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The Tigers and Jays renew acquaintances, and this time, they'll do it in a proper baseball environment: a dome. None of this "cold" business. This series features a clash of aces, a clash of sub-12% K rates, and two weekend pitching matchups that look one-sided on paper but should actually be much more interesting than they first appear. Also, Gary Sheffield tries to rectify his wiggle, and Brandon Inge tries to reassert his offensive superiority over Neifi Perez...

On to the Advance Scout!

Mike Maroth: Where are all these crafty lefties coming from? Is there anything we can do to keep them coming? Maroth doesn't throw hard and gets most of his outs when hitters just miss his moving fastballs, particularly his sinker. But he's not a groundball pitcher, and he's definitely not a strikeout artist. However, he has accomplished one feat nobody else has, not even noted accomplisher of feats Curt Schilling: he's defeated Gil Meche as a Royal. In KC, no less. Maroth pitched 5 valiant innings and only allowed 4 runs to defeat KC's $55-million man.

Jeremy Bonderman: The slider artist still doesn't have a decision after he went 6 innings allowing 2 runs against KC last Sunday and left with a deficit thanks to Brandon Duckworth. However, in the 9th, the Tigers politely requested the lead to get their ace off the hook, and David Riske was cooperative. Their first two batters reached, and their third, Pudge Rodriguez homered to complete the bloodless rally.

Chad Durbin: The 29-year-old righty beat out Zach Miner, Felix Heredia and Rule 5 pick Ed Campusano to earn the #5 starter's job and the opportunity to do his best Kenny Rogers impression. He credits his breakthrough spring to the addition of a cutter and sinker to his previously vanilla repertoire. Durbin's game plan is to put pressure on hitters by throwing strikes and making them put the ball in play. "If I get caught up in the politics of it all, in thinking that someone at the plate hits .340 with 40 home runs a year, I get overwhelmed. As a young guy, you tend to throw away from the bat as opposed to having the ball put in play," he tells the Detroit News' Tom Gage. It's a sound strategy, but he's going to have his hands full with A.J. Burnett providing the opposition. Durbin threw a solid 3.6 pitches per PA in his last start. Unfortunately, he also allowed 10 baserunners and 6 runs in 4.2 innings in the Orioles' home opener. Perhaps there is a tradeoff involved. Cool hand Jim Leyland doesn't consider Durbin's gig to be in any kind of danger yet.

Nate Robertson: Will be pictured in every Tigers Scout, ever. Here he is looking pensive. Robertson shut out the Orioles over 7.1 strong innings Tuesday for his first win. He worries me a bit more than most lefties without awesome K rates because he throws fairly hard, sometimes touching 93 with his 4-seamer and 90 with his sinker. More importantly, he has a clearly defined skill (he gets grounders) and can get them with all of his pitches.

The Chart Lies!: Gary Sheffield is going to start in right field with Magglio Ordonez DHing tonight. Something must be wrong with Sheff, who's hitting .103/.222/.207. Sheff's theory is that his prodigiously violent bat waggle is not in midseason form. Seriously!: "I've looked at my swing. My wiggle is off, and my timing is off. I've got to get my leg-kick started more quickly and speed my hands up. I've been in a funk like this before, I'm just thankful this is earlier rather than later (in the season). When I leave batters on base, that's what upsets me. That's hurting the team."

Craig Monroe: Mom's name is Marilyn. Also, he's got a knack for huge homers: he hit the grand slam that beat the O's last night, and went yard 5 times in the playoffs last year. Seriously, that's her name!

Todd Jones: Has 5 saves. The Tigers have 5 wins. Last night, when Monroe put the Tiggers ahead 4-0 in the 12th inning, lefty Bobby Seay was entrusted with holding the line. He balked in a run, so Jim Leyland naturally brought in Jones for the ubercheap save. Todd Jones' fantasy owners everywhere were overjoyed at this development. Jones has pitched in two straight games and 4 of 5. (The Tigers have won two straight games and 4 of 5.)

Joel Zumaya: Is rested. He's the only one of the Tigers' big guns that wasn't used in the 12-inning marathon last night. This is bad, bad news if you (sillily) place stock in batter-pitcher splits:

Vernon Wells: 0-4, K
Lyle Overbay: 0-4, K
Reed Johnson: 0-3, K, BB
Frank Thomas: 0-2, K
Matt Stairs: 0-2, K
Alex Rios: 0-2, K, BB
Aaron Hill: 0-2, K
Troy Glaus: 0-1, K, 2 BB!!
Royce Clayton: 0-0, BB
Total: 0-19, 8 K, 5 BB.

With Jones having pitched two days in a row, if the Tigers lead after 7, look for Zoomer to get the two-inning save, Janssen/Soria style.

Fernando Rodney: The hard-throwing righty changeup specialist got off to a bit of a rough start in the Jays series. He's only pitched twice in the past week, but he's been much better: Sunday, he went one shutout inning in relief of Bondo and vultured a win, and yesterday he pitched 2 no-hit innings with 3 K's and a walk. Troublingly, he's shown pretty clear flyball tendencies this year after getting an anomalous 56.5% groundballs last year, but it's early.

Ivan Rodriguez: Is batting leadoff against lefties these days. On Tuesday, Nick Markakis fouled a ball off Pudge's foot; the Tigers have downplayed it and Pudge was in the lineup last night (catching all 12 innings, no less).

Brandon Inge: Recorded his first hit of the year last night, going 1-5 with a single and a walk. He's batting .040/.172/.040. Tuesday, he was benched in favor of Neifi Perez in the name of generating an offensive spark.

The Credit Section: Batted-ball and Leverage Index data are available at Fangraphs. K% and BB% are strikeouts and walks respectively as a percentage of plate appearances. I replaced the LHP% stat for hitters with raw homers for no real reason other than that chicks dig the long ball. Everything else, most notably the AL average statistics, is available at The Hardball Times. The "Rest" column for relievers is basically self explanatory: the number on the left of the forward slash is the number of days off the pitcher has had, while the number on the right is the number of pitches the pitcher threw in his last outing.

This is the last chart to contain 2006 stats. Next week, the Scout ceases to live in the past.

Advance Scout: Tigers, April 12-15 | 31 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
BigTimeRoyalsFan - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 05:47 PM EDT (#165657) #
the fan590 reports that reed johnson is out tonight with back spasms, and matt stairs will get the start tonight in left field. hopefully lind's greyhound is by the border by now.
Barry Bonnell - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 06:08 PM EDT (#165658) #
With the rain out in Boston today I wonder if Dice K starts Monday in Toronto?
Magpie - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 06:19 PM EDT (#165660) #
I wonder if Dice K starts Monday in Toronto?

I hope so, the Jays have the day off.

Sorry, couldn't resist. I saw a fat one coming right down the middle of the plate, I had to swing at it!
greenfrog - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 06:25 PM EDT (#165662) #
Ouch. According to the Jays' website, Reed is a career .417 hitter (7 for 17 with 2 HR) against tonight's starter, Mike Maroth. He must really be hurting to miss this one.

At least we don't have to face Verlander, who dominated Baltimore yesterday.

FanfromTheIsland - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 06:28 PM EDT (#165664) #
If that's the case, cool!  I get to see his Roger Clemens-type of wind-up and delivery.
Flex - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 06:55 PM EDT (#165665) #
According to the Globe, Dice K will indeed be starting against Toronto.
Mike Green - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 07:55 PM EDT (#165666) #
The projectionist's coffee break for the Towers 2006 line was exceptionally well timed.  Solid hire, Alex.

Magpie - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 08:30 PM EDT (#165668) #
Randome observations after a few innings...

I don't mind seeing 95 mph fastballs when I go to the ball park., but these two guys can barely break 85....

Wasn't Matt Stairs a lousy outfielcer ten years ago, when he was pushing 30?  Getting another ten years hasn't helped....

Aaron Hill... en fuego.

VBF - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 08:43 PM EDT (#165669) #
Hmm. I'd have a difficult time believing that Johnny Mac or Jason Smith would play a worse left field than Stairs.
GregJP - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 09:04 PM EDT (#165670) #
Are we really going to have to watch any more of Ohka and Towers?  This is a team competing for a division title? 

How long until we see Janssen, Marcum,  or Zambrano in the rotation?  I know, I'm impatient, but some of these losses in April will come back to haunt us in September.

Rob - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 09:48 PM EDT (#165671) #
Getting another ten years hasn't helped....

Matt Stairs played only 22 innings in the outfield last year before Texas and KC realized what they were doing. Just thought I'd mention that.
GregJP - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 10:06 PM EDT (#165672) #
I realize that we need a left handed bat on the bench, but man, there has to be a better option out there than Matt Stairs. 
jsut - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 10:54 PM EDT (#165673) #
His name is Adam Lind
jeff mcl - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 11:12 PM EDT (#165674) #
Argh, why wasn't Aaron Hill hitting second?  I'm confident enough that that was a poor decision that I won't even look up Stairs' carrer numbers against Maroth.

Love and hugs aside, this team needs a makeover, and post-haste because the prom is approaching.  Give me a fourth outfielder who can field (keep Matt Stairs to be Royce Clayton's designated pinch hitter), slot Janssen into the rotation, and (gasp!) trade Rios for Brad Penny if/while it's still doable.

Mike Green - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 11:32 PM EDT (#165675) #
It was a bit strange.  Stairs has not hit lefties particularly well over his career, and he's not likely to be at the apex of his career right now.  Personally, I would have preferred also to have seen Overbay at first base instead of Phillips,  primarily for defensive reasons with Ohka pitching.  Oh well, it seems to be the fashion to get the bench into games in a starting role early in the season even if things are going well.  Blech.
Chuck - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 11:32 PM EDT (#165676) #

Randome observations after a few innings...

Some ran(sky)dom(e) observations of my own...

Is it just me, or is Downs about an inch from snapping? I don't think this is the first time I've seen this this season (or imagined I've seen it), but after Downs gets a LH hitter out, and Zaun gets predictably dispatched to go to the mound to "talk to him" for the obvious purpose of stalling to let the ensuing righty get some more warm-up tosses, Downs appears to yell into his glove. I can just imagine the commentary he is imparting to Zaun. "Is he f'ing kidding me? One f'ing batter? Again? Tell me, do I look like Schoeneweis? WTF?"

With a G/IP ratio now of 5/2.1, Downs is being used like a 40-year old Jesse Orosco, who three times posted seasons with G/IP ratios of 2/1 or higher (65/32 for the 99 Orioles, 35/16 for the 01 Dodgers, 56/27 for the 02 Dodgers). Even the SS LOOGY was never used in such a conservative manner. Maybe Gibbons is raring for a good rasslin' match and, with Lilly gone, is doing what he can to bait Downs.

Jason Frasor was cited as 5'10" in yesterday's radio broadcast. If Frasor is 5'10", I'm 6'10".

If Matt Stairs is a major league outfielder, I'm 6'10".

Whom at Rogers do I contact for compensation when I need to get my carpets cleaned? I'm only human and my brain can only stand so much. The incessant bleeding brought on by the endless stream of night after night inanities spewing from the mouth of Pat Tabler have my rec room looking like the set of Reservoir Dogs after Michael Madsen decided to have a little fun.

I have been a huge Frank Thomas fan his whole career and dearly welcomed his arrival, but with the nagging concerns that he ain't exactly a spring chicken. Now, maybe he's just pressing to impress his new team. Or maybe he just takes a while to find his groove. He certainly started out slowly for the A's last season before morphing into MVP Man, so there is recent precedence. He appears to still have his strong strike zone judgement. And he appears to still have his bat speed. So it's not like he's guessing and starting his swing early to cheat the atrophy brought on by Father Time. He just seems... not exactly right. In 9 games, all of his RBI have come in one at-bat. I am hopeful that come June, I'll look back and laugh and the unfoundedness of my concerns.

Achilles had his heal. Vernon has the chest high fastball.

The ESPN-wannabe strike zone graphic showing the location of pitches is well intentioned. But the top of the rectangle seems to be calibrated to the players' belts and not the published strike zone. Is this intended to not show the umpires up?

The blown call at first base where Rabelo was called out was a flub of New Coke proportions. I had to laugh when the play was shown in slow motion (as if a step by step diagnosis was required), because in fast motion it was clearly a missed call. The slo mo only served to illustrate the magnitude of the gaff.

When your star third baseman seems hobbled, and he can't be hidden at 1B or DH, and plan B is John McDonald, does a falling tree in a forest make a sound?

The cries for Janssen and/or Marcum to be moved to the rotation only figure to become louder with these two continuing their solid work in the pen, but there is a part of me that wants to see them stay in the pen for another month or so. I won't presume to know how strong or fragile a ball player's psyche is, especially the psyches of these two particular ball players, but I can't help but think that the confidence resulting from their continued success in the pen will only help with their transitions come the time the posse has gotten around to lynching two of Chacin, Ohka and Towers.

timpinder - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 11:35 PM EDT (#165677) #
Any word on the severity of the injuries to Johnson and Glaus?
Chuck - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 11:46 PM EDT (#165678) #

Stairs has not hit lefties particularly well over his career

Am I reading the platoon splits section correctly, or has Stairs batted RH 158 times, 146 times against RHP? What the hell is that about?

I realize that with Johnson hurting, their was no other option than Stairs against the LHP tonight. But man, that gave me the Dave Berg chills.

Thomas - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 11:53 PM EDT (#165679) #

I'm purely speculating here, but I imagine the decision to pull Reed was made at the last minute. That's why Stairs batted second. Overbay already had the day off, so Rios was pushed up to the 2 hole (or leadoff) in his absence. Reed wanted to play or thought he'd be able to, but at sometime like 6:30 he had to pull out. Rather than mess up the lineup with less than half an hour to go until game time, Gibbons decided to just put Stairs in for Reed and flip him with Rios, as Stairs is obviously not a leadoff hitter.

It seems silly to some of us to not then move Hill or Zaun up to the 2-spot, but ballplayers can be peculiar and superstitious beasts and I imagine that they don't like being told at 6:40 that they suddenly have to bat in the 2-hole. If Gibbons had all afternoon to plan the lineup, there's no way he doesn't hit Hill second.

Barry Bonnell - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 11:56 PM EDT (#165680) #
Stair was a lifetime 6 for 19 off Maroth before today. I still would have liked to see Hill batting 2nd.

On the radio they said Reed was more than day to day. I think Wilner called it a "couple days to day." Whatever it is I hope we see Lind here tomorrow.

It is early but I really really don't like 3,4,5 spots on the rotation. They are going to get eaten alive against the Yanks and Red Sox.

Barry Bonnell - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 12:09 AM EDT (#165681) #
On another note, I happen to have good tickets to the game on Tuesday with Dice K. My wife is also scheduled to deliver our second child any day now. Is it wrong for me to ask the Good Lord to wait until Wednesday?
SteveO - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 12:13 AM EDT (#165682) #
   Hate to say it, but we're kind of getting what we expected from the 3,4, and 5 starters aren't we? No one expected Ohka and Towers to come in and blow teams away. So, we have to win with that bats. The problem I see now is a lack of production from the middle of the lineup. Thomas has done next to nothing besides the homer in Tampa. Wells has not been hitting with runners on base. Hill and Rios are driving the offense right now, which to me is a bigger problem than the back end of the rotation.
Chuck - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 12:14 AM EDT (#165683) #

Rather than mess up the lineup with less than half an hour to go until game time, Gibbons decided to just put Stairs in for Reed and flip him with Rios, as Stairs is obviously not a leadoff hitter.

With all due respect, I think you're being overly charitable. Telling Hill at the last minute that he'll be batting 2nd and not 6th hardly seems earth shattering. It's not like telling Alex Rodriguez that he'll be batting 8th.

Stair was a lifetime 6 for 19 off Maroth before today.

Sample size aside, how many of those AB came from a younger, better Stairs facing a younger, crappier Maroth? How predictive are those numbers today (if they were ever even predictive at all) ?

SteveO - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 12:15 AM EDT (#165684) #
And to answer your question that is absolutely justified in my eyes
Ryan C - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 12:34 AM EDT (#165685) #
It is early but I really really don't like 3,4,5 spots on the rotation.

Personally the only one of those I don't really like at the moment is Ohka.  I would be happy with Chacin and Towers in the 4/5 spots and someone better in the 3 spot.  Perhaps that someone could be Janssen, Marcum, or McGowan.
Magpie - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 01:01 AM EDT (#165686) #
I'm purely speculating here, but I imagine the decision to pull Reed was made at the last minute.

Not really. I arrived at 5:30 and the lineups were already printed and posted. I asked "Why is Matt Stairs starting against a left-hander?" No one knowing why, Richard Griffin said "Because he can?" We may have speculated that Reed Johnson had suffered some sort of Unfortunate Beard Mishap...
Mylegacy - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 01:30 AM EDT (#165687) #

Ramblings on tonights game...

No Glaus, no Johnson. No hope?

How do you say, "Throw it to second base, not the center fielder you j*ck*ss!" in Japanese?

"Now protecing the 275 pound Frank Thomas in the lineup, and weighing in at 13 stone, is Johnny Mac!

My prayer tonight started this way, "Dear God, not the one that brought the plagues to Egypt (boy you must have been in a snit that day!) nor the one that drowned everyone in the world except for the half dozen, or so, that fit into Noah's nifty little boat, I want the good know the one that isn't a self proclaimed mass murderer... to that good one I say...Please God where the f*ck can we get three more starters.?  NOW...before the words had left my throat he appeared to me in a vision that looked a lot like Donald Trump only with a better hair cut... "Oh ye of little faith...try Janssen, Marcum and Zambrano and if they don't work bring up McGowan." Boy I thought, "With such sage advice, no wonder so many people believe in the dude."

And finally...We'll get 'em tomorrow!

ahitisahit - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 02:34 AM EDT (#165688) #

Other than Ohka's 3 run inning (in which the Jays give the Tigers 2-3 extra outs) was that not a 4th starter performance? If 2 runs score there instead of 3, the Jays tie the game in the 8th. If you give a team like this 2-3 extra outs, you'll usually pay for it, no matter who's pitching. It's also funny that Ohka was allowed to pitch into the 6th inning when Chacin the night before was pulled after 79 pitches.

I tuned in around the 4th inning, I couldn't figure out what the lineup was. When I checked on the internet, I couldn't believe Matt Stairs was batting second. I really want to like the guy, he's representing the Maritimes, but he has a range of about 5 feet out there.

Thomas - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 02:56 AM EDT (#165689) #

Fair enough. My speculation was wrong.

I don't understand that at all. I guess Gibbons got swayed by a small sample size.

Dave Till - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 08:06 AM EDT (#165691) #
My opinions, since everyone has 'em:

- We can't expect too much from Ohka. If he was any better, someone would have given him 4 years and $40 million.

- While I am glad that the Big Hurt is here, having a full-time DH gives Gibbons fewer options. Last year, Glaus could have been moved to DH for a few games while he recovers from his heel thingy. Now, the Jays have to park Troy on the bench and put a light-hitting infielder into the lineup.

- Speaking of Glaus: he should be given standing orders not to run too hard for a bit. He's a competitor, so that'll be hard for him to do, but the Jays need his bat more than they need the extra base or two.

- If Johnson is hurt for more than a day or two, it's Adam Lind time. So it's all good.

- You learn to appreciate Reed's defense more after watching Matt Stairs play the outfield for a day or two. Reed is a very good outfielder. Matt, well, not so much.

- As a fan, I want to see that entire lineup healthy for at least a couple of weeks. When they're all together, they're going to hit about three tons. But it might be like one of those desert mirages: yes, there is water there, and it's just up ahead... keep moving...

TamRa - Friday, April 13 2007 @ 10:45 PM EDT (#165754) #

While I agree with the notion that lind is ready, my instant reaction on the "LH hitting OF void" comments is two words:


Larry. Bigbe.

Dude was BEGGING teams to come after him at the end of ST and while he's always dissapointed the expectations, even an underachiving Bigbe is much better than Stairs.

Other names which spring to mind as LH (or switch) hitting OF that are at various stages of availability:

Jeff Devannon (s) - 'Zona loaded with young OF

Cory Sullivan - Rox didn't even keep him in majors

Rickey Ledee - stashed by mets in more a hitter than Stairs, but at least a pretty good feilder.

Shawn Green - Yeah, i know....silly unless the mets pay pretty much all his salary and even then what to do when Reed returns? But he CAN be had i'm sure.

Todd Walker - isn't LF one of the places where you hide poor defensive infielders?

Russel Branyan - Has played in OF and can serve as the first line ofdefense when glaus goes down as well.

Chris Snelling - underappreciated in Washington.

Eric Hinske - like Branyan, he can serve as depth for 3B and the OF. I'll let you supply the appropriate snide remark.

Todd Hollandsworth - don't think he's in the majors anywhere but, like Ledee and Bigbe, if JP had wanted him he could have signed him instead of Stairs.

Macir Izturus - (s) assuming he can play OF....may eventually be full time SS but in mean time can be our Freel.

Bobby Kielty - not sure he's available at all but he'd fit as a good all around 4th OF

Matt Lawton - might be done, not sure what he's doing now. But he was fine in 2005 and barring injury it's hard to see him just falling off the cliff all at once like that


Advance Scout: Tigers, April 12-15 | 31 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.