Day 3 notes: Furbush makes early impression

Charlie Furbush didn’t come into camp with nearly the hype of fellow Tigers pitching prospects Jacob Turner and Andy Oliver. But he comes in with a massive strikeout total, a very deceptive delivery and a good reputation.

He has the manager’s attention.

“I’m real interested to see him,” manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday morning. “I got a very interesting report on him from somebody who’s not with the Tigers, how much progress he’s made in the last year or so.”

Leyland talked quite a bit about Furbush this morning — not really as a guy fighting to make the team out of this camp, but as one of the young starters trying to put himself in a position for an in-season call-up if injuries or other issues force the Tigers to dip into the farm system for another starter.

They are not looking at him at this point as a lefty reliever, Leyland indicated.

“I think we’re focusing on him as a starting pitcher,” Leyland said. “That’s what he’s been, and we’re thinking along those lines.”

If Furbush isn’t among the lefty relief candidates, that reduces the pool a bit. Daniel Schlereth is obviously a big part of it, as is long reliever Brad Thomas. The other lefties in camp include non-roster  guys Fu-Te Ni, Adam Wilk and John Bale.

But it also puts a little more depth into the Tigers’ starting ranks. Detroit’s insurance starters appeared limited to Oliver and Turner, barring a spot start or two from Thomas, but Leyland emphasized they have some depth.

“We think we’ve got more depth than a lot of people think we have,” Leyland said.

Other notes:

  • Leyland said he went into the weight room to get in a morning workout around 7 am. He found Brad Penny already into his workout. “He’s working his [tail] off,” Leyland said. “I went up to him and said, ‘You’re a young guy yet.’”
  • Justin Verlander said today he’s going to be tough on himself in his bullpen sessions and game outings this spring as he tries to get himself ready for his best form in April. Physically, his offseason and springs workouts haven’t been any different, but his mental preparation and focus are way different.
  • Brandon Inge isn’t in camp yet, but there’s a present waiting on his chair in the clubhouse. Somebody found one of his old chest protectors (it has his name on it) from his catching days and put it on there with a note: “Pudge wanted to make sure you had gear this year. Just in case!”
  • One good piece of news about Phil Coke’s conversion to starting: It should be a little safer for fans in the stands. One teammate suggested Coke led the Majors in long toss overthrows into the seats. Coke counted three fans he hit by accident.

11 Comments

Furbush is an interesting story in Lakeland. The three primary needs that the Tigers have are depth in the rotation, long relief, and a quality lefty in the bullpen. Charlie could fill any of those roles. It’s quite understandable that the Tigers want to keep him in a starting role. Any pitcher is more valuable as a starter than he’d be in the bullpen, apart from finding an elite closer.

Calling up Oliver or Turner before they’re ready for show time, because of an injury or failure in the big league rotation, is not something that the Tigers should even consider. Turner and Oliver are the best prospects in a shallow talent pool in the Tiger organization. Both can be major leaguers if they’re allowed to develop. But when the Tigers traded Armando Galarraga for basically nothing, they traded away their spring insurance in the rotation. They’ve now bet all the marbles on Porcello’s improvement, Penny’s health, and Coke’s transition back to being a starting pitcher, which is something that he hasn’t been above the AA level.

At the same time, the Tigers never replaced Coke in the bullpen. The set up job has been filled by Joaquin Benoit, but the two lefties in the pen are now Dan Schlereth and Brad Thomas. Schlereth appeared to make some adjustments late in the season, but he has been effective at the major league level for no more than six appearances- or about six innings. Thomas was barely adequate against lefties, and downright awful against righties. There’s talk of him in long relief, a terrible idea.

There are many that could fill a role in the bullpen, and several that would be better than Thomas, even against lefties. Just about any pitcher on the 40 man roster, and a few that aren’t, may fit that description. Furbush, Jose Ortega, Al Alburquerque, Brayan Villarreal and Lester Olivares (two more starters), Adam Wilk (another lefty starter), and NRI’s John Bale, Chris Oxspring, and Fu Te Ni are all in the mix. But Thomas has a guaranteed contract for $ 1 million or so and he’s out of options.

tigerdog paints thomas as much worse than his stats show: go see

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=thomabr01&year=2010&t=p

Those stats demonstrate Thomas for just what he is; a middle of the road pitcher. There are teams that he could pitch for, but guys like this don’t get you to the postseason. Ask yourself, it was a really really big game, would you want Brad appearing in it? The make or break for the 2011 Tigers will be the bullpen. If everyone else out there has a good to excellent season, having Thomas won’t be an issue. But it’s doubtful that happens. We’re thin in the pitching department.
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I’m looking forward to seeing Furbush, as I’m intrigued by the deceptive delivery business. He could be a valuable September call up as a reliever before returning to a starting job next season, ala Price with the Rays in 2008.
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I think the Tigers need to let these youngsters develop more, rather than depending on them to bail out the big club. We didn’t need to give away Galarraga and Bonderman is still out there. What happened to that promised ST invite on the day Jeremy was released?
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–Rich

50 degrees out today and daily updates from Jason – getting spring fever! Don’t overdo it Verlander, I am all for being prepared but it is a long season.

So sad to read the news about Cabrera. DUI. Where is his sponsor? He tells the deputy, Do you know who I am? Yeah, you are not Al Kaline! I have many more thoughts but I will read what everyone else has to say. Go Tigers, you are still my team and I just want to watch baseball. –Dave

Alcoholism just doesn’t care who you are, how much money you make or what you do. We’ve all seen the movies and read the stories about people who had it all and ended up in the gutter. Booze sure brings out the worst in him. Hope he can get some help. Depressing!

Depressing day in Tiger town!

The only silver lining here is that this happened now, instead of in a pennant race. I am sure there will be repercussions and the team will be better prepared to deal with them in Spring Training. Does anyone know what the situation is with his wife? I don’t recall hearing whether they stayed together after the last incident or not. Maybe they had an argument or something last night…

This will take some of the spotlight off that Pujols business.
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People need to understand alcoholism. I’ve already read comments from a number of fans who talk of how much money Miguel makes. That has nothing to do with it. This is a disease that bites someone regardless of stature.
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He fell off the wagon, he needs to climb back aboard. He has a support system in place. That’s it. It only becomes an issue if we let it become an issue.
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–Rich

Just when you think all the pieces are starting to fall into place…
Together with the support, I hope Migg’s is able to get some semblance of privacy to reconcile with his family.

The (Official) silence is deafening. Everything team or MLB related is being very cautiously handled.
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I will say the media’s handling of this issue has been bizarre since the White Sox incident. There was all that immediate personification of Miguel being a changed man and other stuff that writers love to cobble a story tegether with. I was never, ever, convinced that if Miguel’s serious problem was solved just because the media were glomming onto the story.
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Someone said (in reference to the exchange with the police officer about knowing who he was), does Miguel know who HE is? That seems to be a very important question and one that Cabrera will need to figure out.
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Miguel seems like a decent sort. He genuinely loves baseball. He is supremely gifted. Are these factors enough or even dignified enough to help him through this? Would the Tigers have done the same for Dmitri Young? Or anyone else of lesser talent than Miggy? While it is a huge same for Tiger fans to have to endure this event’s impact on OUR baseball team, I do think management has to help this man with his problems, and not because he is a superstar, but because he is indeed “family”.

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