Category Archives: Cameron Maybin

Willis and Cabrera putting on the stripes?

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

As of right now I don’t think the deal has been finalized, but the word on the digital street is that Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera are headed to Detroit for 6 players.

The Freep says that, so far as they know at the moment, the package of Tigers going to Florida consists of Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio De La Cruz, and Burke Badenhop.

Let me be the first to say: Dude. WOAH.

This is… unexpected, to say the least. I (and many of you, I assume) had got the impression that Cameron Maybin was Untradeable, and that Miller was in a similar boat. As early as YESTERDAY I had heard this. Now we find out that (probably) both have been traded. I’m wondering what caused the turn-around. Was the hardline stance Dombrowski had with regards to these guys just a front to drive up their value as potential trading chips, or was the hardline stance mitigated because Dombrowski honestly believes that a combination of Willis and Cabrera thoroughly trumped even the stars of the Tigers minor league system?

I tend to think it’s the latter. Maybin and Miller are both very very young and have the POTENTIAL to be excellent. Yes. Very true. But Dontrelle Willis is a 25 year old two-time All Star and Miguel Cabrera is a 24 year old murderer of the baseball. These are guys who are very young and have REALIZED their potential to be excellent. This is probably what Dombrowski was thinking.

Maybe he was also thinking about the age-related issues facing the Tigers for next season and beyond. We do have a lot of rapidly aging bats under contract for the coming season; we’re talking about guys who are good ballplayers, even great ballplayers, but who are starting to fall prey to the ravenous jaws of Time. The Tigers have been pawing at the edges of World Series success the past 2 seasons. So close. Sooooo close! (argh. also, sigh.) Maybe NOW is the time for them to take that final step.

By signing Cabrera the Tigers got the power bat (sadly a righty) that they declined to jump for in ARod, with 8 fewer years on his body. Maybe 7 or 6.5 if you say that the extra weight Cabrera’s put on in recent times is wearing him down. He’s still one hell of a hitter. He hasn’t batted under .300 in 3 seasons, his OBP has been over .400 the past 2 seasons, and his SLG percentage hasn’t dropped below .560 in 3 seasons. Please recall that HE IS 24 YEARS OLD.

Now, Cabrera has primarily played third base the past couple of seasons. Before that he spent most of his time in the outfield. Where do we play him? Obviously I am deeply concerned about the fate of Brandon Inge here. But maybe a more far-ranging outfield position would help whip him back into shape, or would at least give him further motivation on that front? This will be a trying time for Brandon Inge fans, and I encourage my brethren to keep their spirits up, as our scrap-tastic patron midget would want.

If our elderly players manage to spend most of the 2008 season in one piece each, just IMAGINE what our lineup will look like. Just look at the NAMES. Granderson. Polanco. Cabrera? Magglio. Sheffield. Guillen. Pudge. Who-the-heck-ever else. Drool. DROOOOOOOL.

And then we have Dontrelle Willis. Dontrelle Willis, a great pitcher who had a bad year, numbers-wise. Every AL fan is aware of our obvious superiority, and we generally believe that the NL is easier on pitchers’ ERAs. Willis had a 5.17 ERA for the Marlins last season, which is worse than Jeremy Bonderman, who spent every first inning last year curled up in a tiny ball on the mound being eaten by fire ants. Willis’ WHIP was 1.597 which is… pretty bad. This does not inspire confidence, but it is of course possible that he just had a down year.

One of my main concerns with Willis is his delivery. Oh, I know he’s been fairly durable thus far in his career, but that is one seriously whacked-out leg kick. Even more than the Injury Bug, I fear the Complexity Bug. The Complexity Bug attacks players who have batting routines or pitching deliveries that are unusually complex. The more complex a motion is, the more separate parts there are that have to go consistently right to make the entire motion successful. The more parts you have, the greater the likelihood that one will go wrong. You see what I mean here? It’s possible that, last season, there was some weeny thing in Willis’ delivery that was juuuust far enough off, and he just needs to get his ‘feel’ back to retain his glorious former skill.

At the least the Tigers have picked up a guy who can definitely start, and cat knows, after the rotating 5th starter bull dung this past season, we needed that.

Now, we did give up an AWFUL lot to get this deal done, but we just got 2 blockbuster players who are both relatively young. I would be a LOT more annoyed if we had given up all this young talent to get one or two older players, no matter how good. That said…

I know everyone is going to be talking about Maybin and Miller and the other young pitchers. But if it turns out to be true that this trade included Mike Rabelo, I am seriously kind of concerned about that. I know. I KNOW! Mike Rabelo! But think about it. What on earth is our catching situation right now? We have Pudge, whose bones have been slowly liquefying month by month for a couple years now. We have Vance Wilson, if he doesn’t show up for Spring Training with both his arms amputated at the elbow or something, and even if he’s fully recovered from his surgery come April, he’s not exactly a spring kitten himself. We have… uh….. Brandon Inge? (egads, no)

Pudge needs a backup. Period. Pudge needs a GOOD backup, because whoever backs him up is going to end up playing on a fairly regular basis even if Pudge somehow (magic? fairies???) makes it through the entire year without injury. Mike Rabelo was a shockingly good backup. I was always worried about our catching situation, but now I am near frantic over it.

Don’t tell me James Skelton is the answer. The kid is TINY and inexperienced (‘though both, of course, may and probably will change: he is also very young). Nobody above him in the system has much of anything that impresses me. We’ve already discussed the issues with catchers on the market this offseason.

I hope that Mr. Dombrowski has something in the works to address this problem as well. Right, Dave? Right?

Anyways. Wow. The Tigers are looking to contend next season, that much is clear. There is no looking to 2009 or beyond in the Tigers front office. They believe we can win now, and, lucky for us Tigers fans, they are apparently willing to do whatever they possibly can to make that happen.

UPDATE: Matt has the minor league angle covered for this move. Check it out to see what we really gave up to get this kitten done.

Verlander definitely back in the saddle?

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

It seems like all the starters are falling back into their old awesome ways, or some close approximation thereof. Kenny looked solid his last time out. Bondo seems to have kicked the first inning bug (knock on wood and/or Bondo’s head). Nate has alternated good and bad starts (going backwards, he’s had outings where he allowed 2 runs over 6 innings, 6 runs over 4.1 innings, 0 runs over 8.2 innings, and 5 runs over 6 innings), with some bad luck named BULLPEN in his good starts. Chad Durbin, of course, recently took his pimp jacket out of the mothballs.

And now here we have Verlander, who, after a series of fairly awful starts, has allowed a total of 2 runs in the last 21.2 innings that he’s pitched.

It seems– only SEEMS, mind you– that this is a good thing happening at the right time. Finally. We’ve suffered enough worry about terrible things happening at the worst possible time. I say it only SEEMS that this is good because the goodness is of course dependent on all these starting pitching trends continuing, with nobody backsliding. Making absolute statements about baseball will usually only bring you sadness and woe.

The offense also seemed in vintage form in this game, excepting Gary Sheffield… but we’ll cut him some slack, what with the whole DL thing and all (plus the fact that he’s a hundred years old). Brandon Inge had an RBI single, continuing his recent hot(ish) streak. There’s no telling exactly what turned him on after he had been so very very off for so very long, but whatever it was I hope he keeps up with it. The vaunted .300 batting average is out of reach, but maybe he can shoot for .250.

Granderson homered again, giving him 20 on the year. All he needs is one more steal to complete the Slightly Arbitrary Yet Awesome Foursome which, if you’ve forgotten, is at least 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs, and 20 stolen bases. He’s got 21 more games in which to try to steal a base, so as long as he doesn’t psych himself out by trying way too hard we should be writing his name up there with Frank Schulte and Willie Mays, the only other players to ever achieve the Slightly Arbitrary Yet Awesome Foursome before now.

I’ve got to get moving for the Michigan/Oregon game (Wolverines, don’t fail me. Again. More. Please.), but I just have to quickly point out one of my favorite bits of yesterday’s game, which came in the pregame show, when John Keating was interviewing Cameron Maybin. They were talking about Maybin’s somewhat unexpected call-up and subsequent effective benching.

Keating: Do you think it’s a matter of too much too soon?
Maybin: No, I think it’s a matter of me just trying to do too much.

Oh, Cam.

Tigers defeated by evil bloated pinstriped beast

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

This game made me angry.

I mean, first of all, Roger Clemens is a bad man. A real ottermuncher. I particularly enjoyed Tim McCarver lecturing us for an inning about how his recent disciplining had made him “sensitive” and how this meant he wouldn’t aim at Cameron Maybin even though Maybin is 12 years old and hitting him really well and, in Roger Clemens World, this means that Maybin is being disrespectful to the state religion of Rogerdom.

The reason I so enjoyed this was because the third time Maybin came up to bat (after singling [for his first ever big league hit] and homering [for his first ever big league homer] in his previous two at-bats), Clemens came up and in on him and hit him on the wrist. Sensitive INDEED!

At that moment, I really wished our Detroit seagulls could come to New York and divebomb Clemens. He’s a BABY, Clemens! You are ANCIENT! So the kid can hit you! If you feel you have to throw some chin music to defend your wrinkly old honor, fine, but you don’t BEAN the kid! I mean, what if he’d broken Maybin’s hand? That could have happened WAY too easily in that situation, and I suppose a soulless beast like Clemens wouldn’t care, but he SHOULD.

Admittedly I have a bit of a grudge against Clemens for the same reason that all Sox fans do, but he was not the only thing about that game to make me angry. Let’s take Bobby Abreu’s go-ahead run-scoring home run, shall we? Otherwise known as THE CHEAPEST HOME RUN IT IS POSSIBLE TO HIT. What is it in Yankee Stadium, 310 feet down the line where he hit that thing? I’ve seen high school fields bigger than that. And the ball hit the foul pole, making it even CHEAPER. In Comerica, that’s nowhere NEAR a home run. But it was enough in stupid Yankee Stadium, for stupid Bobby Abreu, and it ruined a really good outing by Chad Durbin, and now I’m just getting sulky.

Bondo better have worked out some of his first inning issues, because I REALLY am not in the mood to lose to the Yankees again.

a taste of a Tiger-striped future, today!

photo by Emily Smith

Things are afoot!

Cameron Maybin has been called up, which will give us all our very first look at the much-ballyhooed tiger cub here at the big league level. He had just been bumped up to Erie last week, so talk about whiplash: the kid barely had a chance to get all excited about being promoted to AA ball, and now he’s going to be in a Tigers uniform in Yankee Stadium.

In order to make room for him, Craig Monroe has been designated for assignment. This makes sense. It had seemed more and more obvious, as the weeks wore on, that the Craig Monroe era was drawing to a close. There’s only so long that the Tigers could stick with his .637 OPS… for comparison, Maggs has a 1.025 OPS. Pudge has a .724 OPS, despite the fact that he walks basically NEVER, and even Brandon Inge has a .708 OPS. Mike Rabelo, the EMERGENCY BACKUP CATCHER, pressed into action only because the regular backup catcher is dead, has a .677 OPS. A .637 OPS is essentially unacceptable for a starting Tiger.

It was especially unacceptable because Cameron Maybin existed. Maybe, maaaaaaybe if the Tigers had had nothing of note in the minors, Monroe would’ve stuck around. But it made no sense to keep him with something a lot better in the wings. I mean, if nothing else, just think about how fast our outfield looks right now. Hot stuff.

It’s a LITTLE weird that this happens now. Why not wait ’til September?

Scary side-thought: Monroe will probably clear waivers. Jack Wilson, I think, just cleared waivers. I thought those trade talks had finally died, but if they haven’t… urgh. DO NOT WANT. Especially not since Wilson was only yesterday wheezing on the field.

The other move made was a call-up of Ramon Santiago and a corresponding demotion of Omar Infante to AAA. This makes less sense to me. Yeah, Omar’s not exactly tearing up the world with fire and vigor right now, but he’s not doing terribly for a bench guy, and I can’t see that Santiago is going to make much more of an impact. I would hope that the Tigers aren’t making moves just for the sake of making moves, and I doubt that they are, but the reasoning behind this one is not immediately clear to me.

edit: If you put some stock in the Monroe/Wilson rumor, I guess you have to consider the chance that Omar’s demotion was part of some machinations to send him to the Pirates along with Craig. If that is in fact the case, I hate it. Monroe for Wilson isn’t SO bad… I still don’t like Wilson for the money, but at least we wanted to get rid of Craig anyhow. But I do NOT like the idea of giving the Pirates anything useful for a player that we should not at all be trying hard to get. And I consider Omar to be quite useful. Also: young. So if THAT is what the plan is, yeah, I’m going to be fairly unhappy about it.