Category Archives: Ryan Raburn

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?


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

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.

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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a win is a win, but this should've been Nate Robertson's win

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Nate Robertson pitched his little goggles off tonight. With Fernando not available we really reeeeeaaallly needed Nate to go deep, and deep he went. He went 7.2 innings, the most a Tigers starter had gone since Bondo pitched 8 back on July 7 (sad). He had a season-high 9 strikeouts, to which he said, after the game, in gently dismissive tones, “I knew I was striking some guys out… I mean, I don’t have a little ticker in my pocket out there.” Oh, Nate.

He deserved the win. I mean, we’re definitely all fired up to get any kind of win at all, but by the time the 8th rolled around I think we all ESPECIALLY wanted to see Nate get himself that W. The score was 6-2, there was a man on base, and there was only one out left in the inning when Jason Grilli took over from Nate. Easy enough, right?

Ha HA. No. Never with this bullpen.

Grilli gave up some singles to load the bases, and then floated an absolute meatball down the middle of the plate. This meatball ended up a soul-crushing grand slam hit by Jonny freakin’ Gomes. I don’t say “Jonny freakin’ Gomes” because it’s strange that he hit a ball out of the park- it’s not, he’s got 13 home runs on the year. I just say it because ARGH! Seriously! Jonny freakin’ Gomes and the Devil freakin’ Rays!

You could almost feel the air just get completely sucked out of the stadium. Schooom. Grand slam. Tie game. All that glorious Nate pitching gone to waste. So on and so forth.

Then Ryan Raburn, awesome tiger cub that he is, led off the next inning with a double. Suddenly everyone remembered that they had actually WON the night before. All was not dark! All was not lost! All was not tainted with Grilli-ism!

Nate Robertson is not a vengeful man. He’s too nice for that. Instead of griping about being absolutely ROBBED of a win by Grilli, he was propping up Grilli after the game. He’s looking at the big picture. In his postgame chat with FSN he said, “Evaluation of the game? We won.” And that was that.

Random bits from tonight:

–Hey, congrats to Chad Durbin! He’ll be starting tomorrow but, more pimptastically, his wife just gave birth to their first kid, I think this past Friday. Cade Griffin Durbin: that’s a pretty pimp name.

–Ryan Raburn made his first start this year at second base, and was using Brandon Inge’s glove. When asked after the game if he was going to give it back now that he’d had such a good game with it, he said (with some kind of hilarious hick Floridian accent), “Prolly not. An’ y’know, he can pick it pretty good over there wit’ that glove, so hopefully it’ll brang me some luck.”

–Rod Allen, urging Curtis Granderson on while he was up to bat with some men on base: “Curtis needs to spread out, choke up, do whatever you need to do, baby boy, to get that run in…” Baby boy? Eek.

–Tonight we learned that Justin Verlander played golf in high school. He looks like that type.

–At one point the FSN camera focused on Kenny Rogers in the dugout. He was doing something with his hands. Mario wondered if he might be whittling, because that’s what it looked like. Verlander was sitting right up next to Kenny, intently watching whatever it was. FSN got a couple different camera angles on it and finally found one that showed what was in Kenny’s hands clearly.

He had eviscerated a baseball, taken out the core, and was whittling it down with a small knife until he finally cracked it in half and got a look at the black rubber ball at the very center.

My first thought: WHO ALLOWS KNIVES IN THE DUGOUT?! Have we learned nothing from the Emil Brown pellet gun incident? Baseball players are not to be trusted with projectiles other than baseballs or pointy sharp things other than cleats!

Second thought: wow, Kenny must be bored out of his MIND.

Third thought: awww, Justin has such a hero-crush.

–Rod Allen, talking about someone’s timing on the field: “He knew because of the biological clock in his head.” No further comment needed.

Ryan Raburn: a fairytale

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Roar of the Tigers has discovered an ancient book, and within this worthy tome is the following fairytale, a story to warm the hearts of children of all ages:

Once upon a time, there was a young man who played baseball.

This kid (for, in most essentials, he is a kid) was a Floridian born and raised, and when he was 18 years old, he was drafted by a Florida team. That was pretty cool, but the kid was sure he could get something even cooler. So he hung around Florida, and went to a community college for a couple of years, which wasn’t the most glamorous life, maybe, but it was still South Florida, y’know, and he was still playing baseball.

When he was 20 years old, he was drafted again, this time by a Michigan team. “Hmm,” he thought. “I’m a Florida kid through and through, but the 5th round isn’t such a bad place to go.” Maybe he thought about how bad the team was, and how he might move quickly up through the minor league system.

In 2001, not too long after he was drafted, the kid made the Short Season All Star team at third base. He realized that he was no longer a Florida kid. He was now a Michigan kid, and he realized that, as a Michigan kid, he was pretty hot stuff. The kid started to feel good about himself, happy sunshiney, wood bats are our friends, all the self-esteemy stuff of any good fairytale hero.

Alas! there was a cruel and unflinching obstacle in his path. The kid was ready, he felt, to run straight up to Detroit! He was ready for The Big Dance! But this obstacle was implacable. He could not defeat it; he could only go along with it, and hope to in that way eventually bring it to its knees.

It was a good plan, for this was an obstacle that has claimed the lives of many young men just like him, and could therefore be considered a highly dangerous obstacle, and not merely an annoyance. This obstacle was called The Minor Leagues.

The kid dreamed of bypassing The Minor Leagues, but he understood that, while it might happen for some, he would probably have to muddle his way through it. And so he did. It was frustrating, because he would finally get his batting average over .300, and the Cruel Step-Front Office would move him up a level, and he’d be back to hitting .200 again for a while. It was infuriating to the kid, even more so because no one else seemed to mind their hard exile in the Minors. But for him, it rankled. He had bigger dreams than that.

In 2004 the kid was finally rewarded, popping up to the big leagues for a cup of coffee that only served to whet his appetite and sharpen his desire to get there permanently. In 2005 and 2006, however, the kid was busy fighting off the last and most vicious head of the obstacle-beast: triple-A.

In 2007 the kid was 26 years old, and the obstacle lay slain at his feet. But it could revive at any moment. Such is the horrible tenacious nature of the Minor Leagues. He wished it to remain properly dead, so he thought and thought and thought. What to do that would best keep the Minor League beast down?

Ryan Raburn (for that was the kid’s name) decided that his very best defense was an extremely good offense. So when he played with the big league team, he played big league ball, and before he knew it he had hit 7 RBI in one game and was 4-for-5 and was basically SO AWESOME AS TO DEFY BELIEF.

Raburn knew that it was probably only a matter of time before the league’s pitchers adjusted to him. But before they did, he had the ability to run roughshod all over them. And the Tigers thus did win a game, and it was glorious, and they all lived happily ever after, provided that everyone else in the AL Central loses.