Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Is The Phillies Rotation As Good As The Team Of The 90’s?

I’m sure Voss will have an opinion on this subject since pitching is his true expertise but now that the dust has settled on the Cliff Lee signing I wanted to take a few minutes and discuss the rotation that is already being touted as one of the best ever and how it compares to my favorite team of the 90’s(besides the Tigers) the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves Hall of Fame rotation Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz mixed with a little Steve Avery, Jason Schmidt, Kent Mercker, Kevin Millwood, or any other young pitcher from the system that they could plug in the Braves rode their staff to a record 14 straight division titles (’94 was the strike season in which the Braves were in 2nd place at the time) and dominated in all pitching categories during the 90’s.

The current Phillies team is looking at a very similar situation in which they have three very capable number one guys in perennial Cy Young candidates Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, followed closely behind by Roy Oswalt, and add youngster Cole Hamels and his 3.53 career ERA as the 4th starter and Kyle Kendrick as the possible 5th and you have the makings of another dominant rotation in the NL East.

To compare further let’s take a look at the current Phillies and how the Braves pitchers compared at that time in their career. For the Braves, I’ll use the ’96 club that won the teams only World Series of the decade.

Roy Halladay (33) – 13 Seasons, 169-86, 3.32 ERA, 1,714 K’s, 1.04 WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched), 2 Cy Young’s, Led the league in wins twice
Greg Maddux – (32) – @ 13 Seasons, 202-117, 2.76 ERA, 2,024, 1.11 WHIP, 4 Cy Young’s, Led the league in wins and ERA 3 times
Advantage: Maddux

Cliff Lee (31) – 9 Seasons, 102-61, 3.85 ERA, 1,085 K’s, 1.26 WHIP, 1 Cy Young, Led the league in wins and ERA once
Tom Glavine (29) – @ 9 Seasons, 124-82, 3.52 ERA, 1,031 K’s, 1.30 WHIP, 1 Cy Young, Led the league in wins 3 times and losses once
Advantage: Glavine but by a smaller margin than first expected based on leading the league in wins 3 times

Roy Oswalt (32) – 10 Seasons, 150-83, 3.18 ERA, 1666 K’s, 1.18 WHIP, led the league in wins and ERA once each time.
John Smoltz (30) - @ 10 Seasons, 129-102, 3.40 ERA, 1,769 K’s, 1.20 WHIP, 1 Cy Young, Led the league in wins once and strike outs twice
Advantage: Oswalt barely but Smoltz’s Cy Young almost makes it a push

Cole Hamels (26) – 5 Seasons, 60-45, 3.53 ERA, 897 K’s, 1.18 WHIP
Steve Avery (24) - @ 5 Seasons, 58-39, 3.58 ERA, 588 K’s, 1.25 WHIP
Advantage: Hamels

Kyle Kendrick (25) 4 Seasons, 35-24, 4.69 ERA, 216 K’s, 1.43 WHIP
Jason Schmidt (25) - @ 4 Seasons, 28-31, 4.65 ERA, 387 K’s, 1.48 WHIP
Advantage: Push although Schmidt wasn’t with the Braves at by his fourth season

So upon further review I have to say that the potential 2011 Phillies rotation could be as or more dominant as the team of the 90’s the Atlanta Braves. Maddux and Glavine only slightly edge out Halladay and Lee but remember Maddux is possibly the best pitcher in the past 50 years so that’s saying a lot for Halladay. The bottom of the rotation is what clinches it for Philly with Oswaly, Hamels, and even Kendrick edging out their competition.

Lastly let’s remember that the Braves did this with a decade so the question will be can Philadelphia keep this rotation together for more than a couple years and finally let’s all keep in mind that this rotation is just on paper and they still have to go out and prove themselves.

If I was a Philly fan I would be excited to turn on the TV every night as the potential for something very special could happen at any time with these guys.

- sK

Bobby Higginson: HOFer, er SOB

According to this report by, this is the year Bobby Higginson is eligible for the Hall of Fame. 

SI: Hall of Fame: The First Round

Todd Zeile received zero votes last year and he had 2,000 hits.  Is it possible for a player to receive negative votes?

"Hey Bob-EEE!"  (Robert DeNiro, The Fan)
I remember very clearly the day Bobby Higginson fell out of favor with me as a baseball fan.  July 1st, 1997.

The previous day in a home game against the New York Mets, Mr. Higginson went up to the plate 5 times.  In two of those appearances he walked (not official at-bats).  His other 3 appearances:

1st inning:  Home run
6th inning:  Home run
7th inning:  Home run

3 home runs in 3 consecutive at-bats.  The record, at the time, was 4 home runs in 4 consecutive at-bats, held by multiple players.  But no one had hit 5.  Higginson would have the opportunity to tie and beat that record the next day.

June 30th, 1997 Tigers 14-1 over the Mets

The next day, July 1st, my friends and I rushed down The Lodge to catch the next game in the series between the Tigers and Mets at Tiger Stadium  We took our usual spots in left field, upper deck.  Higginson was batting second that day, and in the bottom of the first inning he came up to the plate against Mets pitcher Bobby Jones:

Home run.

4 home runs in 4 consecutive at-bats (over two days).  He had tied the record, with more than a good chance to break it.  His next at-bat would come in the bottom of the 3rd inning.  We were obviously excited about the opportunity to watch the record fall.  Then this happened:

Pitch 1:  Strike (looking)
Pitch 2:  Ball*
Pitch 3:  Ball
Pitch 4:  Strike (looking)
Pitch 5:  Strike (looking)

5 pitches, 3 strikes, no swings.  Last time I checked you can't hit a home run without swinging the bat.  And you can't break a Major League Baseball record for consecutive at-bats with a home run without swinging the bat.

July 1st, 1997 Tigers 8-6 over the Mets

Now granted, the guy did just hit 4 home runs in two days, so failing in one at-bat does seem like a petty reason to turn on the guy.  But I've never been one to be above petty baseball grievances.  As the SI article points out, the 1998 season was his last decent season.  All down hill from there. This was the guy who personified the Tigers spending spree on young players, only to see them fade out quickly after. He also ushered in one of the worst era's in Tiger baseball and never played a season with a winning record.  So the distaste for one poor at-bat, while probably not justified, proved out to be a correct indicator of things to come.

(Holy Deivi Cruz, check out Bob Hamelin's name in those box scores.  How much fun was Bob Hamelin?)

- John

*This probably isn't the exact order of the pitches, but the count was 2-2 when he struck out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Adrian Beltre

I liked this article from  What to expect in the free agent front. It has been very quiet for some time now. If no one is bidding on Beltre, and he could possibly be had for a bargain, than why did the Tigers rush to sign Brandon Inge at thirdbase?  Like him or not, there would be much more Tiger discussion right now if we had an opening for Beltre in the line-up.

What's In Store For January: "
Here's what to expect as we prepare to enter 2011...

Boras Clients Will Find Homes

Last January, Matt Holliday, Adrian Beltre, Rick Ankiel, and Xavier Nady signed. This offseason Scott Boras still has to place top clients Beltre and Rafael Soriano despite no signs of bidding wars breaking out. He also has to find homes for Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Andruw Jones, Kevin Millwood, and Bruce Chen, among others. A year ago, Damon talk dominated January and he didn't sign with the Tigers until late February.

The rest of the article here:  What's In Store for January

Monday, December 20, 2010

Projected 2011 Tigers Lineup

A few of the Freep writers recently projected their thoughts on what the 2011 Tigers lineup would look like.  The consistencies are at lead off and middle of the order.  Noticeably missing is Brennan Boesch from all lineups.  Here's a look:

Tom Gage
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Will Rhymes or Scott Sizemore, 2B
3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Ryan Raburn, LF
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Brandon Inge, 3B
Note: If Carlos Guillen is healthy, he plays 2B and bats 6th

Lynn Henning
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Ryan Raburn, LF
3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
7. Alex Avila, C
8. Scott Sizemore, 2B
9. Brandon Inge, 3B
Notes: if Rhymes wins 2B, he bats 2nd and Raburn 8th

Tony Paul
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Wil Rhymes, 2B
3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, C
6. Ryan Raburn, LF
7. Jhnonny Peralta, SS
8. Brandon Inge, 3B
9. Alex Avila, C
Notes: If Gullien is healthy, he plays 2B and bats 2nd

As you can see there are still lots of holes in this lineup particularly in the 8 and 9 spot with questions if Austin Jackson can repeat his rookie campaign, is Ryan Raburn and everyday starter or will he platoon with Boesch and so on.

One way or another I'll take it over last year...

Only 8 weeks to pitchers and catchers report.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Tigers Interested in Penny

According to's Jon Paul Morosi, the Detroit Tigers are rumored to be interested in Brad Penny and were in on Shawn Marcum before he was traded to Milwaukee earlier in the month.

Penny started 9 games for the Cardinals last year at the age of 32 and went 3-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 55.2 innings pitched, striking out 35, walking 9 and giving up 63 hits (1.29 WHIP) while earning $7.5m on a 1-year deal.

Penny has spent 11 years in the majors, with 10 of them being in the national league mostly between the Marlins and Dodgers.  Brad's one year in the AL with the Red Sox, he posted his second highest ERA of his career at 5.61.

Baseball compares Penny closely to Todd Stottelmyre, Vicente Padilla, Ken Hill, and Randy Wolf at the age of 32.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tigers To Re-Sign Magglio Ordonez

According to, the Detroit Tigers have resigned Magglio Ordonez to a 1-year $10m contract.

I like this deal based on length (maybe not exactly the money) whereas I was expecting a two-year commitment of about $16-18 to lock Magglio up. This will give the Tigers a little more flexibility next off season which promises to have a stronger free-agent market then 2010.

Tigers To Re-Sign Magglio Ordonez: "
The Tigers agreed to re-sign Magglio Ordonez to a one-year deal worth $10MM, according to Jon Heyman of (Twitter link). Ordonez, a Scott Boras client, turned down two-year offers elsewhere, according to Heyman.

Before fracturing his right ankle last July, the 36-year-old batted .303/.378/.474 in 365 plate appearances. He'll likely return to right field for the Tigers, which will presumably push Ryan Raburn into competition with Brennan Boesch and Don Kelly for the team's everyday left field job.

The Rangers and Red Sox reportedly had interest in Ordonez, who remained optimistic about returning to Detroit. Over the weekend, 39% of 10,000 MLBTR readers correctly predicted that the Tigers would re-sign Ordonez.

Until Ordonez injured his ankle, it seemed likely that his 2011 option would vest for $15MM. Instead, the Tigers declined arbitration - a good move given the $18MM salary Ordonez made last year - and re-signed him on the open market.

The Tigers entered the offseason with a number of needs, but GM Dave Dombrowski has addressed most of them already. The team re-signed Ordonez, Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta and signed Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit. If Dombrowski is comfortable with Armando Galarraga and Phil Coke at the back of his rotation, the rest of the winter could be relatively quiet for the Tigers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Atlanta Braves Top 10 Prospects

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects for the Atlanta Braves include guys Freddie Freeman and Mike Minor who are ready to contribute on opening day 2011 as well as some big arms in Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, and Arodys Vizcaino who could be used as trade bait or most likely are a year to two away.

Atlanta Braves Top 10 Prospects: "We rank the best prospects in Atlanta's system."


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Detroit Tigers Top 10 Prospects

According to Baseball America the Detroit  Tigers top 10 prospects in 2011 are as follows:
1. Jacob Turner, RHP
2. Nick Castellanos, 3B
3. Andy Oliver, LHP
4. Francisco Martinez, 3B
5. Daniel Fields, OF
6. Casey Crosby, LHP
7. Chance Ruffin, RHP
8. Drew Smyly, LHP
9. Avisail Garcia, OF
10. Jose Ortega, RHP

It seems like biggest impact from these prospects could be Andy Oliver who had a  taste of the show last year, Casey Crosby although that is questionable as he is recovering from injury yet again, and Chance Ruffin a reliever who was moving up through the system quickly.

Turner, we have to believe is still a year away although he will see some spring innings and Castellanos will need to seasoning in the minors before seeing any Major League time and has to be considered at least two years away.

To find out more on who Baseball America says has the best tools in the Tigers system, as well as a projected 2014 lineup, and more click here.


Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects

Baseball America's ranking of the Phillies top 10 prospects.

Dominic Brown is by far and away the top prospect in the system and has very good power potential. Brown should be ready to step in and take over for the departed Jayson Werth in the spring.

I wouldn't consider any player other then Brown in contention for a starting roster spot let alone an impact player in 2011.

Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects: "We rank the best prospects in Philadelphia's system."


Tigers need one more bat to make run at AL Central title

Have to agree with Henning here as the Tigers need one more bat to make a run in the AL Central in 2011. Bosch in the 3-hole was nice if he was hitting but don't count on that as he's not even guaranteed a spot on the opening day roster at this point. Oddly enough the biggest impact bat out there is Mags still.

Lynn Henning: Tigers need one more bat to make run at AL Central title: "The Tigers probably will pony up to bring back Magglio Ordonez. They need a certified professional hitter in that No. 3 slot to maximize the 1-2 punch they figure to get from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez."


Friday, December 10, 2010

Tigers' Jim Leyland expects easy transition out of 'pen for Phil Coke

Quick write up from Tony Paul on Leyland looking for smooth transition from Coke in transition from the pen to the rotation.

To me, I'm not sold but Leyland has to say that Coke (and Gallaraga for that matter) are viable options at this point as the Tigers don't seem to be players in any other impact starters at this point and Leyland will have to make do with what he has.

Tony Paul: Tigers' Jim Leyland expects easy transition out of 'pen for Phil Coke: "When the Tigers made that megatrade at last year's Winter Meetings, perhaps the least-talked about player in the deal was Phil Coke. Yet, in 2010, he proved one of the two most valuable members of the Tigers bullpen."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Remaining Free Agents, Who Would You Take?

Below is a list of remaining free agents. The Tigers options continue to dwindle as a flurry of activity occurred the last few days at the winter meetings.

We'll get to the Crawford and Werth signings but for the meantime take a look and tell me who'd want that's still on this list (minus Cliff Lee)?

My picks are Brandon Webb on a 1-year deal a-la Ben Sheets or even two, Mags at $8m (no way that is happening), if not Webb then Pavano,

BALTIMORE (7) - Mark Hendrickson, lhp; Cesar Izturis, ss; Julio Lugo, 2b; Kevin Millwood, rhp; Corey Pattterson, of; Koji Uehara

BOSTON (5) - Adrian Beltre, 3b; Bill Hall, 2b; Felipe Lopez, 3b; Mike Lowell, 1b; Jason Varitek, c.

CHICAGO (6) - Freddy Garcia, rhp; Andruw Jones, of; Mark Kotsay, dh; J.J. Putz, rhp; Manny Ramirez; of.

DETROIT (5) - Jeremy Bonderman, rhp; Johnny Damon, of; Gerald Laird, c; Magglio Ordonez, of; Bobby Seay, lhp.

KANSAS CITY (1) - Bruce Chen, lhp.

LOS ANGELES (2) - Hideki Matsui, dh; Scot Shields, rhp.

MINNESOTA (10) - Jesse Crain, rhp; Randy Flores, lhp; Brian Fuentes, lhp; Matt Guerrier, rhp; Orlando Hudson, 2b; Ron Mahay, lhp; Carl Pavano, rhp; Nick Punto, 3b, Jon Rauch, rhp; Jim Thome, dh.

NEW YORK (8) - Nick Johnson, dh; Austin Kearns, of; Chad Moeller, c; Andy Pettitte, lhp; Marcus Thames, dh; Kerry Wood, rhp.

OAKLAND (3) - Eric Chavez, 3b; Justin Duchscherer, rhp; Ben Sheets, rhp.

SEATTLE (4) - Josh Bard, c; Russell Branyan, 1b; Chris Woodward, ss; Jamey Wright, rhp.

TAMPA BAY (10) - Rocco Baldelli, dh; Grant Balfour, rhp; Randy Choate, lhp; Brad Hawpe, of; Gabe Kapler, of; Chad Qualls, rhp; Rafael Soriano, rhp; Dan Wheeler, rhp.

TEXAS (6) - Jorge Cantu, inf; Vladimir Guerrero, dh; Cristian Guzman, inf; Cliff Lee, lhp; Bengie Molina, c; Matt Treanor, c.

TORONTO (4) - Scott Downs, lhp; Kevin Gregg, rhp; Miguel Olivo, c; Lyle Overbay, 1b.

ARIZONA (6) - Kris Benson, rhp; Mike Hampton; lhp; Aaron Heilman, rhp; Adam LaRoche, 1b; Rodrigo Lopez, rhp; Brandon Webb, rhp.

ATLANTA (4) - Rick Ankiel, of; Kyle Farnsworth, rhp; Troy Glaus, 1b; Derrek Lee, 1b.

CHICAGO (1) - Xavier Nady, of-1b.

CINCINNATI (8) - Willie Bloomquist, of; Orlando Cabrera, ss; Miguel Cairo, 3b; Jim Edmonds, of; Mike Lincoln, rhp; Arthur Rhodes, lhp; Russ Springer, rhp.

COLORADO (6) - Joe Beimel, lhp; Octavio Dotel, rhp; Jeff Francis, lhp; Jason Giambi, 1b; Jay Payton, of.

FLORIDA (3) - Will Ohman, lhp; Jorge Sosa, rhp; Chad Tracy, 3b.

HOUSTON (1) - Brian Moehler, rhp.

LOS ANGELES (5) - Brad Ausmus, c; Reed Johnson, c; Vicente Padilla, rhp; Scott Podsednik, of; Jeff Weaver, rhp.

MILWAUKEE (6) - David Bush, rhp; Chris Capuano, lhp; Craig Counsell, ss; Doug Davis, lhp; Trevor Hoffman, rhp; Gregg Zaun, c.

NEW YORK (5) - Henry Blanco, c; Elmer Dessens, rhp; Kelvim Escobar, rhp; Pedro Feliciano, lhp; Fernando Tatis, inf-of.

PHILADELPHIA (3) - Chad Durbin, rhp; J.C. Romero, lhp; Mike Sweeney, 1b.

PITTSBURGH (1) - Chan Ho Park, rhp.

ST. LOUIS (8) - Pedro Feliz, 3b; Jason LaRue, c; Mike MacDougal, rhp; Aaron Miles, 2b; Brad Penny, rhp; Dennys Reyes, lhp; Jeff Suppan, rhp; Randy Winn, of.

SAN DIEGO (5) - David Eckstein, 2b; Jerry Hairston Jr., ss; Matt Stairs, of; Chris Young, rhp.

SAN FRANCISCO (3) - Jose Guillen, of; Guillermo Mota, rhp; Edgar Renteria, ss.

WASHINGTON (4) - Miguel Batista, rhp; Willie Harris, of; Adam Kennedy, 2b; Kevin Mench, of


Seattle Mariners Top 10 Prospects

Check out Baseball America's ranking of the Mariners top prospects in the system. Ackley and Pineda are by far the top tier. I would expect Ackley to head north with the Mariners after spring training as their starting second baseman.

Seattle Mariners Top 10 Prospects: "We rank the best prospects in Seattle's system."


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Magglio Ordonez Rumors: Wednesday

Looks like more teams entering into talks for Mags....

Magglio Ordonez Rumors: Wednesday: "

The latest on Magglio Ordonez...

  • The Red Sox appear to be focusing on Ordonez in their search for an outfielder, reports CBS Sports' Danny Knobler. This would not be good news for Carl Crawford. The Tigers, Phillies, and Orioles are also said to be in the mix for Maggs. Ordonez is coming off a broken ankle, but worked out for teams today. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says Boras is seeking at least two years and $20MM.

UPDATE: More info on Mags working out for the 4 teams including the Tigers.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hot Stove Heating Up For Nats & Orioles

As the hot stove heats up there have been some surprising moves (Werth dearl) and some not so surprising moves (Gonzalez trade) but most shocking to me at this point are two of the more active teams who seem to be very aggressive in the market although taking difference approaches and that’s the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles.

The Nats of course made headlines by overpaying for Jayson Werth and giving him a Matt Holliday type contract for only three years of reasonable production to base it on (was a platoon player before that). N ow there is plenty of speculation that the Nats are going to toss a very large number at Cliff Lee who is also rumored to be looking for seven years.

The Orioles on the other hand are quietly having a strong offseason while acquiring Mark Reynolds today from the D’backs for a pair of mid-tier prospects, are close to trading for superb shortstop Jason Bartlett (for Nolan Reimold), and are now rumored to possibly be pursuing a trade for Prince Fielder from the Brewers. The addition of Reynolds, Bartlett, and Fielder to an offense that already boosts Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Brian Roberts, and Matt Weiters makes this team even more intriguing. Then again they will only go as far as their young but talented pitching staff allows them.

You can check out more rumors from around the league at CBS MLB facts and rumors

- SK

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jayson Werth Signs for 7 years / $126 Million

The Washington Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a 7 year, $126mm deal (roughly $18 million per year). While it would have been great to see Werth in Detroit next season this contract seems way too hefty. The Nationals needed someone to replace Adam Dunn, who just signed with the White Sox. But investing this heavily in one player does not seem to be the right move for a team so far away from contention. In the short term it might sell so more tickets, but long term it could hold the team back from contending. Adding a piece like Werth would seem to make sense for a team who needs the final piece of the puzzle (like the Tigers?) but not for a team looking for him to carry the load the rest of his career.

The contract is eerily similar to the one the Tigers reportedly offered to Juan Gonzalez in 2000. 8 Years / $140 mm (roughly 17.5 million per year). Gonzalez declined the contract. Juan "Gone" played in six more seasons after that contract was offered, and only three of those could be argued as productive (and in one of those three he only played in 82 games). He hit 94 homeruns total after that point. Gonzalez was 31 in 2000. Werth will be 32 next season. Gonzalez had played 4 more years of professorial baseball than Werth at the same point. Oh, also he had two MVP's (1996 and 1998) to Jayson Werth's zero MVPs.

Now 10 years is a long gap to compare contracts in MLB, but Randy Smith looks like a genius (that was tough to type) for his contract offer to Juan Gonzalez. (In comparison only. Randy Smith is not a genius. Repeat: Randy Smith is not a genius). Tigers fans look back on that as the bullet dodged. Think about if the Tigers had Gonzalez's contract for 8 years and were not able to sign Pudge or Magglio. No World Series appearance in 2006 for the Tigers. What numbers is Werth going to have to put up in order to value out for that contract to be considered a success? It's not exactly what Mark Teixeira got from the Yankees ($180 million for 8 years, $22.5 million per year). But the Nationals are not exactly in the same position the Yankees are to be overspending for players.

Overall, it’s probably not the worst contract, and good for Werth for grabbing it. However, for a team like the Nationals who have so many woes, it would seem that money could be more efficiently spent for long term success. Similar to how Tigers fans are glad the Gonzalez deal did not happen, Nationals fans will be wishing the Werth deal hadn’t happened.

Links to more commentary/reaction can be found a

- John