Grand Cards: The Grand Scheme Has A Fever

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Grand Scheme Has A Fever

And the only prescription...
Nope, sorry. Not going down that road folks. The news of a fever came out 90 minutes before yesterday's game. The stricken was none other than Miguel Cabrera, who just transferred the excess heat in his body to his bat and went freaking nuts yesterday: 3-5 with a Triple and, oh, a game-tying 2-run home run in the bottom of the 9th. This comes on the heels of a kidney infection that hit him last friday, although "There isn’t any indication that his fever today is related to the kidney infection," which is good.

The concern for me is that the two are in fact related, or that the back-to-back nature of them is indicative of a low-lying illness that could fatigue the white-hot Cabrera down the stretch. The last thing we need is an illness plus extraneous strenuous activity, like, say, trying to hit home runs 700 feet in an exhibition. Well, no worries there:
He explained why he’d skip the Home Run Derby if he didn’t think he was strong enough to participate.

“In the Home Run Derby, it’s going to be easy to get tired,” Cabrera said. “You swing hard.”
So, if he's not feeling well, he's out. Please go ahead and get your doctor's note now.

On the Home Run Derby
I am really, really conflicted about the Home Run Derby. For one, I love it. It is fun to watch (for the first round at least) and was an absolute thrill to attend (at Comerica Park in 2005). In that particular year, then-Tiger Ivan Rodriguez thrilled hometown fans by blasting 20 home runs and finishing as runner up. This was also the year that Bobby Abreu hit home runs to parts of Comerica Park that don't even know what a baseball looks like. It was the perfect storm of exhibitions showmanship (Abreu, Josh Hamilton in 2008) and unabashed homerism and it was a lot of fun.

But now it's 2010 and Miguel Cabrera is in the derby and I'm not on board. Here's why:
  • Illness and injury: he's had minor things so far this year. They do not need to be exacerbated
  • Tigers' history: from the same free press article, the Tigers' recent home run derby history is abysmal. Inge had 0 last year. Ordonez 2 in 2007. In fact, Pudge Rodriguez aside, no Tiger has had more than 4(!) in the derby (Cecil Fielder did it twice in 1991 and 1993). It's embarrassing.
  • Why mess with a good thing? Ask Josh Hamilton. Or Vlad. Or Ken Griffey Jr:
    "Everything that you were taught not to do you have to do in the home run contest," says Griffey, who won the Derby in 1999 in Boston. "It's either a home run or nothing. You try to forget that swing when the season starts (again), but there's not a lot of time. Bad mechanics can hang around a long time."
    Granted, ESPN ran a pretty good article last year that debunks that rumour, but I prefer to quote Hamilton. "Why mess with a good thing?" With the season Cabrera is having? I wouldn't.

Still, Cabrera has partcipated in the Derby before (2006) did well and showed no ill effects. And he wants to win it. And he's awesome. So I guess those are all points towards wanting to see him in it. I guess it all just makes me uneasy. If I could get some sort of cosmic guarantee that says Cabrera can participate and then return to the regular season and continue performing at the same level that would be great. Because I think everyone would rather have a triple crown season an MVP and a playoff run than a trophy presented by state farm.

All Star Notes
In case this wasn't implied, Miguel Cabrera made the all star team. So did closer Jose Valverde who still doesn't have a baseball card as a Tiger despite the fact that there have been a half dozen card releases this year, including two series of Topps and had a 0.38 ERA as of last week (which ballooned to 1.00 after Tuesday's game against the O's). No other Tigers made the team, although there is some argument to be made for Magglio Ordonez, Justin Verlander and Brennan Boesch. Personally, I don't feel as though any of them were robbed of a spot (the way Cabrera was last year), so I'll let my personal biases pass for the time being.

HOWEVER, I think Brennan Boesch should have been included on the final ballot. Apparently his stats have been displayed ad nauseum to make this case, to which many Tiger fans have said "enough, we get it" so I'll let it be. He's got to be your odds-on rookie of the year favorite right now though, right?

I also share the feeling that Cabrera should be starting in the game. He's currently leading the major leagues in all three triple crown categories. Do I even need to say more than that? That's what Jim Leyland is for: (HT Hardball Talk
It's not a good system, if you want to know the truth. But you get run out of baseball when you say that. I'll be getting booed everywhere I go. In reality, they're making a big deal about the game meaning something now and that the starters should play at least five or six innings. Well, I managed a couple All-Star games where guys I had sitting on the bench were better than the guy that started. So, to me they can throw that theory totally out the window.

Question his managerial tactics all you want, but there's no manager I'd rather have talking to the press and running the clubhouse.

Damon a Hall of Famer?
As I was driving to work this morning Peter Gammons was on the Ed Norris show, and they asked the question: given Damon's 2500th hit last night, his age (36) and career durability, it is not outside of the realm of reason that he will reach 3000 hits. If he does, is he a Hall of Famer? The co-host said no (Ed Norris said yes). My gut said borderline. But Peter Gammons said yes, and definitely if he reaches 3000. Funny enough, Craig Calceterra commented on the same thing this morning, noting Damon's apparent desire to reach that milestone and, ultimately, the hall.

Which got me thinking, Damon has been a very good player for the entirety of his career. If he plays for 2-3 more years, he will have statistics that compare favorably to any number of Hall of Famers. He's also been a crucial part of two championship teams--a point that Gammons thinks is important. He was on two teams that likely would not have won the world series without him. That's a big deal. If he can take the Tigers into the playoffs (and beyond) he could be a lock. You can't underestimate the value of a "gamer" in the eyes of the writers. Tack on statistics that put him in the top 10% of players every year for his entire career and I think there's a strong case to be made.

Roster Notes
Armando Galarraga goes down to AAA as the superfluous 5th starter before the All-Star break. He'll be back up folks, don't worry. In his place, another MLB Debut:
2010 Topps Pro Debut #16 Robbie Weinhardt

Welcome to the show, kid. Bless You Boys and the Detroit Tigers Weblog give you the breakdown.

Misc. Baseball card giveaway is about 50% packed up and will be shipped out tomorrow. My wife get a big thank you for her help and will get another shout out in a later post. Good recap of the Tigers at the halfway point. They're in first...but how? Musical chairs for relievers, Casey Fein was called up, pitched a few innings and went back down to make room for Ryan Perry, for those keeping score. Kirk Gibson was given the interim manager role in Arizona. I'm thrilled for Gibby. So is Jim Leyland. Dontrelle Willis DFA'd again. Agent says he needs "a long break" from the game. Like retirement, perhaps?


  1. No Boesch, no Valverde in any Topps cards, which means my pursuit of Brennan's cards will end up costing me more money. I have two of his 2007 Bowman, and Bowman Heritage base cards, and that's it. We keep getting Dulgach cards, Ryan Perry. Am I going to have to wait until 2011 for a Tigers card of Brennan?

  2. I predict that we'll se a Boesch card in each of the following: Topps 206, Bowman Chrome and Topps Update, as well as a smattering of the higher end releases (Sterling, e.g.)

  3. Hey Dan, did my package make it to Baltimore?