Today the Tigers put CF Austin Jackson on the DL with a pulled hamstring retroactive to May12 and recalled OF Avisail Garcia from AAA Toledo. Jackson’s injury doesn’t appear to be terribly serious, so he should only miss a couple of weeks and Garcia should be able to fill in admirably.
So far this year, Garcia has 6 games at Lakeland during an injury rehab (.417/.500/.708) and 8 games at Toledo (.432/.447/.541) and has hit well at both spots. The sample is small, but it’s good to see a player with great raw tools performing well on the field even if it is only over 14 games. In 51 PA with the Tigers last season, his .319/.373/.319 line indicated he was able to make contact against big league pitching, but he wasn’t yet able to drive the baseball for extra bases. His minor league power numbers have been climbing over the last year, so look for some of that to show up at the big league level.
Garcia is still just 21 years old and still requires some seasoning, but he is a great athlete with an excellent throwing arm who should at least be able to spell Jackson for now without costing the team too much over the short run. The Tigers might even get lucky and discover he’s ready for prime time, in which case, the Tigers’ lineup will get even scarier for opposing pitchers. To me, he’s a .270 type 15/15 guy who can give you plus defense in a corner.
A big win.
Tigers 10, A’s 1
It went like this for the Tigers on Sunday. Score early, score often, don’t let them score. When that happens, as it did for them today, you win and win easily. The Tigers scored twice in each of the first two innings, four times in the fourth frame, and once each in the 7th and 8th, while allowing just one run in the bottom of the 4th. Sanchez struckout 8 over 7 innings and Porcello delivered two easy innings in relief to get some work in due to the upcoming off day that will allow the Tigers to skip him this time through the rotation. Austin Jackson had 4 hits including his first homerun, scored 3 runs, and drove in 3 ahead of Torii Hunter who had 3 hits of his own. Every starter except Infante had at least one hit in the big offensive effort that included 14 hits and 5 walks. The Tigers improve to 7-5 on the season after taking their third consecutive series as they slowed down the hot A’s this weekend in Oakland. They’ll head north to Seattle for a three game series starting Tuesday and will send Doug Fister to the hill against Aaron Harang.
The Moment: Hunter slides around the tag at home to score the second run of the game in the first inning.
Strange, but fun.
Tigers 8, Yankees 4
On this day, Max Scherzer was Max Scherzer. He struck out many Yankees, but allowed some hard contact, including a Vernon Wells homerun. Additionally, there was very little offense at times and explosions of offense at others. The Tigers put up a big number in the bottom of the 5th. The Yankees answered in the top of the 6th. The Tigers came back with more in the bottom half of that inning. Every Tiger but Santiago had a hit and many had multi-hit games. Jackson and Hunter continued their torrid starts and Cabrera’s 4 hit day launched him near the top of the team’s leaderboards. Scherzer wasn’t at his best, but the bullpen held it together and the bats carried him. One of the strange moments, other than Vernon Wells homering, was a call that came in the top of the 6th. The bases were loaded with no outs. A line drive was hit to Prince Fielder who caught it and stepped on first for the double play. Except the first base umpire, who was standing not six feet from the base, called the runner safe at first despite being a solid foot away from the base when Fielder stepped upon it. Luckily, the homeplate umpire overruled him, but it was peculiar in the sense that it was such a clear call I could see he kicked it from my kitchen. I didn’t just react as a fan who wanted the call to go our way. In real time, from far away from my television, I saw certain evidence the runner was out. You don’t get to see that too often.
Also of note today was the Alex Avila played the entire game waiting to hear if his wife was going into labor. Seems like a pretty stressful day. New English D is excited to welcome this player to be named later to the Tigers family. Speaking of the Tigers family, we’d also like to plug this fantastic feature from ESPN on Max Scherzer and his brother, Alex, who took his own life last year after a battle with depression. It’s a touching story not just because of our affinity for Max, but also for his brother who suffered from mental illness.
The Tigers climbed to 3-2 on the season and look for the sweep tomorrow behind Justin Verlander at 1pm on Kids’ Opening Day.
The Moment: Prince Fielder turns an unassisted double play in the top of the 6th, despite the best efforts of umpire Brian O’Nora.
Last weekend, I had the nerve to go on my honeymoon and missed writing about a lot of baseball trades and signings. To atone for such indiscretions, here’s a post about everything I missed while I was following my wife around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Blue Jays acquire R.A. Dickey from the Mets, Sign Him to an Extension
This deal also included Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas in exchange for John Buck, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, and Wuilmer Becerra. The Dickey extension is for two additional seasons and $25 million with a club option for 2016.
This is a very solid deal for the Mets in my book as they deal one year of Dickey plus two less than glamorous pieces for some prospects with really high upsides. d’Arnaud isn’t a sure thing, but he’s a top 10 prospect in baseball who can provide legitimate offense from behind the plate, and the other prospects are also potential contributors in the future. I’m not going to break down each of these guys at length, but the value is good for the Mets.
The Jays gave up a lot, but they also got a lot in return. Thole and Nickeas will be useful, but Dickey could be a difference maker. Over the last three seasons he’s been a great starter and capped it off with a Cy Young this season. He’s old and a knuckleballer, but he’s very effective. He’ll make just $5 million in 2013, so he’s a steal. If he maintains similar levels over the course of the extension, the $12 million per season price tag is a steal. If you buy him as someone who can maintain this level of performance, his 4+ WAR levels are worth about twice what he’ll make over the course of this deal.
The Blue Jays paid a premium for his services via trade, but they are right on the cusp of contention. With the addition of Melky Cabrera, Maizer Iztruis, and most of the Miami Marlins, the Blue Jays are easily within a couple wins of a division title and Dickey could make that difference. We’re not great at predicting baseball down to the precise win totals of a team, but we do have a good idea of about where the Blue Jays will fall in 2013 and we think that will be near a spot in the standings where a couple wins could make a big difference.
Grade (Mets): B+, Grade (Jays): B+
Astros Sign Carlos Pena, 1 year, $2.9 million plus incentives
Pena hits for a low average. He walks and hits homeruns. He’s solid on defense at first. While that makes him a below average player, it makes him like the second best Astro. Houston moves to the AL this season so Pena will largely play the role of DH at Minute Maid Park and should see some time at first.
In context this is a great move, even if it isn’t much of anything on a large scale. Pena should provide some offense for a bad team and they’ll get that offense at likely below market value because he has such a low batting average. Any true contender would have trouble selling a .190 hitter to their fan base, but the Astros don’t have that problem. This should pay off, even if it’s the difference between 67 wins and 69.
Cubs Sign Edwin Jackson, 4 years, $52 million
Edwin Jackson is 29 years old. He has made 31 or more starts in seven straight seasons. In the last six seasons, he’s thrown 183 innings or more each year with an ERA at 4.42 or below. Decent strikeout numbers, a few too many walks.
He’s not great, but he’s been close to a 4 WAR pitcher three of the last four seasons and close to a 3 WAR pitcher in the other. He’s pretty good. If you want him to be your ace, that’s a problem. But he’s better than average. If we figure over the next four seasons that he’ll be somewhere between 2 and 4 WAR, we’d offer him $10-$25 million per season depending on inflationary projections.
Obviously the $25 million is at the very high end and you don’t offer contracts with inflation built in. The Cubs have him for $13 million a year. At that rate, he needs to be worth 2 to 3 wins if there is no inflation (and there will be). He’s hasn’t been worth less than 2 WAR since 2008.
This is a good deal for the Cubs because most people seem to undervalue Jackson because he performs worse than we think he should given the quality of his raw stuff. He feels like he should be a #2, but he’s really been more of a #3 type guy and his ERA tends to look a little bloated at times. If you check the FIP, he looks better.
If he’s the same guy over the next four seasons minus a little aging as he has been for the last four, this deal will work out for the Cubs.
Rangers Sign A.J. Pierzynski, 1 year, $7.5 million
The Rangers lost out on Greinke, Hamilton, Upton, and pretty much everyone else they’ve wanted in the last twelve months. But gosh darn it, they got A.J.
Former White Sox, jerkish personality aside, this should be a good fit for the Rangers. He’s a durable lefthanded hitting catcher who hits for power. That’s not an easy thing to find. He doesn’t walk, but he rarely strikesout. The defense is suspect at times, but he’s usually commended for his ability to lead staffs.
He’s going to be somewhere between 1 and 3 WAR, just like he has been his whole career, in 2013. If he hits for a lot of power, look toward the high end. If he doesn’t, expect the low end. He’s durable and respectable at the plate. For $7.5 million, you’re only asking him to be better than 1 WAR for it to payoff and he should be able to handle that.
Brief Thoughts on Minor Moves
Phillies sign Mike Adams: Too long for a reliever, but should help.
Red Sox sign Stephen Drew: One year deals are low risk. Should be a good stop gap with some upside and they have the money to spend.
Rays sign the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona: No bad one year deals and the Rays are good at turning these guys into valuable pieces. Can’t hate it.
Marlins sign Placido Polanco: Past his prime and injury prone. In his heyday, he was a master. Now, he might be more of a bench player than a starter. But the Marlins are terrible, so it’s a decent move.
Pirates sign Francisco Liriano: At 2 years and $14 million, there is some risk he’s terrible and they’re out a non-trivial amount of money. But the Pirates need to thicken up their rotation and he could be useful in the pen if it comes to that. I wouldn’t love this deal, but the dollar value is low enough that it could really be a steal if he finds his form for just one of the seasons.
That should get you caught up on the happenings around the league and I have no plans to walk around theme parks for quite some time. We’re less than two months from pitchers and catchers and we’ll have coverage of everything that happens.