Tag Archives: Rick Porcello

Season Preview: AL Central


With Spring Training well under way and the first games already in the books, I figured it was a good time to take a look at my own predictions for the league, and the changes the respective teams have made. Today’s group is the American League Central.

Last Year’s Records
Minnesota – 94-68
Chicago – 88-74
Detroit – 81-81
Cleveland – 69-93
Kansas City – 67-95

Notable Additions

Chicago – Adam Dunn, Lastings Milledge

Cleveland – Orlando Cabrera

Detroit – Victor Martinez, Brad Penny, Joaquin Benoit

Kansas City – Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, Vin Mazzaro

Minnesota – Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Notable Losses

Chicago – Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Freddy Garcia, J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks, Scott Linebrink

Cleveland – NONE

Detroit – Johnny Damon, Jeremy Bonderman, Gerald Laird, Armando Galarraga

Kansas City – Zack Greinke, David DeJesus, Brian Bannister, Gil Meche

Minnesota – J.J. Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Brendan Harris, Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes

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Original Draft Series – Team # 19 – Detroit Tigers


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #19: Detroit Tigers

General Managers(since 1994)

Joe Klein (1994-1995): 113-146
Randy Smith (1996-2002): 466-666
Dave Dombrowski (2003-Current): 529-606

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
0 1 1 0 3 3 4 6

The Tigers have actually had a surprisingly low amount of success. When I started to think about the Tigers’ performance over the last 15 years, I thought that they had done reasonably well at some point during the time. I knew that the team had some pretty horrendous seasons (2002 comes to mind), but I was a big surprised at how bad some of the other years had been as well. All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Alex Avila 2008 – 5th Rd 2 69 gm, .253/.342/.437, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 2 SB, 19 R Currently with Org.
1B Jeff Larish 2005 – 5th Rd 5 74 gm, .242/.323/.404, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 2 SB, 25 R Currently with Org.
2B Scott Sizemore 2006 – 5th Rd 4 30 gm, .206/.297/.289, HR, 8 RBI, 12 R Currently with Org.
3B Brandon Inge 1998 – 2nd Rd 12 1 All Star Appearance
1221 gm, .237/.306/.295, 129 HR, 522 RBI, 40 SB, 469 R
Currently with Org.
SS Ramon Santiago Int’l FA – 1998 6+5 485 gm, .249/.316/.342, 19 HR, 122 RBI, 26 SB, 170 R Traded to SEA – 1/8/04
LF Ryan Raburn 2001 – 5th Rd 9 301 gm, .258/.320/.441, 25 HR, 106 RBI, 12 SB, 112 R Currently with Org.
CF Curtis Granderson 2002 – 3rd Rd 7 1 All Star Appearance
722 gm, .271/.343/.482, 109 HR, 321 RBI, 73 SB, 461 R
Traded to NYY – 12/8/09
RF Brennan Boesch 2006 – 3rd Rd 4 49 gm, .337/.389/.624, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 2 SB, 24 R Currently with Org.
DH Cameron Maybin 2005 – 1st Rd (10) 2 24 gm, .143/.208/.265, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 5 SB, 8 R Traded to FLA – 12/4/07
SP Justin Verlander 2004 – 1st Rd (2) 6 2006 Rookie of the Year, 2 All Star Appearances
73-48, 3.92 ERA, 833 K, 316 BB, 936 IP, 1.271 WHIP
Currently with Org.
SP Rick Porcello 2007 – 1st Rd (27) 3 18-16, 4.59 ERA, 122 K, 74 BB, 1.440 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Jair Jurrjens Int’l FA – 2003 4 3-1, 4.70 ERA, 13 K, 11 BB, 30.2 IP, 1.292 WHIP Traded to ATL – 10/29/07
SP Jeff Weaver 1998 – 1st Rd (14) 4 39-51, 4.33 ERA, 477 K, 209 BB, 714.2 IP, 1.311 WHIP Traded to NYY – 7/5/02
SP Brian Moehler 1993 – 6th Rd 9 48-52, 5.07 ERA, 446 K, 227 BB, 809 IP, 1.397 WHIP Traded to CIN – 7/23/02
RP Joel Zumaya 2002 – 11th Rd 8 13-11, 5 SV, 2.96 ERA, 209 K, 112 BB, 206.2 IP, 1.345 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Ryan Perry 2008 – 1st Rd (21) 2 1-5, 4.32 ERA, 78 K, 50 BB, 83.1 IP, 1.536 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Jason Frasor 1999 – 33rd Rd 4 No Major League Appearances Traded to LAD – 9/18/02
RP Burke Badenhop 2005 – 19th Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to FLA – 12/4/07
RP Fernando Rodney Int’l FA – 1997 12 15-30, 4.28 ERA, 314 K, 170 BB, 330 IP, 1.424 WHIP Free Agency – 11/5/09
CL Francisco Cordero Int’l FA – 1994 5 2-2, 3.32 ERA, 19 K, 18 BB, 19 IP, 1.947 WHIP Traded to TEX – 11/2/09
BN Omar Infante Int’l FA – 1999 8 494 gm, .253/.298/.386, 32 HR, 154 RBi, 34 SB, 192 R Traded to CHC – 11/12/07
BN Cody Ross 1999 – 4th Rd 5 6 gm, .211/.286/.421, HR, 5 RBI, R Traded to LAD – 4/1/04
BN Scott Moore 2002 – 1st Rd (8) 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CHC – 2/9/05
BN Andres Torres 1998 – 4th Rd 6 81 gm, .214/.264/.282, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 8 SB, 31 R Free Agency – 4/22/04
BN Trever Miller 1991 – 1st Rd (41) 5 0-4, 9.18 ERA, 8 K, 9 BB, 16.2 IP, 2.22 WHIP Traded to HOU – 12/10/96

June Amateur Draft

The Tigers have had some really good luck with their top picks of late, with Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello both providing solid performance so far at the Major League level. In addition, top picks Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin were both used to acquire current MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera. They are starting to show some value out of their picks in recent years, with Scott Sizemore, Brennan Boesch, and Alex Avila all starting to bear fruit. One of the keys for the Tigers has been their willingness to pay over slot to their top picks of late, as they have had players who have fallen to them as a result of other teams’ unwillingness to pay those top picks.

International Free Agency

The Tigers haven’t really had a whole lot of success in the international market of late. They had some solid pick ups with Fernando Rodney and Francisco Cordero, but aside from Jair Jurrjens, they haven’t really had any impact signees in a while. Granted that international signees take longer to bear fruit, but even their top-10 from Baseball America doesn’t have a whole lot of IFA signees on it.

Overall Grade

I give the Tigers a grade of C. They have had some excellent draft picks (Verlander, Weaver, Inge, Granderson), and have turned a few others (Miller, Maybin, Cordero) into solid players via trades. There are still some gaps in this roster, with players who have not played for the Tigers or very little for the Tigers, but overall it is a solid roster.

Team Preview – Detroit Tigers


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Gerald Laird SP 1 Justin Verlander
1B Miguel Cabrera SP 2 Rick Porcello
2B Scott Sizemore SP 3 Max Scherzer
3B Brandon Inge SP 4 Jeremy Bonderman
SS Adam Everett SP 5 Nate Robertson
LF Johnny Damon Bullpen
CF Austin Jackson CL Jose Valverde
RF Magglio Ordonez RP Joel Zumaya
DH Carlos Guillen RP Phil Coke
Bench RP Ryan Perry
C Alex Avila RP Bobby Seay
OF Clete Thomas RP Zach Miner

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
CF Austin Jackson Trade (NYY) CF Curtis Granderson Trade (NYY)
SP Max Scherzer Trade (ARI) SP Edwin Jackson Trade (ARI)
P Daniel Schlereth Trade (ARI) 2B Placido Polanco Free Agency
RP Jose Valverde Free Agency RP Brandon Lyon Free Agency
LF Johnny Damon Free Agency RP Fernando Rodney Free Agency

Top Prospects: Austin Jackson (OF),  Jacob Turner (P), Casey Crosby (P)

2009 Review

The Tigers’ 2009 season was a very good one for the team, which unfortunately ended after a loss in game 163 to the Twins. The Tigers finished 86-77, 1 game back of the Twins for the AL Central crown. Led by manager Jim Leyland, the Tigers started off the season with the unexpected release of DH Gary Sheffield, despite being owed over $10 M for the season. Another surprise was that top prospect Rick Porcello, all of 20 years old, made the opening day rotation despite only being in the minors for one season, at high-A.

The Tigers got some excellent performances out of their players, especially in the rotation. SP Justin Verlander led the rotation with a 19-9 record, 3.45 ERA and 269 strikeouts, with offseason acquisition Edwin Jackson providing excellent innings as well (13-9, 3.62). Porcello did well also, posting a 14-9 record with a 3.96 ERA. 1B Miguel Cabrera led the offense again, posting a .324 batting average to go with his 34 HR and 103 RBI.

The Tigers unfortunately endured some distractions during the season. Among them were the decision by Jim Leyland to keep SP Justin Verlander on regular rest toward the end of the season so that he would be slotted to start the last game of the season on regular rest, and giving the ball to rookie Rick Porcello should they have to play into the playoffs. Another huge distraction during the last week of the season was 1B Miguel Cabrera’s arrest early on October 3rd. The Tigers had been in full-force collapse to that point, as they had a 3 game lead on the Twins with only 4 games to play.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Tigers spent a large portion of the offseason trying to shave payroll some, and succeeded by moving CF Curtis Granderson to the Yankees as a part of a huge three team deal. They have slotted in prospect Austin Jackson to replace Granderson in CF, and will sorely miss Granderson’s bat. They’ve gone younger, with 2B Scott Sizemore coming into spring training as the starter at 2B. This team is going to be built around their excellent pitching. Look for them to have a very dominant top 3, with Verlander, Porcello, and newly acquired Max Scherzer.

My main concern with this team is the amount of unknowns. 2B Scott Sizemore and CF Austin Jackson are both rookies, and it remains to be seen whether or not they will be able to provide similar production to the players they are replacing. Will Rick Porcello hit a wall after such a huge jump in innings pitched last season? Will Max Scherzer be able to stay healthy this season, and will Justin Verlander be able to repeat his excellent 2009 season? This is a team that has a lot more questions than answers at this point, and I feel like they will need a lot of things to break their way to end up at the top of the division in 2010.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

SP Justin Verlander and 1B Miguel Cabrera are far and away the best fantasy players on this team, with CL Jose Valverde providing value with the amount of saves he gets. Beyond that, there’s a lot of players that will be useful in deeper leagues (Sizemore, Laird, Inge) and players who are high-upside, high-risk types (Jackson, Porcello, Scherzer). A player to watch during spring training would be Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman is trying to come back from a lost season due to injury, and did provide good value as a starter when he was healthy previously. New addition Johnny Damon will look to repeat his excellent 2009 season, but I can’t really foresee that occurring. He’s going to be 36 this season, and will be going from the extremely hitter friendly Yankee Stadium to Comerica, which should play a lot more neutral.

Prediction for 2010

The Tigers have retooled, and are making a run at the division again in 2010. However, I don’t think that this team as constructed is necessarily going to be good enough to catch either the Twins or the White Sox. They’re going to need some unexpected performances from someone on this team, and it’s never a good thing to have to rely on getting those.

82-80, 3rd in the AL Central

Roster Rules – The Rule 4 Amateur Draft


The Rule 4 amateur draft is held each year in June. It is 50 rounds long, and also includes the compensatory picks related to free agency. The draft order is set based on the previous season’s win-loss record, with ties being broken by the team’s win-loss record for the season prior to that.

Eligible Players:

Any players who have not signed a contract who fit the following criteria:

  • Resident of the U.S., Canada, or any U.S. territory
  • They must have graduated from high school, but not attended college
  • They must have attended a 4 year college and be either 21, or in their junior or senior year.
  • They must have attended a community or junior college.

Once a player is drafted, they have a certain window to sign a contract with a team. For most players, that window ends on August 15th. College seniors who have graduated (or run out of eligibility), have a longer window, due to their not being able to return to school any longer. If a team fails to sign their pick, they may potentially receive a compensation pick in the following year’s draft, depending on what round the player was drafted in.

If a player does not sign by the end of their window, their age will determine when they will be eligible to be drafted again. For players drafted out of high school, they will not be eligible until they meet the requirements for college players. For college players, they will be eligible in the following year’s draft. Notable examples in previous years include Aaron Crow, and Tanner Scheppers.

Each year, the office of the Commissioner gives out guidelines for what the signing bonus of each pick in the draft should be. The logic is that the best player available should be the top selection, and receive the highest signing bonus. This is also known as the slotting system. However, many teams do not adhere to it, as it is not a requirement to do so.

Analysis:

Since players drafted generally take between 2 to 4 years to make an impact at the major league level, organizations try to minimize their risk at the draft. This can include drafting players based on signability rather than talent, drafting lower ceiling players with a higher potential to reach their ceiling, and avoiding talented players with makeup concerns. This can lead to some unusual choices from time to time.

The slotting system does not help teams to land the top players available all the time, since it is only a suggestion and not a requirement. A great example was Rick Porcello. When Porcello was eligible to be drafted, he was widely viewed as a top-5 draft pick. However, knowledge of his contract demands became public, and many teams shied away from him due to concerns about signability. Since he was a high school student, if he didn’t sign, he could simply go to college, and wait 2 years to be drafted again. As a result, he fell to the end of the first round, when he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, and received a contract well over the slot suggested by the commissioner’s office. The Tigers were willing to pay him what it took to get him signed. The reason that this has become a bigger problem is that it works, as evidenced by the season that Porcello had in 2009. If he had not signed with the Tigers, he would have been eligible to be drafted this coming season in 2010. The Tigers’ willingness to pay Porcello what he believed he was worth impacted this season, as well as future ones as well.

Also, the fact that international players are not subject to the draft has become a point of contention. All international players who have not signed contracts are considered to be free agents, and a player can be signed after June 2nd of the year that they turned 16. As a result, teams that can offer better development opportunities and better money will generally get these players, leaving the other teams out of the process.

The Rule 4 draft is going to be a hot topic of discussion when the next collective bargaining agreement negotiations begin, and could very well see some large-scale changes with wide-ranging impacts on the market for players.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Sons of Sam Horn

AL Rookie of the Year Review


Andrew Bailey was announced as the winner of the American League Rookie of the Year for 2009 yesterday.

In my predictions, I thought Bailey would win the award, but it was a lot closer than I thought it would be. The voting (first place in parentheses):

Bailey – 88 votes (13)
Elvis Andrus – 65 (8)
Rick Porcello – 64 (7)
Jeff Niemann – 21
Gordon Beckham – 10
Brett Anderson – 4

Andrew Bailey
Andrew spent the majority of the 2009 season as the closer for the A’s, and was 26-for-30 in save opportunities this year. But his dominance is better illustrated in his other stats: 1.84 ERA, 91 strikeouts, a .167 opponents batting average, and a 0.88 WHIP.  His numbers were extremely comparable to the elite players at his position:

Bailey: 1.84 ERA, 91 K, .167 Opp BA, 0.88 WHIP, 26 saves
Mariano Rivera: 1.76 ERA, 72 K, .197 Opp BA, 0.91 WHIP, 44 saves
Joe Nathan: 2.10 ERA, 89 K, .171 Opp BA, 0.93 WHIP, 47 saves

Bear in mind, that Bailey did not take over the closer role until early May, and could potentially have had a lot more saves on a more competitive team. Digging in a little deeper, there are a couple of concerns I have for the next season.

Bailey’s Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was a very low .234. Those same comps had .252 (Nathan), and .263 (Rivera), so I would be inclined to believe that some form of correction to the mean may occur next season. His Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) number was 2.56, almost a full run higher than his actual era. Again, not a huge problem necessarily for a reliever, but something to keep an eye on.

So, how did his competitors fare last season?

Elvis Andrus

Andrus was named the starting shortstop for the Rangers prior to the season. The Rangers thought so highly of him that they asked All-Star SS Michael Young to switch to 3B. Andrus definitely did not disappoint. He hit to the tune of .267/.329/.373 with 72 runs, 6 hr, and 33 sb. Andrus was also no slouch with the glove, as he compiled a 10.7 UZR rating at SS. A very good rookie season.

Rick Porcello
Porcello joined the Tigers out of spring training, and made the rotation. This was a huge surprise, considering that he had only pitched one year in the minors, and it was in A-ball at that. However, he made a very strong impact, compiling a 14-9 record with a 3.96 era, 89 strikeouts, and a 1.34 whip. They believed in him so heavily, in fact, that he was the choice to start the play-in game against the Twins on 10/6. Porcello should be a very good major league pitcher for years to come.

Jeff Niemann
Niemann made the Rays rotation out of spring training, after having a couple of starts in 2008. With a 13-6 record, Niemann was one of the few pitchers that the Rays could rely on throughout the season. He gave the Rays 180 innings, while compiling a 3.94 era, 1.35 whip, and 125 strikeouts. I frankly thought that Niemann would finish ahead of Porcello, but that could be partially due to Porcello pitching meaningful games in October. Niemann will be a solid #2-3 anchor for the Rays rotation in a system that is full of top-level pitching.

Gordon Beckham
Beckham was called up in May, and was the first player from the 2008 draft to have a meaningful impact in the Majors. He posted a very solid .270/.360/.477 line, with 14 homers, 58 rbi, and 7 steals. All while learning a new position in the major leagues. While he had some of the better stats of the season, I felt that he should be discounted slightly due to not being up for the whole season. Not really his fault, but that’s how it goes. Beckham will have another transition to make next season, as the White Sox announced that he would be moving to 2B to accommodate newly acquired Mark Teahen.

Brett Anderson
Anderson spent the whole season in the A’s rotation, and posted a respectable 11-10 record on a bad team. He really came on in the second half, going 6-4 with a 3.48 era, 86 strikeouts, and a 1.19 whip. If he puts together a full season like his second half, he’s going to be a very, very good pitcher for a long time.

Overall, this year’s AL rookie class was one of the strongest. Especially when you consider that the two top rookies in the AL at the beginning of the season aren’t here either. (Matt Wieters, David Price). This whole group should be interesting to watch for years to come.