Rondon staying in Toledo for now, and other Tigers bullpen questions answered

Bruce Rondon didn’t have the easiest of ninth innings, giving up a two-run homer, but he finished out another Mud Hens win, this one an 8-5 victory that did not count as a save situation. The two runs only raised his ERA on the year to 1.63. He has a chance to be a Triple-A All-Star, if not a Futures Game return participant, and he remains the guy the Tigers see as the long-term answer to their closer role.

They just don’t see him filling that role right now, even with all the upheaval in the Tigers bullpen. The evaluations are strong, but the opportunity apparently is not, though that might not be a unanimous opinion.

“Rondon has thrown the ball very well for us,” Tigers president/GM Dave Dombrowski said. “He continues to improve. He continues to work on some of the things that he needs to work on, his breaking stuff, his command of his fastball, his quickness to the plate.

“Some people [in the organization] think he’s ready to come here and pitch right now and do a good job for us. However, it’s a situation here where with the way our starters have pitched and go deep into games, if [Al] Alburquerque’s going to pitch more the eighth inning — and a lot of people think Rondon’s mindset is ninth-inning closer yet at this time — we figure that if you bring him here, I’m not sure that he’ll work on a regular basis yet. And we still think it’s more advantageous for him today to keep working at Triple-A and keep developing with the situation we have here, and we’ll see how this goes. It wouldn’t surprise me at some point this year if he’s ready to help us, and he really has grown by leaps and bounds. I think very highly of him.”

I’m not sure whether any developments up here would change that. An injury might, but with the trade deadline a month away, another funk from another reliever might simply lead the Tigers to the trade market for somebody.

Considering how highly the Tigers thought of Rondon going into Spring Training, then you can make the case that a full year of development is a surprise. If the Tigers could’ve known going into camp that Rondon would be learning at Triple-A Toledo at this point in the season, it would be interesting to know if that would have changed anything with their approach.

As it is, at least Joaquin Benoit appears set to get a real shot to see if he can close for an extended stretch, even if it comes with limitations.

“Benoit, we like a lot. He’s closed games,” Dombrowski said. “I think the difference between Benoit compared to some other closers is — and Jim’s very good at working with him on this — he’s not a guy that’s going to get the ball four days in a row. That’s just not how he is. But he’s got some other guys he can use at that time.”

That question, that point about pitching him consecutive games, might explain why the Tigers have not named him the closer in the past. Considering Detroit has only one off-day left before the All-Star break, it’ll certainly have an impact.

“A manager, ideally, you’d like to give the ball here to a person in the eighth inning three days in a row, the ninth inning three days in a row. That’s the ideal circumstances,” Dombrowski said. “Doesn’t mean that they can’t do it other ways, but we don’t really have a club that’s built that way with our bullpen right now, because Benoit’s not a three-days-in-a-row guy. Smyly’s really not a three-days-in-a-row guy. But we are deeper into the game than most clubs are with their starting pitching. So it’s a little bit different way of handling it. He’ll do it. He does a great job handling it. We have the ability to do so. Some guys need to step up.”

The quote that drew some reaction online this afternoon, the quote about being comfortable with the bullpen as it stands, is a catch-22. Dombrowski has never been one to map out his plan in public when it comes to the midseason trade market, so he isn’t going to say something otherwise. He also isn’t going to rule out a bullpen mix before it has had a chance, though he might have made an early decision on Valverde when they called him up back in April.

“We’re comfortable with this group right now,” Dombrowski said. “I can’t speak for August. I’m not a fortune-teller. As it is, we’re comfortable with this group as we stand now. But you never know what happens with anything. I never know what happens with any position on this team. That’s why I watch us play day in and day out. But we like this group. We think it has a chance to win for us.”

In other words, this is a wait-and-see situation for Dombrowski. He has just under six weeks before the July 31 trade deadline. By that point, the line between contenders and pretenders around baseball should be a little bit clearer. So should the bullpen.

18 Comments

“We’re comfortable with this group right now”????
That in itself is very uncomfortable.

Uh ya!

Miguel Cabrera has SO 3 times this years in three games. The following day he has gone: 1 for 5/ 3 for 4 HR 2 RBI/ 4 for 4 HR 3RBI. That is :8 for 13 2 HR 5 RBI

Fielder May and June: 5 HR 28 RBI
Martinez: 5 HR 24 RBI

Coke has 3 options.

I just wrote this on the last entry but I will retype it here, so it doesn’t get missed. I didn’t see one second of last nights game as I am out of town for a family thing. So what I gather from your comments last night it was another frustrating night fo Biggy…and..Fister was no good. You all mentioned a play or two that the umps might of screwed up…what exactly were they and would it ave made a difference in the final outcome of the game?

The game was lost before the umps had much to say about it.
Omar is showing he is not a good leadoff man.
Garcia does need more seasoning. I believe he is being showcased and will be gone.
VMart is a MAJOR concern on this team. His “hit” last night wasn’t a hit. The 3rd baseman had him out by 10 feet but made a bad throw. Doesn’t matter where the throw came from he knew Victor was running. He could have relayed it to the pitcher and still got him out!
Fielder needs to pull the ball to the seats in right. He’s a big boy but he can’t reach those seats in planetary orbit in CF like Miggy can. Fielder has a swing that is conducive to pulling the ball. He needs to rediscover it. Take note of guys like Vitorino and Dirks, Prince. He is also hurting the team right now.
I said this earlier in the season and it bears repeating. Fielder is the guy we should be trying to trade. Unfortunately his salary is so onerous that will be very difficult to do. I could see a team like the Rockies interested though. Illitch had stars in his eyes when he made the offer to land Fielder. As I recall no one had shown much interest in him before that unbelievable offer.
Credit to Dirks for whacking a tough lefty last night.
I still believe in AlAl. Do not have any confidence in Coke. Figure Reed will shipped back. Like Putkonen’s stuff. Think Smyly is being mis-used. Worry about the effect on the club if Benoit can’t adjust immediately to his new role. Still a little surprised over Down’s degree of success. The most important name in that bullpen right now is Dave Dombrowski. I hope to see him warming up soon.

Prince Fielder is not going anywhere. I think people have an unrealistic expectation of Fielder (that he is Miggy v2). He hits HR in bunches, just be patient. What 1B would you rather have? Davis, ok. Pujols? Everyone is talking about his decline, and he is older than Fielder. Adam Dunn? Konerko? see where I am going with this.

We need Martinez to find some holes, he is too good a hitter.

I think you made some very valid points in your analysis.

I don’t know how anyone watching Prince can’t tell that he’s pressing. He’s shortened up his swing, at times, just to get a base hit. His face speaks volumes. Hopefully, he’ll get his mojo back again, soon.

Fielder could divest some salary and bring some prospects. He would unblock two positions in our infield and perhaps one in the outfield. He is not suited to Comerica.
I agree that he is a good hitter and likely to bust out—-but in the long run he has created a financial and developmental conundrum.
I’m sure he stays. No question about that. And he will contribute., Hopefully with more consistency and in clutch situations. I will never forget the one solitary single in the Series. He is a man that should have the ability to carry this team every now and then..
I am saying that DD should could an open mind next season with respect to the Prince.

I don’t see a financial issue with Scherzer. He is not a FA until 2015, when V-Mart and Hunter come off the books. That’s $26M/year and they will be replaced by much cheaper players like Garcia and Castellanos. Besides, the Tigers have huge revenue sources in the form of attendance and TV packages as well as other sources such as internet sales, concessions, parking, advertising.etc.

Miguel Cabrera will be a FA after 2015 to keep him the team will need to pay 30 MM/years,Jackson also a Boras client will be also a FA .
One year later, Fister.
$90.800 already committed for 2015.The luxury tax will easily surpassed with the signing of Scherzer : 120-150 MM .
One more 20 MM players and they will have no flexibility. Not to mention that according to Forbes they are already operating with a loss
The Tigers signed Sanchez because they know he is gone.

scherzer and either jackson or cabby is probably gone in my opinion.

It is too early for extension talks , but the bit I did not like was this:”Fister told me earlier this month that he would “love” to be with the Tigers long term, but that the sides haven’t had recent discussions about an extension.”

And Porcello is becoming expensive for a 5th starter, he was a super-two.

So when the window closes after next year, a lot of changes coming

Scherzer said in spring training he’d love to be here long term as well. Doesn’t always work out that way.

Not worried about any of that right now, they are in win now mode. I say break the bank for Miggy. Everyone else is expendable.

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