Grand Cards: The Grand Scheme Has Fewer Than Nine Lives Left

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Grand Scheme Has Fewer Than Nine Lives Left

Cardiac Cats If you haven't heard it before, you're about to hear it over and over for the rest of the season. I will use it sparingly, if at all. Still, the Tigers have somehow taken a number of shockingly inept performances, flipped them over at the drop of a hat and come out in the win column.

Somehow, this has resulted in a 6-2 record that could (should?) be 4-4 or worse. Not that I'm complaining. But if anyone has dreams of a November playoff run, I recommend taking things a little bit slower. Clearly, the team is showing a penchant for Michigan State-style inexplicable wins where you watch and say, "man this team isn't very good" yet they somehow happen to pull it out in the end. I hate Michigan State. But, I really like the Tigers, so as long as they keep winning, I won't complain.

But he's your Closer The Core Contrarian directed me to one of Rob Neyer's tweets after the Tigers' improbable late-inning come-from-behind victory. Neyer's take:
Just to put this one to bed...Royals had 5-0 lead in the 7th, wound up losing by 1 run, and their only good reliever never threw a pitch.
Spot on. Craig Calcaterra says pretty much the same thing, and adds this insightful line:
You do realize, don't you, that games can be "saved" even if it's not a situation in which a "save" is awarded, right?
The underuse of good pitchers in high-leverage situations is one of the biggest operational inefficiencies in the game today, IMO. Soria should have come in to stop the bleeding. However, that does beg the question of who pitches the 8th and 9th once Soria has to leave? I mean, someone in the Royals bullpen would have had to come in, and could have blown things just as easily.

For his part, Jim Leyland thinks that the Royals bullpen is full of good pitchers.

Willis Do you read the internet? If you do you've probably encountered an overwhelming response to Willis' underwhelming, at best, performance. Neyer is awaiting full implosion ?and defines a new term: Disaster Start. Aaron Gleeman at NBC says he was "meh" against the Royals, which means "ugh" against anybody else. The local guys are in on it too. Henning describes the weak performance and emotional toll it takes to go through it each outing. Bless You Boys and the Detroit Tigers Weblog both comment.

The take away is this: Dontrelle has not been very good, but has performed adequately as a 5th started. 99% of everybody expects that even this is not sustainable.

My take on it is basically the same, but my mind was sparked by something I saw last night:

5 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR
5 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR

Guess who these pitchers are. Here's a hint: the second is Dontrelle Willis.

The first? Nate Robertson.

Now, this doesn't mean that Willis is going to do any better or that keeping him in the rotation was the right decision or that trading Robertson was the right decision. It just means that whether Willis or Robertson or some other replacement level pitcher, you're going to get what you're going to get. At the point when Willis cannot consistently produce a line like this, he will be replaced by someone who can. Until that point, your 5th starter is a 5th starter and you just hope to win as many as you can when they're out there.

The Staff Not that this is really worth anything, and it is already a week old, but I found it very interesting that the Tigers' pitching staff is, on average, the youngest in the major leagues. Their elder statesman is 28-year old Dontrelle Willis for pete's sake. Sure, Willis and Bonderman are unknown commodities, but considering that they are the two most likely candidates to be replaced mid-year or after the season, it seems as though the rotation will only get younger and better as the team moves forward. That's good, good news. This is a staff has a core that has a chance to be dominant for the next 5 years.

For the investor in you The Cardboard Connection is profiling the most valuable cards for each team. Today it was the AL Central's turn. The result is something that is entirely unsurprising. Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Austin Jackson and Rick Porcello are the "hottest" cards out there. ALL of them, without exception, are rookie cards. And all but one (a 2000 Topps Chrome Traded Rookie of Miguel Cabrera) are autographed. Oh, how the times have changed.

Misc. Target Field opened up and has some nice statues that are now ubiquitous at MLB parks. Of course, the Comerica Park statues still rank at the top of the list (ok, #2). Josh Wilker, who just wrote Cardboard Gods--a new book about his life through the lens of baseball cards that has gotten a lot of attention from Neyer and the like, just posted his thoughts on 2010 Topps. They're pretty and action packed! Maybe a little too pretty and action packed. Curtis Granderson is tearing it up already: .357/.419/.607 with 2 HR and 4 SB. Go Curtis!