Category Archives: Big Red

pug marks, Dec. 11


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Happy last night of Chanukah from Hank Greenberg and Roar of the Tigers! On to the pug marks.

pug mark 1
Lee has a really nice post up comparing Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge. If you want to argue about their relative merits and demerits, I would suggest you read that post. In fact, I think it should be required reading. The general idea is that, yes, Cabrera is an upgrade over Inge, we all agree on this because it would be completely bonkers not to, but when you factor in both offense AND defense, the difference is not so large as you might think.

Brandon Inge fans will note that something they knew intuitively all along is indeed borne out by the numbers. Satisfying!

pug mark 2
The Tigers just re-signed Timo Perez to a one year contract, and Matt says “ew”. I tend to agree. Why bother? Our big league outfield is our most comprehensively covered area right now, with the Granderson/Magglio combo in there for sure, Jacque Jones splitting time with someone (Raburn? Thames? Inge??), Clevlen a possibility, Freddy Guzman a not-very-exciting possibility… we really need Timo in there? Whatever, I can’t even get that worked up about this yet.

pug mark 3
According to the Free Press, the Tigers have been talking to the Pirates about Inge. I expect them to talk to every single team about Inge at some point, just for the heck of it, but I will note that both the Pirates’ big league catchers are 26 years old and not as completely terrible with a bat as some. Not that I think this is going to happen. Just saying. And I would be marginally less upset about trading Inge if we got some kind of viable catcher in return, because you all know my obsessive concern with our catching situation.

pug mark 4
Just in case you missed it, Lynn Henning talked to Big Red after he was traded to Texas. Despite the generally positive spin (“Yay, starting! Yay, new opportunities!”), Shelton still comes off as a little sore that he didn’t get more chances to stick in Detroit. He did have lots of chances, in my opinion, but then again he also was kind of blocked out by the fact that a cushy, old-man-friendly position like first base isn’t where you want to be as a marginal player.

pug mark 5
Not strictly Tigers-related, but I thought this was interesting. The MVP, Cy Young, and rookie awards given out by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America can no longer be monetary incentives in player contracts. The idea is keep the awards about the awards themselves and not something guys gun for out of a desire for cash. Purity of the game and all that.
You can debate the rationale behind this, but in any event they do mean business:

Starting in 2013, players with such bonus clauses in their contracts will be banned from receiving votes for any BBWAA awards.
Detroit News article

Lots of big guys have these clauses in their contracts, although obviously only a very few are ever ‘activated’ each season. I guess the 2013 date is to give players time to purge the offending language from their contracts and to avoid it in new ones, but if someone leaves it in (accidentally or otherwise) and ends up being a deserving candidate, would they really be banned from consideration for the awards? Harsh, man, harsh.

just a nibble of Inge news


photo by Samara Pearlstein

I was watching the Red Wings pregame show, and John Keating had a little phone interview with Jim Leyland, because the Marlins trade is such a big deal that it’s even talked about in the hockey rinks. As it should be, of course.

Keating asked if a Brandon Inge trade seemed inevitable now (sniffle) and Leyland replied that he had actually just got off the phone with Inge a few minutes before taking the FSN call. I don’t have an exact transcript, but the general gist of Leyland’s response was that Inge definitely did NOT want to play catcher (which we already knew), and definitely wanted to play third. He didn’t mention anything about the outfield, or about a bench position.

He then said something along the lines of ‘if we can’t move him we’ll just try to make it work,’ which is not the most encouraging statement ever for a Brandon Inge fan to hear.

Inge also apparently told the team that he doesn’t want to be a backup. Swallow your pride, Brandon! Jeez. It’s not like you got usurped by some broken-legged old man with a big bat, Miguel Cabrera is a bloody infant superstar! No disrespect intended! WE LOVE YOU AND WANT YOU TO STAY, even if that means you take on a bench role! C’mon now!

I’m wondering what team would start him at third after the season he just had. If the team that gives him maybe the MOST leeway, i.e. the team that he’s currently on, only barely wants him at third, what other team would be willing to take that kind of hit to their lineup? Don’t even tell me, I know there are teams out there, but I am trying to live in my little world of denial. :(
I still hold out hope that, if nothing else, Inge’s contract (he’s due a smidge above $19 mil over the next 2 years) will make him fairly difficult to trade. I can’t imagine that the Tigers would be too ready and willing to pick up much of that contract just to move Inge, and I can’t imagine that any team would pay that kind of money for someone who might not be able to put his bat in the same county as the baseball.

Oh, offseason, why do you torment me so?

The other news is that the Big Red Detroit era is over, and Chris Shelton has been traded to the Rangers for Freddy Guzman. I’m not really sure what we would do with Freddy Guzman, except let him moulder in triple-A, but Shelton didn’t seem like he was going to make it back up either, so I guess that works out to a wash.

There was also a rumor going around that we’re going to trade Dontrelle Willis and possibly Pudge to the Mets for… well, for something good, I’m sure. It seems to be pretty dead now, as I haven’t heard anything about it for a couple days. Speaking of the Mets, though, the Michigan Wolverines are going to be playing against the Mets during Spring Training this year, which I am very excited to see. Hopefully it’ll be televised.

Chris Shelton: *internet frowny face*


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

When I first saw the headline “Shelton upset by demotion”, I thought that Big Red had been, gasp gasp horror horror, whining about how he gets sent down to AAA while Sean Casey gets to lump about at first base with the big boys. And goodness knows we can’t have that, not this early in the season, and not from anyone who wants to ever actually play for Jim Leyland.

Once I read the article, though, turns out to not be that bad. It’s more like some reporter decided to ask a bunch of possible whine-inducing questions (“What makes you cry the hardest when you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror???”), which Shelton answered more or less honestly. For instance, here are some of his answers; I have retroactively invented the questions, based on what they very well might have been (all answers are quoted from the above-linked article).

Q. So you aren’t getting the first base job to start this season. Obviously you didn’t try hard enough. In fact some are saying that instead of trying, you spent all your time eating Cheetos and pretending to be a lounge chair. What do you have to say in the face of these accusations of SLOTHFULNESS??

A. “I hit close to .400 this spring. What more could I possibly do? All I could say is I made this [decision] as tough as I possibly could on them.”

Q. Be honest: do you think you ever even had a chance to make this squad? ‘Cause we heard that Leyland and Dombrowski sat down in February in a conference room with a bowl of jelly beans and a whiteboard, and picked out all their favorite players, and you weren’t on the list.

A. “I don’t want to say they had their team set, but they have so many guys back from last year. I don’t want to say I didn’t have a chance, because they gave me a chance.”

Q. Do you think you have a future on this team, a team who is blocking your progress to the majors with an elderly slow man who has two brittle sticks of balsa wood for legs, from your own former squad?

A. “That’s not up to me to decide. It’s up to those guys to decide. All I can do is play.”

Honestly, as much as you can rag on Casey’s speed, ability to play in the field, age, etc., he does have one very big advantage over Shelton: we know that Sean Casey can handle the majors mentally. Shelton? We know he can hit, we’ve seen that… but then we also saw him take all the media attention and pressure that came when he WAS hitting amazingly well, and we saw him wrap himself in that media attention and pressure like it was a great big furry attention and pressure coat, made of the skins of a thousand reporters, and this coat weighed him down until he wasn’t hitting a lick and had to be sent to Toledo to reflect broodingly on his sins.

Now he’s being sent back. I can understand his frustration; surely no one wants to spend more time in Ohio than they absolutely have to. But I do hope Shelton realizes that we’ve got the “fat first-baseman-DH type hitter” slot more than filled up right now.

Work on your defense, Shelton, and work on keeping your hitting going even when people are looking at you, because it’s pretty hard to ask an entire ballpark to turn around and stare at the backs of their seats when you’re up to bat.

If he can’t handle that, I suggest a mid-season cage match. Big Red takes on The Mayor. It would sell more tickets than a bobblehead night.

pug marks, Feb. 28


Andrew Miller, photo by Roger DeWitt

pug mark 1
Andrew Miller: the next Justin Verlander?

Maybe.

Not in a direct he-pitches-the-same way, of course. But Miller has the potential to be the next baby Tiger to burst forth from the minor leagues fully formed, armed and ready, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus, which is of course more or less what Verlander did.

The correct thing for front officey sorts to say right now is that Miller will be in the minors this season, with a late-season call-up possible, depending on how he does and on where the Tigers are come, say, September. If someone manages to make their arm into a tendon-twisty mess (we’re watching you, Zumaya), though, I and everyone else think we’ll see him sooner rather than later.

Can you imagine? Verlander and Bonderman and Zumaya… Tata and Ledezma are possibilities… Miner is a possibility…. and then maybe, JUST MAYBE Andrew Miller. The average age of our pitching staff is going to be “third trimester”, and the only reason it’s not going to be “newly acquainted sperm and egg” is because Kenny Rogers is pushing up the curve.

He also pitched in the spring training opener today and struck out 4 in two innings. Me likey.

pug mark 2
Jeremy Bonderman speaks! Does he betray a personality??

I want to get better. I want to be a guy like Roy Halladay, or a right-handed [Johan] Santana, something like that. I want that when I come into a ballpark, they’ll be ‘Oh, [shoot], Jeremy’s going to be pitching in one of those games.’ And I’m not there yet, but I’m hoping to get there.”
MLB.com article

Word to the wise: he didn’t actually say “shoot” up there.

I like this. I like a Bondo who has crazy things like “ambition” and who swears at reporters (although of course it must have been done in a terribly monotone voice, so we shouldn’t get TOO excited). I like a Bondo who’s working on a changeup because he has this burning desire to be something more than a 4.00-ERA pitcher. Since he’ll basically be throwing it with the same motion he uses for his fastball and he’s just messing around with the grip, this seems like a wonderfully low-risk way to possibly propel him out of mediocrity and into the sheer dominance that he’s flirted shamelessly with ever since he’s been up, the little hussy.

pug mark 3
Chris Shelton has a strained tummy.

It’s actually being described as a “mild oblique strain” which, as is usual with sports injury reports, could refer to any number of things. Nothing indicates that it’s serious but since these things do tend to linger on and haunt the sufferers for years and years and Tim Hudson is wincing in sympathy right now, so. It gets a pug mark.

I don’t know how he did it, but I like to imagine that it was a particularly violent sneeze, all Sammy Sosa-style.

pug mark 4
Neifi!!! reaffirms his status on the team.

He did this by going 0-for-3 in today’s game. To be sure that we didn’t miss the FULL IMPACT of Neifi!!!, he also committed two errors. Thank cats. I am quite sure that it would not be a real spring training if we were not treated to the full range of skills that this golden archetype of baseball mastery possesses.

I mean, thank cats he’s here in camp, you know? Who else would set such an example for all the youngsters on the field? Who else will show them how to not catch the ball??? Who else will show them how to wear their socks at the most awkward half-high level possible so as to best display their curiously skinny and possibly atrophied ankles????? THESE ARE IMPORTANT BASEBALL SKILLS, PEOPLE. THANK CATS SOMEONE IN THE FRONT OFFICE HAS RECOGNIZED THEIR IMPORT AND HAS GIVEN UNTO US THAT FINEST SPECIMEN OF BASEBALL PLAYING HUMANITY, THAT INIMITABLE NEIFI!!! PEREZ.

pug mark 5
Not a Tiger pug mark, but apparently Bobby Jenks, THE CANE TOAD, had to leave their spring training game today with shoulder tightness. He says that he has had it all spring, but it’s all good because it’s not stabbing pain or something along those lines.
To which I say, ha! And ha again! I spit upon your ailing shoulder, Cane Toad, and may its tightness never ease.

fresh rumor out of the winter meetings: baseball to be played next season

Ah, I do love the winter meetings. Aggressively mediocre players getting offers of more money than I will probably ever make in my lifetime. Pitchers with their arms kept in their sockets solely due to the wonders of duct tape getting multi-year contracts. Managers wearing hilariously poorly-chosen shirts. Scott Boras laughing himself to sleep every night on a bed of dead puppies and crushed dreams. It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year!

Really, it’s all about the rumors. Rumors are the lifeblood of the winter meetings. They keep the reporters occupied and the websites in a frothy mess of up-to-datedness (excepting of course this particular website… REAL writers don’t have to deal with FINALS and OH GOD HUGE PRESENTATIONS IN FRONT OF COMMITTEES OF PROFESSORS WHO POSSIBLY HATE YOU AND YOUR ARTWORK). They make managers feel like they’re on the cutting edge of hip-itude, or something, and they make players feel wanted, which is important when you’re working with a bunch of grown men who have the average maturity of an emo middle schooler.

Since the closest RotT can get to the winter meetings is Rotoworld (which I have, for the record, been reloading OBSESSIVELY of late), we have just kept our royal collective ear to the ground here in frigid ol’ Michigan for some of the latest and clearly greatest Tigers rumors out of the southern lands.

Rumors!

Matt Stairs to the Blue Jays sounds like a done deal. I liked what the rotund little fellow brought to the field at the end of the year, but not enough to want to shell out more than a bare minimum to retain him. Basically he brought spirit, and since spirit is a great intangible, it has always been my general belief that it should be paid for with accordingly intangible amounts of money.

Other teams think that Chris Shelton is a hot piece of man meat. Perhaps not in those exact terms, but other teams have been asking Mr. Dombrowski about him. You can just imagine the conversation. A general manager sidles up to Dombrowski in the lobby and pulls him aside. “Hey, Dave. You know that sexy little red-headed thang on your roster? Help a fella out and let me have that number, willya? I just have such a weakness for that shade of orangey red…”

The Tigers want a left-handed reliever wicked bad. Jamie Walker was a pristine LOOGY last season, and good for him, parlaying that into a honkin’ big contract. I don’t necessarily think that he would’ve retained that same level of production, and even if he does, it’ll probably only be if he’s used the way Leyland (correctly) used him: as a LOOGY. So good luck to him, but now we need something like him in the ‘pen. I have no idea who we should get. Whoever it is will probably be worse than Walker06, but hopefully not too much worse.

Craig Monroe is available for the right price. And that right price is: one moderately nice leather belt.

We need to restock the system with catching prospects. Well, so does everyone else is baseball, but STILL. I know I’ve been harping on this and I’m going to keep right on harping on it until we clone Pudge and raise his freakish, pre-aged little clone babies in a sketchy lab somewhere in Lakeland.

Jeremy Bonderman is not being traded. If you say otherwise, I will find you, and eat your spleen. It would be D-U-M dumb to trade Bondo now. Given his age and his current skill level, AND his potential skill level, you really would have to get back something fairly ridiculous to make it worthwhile. I believe what I said before was “Albert Pujols and the secret to the presence of dark matter in the cosmos.” I think that still stands.

Mike Maroth is probably the most likely starter to be dealt. That doesn’t mean he’s going to be dealt. Here at RotT we haven’t detected any particular noise in that area, unless you count the ‘Mike Maroth and cruddy prospects for Brian McCann, Andruw Jones, and a pile of gold doubloons’ trade that exists only in my head. But if any of the starters end up on the block, I’d be least surprised to hear it was Maroth who went. I do kind of want him back; he’s been getting better and better every year, and was well on his way to another great year last season, but hey. It’s like I always say… if wishes were fishes, we’d all be feasting on cod.

Roman Colon neck spasms REVEALED! Apparently he had a herniation in his neck. I assume that means a herniated disk? As is distressingly usual, the official site gives almost no medical information. Since a ‘hernia’ is technically any spot where some inner structure (tissue, organ wall, etc) protrudes through the wall normally around it, it could refer to a number of things… a bit of spine slipping out of place, a tendon or muscle doing something wonky, etc. He had surgery to correct it and will only just be starting to throw in March, so he’ll probably still be on the DL when April rolls around.

Jim Leyland is the talk of the ladies at the winter meetings. Oh hellz yes.

first base just got less red

So, uh, I wasn’t exactly expecting that one. Possibly because I’m way out of the loop on Tigers trade rumors (which is in part intentional… I hate trade rumors. All they do, 98% of the time, is drive you bonkers and come to naught), but still. Sean Casey, as you can see in the image, makes a relatively jolly tiger, and I would like to see him bat in the upper parts of the order, which is the only place his on-base abilities would make sense and where, hopefully, with less men on base, his love of hitting into the double play will be somewhat neutralized.

Chris Shelton, in Part 154335 of his own personal drama, The Pirates Are Ruining My Life (critically acclaimed! starring: Dave Littlefield!), gets sent down to Toledo, where he can moulder with Nook Tata either until he gets his bat back, or until Casey gets another concussion or blows out a knee.

Overall I’m pleased with this trade. Dombrowski got us the left-handed bat we had been jonesing for (but not Todd Jonesing for). All we gave up was Brian Rogers, who had, last I heard, been pitching pretty well down in Erie. If I recall correctly, he went to the Eastern League All-Star Game earlier this season and had a 2.something ERA. But he’s a AA middle reliever, and Sean Casey is a career .305 hitter. Rawk.

It’s not a power lefty bat, not the way Casey’s been hitting this season, but the fact that his average is still hovering just below .300 is pretty appealing. I would like to see his OBP a little higher, if he’s gonna have this complete lack of boom, but even now it’s higher than Shelton’s (.377 vs. .343), and Shelton’s high homer total is skewed by the obscene start to the season he had. It’s slowed down a lot since then, and in a sense the Tigs have gotten used to playing without much in the way of offensive fireworks from first base.

Shelton’s development at the Major League level has been fragmented and delayed (Part 2346 of The Pirates Are Ruining My Life). He doesn’t really seem to have gotten his feet under him yet. The hot start to the season was a pendulum swing far to one side, and his recent slump just looks to me like the pendulum swinging all the way back. He needs to rock back and forth between the two for a while until he reaches a sort of dynamic equilibrium with a consistent stroke and an ability to consistently adjust to the pitchers.

I don’t think what he showed earlier this year was just a flash in the pan– his swing is too good for that. He’s just still looking for that middle ground where he can thrive. You might think he should be there already, but he’s only really had about a year and a half or so of playing time up in the big leagues. He should get there. Hopefully the Mudhens will let him take it easy for a bit and get his head screwed on straight.

He’s 6 years younger than Casey and without the history of balky knees. For the first time in a long, long time we want to win now, because something might actually come of it. But that only excludes Shelton from immediate use. There’s plenty of room for him in the Tigers’ future.

Behold! a completely blasphemous tale (your momma told you to beware them internets)

Once upon a time, many many years ago (but not as many as those damn SCIENCE TYPES would have you think), the great Creator of all looked down upon the land, and saw that it was empty. And (s)He wished to fill it with things of splendor and wonder, and (s)He wished to put upon the land a guardian to watch over it all.

The great Creator made all the things in the world, all the plants and animals and deadly flesh-eating bacteria and dung beetles and XM radio and cheeses. But these things ran wild, or went untended, or remained sadly unconsumed (the cheeses), and it was not right.

The great Creator decided to make such a guardian as (s)He had already contemplated and to make it in form and function perfect, a copy of the Creator’s own image, truly a guardian without fault or blemish in appearance or performance.

And the great Creator took clay from the ground, and the great Creator shaped that clay in mysterious ways, and breathed life into it.

And behold!

From the clay was formed a Man, and that Man was Chris Shelton.

And the great Creator looked upon His/Her works, and thought unto Him/Herself, “O criminy, I screwed that one up big time.”

For the Man was indeed perfect in function, hitting home runs that made the pitchers in Heaven sob pine tar tears, and legging out triples and just plain old getting on base in such a regular way that it was a marvel to behold. But when it came to form… well…

So the great Creator took some damn sculpture classes, which (s)He should have done in the first place, because ART IS NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS PEOPLE JEEZ SOME OF US GO TO COLLEGE FOR THIS STUFF. And the great Creator studied classical standards of beauty and don’t ask me how that existed already because I’m sure it’s ineffable.

The great Creator decided to make for the Man a Friend, a companion Man that would be his BFF and together they could better tend to the new land and all those within it.

And the great Creator took some more clay from the ground, and the great Creator shaped that clay in mysterious (but this time much more careful and deliberate) ways, and breathed life into it.

And behold!

From the clay was formed a Friend and a Man, and that new being was Brandon Inge.

And the great Creator looked upon His/Her new works, and thought unto Him/Herself, “Well, at least I got the pretty part down.”

For the Friend was indeed a much easier sight than the first, but in function less than perfect, hitting home runs of towering height on occasion, but not really all that regularly.

Thus the two Men were in many ways opposite, and they did become BFF and lo! they did tend to the world, tilling the land and making baseball diamonds, chasing the wildlife and laughing at it, listening to the XM radio, partaking of the cheeses. And they did go golfing together, and they did run over things with the golf cart, because they were unto a small mobile vehicle as gasoline had been ordained to be unto fire.

It’s all true, you know. I saw it on a scroll.

Respect the Red!

AROUS! AROUS! AROUS is on fi-yah!
(AROUS being the Albino Rat of Unusual Size or, as it is locally known, Chris Shelton)

Hopefully this is a sign of beautiful, beautiful things to come, and not a reprise of Dmitri’s 3-homer opener last season (i.e. an absurdly good start followed by a year lacking, shall we say, in luster).

I couldn’t see most of the game, as I was busy dragging my carcass out to Jackson to teach art to some of its finer citizens, but I did put the game on the radio while driving and listened to as much of it as I could.

Did anyone see Inge’s base-running error? It was kind of hard to tell what happened from the radio broadcast. HE WENT 2 FOR 4 AT THE PLATE THOUGH SO EVERYONE CAN JUST SHUT THE HELL UP, Y’HEAR? I won’t have it. He was TOO EXCITED and this is why he overran the base (or whatever he did) and it is not because he is going to do poorly this year because THAT IS A FILTHY FILTHY LIE, that is filthier than the birdcage-bottom of George Steinbrenner’s guano-littered little heart.

Rogers sounded solid, even though he was up against mighty mighty bats wielded by sculpted baseball he-men, like Emil Brown and John Buck.

However HOLY FREAKING CATS JOEL ZUMAYA. Two innings, 1 hit, 1 walk, 3 Ks. Hitting 100 mph on the gun! Walking Mike Sweeney the Self Righteous and letting Mientkie single but then buckling down like a honest-to-kittens real big leaguer.
And after the game he had this to say:

I think it’s going to be the greatest day of my life until I’m married and my children are born… and that’s not close to happening yet.

Right then. Into the Irrational Tigerlove Box with you, Zoom. You’ll stay there while I squee irrationally and with violent enthusiasm over you. You can hang out with Granderson and Inge and Bondo and the AROUS. Don’t worry, it’s nice.
Honest.

We absolutely promise that someone will play first base.

But if you claim to know precisely who will, at any given time, play at first, we’ll have to kill you.

As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, DaMeat is suffering from some variety of injury in his leg. It’s a ‘strain’ in his left quad, apparently acquired while trying to open up the motor out of first without shifting gears properly. As Lee says, it’s the sort of thing you can expect from a 32-year-old guy who’s put as much strain on his frame as Dmitri has, even if he’s lightened the load somewhat now.

In a perfect shiny tiger-striped world, one of three scenarios would take place.

1. Chris Shelton’s vestigial defensive skills blossom into full, solid, unspectacular but perfectly serviceable play, fueled in part by his burning need for revenge. He will take the vast majority of reps at first base this season, and will end the year with a .300 average. He will take walks, and slug, and Tigers fans will start showing up to the park wearing bright red wigs. Pena and Dmitri will share DH duties, dependant on Dmitri’s wildly oscillating levels of health and Pena’s wildly oscillating ability to make contact with the ball.

2. Carlos Pena will achieve Nirvana and this will allow him to attain that magical state of being, so coveted, so previously elusive: the lofty heights of Consistency. The pendulum of his batting average will finally settle where it has so long hinted it might, and Carlos will actually hit, and hit pretty well. The spectacular defense is already there, making Carlos, with regular playing time, into a legitimate Gold Glove candidate. Shelton will occasionally relieve him at first but will spend nearly every day as a DH. Dmitri will get spot playing time only and will justify his spot on the bench by occasionally tooling about in the outfield, and keeping club morale up with in-dugout pie eating contests.

3. Dmitri Young will start hitting like it’s 2003, and his ability to not fall over at first will be enough to recommend him for the spot. He will get his hair braided into the form of an old English D. Shelton’s bat will earn him the majority of games as the DH and, after a failed experiment with Pena relieving Brandon Inge at third, Carlos will bring his major league expertise to Toledo, where he will lead the Mudhens to another AAA championship, and another year of people unfamiliar with the American Coot wondering what, exactly, a mudhen is.

The likelihood is that none of these will exactly come to pass, but the first one is most probable. It’s hard to not be pessimistic and think that Shelton will have a downturn from last season, but he’s the surest thing we have when it comes to first base. The fact remains that Dmitri has never hit American League pitching as consistently well as he hit National League pitching, and that Pena has never hit consistently up to his alleged ceiling, period.

Shelton, however, hit the hide out of the ball last season, showed a mild interest in walks (making him an odd duck indeed among Tigers), and is buddies with Brandon Inge. I’ve heard him referred to as “Big Red”, “Shelty”, “Junk in the Trunk Shelton”, and the “Albino Rodent of Unusual Size” (AROUS). The star power, clearly, is there.

If DaMeat can’t stay healthy, the job is certainly Shelton’s. Unless Pena remembers how to hit. Or Dmitri doesn’t get hurt much this season. Or Shelton does have a severe return to earth at the plate.

Basically, someone will play at first. And we’re pretty sure it’ll be a Tiger.

I call DIBS on that Tiger!

Because one Tigers blogger is not nearly enough, we have joined terrifyingly awesome forces to bring you, the unsuspecting reader, a conglomeration of Detroit-ly themed writing goodness, otherwise known as

Fear our might!

DIBS sites include the following:

TigerBlog
Tigers Central
the Detroit Tiger Weblog
Motown Sports Revival
The Cheap Seats
Beyond Boxscores
Out of Bounds
Sports Pig (Northern Michigan Detroit Sports Blog)
Bless You Boys
Detroit Sports Squad

and of course your very own Roar of the Tigers. You should check out all those guys (and gals? I’m not sure who’s what), though, because you just can’t get enough Detroit sports blogging. Don’t deny, kids. You know you love it.

Anyways, as a mark of the PURE AWESOMENESS and TIGER LOVIN’ SOLIDARITY of DIBS, we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘three of us‘) had the idea that everyone in DIBS ought to have a vote on the Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, and Breakout Player. The results were tabulated by the super magical scientific method of counting, and everyone nodded in agreement. I admit I was a bit surprised about the ultimate Player of the Year winner, but… well, you’ll see.

First, my votes. Plus commentary. Plus photos of the players in question, taken by me, at various games this season, just because. Click the photos for bigger.


TIGER PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Placido Polanco.

Shut up, I know he was only there for a relatively short period of time, but in that period of time… holy cats, was this dude hitting. He injected a little aura of respectability and hope into the team when it seemed like they needed it most (not that it did any good, but STILL), he seemed to get along with most everyone (more than can be said for many Tigers), and he was willing to sign on for future years, which shows either real belief in the team, or immense stupidity and greed. Either way: I LIKE IT. Also, the mystery of his marvellously misshapen cranium gave us something to think about when thinking about the actual team got too painful.


TIGER PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Jamie Walker.

I want to give this one to Bonderman so, so badly, but I just can’t work out what happened to him at the end of the year. All the starters were so horribly inconsistent. I feel stupid voting for a guy who is, basically, a LOOGy, but you know what, tough kittens. On the whole, Walker pitched well this year, and there were several games where I was *so sure* he was going to blow it, and then he didn’t, which is, again, more than can be said for many Tigers this season. Plus he switched to the high stirrup socks at the end of the year, which should be worth at least two votes all on its own.


TIGER BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Chris Shelton.

Duh. OK, so I kind of wanted to give this to Granderson (you know I heart Curtis Granderson), but when you get right down to it, Shelton was up for longer and made a greater impact on the team. 18 homers in 107 games? Yes, please. Nearly ending the year with a .300 average (.299, that’s just as good in my books)? Hot damn. Having an OBP markedly higher than his batting average, and still slugging well (unheard-of for a Tiger)? Indeed. Being pale and red-headed and with huge staring frog eyes and no chin? Yes plz!

I kid, I kid. Obviously the hottest Tiger is either Brandon Inge or Carlos Pena. But the point is that Big Red’s bat-handling glosses over many things, startling appearance among them.

So that was what I thought. The actual DIBS award winners were as follows.

Player of the Year: Placido Polanco.
Pitcher of the Year: Jeremy Bonderman.
Breakout Player: Chris Shelton.

See, I thought I was weird for picking Plonkers, but it turns out that we’re all just weird in the same way. And I feel even dumber for going with Walker, but… no, you know what? I stand by my hick LOOGy and his goofy ways. But Bondo can feel good…. THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN, BONDO! YOU ARE THE COMMON MAN’S CY YOUNG WINNER! As for Big Red, yeah, no surprises there. Our love for him transcends any piddling barriers of socially-accepted norms of beauty or gender.

So I would say that the first year of the DIBS Awards was a resounding internetful success. Bask in the glory of Detroit sports blogging, my friends. The future is now!

And it is tiger-striped.