Early notes: Don’t look for a closer proclamation

Four days into Jim Leyland’s morning press briefings, he has been asked about his closer situation four different times, I believe from four different sets of writers. Each time, though, he has had some sort of new information. Today’s tidbit: Don’t expect an announcement at the end of Spring Training naming a closer.

“I doubt very much there’ll be anybody anointed out of Spring Training as the closer,” Leyland said.

If you remember back a few years, it’s similar to how he handled his closer situation in 2009. Though Leyland said at the end of  camp that Rodney would close on Opening Day, he wouldn’t name a closer after that. From April 1, 2009:

“You’ll probably make a big deal about naming Fernando Rodney the closer, but I really haven’t. He could be, but it might not be just one guy. There may be somebody else that’s involved at some point.”

Rodney ended up with 37 saves that year. Brandon Lyon, who was expected to be the closer until he had a rough spring, was next in line with three. So don’t necessarily read closer by committee if, indeed, the Tigers don’t name anybody.

When Leyland was asked what Phil Coke needs to do to have better success against right-handed hitters, Leyland took that as a question about whether Coke could close. It wasn’t the intent, but it did get an answer.

“I think he’ll probably close some games,” Leyland said. “But I would not go anointing a closer, because we don’t have one just yet.”

Other notes from this morning:

  • Leyland confirmed that Omar Infante will join Team Venezuela for the World Baseball Classic. A tweet a few weeks ago, supposedly from the head of the Venezuelan baseball federation, said Infante would be added to Venezuela’s roster, but nothing was official for a couple weeks after that. Now, apparently, it’s official. Infante is believed to be the only late addition. Miguel Cabrera, Anibal Sanchez and Octavio Dotel were on provisional rosters for their respective countries when provisional rosters were first announced in January.
  • Leyland said he’s shocked that Jose Valverde is still a free agent. “I’m shocked, totally shocked, and broken-hearted,” Leyland said. “I talked to a couple people and recommended him very highly.” He also called Valverde “one of the best teammates I’ve ever managed.”
  • That begs the question: If Leyland liked Valverde so much and recommended him, why didn’t the Tigers make a low-risk offer to bring him back? “I think the Tigers felt that it was just time,” Leyland said. “It was a rough period at the end.”
  • The Tigers have added a left-handed batting practice pitcher. Ed Hodge, a batting practice coach for the Astros for the previous three seasons under ex-manager Brad Mills, has joined the team. A lefty BP pitcher was a topic at the end of last season, mentioned by Delmon Young. Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon apparently knew about Hodge.


I think the question will be left begging on the issue of Valverde b/c of Dave Dombrowski. I think Dave’s “side” of the Dave/Jim persona is left brain, he makes the emotionless decisions. Zero’s in WS games 2 and 3 were the most troubling events the entire season. Tigers couldn’t hit lefties; methodically they identify their issues and address them, realistically. I still hope Q was living in Mike SChmidt’s garage training to be an expert bunter. LGT

yeah, ultimately the GM makes personnel moves and the manager decides how to use the 25 man. seems natural that the manager sometimes “likes” certain players differently than the GM. my perception is that Scott Sizemore was one of those guys that the GM “liked” more than Leyland. am certain they work through these differences of opinion behind closed doors.

a lot of attention to the closer situation and the re-signing of Sanchez, but the move to get Hunter is the biggest one of the offseason to me. plugs 2 weaknesses…RF defense and ability to hit lefties. his gregarious personality replacing Young’s surly attitude is a bonus.

Coke vs RHP in 2102:396/.446/.604/1.050 Babip 474 / career:299/.370/.432/.802 Babip:339 . He has problems with RHB but he was unlucky last year.
His 0.93 GB/FB wont help him with the Tigers defense

The problem with LHP? Cabrera is unprotected vs them plus the reverse splits of some hitters like Jackson , Peralta and Laird.
VMart will help with that

you mean cabrera’s .472 SLG% (against LHP) was due to not being protected or his approach to the plate? because his OBP was better against LHP!

intentional walks, you think? 11 from LHP as opposed to 6 by RHP.

Yes, against RHP was 652. And of course his OBP was better, he got a ton on BB by LHP
vs RHP:335/.375/.652/1.027 40 HR 122 RBI 6 IBB 31 320 Babip
vs LHP:314/.441/.472/.913 4 HR 17 RBI 11 IBB 35 362 Babip
That is an inverted split
You pitch around him and go for Fielder if you are a LHP. When you see nothing to hit you swing at anything they throw you
That is why I would use VMart in the cleaning spot vs LHP

Infante, Hunter and Pena were brought here to help against lefties, too. We certainly should battle them better than we did last year. What is Miguel’s GO/AO against lefties?? Do they keep him in the infield better?? They do keep him in the park. Three other guys to consider are Santiago, Worth and Kobernus. The one that hits best against lefties in ST could sure help his chances of getting a job. It might even get some starts at SS against LHP.

GDP 15 vs RHP in 502 AB 13 vs LHP in just 195.
Jhonny vs LHP :214 .309 .383 .692 So, yes I would go with anyone but him.

Perhaps , those GDP were aided by Jackson problems running .Concepcion says that running vs LHP is easier because you see what they are doing but probably is not that way for most runners

danny and his .628 OPS in 244 PAs (over 3 years) – might be better suited to start in AAA IMO

From Mlive:

Prince Fielder pleased Detroit Tigers have added left-hander to throw batting practice
Fielder: “I think all the guys wanted it. Everybody wants to get better. There are a lot of good left-handed pitchers. You’ve got to be ready for anything.”

I am amazed there was not a left handed bp pitcher – I assumed all teams had pitchers from both sides, how else do they get their practice?

The closer situation is getting beat to death. We’re at the point where we see baseball in our sights, and the writers are running out of things to write about until it all gets going. I’m sure there will be plenty of other things to report on once the first pitch is thrown. Has anyone seen the new Fox Sports Detroit Girls? That Stephanie is a cutie!

Where’s Miguel? We haven’t seen him in camp yet unless I entirely missed it. But, I don’t think I’d miss Miguel’s arrival to camp.

Beck tweeted earlier that Miguel was there about 6:30 this morning.

Yes. Saw the picture of Justin, Miggy (with Tripe Crown on his head), Victor and Prince hamming it up!

Btw, Victor looks terrific. Thought he may have packed on a few pounds with all that down time, but he looks in spectacular shape.

El Tigre’s idea of using Victor cleanup against LH pitchers has merit. I don’t think Jim would rotate the slot for whatever his reasons are, but it’s a good idea.
The Miggy-Prince-Victor thing seemed to take on a life of its own. Has Leyland ever said that would be his lineup?

Could Prince, Miguel, and Victor be the best 3-4-5 combo?? Might be.

This year Miguel protects Prince and Prince gets 40 jacks and Victor protects Miguel like he did in 2011.

I heard JL interviewed where he said his line up would be AJ, TH, MC, PF and VM.

Thanks. He could swap that 4-5 for certain pitchers, but I don’t expect that at all.

Rondon has pitched three years as a closer in our minor league system and done some fine work. The Tigers have brought him along slowly. We need to continue to be careful this season. No way can he be a full time closer in April, May, June, July, August, September, the Division Series, the League Championship Series, and the World Series in 2013. Is it better for him to be our closer on April Fool’s Day or the last game of the World Series?? This is his 22 YO season. We want him as our closer for a long, long time.

You’ve got us in the WS already? As Rod Allen would say, eeeasy now.

No guarantees in MLB. KC will be better this year. Cleveland should be, too. Chicago has Danks returning from injury. Everyone in the AL will be gunning for us. First goal is to win that old Central Division. Agree with you that the playoffs are always a crapshoot. Still our team goal this year is to play meaningful games late in October as do many, many other teams.

Very simple answer on Valverde. Jose has never, in his entire professional career (by his account) never had a role other than closer. He has closed from the bottom of the minors to a perfect season in the majors. I don’t think Jose will take any deal that doesn’t guarantee him the closer role (same reason Soriano sat around for so long), even if that means he’s out of the majors at this point in his career. There’s been a lot made of Jose’s post season collapse, but his stuff was off all season long. It seemed obvious to most avid fans that he was done, stuff wise, after the 11 season… perhaps he used it all up or perhaps he just lost a pitch.

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