Your comeback ex-Tigers of the year

Admit it, you follow what former Tigers are doing over the course of the season. I know this because of all the emails people send me about Carlos Pena. Well, the Comeback Players of the Year were announced today, and they’re two former Tigers first basemen. Pena won the AL award on the strength of 46 home runs, 121 RBIs, a .282 batting average and even 103 walks for the Devil Rays.

So what was the difference between Tiger Pena and Devil Ray Pena? Rays manager Joe Maddon had a telling quote:

"You know what I love, how he took every at-bat," Maddon said. "He does
not waste an at-bat. … I think Carlos, as this season went on, really
became involved with his at-bats. Every at-bat became a new adventure.
I think as the season wore on, this last month, his pitch selection got
even better

In the National League, Dmitri Young’s renaissance season with Washington earned him that award. He batted .320 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs. It was the kind of season Young enjoys in the NL with the Reds before he fell into high-power, high-strikeout tendencies in Detroit. But the bigger adjustment for him, obviously, was cleaning up his life and improving his health once he was diagnosed with diabetes last fall.

I talked with Dmitri in July during the All-Star festivities, and he was very frank in saying he could’ve been dead if not for the doctor who diagnosed him and the people who forced him to change his life. More telling, he had the big smile back again that was absent in Detroit even when he was around in 2006.


Good for them.

I never really thought Pena would amount to much, and he was given every chance to play in Detroit.

I’m still a bit bitter about Young leaving. He started hitting pretty well last year right before his release. Unfortunately, I guess, he caused a few problems in the clubhouse. His bat might have made the difference this season.

I guess first base in Detroit is a breeding ground for good players after they leave, like center field in Kansas City (Dye, Beltran, Damon).

Maybe Guillen can hold on there for a few years and get more speed on the team.

We saw flashes of the Carlos Pena who performed for the entire season this year. I wish he could have done that here, but it didn’t seem to be happening. The thing that bites me is Carlos had a bad spring in 2006, which wasn’t out of the ordinary for him. He was beat out by Chris Shelton, who is now a career minor leaguer. What is it with Detroit and firstbasemen?

Dimitri Young, I’m not a bit surprised. You may recall that I predicted him to be the Washington firstbaseman at the moment the Nats invited him to camp. The worst thing that happened to Young here, performance-wise, was hitting those three Opening Day homers. All of a sudden he thought he was Babe Ruth.

Anybody see the NL tiebreaker last night? Good game, but you have six umpires and they still can’t get a homerun call right. And that final play at the plate was just plain missed. Looked to me like Tim McClelland was a guy who just wanted to go home.

I definitely don’t want “instant” replay, as some are suggesting. I would like to see MLB take a hard look at the quality of umpiring we’re getting, and the quality of some of the people doing the umpiring. Did you know the suspended umpire from the Milton Bradley incident, Mike Winters, is the same guy who threw Pudge out of that game and got him suspended? And Doug Eddings on Saturday also looked like someone who just wanted to go home.

I realize it’s a difficult job, but don’t we all have difficult jobs? That’s why they’re called jobs.

==>”And that final play at the plate was just plain missed.”

we discussed that at the bar over lunch. after watching the replay from various angles it is completely clear the call was right: the throw was not caught and the runner was safe.

The runner, Holliday, never touched the plate. All Barret had to do was pick up the ball he’d dropped and tag him. McClelland appeared to be waiting for that to happen, then inexplicably gave a nice lazy “uh…, I guess” signal. Then he went home.

And to be clear, I had no rooting interest whatsoever in that game.

Thanks for the compliment Rich. It was probably the only defense of Grilli you’ve read on this blog. No, I haven’t been talking to JL. He’d have about a 50% chance of picking me out of a crowd of 2 people. I worked late last night and missed the game. Sounds like that catcher is going to have a long off season after watching the replay. In theory how long should an umpire have to wait to make that call, given he noticed the runner missing the plate, since he obviously can’t tell the catcher what to do. The classic rare walk off non call.

I checked the Padres’ site and there was no mention of that play, either way. So which of you is right?

The thing I remember about Pena was that he was so inconsistent. He would knock the cover off the ball for a couple weeks and then he wouldn’t be able to hit anything for a while. He had the same problem in Boston and New York, obviously.

I wonder if there’s something about the Rays that appeals to him? Maybe there’s less pressure? It’s not like there was that much pressure playing for the Tigers a few years ago, but …

Maybe he’s just made all of the adjustments that he needed to make. I hope that’s true, for his sake.


Gas can may have been a bit harsh for Grilli. I guess what really bothers me is that he has a ton of talent but doesn’t ever seem to be able to put it together. You’re right– every team needs a workhorse that can fill in when the team is getting smoked and needs to save the rest of the arms. At the same time, I feel like his potential causes Leyland to put him into some pressure situations where he frankly melts. I posted this a while ago but I was “watching” the Tigers while at work on the MLB gameday. Grilli was brought in and was actually doing quite well– I think he went two innings and only gave up one hit. However, after watching other pitchers and seeing that they were locating pitches in specific areas and were sticking to a “game plan” it was clear that Grilli was just throwing the ball and hoping it landed near the plate. His pitches were all over the place– inside, outside, on the corner, down the middle… there was no consistency to it. As I said, it seemed to work in this game (no idea what game it was) but it was clear to me why he can come into a game, get two guys out and then walk the bases loaded in 12 pitches. He obviously has great “stuff” but that alone can limit a pitcher’s success.

If we let Grilli go, do we run the risk of yet another former Tiger winning the Comeback of the Year Award? Sure we do but I don’t think that’s reason to hold onto a guy. Furthermore, while it bothers me that the Tigers lack a left-handed power bat at first-base and appear to have let two of them leave the team, I’m not convinced that Young and/or Pena would have had such success in Detroit. Sometimes a change of scenery is the key to success and we shouldn’t be upset when the player finds success elsewhere.

As far as banking on the potential of young pitchers like Bazardo, I’ll fully admit that I’m guilty of over-rating the youngsters, especially pitchers. I love the thought of “potential” and definitely get over-excited whenever a young Tiger pitcher comes up.

In summation, I can see why Leyland would want Grilli back but I don’t have to like it!

Glad to see that everyone’s still posting even with the end of the season. This is the perfect diversion from work…

Brent, I’d write my personal memories of a game at Tiger Stadium in 1962 if it kept everyone posting. 🙂

I’ve come to believe that the Gameday pitch location graphic is inconsistent. While I’ve never compared it to a TV broadcast, I have done so with radio and the announcers seem to be describing a pitch much differently than Gamecast displays it. MLB does advertise those jobs (operating the pitch locator) and I’ve considered doing that upon retirement. My point here is we don’t know how good the operators are.

About that play at the plate Monday. If no tag is made, and the runner doesn’t touch the plate, the umpire does nothing. Upon seeing that, the catcher should tag the runner as Barrett started to do, or his bench will be screaming at him to do so. I’ve seen catchers chase the runner back to his dugout. It’s an understatement to say that Tim McClelland is “deliberate” in his calls, but this was ridiculous. Sometimes you have to drop the hammer and make the call, you can’t stand there and think about it. It’s my understanding that a large part of effective umpiring comes from “selling the call,” that meaning make it immediately and emphatically.

I’m going to make a prediction that one or more of these postseason games are going to turn on a bad call. Not any everyday bad call, but a real doozy.

Well stated about Grilli, Brent. We kinda sorted it out didn’t we? I do like the term “gas can”….no I’m not a pyro:-) Good stuff. And I enjoy watching the new guys coming up too. It’s one of the most interesting parts of the game. Rich, I had no idea Game Day was done manually. I assumed the red dots were manually placed. But I just figured some kind of technology was involved in the balls and strikes placement. Now they’re showing delivery point, trajectory, curve/drop and angle, and speed. Good question for “How do they do that?” How do they do that?

How do they do that? Well, the operator is actually situated in a space station, along with those people who do the Google Earth maps, wearing a spacesuit and the computer is named Hal and….

Okay, I don’t know how they do that. 🙂 Maybe the pitch really is a foot outside and it’s the announcers who are doing a Bob Uecker “Juuust a little outside” thing.

But Gameday aside (sorry I went there), Grilli’s pitches really do jump all over the place because he has such a sharp break. Jason Johnson was like that. If he’s hitting the zone, the hitter is helpless. If he’s not, the pyrotechnics begin.

Good stuff about the gameday feature. I’ve never had it up while watching a game– I’ll try and do a case study in the playoffs to see how accurate it is.

As far as gas cans are concerned, I like the term and think that my father-in-law (an unabashed Yankees fan) was correct in saying “Farnsworth is quite possibly the largest gas can in MLB.” Now there’s a Tiger that didn’t go on to great things after leaving…

Rich– very good comparison between Jason Johnson and Grilli. When they’re on, they’re unhittable. When they’re not, the other teams gonna be happy.

As far as umpiring goes, I don’t like to criticize cuz its such a hard job. (try reffing a 3 on 3 tourney if you want to see how difficult it is.) Still, that was a disappointing end to such a great game and season.

The stringer job is the one I was thinking of. Regarding the pitch locator, the human element is the guy who makes the adjustments, which is another job.

Thanks for the link, Dan, although I’m disappointed to learn that they aren’t up in space with those Google Maps people. 🙂

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