Category Archives: Dontrelle

Welcome back, Dontrelle! And by ‘welcome back’, we mean ‘hope you do well except for right now, when we hope you perform horribly’.

photo by Samara Pearlstein, awkwardness courtesy of Bobby Seay

Oh, well, nice to see you again, Dontrelle. How… how’ve you been? Good, right? Um… OK, this is pretty awkward.

See, less than a month ago we were saying our heartfelt goodbyes, and now here you are again, back on the mound at Comerica, but this time your socks have their aesthetically-pleasing height somewhat cheapened by that unappealing purpley-maroon, and Brandon Inge is hitting you all over the park. Gosh. That’s just all kinds of awkward.

In his return to Detroit, Dontrelle allowed 5 runs (all earned). He gave up 5 hits, including two doubles and a homer. He walked four, threw a wild pitch, and needed 93 pitches to get through 5 innings. Inge, Magglio Ordonez, and Danny freakin’ Worth all had multi-hit games.

It’s like… I feel bad, but I really, really don’t. You know?

Oh, and speaking of awkwardness: Miguel Cabrera had to leave today’s game due to ‘dizziness’. I was not by a TV for some of the game and so missed the plays surrounding this alleged bout of dizziness, but I heard that he might have taken an unfortunate skip from a ground ball, which may have contributed all sorts of bad feelings, one of which, I assume, may have been a form of light-headedness. Can anyone confirm or deny?

Most awkward: Every time I hear someone mention Chad Qualls, I immediately think of James Quall, which is just… yeah. Sorry Chad. It’s not you, it’s your name. So it is you, kind of. Hmm. Awkward.

If you don’t vote for Miguel Cabrera, you are what is wrong with the world.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Vote Miguel Cabrera into the 2010 All Star game. It is the Right Thing to Do. In fact, it is the only right thing you can do. If you vote for anyone else, you are actively working to destroy everything that is good in the world, like chocolate and kittens and sunshine and the innocent trust of a child. Do you want to work to destroy those things? DO YOU REALLY? I mean, kittens.

Currently leading the voting at first base is Mark Teixeira, who is batting .211/.326/.363 with 8 home runs. Yes, you read that correctly, this rubber-faced trollbeast, hitting a weaksauce .211, is LEADING THE VOTING. Brandon Inge is doing better than that and Brandon Inge is having a wretched season at the plate so far. Teixeira is currently ahead of Justin Morneau AND Billy Butler AND Miguel Cabrera, and everyone else in the entire first-base-playing world, simply because he wraps his rump in pinstripes. This is a wrongness. It is a mockery of Major League Baseball and the entire All Star system. (Not that the system isn’t already a mockery of itself, but you know, worse than usual, etc.)

If you vote for Miguel Cabrera, you are making some strides, however small, towards righting this wrong. And if we get EVERYONE to vote for Miguel Cabrera, why, lots of small strides can add up to one gigantic stomp that crushes Mark Teixeira under its Heel of Justice. YES. FOR BASEBALL!

If you refrain from voting at all, know that your apathy is just as damaging. Inaction can be as harmful as the wrong action, kids and kittens, never forget that.

Again, you can vote right over here. You can (and should) vote up to 25 times per email address, up until midnight on July 1. There are no Tigers leading in any categories. Only YOU can stop forest fires fix this voting mess!

Other cats:

Adam Everett will be designated for assignment on Tuesday. The Tigers will bring up Danny Worth to take his place. They’ve had a lot of patience for Everett’s offensive shortcomings, so I’m not sure why the plug is being pulled right now, but it is, and we all must live with the impending absence of Adam Everett’s hair from our immediate lives. I suppose Ramon Santiago will get some more playing time if Worth ends up being shaky. But this is apparently the year of starting kittens at the big league level and giving them a ton of at-bats and just hoping it works out for the best. Thus far we’re 1-and-1 on that (Jackson, yes; Sizemore, no), so.

Jim Leyland has an interesting bucket list.

Leyland said he never met John Wooden, the legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach who died on Friday at age 99 — but when asked who he’d most like to meet, that he hasn’t yet, it wasn’t a sports figure.

Barbra Streisand,” he said. “I almost introduced myself to her one time when she was at a game in Los Angeles, but I didn’t have the nerve. I’ve just always admired her as a singer and entertainer. I thought she was the greatest of all time.

“She’s on my bucket list. But I’m doubt I’m on hers.”
Tom Gage/Detroit News

I… ok. We do already know that Mr. Leyland can sing shockingly, unexpectedly well; perhaps this is related?

Dontrelle’s first game as a Diamondback was glorious. He threw six shutout innings. He singled and scored the first run of the game (greenlighted on a ball hit to the outfield, he ended up sliding headfirst across home, just barely beating out the throw). He got the win. Oh, my Dontrelle! I wipe a happy/sad tear of pride from my eye.

the D-train is a D-back

D-train by Samara Pearlstein

I completely failed to say anything about the Dontrelle trade. That’s what I get for trying to toss up a blog post when I’m falling asleep at the keyboard. I probably need to stop doing that.

Anyways, as the title suggests, the Tigers have managed to trade Dontrelle to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Tigers will pay most of Dontrelle’s remaining (considerable) salary. In return they get Billy Buckner.

This Buckner kid will hang out in Toledo and SHOULD be a non-factor at the big league level, unless a number of disastrous shenanigans occur. I don’t know much about him, except for the fact that he has been maddeningly inconsistent as a pitcher. I also know that he makes me nervous because his name is Billy Buckner. There is allegedly no relation, but it still just doesn’t sit well with me. Sorry, buddy. It’s reflexive, I can’t really help it.

As for Dontrelle, I wish him nothing but the best. Maybe that is easier to say because he’s going to a National League team, but hey, we’ll be playing them in a few weeks, so it’s not like he’ll never have a chance to pitch against us. But I always wanted to see Dontrelle put it back together. When he’s pitching well, he’s dead good fun to watch: on the mound, in the dugout, in the clubhouse, anywhere. When Dontrelle is visibly happy, it is almost impossible to be an unhappy fan, unless you’re some sort of unbelievably churlish Yankee fan or something.

There are some players who stink it up for your team, and then when they go elsewhere and get their pitching act together, it just annoys you to no end. Or there are guys who stink it up for your team, and you fervently hope that they keep stinking it up when they go elsewhere because if you had to suffer through their stench, everyone else should have to suffer through it too. This is not going to be the case with Dontrelle. He may not be on my team anymore, but I would still LOVE to see Dontrelle happy and healthy and pitching like it’s 2005 again. If you disagree then I can only assume that you’re the type of person who kicks kittens, or smashes a moth and tells a small child that you just squished the Tooth Fairy. GET OUT OF THIS BLOG, WE HAVE NO TRUCK WITH YOUR SORT HERE.

Arizona is planning to put Dontrelle into the rotation right away, so he truly is going to a team where he will have a chance to turn things around, not some place where he’ll languish awkwardly as an ill-advised long reliever or something. And, as he’s going to the NL, he’ll have a chance to hit again, something he had always enjoyed– in 2005, the only season he had 100+ at-bats, he hit .261/.289/.337, which I hardly need to point out is better than the current numbers of Gerald Laird, Alex Avila, and Adam Everett. It’s also better than the numbers of both Scott Sizemore and Ryan Raburn when they were up.

Dontrelle will be in a smaller media market. He’ll get to hit. He’ll be in a much hotter and drier climate for his home games, although I don’t know if that makes a difference to him or not. He’ll be in a totally different league with a totally different set of opposing batters. He’ll have to contend with that stupid Baxter thing instead of the wonder, joy, and privilege of having Paws around, but he can overcome that difficulty.

The Tigers tried every-which-way to make the Dontrelle experiment work. There were flashes of brilliance, and even flashes of simple competence, which would have been enough, but in the end the experiment failed. That’s kind of hard to take, and especially given Dontrelle’s salary I think they would have liked to hang onto him a little longer, but baseball circumstances got in the way. This trade was a roster necessity for the Tigers, but it could be a truly good thing for Dontrelle. I really hope it is.

Curse you, Stomper. Curse you.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I know it’s been all bullet points all the time around here lately, but I am simply too freakin’ tired for Real Person Paragraphs that are, like, all connected and coherent and whatever. It’s not happening.

–Two in a row dropped to the A’s! Ugh. It’s not even as if the A’s are bad this year. I just still have this idea that we should always be able to take on AL West teams. I am aware of the fact that the Central is the Division of Overarching Patheticness now, not the West, but this is just a vestigial bias of my own and I find it annoying to see it trod upon so carelessly by everyone involved. The Tigers should play up and the A’s should oblige us and play down. What is Mark Ellis doing hitting those home runs? I mean, really. What does he think this is, 2007?

–Carlos Guillen has played a couple of games at second base now. So far it has not been completely disastrous. From what I’ve seen he has actually looked more comfortable there than he ever really did at the corners, or maybe I’m imagining things because I want him to be OK. In my mind he has looked like a mostly competent second baseman. Not Placido Polanco, mind you, but then again no one else is.

–Speaking of Placido, Roy Halladay threw a perfect game for the Phillies today in Florida. In the pile afterward I saw a happy Placido all jumping around in there and I got all sad and jealous and sadly jealous. I wish Placido was still on our team, and that Justin Verlander would throw a perfect game so Placido could do happy perfect game jumps with him. SIGH.

–Rick Porcello had a ton of fly ball outs tonight for whatever reason. He’s usually a big groundball pitcher, so this was strange and uncharacteristic. In truth he wasn’t horrific in this one, just sort of uninspiring and vaguely inefficient (as opposed to acutely, or Justin Verlanderly, inefficient). Brad Thomas and Eddie Bonine were the cats who provided the pitcher suffering. Please note that while Bonine’s line doesn’t look so bad on the face of it, he inherited three baserunners from Thomas and let them all score.

–I had no idea, but ‘fly ball’, two words, is the baseball term. ‘Flyball’, one word, is a sport for dogs. Seriously. They have leagues and everything.

–I noticed that Miguel Cabrera is letting his horrifying chin fuzz grow out a bit. This doesn’t improve it, just makes its horrifying lack of cohesiveness, awkward fluffy fly-away texture, etc. even more obvious.

–Magglio Ordonez made a great catch in the 4th on a Kouz hit. He caught his cleat against the wall (in the space between the padding and the dirt, it looked like) and fell over, but he managed to make the catch as he was going down, and he held onto it for the out. I was honestly a bit terrified, because it looked like the kind of play where he tore every single bit of connective tissue in his foot and ankle, but he got up and stayed in the game, so I guess we should (?) assume that he’s OK.

–Forgot to mention this yesterday, but I saw The Farns pitch in Fenway for the Royals, and it was glorious. He has pitching goggles and a goatee now. I took about a million photos, which you lot will see eventually.

–Zach Miner had successful Tommy John surgery, ending his season. The hope is that he will be back by the time next season starts, maybe even by Spring Training if his rehab progresses very, very well. But you can definitely shelve any Miner-thoughts you were still having about 2010.

–Max Scherzer will be back from his Toledo interlude to start Sunday’s afternoon game in Detroit. He was very good in a couple of starts in triple A and now we shall see if his alleged mechanics adjustments actually apply up here, or if it was all smoke machines and clever use of mirrors.

But you can’t get something for nothing and somebody had to go to make room for Scherzer. There was some speculation that it would be Armando. But Armando is safe for now; instead it will be Dontrelle who is designated for assignment. Jason Beck seems to think this means that it’s all over with Detroit and Dontrelle:

…the Tigers technically will have 10 days to try to trade Willis or see if another team claims him on waivers. Neither option seems likely.

With Willis all but certain to decline a Minor League assignment, this essentially means the end of a pairing that went perplexingly bad from the start in 2008 and never saw Willis return to his Florida Marlins form.

For now, Willis will be in roster limbo but could well be headed for a release. Claiming Willis on waivers would involve taking on the rest of his contract. He is scheduled to make $12 million this season, the final year of the three-year, $29 million deal he signed with the Tigers after they acquired him from Florida in the Miguel Cabrera trade.

With Willis all but certain to decline a Minor League assignment, as is his right, he could become a free agent in a week and a half, which would allow him to sign with another team for the Major League minimum and have the Tigers pick up the rest of his salary. More importantly for him, he’ll get a fresh start in a new organization.
Jason Beck/

I don’t know why he’s so dead certain that Dontrelle would decline a minor league contract, but if so, this is sadface indeed. You all know that I love Dontrelle and want Dontrelle to work out so badly that I am rarely able to see reason where he is concerned. Does he have the worst numbers in the rotation right now? Yes? Well… I reject your numbers and substitute my own. So whatever.

Wherever he ends up, whatever he ends up doing, I just hope Dontrelle can find a way to be happy. Ever since I had to hear about his joy for the game of baseball being gone, that’s really all I’ve wished for him.

So the Tigers played the Red Sox and they won some games and I have a lot of thoughts about that but I’m not very organized right now, so you get whatever this is.

photo by Samara Pearlstein

Oh man you guys I am so tired right now. This weekend just absolutely killed me, in both baseball and non-baseball terms. I kept trying to write a post but then I would fall asleep on the keyboard. That is not even exaggeration. I woke up at one point with a very stiff neck and a blog entry that said djsssssssssssssssssfldfsssshjjkhlllllllllllllllllllllllll……, Maybe I could turn that into some kind of art project, but it doesn’t say much about baseball.


–On Saturday I was listening to the Red Sox radio broadcast of the game as I was driving home from a 14-15 hour workday. My back was killing me, my knees were killing me (my knees are still killing me), my throat was killing me since I had been screaming almost nonstop for 10 of those hours. I was beyond tired. Right before I got in the car I had gotten a text message from my friend Beth saying, “So yeah, this pretty much looks like the hastily reanimated corpse of what I remember as Dontrelle Willis.” This is just to set the scene for you.

The Red Sox radio guys start talking about Dontrelle. I paraphrase, but it was something very much like this:

“He’s a guy who is known for playing the game with such open joy. He just loves to play.”
“Well, maybe not anymore. You might have to go back to 2003 for that. That was another Dontrelle.”
“Oh, you’re right. He’s different now. These days he doesn’t seem to play with that joy anymore, he just doesn’t seem to get the same happiness from the game of baseball.”
And more in a similar vein.

THANKS A LOT, RED SOX RADIO GUYS, I’LL JUST BE OVER HERE, SOBBING HYSTERICALLY ON THE HIGHWAY. I almost had to pull over into the breakdown lane. Granted, I was in a particularly susceptible state at the time, but Dontrelle used to pitch with a beautiful boundless delight and now the game of baseball seems to now be bereft of joy for him? Why not just say that all the light and color have been drained out of his life, oh and by the way, any Tigers fans listening to this broadcast, I hope you can stay in your lane while tears are streaming down your cheeks. BLOODY HECK.

–Also according to the Red Sox radio guys, Casper Wells is the first Casper to ever play in the big leagues (not just in the minors). I searched the Baseball Cube to verify this and found Casper Asbjornson, who had played for Boston and Cincinnati in the late 20s-early 30s, but his real name was Robert Anthony Asbjornson; Casper was just a nickname. The card on his Wikipedia page has his name as ‘Asby Asbjornson’. So it is true, Casper Wells is the first.

–I noticed that Alex Avila seems to have already shaved down his mohawk. Way to hate fun, Avila the Younger. Both the Red Sox radio guys and TV guys made fun of Eddie Bonine’s mohawk.

Continue reading

Magglio 2K

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Some other stuff happened in this game… stuff like Dontrelle getting the W despite the fact that Carl ‘American Idle’ Pavano pitched 8 innings of 3-run (2-ER) ball for the Twinkies, like both Magglio and Action Jackson stealing bases, the Tigers turning a whole bunch of double plays… stuff like the Twinks losing their first series of the season… stuff like the game taking only a little over two hours…

Yes, yes, all that happened. But let’s talk about the fact that Magglio Ordonez got his 2,000th hit!

Actually I don’t really know what to say about this, but it’s kinda neat and we need to savor these feel-good Magglio moments, before his body breaks down completely and we’re left with only a slimy undifferentiated mass of goo in the outfield. He is only the sixth Venezuelan player to reach the 2K milestone, alongside Bobby Abreu, Dave Concepcion, Andres Galarraga, Luis Aparicio, and of course Omar Vizquel (sauce).

As is usual with baseball benchmarks like this, it is completely arbitrary. Two thousand isn’t really much more impressive than 1,999, and it isn’t any better than, say, 2,005. But we like big numbers and we use a base ten math system, so we like big numbers that end in zero even better. A number like 2,000 is almost a kind of catnip to us. We cannot resist its tidy allure! We love it! If we’re Magglio Ordonez, we strive towards it and we achieve it!

We love 2,000! Therefore we love Magglio! Feel our love, Magglio! (but in a non-freaky way)

Now just a quick comment on those Other Things. The Twinkie lineup WAS seriously depleted. No Morneau (.352/.495/.620, ‘oblique stiffness’), no Hardy (.218/.282/.372 but that’s better than Brendan Harris, ‘turf toe’), no MauerVP (.342/.407/.494, ‘general soreness’ and ‘day game after a night game’). I dunno what kind of an impact the excision of JJ Hardy had, but it is wicked rare to pry both Mauer and Morneau out of the Twinkie lineup at the same time. So let us be honest with ourselves: Dontrelle was definitely facing Minnesota Lite.

With that caveat firmly in place, we can go on to admit that Dontrelle was pretty good. Perfect? No. He threw 101 pitches in six innings, which is the kind of thing I would yell at Justin Verlander for doing. But Justin is supposed to have power and control and all those sorts of things; with Dontrelle, we’re lucky he has something even vaguely resembling control out there. He is our #5 pitcher, he has a soft hand and a weird motion, and nobody expects him to be efficient. We just want and need him to be more or less effective for approximately 6-7 innings. That’s what you want from a #5 guy.

Maybe this is unfair to Verlander, but maybe Justin Verlander’s continued insistence on torturing me with high pitch counts is unfair. Have you ever thought of that?

Anyways. Dontrelle gave up six baserunners (four singles, two walks) but he also struck out six and he did not allow a single run to cross the plate. He didn’t look nearly as shaky as he used to– even his throws over to first when checking a runner were markedly better than they used to be (remember watching him rainbow those nervous tosses over to first? None of that today). Leyland let him start the 7th and he walked the first guy, after which he was removed. Coming off the mound he was clearly angry with himself for issuing the walk, looking down and muttering furiously, but the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Even though it was against the M-free Twins, maybe this solid effort and subsequent capital-W-Win will give Dontrelle a confidence boost. A little something to bolster his opinion of his own pitching. It has to be good for him, and that in turn should be good for the rest of the team, and for us.

That wasn’t really such a quick comment, but this is my blog, so, whatever. Look, nice shiny series win! Look at it! Ooooo, distracted by the shiny.

the unfortunate return of the Fernandooooooo tiger


Oh, I see how it is. I see how it is, and I don’t like it.

Dontrelle had a solid outing. Quality, you know, by definition and all. Eddie Bonine had a solid outing. That was it: the Tigers, for once, only needed two pitchers to get through the game. They only gave up two runs! The Angels got four hits– just four!– over the course of the entire game.

I’m proud of today’s pitchers. Dontrelle wasn’t perfect, and FSND did zoom in on something that might have been a blister on his throwing hand at one point, but he was pitching like a guy determined to hold down his spot in the rotation. AND HE DID. If two runs over six innings isn’t ‘holding down the spot in the rotation’, I don’t know what is. Does he have to throw a complete game shutout every time out? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT, BATS? Is that it??

I don’t like it when the Rally Monkeys get four hits, the Tigers get NINE hits, and it’s the Tigers who are left scoreless at the end of the day. That’s irksome, ok, I don’t accept it into my life.

The Tigers also took a grand total of ZERO walks on the day, although I’m not sure if you can blame that on the batters or the Rally Monkey pitchers. Probably a bit of both, to be fair to all parties involved.

And of course Fernando would come on in the ninth to close out the game for the Rally Monkeys. Of course! How could it be otherwise? And OF COURSE he would get an easy 1-2-3 save. Ugh.

Dontrelle storms into 2010, sort of.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Six innings! Two runs! More strikeouts than walks! No hyperextension! Dontrelle Willis is BACK!

OK, OK, I will admit that I was not as happy with this outing as Rod and Mario were. Dontrelle threw what felt like a million balls in the first inning. His location was not great. It seemed like a lucky double play was the only thing that kept the inning from turning into a Royal blue bloodbath. He settled down in the second but there was more messiness in the third (a few singles, including a bunt, and a passed ball). It just didn’t look good.

Somehow the double plays kept coming, Dontrelle kept hanging in there, and before you knew it six innings had gone by, the Tigers were only down two runs, and the Royals bullpen was coming into the game, which is an encouraging thing for every batter. The Detroit bullpen was good enough to more or less back Dontrelle and the Detroit bats took advantage of the Danny Hugheses and Luis Mendozas of the world.

Dontrelle did not get the win, but he did have a quality start and while he definitely was not overpowering, he also didn’t look like he was completely melting down out there. This is good. This is what we NEED from him, because the Tigers need all the viable starters they can get and the season will be a lot better with a healthy, effective Dontrelle than it will be if the Tigs have to look to replace him.

So: welcome back, Dontrelle! Please do this again. Many times.

In bat news, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez both homered. Production from the middle of the lineup! Why I NEVER! In fact, in this game Magglio was 3-for-4 and Miggy was 4-for-5. Can you imagine if this starts to actually work out as planned?

Austin Jackson had a good game at the plate. Inge hopped in as a pinch hitter (Don Kelly started at third) and knocked out a double. Even Adam Everett had a double– he’s off to a nice start too (in a very few at-bats, against the Royals, etc). The only really worrying bit came early in the game when Carlos Guillen was on first base. There was an attempted pick-off throw. Guillen ran back to the bag and stretched to get his foot on it; he came up limping a little, grabbing at his left quad or his groin area. He stayed in for most of the rest of the game and made some outs. He didn’t SEEM to be hurting, but this is Carlos Guillen, so you never know. Hopefully someone will keep an eye on it.

Now, the Tigers were ABYSMAL when it came to hitting with men in scoring position early in the game (i.e. before the bullpen came into play), so we shouldn’t get too excited here. But it’s something.

In non-Dontrelle pitching news, Eddie Bonine got the win. He was in for an inning and loaded the bases, but got out of the jam himself. He was mixing in some offspeed stuff that was moving really well; I wasn’t paying super close attention, but it might have been the knuckleball. If it was… well, throwing a knuckleball in a close game with the bases loaded? That takes balls (baseball and otherwise). Give that reliever some credit, yo.

Papa Grande was able to come back from his unfortunate outing last night and throw a good final frame here, getting a fly ball, a groundout, and a strikeout. He was all pumped up after he K’d Podsednik to end the game. It was good to see him do the closer thing and push the previous game totally out of his brain, and it was good to see him pitch effectively here, even if it wasn’t a save situation (as the Tigers were up by 4 at that point).

I’m… kind of… almost… encouraged? With the home opener tomorrow, dare we hope to dream?

a Detroit Tigers Passover, 2010

It’s that time of year again!

As some of you know, the centerpiece of the Passover holiday is the seder plate, a bunch of weird food symbols related to the whole Jews-in-Egypt-and-subsequent-escape-with-parting-of-the-Red-Sea-and-such thing. The food-objects on the seder plate are familiar to all Jews and friends of Jews who get dragged off to seders. We learn how to draw them, arranged around a giant construction paper circle, as small children in Hebrew school, and thus the cycle of Judaism is continued.

ANYWAYS. Here we have The 2010 Detroit Tigers Seder Plate.

The maror, or horseradish, is a horrifyingly strong mash of horseradish that is usually either whitish or this weird pinkish-red. It symbolizes the bitterness experienced by the Jews as slaves in Egypt. Carlos Guillen here is the maror, as his relegation to the role of DH has steeped him in great bitterness.

The karpas is a green vegetable, usually something relatively inedible like parsley, that gets dipped in salt water and eaten. The vegetable is supposed to have something to do with spring and renewal, while the salt water represents the tears shed by the Jews in their slavery and suffering. Austin Jackson is the karpas, because he is youthful green springy renewal, but his place in the trade known as The Worst Thing still reminds us of our sadness and the many salty tears we have shed. Many, many tears. So many.

The charoset is a mix of cut/mashed-up nuts and fruits and things; I’m not really sure what food I can compare it to. Everyone makes it with different things, but it’s usually sweet, tan/brownish, and chunky (but not in a gross way) (honest). It’s supposed to represent the mortar the Jews used when they were stuck building pyramids and storehouses and whatnot for the Pharaohs in Egypt. I know that’s depressing, but Justin Verlander is the charoset because he is the mortar that anchors and holds together the rotation. If all goes as planned. Mortar doesn’t really anchor, does it? You know what I mean.

The z’roa is a shankbone, usually lamb, sometimes chicken for those folks who can’t/don’t want to get lamb. It symbolizes the traditional Passover sacrifice; its presence on the seder plate allows us to get on with things without having to slaughter and cook an entire freaking sheep, which is pretty impractical when you’re living in, say, a city apartment. It also may represent the lamb’s blood that the Jews put on their doorposts so that the Angel of Death would pass over them during the Plagues and bother only the Egyptians. Here it is Miguel Cabrera, whose hitting ability is nobly sacrificed for the greater good of the Adam Everetts and Gerald Lairds of the world, and who will hopefully keep the Wrong Sox of Death from doing too much damage to us.

The beitzah is a hard-boiled egg. It was another Temple sacrifice, and is also a symbol of mourning, as it was traditionally served at funerals. Jeremy Bonderman is the egg, because he looks like one.

The matzah is what you all think of when you think of Passover. It’s not really a part of the seder plate, but it sits in the middle, so whatever, I’m including it. Matzah is unleavened bread with the consistency of a dry cracker and the taste of dust, recalling the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, when they had to leave so suddenly that they didn’t have time to let their bread rise. Rick Porcello is the matzah, because the Tigers took him out of the minor league oven before he had any real time to rise. Luckily for the Tigers, FredFred turned out to be significantly more palatable than matzah.

Finally we have Manischewitz wine, which is also not on the seder plate, but is traditionally consumed during seders so whatever, this is my blog. Manischewitz wine is kosher. It is also more sugary than basically any other wine you have ever tasted, and smells like a cross between corn syrup and fruity cough syrup. Many Jews hate it but drink it anyways, Because We Have Always Done It Thus. Some of us actually like it, even though this seems to convince people that we are crazy.

Dontrelle Willis is the Manischewitz wine, because he’s sweet and he might be able to get the job done, but you aren’t totally sure you want to go that route. Also if you say you really love him people look at you like you’re crazy.

Happy Passover, kids and kittens! May all your matzah recipes go down easy.

the unexpected excision of Armando

with apologies to the ghost of Edvard Munch

Armando Galarraga has been optioned to triple-A. Wow! I was not expecting that one. Of course it was a possibility, especially with the way Arrrrmando had been struggling (9 runs, 4 walks, 14 hits over 7 IP), but I definitely did not think they would ship him out THIS early.

Possibly somewhat tinhattily related, Dontrelle had yet another fairly good outing today. I say ‘fairly good’ because while the results were undeniably good (3 IP scoreless and hitless, with only one walk), Dontrelle made a leaping stab for a ball in the first inning, fielded a comebacker that hit him right in the midsection immediately after, and spent the rest of his day wincing and grimacing after almost pitch he threw. He repeatedly grabbed at his back or side. Jim Leyland and the trainer came out and were waved away at least twice. The Mothership is calling it back spasms.

Rod and Mario had former pitcher Jim Deshaies, now one of the FSN Houston guys, with them today as a guest commentator (sidenote: this actually worked really well and made for an enjoyable broadcast). At one point Mr. Deshaies was down in the Astros dugout talking to Carlos Lee about Dontrelle. For whatever it’s worth, Lee did not sound impressed. He kept kind of shaking his head, talking about how Dontrelle’s velocity has dropped off, which was ‘flattening’ his ‘stuff’ (not a euphemism) (I assume) (/hope), and how he just wasn’t the same pitcher he once had been.

I don’t know. We’ve only seen him in little spurts, which is a rotten way to judge a pitcher, and we’ve only seen him in extremely low-stakes games, which is a rotten way to judge a pitcher. Of course this is the problem with everyone in spring training. It’s particularly problematic for the Tigers, who have a bunch of spots open with no clear frontrunners for most of them, forcing everyone to reluctantly give at least a little real weight to spring performance this year.

With Armando now seemingly bound for a warm feathery mudhen’s embrace, the Tigers’ starting rotation is starting to look… well, not like a real rotation, actually, but it’s starting to look like SOMETHING.

Verlander, Porcello, and Scherzer are basically locks. Both Verlander and Scherzer have kind of ugly spring ERAs, but it’s spring training, so nobody cares. We know what Justin can do, and we did not do The Worst Thing just to get Scherzer and then not use him, at the very least initially.

Then we have the following possibilities:

–Nate Robertson: 4 runs, 4 walks, 8 hits over 10.1 IP

–Dontrelle Willis: 1 run, 5 walks, 5 hits over 10 IP

–Jeremy Bonderman: 7 runs, 2 walks, 11 hits over 5.2 IP

–Phil Coke, I guess: 5 runs, 2 walks, 10 hits over 6.1 IP

Forced to choose from among these options, I choose death. Kidding! Kind of. None of them have leap-out-and-strangle-you-with-glory spring stats; Dontrelle’s nice run total is somewhat offset by the fact that he’s issued the most walks. If we want to go with the devil we know, it would make sense to head north with Nate and Bondo, but Mr. Soda is having a fair spring as compared to Bondo, and Dontrelle’s spring numbers look better than Nate’s. Of course these are spring numbers and thus have all the big league applicability of Tooth Fairy OBP, so maybe it comes down to who’s healthiest.

Who’s healthiest? Bondo, who is coming off of surgery and is still an unknown in many ways that just can’t be tested in spring training games? Nate, who is coming off of surgery and is still an unknown in many ways that just can’t be tested in spring training games? Dontrelle, who is a perfect storm of hyperextendability? Our Patron Saint of Carbonated Beverages had some kind of back problems in 2009, and we all know how those sorts of things just LOVE to recur.

Given that level of uncertainty, Armando can’t be feeling too great right now. He did easily have the worst set of spring stats, and maybe they just think he badly needs a ton of innings and the best way for him to get that is in Toledo, but it’s not like there’s cut-throat competition for one last spot in a solid rotation here. No, Armando pitched so poorly that the Tigers felt he didn’t have a chance in a wide-open fight for who can be the least objectionably mediocre. Ouch.