Category Archives: Ramon Santiago

Happy 4th of July from Roar of the Tigers and Ramon Santiago.


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Go forth, cat-friends! Eat barbecued meats (or vegetables, if that’s your thing)! Observe colorful explosions! Refrain from blowing off any of your own extremities! Consume many beers, although not in combination with the aforementioned explosions! Release a rehabilitated bald eagle into the wild! Put every red, white, and blue piece of clothing that you own on your body! Throw a baseball back and forth with some people, realize you will never get paid to do this thing, then go inside and put on the Tigers game! AMERICA!!!

And a special Happy 4th of July this year from Ramon Santiago, who just recently officially became a US citizen. Unlike you, Ramon Santiago IS getting paid to throw a baseball back and forth with some people. It is a lovely thing. Go Ramon. Go Tigers. AMERICA!!!

Our Ramon will go on.


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Ramon Santiago. The Detroit Tigers. Two years, $4 million. A thing that is happening.

I like Ramon Santiago on the team. He’s a good sort of player to have, one of the types of guys I feel most successful teams ought to have on the roster. Does he set the world aflame with his bat? Well, no, but that’s not his job. Do I show up at your place of employment and demand that you step up your tiger shark tagging stats? No. That’s not your job. Unless you happen to be a tiger shark field biologist, in which case you can imagine me demanding that you step up your astronaut duties.

Ramon Santiago is a utility player. He has advocated for a starting role for years, but let’s face it, no one is fooled. A utility player he has been, and at this point– at age 31, heading into his 10th season in Major League Baseball– a utility player he shall remain. Heck, he’s even built like a utility player. Under six feet tall! Possessing a body type Rod Allen would probably call slender! Genetically of utility!

So while the money does seem a bit steep, I will just assume that it’s at least a little bit influenced by service rendered, and it’s not my money anyways, or at least not very much of it, and doesn’t Ramon Santiago deserve some good cash money? He does. I look forward to an occasionally productive future with this utilitiest of utility players, yes indeed, nothing quite like locking up a good utili–

“Santiago and Ryan Raburn will be playing second base as the club stands today,” manager Jim Leyland said by phone Wednesday. “He will probably [also] get time at short [backing up Jhonny Peralta].”

“We are set to open with Santiago and Raburn,” [Dave] Dombrowski answered in an e-mail. “However, we will see what happens.”
Jason Beck/DetroitTigers.com

Uhhhhh.

Santiago saves Fister… seems like it should be a bad pun, but isn’t.


illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Doug Fister nearly threw a perfect game, so here’s a cartoon about the fact that he’s really tall! Yeah, I don’t know. The more I watch him pitch, the more he starts looking like this on the mound to me. Run with it.

But that really happened. The Royals did not get on base until the 7th inning, when Alex Gordon led off with a double. Alex Gordon is some sort of evil Tiger murder machine and should be reported to the SPCA anyways. Detroit got six PERFECT innings from Doug Fister. It’s like he saw how nervous we were getting about Brad Penny, how worried we were after Scherzer’s latest outing, and he said, “No no, don’t worry. You can relax. Really. I got this.”

Then the Tigers won on a 10th inning walkoff home run hit by Ramon Santiago. Yes.

A walkoff home run. Hit by

RAMON

SANTIAGO

What a weird game.

walking off with Ramon Santiago


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Ramon Santiago’s very first ever walkoff hit! O the wonder, the splendor, the pile of happy cats at and around home plate! The joy of winning in extra innings! The hilarity of victory coming while Kyle Farnsworth is standing on the mound! The incoherent Ramon Santiago postgame on-field interview!

So much goodness. Even if you believe the Tigers should have been losing the game (as Justin Ruggiano probably should have been safe at home, but was called out because the young homeplate ump was understandably blinded by Alex Avila’s rugged good looks), it is impossible to argue with the happiness that comes from a Ramon Santiago walkoff. IMPOSSIBLE.

Also, you must recall that the Tigers were ahead when the original version of this game was rained into oblivion. So it all works out in the end.

What else?

–I always want to give Phil Coke hugs when the cameras show him looking all nervous. Like when they focus on his feet bouncing in the dugout as he sits and watches the offense try to do things for him. He just seems so anxious! So in need of a hug! Dontrelle Willis inspired these exact feelings when he was around.

–Pitching into the 7th inning, giving up only 4 hits, NO walks, NO runs, well under 100 pitches… and Phil Coke does not get the Win. This is not a prosecutable crime, but until we get rid of Wins because they’re terrible, it should be.

–Magglio was back. He didn’t get any hits, but he hit the ball hard and with better luck would have probably seen at least one drop in. He appeared mobile in the field (as mobile as he ever is, anyways). I know we’re just waiting for his next Surgically Repaired X to give out– feel free to start the pool on what X will be this time around– but maybe things will be ok right up until that moment?

–Coke was making fun of Victor Martinez after the game. VMart scored the winning run from first base, and although he was clearly running all out, he was not actually moving that fast. It was obvious that he was, shall we say, laboring. Coke was joking about someone needing to get him an oxygen tank– a joke that, unknown to Coke, Rod Allen had already made up in the booth.

–I don’t know what Rays bench coach Dave Martinez is doing with his facial hair, but whatever it is, he’s clearly doing it as hard as he can. (Note: the beard is even longer now than it was when that photo was taken.)

–Seriously. Kyle Farnsworth.

good cats, bad cats


photo by Samara Pearlstein

The Good:

–Ramon Santiago was 3-for-5 with two RBI. He hit a triple! He scored a run! Offensive production from little Ramon Santiago! It is a rare and magical thing and we must never forget what a big deal it is.

–That’s it with the Royals for now, so we no longer have to listen to Rod and Mario struggling gamely to pronounce Kila Ka’aihue’s name (or not so gamely, in the case of Rod, who clearly preferred to just call him ‘Kila’ and be done with it).

–FSDetroit showed Hugh Jackman at the game. Rod and Mario started talking about the fact that Beyonce was at a Tigers game, and Rod was sad because she did not at any point end up in the booth.

–Brennan Boesch stole a base, somehow.

The Bad:

–The entire rest of this game.

–Losing to the Royals.

Ramon triumphant

photo by Samara Pearlstein

Praise be to Paws! The Tigers have signed Ramon Santiago to a two-year, $2.5 million contract. You can all let out that anxious breath you’ve been collectively holding. It will all be OK now. Ramon is here to soothe, to calm, to gaze soulfully out at the field from the bench, to occasionally field the baseball.

In all seriousness, this is a good thing. Is it the move that will tip the Tigers over from Potential ‘Rebuilding Year’ to Legitimate Division Title Contenders? Yes, yes, Ramon will save us all! No, it is not. But Mr. Santiago has been good to us defensively and he hits better than Adam Everett (not that this is difficult). I know he’d much rather be starting, but he’s a solid choice for infield backup and if worst comes to worst and Everett breaks a hip or something, well, there are worse things in this world than Ramon Santiago getting a few more starts.

He can also play a little second base here and there, which takes on EXTREME importance when you remember that the Tigers’ current second baseman is Scott Sizemore, he of the Zero Career Big League At-Bats. We need someone who can step smoothly in at second if/when Sizemore gets himself into a slump, starts feeling unaccustomedly sore, crumples tragically under the pressure, contracts swine flu, whatever. Santiago is just the cat for that.

Now here’s something strange:

According to Jon Paul Morosi’s Twitter (ugh), lefty reliever Brad Thomas’ contract will be for $1 million. Ummmmm. Yeah. This Brad Thomas, the one who spent 2008 and 2009 pitching in Korea, and before that was pitching in Japan, and last pitched in a MLB game in 2004. And he only pitched in three games that season. In fact he has only pitched in 11 games at the big league level in his ENTIRE CAREER.

And he’s 32 years old. Did I mention that? Because he is. Thirty-two.

The Tigers are (allegedly) (according to Mr. Morosi) paying him a million dollars? In a season where they’re trying to cut payroll? Really? WHY?

Tigers find power in likely and unlikely places in misguided attempt to make the end of the season interesting


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Yes, those are your power hitting Tigers for the night. Gary Sheffield, who hit his 498th and 499th home runs, and Ramon Santiago. Ramon Santiago, who has a grand total of 10 home runs in his entire career thus far, three of which came in the past two games. Santiago is OPSing .909, which is better than nearly everyone on the team (of course he also has far fewer at-bats than most of the current starters, so it’s not a real indication of his mad crazy hitting prowess – it’s just funny to point out).

Sheff now needs only one more homer to hit the arbitrary but still vaunted 500 mark. WILL HE MANAGE IT THIS SEASON??!?!? WILL HE DO IT IN A TIGERS UNIFORM?!!??? DO WE ACTUALLY CARE???!@?

Truly these are wacky times in which to live.

Verlander ONCE AGAIN threw over 100 pitches in under 6 innings: 113 pitches in 5 innings, to be exact. He was struggling enough in the 5th inning (and had thrown enough pitches) to make Leyland and everyone else consider taking him out, but apparently Leyland wanted him to have the opportunity to get the W, and was thus determined to make him gut it out for the full 5 innings. Normally I would say fine, whatever, let the kid go for it, but! why pile up unnecessary pitches on Verlander’s arm in a meaningless game, in a season where he’s ALREADY had an unusually heavy workload?

It’s not even like he was trying to break even in his personal record: with this win, Verlander’s season total will be 11-and-17. Was that 11th win really all that important? As usual, this is the one place where I really tend to grind my teeth over Leyland’s managing.

Anyways. Todd Jones was in the booth today for the beginning of the game. He’s definitely no Curtis Granderson when it comes to broadcasting (the awkward pauses! the rambling! ever so much rambling! it was kinda painful), but whatever, these are some of the things I noted down (I was out for the end of his booth time, but I think I ended up seeing the majority of it).

Jonesy: “I enjoyed the fight in Cleveland… I didn’t realize the second baseman, Cabrera, I get messed up with his first name…”
Mario: “Asdrubal.”
Jonesy: “Yeah, you get in trouble with that! Heh. He got in a few good shots on Sheff.”

(On Dane Sardinha, who was batting at the time) “Dane, hitting right now, he’s a scrappy guy from Huh-WAH-ee. He’s starting to hit a little bit better…” (Sardinha strikes out) “…although he just struck out there.”

(On the replay of Santiago’s home run) “Hanging curveball, man’s best friend.”

As they go to commercial in the bottom of the second, Jonesy yells, “HE’S THROWING A NO-HITTER!” Sometime in the third, Jonesy says, “I have officially jinxed Justin, because now there’s a hit.”

(On Verlander) “He’s got the Word We Don’t Wanna Talk About Stuff every time he goes out there.” ‘Ace’? Are we not supposed to say ‘ace’ anymore? Since when did ‘ace’ become ‘Voldemort’?

(After a long free-ranging ramble during which absolutely no one so much as mentioned the on-field action)
Jonesy: “There’s a game going on, Tigers winning five-nothing, if anyone wants to know…”
Rod: “They can see it!”

(On why we shouldn’t blame Chuck Hernandez) “At the end of the day these are grown men who know how to throw a strike.” This is a blatant lie. For instance, I am not at all convinced that Kyle Farnsworth actually knows how to throw a strike (it’s something that he sometimes happens to do, much to his own bafflement), and Freddy Dolsi is in no way a grown man. Have you looked at the kid lately, Jonesy? He’s like six years old.

(On how it feels to blow a save)
Jonesy: “There’s these rollercoasters of emotion.”
Mario: “Really!” (Highly amused, obviously thinking Jonesy was making a joke on the whole Rollercoaster Jones thing.)
*longish awkward pause* (Suddenly filled with Doubt: was that intentional, or does he have no idea he was even making a joke, or what a joke even is.)
Mario: *more pause* “Nice!”

(On his rain delay Magglio hitting and sliding and hair impression from earlier in the season) “I always wanted to be a tarp guy… that should’ve told you I was gonna retire… that was on my bucket list of things.”

(On Gary Sheffield) “He’s got some kinda FlexAll thing that’s so hot other guys can’t even put it on a finger and he’s got it all over his back and knees.”

(On attending games now that he’s retired)
Jonesy: “I’ll be there with my puffy hand.”
Mario: “Your foam finger?”
Jonesy: “My puffy hand!”
*almost in unison, as they realize the problem* “The Claw!”

Saturday, 7:05 pm EDT. Dontrelle vs. Matt Garza. I guess we don’t have anyone random in AAA we could call up to pitch this one? A pity, a pity. Go Tigers!

the race to .500


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

September in tha D! Are you ready for this? Are you ready for the extraordinary excitement that will be The Race to .500?!?!!?

As we finish out the season we will be playing teams who are fighting for their divisions, teams who will be fighting for the wild card, for any playoff berth at all. The Tigers? We’re fighting for the more symmetrical, aesthetically pleasing EVEN SPLIT. We aim for perfection… PERFECT MEDIOCRITY. The mathematical beauty of .500, that is our objective.

We need a minimum of 81 wins to achieve this majestic goal! Right now we have 67! There are 23 games left in the season! We need to win at least 14 of those games to reach .500! This means that we are only allowed 9 more losses for the entire rest of the month. START YOUR COUNTDOWN, FOLKS AND FELINES!

Bits and pieces from the Wednesday night game, ’cause I need to be in bed about two hours ago:

– Lots of ‘USA, USA’ chants for Olympian Mike Hessman. He obliged the crowd with a late-inning home run. Rod and Mario spent quite a while talking about how he didn’t get to see any of the basketball or swimming because even if you’re an Olympic athlete, you need to get tickets to watch other events, and the tickets would get snatched up early in the morning.

– Renteria was tossed in the 6th for arguing about being called out on a checked swing (lots of rumbling about the strikezone tonight too) so the camera focused on Ramon Santiago, who was readying his glove in the dugout. He was talking to Ryan Raburn, and as he got up he appeared to reach out and TWEAK RABURN’S NOSE. It’s kind of hard to see because he’s between the camera and Raburn, but I definitely did a doubletake. A doubletake of POTENTIAL GLEE.

– The crowd kept chanting ‘Gary! Gary! Gary!’ when Sheffield was up, and then booing loudly if he made an out. Rod and Mario were perplexed and amused by this. Obviously they’re not familiar with Sheff’s deep, twisted need to be booed to psych himself up at the plate.

– After the game, Magglio, Joyce, Granderson, and Santiago all met for a GROUP HUG. Like, a big circular hug. I squee’d.

Thursday we’ve got a day game, 1:05 pm EDT. Kenny vs. Ervin Santana. Remember: there’s a maximum of 9 losses allowed for the entire rest of the month. I hope Kenny is bearing that in mind. 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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you don't mess with the bat of Ramon Santiago

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

There are loads of Tigers who could be singled out for the RotT image for this post, but I think hitting your first home run since 2003 is big enough to make us go with Ramon Santiago and his flaming bat of Fiery Power.

Sure, Verlander’s first win of the year makes him a fine candidate, especially since the win was so hard-earned. I was honestly afraid, at the start of the game, that he was going to melt down again. It certainly looked like it was heading that way. All those singles early on, and then the Frank Catalanotto homerun… it just didn’t look like a Verlander-in-his-prime kinda day.

Then came the third inning. Oh, the third inning. Although the flashy marvels were in the bottom half of it, when the Tigers offense seemed to suddenly and collectively remember that it was capable of hitting home runs, it was the top half that saw Verlander grabbing himself by the, er, baseballs and finally having a clean 1-2-3 inning. From then on it seemed like he was back to the Verlander we know and love and trust with starting baseball games… although of course by then the damage to his pitch count had been done and when he came out after 6 he’d thrown 110 pitches. We’ll want to avoid that for next time, Justin.

But what about that bottom half, eh? Three home runs (Maggs, Cabrera, Santiago), an RBI single (Edgah), and a triple (Jacque Jones), all in one inning. That, quite frankly, is amazing. Maybe even more amazing is the fact that Vicente Padilla was left in for all of it. I understand that Texas didn’t want to overwork their bullpen, but holy cats, they maybe should’ve thought about pulling him after, say, the second home run? Or the triple, which followed two home runs in a row? Mightn’t that have been more… rational? Sane? Kind?

Not that I’m complaining, of course. It worked out GREAT for the Tigers. Sure seems crazy from a Texan point of view, though.

And hey, it got Ramon Santiago his first big league homer in almost 5 years. We’ll take it.

Most awesome random moment of the game: Pudge chases a foul ball all the way back to the dugout. He reaches out to catch it, leaning over the rail, and gets his glove on it over the dugout. Great play in and of itself. Then Pudge grabs the baseball out of his glove, holds it up, and gives the dugout a thousand-watt grin, like, ‘look what I got!’ I almost squealed out loud, it was so awesome.

ETA: On the subject of the Cabrera/Guillen base switch: I would have to say that I’m about half in favor of this. I like the idea of moving Cabrera to first; I think he’ll do better, defensively, over there, although it’s by no means a necessarily easy position. And I kind of like the idea of getting Guillen back over to the left side of the infield; that’s where he’s used to playing, albeit at shortstop instead of third, and we’ve definitely seen that he has Issues with first. Not knowing where to stand, mostly, which, yeah, would probably be the sort of thing he’d learn with time, but it’s actually sort of a dangerous situation while we wait for him to learn, because every time he straddles the basepath he’s just asking an approaching runner to accidentally plow into him and do some damage.

Of course Cabrera should have a bit of learning curve as well, but maybe he’ll learn it faster than Guillen did– old dog, new tricks, etc.

HOWEVER. I thought we were moving Guillen to first in order to give him a break, because although he’s only 32, his Surgically Repaired Knee makes his lower body in some respects much older. Third base involves a lot more diving around than first does. Also, Carlos does not have the cannon-like arm that, say, Brandon Inge has (or even Cabrera– to his defensive credit, the guy can make some nice throws), and it’s much more important to have a strong arm at third than at first.

The only thing I can think is that maybe this means even more time for Brandon Inge at third, since they’ll have to rest Guillen a lot more at the more demanding position in order to keep him healthy. Maybe? I guess we’ll see, but after the game, when he announced this, Jim Leyland seemed awfully certain about it, so there must be some good solid reasoning behind it all. One would hope.