This past week was pretty hectic and I didnt have time to update my site. I had to present my oral argument on Thursday night and spent most of the week preparing for it, but in the meantime the Tigers announced their 25 man roster. I covered the position players last week and the only major changes were that the team decided to keep Marcus Thames over Alexis Gomez AND my favorite Tiger Nook Logan, and the Tigers finally released the enigmatic Carlos Pena, which means he's poised for a breakout 30 homerun season for whichever team signs him next.....who says being a Tigers fan makes someone cynical. I really thought Nook would make the team, at least as a defensive replacement/pinch runner, but Granderson had such a kickass spring that it really would be hard to justify him losing at bats to Nook, and Granderson is the future, and hopefully long term answer to a position that has been a perennial weak spot for Detroit since Chet Lemon left, (Brian L. Hunter, Alex Sanchez, Milt Cuyler) so I guess I understand the move but that doesnt mean I have to like it. Although I'm still holding out hope that Nook can make the team by stowing away in Dmitri Young's beard. However this post will preview the 13 pitchers the Tigers are taking north with them to begin the season.
1: Kenny Rogers: The Gambler has been sick for the past week battling the flu, or whatever VD he contracted from a Lakeland floozy, but he is still scheduled to start against the Royals on Opening Day. I'm mildly excited about Rogers and I think he will be solid this season. I predict he'll go 14-10 with a sub 3.80 ERA and that his pitching style is perfectly tailored for Comerica Park. I also have a feeling that Rogers may enjoy one of those crazy Jamie Moyer type seasons, where he inexplicably wins 18 games and befuddles and outsmarts opposing batters for an entire season. However this is coming from the same person who compared Wil Ledezma to a young Pedro Martinez in last season's preview, which means I'm hopelessly optimistic or, more likely, completely delusional.
2: Jeremy Bonderman: For some reason I'm down on Bonderman, and not just because he continues to remind me of a toad. Well down is a pretty harsh word, because I still believe he will be an excellent pitcher, I just don't believe he will ever turn into a surefire number 1 starter/elite pitcher/stopper that I, and many other people, thought he would/could be. I know he is still young (23) but I get the nagging feeling that he may be leveling off, and will never be more than a 15-16 win 4.00 ERA guy, which is still great, but not as good as I was hoping, which was a probably unrealistic belief that he would be a perennial All-Star/second coming of Curt Schilling. It seems as if he's been slow to develop a third plus pitch to his repetoire and runs the risk of getting shelled when his slider isnt finding the strike zone and hitters can just sit back and mash on his fastball. I think this lack of a third pitch will be what keeps him a second tier starter and out of the elite class. Here's hoping he proves me wrong and continues to improve or unveils an improved changeup, however I'm going to be patient with him and temper my expectations and say he goes 15-10 with a 4.30 ERA.
3: Nate Robertson: This guy just spent his time in Lakeland getting his ass rocked after what was an undeniably dissapointing second full year in the big leagues. The thing that concerns me the most about Nate is his declining strikeouts. I don't know if this is because hitters started to catch on to what he was doing after seeing him a few times or what, but regardless it's safe to say that Nate has got me a little concerned heading into this season. Also it seems as if Nate has started 95% of the games (seriously I don't plan on going when he pitches, but I swear to God he pitched on 3 consecutive days last year just because I was in attendance,) I've attended in the past two seasons, and I might just be getting a little sick of seeing his face and goggles every time I go to Comerica. I predict 9-12 4.50 ERA.
4: Mike Maroth. Maroth freaks me out, because he bears an uncanny resemblance to my old room mate in college, whose name was also Mike. Mike and Mike look exactly alike and I wish I had a picture of my old roommate with me that did not contain full frontal nudity, so I could post it on this site to show the similarities. (Come on this is a family site, I know parents and their children gather around their computers to read what I posted as if they were eagerly awaiting the delightful racism of the Amos and Andy show). I always had the theory that my roommate popped out of Mike Maroth's back after Maroth got wet a la Gremlins......not sure where I'm going with that.......anyways I'm looking forward to Mike Maroth being Mike Maroth and winning 13-14 games and posting a mid 4 ERA. If anything I think he'll continue to incrementally improve as he becomes older/wiser/craftier, like the aforementioned Jamie Moyer.
5: Justin Verlander. To say I'm giddy about the Verlander era is an understatement. To say I'm frothing at the mouth and in an immediate state of arousal at the mere mention of his name, would also be an understatement. Seriously though HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GUYS FUCKING MINOR LEAGUE STATS!!!!!! Has anyone in the 100+ years of baseball posted a 0.28 ERA in Double A? Also unlike Bonderman he already has 3 major league ready plus pitches, A sharp curve, a fastball that tops out at about 100 MPH and an off speed pitch. I'm not expecting anything huge this season because he still has some control problems, and he's inexperienced, but I do think there will be times this season where he pulls out a 7 IP 3 H 1 ER 8 K line and is just downright filthy. I think he has the potential to be the future Number 1/ace of the staff although that might still be a few years away. For this season I'll say he goes 7-6 with a 4.20 ERA.
Todd Jones: Hmm, the season hasnt started and our aging closer has already found his way onto the DL. This sounds awfully familiar........oh thats right, because we just went through this shit last year with Troy Percival. I know Jones isnt on the DL for something as serious as elbow problems, (he has a pulled hammy), but this just seems like a bad omen. At least we now know that we will get to go another two weeks before we have to hear Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows ad nauseum, and we should cherish this short yet precious time.
Fernando Rodney: He's back in the closer role, with Jones on the DL. Rodney has got one of the filthiest change ups in all of baseball when he has it working, which unfortunately is only about 70 % of the time. When he doesnt have it he turns into Franklyn German, which is never a good thing. He's also my favorite for "Tiger most likely to appear on COPS," only becuase it looks like he spends the early innings of the game freebasing in the bullpen. (That last line is why I'm so popular with children.)
Bobby Seay: Who the fuck is this guy, he was released by the Rockies for crissakes because he had an ERA over 8.00..........oh thats right, he's left handed, which means he'll always have a job in the big leagues under the C.J. Nitkowski Rule. I swear to god when I have a kid I'm tying his right arm behind his back, and then sit back and watch the money roll in.
Jamie Walker: The other lefthander, only this guy can actually get people out. I'm nominating him for "Tiger reliever most likely to get trotted out each day until his arm either A: explodes, or B: detaches from his body." Previous winners include Mike Myers, Sean Runyan, and that worthless piece of no talent garbage named Al Levine.
Chris Spurling: I hate this guy, I hate his stupid tattoo, and his ridiculous 48 gold chain he wears around his neck, and that meatball he served to Juan Uribe last season, which was the beginning of the end for Trammell, yet he doesnt go away, so I respect that.....I guess....moving on.
Jordan Tata: I think this would make a great porno name, not as good as Zesty Alvarado, but close. Tata is currently on the team because of Jones being on the DL, and he's put up impressive minor league numbers, I could probably give them to you but it's late and I'm tired , but trust me they were impressive, and why would you read this site if you didnt trust me.......
Jason Grilli: He's from Royal Oak and played for Italy in the WBC, where he was impressive despite having to pitch in a tight mint green tracksuit, that doubled as the Italian teams uniforms. Forget it I'm gonna see how many Italian stereotypes I can get in about Grilli. He is believed to have the shortest temper on the team threatening to fight Chris Shelton after Shelton allegedly insulted Grilli's mom's spicy meatball recipe. He petitioned the Tigers to change their uniforms to white chef hats, and when told no, he told team officials to "Shut up a yo face." His team photo on the Tigers website is posted on the right. (I know Ive lost what little credibility I had in the last few sentences and possibly ruined a political career, and if any Italians want to beat me up I'll be on the lookout for your IROC Camaro........sorry I can't stop.)
Joel Zumaya: I can't wait until five years from now when our rotation has Verlander and Bonderman as the anchors, and Zumaya is in the back of the pen closing things out with an unhittable/nasty 100MPH fastball. I'm either going to look back on that last sentence in five years as me being a sage, or it will make me cry because things didnt go as planned, knowing the Tigers I'm going with the latter.
Finally my Central Division Standings Prediction
1: Chicago White Sox: Their pitching is just too deep, and they added a huge bat in Thome who I think has a couple of good DH years in him
2: Detroit Tigers: The surprise team that could win 88 games
3: Cleveland Indians: I think they'll slide some because I don't like their pen, and they have Jason Johnson......I hate that guy.
4: Minnesota Twins: I look at their lineup and I dont see how theyll score, I'm also not buying the Joe Mauer hype.....not yet.
5: Kansas City Royals: I'm not going to joke about the Roylas....being a Tigers fan I can empathize with their fan base, and its painful......Sorry.