Tigers sign pitchers Lyon, Williamson

Since no one has posted this or said anything about it, let’s weigh in… Good? Bad? Who cares?

From the Detroit Free Press, Jan. 24, 2009

The Tigers have signed free agent relievers Brandon Lyon and Scott Williamson, the team announced at TigerFest today.

Lyon, 29, is the headliner, after saving 26 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. He spent most of the 2008 season as Arizona’s closer and should enter spring training with a good chance to win the same job here. Fernando Rodney, who has been more effective as a setup reliever, is among the other candidates.

Lyon's one-year contract includes a $4.25 million base salary and $500,000 in performance bonuses. He turned down at least one multiyear offer in order to sign with Detroit. Right-hander Eddie Bonine was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot.

Lyon struggled in the second half last year, finishing with a 3-5 record and 4.70 ERA in 61 appearances. He ultimately lost the closer’s job to Chad Qualls.

In an interview with the Free Press last week, Diamondbacks pitching coach Bryan Price called Lyon “a quality pitcher and even better guy.”

“The unfortunate thing is he had a stretch where he struggled at home in non-save situations and jacked his ERA up, but there were some periods of time where he was dominant,” Price said. “The ERA is going to be misleading because he really did have a terrific year.”

Price said a comparison could be drawn between Lyon and Jose Valverde, the National League saves leader in each of the past two seasons. Price alluded to the fact that Valverde had a 5.84 ERA as recently as the 2006 season.

“Valverde didn’t really figure out the role the first three years he tried it,” Price said. “He had a heckuva grace period and learned to be outstanding at what he does. That could apply to Brandon Lyon, too. He could be an outstanding closer.

“The one thing people know about him in the National League is that he’s a very, very good setup guy who can face righties and lefties.”

In explaining Lyon’s performance after the All-Star break last year, Price said he “got away from being a four-pitch pitcher.” Rather than keep hitters off-balance with an array of fastballs, curveballs, changeups and cut fastballs, Lyon relied on his fastball and curve. He became more predictable, and, consequently, more hittable.

Price said Lyon shows good focus on the mound and is “extremely prepared.”

“Brandon likes a challenge,” Price said. “He has one of those underappreciated skills – accountability. He’s going to take ownership of his failures and not make a big to-do about his successes. He’s old-school baseball. Coaches and managers love that.”

Williamson last pitched in the majors with Baltimore in 2007, when he went 1-0 with a 4.40 ERA in 16 appearances. Because of his injury history, Williamson, who turns 33 next month, signed a minor league contract.

Williamson has 55 career saves – but only one since 2003.

Dear Mr. Fantasy

Here I am this morning with Detroit native, Catholic Central phenom and former Tiger Frank Tanana. The Tigers held the first of two fantasy camps this week here at Tigertown. No I didn't attend, but I stopped by Joker Marchant Stadium for the end-of-camp game between campers and former Tigers.

Along with Tanana I saw Mickey Lolich, Jon Warden, Jim Price, Dave Rozema, Steve Kemp, Guillermo Hernandez, Matt Nokes, Mike Heath, Ike Blessit, Darrell Evans, Milt Wilcox and Dave Bergman. I complimented Bergman on his great at bat in that nationally televised Monday night game in 1984, and he modestly claimed he got lucky. It was great to see the former Tigers having fun in the sun.

To see more photos visit http://picasaweb.google.com/Thomas.hagerty/DetroitTigersFantasyCamp#

Rick Knapp, Tiger Pitching Coach, talks about, well, pitchers

Contrary to our plagiarizing ways of the past, I'll just point you to this interesting article in the Detroit News by Lynn Henning.

(Hurts to see the Tiger's pitching coach is 11 years younger than me.)

Is Leyland a lame duck?

One of the Free Press sports writers had a column today, calling Leyland a lame duck. He is only signed through this season. He wanted an extension, but it was not granted after last year. Basically, last year we hired a bunch of ball players, but they wre never formed in to a team - last time I checked that is what Jim is paid for. He worked wonders in 2006, but some of it was started by Trammell. What is Leyland's future? Is he better suited to be a National League maanger? Whay say ye?

Tigers agree to terms with RHP Juan Rincon on minor league deal

This just in from the Tigers Media Relations Department:

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers today announced the club has agreed to terms on a minor league contract with righthanded pitcher Juan Rincon. Rincon will be in major league camp with the Tigers this spring as a non-roster invitee.

Rincon saw action with both the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians during the 2008 season, compiling a 3-3 record and 5.86 ERA (55.1IP/36ER) in 47 appearances between the two clubs.

In eight seasons at the major league level with the Twins (2001-08) and Indians (2008), Rincon has posted a 31-27 record, 3.80 ERA (468.1IP/198ER) and 431 strikeouts in 409 outings (three starts). He is fourth among all American League pitchers with 395 appearances since the start of the 2003 season, while he is second among all league relievers with 31 wins and fourth with 434.0 innings pitched during the stretch.

Rincon was among the players selected to the Venezuelan provisional roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic announced Monday.

Now that's an apetite

Today I was manning the drivethru window during lunch. A customer came through and ordered two Whoppers, twl large frioes and two large onion rings. I asked him if he wanted anything to eat. He declined. When he pulled up to the window, I smiled when I realized the customer was none other than the last 30 game winner in MLB, Dennis Dale McLain - kind of thrilling

Who is the Manager's manager?

There have been 45 managers in the history of the Detroit Tigers. I will highlight some of them, with some stories interspersed.

Hughie Jennings (.538 - his winning record while a Tiger manager) was the manager from 1907-1920, winning three American League pennants in 1907,1908,1909.

Ty Cobb (.519) was the Tiger manager from 1921-1926, not as successful as a manager as a player.

Mickey Cochrane (.582) was the manager from 1934-1938,winning the World Series in 1935.

Steve O'Neill (.551) was the manager from 1943-1948, winning the World Series in 1945, Steve was one of four brothers who all played professional ball.

Jimmy Dykes (.506) managed the Tigers in 59 and 60. He was involved in the only deal in which two managers were traded for each other. Jimmy ended up in Cleveland and Joe Gordon (.456) came here - the trade didn't work out for either team.

Charlie Dressen (.539) was the skipper from 1963-66. Charlie was given credit for beginning the assemble of the 68 Tigers. He was famoulsy quoted for saying, "Just hold them, boys, until I think of soemthing!" Charlie had 2 heart attacks while managing and actually died of kidney failure on 8-10-66.

Charlie was suceeded by Bob Swift (.566). Bob only finished out 1966 as he died of cancer on 10-17-66, a little over 2 months after Charlie.

Mayo Smith (.560) took over from 1967-1970. Teh Tigers lost the pennant in 1967 to the Red Sox on the very last day of the season, but came back to be the '68 World Champs. I can remeber that like it was yesterday, including celebrating in Kennedy Square and throwing our classmate, Jim Stokes, in the water there. Mayo made on of the boldest managerial decisions of al time. He had four good outfielders (Horton, Northrup, Kaline, and Stanley) and wanted to play them all in the Series, especially the veteran Kaline. He also had the weak hitting shortstop, Ray Oyler who went 0 for August - so Stanley was installed at short and the rest in History.

Next up was the venerable Billy Martin (.549) from 71-73. Billy had a reputation for not getting along with veterans and for burning out young pitchers. He managed many times, but always seemed to wear out his welcome, especially with George Steinbrenner. While with the Yanks, it was Martin who brought the amount of pine tar on George Brett's bat to the attention of the umps. On 8-13-72 he drew the tiger line up out of a hat - what a maverick. The phrase "Billy Ball" was coined because of how Billy liked to use the hit and run, steal bases, and use the suqeeze play (7 of Rod Carew's 19 steals in 1969 were of home plate). Billy was killed on Christmas Day in 1989 in a car accident -alcohol rules again.

Sparky Anderson (.576) from 1979-95 , managed the '84 champs, when the TIgs jumped out to a 35-5 start. I was lucky enough to be in attendance when the Tigs won the last game against Oakland, right before all hell broke loose in Detroit.. Sparky was known as "Captain Hook". in 1989 Sparky took a month off becuase the stress got to him - Dick Tracewski was in charge. Sparky finally retired following the '95 season, although management was frustrated by Sparky when he refused to play the replacement players during spring training in "95. The term "Bless You Boys" was coined in Sparky's tenuire and he even got to meet the pope. When Sparky entered the Hall of Fame he chose to do it as a Cincinatti Red, he had managed the Big Red Machine from '70-'78, winning two World Series in 75 and 76. Personally, I have not forgiven Sparky for choosing to be remebered as a Red and not a Tiger.

Alan Trammell (.383) 2003-2005, lost 119 games in 2003. Although his record was poor, Alan is credited with re-instilling professionalism and pride in Detroit and with strating the ball rolling for the AL Champs of 2006.

Jim Leyland (.586) 2006- . Began his career as a minor league catcher for the Tigers. Managed the Pirates, Marlins, and Rockies before coming to Detroit and being named manager of the year with the exciting team in 2006. I witnessed the clincher against the Yankees and the A's and actually had seats to the only game the Tigers won in the World Series, when Kenny Rodgers put something extra on the ball. Did leyland have the team ready in 2008 with that expensive payroll? Will he have them ready in 2009?

Time will tell ---

A Present from long, long ago

My wife brought it home several years ago from a library used book sale in Ohio. "The Detroit Tigers" by Fred Lieb, copyright 1946. I was thrilled when she first gave it to me, but once I started trying to wade through the turgid prose of that era, I quickly lost my enthusiasm.

Using terms of affection like "The Jungeliers" threw me for a loop, and his style of telling the story of a ball game is quite a bit different that what we read today. Instead of the "inverted pyramid" style we read in the Free Fress today; "The Tiger bullpen had another blowout last night, giving up three runs in the eight, and losing the game 7-6." Lieb might write "It was dark and blustery as the Jungeliers took the field for morning batting practice yesterday..."

But Lieb does excel at giving some background, like the fueds between Cobb and Crawford and some of the other players. (Since Cobb was still alive and no doubt packing a pistol when the book was written, one wonders what reaction Lieb got from him.)

Lieb revels in the Tigers' 1945 World Series victory in closing the book with "Frank Navin must be happy; his Tigers are the World's Cahmpions and Briggs Stadium in Detroit is one of the few big-league parks where they still play all their games under the sun."

You can almost here him singing "and the home of the the braaave!"

All in all, I'm glad my bride gave it to me, and if you're interested, you can usually find it on E-Bay for $12-$50 depending on it's condition, first edition, second edition or paperback reprint. (No, my copy is not for sale.)

Tigers agree to terms with Taiwanese lefty Fu-Te Ni

Fresh from the Tigers' PR Dept.:

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers today announced the club has agreed to terms on a minor league deal with lefthanded pitcher Fu-Te Ni from Taiwan. Ni will be in major league camp with the Tigers this spring as a non-roster invitee.

Ni spent the past two seasons pitching for the China Trust Whales in the Chinese Professional Baseball League. In 2008, he finished 5-12 with a 3.34 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 145.1 innings pitched. Ni led the CPBL with 132 strikeouts in 2008. He finished 7-12 with a 3.53 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 122.1 innings pitched during the 2007 season. Ni finished third in the CPBL with 125 strikeouts that season, while he was eighth with his 3.53 ERA.

“Our personnel that have scouted Ni project him as a major league pitcher,” Tigers President, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager David Dombrowski said. “The efforts by Al Avila (vice president/assistant general manager), Tom Moore (director, international operations), Kevin Hooker (pacific rim coordinator) and Allen Lin (Taiwan scout) have brought this well-scouted prospect to our organization. We are pleased to add Ni as we continue to expand our international scouting efforts.”

He saw action with the Taiwan National Team at the 2007 Baseball World Cup, while he also pitched for Taiwan at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Ni is slated to pitch for Taiwan at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.Ni is the second native of Taiwan signed by the Tigers organization, joining outfielder Chao-Ting Tang. Tang was signed by the Tigers on April 28, 2008 and he saw action with the Gulf Coast League Tigers this past season.

Henderson, Rice elected to Hall of Fame

NEW YORK (AP)—Rickey Henderson’s specialty was scoring runs. Jim Rice’s job was to knock ‘em in.

No matter how they did it, though, few players frightened opposing pitchers more than the two newest members of the baseball Hall of Fame.

Henderson and Rice were elected in balloting announced Monday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, vastly different stars now headed to Cooperstown together.

Henderson zipped in on his first try, Rice with a final swing. Henderson played for nine teams, Rice only one. Henderson built his game around speed, Rice a powerful stick.

“Rickey could make things happen. He was the type of guy that you wanted to keep off the bases,” said Rice, the Boston slugger who was previously passed over 14 times for the Hall. “During that time you needed players like that. You needed some excitement.”

The undisputed standard for leadoff hitters, Henderson received 94.8 percent of the vote, well above the 75 percent needed. Rice, among the game’s most feared boppers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, got 76.4 percent in his 15th and final year on the BBWAA ballot. Last year, he fell just shy with 72.2 percent.

“The only thing I can say is I’m glad it’s over with,” Rice said. “I’m in there and they can’t take it away.”

Henderson, baseball’s career leader in runs scored and stolen bases, became the 44th player elected in his first year of eligibility. Rice was only the third chosen by the BBWAA in his final year, joining Red Ruffing (1967) and Ralph Kiner (1975).

The pair will be inducted into the Hall during ceremonies July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y. They’ll be joined by former Yankees and Indians second baseman Joe Gordon, elected posthumously last month by the Veterans Committee.

“It’s really just an honor to me. I’m really just spaced out,” Henderson said. “I haven’t really thought about what I’m going to say.”

Plenty of people are curious, though.

While Rice was known for his no-nonsense attitude, Henderson was renowned for his confounding comments. He has a penchant for referring to himself in the third person—at any point during a stream of sometimes indecipherable chatter.

“I can’t wait to hear his acceptance speech,” former teammate Willie Randolph said.

Henderson was picked on 511 of 539 ballots and Rice was selected on 412, just above the 405 needed.

Rice received only 29.8 percent of the vote in 1995, when he appeared on the ballot for the first time. He initially topped 50 percent in 2000 and reached 64.8 percent in 2006.
The highest percentage for a player who wasn’t elected in a later year was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.

Some thought Rice’s prickly personality and acrimonious relationship with reporters during his playing days helped keep him out of the Hall all those years.

“I don’t think I was difficult to deal with for writers. I think the writers were difficult to me,” he said. “I wasn’t going to badmouth my teammates. When you start talking about my teammates or what goes on outside baseball, I couldn’t do that.

“I don’t know why it took me so long. I don’t even want to think about it,” he added. “I’m just happy I’m in and that’s what I’m going to cherish.”

What did he learn all these years?

“Be patient and wait until the last out,” Rice said. “I guess everything was just timing, because my numbers have not changed over the last 14 years.”

Andre Dawson fell 44 votes short with 67 percent. He was followed by Bert Blyleven (62.7 percent), Lee Smith (44.5), Jack Morris (44.0), Tommy John (31.7) and Tim Raines (22.6). John appeared on the ballot for the final time.

Mark McGwire, stigmatized by accusations he used performance-enhancing drugs, received 118 votes (21.9 percent) in his third year of eligibility, down from the 128 votes he got in each of his first two tries.

Henderson, who played with McGwire in Oakland, said the first baseman was one of the best people he’s ever been around.

“He played the game the right way to me,” Henderson said. “I feel he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”

Henderson, the 1990 AL MVP, was a 10-time All-Star who swiped 1,406 bases. Lou Brock is second with 938.

A showman in every sense of the word, Henderson batted .279 with 297 homers, 1,115 RBIs, 3,055 hits, 2,190 walks and 2,295 runs. He owns the modern-day season record with 130 steals in 1982, and the career mark with 81 leadoff homers. He played 25 seasons for Oakland, the Yankees, Toronto, San Diego, Anaheim, the Mets, Seattle, Boston and the Dodgers.

“No one was able to impact the course of a game in as many ways as Rickey,” Randolph said.
Henderson wanted to be a football star before his mother persuaded him to give pro baseball a try, figuring it offered a better chance at a long career.

If it were up to Henderson, now 50, he’d still be playing ball.

“They said I have to be retired to go in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “Maybe they give me that day or two that I come back and it wouldn’t mess up anything.”

Henderson wasn’t sure which team’s cap will go on his Hall of Fame plaque. He gets some say in the matter, but ultimately it’s the Hall’s decision.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Henderson said about his election. “I was nervous, waiting.”
Rice, the 1978 AL MVP, was an eight-time All-Star who hit 382 home runs in 16 seasons with the Red Sox from 1974-89. He had a .298 career batting average and 1,451 RBIs, and from 1977-79 averaged .320 with 41 homers and 128 RBIs.

He becomes the fourth Hall of Famer to have spent his entire career with the Red Sox, joining fellow left fielders Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski, along with second baseman Bobby Doerr.

“That’s I think one of the biggest accomplishments,” Rice said.

The Greatest Tiger Designated Hitters

In 1973 baseball decided to let fat guys and guys that could not play the field any longer a new way to stay in the game, and thus the Designated Hitter was created. Ron Bloomberg, a notoriously bad fielder, was the first DH in the American League. It has been great for the game and has extended the careers of many players so that they had an impact. Can you imagine what would have happened to the careers of Edgar Martinez, Tony Oliva, Willie Horton, and today, David Ortiz, Frank Thomas, and Jim Thome without the DH. The National League is crazy for not adopting the rule. Even Hank Aaron was a DH.

Now, everyone has the DH. Softball, Little League, Colleges, and High Schools. It is great for the game and participation for all levels. The object of the game is to play, and some guys can just flat out hit a baseball, even if they can't catch one. Specialists they call them.

I live in Northern Virginia where the Nationals are the home team, but I would rather drive to Baltimore to watch a real game instead of the pitcher sacrificing the runner 5 times a game. Besides, it keeps those old managers in the dugout and the announcers from getting a thrill talking about the double switch. Take that Tim McCarver. Here are some DH facts and firsts:
Only three players have won the MVP Award in years they played a significant amount of games as a DH. The first was Boston Red Sox outfielder Jim Rice, who in 1978 played as a DH in 49 of his 163 games (including the one-game playoff against the Yankees). In 1979, California Angels outfielder Don Baylor played 65 of his 162 games as a DH, and in 1996, Texas Rangers outfielder Juan González played 32 of his 134 games as a DH.

The Tigers have had their share of good and bad DH's. Remember that Robert Fick hit the last homerun in Tiger Stadium playing the DH spot. When I think of DH's and the Tigers, I immediately think of Gates Brown. The "Gater" was a joy to watch as he waddled to the plate and there was always excitement when he was at the plate because he had a flair for the dramatic. He did much more as a pinch hitter than a DH, but he was the Tigers first DH. Gates played in a career high 133 games in 1973, the first year of the DH.

Rusty Staub

The Mickey Lolich trade to the Mets brought Le Grand Orange, Rusty Staub, to the Tigers. Rusty was a professional hitter, and slower than Sean Casey, and me.

Before the 1976 season, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers with pitcher Bill Laxton for pitcher Mickey Lolich and outfielder Billy Baldwin.

In his three plus seasons with the Tigers, Staub hit .277 with 70 home runs. He was voted to start the 1976 All-Star Game, where he went 2-for-2.

In 1978, Staub became the first player to play in all 162 regular-season games exclusively as a designated hitter. Not playing the field at all proved beneficial, as Staub finished second in the Major Leagues with 121 RBI and finished fifth in American League Most Valuable Player voting. He was selected to the Sporting News American League All-Star team at the end of the season as the designated hitter.

Staub held out to start the 1979 season, and eventually he was dealt to the Montreal Expos in July of that same season.

The Others

Actually if you look at the most dominant of the Tiger DH's, you will be surprised to know that the alltime leader in games played at the position is a fat guy named Dimitri (I never missed a meal) Young, followed by Kirk Gibson, Rusty Staub, and Darrell Evans. Not a bad group at all. Dimitri played more games, 488, and had the highest average, and 82 dingers, and an impressive 267 RBI. Staub played 100 fewer games and had 255 RBI and 55 home runs.

I think that Darrell Evans was one of the greatest free agent signings of all time. He had very good years in Detroit and was here with the 1984 and 1987 teams. Darrell was an impact player.

Kirk (Two Swings) Gibson also had a productive career at the DH spot hitting 60 home runs from that position to go along with 220 RBI. The other prominent DH's for the Tigers were Willie Horton and Al Kaline, at the end of their careers. It is a pretty good field and I know how I would vote if looking at it objectively.

Greatest Tiger Relief Pitchers

The Tigers throughout the years have had some pretty good relief pitching, and some pretty bad ones as well. Growing up in Detroit, I certainly remember some of the ones from the 60's. Do you remember Terry Fox, Ron Kline, Ron Nischwicz, and John Wyatt. And then there were some of those guys that we got at the end of their careers. Guys like Elroy Face and Johnny Podres, who made their fame in other uniforms. We also can't forget the big one that got away, or in our case, three that got away. Those might be John Smoltz, Phil Regan, and Mike Marshall. But the real time of the relief pitcher was in the late 60's, 70's, and 80's, when we had good teams.

As I look back now, the greatest Tiger relief pitchers are actually none of these. No, Tom Timmerman is nor under consideration. I do propose to you the following "Masters of The Final Out". Those great pitchers would be: John Hiller, who was the greatest left handed relief pitcher of his time, and still looks good; Willie Hernandez, who came to the Tigers on the last day of Spring Training in 1984 for Glenn Wilson and went on to become the MVP and the Cy Young winner in the same year; Aurelio Lopez (aka. Senor Smoke) who was a great reliever that became even better with Guilermo taking over the 9th inning duties; Mike Henneman, who was a good pitcher on a bad team; and finally, The Rollercoaster, Todd Jones, the alltime saves leader for the Tigers and served for two stints, both of which was pretty successful. All of these guys had great attributes;

John Hiller

Hiller ranks 22nd on the alltime saves list in spite of his heart attack and subsequent return. I saw him a couple of years ago and he looks like he could still get guys out.

1968 World Series
1972 American League Championship Series

All-Star Selections
1974 AL

Not bad!!!

Willie Hernandez

When Willie Hernandez was acquired by the Detroit Tigers in a four-player trade in the last week of spring training in 1984, there was little way of knowing just how crucial he would be to the team's success that season. As a veteran reliever who had never saved more than 10 games or pitched more than 115 innings in a season, Hernandez was seen as a decent setup man with experience. But he mastered his screwball in '84 and baffled American League batters on his way to the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards. He converted 32 of 33 save opportunities and posted a stingy 1.92 ERA, as his carefully permed hair and cheek bulging with chew became familiar to Tigers' fans in his 80 games on the mound. Far from a one-year wonder, Willie followed with a similar season in 1985, and retired with more saves than any other Tigers pitcher.

Willie Hernandez ranks #38 among the Top 50 all-time at RP

Post-Season Appearances
1983 World Series
1984 American League Championship Series
1984 World Series
1987 American League Championship Series

Awards and Honors
1984 AL Cy Young
1984 AL MVP

Matchup Data
Over the 1977 and 1978 seasons, Hernandez went 21 innings without allowing a run to the Pirates.

All-Star Selections
1984 AL
1985 AL
1986 AL

Aurelio Lopez

Best Season: 1984
Yeah, he went 10-1 out of the pen, but that was because he was in the right place to win a lot of tie games. But he pitched very, very well as Willie Hernandez's setup man. The Tigers really had two closers. Lopez was tough on right-handed batters, and he fanned 94 overall in more than 137 innings. He posted a 2.94 ERA and was on his game in the post-season, when he hurled six innings of shutout ball and earned two victories - one in the LCS and one in the World Series.

Post-Season Appearances
1984 American League Championship Series
1984 World Series
1986 National League Championship Series

All-Star Selections
1983 AL

Senor Smoke was good for a long time. He died in a tragic accident in 1992.

Todd Jones

The Alltime Tigers Saves Leader

The Roller Coaster

Tiger broadcaster Ernie Harwell dubbed Jones "The Roller Coaster" because of his exciting, up-and-down relief appearances.

Related Players
Mike Henneman replaced Jones as closer for the Astros in 1995, after coming over from the Tigers. Later, Jones broke Henneman's all-time save record for Detroit.

Awards and Honors
2000 AL Rolaids Relief

On May 18, 2006, Jones recorded his 154th save as a Tiger, tying Mike Henneman for the all-time Detroit franchise mark.

All-Star Selections
2000 AL

Post Season
2006 ALDS, ALDS, World Series

Mike Henneman

Like I said, he was a good pitcher for a long time, and some marginal teams. He eventually wore out and was traded to Texas, where he ended his career. He held the Tigers save record until the Rollercoaster abolished it in 2006.

Post-Season Appearances
1987 American League Championship Series

All-Star Selections
1989 AL

Are the Yankees buying a pennant

What are your thoughts about the Yankees aka Stankees chances this year. With the addition of Sabathia, Burnett, and Texeiera are they a shoo -in? It was only a year ago many thought the Tigers were a shoo-in with the additions to their roster. What say yea?

Another one bites the dust

Another potential stopper in the Tiger bullpen, John Smolz, goes unsigned by our boys.

He went to Boston for what seems to me to be a measly $5 mill. The guy has 200 wins and 150 saves, and could be an instant favorite at Comerica as he is a local boy.

Sure he was hurt last year, but he's got a good head on his shoulders, knows how to pitch. Sounds better than our current village idiot who blows out his wrist playing Guitar Hero.

Tigers' spring training tickets on sale Saturday

Tickets for the Tigers’ 2009 spring training home games go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. at Tigers.com.
To purchase tickets, visit the schedule on the web site and click the icon next to the game you wish to attend.
Season packages for spring training games can also be purchased at the Joker Marchant Stadium ticket office or can be ordered by mail at: Detroit Tigers, Attn. Ticket Office, 2125 N. Lake Ave., Lakeland, FL 33805.

Let the Pitching Parade Begin!

Clear the good dishes off the table Ma, what I’m about to write might just start a fight.

Of all the positions we’ve looked at, the Tigers are, to put it mildly, a little thin in the pitching department. To put it bluntly, they sucked.

Of all the pitchers in the Hall of Fame, only two spent more than a year or two of their career in a Tiger uniform. They have some good pitchers, quite a few guys you’d like three or four deep in your rotation, but great? Not many. (I’ll discuss them going from the oldest to more modern days.)
One you’ve probably never even heard of deserves your consideration. “Wild Bill” Donovan
spent 11 of his 18 year career with the Bengals from ’03 to 1912, and then again for a short stint in 1918. He posted some incredible numbers, like pitching in 323 games for the Tigers, 3,000 innings total lifetime, with an ERA of 2.84 against the likes of Shoeless Joe and Ty Cobb.

Of course, in those days, “relief” meant that your team’s batters scored five runs or more. In 1904 he started 34 games, and finished all of them. In 1907, Wild Bill started 28 games, and completed 27 of them, winning 25 games and losing only four. Bill James claims he was “the luckiest pitcher of all time” with a team like Cobb, Crawford and other guns behind him. I disagree.

With an ERA of 2.19 over 271 innings, there wasn’t a lot of luck involved.

The Tigers did excel in having pitchers with really cool nicknames though.

Names like “Hooks” Dauss, Schoolboy Rowe, Dizzy Trout, Bobo Newsome and Stubby Overmire. (Alright, Stubby was barely good, let alone great, with a record of 43-49 with the Tigers, but I liked the way he sounds. At 5’7” he hardly deserves his moniker, and he’s a native Michigander, attened what is now Western Michigan University, managed the Lakeland Flying Tigers, and is buried in Lakeland. But as usual, I digress.

Let’s move ahead to a few more notable Bengal hurlers, like Tommy Bridges and Schoolboy Rowe. Both were fairly good pitchers, but they threw for a powerhouse lineup in the 1930’s and 40’s, with hitters like Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer and Hank Greenberg.

Bridges nearly led the league in wins in 1935, but his ERA was about a point higher than the league leaders. But give Bridges his due, he pitched for 16 years, won 20 or more games for three years in a row,and collected 194 wins, had a 3.57 ERA in an era when the hitters were running wild. It was rumored that the source of his deadly curve ball was use of a spitter; in fact when one opposing manager demanded that the ump examine the ball, Tiger cather Birdie Tebbets fired the ball into the outfiled, where all three outfielders handled it first before throwing it in.

The pride of Waco, Texas, Schoolboy Rowe threw for many of those same power-laden teams, and placed on three All-Star Teams. He seemed to be something of a holdover from the days of Bill Donovan, turning in a 12-inning complete game during the 1934 World Series, and in ’35 he had 21 complete games and six shutouts. But he was known for his youthful good looks, charm, and slightly erratic antics, like talking to the ball. (Sound familiar?) In a national radio broadcast, he asked his fiance “How’m I doin’ Edna?” in his Texas drawl, and the fans went crazy.

After 1936, the innings started to take a toll on his arm, and the Tigers dealt him to Brooklyn.

Dizzy Trout, another natty nickname, was in Detroit from 1939 to 1952 leading the league with 20 wins in 1943, 27 wins in 1944. but really, how good was the league during the war?

“Prince Hal” Newhouse http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Newhouser was another native Detroit boy who played for the Tigers, and perhaps was our best home-grown product. Signed at 18 in 1940, it took him a few years to get his control, but then he started to take a bite out of American League hitters, winning the MVP in 1944 and ’45, the only pitcher to claim consecutive MVPs. Critics said this was due to the fact that all the good players went to war (Hal tried several times but had a medical deferment.) He proved them wrong in 1946 by going 26 and 9, with an incredible 1.94 ERA. (Despite facing strong hitters like Williams and DiMaggio, with the top five hitters in the league all coming in above .316.)

When the Tigers traded him to Cleveland after 13 years in Detroit, he morphed into a great long reliever, going 7-2 with a 2.54 ERA, but maybe that’s outside our purview, as well as the fact that he was a great scout in retirement, identifying the young talents of Milt Pappas, Dean Cahnce and Derek Jeter.

Perhaps our only senator/pitcher is Jim Bunning. (how many can there be?) Bunning pitched for four teams, starting with the Tigers in 1956. He was a four time All Star with the Tigers, pitching a no-hitter. His earned run average and W-L record got a lot better after the stinky Tiger teams of the late ‘50’s traded him to the top division Phillies.

He made it to the Hall of Fame after numerous votes by the Veteran’s Committee.

Another good Tiger pitcher from the 1950’s and ‘60’s was Frank Strong (his real middle name) Lary, AKA “The Yankee Killer.” Going a litte over .500 in a decade with some pretty sorry Bengal teams. He was the primary Tiger starter for seven years, going way over 200 innings per year, winning 128 games, and striking out 1,099.

He earned his nickname by going 28 – 13 against the pinstripes. Casey Stengel would alter his pitching rotation when the Tigers came to town, saying “If Lary is going to beat us anyway, why should I waste my best pitcher?" Lary was twice an All-Star and four times earned a Gold Glove.
One of the nicest guys on the Tiger teams of our youth was Mickey Lolich. In my recollection, Lolich was a good pitcher with a Poo-Bear belly, who seemed to eternally pitch with men on or from behind the count. But his career numbers reveal far more than a less than spectacular physique. A three time All-Star, Lolich won 14 or more games for more than ten years, and ranks third in career strikeouts behind Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson. He has more career wins than all but two other Tiger pitchers. Of course, most of us remember his great performance in the 1968 World Series, when he started, completed and won three games, the only southpaw ever to do so.

Denny McLain’s meteroic career hit its apex in 1968 with 31 wins, the last major leaguer to do so. He earned a Cy Young and MVP, the first pitcher to do so in history. He shared another Cy Young in 1969, but his career came apart in 1970, being suspended multiple times. By the end of the century, Denny had spend six years in federal prison.

Jack Morris Was another workhorse, pitching 14 of his 18 years in Detroit, working a lifetime total of 3,824 innings! His ERA was a respectable 3.9 and a five time All-Star.
It’s hard to note a tougher competitor than Morris, but I’m getting tired of writing. Make your choices, gents! Pick four hurlers to complete our staff.)

(We'll tackle relief pitchers next week. No set up man, just the best pitcher.)
To Whom It May Concern:

What can we as fans do to influence the voting for Alan Trammell and Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame? I'm thinking of not just for myself but all of us to have our say and influence.