Friday, October 29, 2010

There is no "I" in team when it comes to Michigan State - integrity

I understand how it works. If Michigan State wins Saturday at Iowa, the controversy swirling around the football program bringing back cornerback Chris L. Rucker to the team immediately upon leaving jail will fade. If the Spartans don't win, it will be intensified.
But my point is, regardless of what happens Saturday, it's wrong, and has put an unnecessary scarlet letter on this season, which has otherwise been a source of great pride, and the university as a whole.
Rucker didn't go to jail for his DUI. He went to jail for violating his probation. He is a really good player, but clearly put himself ahead of the team. And the "team" apparently feels that is fine. It's utterly amazing Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said it is Rucker's decision whether he wants to play Saturday.
Sorry to be skeptical, but I doubt it would be the case if Rucker weren't a very good player. Same with running back Glenn Winston getting re-instated to the team so early after his release from jail last year. The Spartans needed a power back, and Winston did perform well until he was injured, but ultimately the short-term gain wasn't worth the long-term pain. Remember Rather Hall?
Same here. The message sent is that at Michigan State, football players can do whatever they want off the field - and still be able to play. Jail time? It's just like an injury. If you're a good enough player, it's out of jail garb and into a green and white uniform.
Where's athletic director Mark Hollis on this? Basketball coach Tom Izzo and Dantonio are his bosses, not the other way around. Doesn't mater what it says on the university employment structure. University president Lou Anna K Simon? Same thing. She has about as much control of the school's football and basketball programs as the librarian. They should have stepped in here, but they wouldn't dare.
There is clearly a lack of institutional control at Michigan State University in regard to its revenue-producing athletic programs.
So while the Spartans may win Saturday at Iowa, the decision to bring back Rucker is setting up the university to lose something much more important than a football game.

Random Thoughts

- I must admit, I was surprised the Lions-Redskins game Sunday fell so far short of a sellout. The economy is obviously still tight, but people went to the Tigers' games this past summer in good numbers, and the Red Wings are drawing OK. There are no other home football games this week among the Big Three football entities in this state. Michigan and Michigan State are on the road. Maybe it's the Halloween factor. Perhaps it's that people aren't buying into the Lions just yet. I do feel bad for the TV blackout. This is a game people, I would think, would want to see. And I believe this a game the Lions are going to win.

- I think the Rangers will win the next two games in Texas to even the World Series. I bet the Giants win when the series returns to San Francisco. I see the home team winning the first six games in the series - and a Game 7.

- Poetic justice: The Giants winning the World Series after Barry Bonds retires.

- In the no excuse department: Piston coach John Kuester not playing lottery pick Greg Monroe in the season-opener Wednesday at New Jersey. We'll see if it is different tonight.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unfortunately, Mark Dantonio seemingly learned nothing from Glenn Winston episodes

It wasn't that Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio didn't comment about cornerback Chris L. Rucker's release from jail that was the issue Tuesday, it was how he didn't comment.
"I'll just not answer your question - how about that."
It was like how dare anyone from the media, in this case Lisa Byington, a much-respected reporter/anchor from Channel 6 in Lansing, ask such a question.
It's a sign Dantonio doesn't get his role as a major college head football coach at a state-supported university.
It's about more than winning games. It's about representing the school properly. That includes not ignoring public questions about deviant behavior involving his players.
Last year, when running back Glenn Winston got out of jail, Dantonio immediately put him back on the team - with what ultimately turned out to be dubious results. He gave similar "how dare you ask" no comments at the time.
He didn't feel a need to explain himself then, either, but sure had to when a chain of events went wrong that led to a fight between football players and a fraternity at a dormitory.
Similar situation here. Same form of answer from Dantonio.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hey, Michigan fans, what's wrong with Michigan State's schedule?

I think one of the more strange things coming from Michigan fans in response to Michigan State's 8-0 record is the notion the Spartans are playing an easy schedule. This is one of the seasons when Ohio State isn't on MSU's schedule, a clear advantage. But it doesn't mean MSU has an easy schedule. Like Michigan, the Spartans had no idea Notre Dame would become so beatable. It's a rivalry game for MSU, too, and even more deeply rooted in its lore than Notre Dame-Michigan is. Actually, by far.
The Spartans did beat Wisconsin - and rather handily. Wisconsin is in the Top 10 in the BCS standings and has beaten both Ohio State and Iowa.
And this is coming from fans of a program who know full well how there are no sure-thing victories. Hey, remember the Appy State and Toledo games? Actually, Michigan is fortunate Indiana is on its schedule.

Pistons in flux, on the court, off the court, heading into this season

Monday, October 25, 2010

If the Giants and Rangers can reach the World Series, so can the Tigers

The Tigers were a .500 club in 2010, and even before the off season has really begun, many of their fans are thinking it will be more of the same in 2011.
Third baseman Brandon Inge has already been re-signed. The Tigers will work out some sort of a deal with Jhonny Peralta, or pick up the option on his contract. That will be at least $11 million spent next season on the leftside of an infield that is more solid than enthralling. General manager Dave Dombrowski has already indicated he will fill second base from within, meaning the not-so-dynamic trio of Buster Rhymes, Danny Worth and Scott Sizemore will be vying for the position in the spring. Even catcher, the Tigers puzzlingly have every-day faith in Alex Avila, who was decidedly mediocre last season.
The Tigers will add a bat in the middle of the line. And perhaps keep Magglio Ordonez, when all is said and done.
How that make this team much different? It is the current lament of Tiger fans.
The Tigers fell so far out of it last season, how can they possibly be thinking World Series?
Then I look at the two teams actually in the World Series this year - the Rangers and, particularly, the Giants.
How about postseason heroes Cody Ross of the Giants and Colby Lewis of the Rangers. Both are Tigers' castoffs. Oh, it will be a touching moment, won't it, when Clay Rapada is pitching to Matt Treanor. Do you fear Andre Torres? I did when he played for the Tigers. That was the scariest baseball I'd ever seen by an alleged "prospect." Real Halloween stuff.
I keep expecting Alexis Gomez to pop up on one of these teams.
The Tigers have some big parts in Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. If they unexpectedly hit on a few of the parts surrounding them, the Tigers will be right there.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

If Matthew Stafford doesn't do it now, it's unlikely he ever will

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Come-from-behind victory by the Spartans stuff of champions

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Re-signing Inge a good thing? Depends what they are paying him

It wasn't unexpected the Tigers re-signed third baseman Brandon Inge. He got two years with an option. Sounds about right. But what is the big secret about how much he is going to be paid?
Did the Tigers overpay to keep him? Or did Inge take a hometown discount?
I think Inge is an average regular player. He is solid defensively, although not the clone of Brooks Robinson or Mike Schmidt some of his overzealous supporters believe him to be. He has power offensively and does well as a hitter in stretches. although his slumps and low batting average are drawbacks.
It's also good to have a player who has been with the organization for more than a decade like Inge. The old English "D" on his shirt means something to him.
But what are they paying him? Whether it's a good signing or not depends in large degree on that.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How many wins would save Rich Rodriguez's job?

Losing in such dismal fashion the last two weeks has put Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez clearly on the hot seat.
Now the question is, how many wins does he need to save his job?
I said at the start of the year, I thought eight or more victories - and Rodriguez would return for 2011. I still hold that thought. If Michigan gets to eight, it means a .500 record in the Big Ten, and a trip to what figures to be a respectable bowl game.
In order to get there, the Wolverines must procure a signature victory. That would mean winning at Penn State, or defeating a Wisconsin squad that upended Ohio State, or winning at Ohio State, which would be an especially satisfying prize, in addition to beating Purdue and Illinois - teams Michigan should, frankly, defeat.
Any less than seven wins, and it's difficult to imagine Rodriguez will not be gone. Michigan can't go 2-6 or 1-7 in the Big Ten again - and bring him back. Just can't see that happening.
The interesting number is seven. It still might get Michigan in a surprising good bowl game. It would probably mean losses to Penn State and Wisconsin. Not sure, how it would play out if Michigan only has six wins going into the Ohio State game. Would a victory over the Buckeyes be enough to save to Rodriguez's fate? Or would it already be determined going into the game?

Random Thoughts

- Call me crazy, but I still see a Yankees-Phillies World Series. If the Yankees win Game 5, I see a tight Rangers team emerging. although I will say, beating Cliff Lee in the postseason is an enormous task.

- It's amazing how all the good teams in the NFL are in the AFC. The best team in the NFC is? I don't have an answer for that. All the more reason the Lions should expect to turn things around relatively quickly, eh?

- The NHL schedule is maddening. The Red Wings haven't played since Saturday. Then they play home games Thursday and Saturday vs. Calgary and Anaheim, but don't play again until Thursday at home. No trips. Nothing. Just practice. It's like they are playing in the CCHA or something. Oh, and who was the genius who came with the Red Wings playing the Ducks twice at home within the first few games of the season. Truly oofy stuff.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Face it: Michigan State is now Michigan's main rival, not Ohio State

I find a lot of the blabbering by Michigan fans about the past to be odd. They still seem to believe Bo Schembechler is the Wolverines' head coach, and Woody Hayes remains at Ohio State.
In truth, Ohio State, its loss to Wisconsin last week aside, has dominated the Big Ten in recent years, while Michigan is in danger of falling off college football's relevance map.
When Michigan plays Ohio State in November, the stakes don't figure to be high for Michigan, other than perhaps head coach Rich Rodriguez will be coaching for his job.
The game won't be nearly as big as the Wolverines' game Oct. 9 against Michigan State. That was, in reality, the crossroad game for Michigan. The Wolverines BIG GAME. And it took the wrong direction for the third year in a row.
Notre Dame isn't any good anymore, either. In fact, Michigan State has basically manhandled the Irish for more than a decade. Michigan's wins over ND the past two seasons have been rendered meaningless. Navy and UConn beat Notre Dame now.
The new standard for the Wolverines is Michigan State. It's all they hear about these days. The Curse of Mike Hart. How Michigan State has crashed the Top 10. How Michigan State painted Detroit green at the Final Four in 2009, and reaches the Final Four an average of every other year for a dozen years under Tom Izzo.
Ohio State? To the Buckeyes, Michigan is just a little blip on the screen. At least MSU cares when it beats Michigan. At this rate, Ohio State might not want to protect it "rivalry" status with Michigan in the future.
The Wolverines, 4-15 in the Big Ten since 2008, might be a more fitting opponent for homecoming.
Could be the case for the Spartans, too.

Random Thoughts

- I know the Rams have played pretty well at home, but I'm shocked they have three victories based on the team I saw play against the Lions at Ford Field. They just don't have that much talent. I predict that by the end of the season, the Lions will have more wins than the Rams.

- Ohio State was due for a fall. Wisconsin is a much better team at home traditionally than on the road. Madison is a very difficult place to play. Wouldn't surprise me if the Buckeyes still manage to find their way into the BCS title game.

- Scouts loved the talent of former Tiger Cody Ross, but didn't like his lack of size and, oddly, that is he is left-handed thrower, but a right-handed hitter. Ever notice you don't see that often? It's really rare. And it made scouts skeptical about Ross. Obviously, he's proved them wrong. There was some question at the time he was drafted, too, whether it would be as a pitcher or outfielder. His arm is that good.


Live stream broadcast chat today

I will be doing a live stream broadcast chat today with sports editor Jeff Kuehn. It will be at 12:30. Best question gets a free Oakland Press coffee mug....
It will be at

Lions make too many mistakes to claim progress or effort

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Moral victories, QB controversy, embattled coach - Michigan is in trouble

Friday, October 15, 2010

I don't expect MSU to falter vs. Illinois

I know a lot of people are expecting Michigan State to falter this weekend because the Spartans haven't exactly responded well to success in the past, but I think they win this game. It's at home. If it were on the road, I might think differently.

Random Thoughts

- If Iowa beats Michigan handily this week, the proverbial dogs will out of the 'pen and after Rich Rodriguez. Somehow the Wolverines must tighten up defensively. I'm not sure they can, though. They are just limited in regard to talent in the secondary.

- Matt Hoffman, a left-hander who came out nowhere, is drawing raves in the Arizona Fall League. He was taken late in the draft by the Tigers a couple years ago, and hits 95 mph on the radar gun at times. He is a left-handed reliever the Tigers may push to the big leagues relatively quickly next season - if he continues to show progress.

- Cale Iorg is playing every day in Arizona, but his chances of making an impact with the Tigers has dwindled. He will be 26 next - not exactly in the "prospect" category anymore.

- I know the Red Wings are fighting some injuries, but there are no excuses to get jumped on the road like they were last night in Dallas. Let face it, this has been a disappointing week so far for the Red Wings.

- Colt McCoy will start for the Browns Sunday against the Steelers. Sam Bradford has done fairly well for the Rams, despite what happened Sunday at Ford Field. Mark Sanchez has been OK for the Jets and Matthew Stafford has made progress, although it has been stunted, obviously, by injuries. Tim Tebow is riding the bench in Denver. But of all the high-level quarterbacks that were discussed in the last two NFL drafts, the one receiving the least hype, Josh Freeman, might be the best.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chris L. Rucker should not play again for MSU

If Chris L. Rucker ever plays football at Michigan State again, the benefits of him playing will be outweighed by the message it would send about the Spartans' football program, and the university in general.
He is a very good football player. The Spartans have moved into contention for the Big Ten title. Rucker's presence on the field is paramount to that.
But he blew it. He reportedly got behind a wheel and drank alcohol past the legal limit for driving. I'm all for second chances, but this was his second chance. He was a part of the fight with the football players and a fraternity last fall. He is on probation for the incident.
If what happened early Sunday with Rucker isn't a violation of team rules, it should be. Otherwise, MSU's football program has run amuck.
Look, Michigan State's an institution of higher learning. That's the biggest part of the equation. Football comes second.
Michigan State has a long and infamous history involving deportment issues involving its athletes, which has enormously hurt its reputation academically.
Time to put a foot down and say, "Enough's enough."

Random Thoughts

- Wonder how much Carl Crawford's free agency stock will drop based on his postseason performance against the Rangers? My guess: Not much. He is still the No. 1 guy on the market. Remember, he had played in the postseason before and done well.

- Honestly, when the Lion player scores a touchdown, I hope they learn to act like they have been there before. The celebrations Sunday at Ford Field bordered on bush league.

- Anybody shocked the Tigers didn't pick up the contract option on Magglio Ordonez's contract? Please. Whether he remains with the Tigers or not will determined by what other moves they make this off season. Ordonez will be this year's version of Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye in the sense he will have to wait out the process, and the big-money offers he is seeking may never come in.


Lions can't expect real progress until Matthew Stafford returns

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Don't you wish Brett Favre had just retired the first time?

In retrospect, I wish Brett Favre had retired the first time.
Before he left the Packers for New York. Before he left New York for the Vikings.
While he keeps piling on his NFL records (more than 500 touchdown passes? That’s incredible), his constant putting himself ahead of the team, and in a sense the game, had already marred his once sterling reputation. Missing off season programs, along with the constant speculation about whether he would play each summer, had already been enough.
This circumstance involving women employees with the Jets in 2008 has done even more damage. It sounds really creepy.
And watching Favre play is literally painful. He did make a couple nice throws Monday night against the Jets, but he each time he really gunned the ball with classic Brett Favre flair, he was left holding his elbow and wincing.

Random Thoughts

- Bobby Cox won all these games and tons of respect, but just one world title. Where does he rank among the baseball’s all-time great managers? I wouldn’t put him ahead of Sparky Anderson, would you?

- It’s interesting the Tigers have Chance Ruffin, one of their early picks in last June’s draft, in the Arizona Fall League. They need bullpen help and he was an excellent closer at Texas. If he performs well in Arizona, the Tigers will push him to the high levels of the minor leagues to start his career - and not hesitate to bring him to the majors. It’s interesting how the Tigers keep taking college relievers fairly early in the draft. None have panned out as expected. I expect more from Ryan Perry myself. And this goes back to before the Dave Dombrowski regime when the likes of Rick Greene and Matt Anderson were drafted. Ruffin will be one of only three player in last June’s draft in the AFL.

- With Jonathan Ericsson out, defenseman Jakub Kindl will get another chance to play tonight against the Avalanche. He is the last of the so-called “overripe” prospects the Red Wings had at Grand Rapids. Time for him to step forward. He took a regular shift against the Blackhawks Saturday, including some time on the penalty kill. He was minus-1, but it was difficult to tell in that appearance how solid he is at this stage. Maybe we’ll learn more tonight.
With Brian Rafalski having his knee scoped, Kindl's role will be even more important.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Curse of Mike Hart lesson in humilty, or should we say, lack of it

Some old sayings are more apropos than others. But I think it would be wise to believe the one about, "What goes around, comes around" is more fitting than most.
I think we've found that out about former Michigan running back Mike Hart. His "little brother" comments following Michigan's victory over Michigan State in 2007 have come back to haunt not only the Wolverines, but Hart himself.
Here's a guy who just owned the Spartans when he played against them. Michigan won all four seasons, and Hart starred in those victories.
Here's a guy who is doing pretty well for an undrafted free agent in the NFL for a premier team - the Colts (wonder what his conversations are like with former Michigan State star Blair White, who also made the Colts as an undrafted free agent).
Yet, Hart's part in the lore of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry is that the Wolverines have not beaten the Spartans in football or basketball since Hart made those comments.
I think the lesson here is about humility. Hart didn't have much after the Wolverines' win in '07. And he is paying the price for it to this very day.


Validation? Lions have so much more to do than just one win

My column in Monday's Oakland Press on Lions' victory over Rams:

Also, I will be doing a live stream version of Caputo and His Boss with Jeff Kuehn at today at 12:30. Will get into Lions, MSU-Michigan, Red Wings, etc.


Friday, October 08, 2010

Michigan will beat Michigan State Saturday. This is why

I think Michigan will defeat Michigan State Saturday in Ann Arbor.
Michigan State has played well defensively, but hasn’t seen anything remotely like Wolverines’ quarterback Denard Robinson, who is truly unique.
Robinson is the fastest quarterback in the country. When he gets to the edge, he’s gone. Michigan’s offensive line is underrated. They will give Robinson just enough space to take off. And Robinson is a very good passer with excellent receivers like Roy Roundtree, Junior Hemmingway and Darryl Stonum, Martavious Odoms and Kelvin Grady. Robinson does spread the ball around well.
Now, I don’t think Michigan’s defense is going to be effective against MSU’s offense, either. State has a good group of running backs - led by Le’Veon Bell and Oak Park’s Edwin Baker - some threatening receivers and a good offensive line paced by Milford’s Joel Foreman. But MSU’s offense is prone to untimely turnovers. It’s the one thing that hasn’t been good about Spartans’ quarterback Kirk Cousins. Even in the Wisconsin victory last week, he was picked off a couple times. I do think it will be close and very high scoring. Something along the lines of 41-38.

Random Thoughts

- Nobody is calling this the steroids era anymore. Great pitching has taken over postseason baseball with tremendous games thrown by Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay. To me, it makes the games even more interesting. It had gotten to the point in baseball where the thrill was almost gone when a home run was hit. Now it means something again.

- The Lions have been great benefactors of the Michigan State-Michigan game hype. Jim Schwartz’s program is at a tipping point with an 0-4 record. The Lions should beat the Rams at home Sunday. If they don’t, it will be a good sign Schwartz is not any more effective a head coach as his predecessors.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

New arena in Detroit? What's wrong with The Palace?

I have no issue with the Ilitch family likely buying the Pistons and The Palace. I like the idea in many ways. Think it is a good thing.
But I do disagree with some of the blatant media cheerleading that is going on in regard to the possibility of it leading to a new arena, to house both the Red Wings and the Pistons, near Comerica Park and Ford Field in Detroit.
First of all, there is nothing wrong with The Palace. It is still state-of-the-art and - by the way - paid for, and a new arena in Detroit isn't going to be discernibly better.
Secondly, I heard from a very solid source that 70 percent of those buying tickets to Piston games since they moved to The Palace are from Oakland County. And it's more than 60 percent for Red Wing games at Joe Louis Arena. Seems like the more prudent thing to do is move the Red Wings to The Palace for awhile - if Joe Louis Arena is deemed too out-of-date.
Also, anybody who thinks a new arena is going to solve any of Detroit's major ills has their head buried in the sand.
Detroit's problems have long been corrupt "pay to play" government, abandoned homes and neighborhoods, crime and a flagging school system. That's where the focus should be.
A new arena in Detroit would be akin to putting a fancy hood ornament on a rusted out '75 avocado green Chevy Vega.
If Ilitch wants to put an arena in Detroit with his own money, you know, like William Davidson did with The Palace in Auburn Hills, cool. But otherwise, taxpayers should be wary - at least for awhile.

Random Thoughts

- I don't put much credence in close-but-no cigar losses by the Lions. An 0-4 start is just that - four straight defeats. Period. But it's the perception of the fans matters here. Are they buying into the tight losses being improvement? I think a sign will come whether the Lions sellout their game Sunday against the Rams.

- Despite losing to Arizona, I still see Iowa as clearly the second best team in the Big Ten behind Ohio State. The Hawkeyes were impressive in dismantling Penn State. But it was at Iowa. Happy Valley remains an ominous place to visit. It will be difficult for either or Michigan or Michigan State to win there.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

There should be absolute outrage Matt Millen is the analyst for the MSU-Michigan game

Some decisions are just wrong, disrespectful and despicable.
ESPN/ABC assigning Matt Millen to be the analyst for the Michigan State-Michigan game Saturday in Ann Arbor is one of them.
This state has struggled mightily economically and with its self-image. One of the worst aspects of that image's beating was the Lions' failure the eight years Millen was team president. The 0-16 season is directly on Millen. And so are all those bad draft picks, and one bad season after another.
But this goes beyond just the record and his ineptitude as a football executive. It's about Millen, the person, and the way he has conducted himself.
This is also about how he made a homophobic comment to former Lions' wide receiver Johnnie Morton on a road trip to Kansas City, blatantly bypassed the NFL's minority interviewing policy when he hired Steve Mariucci as Lions' head coach and referred to one of his players as a coward on a radio show.
There was the interview with Sports Illustrated upon his return to broadcasting when he insulted this state further by saying:
"I understand. In Detroit, they need a bad guy. I was a bad guy. I was to blame for the fall of the auto industry and the housing market. Somehow, I had something to do with Kwame Kilpatrick, although I'm not sure what. But that's what happens when you lose in this game. You give everyone a cheap and easy story to jump on.''
It wasn't a cheap and easy story. It was a long and painful journey. Eight years in football's version of Hades. Millen would have been just as vilified if the economy was going great guns and Kwame the male version of Mother Teresa. He has no credibility in this state. None.
Now this state's moved on, ever-so-slowly pulling itself out of the hole. Millen has moved on, too. Good for him. Have him do the Iowa game then. Not the biggest MSU-Michigan game in a decade, forcing millions of people in this state to listen what they only know too well is utter pablum.
You know who should try to do something about this? Channel 7. They are starting their happy, giddy "We've got the big game" talk this week on their newscasts. Well, what about this issue? Going to cover it? It's news. A lot of chatter about it on Twitter, that's for sure. Oh, and what about how your listeners are so important to you, and how much you care about them? Do you care enough to stand up to the insensitive flack at your network for doing this to "your people?"

Random Thoughts

- It is no great surprise the Ilitch family is going to purchase the Pistons. I wrote in a column this summer I thought it would work out well for Piston fans. I wouldn't have said that a few years back, but the Ilitch family has done a much better job when it comes to keeping the goofy stuff out out of their operations since Chris Ilitch has been put in the key operating position. Also, Tom Wilson and several people who were at The Palace for decades are already in place. They know what they are doing, and understand not only this area, but the NBA exceptionally well.
My only concern is the same as everyone else: It's gives the Ilitch family a virtual monopoly on the entertainment dollars in this area.
We'll have to see how it plays out.

- I just don't see any other scenario developing other than another Yankees-Phillies World Series. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?


Monday, October 04, 2010

My thoughts on Dave Dombrowski's so-called "state of the Tigers"

Not much of what Tigers’ general manager Dave Dombrowski said Sunday was surprising.
The Tigers will bring back Brandon Inge. They will likely get a bit of a hometown discount. They want Jhonny Peralta to be their shortstop next season, but will try to sign him long-term for less than the $7 million per season his contract option calls for, should they automatically pick it up. The Tigers will also try to re-sign Magglio Ordonez, but only for considerably less than the $18 million he made last season. At this stage, Ordonez is a $7 million per year player. His agent, Scott Boras, undoubtedly will shop Ordonez around to get more than that.
They made the right moves by letting everyone know up front Johnny Damon and Gerald Laird won’t be back. Dombrowski also sees Alex Avila as the Tigers’ primary catcher next season, which to me was the only surprise. I just don’t see where Avila made significant progress in 2010.
Phil Coke will move into the starting pitching rotation, a move I thought might happen this year. The Tigers need a lefty in the rotation, but it does leave a hole in the bullpen, which manager Jim Leyland said is their most pressing need.
I see the Tigers adding a fourth- or fifth-starter type in the rotation, veteran help for the bullpen and a middle of the order hitter. Could be via trade or free agency. They definitely need power.
They won’t do anything at second base. I think their second baseman of the future will be neither Will Rhymes nor Scott Sizemore, but rather Danny Worth. Of all the position players the Tigers brought to the major leagues who were honed strictly by their system this season, I was impressed the most by Worth. He is a very good fielder with a surprisingly live bat.

Random Thoughts

- If the Heisman Trophy voting were held today, how could Denard Robinson not win it? Michigan hasn’t lost a game and he has been beyond brilliant. It’s one of the best five-game stretches in the history of college football. Hope Michigan fans are appreciating the true greatness of this kid’s talent.

- I had an American League Rookie of the Year vote this year. This is what my ballot looked like:
1. Austin Jackson
2. Neftali Feliz
3. Danny Valencia
Feliz had a brilliant year, but Jackson is an every day player at a premier defensive position contributing more overall. Sealing the deal for me was Jackson’s superior defensive play. If it wasn’t in conjunction with solid hitting numbers across the board, I would have put Feliz first on my ballot.


Two points? 20 points? Who Cares? It was another Lions' loss in Green Bay

Michigan-Michigan State game will be a team vs. one man, Denard Robinson