Wow. I can't believe I've been writing these season previews for going on four years. So many memories (Maggs ALCS homerun, Granderson robbing Wily Mo Pena's homerun, Jim Leyland, Marcus Thames and Justin Verlander solving The Mystery of the Astronaut Ghost at the O.K. Corral.....hmmm maybe that was a Scooby-Doo episode. I can't remember.) so many new friends (I bought a cat), even more enemies (namely Big Al, Jason Grilli, Lynn Henning, Sergei Kirov, Leon Trotsky, Sovnarkom Molotov.......wait this is a list of Stalin's enemies, I keep confusing the two). So much has changed in my life since I started this humble blog three years ago. Before the beginning of the '05 season I was a lonely senior in a crappy apartment at Michigan State, downloading porn using BearShare, being used by white trash girls from my hometown who thought I was rich because my dad was an attorney and kissing the TV screen when the cute girls would get off the bus on the MTV dating show Next. Now I'm a lonely third year law student at Wayne State, living in a dumpy apartment, downloading porn using LimeWire, being used by attractive girls who think I'm going to be rich because I'm graduating from law school and kissing the TV screen everytime they show a slightly pudgy Hispanic teenage girl on the MTV dating show Parental Control. Sigh, where does the time go?
But you guys (and girl) don't come to this site to read about all the exciting things that happen in my personal life. No, you come here for in-depth subjective analysis those automatons at Baseball Prospectus fail to see with their soulless grey eyes or feel with their cold, shriveled and blackened hearts. I don't need a UNIVAC tabulation machine named after a shitty Royals middle infielder from the 80's to tell me the Tigers are going to score runs by the assloads (thats a scientific term). In fact my cat, my stoner friend T.J. and I just came up with a formula that projects the Tigers winning 125 games and scoring 1,400 runs this season. We are thinking about calling our new equation common fucking sense. Jerks (I'm kidding of course, I subscribe to BP and read Rob Neyer even though I don't completely understand the things they write, but I wear glasses so it appears as though I'm smart. I call this the Howie Long Corrollary).
Enough nonsense though. Baseball is upon us as on Monday afternoon Ernie Harwell will arrive at Comerica Park flanked by his army of Galapados tortoises and carrying Old Man Winters severed head in his fist thus signifying the beginning of spring and the start of a glorious new season of baseball in the Motor City.....I think...or does the tortoise ride Harwell?.... Onto the preview.
Mike Ilitch: I have always been hard on Ilitch. Even though he has loosened the purse strings over the past few seasons, doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to some of the biggest names in baseball, moves that placed the Tigers into the upper echelon of baseball's financial superpowers and has sportwriters like Peter Gammons comparing the Tigers to the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Mets when it comes to spending, I still had a hard time forgiving Mr. Hot-N-Ready (I'm not referencing Little Caesars cheap pizzas here but Ilitch's brief career in stag movies in the mid-60's. Have I mentioned this site is parody? Because it is so don't try suing me or Ilitch or try drinking my blood) for overseeing some of the worst team's in franchise history that happened to coincide with the formative years of my fandom (Jesus, that was a long sentence). I spent my youth as a fan talking myself into being excited about Brian L.Hunter and the other 100+ ex-Astros and Padres the Tigers routinely traded for every off-season between 1995-2000. I remember getting amped about the Tigers signing Craig Paquette and Greg Norton and trading to reacquire Willie Blair. These were supposed to be the greatest years of my life as a Tigers fan and I spent them going to Tiger Stadium with my family only to watch Felipe Lira give up a million runs in two innings against the Orioles during another forgettable 100 loss season. This would be like going through high school and college as a tall, gangly, dorky kid with a voice that sounds like a Muppet that no girls will date. I did that too and it wasn't any fun. So like any irrational sociopath I blamed Ilitch for all the Tigers troubles through the 90's. I characterized him as a greasy vampire hellbent on driving one of the most historic franchises in baseball into the ground and alienating his fanbase. However, that perception changed when I read that he was the impetus behing bringing Cabrera to Detroit, suggesting to Dombrowski that he explore a trade over a Thanksgiving Day phone conversation. Now I love the Ilitch and I'm almost willing to forgive him for the irregular heartbeat his company's cheap pizza's have given me. Speaking of Cabrera...
Miguel Cabrera: Look at Fatty Fat McFatkins over at third base. He has pretty good range for a beached whale. The Tigers can't park their team bus in the infield...wait that's not the bus it's just the Tigers fat-ass third baseman. Now that Cabrera has that big contract he can dive into a swimming pool filled with honey drenched churros and eat his way out. Did I mention Cabrera's fat? Stop, just stop. Cabrera has been in town for five months and I'm already tired of the fat jokes. I made the mistake of watching Around the Horn on Monday and every jackass loudmouth panelist said the same thing about Cabrera, "Sure he's an offensive talent now but what about 8 years from now when he's making $20 million and has his own show on Discovery Health where he has to be forklifted out of the clubhouse and onto the field on a program called 'The 700 lb. Third Sacker.'?" I know his weight is a risk but so far the results this spring have been encouraging. He showed up in shape, he has a ton of veterans to help keep him focused and a manager that's not going to let him get doughy. You think a team with Guillen, Ordonez, Polanco and Sheff are going to let some 24 year old submarine the best team any of them has ever played on by not being in shape or being aloof? Even if he ends up being a fatass as long as he hits .315, 30, 120 for the next eight years I'll buy the Crave Cases for him.
Edgar Renteria: I never wrote about the Renteria trade so I might as well post some thoughts now that I've had nearly seven months to think it over (I'm not lazy I'm just very deliberate). At the time the trade went down I loved it and thought Renteria was exactly what the Tigers needed to field a solid all-around offense. However when the Cabrera trade was consummated I liked the Renteria deal a little less. Once Jair Jurrjens started tearing it up in spring w/ the Braves generating buzz around baseball and drawing raves from Bobby Cox I officially didn't like the trade anymore. Like I said this is all seen w/ hindsight being 20/20 and had the Cabrera deal been the first domino to fall who knows how the rest of the offseason would have played out. It's just that I've really, really, REALLY liked Jurrjens ever since his start against the Indians last season during the stretch run. He was just so poised and filthy and professional and swarthy and handsome and....well you get the idea. This is no knock on Renteria, who I think will be very solid this season, it's just I have this feeling that ten years from now we might look back on this trade and wince a little. It's at times like these that I'm contractually obligated to remind the reader that I was infatuated with Wil Ledezma and compared him to a young Pedro Martinez. Why I signed that contract in exchange for a sleeve of stale Peeps I'll never know.
Carlos Guillen: Last year the Tigers blogosphere convened in ealry spring Houses of Parliament-style to debate whether Chris Shelton or Sean Casey should be the teams starting first basemen. Insults were exchanged, powdered wigs were ruffled and I was firmly entrenched with the pro-Shelton party. Sean Casey won out of course and put together one of the most underwhelming offensive seasons by a first basemen in years and Chris Shelton was relegated to Toledo.. Now both are mercifully gone and Guillen slides over to first base (although I feel awful for all of the people who made the shortsighted decision of sinking a couple of hundred bucks into purchasing a Chris Shelton jersey during his amazing April two years ago and stubbornly continue to wear it to the ballpark). I expect Guillen to do the same things he's been doing every season offensively, which is hit .300 with 20 homers and about 100 RBI, since the Tigers traded Ramon Santiago for him in one of the most lopsided deals in recent history as well as provide some excellent defense and range at first.
Placido Polanco: Speaking of lopsided trades, if the Guillen-Santiago deal is the biggest heist Dombrowski has pulled during his tenure as Tigers G.M. then acquiring Polanco in exchange for machete wielding maniac Uegeth Urbina is a close second. All Polanco does is hit and had it not been for Maggs amazing season Polanco's .341 average would have been the highest by a Tiger in twenty years, (I might be wrong on this but I'm to lazy to research it and the only higher average that I could think of off the top of my head was Trammell in '87 if I'm wrong don't correct me in the comments or I will hunt you down and punch you for showing me up on my own blog. You think that because you got a college degree it makes you better then your old man?). Last season I predicted Polanco would win the batting title and due to my aforementioned laziness I'm just going to roll that prediction over to this season instead of making a new one. Other rolled over predictions for '08. Danity Kane will become this generations version of The Supremes, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry will become the gold standard for comedies and Carpoolers will finally make Jerry O'Connell a superstar.
Pudge: Pudge says hes in the best shape of his life and has hit 8 homeruns in spring training to lead the team, which means he's probably using HGH or some other kind of performance enhancing drugs. I know thats a baseless accusation and reckless to say on my part but with the current climate for steroid accusations being akin to the Salem Witch Trials I could say I saw Pudge, Palmerio, Canseco and Juan Gonzalez dancing around naked in the woods injecting each other in the butt (with needles!....perverts) and then writhe around on the courtroom floor like I was having a seizure it would probably be enough to cause a Congressional Hearing. Seriously though wouldn't this offseason be the best time to take HGH if you were a player like Pudge? Baseball has already blown its wad with the lengthy and expensive Mitchell Report, so if you weren't named in that report odds are you won't ever be subjected to an investigatory proceeding or, by the time baseball got around to commissioning another report, you would be retired and/or so far removed from the game that no one would care, i.e. Lenny Dykstra. It's reminds me of how in high school every great once in a while the principal would call the houses of every kid who was absent and if they weren't home they would get a one day suspension for skipping. Everyone would know when this happened b/c there would always be some fat brainy girl who had the courage to finally do something cool for the first time in her life, like skip class and make out with some married man that was hanging out at the bowling alley, and she would get caught and be completely distraught and suicidal because she got suspended. The great thing about this was that everyone who didn't skip that day knew they had a window of a couple weeks to miss as much school as they wanted because the principal would be to lazy to go through all the phone calls again and even if you did get caught nobody would give a shit because everyone would still be making fun of and gossiping about the fat girl (Roger Clemens). I've belabored this point but my message is HGH like crazy now if your playing baseball even at the high school or Little League levels because you won't get caught. Like Crazy.
Jacques Jones: Jacques was my name in French class during high school. I picked it because it was the most stereotypical French name I could think of. I was a good student in high school and rarely made trouble or spoke in class. However, I used French class as a release to act like the total smartass jerk I always wanted to be. So whenever I hear the name Jacques I think of my teacher Madame Refice, yelling out "Jacques are you pushing those desks together to sleep on?", or, "Jacques did you pay that elementary student you were tutoring 50 cents to break all the nerdy kids pencils in half?", maybe even, "Jacques why did you draw penises on every page of Leslie Miller's textbook?" I made Jacques my alter-ego alternating between acting like Wally Cleaver during most of my day but turning into Eddie Haskell in French class (Yes I just referenced Leave it To Beaver I hope that's still hip b/c I've got a badass Rifleman reference queued up next.) What does all this have to do with Jacques Jones. Nothing.
Curtis Granderson: The amount of love Granderson receives is amazing. Even my mom, a 90 year old full blooded Native American who has spent her whole life in isolation because she is the last known speaker of the Natchez language and whose interest in sports begins and ends with her love of kapucha toli has Granderson in her Top 8 friends on Myspace. Granderson is out for 2-4 weeks with a broken finger and it will be interesting to see how the lineup performs without him, because there is no doubt he is the Tigers catalyst....blah....blah....blah. I can't think of anything to write about Granderson that hasn't already been written about a thousand times on sites better than this one. So go read those and then come back here with the other sites toaster because I need one for my apartment. I bought Eggo's at the grocery store last week but I forgot I don't have a toaster to make them in, so....where am I?
Magglio Ordonez: I still can't get over how insanely good Maggs was last season. Had he posted those numbers during any season or league not occupied by A-Rod he would have won the MVP like a cake walk through the cake park. I've never seen a guy so locked in and comfortable at the plate as Maggs was last season, sometimes it looked like he was going to take a nap in the batter's box and then he would smoke a double into the gap. The most amazing part about Maggs season on a personal level is that even though he was on my fantasy team and posted those outrageous numbers I still finished in last place. I must squander more talent on a yearly basis playing fantasy sports then any other fantasy manager out there, but who cares about that? I don't expect Maggs to duplicate his numbers from last season but hitting in the middle of this lineup he could still drive in 140 runs even if his average and homerun power tailed off some.
Gary Sheffield: I hope Sheffield is over the jinx my friend T.J. put on him last season after T.J. decided to stop bashing Sheff and jumpon his bandwagon in July even buying a Sheffield t-shirt jersey the same day he got hurt playing right field. I think Sheff will have a tremendous bounce back season as long as he stays healthy because when he was 100% last season the offense really clicked and the Tigers had the best record in baseball. Then Sheff got hurt again and the rotation imploded and things went to hell (I'm not dumb enough to say there is a connection between Sheff's injury and the rotation breaking down I'm just noting that both went south at the same time). The thing that surprised me most about Sheff last season was how great he was on the basepaths. He picked his spots to steal bases and moved from 1st to 3rd, read balls off the bat and all those little things that sportswriters and managers get all misty-eyed about, better than anybody I'd ever seen before. It was like having Alex Sanchez again only exactly the opposite.
Brandon Inge: Inge has been a hot topic during this off-season because of his morose attitude about losing his job to a player that is somewhere between 20 and 1,000,000^9 better than him offensively. Everyone loves Inge, teenage girls scream when he comes to bat, middle age women rock his jersey and talk about his ass and one of my favorite Tigers plays off all time was when he dove face first into the crowd in Seatlle to catch a foul ball, which as I wrote at the time would have had the whole Baseball Tonight crew in a masturbatory froth had Derek Jeter done it. But Inge is wrong here. The Tigers don't owe him anything and he should just accept his new role. I remember he pulled this same crap and complained when the Tigers signed Pudge a few seasons ago. Back then his complaints were laughable b/c he was hitting about .031 for his career and Pudge was a sure fire Hall-of-Famer on a team that had not had a star player since Cecil Fielder. His complaints are a little more justified now since he's established himself over the past few seasons but its not like the Tigers brought in Wes Helms or Pedro Feliz to take his job, no it's Miguel Friggin Cabrera (how ironic that his middle name is Friggin', his parents must have known how awesome he was going to be.) Inge reminds me of my friend Kevin. Kevin is a good guy, he's funny, he's nice, he's good to be around but he's also overly sensitive. He'll joke and make fun of you but if you make fun of him or do anything he perceives as a slight he gets offended. Not angry offended, but mopey and quiet and you have to coddle him for a bit before he comes back around to acting normal. As a friend you deal with it but after awhile it gets annoying. Very annoying. I think Inge is a lot like my friend Kevin and right now I'm very annoyed with him.
Marcus Thames: I love Thames. He just crushes everything and I'm glad he's on the team even though there were persistent rumors that he might get traded for relief pitching. I think his power bat off the bench is way more valuable than what Joe Smith or Scott Schoenweis would have provided as a reliever even taking into account the Tigers dreadful bullpen. Even though I'm glad he's a Tiger I still wish I could see Thames get 600 at bats for a mediocre team, just to see what his power numbers would look like. I imagine something like .232-46-110 with some ridiculous slugging percentage around .600. He would be a modern day Gorman Thomas minus the insane facial hair.
Ramon Santiago: He'll be fine doing the things Ramon Santiago does....whatever that is.