September 2007

Casey not coming back

Not that it’s a surprise, but it’s pretty much official now. Casey said this morning that Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski told him in a meeting Saturday that he would not be re-signed. There’s no such news yet on whether the Tigers will pick up Pudge’s option. Leyland met with him Saturday, too, but neither the manager nor the catcher will discuss what was said other than Pudge indicating it did not involve his option.

Here is the state of catching

The news here on the south side of Chicago is a two-year, $12.5 contract extension for catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who is now signed through 2010. Add in his $5.85 million salary for next year, and he’ll make more than $18 million over the next three years. That isn’t meant to justify the Tigers whether or not they eventually pick up Pudge’s $13 million option (which I expect they’ll do), but it basically gives an idea for other catchers who re-sign. Pierzynski turns 31 this winter and has around the same OPS as Pudge this year while ranking firmly above-average offensively for catchers over the last few seasons.

Maggs, Sheff sit

As expected, they’re out today (and, in Sheff’s case, Sunday as well). Guillen gets to DH for a game, while Ryan Raburn earns a start in RF. Timo Perez bats third in front of Guillen. Let the critiquing begin.

If you’re looking ahead to Sunday’s lineup (and if you’re in a fantasy league final where you can change your lineup every day, I bet you are), it gets a little tricky. Magglio will definitely play, either in right or at DH. Placido Polanco could bat leadoff if he needs two hits for 200, thus getting him potential another at-bat. He’ll hit second if he only needs one more hit for 200. If he’s there, well, he might not play at all. Granderson could also sit, but that could depend on his batting average. If he’s hitting .300, Leyland could decide to leave him at that for the season. If he’s just under the mark, count on him playing.

Anyway, here’s Saturday’s lineup:

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Perez, LF
  4. Guillen, DH
  5. Casey, 1B
  6. Rodriguez, C
  7. Raburn, RF
  8. Inge, 3B
  9. Santiago, SS

Sheff to sit this weekend

Jim Leyland has decided to call it a season with his slugger. He’ll sit Sheffield for the last couple days of the season.

"He’s hurting," Leyland said.

He could receive some news this weekend on what he’ll need to do to be right for next year. All of his MRI results and x-rays are in, he said, and he expects to meet with team medical personnel this weekend to go over his options, whether he needs surgery or can expect to rehab without it.

Guillen to play first base next year

Leyland said it first on radio this morning and confirmed it later today that he plans on Guillen being his regular first baseman next season. He talked with Guillen about it Wednesday and convinced him that it was best for the team and would give him the best chance to stay healthy and play every day. They’ll look for a shortstop this winter.

Sheffield has a decision to make

There’s a difference between players who should retire and players who want to retire. Rob Parker wrote a good column in Wednesday’s Detroit News detailing why Gary Sheffield should call it a career now rather than put himself through another surgery. The reasons are understandable, and it should remind everyone that there’s no guarantee Sheffield will be back next year. He has a visit to the doctor coming up once the season’s over, and if they recommend major (i.e. reconstructive) surgery, that might be more than he wants to do.

Sheffield has said that he doesn’t consider a shaving of his shoulder a major surgery, because he has done it before without too grueling of a rehab. But he said after Wednesday’s game that he doesn’t want to go through surgery and rehab and be stuck in the same condition he is now, trying to fight through more shoulder pain. If he can heal his shoulder through offseason workouts without surgery, that’s his ideal solution. Realistically, though, that’s hard to imagine.

He has said before, when he was taking cortisone shots this summer, that his family worries about what he goes through to keep playing a game when he’s already financially set for life.

"They’ve asked me before," Sheffield said Wednesday. "The thing is, I love this game. When they told me this before, it’s just something about having a great year and you can’t handle [going out with] 30 home runs or 40 home runs and a .330 batting average. You feel like you can just do it one more year, and one more year turns into a multi-year. Then, next thing you know, here I am."

Asked how determined he is to keep playing through the end of his contract, though, he said, "I really haven’t thought about it. We just finished our last home game. Those decisions will be made in the offseason. But right now, we have three games to go, and that’s all I’m focused on."

For all that has been said during Sheffield’s career about contract issues, he has given the impression this season of a loyal person who wants to live up to his deal. In any case, his decision shows why it’s not just pitchers who have to weigh whether to play with pain.

Other thoughts while trying to figure out how the best of Saturday Night Live’s 2006-07 season ended up on a DVD at Starbucks. …

  • Should the Tigers go after Barry Bonds if Sheffield were to retire? Before you answer, consider that while the DH spot would open up, it also brings up a new debate: Would Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen benefit from DHing every once in a while, like they did when Sheffield was on the disabled list in August?
  • Stop asking what the Tigers would give up for Johan Santana. Just stop it. The Twins control his rights for at least another year. If they decide they can’t possibly sign him, they’ll deal him, and not to a team in the same division. They could try to grab him in free agency, but the sky’s the limit for him if he hits the open market, and this is not a franchise that wants to do long-term deals at the going rate for free agent starting pitchers. That’s the point of the Tigers’ investment on pitchers through the draft.
  • Satellite radio and baseball on a driving trip rules, especially when you can channel flip between games that mean something in the playoff picture.

Leyland, Tigers to talk extension

That will happen Monday, and Leyland is hoping to emerge from his meeting with another year on his contract, which would put him through 2009. President/GM Dave Dombrowski approached him about his situation several weeks ago, he said, and they both decided it would be best to discuss once the season ends. Considering the Tigers want him around, it’s a formality. Don’t expect a multi-year extension, because Leyland doesn’t want to go that far into the future.

It's the final countdown …

(queue cheesy 80s music)

It’s a regular lineup with the Tigers needing a win and a Yankees loss to stay mathematically alive in the playoff picture. With the off-day coming up Thursday, it’ll probably be like this the rest of the way, though expect some shuffling tomorrow night for Johan Santana.

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Sheffield, DH
  4. Ordonez, RF
  5. Guillen, SS
  6. Rodriguez, C
  7. Perez, LF
  8. Casey, 1B
  9. Inge, 3B

Keep this in mind about Silva

Taken by itself, Monday’s 2-0 loss is a blown opportunity to keep their postseason hopes going, or at least not allow the Yankees to back in. However, losing a game like this to Carlos Silva is part of a pattern that goes back for most of the season.

Statistically, Silva isn’t much this year (12-14, 4.40 entering tonight), but he’s the kind of pitcher who has given the Tigers trouble all year — the sinkerball-throwing type that throws strikes, forces contact and induces ground balls. Fausto Carmona is a harder-throwing version. Roy Halladay is similar, but he’s in a class by himself. When these guys are on, they’re tough against any team, but they prove particularly challenging for the Tigers because they force Detroit hitters to try to manufacture offense on the ground. They had their chances at doing that tonight, but they never got that big hit.

Carlos Guillen was the only Tiger who could get the ball in the air off of Silva tonight, which probably explains why Guillen has hit him so well over the course of his career. Even so, all it got Guillen was three fly outs. His only hit came off Joe Nathan in the ninth.

Magglio back in lineup

He’s expected to be in there the rest of the way, so there should be no sandbagging in the batting race. It’s pretty much the regular lineup today:

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Sheffield, DH
  4. Ordonez, RF
  5. Guillen, SS
  6. Rodriguez, C
  7. Perez, RF
  8. Casey, 1B
  9. Inge, 3B

On a side note, it’s one last trip to Detroit for ex-Tiger Rondell White, who says he’s 99 percent certain he’ll retire at season’s end rather than go through the injuries again. He has a newborn baby girl awaiting him at home, and he’s well-off financially to go home, be a dad and watch her grow up. So wish him well if you make it to the park for batting practice in the next couple days. He’s one of the nice guys who make baseball a good sport.