A good old fashion whooping.
Tigers 10, Braves 0
Many, if not all, baseball observers would likely tell you that the Atlanta Braves have been the best team in baseball over the first four weeks of the 2013 season. The Tigers did not seem to care on Friday night as they opened their interleague series against the Braves by destroying them. Not only did the Tigers score 10 runs, but they did so against one of the best rotations in the league and one of the hottest starting pitchers in Paul Maholm. If that wasn’t enough, Anibal Sanchez violated the Braves hitters by striking out 17 in 8 innings while walking just 1 and allowing 5 hits and no runs. Those 17 strikeouts are a Tigers franchise record for a pitcher in a 9 inning game. Put another way, the Tigers had their best offensive output in the same game that they received their best pitching performance, all while playing the league’s best team. All in all, that’s a good day at the office as they improve to 11-10. Sanchez’s line earns him a remarkable -0.88 FIP for the day and lowers his season ERA and FIP to 1.34 and 1.36, respectively. By WAR, he’s now tied for 2nd best for a pitcher in the majors this season with Yu Darvish (1.7) thanks to a 10.96 K/9 and 1.13 BB/9. The Tigers will look to take the series behind Porcello tomorrow afternoon against Kris Medlen.
The Moment: Anibal Sanchez delivers his 17th strikeout to set a career and franchise record.
Full of missed opportunities.
Angels 8, Tigers 1
I’m not entirely sure how to describe the game in which the Tigers fell to 9-7 on the season, but it goes something like this. Pitchers allowed runners to reach base, but didn’t allow many of them to score. Anibal Sanchez went 6.2 innings, allowed 11 hits, and allowed 3 runs (2 earned). Hanson went 6 innings, allowed 6 hits, and 4 walks, but allowed no runs. The Tigers had a ton of opportunities to score but ended up leaving 20 men on base over the course of the evening. In the 8th inning, the game got away from the Tigers when with the bases loaded, Jackson and Tuiasosopo misplayed a catchable fly ball with two outs. I wouldn’t consider this one a well played game as far as these things go, as both offenses failed to capitalize on chances and both pitching staffs got into a lot of trouble. The Tigers will send Rick Porcello to the hill Saturday on big Fox (read: where I can’t watch them because of stupid blackout rules that end after this season) and will look for their 10th win of the season at 3pm eastern after not scoring over the last 18 innings.
The Moment: Anibal Sanchez avoids being struck in the head by a Pujols line drive and quite literally gets his hat knocked off. In the next inning, he would actually be hit in the arm with a batted ball.
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.
A nice clear win.
Tigers 7, Blue Jays 3
The Tigers extra base power was on display at Comerica Park today as Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila hit homeruns while Fielder, Hunter, and Tuiasosopo each added doubles. Cabrera also chipped in with 4 hits in order to outdo Torii Hunter who added 3 on way to his 2,000th career knock. Anibal Sanchez did his part with 7IP featuring 8K, 1BB, and 2ER. It was, all in all, a well played game by the Tigers as they moved to 4-3 on the season while knocking off the buzzworthy, but struggling Jays. Yet, none of this was the story from Tuesday’s game. Thanks to a cut on Victor Martinez’s finger, Don Kelly ended up playing LF. This would prove to be a sage choice by Jim Leyland as JP Arencibia hit a long fly ball to left field that had homerun distance in the 2nd inning. Unfortunately for Mr. Arecibia, Don Kelly takes no prisoners.
Here, for you viewing pleasure, is Don Kelly taking a homerun away from Arencibia. It shall also double as today’s The Moment. Man, Don Kelly is just awesome.
Good luck trying to drop one in on the Tigers when this is their worst outfielder.
After it looked like he was heading to the Cubs last night, Anibal Sanchez gave the Tigers one last shot and they took it. Today, they signed him to a 5 year, $80 million contract.
The Tigers, very much in a win now mode, opened up the bank vault and got their man. The Tigers also have six starting pitchers now. After a strong performance down the stretch and in the playoffs, the Tigers made Sanchez a key target and they decided to pay.
In three full seasons of starts, Sanchez has been worth 3.8 WAR or higher. That’s worth $17 million a year on the free agent market, so this contract looks dead on. We should also factor in inflation, so the contract is probably worth it assuming he can maintain a similar level of performance. He won’t turn 29 until February, so while he isn’t especially young, he isn’t old either.
Sanchez has made a full season of starts in each of the last three years as well, so while some people think he’s an injury risk, I wouldn’t say he is any more so than any other pitcher. All in all, this is a fair deal for Sanchez. The question is if this is a good deal for the Tigers, specifically.
The Tigers had five starters going into the offseason; Verlander, Fister, Scherzer, Porcello, and Smyly. The first three are locks if they’re healthy. Porcello is only 23 and has four solid MLB seasons behind him and Smyly showed great, but slightly fragile potential in 2012. Sanchez is an upgrade over both of the backend guys, but he is more expensive.
The Tigers didn’t need to upgrade a rotation that was essentially baseball’s best in 2012, but they did. If Illitch doesn’t mind forking over more cash, why not go for Sanchez? They can trade Porcello or Smyly, they can send Smyly down, or move one to the bullpen.
Sanchez should no doubt be worth the deal in 2013, so the risk comes later. He isn’t taking cash away from anyone else, because the Tigers don’t have anywhere else to spend. The only needs are in the bullpen and bench, which aren’t places where you can spend a lot of dough.
I wouldn’t recommend this deal to a financially strapped team in the middle of rebuilding. I wouldn’t really recommend it for the Tigers. This was a deal for the Angels or Rangers or Red Sox to make. The Tigers need Sanchez less than other teams do, but they’re still better with him than without him.
If Illitch is really committed to winning at title at all costs, this is a good move because he’s the best pitcher left and those marginal wins are worth a lot to the Tigers right now. As long as this doesn’t hamstring them down the line in extension discussions with Verlander, Cabrera, Jackson, Fister, and Scherzer, this is a good deal. If the Tigers have decided they can afford all of these guys, I like it.
But they shouldn’t trade Porcello or Smyly. You need one and the other is great insurance. Unless they can add something really valuable for one of these guys they should hold on to both.
Sanchez will make the Tigers better in 2013. He will cost them $16 million to do so while the Porcello/Smyly tandem will cost closer to $5 million. They’re paying for the privilege to be a little better. That’s okay, it’s not my money. But it is my favorite team. If they win a title because of this move, I’m all for it.
The news of the day from Nashville comes in many parts, but these are the three that caught my eye.
Red Sox sign C/1B/DH Mike Napoli, 3 years, $39 million
The Sox needed someone to play first base and hit for power after they traded away most of their team to the Dodgers in August and Napoli qualifies. I think a lot of this deal comes from his awesome but lucky 2011 rather than his pretty good 2012. Napoli can certainly be a useful hitter in 2013 and beyond but there’s no way he can provide a lot of value on defense.
He’s a DH who won’t embarrass himself at 1B and can catch on occasion. The Sox already have David Ortiz at DH and have a lot of options at catcher, so Napoli figures to be the starting first baseman. They probably should have gone with LaRoche here, but the deal isn’t too big to turn me off. Grade: B-
Anibal Sanchez is asking for 6 years and $90 million
A couple of things to note here. First, a rumor went around that the Tigers offered 4/48 and Sanchez was insulted. Jason Beck of MLB.com says that the rumor is inaccurate, so maybe this isn’t a thing.
The other thing to note here is that a former The Guy Show personality and I had this exchange over the Sanchez news (edited for emphasis):
Him: No way I’m paying Sanchez $90m and no way I give anyone six years!
Me: If you don’t want to sign six year deals, you will never sign big time free agents.
Him: For that money I would want Greinke.
Me: Greinke will sign for many millions more than that.
Him: I would do 6/110.
Me: Then he will sign with the Dodgers and not you.
What we can learn from this exchange is twofold. One, the Tigers won’t sign Sanchez because he wants #2 starter money. The Tigers have two #2 starters already and don’t need a third. Other teams need #2 starters a lot more, and will in turn, pay more for them. Two, Sanchez is not asking for too much. Six years is always risky, but $15 million a season is a fair price if you’re confident in his ability to stay healthy relative to other pitchers.
Salaries are bigger now than they used to be. Teams are paying $5 million per WAR right now and the new TV money is going to bump that up to closer to $7 million per WAR in the near future. Sanchez is worth 3.0 WAR, so this is not an overpay.
R.A. Dickey Trade Talk
Lots of buzz around the Mets dealing Dickey and the Royals and Rangers seem interested. Hard to tell how much of this is media driven speculation and how much is actually happening.
I’m undecided about this move because I think the Mets aren’t that far away and could contend by 2014 if they play things right. Dickey seems willing to sign and extension if it’s a fair deal and knuckleballers age well. If they buy his ability to actually replicate the last two seasons, they should keep him. If they think he’s a flash in the pan, they should move him.
Also! Big news! A-Rod needs surgery and will be out until May or June. I’m sure you are very surprised because none of the national media is covering this story!