Hall of Fame voting

Voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America have until Dec. 31 to mail their Hall of Fame ballots, so I stopped by the post office and sent mine earlier today.

Among the newcomers are Roberto Alomar, Edgar Martinez and Barry Larkin. Still on the ballot are Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell, among others.

Last year at this time I read some of your opinions, and you've heard the reasoning behind each of my votes, as well. So it should come as no surprise that only four players received my vote: Blyleven, Dawson, Morris and Trammell. I've voted for all four of these guys consistently, which is my policy. Unlike some writers, I do not vote for different players depending on the strength of the ballot. Either I believe they're Hall of Famers or I don't. I've only changed my mind once since I began voting six years ago. I did not vote for Blyleven in year one, but I was convinced by several sources to take a closer look, and I've been voting for him ever since.

So I'm willing to listen. Make your argument... for next year's ballot, anyway.

What are your thoughts about Martinez and Baines, who were one-dimentional designated hitters for much of their careers? What about McGwire and all of the suspected steroid users that will follow? And let's be honest... do you think I'm being a total homer by voting for Morris and Trammell? I have answers for all of these questions, but I thought you'd like to throw out your opinions first.

I look forward to your comments.

Adios Fernando, as the Tigers dump more payroll

Is Dumbrowski just dumping as much talent as he can overboard? Sure, Fernando Rodney, who signed with the Angels yesterday, wasn't a lock on next year's pennant, but he sure was one part of the machine that usually seemed to deliver: saves in 37 of 38 chances, and they let him walk for $11 million over two years. All the Tigers got in exchange was a draft pick. Who's next?

So, who was the Greatest Tiger "Behind the Mask?"

Through the years our boys have been gifted with some outstanding catchers, some who are in the Hall of Fame, some who might be elected there some day.

Remember, we're not voting on an entire career, just one year with the Tigers.

None of us remember Mickey Cochrane but he had a tremendous influence on the game in the 1930's, not just with the Tigers, but with the feared Philadelphia Athletics, one of the greatest teams of all time.

He hit .354 with the A's in 1930. But he led the Tigers to a pennant as player/manager in 1934, with a .320 average, a slugging average of .412, and tremendous fielding skills, tied him for the American league fewest errors for a backstop, with seven for the entire year. He was known for his leadership and his fiery temper, earning him the nickname "Black Mike." (A close personal friend of Ty Cobb.)

Just like "Black Mike" not many of us recall Rudy York, but in in 1937 he had a fine season, hitting .307. He must have been a great asset to the team with 35 HR's, and more than 100 RBI's, but in this league of all-stars, it's tough to stand out.

Bill Freehan turned in a fine .300 average in 1964, one of the hit-starved early 1960's years. He dropped in 18 HRs, and was an outstanding fielder, leading the league in put-outs by a catcher.

A few guys who were fine ball players, but just not of the caliber of some of these others are Matt Nokes (1987)Lance Parrish (1983) and Mickey Tettleton (1991.) I leave it to you to make the argument for them if you'd like.

Without doubt, one of the finest seasons behind the plate Tiger fans have ever seen was Pudge Rodriguez in 2004. Even the casual Tiger fan smiles when we think about that cannon that hangs off his right shoulder. He can throw out any runner, any day, anytime, no matter if the pitch is in the dirt, off speed or hard to handle. Second factor Pudge has going for him is the amazing ability to calm a pitcher and focus him. But just as awesome as his fielding skills is Pudge's work at the plate. In 2004 he hit .334, 19 HR's, 86 RBI's,

In my book, it's a close call; Black Mike in 1934 and Pudge, 70 years later: now you make the call.

How about a New "All Time Great" Poll series?

A few months ago, Brother Peek had an excellent suggestion: let's take a poll of the greatest Tigers by individual seasons rather than careers. (Hence, we'd probably find that fine ball players like Kaline and Freehan, who won our All-time Tiger Team elections, might fade a bit, since they were consistently good, not usually great.) This was initiated by a discussion at http://detroit.tigers.mlb.com/fan_forum/all_time_nine/index.jsp?c_id=det

Of course, being the commissioner, I had to tinker with the ground rules. I think we should consider more than just offensive stats. What about his other contributions to the team, like fielding, leadership, etc. In this way, I think you would find Pudge Rodriguez even more valuable than his fine BA.

Also, I challenge you to consider the era these gents played in. Once again, how does Freehan's .300 BA in a "dead ball environment of 1964 compare to Pudge's .334 season four decades later?

In other words, I'm challenging you to defend your position! Go beyond SABRE stats, and think like a manager of the era.

Unlike the groupings at the above site, I'm going to nail down outfielders to the position they are historically known for, although they may have "played around" a bit. Eg. Kaline will be in rightfield, Cobb will be in centerfield, etc. I know some of the old records are a little dicey in this regard, but let's wing it.

Give me some comments on other "ground rules," and let's start the poll in a few days with catchers.

This is gonna be fun, and if anybody would like to take on the duty of writing up a position or two, just let me know. Glad to share the fun. All you need is the above-noted web site, maybe a Baseball Encyclopedia and a good memory.

And now a break in the Trade Talk action...

Hey, Tom. Maybe your Yankees should sign this kid up for your club.

(For those of you who are a little video challenged, just put your cursor over the arrow pointing to the right above, and left click it.)

Who is our New closer?

Well Brandon Lyon is gone -- $15 mill for 3 years from Houston -- are they that desperate? Rodney is good as gone - Orioles are looking at him. Today's Free Press speculated that the job could (stress the could) to Ryan Perry. He is awfully young (23), but it will be interesting to see if the Tigs acquire somebody or see if there is a Closer Derby during Spring Training. And we can't forget Zumaya - geesh I hope nobody gives him the latest version of Guitar Hero for Christmas. Who gets the job??

Adios, Curtis

The guys the Tigers got for Curtis Granderson might make significant contributions on the field, but Tiger fans will miss Granderson off the fields. At spring training he often stayed long after workouts to sign autographs, pose for photos, kiss babies and chat with fans, who he genuinely seemed to like.

The Tiger Trade

Well, Curtis and Edwin are gone, and I actually like this deal. Granderson's defense is going to be tough to replace, but despite 30 home runs, none of them seem to take place in a big spot. I like Curtis a lot for what he means to the Detroit community and he will be missed in that reagrd, but I will not miss the three pitch strikeout in the eighth inning with the tying run on third and one out.

I love the pitching that they got and Daniel Schlereth actually started his pitching career here in Reston VA in my T-Ball League. He played ball with our kids until he moved with his Dad to Denver when he got traded to the Broncos. A great family!!!!!

I love Scherzer as a starter. He averaged over a strikeout per inning. The Tigers top 3 starters are going to be tough to beat. If Bonderman has any kind of year at all, it could still be a different, but special year.

What do you think?

What do you think about the trade?

One of the Best Weeks of the Year!!!!!

For baseball lovers, this week is a baseball junkies dream. The Hot Stove League is simmering this evening in Indianapolis and ready to get started full bore tomorrow morning. All of the rumors will be found to be just that, but it is in the first couple of days when Dave Dombrowski makes his move. I don't think that the Tigers will be major players, but who knows. I don't think that they are looking to trade either Curtis Granderson or Miggy. Edwin Jackson is definitely on the block and will get traded for a nice package of prospects. There is always room for a surprise.

If you read some of the other blogs today, Tiger Weblog, the Tiger's financial condition is not nearly as bad as it has been painted. It's amazing that the Tigers have so few position prospects in the minors and they are a serious step behind athletically. It will be interesting to see how quickly Daniel Fields moves up the ladder. He has great blood lines, but so does Cale Iorg for that matter, but I get the feeling that Fields will find himself in the outfield and will be the next center fielder in a few years. The Tigers have too many outfielders that look the same and have the same skill set. Clete Thomas, Brent Clevelen, Matt Joyce, Jeff Larrish, are they all the same guy? Going back a few years, Cody Ross also. We need some STUDS!!!!! I am sick of watching guys that have spunk and are "real baseball" players. Let's get some athletes that hit the ball a mile and run like the wind.

Spring Training is less than 80 days away. Can't wait.

A few surprises will take place this spring. This is going out on the limb, but Joel Zumaya is going to have a great year. If he does, look for the Tigers to contend into September again, regardless of what happens with Rodney and Lyon.


Placido Polanco back with Phils, ‘never wanted to leave’

By TONY PAUL, The Detroit News, Dec. 3, 2009

Placido Polanco is back with the team he never wanted to leave.

The Gold Glove winner wasted little time in signing a multiyear contract with the 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday. He’ll move from second base, where he starred for four-plus seasons with the Tigers, to third base with the Phillies, who are all set at second with Chase Utley.

It was Utley who made Polanco expendable by Philly when he was dealt to Detroit in 2005.

“I always wanted to be here, I never wanted to leave,” Polanco said in an afternoon press conference, sporting a Phillies-red cap and a No. 27 jersey. “It’s obvious this team is committed to win.”

Polanco arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday morning, passed his physical and signed a three-year deal, reportedly worth $18 million, with a mutual option for a fourth year. It’s a decent raise for Polanco, who averaged a modest $4.6 million a year from 2005 to ‘09 -- a span in which he batted .311 as a Tiger, with a high .341 in ‘07, good for third in the AL behind Magglio Ordonez and Ichiro Suzuki.

Polanco’s departure means Scott Sizemore, he of zero major league experience, will be the Tigers’ starting second baseman in 2010, assuming he has no setback recovering from a broken left ankle.

Apparently, interest in Polanco escalated quickly once the Tigers declined to offer him salary arbitration by Tuesday’s deadline. Had he been offered, the signing team would have had to fork over to the Tigers a first-round draft pick, the compensation MLB deems fair for teams losing a Type A free agent. That, it’s a good bet, would’ve made Polanco’s venture into free agency a bit more rocky.

The Phillies, though, have been interested for some time. Polanco first met with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. about three weeks ago in South Florida.

In Philly, he will replace Pedro Feliz, known for slick fielding but a low batting average. He will be their No. 2 hitter, moving Shane Victorino down into a run-producing spot in the order.

There are a number of solid third basemen available this winter, including Chone Figgins and Mark DeRosa, but Amaro said Polanco was targeted as the No. 1 choice for a variety of reasons. Among them, his defense and his ability to put the ball in play.

“Pedro Feliz, defensively, we got kind of spoiled. We felt, our scouts and others felt, that we weren’t going to have much of a dropoff with Polly a third base,” Amaro said. “Additionally, it was important for us to change the structure of our lineup.”

Polanco won Gold Gloves in 2007 and ‘09 in Detroit, and is one of the toughest hitters in the majors to strikeout. During his Tigers tenure, he whiffed just 146 times in four-plus seasons – 24 fewer times than Brandon Inge K’d just last season alone.

The Phillies have a lot of free swingers, too, with the likes of Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Utley, so adding a contact hitter was a priority as the offseason began.

As for the switch to third? No problem, said Polanco, who noted he played third base collegiately, and with the Cardinals and Phillies – 322 major league games in all, but none of the past four seasons.

“I feel pretty confident about it,” Polanco said. “It’s gonna be easier, the fact you have to move less. But you still have to catch the groundball and throw it. I’ll get used to it pretty quick. Should be easy.”

Polanco, 34, began his major league career with the Cardinals in 1998 and was traded in July 2002 to the Phillies in a deal that sent Scott Rolen to St. Louis. He then was dealt in July 2005 to the Tigers for reliever Ugueth Urbina, who made 56 relief appearances for Philly that year before his career was cut short by an attempted murder rap in Venezuela.

Urbinia is early in a 14-year prison sentence, while Polanco became a semi-star. It remains, by a comfortable margin, the greatest heist in Dave Dombrowski’s Tigers tenure.

“We loved Polly when he was here. We didn’t want to move him,” Amaro said. “But we were in a situation where, at the time, it was the best thing for our organization. “And it worked out pretty well for him, as well.”

As the No. 2 hitter in Detroit, Polanco made one All-Star team and had a 200-hit season.

Polanco also was a key cog in the Tigers’ 2006 playoff run, batting .412 in the first-round victory over the Yankees and .529 in earning MVP honors in the AL championship series sweep of the A’s. That series was capped by one of the most memorable moments in franchise history – a hoodie-wearing Polanco exuberantly leaped his way around the bases as Magglio Ordonez’s three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning sent the Tigers to their first World Series since 1984.

But it was his defense that made him a rock for the Tigers. Polanco didn’t commit a single error in ‘07 (141 games) and made just two this past season (151 games). During his Tigers tenure, he put together a 186-game errorless streak that remains a record for major league second baseman.

The Red Sox and Astros were among the other teams reportedly interested in Polanco, who didn’t find it necessary to continue shopping himself at next week’s winter meetings in Indianapolis.

“The Phillies were always my first choice,” said Polanco, who made no comments about the Tigers during his 20-minute introductory press conference in Philadelphia.

As for developments on the Tigers’ other notable free agents:

 Closer Fernando Rodney hasn’t generated a ton of buzz, it seems, but the Braves apparently were considering him as a possible setup option for their new closer, Billy Wagner. It’s unclear if they still have interest after signing reliever Takashi Saito to a one-year deal Thursday.

 Reliever Brandon Lyon is reportedly drawing some interest from the Yankees, while the Red Sox have contacted the agent of shortstop Adam Everett.

Rodney and Lyon were offered arbitration, so, as Type B free agents, if they sign elsewhere, the Tigers will receive a sandwich pick, between the first and second round of next year’s draft.

LINK: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20091204/SPORTS0104/912040382/1004/SPORTS/Placido-Polanco-back-with-Phils---never-wanted-to-leave-

Polanco's Future?

Well the Tigs did not offer arbitration to Polanco. Is he as good as gone? Is this Sizemore kid ready to play in the majors every day? Is there something going on behind the scenes with Polanco that never hit the papers. I will never understand why he did not play that Thursday afternoon game against the Twins at the end of the season. He didn't even pinch hit and he always was Mr. Clutch. You don't rest one of your better players in one of the most important games of the season. So is this all part of the plan???
Do they really want Rodney and Lyon back? They offered both of them arbitration.