He maybe good for a couple games for you before he hits the D.L. again.

Do you think the Tigers are done? Is there anything you'd like them to do or would you rather see them stay put. I don't think they need to do anything jurastic, however if they can sure up some debth, why not add a guy like Shea Hillenbrand or something. He could be great insurance for both 1B and 3B. You could spell Inge and you know casey is going to need a blow from time to time. I think they are in a position where they can add debth and sure up that bench in case a big guy in the lineup goes down like Polanco did last year.

As far as the Pistons goes I agree. I was at a game and there was no way they were sold out. If they were everyone was in the concourse. As far as the Pistons. I think they got the makings of a deal going to be made sometime soon. I don't know why I just have that hunch. 1 Muhammad doesn't look to be panning out at all. I know it takes some time, but it didn't take to long before he found hisself on San Antonio's bench either. Sanders is killing me though. I just don't see with Lindsay out why he can't give blaylock a chance. Other teams don't mind throwing there kids in here and there to get experience. Maxiell can be a good inside force if they give him a chance.

Lions may have a chance against the Vikings who have been awful lately, but we thought the same thing against the Cardinals, 49ers, Jets, a garbage Green Bay team. It saddens me to say, but the lions have been just as awful as the vikings.

As far as the Heisman I don't think it matters. Troy Smith is going to get it he deserves it. He was outstanding all year long. I wouldn't be upset if the lions took a flyer on him in the second round.

5:18 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Nick P,
It would not surprise me if Michigan State contends for the Big Ten title. Wisconsin has experience, but when I have seen them, it was surprisingly underwhelming. Ohio State is loaded with talent, but they seem raw. I just have a feeling this will turn out to be one of Izzo's best coaching jobs.

5:38 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

The injury point you made his huge. Pitchers get hurt. It's just a fact of life. In truth, you can never have enough pitching depth.

5:40 PM 
Anonymous Mike "the Jedi" said...

Proud member of the "Keep the Pitching Foundation" here. With position players on the other hand, I would keep my ears open. Yes, Craig Monroe is being undervalued by fans who seem to be throwing his name out there on a whim.
Still, I'm not opposed to trading an outfielder if the Tigers get reasonable talent in return, such as a top middle infield or catching prospect and the lefty in the pen.

On MSU hoops...with Tom Izzo stamping his image on this squad, I think they're nearly an NCAA tournament lock. Many of the experts had them ranked 7 or 8 in the B10! and missing the NCAA's. They're doing it with defense for sure.

6:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, I called your show today and talked about why I liked the Sheffield deal, but after saying my initial point you started talking, and I never got the chance to continue on. So I thought I'd expand on my thought a little.

So you know, I do agree with you that pitching is very important, but my point wasn't to disparage the prospects they gave.

Only the fact that they gave up ONLY prospects for a middle of the order, borderline Hall of Famer.

They didn't give up a single pitcher from their major league roster for him.

Furthermore, they still have the likes of Ledezma, Miner, Miller, De La Cruz, Virgil (Vasquez I think), Jurrjens, Tata, and plenty more.

Also, they will replenish one of the young pitchers they gave up with the sandwich pick they will receive between the first and second round for Jamie Walker.

I do agree with you that you don't know what Sheffield is going to bring at the end of his contract, but I'd rather take the chance on a proven, middle of the order Hall of Fame player, then 3 unproven ones.

Especially considering how much of a crapshoot projecting pitchers can be, and how many blow out their arms.

Besides, even though they did pay $41 mill for his services (I agree its steep), in today's FA market he is cheaper than any of the comparable hitters are by far.

Lastly, he will be motivated and playing for a no nonsense manager who he just so happens to love.

7:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a leadoff man for the tigers? 1. David DeJesus or 2. Mark Kotsay? Both left hand batters, both excellent defensive players, both good speed, both low strikeouts.
You trade Monroe and a pitcher, either Maroth or Miner. Obviously DeJesus would cost more then Kotsay.
Both are left handed batters.
Pat you have to trade value to receive value. What do you think?

The catcher to replace Pudge, Navarro @ Tampa Bay, a switch hitter and only 22. Offer any combo (2) of Shelton, Thames, Miner and Infante.
Left hander relief pitcher , how about Brad Halsey @ Oakland, throw in Bobby Kielty a switch Hitter and you could get them for maybe Thames and Shelton.
The Tigers need to move some of the players who have some value and won't play for them without moving to many of their good pitching. But if you moved Maroth & Miner you have them replaced by Ledezma and Colon/ Tata.
Enjoy your show and column

7:19 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

Hey Book -

I agree with you on Monroe. I don't see why folks are so in hurry to get rid of him. I actually liked him in the number 2 whole of our lineup. I mean the guy lets face it over the past two years has shown he surges in the second half of the season. That is the time you need him the most. I do like the fact that the tigers are listening and if a deal comes a long that is to hard to pass up then you pull the triger. No reason to make moves just for the sake of making moves.

I'd be completely satisfied with our team going into next season. Personally I think we need to add better debth for our bench. Especially for if a guy like Polanco or Casey goes down. I like infante for what ever reason something went wrong. I do not like Nefi Perez. For some reason I don't sense the tigers have much confidence in SHelton either. So what do you think? WHat about a guy like SHea Hillenbrand if still available. He can provide a very good stick at the plate. Plus give Casey and Inge both spells when needed. He could DH when Maglio needs a day off and Sheffield is in the outfield. I just think he'd be a very valuable signing.

Have you heard any rumblings that may be legit or are they done until spring training?

As far as the Heisman goes. Troy Smith is the odds on favorite despite everything else. I like how you have McFadden second. I am so sick of hearing about brady quinn. I will bet you that kid is out of the NFL in 5 years. IF not he will be a journeymen QB at best. I don't think he is that good. I think Notre Dame is highly over rated. They played two top schools and got spanked. Oh they beat are service teams (army, Navy). As far as Mike Hart. I think his time will come next year and he along with Henne will be the top two candidates.

8:37 PM 
Blogger mudhenfan said...


The Tigers are going to find
themselves in a situation where
it’s going to take mega bucks simply
to keep Bonderman, Robertson and
Maroth. Ted Lilly just got a 4 year,
40 million dollar deal. Here is a guy
with a 59-58 career record, not to
mention his 4.60 lifetime ERA.

I firmly believe that the Tigers brass
are planning on losing some pitchers
to free agency. That alone makes the
pitching prospects in the farm system
that much more valuable.

Craig Monroe for some reason has
always been the red headed stepchild
of the Tigers. Every year his fielding
and power numbers improve. I would
like to see what Craig could do if he
was actually “protected” in the lineup.
I wonder how many good pitches he
would see if he had Sheffield batting
behind him. I bet Monroe would become
a 290, 30, 100 type hitter. Only time
will tell.

The Tigers announced their spring
training schedule! I have my calendar
marked for January the 13th, the day
the tickets go on sale.

11:42 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat I tried asking this on your 1270 show the other day but my unreliable cell phone cut me off.

Do you think the Tigers might have been better served trying to sign Mike Piazza instead of Gary Sheffield? Granted Sheffield is arguably a better hitter, but as Piazza is a free agent, they would not have had to give up anything. Mike had, I thought, I very good year last year in a pitcher's park. Both he and Gary are right handed hitters.

7:42 AM 
Blogger theMUHMEshow said...

This year is kind of a bummer for the Heisman. I would've been nice if Troy Smith had this type of year last year and left. How great would that have been? This year to have McFadden, Quinn, Slaton, Hart, Rice all fighting for it.

Next year is shaking up to be an even greater year in CFB if you ask me. I am already anxiously awaiting my Phil Steele!!!!!!

10:37 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Mike the Jedi,
I was among those wondering about this version of Izzo's team. I thought they were going to be bad - really bad. So far - and it's early - it appears I was wrong.

11:59 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Sorry about that. Didn't mean anything by it...LIke I said, it's fascinating deal. You make valid points. It's a matter of degrees on this one. I have no concerns about Sheffield being a clubhouse cancer or anything like that, nor do I doubt his ability - if he is still the same player. 38 is no spring chicken - and they signed this guy until he is 40 with $41 million. There is some risk involved here from the Tigers. A lot it actually. But the payoff could be high, too.

12:03 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

DeJesus is the Royals best player and he still makes nothing, so it's very doubtful they will move him. Also, Kotsay is a typical A's player. I doubt he will be moved, either, nor is he a leadoff guy. He is signed through 2008. The Tigers might have to wait for Maybin or hit Polanco there is Granderson still struggled. Finding the prototypical leadoff hitter is very difficult.

12:08 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I considered Quinn on my Heisman ballot (I also thought about Steve Slaton), but I agree you: Quinn is overrated.

12:10 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You're very perceptive with your comments. Pitching is so expensive through free agency. It's why when you have young pitching, you hold onto it. If Lilly got that money on the open market, can you imagine what Bonderman will get?

12:12 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Not a bad thought on Piazza considering the cost factor. The one difference is, Leyland and Dombrowski have a history with Sheffield, but none with Piazza.

12:15 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

As you know, my love for college football is deep-rooted and unrelenting. And Phil Steele is the man.

12:16 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winklepleck said...

Mr. Book,

I always enjoy reading and hearing your thoughts on the Tigers. Couldn't agree more with you that the Tigers best move is no move.

After reading the morning Freep, there were two things that really made my day. The first, is reading that Leyland is expecting C Mo to remain a Tiger. The more I watch him, the more his game reminds me of watching Willie Horton playing leftfield when I was a kid. Both are/were power hitters that hit for a respectable average. Neither will every be considered for a gold glove but I feel both are capable, solid fielding major league corner outfielders.

The second and more intriguing hot stove news is the Tigers trying to make Marques Thames into a first baseman. Thames is without a doubt a major league hitter. However, when I see him playing in the outfield, I always hold my breath. DHing Thames isn't really an option on this Tigers club. But if he could become a competent fielding first sacker, the Wizard of Woodward will probably being penciling the name Thames on the line-up card more and more frequently.

My condolences for the recent loss of your father. Nothing can ever replace a parent in someone's life. I'm sure that the loss of your Dad will linger with you for a long time, maybe forever. May the memories of the wonderful times you spent with him remain with you forever.

1:15 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your comment about Pistons' "sell outs" makes me think that the White House is not the only place in a State of Denial! Pistons are living on borrowed time in one regard. This year's season tickets were bought during last year's playoffs (deposit was a condition of guaranteed playoff tickets). Come renewal time in '07, the Pistons will be going head to head with the Tigers. Right now it doesn't look good for the Pistons. Many Detroiters are more interested in baseball hot-stove league this year than NBA regular season.

5:44 PM 
Anonymous sportznut said...

I like Craig Monroe. I've seen him grow every year and become a decent player.

I'm not completely opposed to trading him ONLY if they were to address one of their major needs.

That being a speedy CF/LF leadoff hitter more than anything else.

I would NOT trade Monroe for a lefty specialist out of the pen.

Its completely possible that Ledezma becomes that guy in 2007, but if its not him then one guy I'd love to see in Detroit is Mike Gonzalez.

He is a very good, young lefty pitcher out of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh has 3 lefties in their pen, and have needs everywhere.

I'd like to see the Tigers make a run for him, providing the asking price isn't too steep.

And Pat, the Tigers aren't really thinking of bringing back Neifi Perez, are they?

Why does it appear they are so down on Infante anyways?

Lastly, if the Tigers are looking at prospects up the middle, at catcher, or 3B (all needs within the organization), they should look at Saltamacchia in Atlanta and Ian Stewart in Colorado.

Both guys are currently being blocked by major leaguers at their position, meaning they might just be available for the right price, and could be helping the Tigers no later than next season.

6:27 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winklepleck,
Thames is an interesting case. He did a lot to help the Tigers last season, especially during the first half. He was better than I ever thought he would be. Yet, I wonder if that was just his 15 minutes of fame in the major leagues and he won't be nearly as effective this season.

8:38 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I was at the Portland game. I doubt if there were 15,000 there, let alone more than 22,000. The Pistons are too good of an organization, maybe the best in professional sports, to need to resort to those tactics. It's not fooling anybody.

8:40 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Monroe improves on 2006 we have a bonafide star!

3:49 AM 

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