Category Archives: Edgah Renteria

Do trade rumors make you nervous? Trade rumors make ME nervous.


photo by Samara Pearlstein

So many trade rumors are flying around right now, you’re lucky if you can make it through the day without getting at least one or two smacking right into the side of your head, all claws out and wings flappin’, giving you a major headache. Or does that only happen in the RotT Headquarters? I’m never quite sure.

The bulk of the rumors thus far seem to be flying around Magglio, getting their pointy rumor bits tangled up in his hair and all that. Why Maggs? Well, he’s going to be 35 in January, and that’s the wrong side of 34 for an outfielder with a history of nagging and spasmy injuries. He can still hit, but it’s unlikely that he’ll put up 2007 numbers ever again, and he’s rapidly approaching DH Land, or at the very least Outfielder But Not In A Cavernous Outfield Like Comerica Land.

Those facts, combined with his big shiny name and his big shiny hair, make him a relatively rare commodity in the Tigers organization: a player who is old enough to make trading palatable for the Tigers, but still viable enough to make trading palatable for other teams. He, uh, also still has $48 million left on his contract, which probably works against moving him, but we’ll cross that river when we stagger up to it, and the fact that he has three years left might make him attractive to someone… I mean, they’d have him under control for a good solid while… as he aged precipitously…

Look, there are stupid teams out there, right? We can’t rule this sort of thing out just because there seem to be logical points against it.

What do the Tigers hope to get from a potential Maggs deal (or from any other deal)? Now that Brandon Inge has been declared the third baseman of Christmases Past, Present, AND Future, we’re probably going to need a catcher. Dusty Ryan is all well and good, but he’s just a kitten and we don’t really know whether he’ll be able to consistently hit major league pitching or not.

I don’t know what catcher we’d pick up– we’ve talked about this before– but I’m gonna say right now that Jason Varitek is not the answer, and anyone who seriously talks about Varitek as the answer to the Tigers’ problems behind the plate is stuffing their face with pure sugary crazysauce. I know that he’s a Leader and a Captain and a Clubhouse Studmuffin and a Pitcher Whisperer, but the Sox were leaving Kevin Cash in games to take at-bats even after the knuckleballer had been pulled by the end of the season. KEVIN CASH. I love Tek, as a Red Sox fan I am contractually obliged to love Tek, but really, no.

There’s also the question of shortstop. The Edgar Renteria Experiment didn’t work out (surprise!!) and even if he’s re-signed to a smaller restructured contract, it will not magically start working. Edgah doesn’t do the AL. It’s been tried twice now and it didn’t work either time. Let it go. As much as I don’t want to see Ramon Santiago starting the season at short, I want to see Edgah back even less, so hey: Ramon 4 eva, unless someone better can be picked up. Ramon 4 eva conditional.

But then there is the position we need filled most desperately: PITCHER. Relief pitcher, for sure, but we should at least be sending out feelers on starters as well, especially since Nate Robertson underwent a collapse of astronomical, black-hole-style proportions. If a bad, fleecy deal of Pudge was able to get us a single maddeningly inconsistent relief pitcher, Maggs should be able to bring in a good bit more.

In other news, Kenny Rogers is thinking about pitching in 2009. If he wants to pitch for another team, whatever, but I don’t particularly want to watch him slowly mouldering on the Tigers anymore. The staff was depressing enough without that piled on top.

Pay your last respects to Virgil Vasquez, by the by, as he was plucked off waivers by the Red Sox. He wasn’t doing much with us (how down on a guy d’you reckon the team had to be to NOT call him up during the disaster that was the 2008 Season in Pitching? PRETTY DOWN, I would guess), but by golly, he had a fabulously alliterative name, and we’ll miss that.

The fact that he was on waivers at all, thus freeing up a spot on the 40-man roster, would seem to point to the possibility of a trade coming up soon. Thus the rumor flocks. Hopefully we shall soon see what there is to be seen, and hopefully it will be good for us. I don’t want to wake up some day soon to a repeat of the Pudge deal, where I spend the entire day after gaping in mute horror, because Pudge Rodriguez straight up for Kyle Farnsworth, really?!?!?!?!??!?!.

You hear me, Mr. Dombrowski? NEVER DO THAT TO US AGAIN.

Happy New Years, Tigers (for certain values of 'happy')


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

How very appropriate that the last day of the Tigers’ season should coincide with (at least one group’s version of) New Years. As we rocket into the year 5769 we will jettison this past season into the Black Hole of the Past, never to be spoken of again, except for the several million times when I will bring it up.

A great many things have happened since we last spoke/remotely interacted via pixels. To help ease our transition into the new year, I will go over all these things. As many of them as I can immediately recall at the moment. Whatever.

We played the Wrong Sox in an ‘extra’ game. We lost.

On the one paw, it looks like Freddy Garcia was pitching OK, so mazel tov to Mr. Garcia, but on the other paw, apparently he came out with a spasmy injury? That’s not exactly the way you want to end the season, but at least he has a lot of time now to rest it, and it’s not as though we were exactly counting on his health/effectiveness for next year. (And if we were… oy.)

On the third paw, our hitting was terrible and our bullpen was terrible and Arrrrmando got tagged in relief with a stupid pointless loss. There was no upside to this game. None. Except for the fact that it was one additional day of Tigers baseball, and come January we’ll be fondly looking back on it for that reason and that reason alone.

Gary Sheffield did not get 500 homers.

He stalled out at 499. Barring catastrophic injury, he’ll trot on past that milestone next season. If he doesn’t do it in a Tigers uniform, I will probably be OK.

His entire family, through multiple generations, up in the Comerica box with all the signs, though… that was pretty unequivocally great.

Brandon Inge has been declared next season’s starting third baseman, and Carlos Guillen will move to left field.
This one caught me by surprise – I’d only just started to fully come around to the Brandon Inge as 2009 Catcher camp, and then WHAM, the sudden turnaround. I honestly don’t understand why this decision would be made (or publicly announced at this time) unless the Tigers had someone in mind for the ’09 catcher.

Like, even if they were thinking about it, why announce it now? Why not wait and see if you can get the catcher you want via free agency or trade or Dusty Ryan suddenly hitting baseball puberty? And then if you don’t get that guy, you still have Inge expecting to catch, and there’s no drama. By announcing this NOW, the Tigers have invited further drama should they attempt to move Inge back behind the plate yet again at some point between now and April. You see what I mean?

It’s also becoming increasingly obvious that Carlos Guillen’s body is falling apart before our very eyes. Morbidly fascinating, really. His ideal position very soon (if not already) will probably be DH, but the Tigs have plenty of elderly, heavy-batted fodder for that spot, so Guillen gets shunted around the field to try and figure out where he can do the least amount of damage. Sad.

Chuck Hernandez was fired.
I’m fairly ambivalent about this one. To return to our little cat’s feet: on the one paw, I don’t think Hernandez specifically was the Big Bad Main Problem here. He had nothing to do with guys getting old, and injuries like Bondo’s are nothing to do with any kind of pitching coach. But on this second paw… well, he had a LITTLE to do with this mess, perhaps in the sense that when stuff went wrong that he SHOULD have been able to do something about, he failed to do so.

Verlander… even putting aside the issues of arm fatigue and (over)use that arose this year, which are more strictly Leyland’s fault, you still have a guy pitching way, way off from his peak, and you have a pitching coach completely failing to get him back on track. You have a bullpen suffering from inconsistency so dire that if inconsistency was a bodily disease the entire ‘pen would have been hospitalized, and you have a pitching coach unable to do much of anything about that.

You have Joel Zumaya, a guy whose injury was probably not 100% preventable, but whose mechanics require much more close attention than they’re getting under Hernandez (or much more attention with knowledge about what to DO with that attention, in any event). Zoom’s one of those exotic pets, like an iguana or something, that require a very special set of supplies to thrive. He needs his appropriately-sized tank, his specific-wavelength heat lamp, his particular lettuces. Hernandez means well, and he loves his iguana, but he just doesn’t have the specialist-type of knowledge necessary to keep pet iguanas. And let’s face it: it’s just not responsible to have a pet iguana if you can’t care for it properly.

Miguel Cabrera won the AL home run title.
He hit 37 for the Tigs this season. This is a vaguely pointless ‘title’, but he beat out ARod and Carlos Quentin the Wrong Sock for it, so we can all feel good about that.

Edgar Renteria’s 2009 option will not be picked up.
THANK CATS. Look, I’ve had two seasons of watching Edgah try to hack the AL, on two different teams, and I’ve had enough of it. The guy can’t do it, he’s unhappy trying to do it, he starts playing like he’s unhappy, and the whole thing becomes a vicious cycle of ineptitude and woe. I hope he goes back to the NL and has all the success in the world out there, but I don’t want to deal with him on this side of the DH Divide anymore.

I guess we can still re-sign him as a free agent, if the madness takes us. At this point I would really almost rather go with Ramon Santiago. At least he’d come cheaper, and we’d probably get comparable production.

The Tigers have officially clinched last place in the division.
Our final record is 74-88, for a .457 percentage. At least we avoided 90 losses? Worse than the Tigers are: the Orioles, the Mariners, the Braves, the Nats, the Pirates, the Giants, and the Padres (the Reds are actually exactly tied with us, with the same W/L record). That may seem like a respectable number of teams still looking up at our tail, but those are some catawful teams, kids and kittens, so coming out of the season with a better percentage than them is nothing much.

Kansas City is not allowed to gloat. You’re under .500 too, guys. Here but for the grace of one stupid make-up game go you.

Curtis Granderson will be in-studio for the AL/NLDS on TBS.
He’ll be working pregame and postgame and probably some between-inning stuff as well, alongside Cal Ripken Jr, Dennis Eckersley (who has been a glorious studio presence on the Red Sox TV channel), and whoever TBS has hosting this thing. Because Curtis Granderson is a perfect being, he is marvelously good at this broadcast stuff, and if you were waffling about whether or not to watch these upcoming non-Tigery postseason games, well, you might want to tune in just to see Granderson a) conversing with Dennis Eckersley and b) probably wearing a suit.

If you can’t get excited about that, you can’t get excited about LIFE.

The Tigers are not in the postseason. Just in case you hadn’t noticed.
I assume that my rooting interests from here on out are clear, yes? Remember: every time you root for the Red Sox, you root for Sean Casey to be made happy. Don’t you want Sean Casey to be happy? Don’t you want him to smile? Isn’t he just the nicest guy ever? Rooting against Sean Casey is like rooting against kittens. I just want you guys to bear that in mind.

Onwards. L’shana tova to those of you celebrating the new year, and a happy stress-free postseason to the rest of you goyim.

Go Lions?

(Don’t get the New Years stuff, or the image up top? Tonight is the start of Rosh Hashana [literally ‘head of the year’], the Jewish New Years. The Jewish calendar starts earlier than the common calendar, so while it’s only 2008 in the common calendar, it’s now the year 5769 in the Jewish calendar. It’s traditional to eat apples dipped in honey on Rosh Hashana, for a sweet new year.)

nom nom nom: Nate Robertson overfeeds his gopher


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

How appropriate that I already had this image of Nate Robertson feeding his gopher.

Let’s face it, Nate is terrible. I could temper that with a ‘right now’ tacked onto it, but I’m not feeling particularly charitable tonight. I know it was the Rangers and they can hit, blah blah, Ranger Park at Arlington blah blah bandbox blah blah hitter’s park blah blah blah. Nate has managed to get through 6 innings only once in his last 5 starts. He is terrible. The end.

For extra fun details on his terribleness, let’s look at what he did today: 8 runs (6 earned), on 8 hits and 4 walks, with 5 home runs, one double, and two triples. In other words, of the 8 hits Nate gave up, NONE WERE SINGLES. They were ALL extra-base hits. Chew on THAT for a little while and see if it doesn’t make you vomit.

Oh, and he did all that in 3.2 innings. You know, just for added hilarity.

You think I’m done? I’m not done. It gets worse. Nate didn’t just give up 5 home runs in under 4 innings, he gave up TWO SETS OF BACK-TO-BACK HOME RUNS. Brandon Boggs/Michael Young went back-to-back to start the third, and Josh Hamilton/Milton Bradley went back-to-back to chase Nate from the game in the 4th. The lone home run was courtesy of Travis Metcalf, and was a two-run job. Nate was not just feeding his gopher, he was actually force-feeding it, as one would do if they were trying to make a sort of gopher foie gras.

So, OK, that’s about it for the sheer humiliation of this game, right? WRONG! See, they set off fireworks in Texas when a Ranger hits a home run. This is fine if home runs are being hit every so often, and there’s a bit of a wind to disperse the smoke. But tonight home runs were being hit CONSTANTLY, they were being hit in bunches, and there was almost no wind at all. This meant that after the Bradley home run (so 5 Rangers homers had been hit in under 4 innings), the ballpark was covered in a dense grayish fog. It was the smoke from the fireworks, see, and it wasn’t dispersing rapidly enough because a) the aforementioned meteorological conditions and b) there was so damn much of it at this point.

Brandon Inge actually had to check with Aquilino Lopez, when he came on in relief, to make sure that he could see the plate through the haze. Embarrassing? Yes. Not nearly as embarrassing, however, as what happened with Aquilino’s first batter. Marlon Byrd hit a fly ball to right. Magglio went after it… and almost immediately started waving his arms wildly. The ball dropped in for a double. Maggs had lost it in the pale fog, much in the same way that white baseballs are sometimes lost in the white roofs of domed stadiums.

OUR RELIEVERS AND OUTFIELDERS WERE SUFFERING BECAUSE NATE HAD SUCKED SO BADLY THAT THE BALLPARK WAS LITERALLY SMOKING.

I suppose we should all thank the Rangers for so beautifully illustrating what would have otherwise been mere metaphor for the Tigers.

Fun side note!

Apparently when Edgah was slumping (and oh, how he was slumping: recall his lovely .220/.264/.293 line for the month of July), Pudge started getting him up earlier in the mornings so that they could work out (and I guess hit?) together. The increased fitness apparently helped Edgah with his hamstring, and he changed his batting stance slightly, probably under the tutelage of Pudge, and has been hitting better ever since (.322/.385/.508 so far in August). This little anecdote came to us courtesy of Rod Allen on the FSND broadcast during tonight’s game.

According to a New York beat writer, Andy Pettitte refuses to throw to Pudge.

Kyle Farnsworth has been terrible with the Tigers, while the Yankee bullpen has acted like they actually MISS his presence.

Why did we make this trade again?

Thursday is an offday, thank cats. Hopefully it will give us some time to lick our wounds and all that. Friday we’re in KC for an 8:10 pm EDT matchup between Justin Verlander and Brian Bannister. Bannister has been worse than Verlander this year even though Verlander has had significant struggles, so you would think the odds are in our favor, but that is clearly an unproductive line of thinking this year. Black is white, cat is dog, Tampa Bay is first in the AL East. Go Tigers!

the bats at least were happy to see Matt Ginter again


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I’ll be totally honest: I mostly remember Matt Ginter for his banjo playing abilities (which were quite good, to the point where I could appreciate his technical ability while remaining more or less completely indifferent to the whole banjo music genre). I know he pitched for us too, back in ’05, but yeah, mostly I remember the banjo business.

Apparently Ginter has fond un-banjo-related memories of the Tigers, because tonight he obliged us with four runs in as many innings. A most cordial, neighborly, friendly sort of thing for him to do! Much appreciated, of course. Tigers and Tigers fans will always welcome happy memories from those halcyon banjo strummin’ days. They were truly the most banjoriffic 14 game appearances of our lives.

It had to be Ginter’s desire to recapture the glory of 2005, right? I am convinced that this must be the case mostly because Edgah got a great big double off of him. At first glance this is no big deal: he doubled, so what? But then you remember that this is EDGAR RENTERIA, he of the .335 slugging percentage, i.e. the lowest slugging percentage on the team except for the hazy memory of Dane Sardinha and the pitchers. THIS man, this perpetually hangdog singles-hitting specimen, got an extra base hit. Off of Matt Ginter.

Banjo wistfulness? It is the only possible explanation.

A bunch of other Tigers batters had good games, which isn’t surprising given the quality of the Racist Logo pitching tonight. What is surprising (aside from Edgah) is the night that Brandon Inge had: 2-for-3 with a run scored and 3 RBI, two of which came on a two-run homer in the 8th. This is a good night for Brandon at any time (the only non-pitcher Tigers with a worse OPS than Inge right now are the previously maligned Edgah and Gary Sheffield), but it’s ESPECIALLY remarkable because it came on a night when he was CATCHING!

Since Inge is dead convinced that catcher’s gear makes him allergic to hitting, every time he manages to have a good game while behind the plate, it counts like two good games: once in the stat columns, and once in his own psyche. Catchers can hit! It can be done, Brandon! You yourself are occasionally living proof of this very thing!

The pitching was fine, certainly better than the R.L. pitching. Arrrrrmado didn’t quite have a quality start, but stuck around long enough to get his NINTH win, for a 9-4 record with a 3.36 ERA (still far and away the best among the starters; next best is Verlander at 4.29) and a 1.16 WHIP (again, best among the starters, followed by Verlander at 1.26. In fact, Arrrrmando’s WHIP is the best among all Tigers pitchers who’ve thrown 100+ innings so far this season). He definitely fell apart in the 6th inning, but that was after getting through the first three innings perfect.

It’s hard to know what to do with Arrrrmando these days. It seems impossible that he can keep on pitching this way, but then again it seemed almost as impossible that he would ever throw more than a couple of good games when he first started this season. I still don’t think he can keep this up into the fall, but I sure would LOVE to be proven wrong on that point.

Bullpen usage was a little weird today. I wasn’t really a fan of leaving Dolsi in for two batters in the 7th after he got two outs to finish the 6th. He threw 18 pitches… I don’t know, I suppose anything even vaguely resembling overuse is going to get my hackles up where he’s concerned for the rest of the season. And speaking of overuse, why go with Fernando in the 9th instead of Jonesy? It wasn’t a save situation, and although Fernando was technically available today, he HAD thrown 40+ pitches in an outing not too far back and is almost certainly still feeling it a little. I mean, if Fernando is the closer, this is kind of what Todd Jones is FOR right now.

Whatever. A win is a win. Thank you, Matt Ginter.

Wednesday’s game (7 pm EDT) should be Nate vs. Cliff Lee. Ah ha ha ha ha ha ohhhh man. So, we’re probably kind of doomed, but we shall see. Maybe Edgah will go on a scorching power-hitting streak now! And maybe the skies will open up and rain adorable kittens down upon us all! Go Tigers!

the midseason report card, Roar of the Tigers style


photo by Samara Pearlstein

OK, I’ve seen a lot of blogs on the magical internets doing these midseason report cards and scorecards. I am currently being bored to tears by the All Star game, so what the hell. Obviously this is going to be RotT-style, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

PITCHERS

Jeremy Bonderman
Grade: n/a
Reason: deceased

the Bovine kid
Grade: C
Reason: Every time he goes out there and doesn’t sit down on the mound and start screaming, it’s a plus for us. He’s not handling major league hitting all that well but then again nobody really expected him to do so. In an ideal world (or a less-than-ideal world that nonetheless did not include the destruction of Bondo and Dontrelle) he wouldn’t be anywhere near the big league roster right now.

Freddy Dolsi
Grade: A-
Reason: I saw the very first ever pitches he threw in the big leagues in person, and it seemed eminently likely that the poor kid was going to be scarred for life. This has not been the case. Leyland has been leaning on him awfully hard and he’s bearing up under the pressure remarkably well for a kid who is 12 years old and weighs about 100 pounds.

the Fossum Possum
Grade: D
Reason: Look, it’s Casey Fossum, what do you expect? He doesn’t fail because a) he’s a lefty and b) he gives me an opportunity to say ‘Fossum Possum’.

Arrrrrrrmando Galarrrrrrraga
Grade: A
Reason: The thing with Arrrrmando is that he SHOULD be like Bonine– every time he goes out there and doesn’t start screaming hysterically on the mound, it’s a major plus for the Tigers. But Arrrrmando has been serviceable. Heck, more than that, he’s actually been GOOD. He has been performing so far above any reasonable expectations that it would be downright churlish to give him anything other than an A and a bunch of extra Rs in his name.

Rollercoaster Jones
Grade: B-
Reason: I know this is going to seem insanely generous to a lot of cats, but Jonesy is dead weird and cannot be graded according to the standards of normal people. Sure, his ERA sucks. Sure, his WHIP sucks a LOT (a 1.54 WHIP is pretty bad for a starter, let alone a closer; the best closers in the league right now all have WHIPs under 1.00). Sure, he only has 17 saves– of course the Tigers haven’t given him a ton of save opportunities. But, insanely, he only has 2 blown saves. This compares favorably with some of the best closers in the league. Mariano has none, but Joe Nathan has 2 and Papelbon has 4. Jonesy is frustrating in the extreme but he’s not ACTUALLY deadly most of the time. It’s weird. So, B- .

Aquilino Lopez
Grade: A-
Reason: He’s been fairly good, and kind of flying under the radar. It’ll be interesting to see if the Tigs do manage to convert him to a 5th starter at some point. The best thing about him is still the fact that his name is Aquilino.

Zach Miner
Grade: D
Reason: CONTROL. GET U SUM.

Clay Rapada
Grade: C
Reason: Eh. Sometimes he pitches OK. Mostly he comes up when we need a spare left hand in the bullpen, and gets sent down when more reliable options become healthy/available/sane. Probably the coaches have a good reason for this.

Nate Robertson
Grade: C+
Reason: Nate has had some hard luck this season, we all know that, and he’s pitched some amazingly amazing games, but he’s also pitched some awful games. In a beautiful world filled with fluffy kittens and the ballplayers who hug them, Nate would be a #5 starter. Unfortunately, we do not yet live in that world, and Nate has to play like a less marginal pitcher because we barely have 4 starters, let alone 5.

Fernando
Grade: C-
Reason: Watching Fernando fail on the mound, when I KNOW that he has the latent ability to throw deadly, unhittable pitches, is one of the most frustrating things in the whole wide world of baseball. Fernando makes me want to pull out my own hair and at the same time reach through my TV screen to strangle him. It’s very healthy. He doesn’t get a D because he is at least still (slowly) (incrementally) dragging his numbers back down towards respectability, and because he’s from a city that’s only one letter off from my name. I dig that.

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quick RotT programming note

Hey kids and kittens, we’re having some internet problems here at RotT headquarters, in the sense that there isn’t any. Internet, I mean. I’m currently, er, borrowing from a friendly neighbor but past experience tells me that this connection is pretty spotty. I’m going to do what I can to keep things rolling, but if I don’t update about a game or two, well, that’d be why.

The moral of this story is that Comcast, as a collective entity, needs to be taken out back and shot. I could regale you all with stories about the multitude of problems I have had with them, in various locations, but quite frankly that would turn into a blog post so long that no one would want to read it. The latest and most hilarious development involves a lack of technician attention until at least Wednesday, unless we want to go to the nearest service center… which apparently does not have a phone, so we can’t call them and figure out exactly where they are. I could not make this stuff up if I tried.

As I quietly and not-so-quietly seethe at the festering mass of incompetence that is Comcast, I invite you to reflect upon the struggles of Edgar Renteria and his Amazing Disappearing Bat. I hesitate to call it expected, but as someone who also follows the Red Sox, it does look like Edgah’s engaging in an AWFULLY familiar sort of struggle…

congrats to Renteria, congrats to us all


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Edgar Renteria got his 2,000th hit today. Yay Edgah! So, nu, it was not a majestic towering home run or anysuchthing; in fact, Edgah had to hustle his tail off just to beat it back to first, since the ball never left the infield. But a single is a single is a hit, and it all looks the same in an arbitrary milestone marker like hit count!

Edgah is the first Colombian ballplayer to record 2,000 hits at the big league level. Yes, it’s arbitrary. No, there is no actual reason why the 2,000th hit should be more interesting than the 1,999th or the 2,001st. But hey, we are human beings (with the exception of Paws), we are all members of a civilization with a base-ten math system, we get a kick out of numbers that end in lots of nice round zeroes. Hooray zeroes! Hooray 2,000 hits! Congrats to Edgah, from Tigers fans and Edgah fans and probably a whole lot of happy Colombians.

Other stuff from this game because I am too bloody lazy to do a proper post right now:

–The River Thames hit ANOTHER home run. This means that his last 8 hits have all been home runs, and he has homered in 5 consecutive games. They’ve mostly been big, no-doubt homers too. This is so crazypants that it’s practically crazygauchos. The River’s line right now is .256/.326/.624, which has to be one of the most deranged hitting lines I’ve ever seen. He is basically doing nothing EXCEPT hitting homers. Obviously this is not a, uh, sustainable baseball strategy, but it’s wicked fun to watch while it lasts, and he’s certainly doing his level best to stay in the starting lineup.

–There was a fan in the stands, all decked out in Giants gear, with an approximately life-size cardboard Barry Bonds cutout sitting next to her. Taped to this was a sign saying, ‘Talk to me when you get to 700,’ apparently aimed at The River. Which is clever, kind of funny, maybe a little overly dedicated, but who are we to call anyone over-dedicated?

The problem was that the fan appeared to be talking to it. To the Barry Bonds cutout, I mean.

Marcus: keep a wary eye out so long as you’re still in San Francisco. There may be crazy ladies comin’ after you.

–Ryan Raburn had a big home run too, which definitely would have been the hit of the game if The River hadn’t come along later and extended his crazy homer streak. Rod Allen’s take on the Raburn homer: “I mean, he lifted and separated!” Make of that what you will.

–Bengie Molina looks like a freaking Transformer in that chest protector.

–Pretty sure I saw Nate break out the rally gum for this one. They had a shot of Kenny shoulder-hugging Nate after Raburn hit his homer (which meant Kenny was in line for the win), and Nate had this gigantic bulge in his cheek. There haven’t been too many chances to break out the rally gum this season, so it was nice to see Nate workin’ his masseters again.

–Kenny! Seven innings, only one run allowed, FINALLY got the team to give him a win. He also put down a textbook bunt to move Granderson over to second. This bunt was seriously a thing of buntalicious beauty. He did not break his fingers or sprain his ankles or otherwise injure/embarrass himself at the plate. Starting pitching continues to honor the memory of their dear departed Jeremy Bonderman.

–Jeremy Bonderman, who by the way IS having surgery; this was confirmed during the game today. I don’t believe it’s been confirmed that he’s having the rib removal surgery specifically, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s what it was.

–Jonathan Sanchez had a no-hitter going into the 6th inning until Granderson broke it up with a single. I was thisclose to coming on here and posting ‘JONATHAN SANCHEZ IS THROWING A NO-HITTER’ to jinx the bloody thing.

–This is a random note from yesterday, and it’s from the Red Sox game, but the Sox are in Philadelphia right now, and that means I GOT TO WATCH CHAD DURBIN. He pitched extremely well (which was not good for the Sox, but whatever, Chad Durbin!).

Tomorrow Galarrrrrrraga goes up against a guy who once took photos of Bobby Kielty in the clubhouse bathroom and published them in Sports Illustrated. BUT IT WUZ ART! This one’s at 3:45 pm EDT, which is an awkward hour, but at least it should be over before 1 am. Go Tigers!

Tigers roll up their socks and win


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Literally. The entire team had their socks up tonight, presumably as a sort of superstitious ballplayer luck-boost, and by cats, it worked. Barely, but a win is a win and we can’t exactly afford to be choosy these days.

I think the only player on the field who did NOT have his socks up during the game was Todd Jones. I was all set to castigate the Rollercoaster for being elderly and set-in-his-ways and an all-round party pooper, but after the last out Jonesy ROLLED UP HIS PANTLEGS to participate in the teamwide highsock celebration. This despite the fact that he did not have high socks on, and thus was showing a lot of very pale leg. It’s the thought that counts.

Most everyone else wore their socks up proudly and properly, with one exception in the form of Edgar Renteria, who had some of the most pathetic ‘high’ socks I have seen in ages. His poor sock effort was reminiscent of Cabrera’s Spring Training sock issues: woeful little anklet things. It was clearly Edgah’s attempt to avoid being the weak link (wet sock?) who won’t put his socks up while still trying to hold true to his personal preference for pajama pants. I laughed at him. I do not feel bad about that. With those socks, he deserved it.

Arrrrrrmando Galarrrrrraga looked great out there with his socks up and his pitches working. I know that the word on the street/internet has him getting bumped when Dontrelle comes back, but it’s hard to imagine that being a good thing when he’s been one of the more consistently good Tigers starters (as insane as that is). It’s not like we expect him to keep it up and become the next Greg Maddux or something, but if he’s able to pitch well out there, why mess with that?

Also looking mighty fine in his high socks: Matt Joyce. The kid is hitting, as Rod Allen said, like he wants to stay here, and his homer today was further proof of that. It ended up being the vital winning run too, which is no small potatoes for a young ballplayer in his first ever interleague series.

Most of you know that I have long been a proponent of the high socks for all ballplayers, all the time, for a variety of reasons (baseball uniforms look like pajamas without them; they make for better photographs, being an aesthetically pleasing stretch of color; they are a glorious part of baseball uniform history; etc.) (even better visual goodies when stirrups are involved). So I was WICKED PSYCHED to see the entire team taking a step in the direction of sock-rightness today, and even happier to see it play some tiny, mental part in a rare Tigers win.

Oh, and today we learned, via Kirk Gibson, that Jim Leyland’s nickname is HUMPERDINCK. This fact brings me only joy.

Renteria gets his stripes


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Ugh, I had this whole great post set about third basemen, and then we go and trade for Edgar Renteria. FIGURES.

Now, I have some experience with dear Edgar, since I of course watched him closely during his time in Boston, known privately to Edgar as The Sobbing Time. He batted .276/.335/.385. Let the record state that this was also the only AL season Renteria has experienced to date. He had been in the NL his entire career prior to ’05, and when he went back to the NL in ’06 he promptly batted .293/.361/.436 out of sheer gratitude. Over his career he’s batted .291/.349/.407.

Now, lots of factors could have been at work here. He was unfamiliar with AL pitchers and AL parks. He had just come off a .287/.387/.401 year, which seems pretty good in comparison with the numbers he put up in ’05, but until ’05 that was his worst year in a long time… so it’s not as though he dropped out of the stratosphere when he got to Boston. He just dropped out of the troposphere. It could’ve just been a fairly random low point his career, which happens.

He also wasn’t just dealing with the AL– he was dealing with BOSTON. If you take the terror that a career NL player has coming into the AL, and you cube that terror, and then you add in the terror of being attacked by a zombie grizzly bear while you’re on fire and surrounded by gasoline-soaked rabid koalas, then and only then do you begin to approximate how Boston appeared to a weak-hitting Edgar Renteria. In all fairness, this wasn’t just Renteria reacting poorly… that’s about how Boston behaved towards him when it became clear that he wasn’t exactly going to be hitting for extra bases that season. Especially the zombie grizzly bear bit. I’m pretty sure I actually SAW some guys in Fenway holding anti-Edgar signs who looked A LOT like zombie grizzly bears.

My point is that I worry about Renteria’s ability to hit in the AL, but I hope he simply had an inability to handle Boston. Detroit’s a big baseball city, but a player is much less likely to suffer a mental breakdown here than out east. If he hits like he did last year I won’t complain (much), but with only one season in the AL under his belt… a PROBLEMATIC season… I don’t think you can say with 100% confidence that he’s going to hit at his NL levels in the AL until you actually see him do it.

The money doesn’t bother me. Mr. Ilitch can just sell some extra pizza or whatever if he has to. We haven’t been paying like a small-market team for years now (and doesn’t it feel extravagently good?). So:

Negatives

– He’s 31 years old, presumably aging in the usual direction. The entire infield will be filled with broken-kneed old men very shortly, minus Brandon Inge.

– Much as I hate to give Tony The Russa any credit for anything, ever, he may have been at least sort of right when he called Renteria a “sensitive and shy guy”. Again, it’s not like Detroit=Boston, but it might still be more intense here than in the NL cities where he’s been languishing.

– We traded Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez for him. Matt’s already covered this, and you should check that out ’cause he’s, y’know, the expert and all, but I’m not super happy with this. Both are young, both still have potential, and I just WISH there was some way to know that Renteria’s 2005 was a Boston-induced fluke. I really, really do. If the problem turns out to be AL pitching I will hate the fact that we gave those two guys away for a year of really bad ‘renting’ jokes.

– With Carlos Guillen already in place, Renteria’s arrival will mean that we may have the weakest-chinned infield in baseball. All we’d need to do is collect Jorge Posada, and we could have the weakest-chinned team of all time.

Positives!

– Theoretically speaking, he CAN hit, and we have numberlicious proof of it, not just ~*~vague impressions~*~ from our collective memory. He can hit in the NL. Now he just has to translate it over. If he can NL-hit here in the AL, our lineup will be scary, scary, scary and good.

– If he remains uninjured, he should be a defensive upgrade over Guillen, if only because of the fact that his knees (unlike those of Carlos) are not made of gristle and hopefulness. Again, we’re hoping his high error total in 2005 was because he really can’t stomach zombie grizzly bears.

– He’s unlikely to disrupt the clubhouse in pretty much any way.

– He’s not Jack Wilson.

On the whole, then, I think I’m mostly pessimistic about this trade, but that’s my default setting. When I think about who else we could have brought in (the aforementioned Wilson… David Grit Eckstein… even, urgh, ARod…), I feel OK about this move.
So long as he hits like he does in the NL.