Sunday, March 30, 2008


It's baseball season, that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a team for six months, knowing full well they won't win. Here's a starting nine for the Detroit Tigers.

  1. Detroit never builds anything to last anymore: GM Dave Dombrowski is going all in on this season or next to win the World Series.

    The Tigers' history is always to follow up a great year with a long slide down; it happened after their championships in 1945, 1968 and '84.
  2. Miggy Pop: The hype over Miguel Cabrera is justified.
  3. Still the same: The handy-dandy BAbip stat (batting average on balls in play) is a tip-off that left-hander Dontrelle Willis will be OK in Motown. Thirty-three per cent of the balls in play vs. Willis last season in Florida became hits since he was playing with fielders whose range was knee-to-knee. (Of course, that includes Cabrera.) It's hard to stay that unlucky for long.
  4. No freebies: The Tigers have won 95 and 88 games the past two seasons despite giving more walks than they've received. It's a good omen that they got away with that, since starting pitchers Jeremy Bonderman, lefty Nate Robertson and righty Justin Verlander should be getting better with their command.
  5. Edgar Renteria as Mr. 3,000: The Bill James Gold Mine 2008 has an alert that the 32-year-old shortstop is on course to reach 3,000 hits; he has 1,934 at this writing. And the thing is, no one really considers him a Hall of Famer, nor should they.
  6. Spitballing from last season that turned out to be mostly true: "Sheffield should help Detroit with its notorious lack of plate discipline but the Tigers didn't need another bat. They needed more pitching, even though they did lead the AL in earned-run average. Why? There's simply no way they can count on getting the same performance from a starting rotation that consists of 42-year-old Kenny Rogers and a bunch of youngsters."

    The Tigers went from first in ERA to ninth and went from pennant winners to out of the playoffs. Odds are their pitching evens out this season. A lot of innings were filled by guys who should have bgeen in Toledo.
  7. Remember the name: The serious baseball nuts have been on the Rick Porcello story; it's probably just getting to the rest of us. The Tigers gave him a $7.29-million contract straight from high school last season; he fell to the 27th pick since he had Scott Boras for an agent. Teams will give $2.5 million to retread infielders and middle relievers, but they get scared off someone who's a decent shot to become an ace. That is small-town-cheap, writ large.
  8. Fun stat: Veteran Placido Polanco last season became just the third player to have 200 hits and no errors in a season. The Jays' Aaron Hill is still a better second baseman.
  9. Need-to-know: Centrefielder Curtis Granderson (pictured), a wonderful player until he has to face a left-handed pitcher, and outfield mate Magglio Ordóñez could each suffer a big drop-off this season, so it's not a given the Tigers will score a gazillion runs this season. Iván Rodríguez is also slowing down after catching 17,000 major-league innings, believe it or not.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to

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