A tip of the cap to Mike Hessman

hessman.jpgMike Hessman was a Toledo Mud Hen for five years. He joined the club back when they had a prospect named Curtis Granderson in center field, a slugger named Marcus Thames and a first-base mix of Chris Shelton and Carlos Pena.

Now, Hessman is a free agent at long last, and it appears his time as a Mud Hen is over.

Baseball America’s full list of minor league free agents is out, and while the Tigers don’t have a lot of them, they include some familiar faces. Brent Clevlen is one, and with a full outfield of prospects ready to come up from Double-A Erie, Clevlen’s Toledo tenure is likely at an end as well. He spent three years with the Hens, but could never quite seem to strike the balance between hitting for contact and hitting for power.

Macay McBride is also a free agent, though his baseball future seems to be in question. His injuries haven’t allowed him to pitch in a game since he left the Mud Hens season opener in 2008 after one inning.

But make no mistake, the biggest name heading out of Toledo is Hessman, whose 140 home runs as a Mud Hens are easily a franchise record. By comparison, nobody in Detroit this year has that many homers as a Tiger. He’s a familar, welcome face for many fans at Fifth Third Field, and he’ll be missed.

hessman2.jpgStill, this is a bittersweet parting, because it finally gives Hessman the chance to find a better opportunity elsewhere. There was talk last winter of an opportunity to play in Japan, but with Hessman on Detroit’s 40-man roster, that wasn’t going to happen. No idea whether that’s still a possibility, but if it is, it can be a lucrative one. Many Triple-A veterans make more money playing overseas or in Mexico.

If Hessman ends up staying in the States, he can look for an organization that might give him a better chance at a call-up to the Majors, even in just a spot role. He didn’t get any time in Detroit this year after the Tigers outrighted him out of spring training.

Hoping for the best for him. He’s a good guy and he deserves to see what opportunities he can get. Whatever happens, it’ll be odd going to Toledo and not seeing him there.

Here’s the full list of Tigers minor league free agents:

RHPs Nate Bump, Ruddy Lugo, Patrick Stanley
LHPs Ryan Ketchner, Macay McBride, Kris Regas, Jason Waddell
C Dane Sardinha
IF Mike Hessman
OFs Brent Clevlen, Jeramy Laster, Maiko Loyola

22 Comments

Thanks for the update, Jason. Many Tiger fans will be disappointed to see Mike leave. It’s a shame he didn’t get called up in September and “show off” a little bit. Probably would have done better than Huff. Oh, well. I wish him the best and it sounds like he definitely still has a future in baseball, just not with the Tigers. Same with Brent. He was a sensation that first time Leland called him up. That rocket of an arm and those HR’s just flying, one of them right out of Fenway. Who can forget that?

My husband caught a Mike Hessman HR ball last season at Comerica. The highlight of the 2008 season for sure. :) Still not sure why we didn’t let him help Brandon out at 3rd this season.
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Good Luck to him and Brent and Dane.

If more baseball people realized how good Mike is with the glove, he would have gotten a lot more time in the big leagues, if not in Detroit, then somewhere else. Once “the word” gets around, it becomes law. Mike could have easily filled in for Inge late this season, but it appears that Leyland answers to Inge. Mike can pick it, and you folks who attend Toledo games know what I’m talking about. He might have more chance in the NL where they make more moves within a game.
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–Rich

Sure seems that a lot of the trade rumors involve the Seattle Mariners.
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Granderson will be hosting a reality show. Reminds me of my schtick from last summer:
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Name? Curtis Granderson
Occupation? Curtis Granderson
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–Rich

Yes, it seems he’s shopping a reality show. The guy just can’t sit still.

Forget the shopping. He’s already got a signed deal. “Stadium Secrets” is the name of the show. Now, if only the secret of which stadium he’ll be playing in next year could also be revealed.

There’s no truth to the rumor that “Hooray for Hollywood” is going to be his walkup music next season. :-)
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Well, 100 years ago ballplayers would appear on Vaudeville and some even acted in plays. Babe Ruth made a movie in the early 1920s. And no, I wasn’t at the premiere……..
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–Rich

Thanks for the info Jason. I had asked you about that about a week ago.

In response to your comment Rich, I am a season ticket holder for the Hens and I got to see Mike play many times. Unless you were there, you didn’t know that Mike was a human highlight reel. He wasn’t as spectacular as Inge, but he made a lot of sensational plays. Beyond that, you knew that anything hit to him was going to be fielded deftly with a perfect strike to first. He was the most consistently throwing third baseman I have seen.

At the plate, most of his time in Toledo he was feast or famine. If he hit the ball, it went a long way. If it didn’t fly out of the park, it was the highest fly ball or pop up you ever saw. The problem was, strike outs came just about as often.

Us in Toledo loved Mike. He is a genuinely a good human being.

We will miss you Mike.

Thanks for the info Jason. I had asked you about that about a week ago.

In response to your comment Rich, I am a season ticket holder for the Hens and I got to see Mike play many times. Unless you were there, you didn’t know that Mike was a human highlight reel. He wasn’t as spectacular as Inge, but he made a lot of sensational plays. Beyond that, you knew that anything hit to him was going to be fielded deftly with a perfect strike to first. He was the most consistently throwing third baseman I have seen.

At the plate, most of his time in Toledo he was feast or famine. If he hit the ball, it went a long way. If it didn’t fly out of the park, it was the highest fly ball or pop up you ever saw. The problem was, strike outs came just about as often.

Us in Toledo loved Mike. He is a genuinely a good human being.

We will miss you Mike.

Good luck Mike – I hope you land someplace that can use your talents. You are a huge part of the Mud Hens, you’ll be missed in Toledo, it was always exciting knowing you were coming to the plate and had the ability to hit one out onto Monroe Street.

I don’t think the Tigers are seriously considering trading Cabrera. The only trade I see the Tigers looking at is Granderson to the Cubs for 2 of the following 3 prospects: SS Castro, 3B Vitters, and RP Cashner. Each fill major holes for us and project to be major leage ready by 2011 or 2012. The question is, would the Cubs be willing to give up 2 top prospects for Granderson?

There was a column in our local paper (Sauk Valley News) about how much the Cubs want Granderson. If so, they better come up with at least 2 prospects to get him. In my mind even that is not enough. Hey Tigers: Keep Granderson!

I kind of doubt if any of these guys will be traded. It sounds like DD is sticking to his guns as he should, and not giving anybody away. The one they can probably most afford to lose is Jackson since there are still pitchers in the Detroit system. I wouldn’t cry if they traded Cabrera. I guess I’m still pretty ticked off at him. If he went to Boston, the biggest outcry would come out of New York, I’ll bet.
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Did anyone see Andrew Oliver and Robbie Weinhardt pitch in the AFL championship game? I was impressed with both, but Weinhardt looked dominant. I sure would like to get Brandon Lyon signed to a two-year deal, then start working these youngsters in.
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–Rich

Well, it’s starting to sound like a fire sale to me. I mean when you talk about giving up Miguel Cabrera…..that’s some smoke. And where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

I’ve been reading around the ‘net, and it appears that so many well informed Tiger fans are so hung up on being junior GMs that they’ve missed the point entirely.
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The problem in 2009 wasn’t the players, it was the manager.
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If he hadn’t plugged a terribly slumping Aubrey Huff into the FIVE hole nearly everyday for seven weeks, don’t you think we may have won one more game? Or three? Or five? The Tigers were cooking in late June with Cabrera hitting 3rd and Thames 4th. Suddenly that all changed and Clete Thomas was hitting 3rd. Why?
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There’s talk of the three dead spots in the lineup, Laird, Everett and Inge. Who was it that ran Everett out there against RH pitchers so many times while Santiago languished on the bench? It hasn’t been proven or disproven that Ramon can’t be an everyday player, but JL treats this theory as fact. Why did Inge get more PT than ANY OTHER Tiger when it was painfully obvious that his knees were hurting not only him but his play? Despite that one bad inning by Raburn, he could have played third. Hessman could have been called up.
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Brandon Lyon was our best relief pitcher the final four months or so, but he rarely pitched an entire inning, because JL wanted to match up a fading Bobby Seay with the LH hitters. Never mind the fact that Lyon had begun to use a LH neutralizing cutter.
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Why did JL wait so long to lift Washburn in his horribly ineffective starts? Why wait for a 3-0 deficit to turn into 6-0 before making the move?
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I could go on for pages here but I won’t. DD doesn’t tell JL how to run his team on the field and that’s as it should be. The one move DD should make this offseason is to acquire a different manager who will come in without these preconceived notions that JL operates by. You can’t go into the market and create a team the equal of Boston and New York, but you don’t have to. Detroit plays in the Central. They tried their best to blow it last year and still ended up in a first place tie.
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Instead of trading perfectly serviceable ballplayers, why not take a deeper look at what happened in 2009?
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–Rich

Right on, Rich. I can’t claim to have the same baseball sense as you, but even I could see some of these moves by JL did not make any sense. A player had a hot bat and what happened? Grab some bench the next game because JL had to follow the lefty-righty by the book plan. And I don’ t even want to get into the pitching.

I thought we might have a new thread but I am sure we will soon. You know how I feel about the current manager. Someone earlier said they thought JL should have finished higher in the manager of the year. Unless you are first, who cares. With the players and talent the Tigers aquired, we have a solid team. I do not think Leyland is a bad manager, I just think we need a younger manager to go with our young players. Looking forward to some more discussion on Cabrera. I would not trade him, I would help him get his personal life in order. We need bullpen help and 1 outfielder and the players we have must play like they are supposed to. Happy Thanksgiving! –Dave

Jason does have a new story on the Tiger Website, but I guess news is pretty slow right now. I check this blog several times a day and every time I read “Tip of the Cap”……..I know nothing is new. But maybe that’s good as I’m petrified about what the Tigers are going to do with all these trade rumors. As for the age of the manager, I always disagree with that premise. Most manager’s are older, but some are more flexible and open-minded. Jim doesn’t strike me as one of those. He defiitely gets in ruts. I love him as a person, but think he’s done for as a manager.

The news will certainly pick up next week. Jason, would you rather re-visit the Dolphin at Disneyworld or go to Indianapolis? Hey, maybe the Starbucks is more accessible in Indy. ;-)
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There is a good article next door at MLive.com. Steve Kornacki discusses the trade possibilities. I liked it because it agrees with my viewpoint. :-) I think next year’s Tigers will look quite a bit like this year’s Tigers, and that’s fine with me, other than manager of course. Steve also writes about Brandon Lyon going for a multi-year contract. I suppose multi-year can mean two years, because I doubt he’d get more than that. If that’s the case, DD should get him signed. I think most or all of the rest of the bullpen can be filled from within.
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I don’t believe age in and of itself is important, but rather how it’s affecting someone. Myself, I’m not near as sharp as I was ten years ago (if I ever was actually sharp), and JL is older than I am. I can say from experience that those ruts are easy to fall into.
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–Rich (that IS my name, isn’t it?)

http://www.fannation.com/truth_and_rumors/view/129512-red-sox-interested-in-cabrera?eref=fromSI

Here’s a link to an SI article about how the Tigers might be making everyone outside of Verlander tradeable. I sure hope they wouldn’t trade Cabrera or Granderson. I’d hate to see what happened with Cleveland last year happen in Detroit.

Keep Curtis. Bat him in the middle of the lineup and keep our rallies (such as they are, going). He doesn’t hit into many DPs and that is a huge advantage when you are seeting up your 4 and 5 guys. Plus, he is a stalwart individual, maybe a bit scattered with his obligations, but you don’t come across individuals like this often enough in life.
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Miguel would fetch a lot.

I took time off for Thanksgiving break. I probably should’ve pointed that out on the blog. The same thing will be happening after the Winter Meetings leading up to Christmas.
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Indeed, Rich, I’d rather be going to Disney World. Still, there’s an advantage to being able to drive to the winter meetings and avoid the airports during holiday season, not to mention flu season. As for Starbucks, I’m just hoping it’s an indoor walk to get to one. We had to step out of the hotel and cross the street to get to one in Vegas last year, which might’ve been the only time I got out of the hotel.

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