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The trade.



Images by Samara Pearlstein.

Thirteen years. That’s how long Justin Verlander had been with the Tigers. In this era of constantly shifting lineups, it seems unreal to think that we had a pitcher stick with us for over a decade. ‘Ace’ is a term that can be applied one year and gone the next, but if he wasn’t always our ace in these latest years, Verlander was at least still an anchor of sorts. Through all the drama and the frustrations and the big wins and near misses, the no-hitters and the playoff games, the scorching fastball (and the fastballs that later weren’t quite so scorching), he was a constant.

Verlander was 21 when he was drafted by the Tigers. Now he’s 34. He grew up with this team (with all the milestones and bumps in the road that implies), and we have a generation of Tigers fans who grew up with him.

I’m not saying anything revolutionary here, and I’m not saying anything you haven’t already read or heard in a million other places. This week Justin Verlander was traded to the Houston Astros for prospects Franklin Perez, Jake Rogers, and Daz Cameron.

This is not a great year for the Tigers. (Understatement.) The team was kind of already there, but with this trade the Tigers have firmly parked their butts in the unpleasantly dank and pee-scented subway station that is rebuilding (if rebuilding was a place). The Astros, after an abysmal stretch in the early 2010s, are now gearing up for a legitimate playoff push. Black is white, dogs are cats, the world is a strange place.

Nobody– neither the Tigers nor Verlander– is helped by his continued presence, and the continued presence of his contract, in Detroit. This should be just one more step in the Tigers’ plans to get that gross rebuilding subway’s doors closed so it can pull out of the station. And I think a lot of us are sort of numbed by this season anyway.

But thirteen years is a long time. Justin Verlander’s tenure on the Tigers was old enough to be Bar Mitzvahed. It was an adult member of the baseball community. We can agree that it is time to hand him over to a team that can maybe get him that ring, but we can still be sad about it. I think a lot of us will be. I know I am. (RIP my last remaining current-team-accurate Tigers jersey.)

Anyway, this is a bunch of words to say what the cartoon really says on its own. Good luck in Houston, JV. We may know it’s time, but Detroit will still miss you.

happy 4th of July!

baseball on the North Shore Spirit (RIP) logo, photo by Samara Pearlstein

Last night Justin Verlander set off ALL the strikeout fireworks. Let’s see if Bondo can do the same on the actual 4th. The Tigers are one of the older teams in the league (1901!), and these Mariners are newfangled whippersnapper upstarts (1977), so obviously the Tigers are MORE AMERICAN, and they need to win today. For the nation.

Your 2010 Tigers All Stars, by the way, are Miguel Cabrera and Jose Valverde. Both got in on player ballot votes. I’m sure most of you did your best, but Miggy is not the starter– those filthy Twinkie fans got their grubby, crumby mitts into the voting and pushed Justin Morneau ahead. Alas. Justin Verlander did not make it in and Phil Hughes did, which annoys me. Stupid players.

A heartwarming 3rd/4th of July tale: my local supermarket was selling off packs of 2009 Topps cards yesterday for $1. I picked up a few because I cannot help myself, so I now have a Jose Valverde Astros card, a Max Scherzer Diamondbacks card, a Matt Joyce Savior of Kittens Tigers card, and a shiny new Verlander card. PAWS BLESS AMERICA.

Happy 4th, Americans! Try to refrain from blowing yourself or your property to bits, and know that if you bought one of those awful white hats with the stars-and-stripes Olde English D, I’m judging you right now.

The Tigers of 2009: how did it come to this?

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I have a QUESTION. Oh, I know: why even ask about the ’09 team when what we need/want the front office to do is look forward to the ’10 team and beyond (the ’10 team, how weird does that sound? so weird. TIGERS TEN, Y’ALL), right? But ew need to think about it, because the ’09 Tigers, despite a variety of flaws, quirks, etc that were apparent even back in March, were a good team. They were! I still believe this in my Tigers-bloggin’-heart and my… uh… Tigers-payin’-attention-head.

Maybe Roar of the Tigers specifically does not need to think about it, you know, so long as someone in the front office is doing so, but it can’t hurt, right? Probably.

So how did it come to this?

The Tigers’ Opening Day lineup was, in order: Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Gerald Laird, Brandon Inge, Adam Everett, and Josh Anderson. This particular group of cats had a collective 2008 batting average of .274 and a collective OPS of .773. In 2009, that same group had a collective batting average of .260 and a collective OPS of .728. Ouch.

Now, let’s discard Anderson, because he didn’t even play the entire season in Detroit, and let’s discard Guillen, because he was DL-ably injured. Not to fetishize Opening Day or anything, but we’ll go with the rest of them to start just for the sake of, um, Opening Dayness. Of the remaining cats, only three hit better in 2009 than in 2008: Miguel Cabrera (who started off really strong, then slowed down, minus a little August uptick), Brandon Inge (who had a ridiculous April and a solid first half, with a very unsolid second half) and Adam Everett (whose numbers were still bad all ’round, and he only played in 48 games in ’08, so ze sample size, she was small). Practically EVERYONE was worse at the plate this year, and even the guys who WERE better didn’t get the benefit of it down the stretch.

Toss into the mix a cat like Ramon Santiago, whose strong ’08 batting numbers came back down to earth when given the chance to play in more than 60 games. Ryan Raburn’s numbers were pretty good, but Marcus Thames’ power was down. Clete Thomas OPS’d a weakling .709. Not a good scene.

But wwwhhhhyyyyyyy?

I suppose age could be a factor. The youngest everyday player was also the only one to have a truly good season with a bat. Five regulars were in their 30s– Magglio is 35 (practically compost). Guillen, as we know, had a fabulous variety of injury issues at the age of 33. Polanco is 33 and was not overtly injured, but he’s been around for 12 seasons and it must be tiring, lugging about all that excessive cranial architecture.

Inge, at the age of 32 with some catching in his past, had dire knee problems late in the season, although he managed to suck it up enough to stay on the field (to the point where he tied with two other guys for the most games started in the AL this year, I’m just sayin’). Laird is 29, but he’s also a (more or less) full-time catcher, so his knees are probably closer to 40.

Everett is an irrelevant 32; nobody ever expected him to hit, from Mr. Dombrowski on down to Jim Leyland and Adam Everett himself. That wasn’t what the Tigers signed him for anyways (Paws knows I love Ramon Santiago, but he isn’t a 160-games-a-season kind of guy, if you know what I mean).

In addition to Cabrera and Laird, there were four other sort-of-regular Tigers in their 20s… but three of those were Anderson, Clete, and Raburn. Should I say more? You don’t really need me to say more. Kinda cruel to lump Raburn in there, but what can I say, the blog has a cruel soul.

The Tigers were mostly aging and sore in ’09, and half of their young players probably would not have started much in a fully healthy outfield elsewhere. But nobody was crumbling, decrepit, held together with stern willpower alone type old, like Julio Franco or something. Magglio was the oldest regular position player, at 35. That many 30+ players on the infield isn’t such a great thing, though. It is one thing to have some slow’n’old corner outfielders; it’s something else when your third baseman is trying to play with the knee-gristle of a bed-bound 80 year old.

But what of, say, Granderson, who at 28 is not yet relegated to the Oldster McWrinkleson pile? He played in 160 games in 2009, the most in his career. So far as we know (?) he was not hurt, but he still had a terrible season. His OPS dropped by .078 points, the biggest drop among regulars in the lineup, aside from Laird, who can at least sort of claim the excuse of going from hitter-friendly Arlington to the cold, cold cavern of Detroit.

Granderson has had problems with lefties. This is not news. But in 2008 he appeared to have finally figured them out. He still hit better against righties, but against lefties he had gone from a batting average of .160 to a respectable (and seemingly sustainable) .259. In 2009? He was back down to .183, which is REALLY RATHER BAD, just to clarify in case the sight of that leading one caused your brain to shut down.


I have no idea.

OK, lies, I have some ideas. Age (Magglio, possibly Polanco?) and injury (Guillen, Inge) might explain some of it. There was some performing down to expectations (Laird, Everett) and some bad timing (Miggy). Actually there was a lot of bad timing, you’d just have to ask someone like poor Edwin Jackson, the Anti-Run-Supported. Can it really come down to a string of bad timing, reinforced negative perceptions and the self-fulfilling dooms-y prophesies of wicked sad ballplayers?

Or was this the year when the Spazzosaurus feasted with impunity, roaming unfettered and free over the field?

Next time up, we ask the pitchers how it came to this.

RotT goes under the internet!knife again

Hey folks. You may notice that things look a little different/weird/borked here at RotT. It is not just your eyes, it is not just your internet. MVN is undergoing a platform transition right now, and in the fine tradition of Internet Changes, certain bits have gone more smoothly than other bits. I will be doing what I can to clean things up, return all posts to their original splendor, get links back, etc., but I do have to go to work and things like that, so it might take a little bit.

I am pretending that this is all happening because RotT was SO TRAUMATIZED by the 2009 Tigers that it just had to change its whole look. Pretend with me, fellow trauma-sufferers, and together we will get through this.

UPDATE, 10/22: Archives are still not back beyond June of this season, and the RSS feed is still not working. Wonky oversized Report This links still present. Load time still kind of slow. These are being addressed (or, at least, I’ve made the people who need to be addressing them aware of the problems). If you’re having other issues, PLEASE let me know.

UPDATE, 10/26: Archives back, but they ate all the paragraph breaks (somehow?), so in what spare time I can scrounge up I am going through and attempting to fix posts. The RSS feed should be working. Stylistic issues like the Report This links and the ads and such are still present and problematic. Progress continues. Allegedly.

drop kicking the Metrodome

doodle by Samara Pearlstein

Hopefully we have seen the last of the TwinkieDome this season, and that would mean we have seen the last of it FOREVER.

The Tigers will not miss

–nasty awful turf

–bad, confusing ground ball hops on the nasty awful turf

–losing baseballs in the baseball-colored roof

–weird echoey dome sounds

–fighting with football teams for scheduling time

–filtered air

–home dome advantage for the Twinkies, losing for the Tigers

However, they just might miss

–being able to play games in April without worrying about snow-outs

–being able to play year-round without worrying about rain

–the baggie (outfielders only)

Good riddance, I say.