Here’s what was going on over at Innings Eaters today.
Mike Trout is the reigning American League MVP, but he’s not who I think will win it this season. Who is my top candidate to win the 2015 AL MVP Award? READ MORE
The Arizona Diamondbacks were able to sign free agent Cuban Yasmany Tomas this offseason. He has played poorly this preseason and made start the year at Triple-A. Is it time to call him a bust? READ MORE
The Detroit Tigers are coming into the 2015 season with some very important players on the disabled list. Who are they and when can we expect them to come back? READ MORE
Today, another decided it was time to hang up his cleats and spend some time fishing and talking to his family. Dontrelle Willis, a star pitcher who literally burst into popularity on the same level as Livan Hernandez did in 1997 with the Florida Marlins, has retired.
The 2003 season was huge for Willis. He won the Rookie of the Year with a 14-6 record and 3.30 ERA. In 2005, he won a career high 22 games and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting to Chris Carpenter. Willis’ 7 complete games and 5 shutouts that season both led the league.
As it turned out, Willis’ successful run as a Major League Baseball pitcher was nearly over just as quickly as it began. D-Train struggled in 2007 before he was traded along with Miguel Cabrera for a giant package to the Detroit Tigers. As a Tiger, Willis was 2-8 with a 6.86 ERA in limited time due to injury and a lack of trust in his abilities.
It’s hard to believe, but Willis has actually not even started a Major League Baseball game since 2011 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. My guess, not very many Reds’ fans went out and bought a Willis jersey.
Willis will be remembered most for his unorthodox delivery to the plate. The high leg-kick was extremely popular among little leaguers, only, most of us didn’t have enough balance to pull it off without falling. Willis was a player fans could easily relate to because he wasn’t built like a man. Willis reminded many of us of a kid who just happened to grow a little taller.
I’m not sure how likely it is to see Willis involved in baseball any time soon. The next time he must make an appearance, though, is 2023 when the Marlins celebrate the 20th anniversary of officially ending the New York Yankees’ run as the best team in baseball.
One of the bigger, and in my opinion most surprising contracts, handed out this offseason was the one the Detroit Tigers gave Victor Martinez. I don’t have my calculator handy, but I do know he’ll make $14 million in 2015 and $18 million the next three seasons. It’s far too late for me to do the math and if my next paycheck says anything, I’d get even more frustrated knowing just how much money V-Mart is making.
My prediction for Martinez isn’t a particularly good one in 2015. I see the Tigers’ designated hitter playing in less than 100 games.
Already, before pitchers and catchers have even reported to spring training, Martinez is injured and could miss opening day. I’ve heard both sides, one saying he’ll be ready and another saying there’s no chance in hell, and I’m going to lean towards the more profane one.
Whenever a player misses an entire season and has a new injury that occurs in the offseason, I get worried. Martinez didn’t play at all in 2012 after a very similar situation where he was injured preparing for the upcoming season. Supposedly, this one isn’t as bad and he won’t miss too much time if any. I’m not buying it.
I love Martinez and really respect what he was able to do in 2014 at 35-years-old. It’s scary though to think about how much my body aches from sitting all day at 27-years-old and how much worse he must feel. Unfortunately I’m buying into the bad omens for the Tigers. They lost Max Scherzer to free agency and Miguel Cabrera isn’t staying healthy. To complete the trifecta, Martinez will not play in 100 games in 2015.
Do you hate the Tigers?
Absolutely not! In fact, Ian Kinsler is one of my favorite players in baseball. Plus, I’m starting to buy into J.D. Martinez. I rooted for them hard in the playoffs for a few years during their current run as one of the best and I would really like to see them actually succeed.
Martinez actually did sign a bunch of autographs for me back when he was playing for the Double-A Akron Aeroes so I have a soft spot for him.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure why I’m trying to justify my enjoyment of the Tigers to anyone other than it was an easy question to answer right now.
This past offseason was a big one, however, the 2015-2016 winter is going to be even bigger. Star pitcher David Price will hit free agency and probably land a contract that makes us all wish we tried a little harder in gym class.
My prediction regarding Price is the last team he plays with before the end of the 2015 season. I’m not exactly sure which team it will be, but it won’t be the Detroit Tigers.
All signs are pointing toward a disappointing run for the 2015 Tigers. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez have had some ailment this offseason and the overall vibe feels like the American League Central is getting better. If the Tigers were able to just barely squeak in with a division title last year, how will they do when the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians are on their tails in 2015? Oh and the Chicago White Sox aren’t so bad anymore either.
Even if the season is not a complete bust, there’s a chance Price gets traded. I’m not sure what type of move this would entail as it’s a bit strange to trade your best pitcher in the middle of a playoff run. Maybe they trade him for several pieces, like an entire bullpen. Maybe the Tigers realize they need some help on offense and get another big bat.
You know that phrase “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” This is the best way to describe what I see for the Tigers this season. I’m very worried about Cabrera’s foot surgery and Martinez getting hurt again during offseason drills.
The Tigers still have a lousy bullpen too. This was the biggest reason why they were unable to make it beyond the ALDS. They seem to think big names are what it takes to win when really they had them all along. The team just needed some smaller role-players.
The problem is I don’t see things changing in the Tigers’ ideology quite yet. It’s going to take a lot more struggling and years of regretting all of the big contracts they’re giving to older players. I do like the Tigers, but the way they’re doing things just doesn’t work.
When the Detroit Tigers re-signed Victor Martinez this offseason, I was a bit perplexed.
Sure he’s a great player. They probably should have re-signed him under the right circumstances. Those circumstances weren’t so great as they ended up giving him a 4-year deal that will pay $14 million in 2015 and $18 million the following three seasons.
Why is it bad that the Tiger re-signed the 2015 AL MVP runner-up?
First, he’s 36-years-old. Second, that’s pretty old to give anyone a 4-year deal. Third, he tore his meniscus during an offseason workout.
I have my own knee problems. I sympathize with the physical pain Martinez probably felt. The difference is that I can probably get away with elevating my leg and working efficiently. Martinez doesn’t have this benefit since he’s a professional athlete.
Martinez will miss opening day and more importantly more than opening day. There’s a chance April will be absent of his presence on the baseball field completely.
This is worse news considering Miguel Cabrera had multiple surgeries after the 2014 season for bone spurs and other foot problems. He may not even be ready for opening day.
Imagine the Tigers’ lineup with Martinez and Cabera. Suddenly it’s looking like the old Justin Verlander needs to come back and stay.
This is not nearly the first injury in Martinez’s career. He missed the entire 2012 season after tearing an ACL, also during an offseason workout. I’m wondering maybe Martinez needs to stretch a little more or stop ramming his knees into brick walls to get ready for the baseball season.
Just a thought.
Already a bit of a nuisance since he’s primarily a designated hitter, re-signing Martinez may end up haunting the Tigers. They better start finding an exorcist in case there’s more bad news.
Since debuting in 2006, few second basemen have been better than Ian Kinsler. He hits doubles, has good power, and steals bases. The guy does everything you would need a top of the order guy to do and more. A favorite of mine, here are five statistical facts from his career.
Not one of the premiere power hitters in baseball, Kinsler has still shown his propensity to load up on doubles. His 162 game average is a very high 38, including three seasons where he had 40 or more. These 40+ double seasons came in 2008 (41), 2012 (42), and 2014 (40).
30+ Home Runs
Ending your season with 40+ doubles is one thing. Ending your season with 30+ home runs is another. Not by any means a cleanup hitter, Kinsler has two seasons in his career where he reached the 30 home run mark. In 2009, Kinsler surprised everyone when he hit 31 home runs for the Texas Rangers. Following the injury shortened 2010 season where he only hit 9 home runs, Kinsler’s power bat came back with vengeance in 2011 when he hit a career high 32 home runs. Oddly, the 2009 and 2011 seasons were also his two seasons with his lowest batting averages at .253 and .255.
Kinsler has played in 37 postseason games so far between the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers. He’s hitting .291 with 4 home runs; 3 of them coming in his very first series back in 2010 when the Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays. He would hit his only other postseason home run the next season once again against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. Maybe the most notable statistic about his postseason career so far is his .400 on-base percentage worthy of praise.
The fielding statistics for Kinsler so far have been very inconsistent. For instance, in 2012 he made 18 errors and ended the season with a career worst .970 fielding percentage. However in 2014 he made only 9 errors in a career high 766 chances for a .988 fielding percentage. Overall though, Kinsler is an average at best fielding second baseman.
Leadoff or Two-Hole?
I debate with myself often where I would bat Kinsler if I was his manager. The majority of his career was spent as a leadoff hitter with the two-hole and three-spot in a distant second and third. He’s definitely deserving of batting first or second and based on the numbers, there doesn’t seem to be too big of a difference. His batting average as a leadoff hitter is .273 compared to .276 in the two-spot. As a leadoff hitter though, he has a .343 on-base percentage which is better than his .333 on-base percentage batting second. He also has 31 career leadoff home runs to start the game–more than twice as many as he has hit in his career in batting second no matter what inning it took place.
Who would have guessed the Chicago White Sox could potentially be the best team in the American League Central in 2015? The way things are going, they have a realistic shot.
The White Sox added Melky Cabrera today, giving them one of the most well-rounded outfields in baseball.
Along with Cabrera the outfield will include the speedy singles hitter Adam Eaton and the young slugging Avisail Garcia. This is far different than the outfields they had on opening day in recent years with the Dayan Viciedo-level players headed to the bench or to a new city.
Not perfect, this lineup only lacks a catcher and second baseman. We can’t expect them to improve in these areas too greatly and they may not actually need to do a thing about to remain competitive. The top part of this lineup is already so good they can get by with a little less offense at the bottom.
I still do believe on paper the White Sox are a little short when compared to the Detroit Tigers. At the same time, the Tigers seem to always win less games than we thought they would then fail in the playoffs. They will have one less Max Scherzer this season and Miguel Cabrera is spending his offseason recovering from a bone spur in his foot. Woes for the Tigers are growing.
Since the Kansas City Royals haven’t done a thing to get better, the Minnesota Twins remain in the distance, and the Cleveland Indians’ top acquisition was Brandon Moss–I’m liking the odds the White Sox currently have.
The White Sox are going to make 2015 matter and it starts with how in one month they changed the direction of the team. They’re not adding players for the sake of filling roster spots. They see their time might be right now and are doing what they can to not waste a day.
Fans of the Boston Red Sox may cry foul over the deal, however, sending outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello is a perfect trade for both sides even if the Red Sox had to include a few minor league players to make it happen.
Let’s begin with the basics: the Red Sox needed pitching and had too many outfielders. The Tigers needed outfielders and may have had too much pitching. One could argue you can never have enough pitching, but what good is that when you have no run support either?
Clearly, the more desperate team of these two was the Red Sox. The Tigers could have done well holding onto Porcello and finding outfield help elsewhere so that’s a big reason why Boston may look like they lost this trade if only ever so slightly.
Continuing with the theme of who won and who lost, at first glance it may seem like the Tigers won this trade by forfeit. Cespedes is a potential home run champion and plays a decent outfield.
Meanwhile Porcello has had one very good season when in 2014 he was 15-13 with a career low 3.43 ERA. Keep in mind, in 6 major league seasons he has a 4.30 ERA and has never struck out more than 150 batters in a season.
Although not something you should really consider when making a trade, this one does help the Tigers far greater than it does the Red Sox. With Cespedes hitting in the middle of that order, they suddenly look a lot more threatening. The rest of the American League Central has been busy this offseason and finally the Tigers have joined the fray after looking a bit lost prior.
Whatever Porcello ends up doing with the Red Sox, this was still a necessary trade to make. He has plenty of the P-word, potential, and may thrive in Boston if he learns to pitch appropriately at Fenway Park. Not that I believe a pitcher should change who they are depending on the stadium they are in. I just think there is a bit of a learning curve and for as young and talented as he is, I believe with patience Porcello can achieve a lot more with the Red Sox than he did with the Tigers.
Like any good trade this one filled a necessity for both organizations. The Tigers got some much-needed power and the Red Sox now have a starting pitcher with experience. Along with recently acquired Wade Miley from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Red Sox are in the process of completely rebuilding their rotation from nearly nothing even if it is a bit half-assed.
Only a day after losing out on Jon Lester, the Red Sox are ready to replace Plan-A with Plan-B. In the long-term this may prove to be more effective. Lester only pitches once every fifth day while Porcello and Miley will get 2 out of those 5 starts. The thought process here is to ask, will Porcello and Miley win as many combined games as Lester based on how much less they will be paid? Had Lester signed with the Red Sox, there would have been much less room to fill the rest of the spots.
Not done yet, the Tigers replaced Porcello with Alfredo Simon from the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are trading lots of their players so it seems almost a guarantee who will finish last in the National League Central.
Not finishing last in the American League East or American League Central are the Red Sox and Tigers for what they did today.
It’s rare we see the best pitcher in baseball and the best position player on the same team. For the Detroit Tigers, this was the case for a short period of time.
Justin Verlander won the 2011 Cy Young Award and American League MVP. He was baseball’s best pitcher and as the award went to him, technically the best overall player.
The following season he didn’t repeat either honor, although he did have another great season. Instead the AL MVP went to Miguel Cabrera who happened to win the Triple Crown by leading the league in home runs, RBIs, and batting average. Cabrera repeated the MVP honors again in 2013 sans Triple Crown.
The 2013 season also had another member of the Tigers win the Cy Young Award. This time instead of going to Verlander it went to a well-deserved Max Scherzer.
Most recently in 2014, the Tigers were for the first time since 2010 without an MVP/Cy Young Award winner. However, if not for Mike Trout the MVP Award would have probably gone to Victor Martinez who put together a monster season.
All of the domination and awards given to individual players, the Tigers are only 4-4 in playoff series since this streak began in 2011. They have appeared in only one World Series where they were swept by the San Francisco Giants.
Now, during the purgatory time between the 2014 and 2015 season when teams try to build toward the future, the Tigers look a little lost in the baseball jungle.
Yes the Tigers still have Verlander, Cabrera, and Martinez. Verlander is also coming off a pretty bad season. To compliment him though, they do have David Price. You could then counter that with the loss of Scherzer to free agency. And then there are trade rumors about sending Rick Porcello elsewhere. And the loss of reliable veteran outfielder Torii Hunter.And there’s the lack of a true third baseman and shortstop. And mostly unknowns in the outfielder who may be better suited in a platoon situation. And a bullpen with more question marks than The Riddler’s tight green villain-spandex.
The point is–I’m having my doubts that the Tigers are better than they were last year and that didn’t end so well. The way things are going so far this offseason, the organization may need to take a step back. The American League Central is not as easy to win anymore.
Coming off a World Series appearance, you better believe the Kansas City Royals want to get better and will do something to accomplish this. The Chicago White Sox may have been at the bottom of baseball last year, but their lineup is strong and one more starting pitcher could help them leap into contention. You also shouldn’t count out the Cleveland Indians. They have reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in the rotation and are already attempting to build a better lineup to help the current roster out.
Things are not looking good for the Tigers. They have experimented greatly in many ways and nothing has gotten them over the hump. Unable to win in 2013 with a rotation of Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello, Doug Fister, and Anibal Sanchez with one of baseball’s best lineups to help them out–I have my doubts that this current team has any chance of proving me wrong.
A regular upcoming feature on The Cleat Report–the most unpopular news, statistical analysis, and anything else to do with baseball blog on the Internet–will be regularly discussing the topic of Keeper Leagues in Fantasy Baseball.
Fantasy Baseball has become important to me, so much so I capitalize both words in the name like it’s God.
Keeper Leagues are ones where players carry over from season to season. You are building not only a roster for the current season, but also for the indefinite future.
Since there are endless battles that could go on, I will strictly be using ones only possible in my fantasy baseball league. This keeps things a little realistic to questions you may actually have since debating whether you should keep Mike Trout or Giancarlo Stanton is very unlikely as nobody will ever have to make that decision. Nobody should have both of them on their team, however, if they do you probably don’t need my advice anyway.
Our first battle will be between the two second basemen on my team: Ian Kinsler and Neil Walker. Obviously Kinsler was the guy I had expected to start the majority of the games in 2014, and he did, but the season Walker had makes me wonder which guy is the right one to keep. This is assuming I don’t decide on both.
Based on the league’s scoring in 2014, Kinsler wins out. He earned 478.5 points compared to Walker’s 390.5. It may look like a simple choice to make. I assure you, it’s not so simple.
Kinsler averaged 3.0 points per start compared to Walker’s 2.9. Again, Kinsler wins; this time only slightly. The league leader in plate appearances and at-bats, Kinsler’s biggest statistical advantage in 2014 was the opportunities he had. Kinsler played in 161 games for the Detroit Tigers while Walker tallied 137 for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Age is also important to consider for a Keeper League Manager’s decision-making. Kinsler will start the season at 32-years-old and Walker will be 29-years-old. Although not ancient by any means, we can expect Kinsler’s numbers to slightly go down and should not be surprised if Walker’s go up. Generally the 28-32 range is the prime of a player’s career. Walker is just entering this as Kinsler’s exits.
Most important now are the projected numbers for 2015. A lot of this is not yet set as we have a whole offseason for both to survive, a preseason to get back in shape, and a team around them to build. Without knowing all of this, here’s an educated guess.
Kinsler set a career high in hits and RBIs in 2014. Playing in 161 games, he had every chance to do so. His on-base percentage though, at only .307, was a huge disappointment. He didn’t draw his walks and thankfully in fantasy baseball this isn’t too important. Most leagues, like mine, a single is as many points as a walk. If your league does however consider on-base percentage, don’t forget about how poor Kinsler’s may be.
For Walker, he too set several career highs in 2014. His 23 home runs came from out of nowhere. He also fell just short on setting new highs in runs and RBIs, which would have come easier if he was a little healthier.
That reminds me, Kinsler has been much healthier in his career than Walker has. Only once has Walker played in 140 games or more. Kinsler has played in 140 games or more 3 of the last 4 seasons.
Every argument I seem to make, Kinsler comes out on top. Other than some blind faith that Walker will have a career year in 2015, Kinsler is the guy to stick with. We can expect no matter what for the Tigers to have another great season on offense with Kinsler at the top of the lineup scoring plenty of runs. Walker will probably be somewhere in the middle for the Pirates and there are still some questions as to how good they will be.
I really wanted to give Walker a better chance, but it looks like I will have to regrettably not keep him and hope he returns to the team in the draft.