Category Archives: Maggs

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.

Good things happen. I don’t quite trust it, but I like it.


Magglio by Samara Pearlstein

I’m not even sure what to say about these last couple of games. The Tigers won both, so… good. I am still not positive HOW they won on Sunday, but, you know, good. The only thing I know for sure is that Magglio Ordonez is ON FREAKIN’ FIRE. He’s got 12 hits and 6 runs in 6 games so far; he’s batting .462/.517/.769. Obviously that is an unsustainable pace, but do you really care? No. You don’t care. You’re like me, you just enjoy the hell out of the Magglio Ride while it lasts.

I was working during the Saturday game, so I didn’t see it. I know that Bondo apparently did a whole bunch of positive, old-school-Bondo-type things. I know that Magglio hit a two-run homer in other example of pure Magglio gloriousness. I know that it was the Chinese New Year of the Tiger celebration and that Fu-Te Ni, appropriately, got into the game. I know he hit a couple of batters, but it was Year of the Tiger Day, ok, Ni had free reign to do whatever he wanted, and if what he wanted was to be a little bit wild while not ruining the game, so be it.

I did watch on Sunday, though, and… um. Verlander had a disturbingly bad first inning (43 pitches and five runs, including a Luis freakin’ Valbuena grand slam). A true Bondo first inning, actually. Now we have to hope that the First Inning Syndrome was not contagious. It’s bad enough that every little cold gets passed around the clubhouse because ballplayers do not believe in tissues and hand sanitizer; First Inning Syndrome would be even worse. Basically what I’m saying is: WASH YOUR HANDS, BONDO. Sheesh.

After giving up five runs in the first and not scoring any runs themselves until the 5th, the Tigers absolutely should have lost this game. But in baseball, there is no ‘should’! There is only ‘oh yeah that actually happened, huh, look at that’! Still. The Tigers left 18 cats on base. There were three Racist Logo home runs and zero long shots from the Tigers.

But stuff just kept happening. It may have taken them to the 5th to get their first run, but the Tigs scored in every inning after that. Bonine gave up some runs, but the bats kept on clawing back, and suddenly it was the 9th inning, and it looked like this:

–Raburn grounds out.
–Magglio, hero, singles. The crowd begins to act like they believe the Tigers can actually do this thing.
–Miggy walks.
–Carlos Guillen doubles, scoring Magglio and making the score 8-7. The crowd goes nuts.
–Inge grounds out to Asdrubal Cabrera, who makes a fairly insane diving stop on the ball.
–Ramon Santiago walks, loading the bases. A couple of the pitches are borderline, but we’ll take it. Even with two outs, everyone is losing their minds.
–Johnny Damon pinch hits for G-Money. He walks in the tying run on four straight balls. Crowd goes bonkers. The Racist Logo pitcher is thoroughly freaked out.
–With Sizemore up, the Racist Logo pitcher throws one ball, then chucks a wild pitch that the catcher has no chance on. Guillen scores. Tigers win, 8-9. Everybody jumps on everybody else at home plate. Beauty and truth prevail.

So Verlander is saved from a loss, the home opening series is magically transformed into a sweep, Magglio continues his campaign of fabulousness, and all the new cats get to hop around in a walkoff party pile. The best part?

Eddie Bonine started the 9th and had to come out in the middle of his first batter (not sure what happened, I wasn’t paying very close attention). Leyland brought in Phil Coke. The batter had a full count and Coke let him single, but he followed that up with a line-out to third and a double play. The game was 8-6 Racist Logos at that point. Since the rally came in the bottom of the 9th, it was Coke who got the Win-with-a-capital-W.

In light of his immense sadness following what he considered a poor performance, this just warms my cold little heart. See, Phil Coke! I told you it wasn’t so bad.

From the Hastily and Sketchily Drawn Sketchbook: 5 Things RotT Would Like to See the Tigers Get Done Before the Season Starts

#1

Sign Justin Verlander to a long-term deal.

#2

Refrain from signing Johnny Damon to any kind of deal.

#3

Team lecture on responsible alcohol use and safety.

#4

The regrowth of Magglio’s flowing locks.

#5



Kidnap Curtis Granderson, return him to his proper home.

wham! a homer! wham! anudda homer!

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Nothing like a quick, crisply played game after an offday, eh? A game with few pitching changes, so the action marches right along without a lot of annoying stoppages. A game of control and determination, the pitcher matching wits with each batter as he steps in. A magnificent example of finely played baseball indeed.

Also the complete opposite of Tuesday’s game.

Combining the Tigers and the Mariners, there were

–24 hits, with

–4 doubles,

–1 triple,

–7 homers, and

–1 Magglio Ordonez grand slam in this one.

The Tigers won, so I’m not complaining. I’m just saying, you know: a stately and dignified pitching duel this was not.

Although the collective Tigers pitching entity only issued a single walk, which is rather encouraging, and the Tigers batters managed to eyeball themselves into SIX walks, which is almost unheard-of for them. WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?!

Miguel Cabrera is a freak of nature, which I mean in the nicest possible way. He was 3-for-3 today with two walks, three runs scored, and a homer. He’s toyed with batting slumps for a couple of months now and he’s still hitting .330 and OPSing .949. At this point I would not be particularly surprised to learn that he sweats phoenix tears and that his chin tuftlets are actually portals to another dimension where the world is free of hunger, war, and human suffering.

I also very much appreciated the Magglio grand slam, because poor Magglio cut his hair for naught, let his shining glory be eclipsed by the Clippers of Misguided Dreams, and he’s still been hitting so little that… well. To give you an idea of how truly abysmal he’s been, behold, the following Tigers are currently OPSing better than Maggs:

Ryan Raburn, Placido Polanco, Brandon Inge, Curtis Granderson, Miguel Cabrera, Ramon Santiago, Marcus Thames, Clete Thomas.

The only Tigers currently OPSing worse than Maggs? Gerald ‘mostly ironic G-Money’ Laird; Adam ‘what are a power bat’ Everett; Josh ‘not in any way Curtis Gr’ Anderson; and Dusty ‘I play so infrequently nobody ever remembers I’m even here’ Ryan.

Let’s face it, when you’re supposed to be a hitting superstar and an imposing batting figure to strike fear in the hearts of your enemies, and Ramon Santiago has hit one more homerun than you in half as many at-bats, you will begin to feel that you have Problems. So the grand slam– which ended up being absolutely necessary, as it was only a two-run win– was especially nice, coming from Magglio, who so desperately, obviously needed it.

Anyways, for a video summing up this game nicely, I suggest you head on over thisaway.

Tigers are full-grown, Cubs are not. Perhaps this outcome was inevitable.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

This was such a good series. I mean, we always want to see the Tigers win, and we always want to see them sweep series, and we always want to see them give the hometown crowd some quality entertainment, but for some reason it was even better when the opponent was the Cubs. Maybe because anticipation was running so high for this series? And all of the games were wicked close, so it was good baseball all ’round. I don’t know. This series gave me a little spring in my typin’ fingers, put a smile on my face, cliche cliche, etc.

In fact, this is how happy it made me:

Just look at that smile.

Arrrrmando finally gets a win! The last time he managed to hang a W on his name was back in April, so this is heartening, heart-warming, encouraging, etc. He was far from perfect– after that first inning I thought we were going to see a performance that would make his continued presence in the starting rotation Highly Awkward– but he was good enough to out-duel Ted Lilly, and that’s the main thing. When he came out of the game he got an enormous hug from Rick Knapp in the dugout, much to the delight of Rod and Mario and all right-thinking people everywhere.

By the by, did you know that Ted Lilly’s full name is actually Theodore Roosevelt Lilly THE THIRD? He and Frederick Alfred Porcello THE THIRD ought to start a club, or maybe a support group.

Magglio hit a two-run homer in this one and was 2-for-4 last night, making him 3-for-8 with 2 RBI in the Post-Hair Era. This is plainly terrifying. Now he has reason to believe that the… the shearing had the desired effect, i.e. it was a slumpbusting move, and lo, the slump has been rendered bust.

We don’t want to encourage this! First Fernando cuts off his triangular pharaoh beard, then Nate kills his huge sideburns before they even have a chance to grow properly, and now Magglio removes a priceless work of art. Actually I feel that this string of bad decisions dates back to last season, when Brandon Inge did this.

SIGH.

Ramon Santiago also hit a homerun today, bringing his total for the season up to five, that being two more than Magglio now has. At the start of the year, who would have predicted that, by late June, Ramon Santiago would have more homeruns than Magglio Ordonez? Nobody, that’s who, excepting possibly Ramon Santiago’s mom.

Since we’re on the topic of homeruns anyways, we may as well address one of the few :( moments from Thursday’s game: the Miguel Cabrera Lost Homerun. If you didn’t see it, the ball hit the outfield fence rail in front of the seats, well above the wall and the yellow line. Because it hit the fencing, it dribbled down the wall and ended up back in the field of play, where it was called a double. For some reason Leyland didn’t challenge it, even though instant replay definitely would have given Miggy the HR.

For a short period of time, when the game was 3-2 Cubs, it seemed like it was going to be a big deal. Miggy did homer in the Wednesday game, and all’s well that ends well, I guess, but he was robbed, yo. Rough.

Oh, I suppose we also owe a small tip of the cap to the bullpen, who were used a crazy lot in this series (every single reliever except for Freddy Dolsi pitched on Wednesday) and did not, in general, Ruin Everything. Fernando made things dicey today by getting too cute and giving up a homerun and a double, as is his way, but he managed to scrape the save, keeping him deceptively perfect in that stupid category. I think I have trust issues when it comes to Tigers closers.

Just as a side note, do you know how many errors the Tigers committed in this series? That would be a grand total of ZERO. I don’t know what it is about the Cardinals, but it just gets creepier and creepier the more it looks like the problem really is with the Cardinals.

Now the Cats are off to Houston, for THE AWESOMELY AWKWARD PUDGE RODRIGUEZ REUNION! I want to see him and G-Money exchanging stilted, uncomfortable smalltalk on the field. FSND, you know what you must do.

tragedy strikes: Magglio cuts his hair

Let’s get this out of the way first:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooOOOOOOOO!

Jason Beck has the scoop.

“Change,” Ordonez said. “Overhauling. Maybe I hit like old Magglio.”

The first 90-degree day of the summer in Detroit might’ve also had an impact.

“Hot,” he said. “Too heavy.”

FSND’s Twitter has a picture of the new/old look. Sigh. It’s not bad, it’s just… it’s not as fun. And I LIKE fun, catdammit.

I have hastily compiled a timeline of my own photos of Magglio’s hair. You will note the changes in camera quality and photographic ability as we trundle through the years. These images range from 2005 up into the 2009 season.

Now you may truly understand what it is that we have lost.

Jim Leyland's magic show

digital illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Well! That was different. I like it.

Here’s the Bizarro Detroit lineup that Leyland presented to the world on Tuesday night:

Josh Anderson

Placido Polanco

Clete Thomas

Miguel Cabrera

Curtis Granderson

Magglio Ordonez

Brandon Inge

Gerald Laird

Ramon Santiago

And here’s what that lineup did:

11 hits, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 2 homers, 4 walks, 9 runs,

including two Tigers who almost hit for the cycle (Clete was a homer short, and Miggy was a triple short)

~*~magical~*~

Obviously, if the Tigers had lost this game in some spectacular fashion, Jim Leyland would be a crazy old man grasping desperately at the bendy straws in his overpriced ballpark beverage. Because they won (in a spectacular fashion), he is a genius at the base balls and I photoshop him into a top hat. This is bloglogic, and there can be no denying it.

With that said, there are some elements of this sort of lineup that are more than random magic or luck. Granderson, for instance, is hitting .259/.325/.528 right now, and has hit .279/.348/.495 for his career. Puttin’ that into words, he’s tending more towards power and away from wicked high on base percentage. It would be nice to see him put up prettier OBP numbers, but it makes more sense to maximize what he’s got RIGHT NOW, instead of waiting to see if he’ll turn into something else eventually. And what he’s got right now are numbers that make more sense lower down in the lineup, out of that leadoff spot, where he’s got more of a chance to drive some other cats in. He’s been the leadoff hitter for so long mostly because the Tigers haven’t really had a proper leadoff hitter on the team.

Er, not that I’m ready to declare Anderson the perfect leadoff hitter or anysuchthing. But RIGHT NOW he can fill that role. He’s currently getting on base at a better rate than Granderson, at least, and he’s got some speed or whatever dubiously useful tool it is that makes Leyland like him.

Dropping Magglio down in the order is also smart. He’s having a downright sloth-like start to the season, which I refuse to even speculate about because it makes me faint with worry that he may decide to cut his hair to change his luck. (Which would be The Worst, for the record.) Knocking him down a few steps did nothing for him tonight (0-for-4), but I am guessing the hope here is that with the glare of the spotlight even slightly deflected, he’ll be more likely to work his way out of his little slump.

It’s not like the Tigs can send him down to Toledo to work on his swing, and dropping him all the way down to 8th or 9th would probably just depress him and send him farther in the wrong direction. Assuming Leyland keeps him hovering around the 6th or 7th slot for now, I’m cool with it.

Clete Thomas batting third was pure crazysauce and the fact that it worked out as well as it did tonight is evidence of the ~*~magic~*~ at work (to be fair-ish he’s apparently hit OK against Blackburn in a small sample size of the recent past). Jim Leyland waved his fingers at the fresh call-up, and behold! thus did the child gain the ability to confound Minnesotan pitching with his bat.

Also magic? Frederick Alfred Porcello the Third, who threw 87 pitches over the course of 7 innings, allowed 4 hits (all singles), walked 3, struck out 3, and gave up a grand total of zero runs. The only reason he didn’t come out to pitch the 8th inning was because he had looked a little weensy bit struggly at the end of the 7th, and Leyland in his infinite wisdom decided he’d rather have Frederick end the outing on an undeniable high note and not risk coming in and giving up a few hits or what-have-you.

Frederick is still but a kitten, and I STILL think that if Bondo had stayed healthy the kid should’ve at least started the year in the minors, and this game was basically stress-free for a pitcher after the second inning, and, y’know, it’s the Twins, they sometimes have issues…. buuuuuuut outings like this are pretty encouraging. Gaze upon that efficiency and weep, Mr. Verlander.

Because Jim Leyland had cast his magic spells over this game, Nate Robertson and Juan Rincon pitched the last two innings without giving up a run, which is a true testament to the awesome powers of the occult.

Can’t really think of a good place to put this stuff:

–The home run that Miggy hit tonight was around 440 ft. Just an enormous blast. Prodigious. Leviathan. Monumental. He’s batting over .400 again. I know it’s early, I know, I KNOW, but holy cats is he fun to watch right now.

–Carlos Guillen is on the DL with, last I saw, “shoulder inflammation”, which could be anything from fairly severe tendonitis in his shoulder to some vague unspecified soreness and a general feeling that he just needs some time off to think about his hitting. Either way, it’s yet another bodypart we can add to the Bits of Carlos Guillen’s Anatomy That Concern Us List (back, surgically repaired knee).

–I don’t think he ended up with any errors tonight, but the Cuddler in right field had an awfully rough night out there, with at least two plays where he dove for the ball and came up painfully, embarrassingly short. Combine that with the three errors the Twins DID get called against them, and it’s clear that this game owed a lot to Twincompetence and it wasn’t all sparkly magic from the Tigs. Still. Sparkles.

–I had the Twins broadcast tonight, which was fine, anything but the White Sox, you know. The only eyebrow-raise-worthy part came when the announcers started talking about Cinco de Mayo and how they had just learned that it was specifically a Mexican holiday! So it actually has no inherent meaning to the Dominican or Venezuelan ballplayers! And isn’t that so crazy?! They never knew!

Spanish-speaking countries: they are not all Mexico. Thanks for clearing that one up for us, Twins announcers!

Wednesday night’s game will pit Arrrrrrmando against Mark Buehrle. The lineup will be whatever fits Jim Leyland’s fancy at the time. Here’s hoping for more magic.

ETA: Rainout. Where’s the magic in that? It’s Miner/Contreras on Thursday, assuming the weather holds and such.

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.

Tigers bid a fond farewell to the Gopher Dome for the season


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Later, Gopher Dome! We hate you and are not at all sorry to leave you.

On a more sincere note: wins! Two wins in a row, even. It seems unbelievable but it is Real Actual Fact!

Saturday was a stressful win, although it only really got stressful at the very end. Verlander’s day was just about the definition of ‘eh’: 5.2 innings, 4 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks with 4 Ks. Not up to his former standards and not a quality start, but decidedly better than his last outing, so we’ll call it a wash. It was enough to keep the Tigers in the game, anyways.

Magglio went absolutely bat-guano crazy, falling just a single short of the cycle, with his double and triple coming off of Baker and his homer off of Guerrier. It’s so weird to think that Magglio has not been able to help the team more than he has this season… he is batting .319, after all. But his OPS is only .874. Compare that to last season, where his OPS was (an admittedly astronomical) 1.029…

The stress came in the form of Fernando Rodney, of course, who pitched the 9th inning and shaved at least half a year off of all our lives. Cats forbid we have a nice, easily-closed-out game. No, first we have to LOAD THE FREAKING BASES, and only then can we close the game. Is Fernando Rodney the new Todd Jones? Rollercoaster Rodney? He handled Sunday’s final inning just fine, so maybe he’s learning.

Sunday! Yes, that second win! Chris Lambert’s VERY FIRST EVER Major League win! Awwwwww yay. It is basically meaningless, but I’m happy we were able to get at least one for the poor kid. He may as well get something positive out of the horrible situations we keep forcing him to experience. I didn’t actually see most of his day, because I was watching the Lions game. Why? Because I am an idiot and a masochist, apparently. Let’s not talk about it. More baseball.

Howzabout our title image dude up there, Dusty Ryan? This was his first ever Major League start (awww, yay) and he hit his first ever Major League home run (awww, extra yay!). It was particularly fun watching him play opposite Joe Mauer – it was like The Oversized Catcher Extravaganza out there. There were a couple of stolen bases against him, but Lambert is not exactly Justin Verlander when it comes to his move, so, whatever.

The Farns was throwing up around 99-100 today. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen him topping out his velocity since he’s been back with us. Not sure what that’s all about.

The Race to .500!

With these two wins, the Tigers now need 12 wins to reach the promised land, and we still have 7 losses left to spare. The joys of .500 still seem so very far away.

We’re back home in Detroit for Monday’s game, takin’ on the A’s at 7:05 pm EDT. Zach Miner vs. Gio Gonzalez. This is a rare instance where the opposing pitcher is actually much worse (on paper) than the Tigers starter for the day, so it would be nice to take full advantage of that… but Gio’s got the dread Small Sample Size hanging over his head, so who knows, he could surprise and torment us, as has happened so many times this season. Ho hum. 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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