What do I do with my $40 Brennan Boesch baseball?

Not sure if this counts as a review.  It appears that Boesch's time with the Tigers is extremely limited.  He has had flashes of brilliance, but the quality of his performance has definately slipped and his batting average - ouch.  He is a nice guy and a fan favorite, but with the acquisition of Hunter - there is simply not enough room for him - hopefully he works hard and gets a fresh start with another team.  Bye Bye Brennan!  sad to see you go, he did control his own destiny.

The Chubby Reliever: Phil Coke

Phil Coke is striking, but not particularly for the right reasons.If you believe he's only 210, like the Tiger roster claims, you still believe in Santa Claus.

The way he runs in from the bullpen like he's being chased by Usain Bolt is hilarious. It's a wonder he's not totally winded by the time he takes his warm-up tosses.

Granted, he looked better near the end of last season, but I just don't see him as a critical player in the Tiger pen, especially as a closer, as has been rumored in the last few weeks.

Maybe it's just a matter of bad impressions, but he's made a few on me. In 2011 I saw him get blown up by the Rangers, and last season I had a great seat to watch him relieve a Verlander masterpiece, and then give it away in the tenth.

I honestly laughed when I saw him run in, I thought it was some kind of out-of-place comedy routine, or the ball boy running in to tell Leyland they need more chew in the pen.

His career ERA hangs around 4.00. He barely belongs on a major league roster, but not on ours. 

(We've reviewed Sanchez, Berry, Verlander, Porcello and Peralta, and kind of side-swiped Hunter.  Take your pick of anybody else to praise, slam or trade!)

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Gentlemen, Merry Christmas to all of you Bengal fans. While we have seen snow storms throughout the country on this Christmas Day, take heed in knowing that Pitchers and Catchers report in seven weeks.  What will be the question of the spring, or who will be the Spring Training surprise?

I can't wait for the end of the Hot Stove League, although this year I think that it is going to last into Spring Training.  I am looking for the Tigers to make one more BIG trade before they break camp.  Also look for them to announce an extension for Justin Verlander before the All Star break.

Merry Christmas and Bless You Boys!!!!

Torii Hunter: He's No Josh Hamilton-Thank Goodness

Torii Hunter really embarrased himself by whining that the Angles told him they had no more money to re-sign him, yet they went out and signed Josh Hamilton for $125 million.

Torii, you're no Josh Hamilton.  Thank goodness.

No, you probably don't have the raw talent of Hamilton. Josh is a big bundle of plusses and minuses, he's a talented, streaky hitter and potentially fantastic outfielder. He was a pricey acquisition, but he's battling alcohol and drugs, and as the Dallas News pointed out this week, those years of self-abuse will hasten the end of his career. He's only 32, but the way he goes on the DL frequently, signing him to a five year contract is questionable.

But Torii seemed to quickly regret his tweets, so we can forgive that.

For the Tigers to get Hunter was good, but let's not get too enthralled; he will be 38 next year, and he's coming off a career season in 2012, with a .313 average. Getting him violates my philosophy of "buy low, sell high" but hey, when you have millions of pizza money laying around, what's $26 million?   

With only a 2-year contract, Hunter looks like stop-gap insurance until we're sure Garcia is ready.

Sanchez Signs!!!!!!

Anibel Sanchez Signs!!!!!!

Sanchez signs for 5 years, $80M.  Great deal for the Tigers.  I can't wait to get to Spring Training.  I feel that swagger!!!

So what do we do with Sanchez?

We got him at a reasonable (?) price because we knew his contract would be expiring at the end of the season and he would move into free Agency.  He is young.  At times he was awesome and at other times, I wondered why he was ours.  Gregg already has Porcello gone, so does that make Sanchez more valuable?  Of course, at what price?  How important is he to bringing Mr. I a world series title?  I have mixed feelings. 

And while we are at it -- what does the acquisition of Josh Hamilton do for the Angels?.  Their two acquisitions last year did not help them, especially with the slow start of Pujols.  They are serious - that's for sure.

Thank God for unanswered prayers

I saw in the Freep that the Tigers offered Avasail Garcia for James Shields. As much as I like good pitching, that could have been another Smolz for Alexander trade. Shields has a lot of miles on that arm, would be a great addition for next year, maybe two. But From what I've seen of Garcia, he has a long, fruitfull career ahead of him, and I'd like it to be with the Tigers. 

Verducci on Morris in the HOF

I always like SI's Tom Verducci. The way he is able to cut through some of the falsities of statistics is heart-warming. Fact is, Morris was great.

Weighing the Hall of Fame chances of Morris, Biggio and Schilling

Story Highlights

Most attention about the Hall ballot is focused on Bonds, Clemens and Sosa

Jack Morris' ability to pitch deep into games is a great reason to vote for him

Craig Biggio finished with 3,000 hits and Curt Schilling was a postseason legend

Jack Morris completed one-third of the starts he made in his 18-year career.

Those who keep arguing the Hall of Fame is in danger of becoming irrelevant (translation: unless their guys get in) have helped make the Hall more topical than ever. The Hall chatter has become so noisy that it's a shame that Marvin Miller, after a life's work as a pioneer, was in death widely reduced in most media outlets to being famous for not being in the Hall. He deserved better.

The noise grows more chaotic with this week's release of the latest Hall of Fame ballot, which has caused much debate and nearly as much convenient forgetfulness about what steroids are and what they did to the game. Take a timeout, folks. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa will be around for more ballots to get people worked up into a lather. So take a calm moment to cut through the cacophony to consider three less controversial guys who actually have a chance of getting elected this ballot:

1. Jack Morris

He has been miscast as benefiting too much from one overrated distinction (most wins in the 1980s) and the game of his life (1991 World Series Game 7). This is the greatest Hall of Fame case for Morris: He is the most reliable workhorse ace since the American League adopted the DH four decades ago.
I always considered Morris on the wrong side of borderline because of his high ERA (3.90) and lack of elite seasons at keeping runners off base (never in the top four in ERA and only once in WHIP). His peripherals are uninspiring.

But having covered Morris through his prime, I knew the way baseball people (especially managers and opposing players) valued him while he was pitching and not in the autopsy of numbers: as a prototypical ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball -- not just as a good pitcher. It made me think, why had people in uniform valued Morris more while he was playing than I did after he was done?
As I crunched more numbers, I realized I underestimated the value of having an ace who takes the ball deep into games not just start after start but also year after year -- and not just as any "innings-eater" pitcher, but as the guy who wants the responsibilities of starting Opening Day, starting Game 1 of a postseason series, saving a bullpen, stopping a losing streak, setting an example for an entire pitching staff and all those reasons why a No. 1 is a No. 1.

I was surprised how much better Morris looked when viewed through that prism. Think about the AL since the DH was instituted (1973) -- and as the five-man rotation became conventional wisdom. In those 40 seasons, here are the pitchers with the most starts of eight innings or more:

1. Jack Morris: 248

2. Bert Blyleven: 242

3. Roger Clemens: 227

Wow. Nobody has pitched deep into AL games in the history of the DH more often than Morris. Now consider all games, including the NL, from 1973-2012:

1. (tie) Nolan Ryan: 272

1. (tie) Bert Blyleven: 272

3. Jack Morris: 248

4. Steve Carlton: 237

What if we take the timeline back even further, to the days before the DH, to introduce even more pitchers into the sample? Go back all the way to 1961 and the advent of the 162-game schedule and long before Tony La Russa began dreaming about the specialized bullpen. Look at this:

1. Jim Palmer: 289

2. Bert Blyleven: 287

3. Jack Morris: 248

4. Catfish Hunter: 237

There's Morris again in the elite company of Hall of Famers. In more than half a century of the 162-game schedule, Morris pitched deep into AL games more than anybody except two pitchers, Palmer and Blyleven.

What happens if you include all MLB games, not just AL? From 1961-2012, Morris ranks 12th in most games pitching eight or more innings. Every one of the 11 pitchers ahead of him is in the Hall of Fame.

Mind you, I haven't even compared Morris to his contemporaries. When you measure Morris against the aces of his prime, nobody is close to him for such reliability. From 1979-92, Morris logged 18 percent more innings than anybody else in baseball, earned 20 percent more wins than anybody else and pitched eight innings or more an astounding 45 percent more often than anybody else (241 starts to the 166 of Charlie Hough).

Over 14 seasons Morris went at least eight innings in more than half his starts (52 percent). Think about that stat again, but this time as if you were the manager: when you gave the ball to Morris you were more likely to get eight innings from him than not -- for almost a decade and a half.

It started to come into focus: what made Morris Morris was that three different teams made him the definitive ace of the staff and he filled that role unlike anybody else in his era and in the company of the best workhorses of the past half century. His value is in the reliability he gave the manager and the responsibility he carried well and willingly.

Maybe, I wondered, Morris simply benefited from an era, the 1980s, in which few starting pitchers held up well. (Charlie Hough?) So I picked four unquestioned workhorses from across eras -- Bert Blyleven, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Justin Verlander -- and wondered how Morris' reliability measured against theirs. Take a look: here are the percentage of starts in which each pitcher threw a complete game, at least eight innings and at least seven innings:

Pitcher           CG             8+ IP                 7+ IP

Morris            33%          47%                    68%

Blyleven          35%         46%                    66%

Ryan                29%          41%                   59%

Clemens           17%          33%                   63%

Verlander          9%           25%                   55%

Morris measures up very well. In fact, the enshrinement of Blyleven, a similar workhorse, becomes a boost for Morris. In the history of the AL with the DH, only three pitchers have thrown 250 innings in a season six times: Blyleven (seven times) and Morris and Clemens (six times). Blyleven (189) and Morris (175) rank 1-2 in complete games in the DH era.

Perhaps the most astounding element to Morris' iconic Game 7 in 1991 was not that he threw 10 shutout innings for the Twins with the World Series in the balance on every pitch, but that he did so at the end of throwing 283 innings that year at age 36. From ages 35-37, including the postseason, he averaged 265 innings per year -- essentially giving whatever was left in his right arm.

What about "most wins in the 1980s"? Overrated, yes. But how about this: most AL wins in the DH era:

1. Clemens: 316

2. Mike Mussina: 270

3. Morris: 254

I get the skepticism. The high ERA. The Dennis Martinez-like career numbers. I don't buy into the idea that Morris "pitched to the score." I do buy into the idea that Morris prided himself on a hard-headed determination to stay in the game as long as he could, fatigue and score be damned. There have been 123 pitchers who pitched at least eight innings 100 times or more since 1961. Morris has the highest ERA in those games among those 123 pitchers (2.38).

He didn't dominate with stuff. Appropriately enough in that 1991 game, he seemed to pitch out of the stretch all night. His value comes mostly from reliability and length -- and not as just another "innings eater" but as an undisputed ace. It's not an easy call on Morris, who has one more year on the ballot if he does not get in this year. If you want the impressive peripherals, he's not your guy. But if you manage a major league team, in any era, yes, he is a Hall of Famer.

2. Craig Biggio

He has 3,000 hits so he must be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, right? He does compare closely to Robin Yount:

Robin Yount vs. Craig Biggio


Yount 2,856 3,142 .285 .342 .430 115

Biggio 2,850 3,060 .281 .363 .433 112

Not so fast. Yount did get elected on the first ballot -- but barely so. He needed 373 votes for election and received 385. Biggio is a slightly worse candidate than Yount if only because his on-base skill was inflated by his creative use of an elbow pad (he was hit by pitches only 36 times in his first seven years, and then 205 in the next nine) and because his career numbers were themselves padded as a below average player. More than a third of his career hit total occurred in the eight years after he turned 33, when he batted .266 and posted a 95 OPS+. Criticized for hanging on too long, Biggio, to his credit, kept himself fit enough to play such a long time.

Biggio's value resides not so much in his 3,000 hits as much as it does a seven-year prime that began soon after he moved to second base and his power suddenly spiked (.303/.397/.473). He also was an exceptional baserunner and adept fielder. Like Yount, Biggio figures to fall right around the 75 percent threshold. (Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin were better players, and neither made it on first ballot.) It's a close call, but if he does have to wait, it won't be for long.

3. Curt Schilling

Say what you will about Schilling, but these facts are not in dispute:

• He is one of the best postseason pitchers of all time (11-2, 2.23 ERA in 19 starts).
• He took the ball five times in postseason elimination games. His team went 5-0 in those games while Schilling was 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA.
• He owns the greatest strikeout-to-walk rate since the mound was set at 60 feet, six inches in 1889 (4.4 punchouts for every walk).
• He is one of only four pitchers to strike out 300 batters three times (Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax are the others).
• He is one of only two pitchers to win more than 20 games with seven or fewer losses three times (Roger Clemens is the other).
• In 2002, while striking out more than 300 batters, he had fewer walks (33) than starts (35) -- one of three times in four years he finished as the Cy Young Award runnerup.

Does all of that offset "only" 216 career wins? Yes. Schilling basically is Don Drysdale (209 wins) with a better postseason career. That means Hall of Fame -- eventually. Drysdale debuted at just 21 percent on the Hall of Fame ballot and needed 10 tries to get in. Schilling won't have to wait that long, but a first-ballot election would be an upset.

Roster Move #4; What are we gonna do with Quintin Berry?

Ya gotta root for a guy like Berry, an itinerant minor leaguer, who finally makes the bigs, and does OK.  He had his day at the show. Does he have a tomorrow? I'm not sure.

His speed makes him fun to watch, and a decent leadoff hitter.

But he's no kid (28 next year) and with the addition of Hunter, Jackson a rock star (finally) in centerfield and Garcia virtually demanding playing time by virtue of his accomplishments, is QB doomed to ride the bench and wait for somebody to get hurt? There's plenty of competition for that job, and bench seats area at a premium when the roster skinnies down to 25.

That means the bench has an extra catcher, an extra infielder an extra outfielder, and maybe one or generalists, depending on how many pitchers we carry. The fact that Berry is a lefty is in his favor.

What would you do? If you were going to carry one extra outfielder, is he the man?

Gene Lamont

He is gone from third base - even though Lweyland said he is the best third base coach EVER?? What will he do as "bench coach"?  Leyland is just being kind to him - he doesn't need a bench coach,  Glad to see Brookens going to third - I have confidence in his baseball knowledge.

Roster Move #3: Clone Verlander

The guy is incredible.

Watching his dugout interviews in the postseason, I'd say he has a career in broadcasting if he wants it when he's done playing

He even picks the All-Star Game for one of his worst outings.

It'll be a sad day when he hangs up his cleats.

Anybody concerned about the number of innings he's pitching?

Let's face it: Mom's the Reason We're Tiger Fans!

(Friends - Although this is being posted by Gregg, the following is co-written by Gregg and Jim Domzal, frequent contributor who has as yet had challenges logging on to At the Corner. Gregg's in Tiger blue, Jim's in Tiger Orange.)

My Dad came to Detroit about 1937 from Northern Michigan. He really didn't know many people in Detroit, so he looked in the Detroit Times for a room to rent, and when he went to the boarding house, a lovely girl anwered the door - my Mom. He found a job at Chevy Forge, and with a few bucks in his pocket, he frequented the movie show, and Detroit Tiger games, although at first he really didn't know much about baseball.

I'm sure there were a few dates at Briggs Stadium, and Mom either was a baseball fan, or became one to hang around Dad. (She told me when she answered the door it was love at first sight.

in my case, it was not unlike Greg’s in many ways. mom met dad at a dance at 8 mile and Gratiot, 1930.

Eastwood Park! Right around the corner from where I grew up!

she was the oldest of 11, from Standish Michigan, he the oldest of 4. Hamtramck. they were teenagers. Got married in the depression, mom worked at Packard, dad at a place called ternstedts,, (later renamed fisher body), on fort just south of the bridge. those days were incredibly bleak for so many Detroiters, the depression took a tremendous toll on finance, on spirit. the one common thread, the one enjoyment I believe in those early 30’s were those great tiger teams. I still recall my mom calling me ‘dizzy’ jim when I was acting out, or schoolboy jimmy. rogell, gheringer, Greenberg, and my all time favorite name, goose goslin. heck, I heard these names in my house all the time as a kid. if you look at the rosters from these days, these were the fielders, the cabreras, the verlanders of the day. that baseball mystique, the ability to take one above their immediate woes, an out of mind experience if you will, was clearly present during my parents early years of marriage. and they carried these joy filled moments throughout their years together. (41 to be exact).

so, it seemed natural for my mom to always listen, complain, laugh and enjoy listening to the boys from Michigan and trumbull so many evenings. my very first time ever even coming close to the tigers was when mom took me alone, upto Eastland shopping center as a boy of maybe 8. just the Saturday before, she bought me a tigers t shirt at Hudson’s. how this stuff sticks in your head is beyond defining, but they do.

Fast forward many years and six kids later. (I'm the fifth out of six.) When I was growing up, Dad was working hard, crazy hours at Chevy and two or three other jobs just to make ends meet. But while I was playing around the house, day or evening, Ernie and George were the background music for my childhood. Mom was an addicted fan.

Anyway, I had only heard these names, possibly saw them on a Sunday televised game, but had not ever attended a game. so, mom said, let’s go. it was an off day, weekday. and there, in the center concourse was a stage, all set up. then, like mystical heroes, they arrived. 6 of them. boros, kaline, lumpe, colavito lary and cash. I can still to this day, recall practically being crushed by the people trying to get closer to the stage. naturally, we were there so early I had the first row seats. anyway, mom bought me a ball to get signed, I got knocked over by some girl, the ball rolled under the stage, I ended up crawling under it trying to find the thing, and then, it was over. I recovered the ball, never got it signed, the tigers left as fast as they got there, and there I stood. crying. crushed physically and emotionally I guess. who covered for me? you guessed it. my very own in house tiger fan, mom. she took me to sanders, got one of those incredible Sundaes, and well, life was good all over again. ha.

she had to restore my belief in these guys and in a hurry. it worked. those moms.

Dad would take us to the games now and then, but we never got very good seats, because Dad couldn't buy tickets in advance for fear that he'd be called in to work. Nevertheless, I certainly enjoyed the company of Dad and my two brothers.

But I particularly remember a couple times Mom loaded my little brother Chuck and me on the Gratiot streetcar or bus to go to Ladies' Day! We'd pack a little lunch (Dad would never be caught dead packing a lunch) and get a transfer downtown on the Michigan Avenue line. Mom pointed out the stops where they used to live in the city, and the downtown offices she used to work in, or the J.L. Hudson she used to work at as a clerk.

Mom would tell us stories about how Charlie Gehringer used to sell suits at Hughes, Hatcher, Sufferin (or was it Hudsons?) and how he lived with his mother for years, and he went to Mass every day. (That was before a day game following a night game.)

68 of course was our coming together, as fans, as a city. we were torn apart by the year before and the riots. tens of thousands were vacating the city. king, kennedy, Vietnam, protests. Detroit received an incredible gift by this team. much more than a world series I believe. in my household, I still didn’t drive, but, I remember my brother, who had 3 kids of his own, driving over to our house from his home, and taking me, just me, for drive around Detroit the night the tigers won it all. to see the incredible pandemonium, to see the happiness in all of Detroit, this love of this team and that city was displayed everywhere. my brother knew how much this meant to me as a fan. great memories
later in years, mom would still listen. I would go often to see our boys of summer. and, guess who would end up going with me, now in her 70’s? mom. I knew the guy at the ticket booth on the corner. a few bucks, and, voila, we sat right behind home, first row, upper deck. heck, we could talk to Ernie one on one for chrissake if we actually wanted to. A guy named fidrych got not only Detroit, but my moms undivided attention. the team wasn’t going anywhere, but, for those few nights he’d pitch, me and mom had incredible moments of fun. stop at buddy’s for a pizza and a boomba on the way home, and all is good. yes, my mom and the tigers. what a powerful recipe for lifetime loyalty to our boys from the corner.

Wow, Mom, baseball, Buddy's and a beer! Could life be any sweeter! Maybe, 'cause that summer of The Bird was the year I married Debbie.

I have a couple theories. You know those teenie bopper girls that scream wildly at baseball games? Now this might be a bit far-fetched, but Jim, I think our Moms were those girls back in the 20's or 30's! They had crushes on Greenburg or Schoolboy Rowe. And they never stopped being fans, just became a little more lady-like.

When we came along, it was just their ticket to encourage our Tiger fandom, and see a game now and then.

I remember Mom had favorites. She didn't like Rocky Colovito. "I'll bet he's just a ladies man," she said with disgust. Where the hell did she get that idea? It's not like the Yankees having Kate Hudson hang around the locker room.

But hey, that's the fun of being a baseball fan; you can have your favorites, and "not like" a guy for no good reason.

So history repeats itself. I took my girlfriend (eventually my wife) to many a tiger game. She sat with me in the stands and pretended she didn't mind when it snowed on us.

Of course, I dragged our daughters to Tiger games, and one of the three actually likes baseball! I remember when they swooned over Gabe "the Babe" Kaplar. "His butt looks cute in those tight pants." Gee, I never noticed. The last year Tiger Stadium was open, we took a family pilgrimage. We walked around the outside and the inside. I pointed out the unique features and places where important things happened in my life.

"Dad," said daughter Kate. "Your'e taking this worse than when Grandma died."

I think Grandma was with us that day... with us in spirit...Tiger spirit.

Roster move #2: Peddle Porcello

I know this ain't gonna be popular. He's a nice guy.

He had so much promise in 2009, he looked a bit like a mini-Verlander.

But alas, he has gone from our #2 starter to #5.

Granted, he just didn't get a lot of run support sometimes last season. But there were a lot of times he just didn't look very good. His ERA was 4.59. Not much for a starter with a World Series team.

The change would do him good. He's still very young, and he might have a long wonderful career somewhere, but I don't think it's gonna happen in Detroit.

Package him with Peralta, and get either a really good starter, or shortstop like I mentioned, Jurickson Profar from Texas.

Of course, losing Porcello would create another hole in the starting rotation, but ya gotta have faith that either a rookie comes along, or we trade or sign for one.