Results tagged ‘ Brennan Boesch ’

Monday: Magglio returns to lineup

20110404-011108.jpgIt’s home opener day in Baltimore, and the weather is unbelievably gorgeous. The atmosphere is festive, and after the O’s swept the Rays over the weekend, the fans are nuts. Also a few Tigers fans here, though.

I think even if it weren’t so warm (like 70s warm), Magglio Ordonez probably would’ve been back in the lineup. There wasn’t so much as a limp on his ankle, and he seemed perfectly fine this morning when he showed no inclination to talk about his sore right ankle. With weather resembling spring training, there’s no doubt.

“I felt pretty good about him yesterday,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He could’ve pinch-hit.”

With that issue solved, the next question is how Leyland fits him into the lineup and who’s the odd man out. Today, it’s Ryan Raburn. Boesch starts in left field, Victor Martinez at DH and Alex Avila at catcher.

The bullpen will be interesting to watch today. Phil Coke isn’t available after his two innings Sunday, and unless he gets an inning Wednesday, Leyland said he probably won’t pitch again until he makes his first scheduled start Saturday. That means some other guys are going to have to step up if they have a lead in the seventh inning.

If they take a lead into the ninth, Jose Valverde is available, but he’s also battling a suspected case of food poisoning that he said had him throwing up all night. It doesn’t appear to be spreading around the clubhouse, but it’s probably worth keeping in mind in Valverde’s case.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Will Rhymes, 2B
  3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Brennan Boesch, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B

P: Rick Porcello

ORIOLES

  1. Brian Roberts, 2B
  2. Nick Markakis, RF
  3. Derrek Lee, 1B
  4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
  5. Matt Wieters, C
  6. Adam Jones, CF
  7. Mark Reynolds, 3B
  8. Felix Pie, LF
  9. J.J. Hardy, SS

P: Jake Arrieta

 

Saturday: Tigers at Yankees

Had a great off-day in New York, capped by an evening watching the play “Lombardi.” Wonderful performance, very well-acted. Time to get back to work.

As expected, Brennan Boesch gets the start in left. Inge moves down to ninth. Other than that, pretty standard lineup.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Will Rhymes, 2B
  3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Brennan Boesch, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B

P: Brad Penny

YANKEES

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Derek Jeter, SS
  3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Jorge Posada, DH
  8. Curtis Granderson, CF
  9. Russell Martin, C

P: A.J. Burnett

More on Tigers aggressive baserunning

Remember Jim Leyland’s quotes early in camp about wanting to become a better baserunning team — not through utilizing the speedsters more, but by getting some of his other baserunners to look for opportunities and take advantage when they present themselves? Looks like they’re instilling the mentality.

The Tigers put up a good late-inning comeback Saturday to beat the Blue Jays, but in a one-run game, getting their first run with some aggressive baserunning made a difference — not the difference, but not trivial, either. Miguel Cabrera went from first to third base on a Brennan Boesch single to right, beating out a strong throw from Moises Sierra, and set up Brandon Inge’s sac fly because of it. Boesch looked to get to second base on the sac fly, and though he ended up thrown out easily, Leyland likes the mentality.
“If you’re going to be aggressive, it’s a good time in the spring,” Boesch said Sunday morning.
It’s a message the coaches are getting across to them. To Boesch’s credit, he’s a better runner than he probably gets credit for. But he’s also a slugger, and he was batting Saturday in front of Inge, who isn’t a traditional situational hitter by any stretch.
Those are the situations where the Tigers can be a better baserunning team. It’s difficult to see them stealing a ton of bases in front of Miguel Cabrera if he’s hitting anything like he did last year. And there aren’t a whole lot of instinctive basestealers who could get on in the bottom half of the order, where you might like them to set up opportunities for Inge and Jhonny Peralta.
But they can take the extra base. They did it last year at a better rate than you might expect. Bill James Online, a site run by Baseball Info Solutions, does a pretty decent job of tracking baserunning chances. They had the Tigers last year going first to third 100 times in 356 opportunities, by far the most since they started tracking the data in 2002. For comparison’s sake, they went first to third 52 times in 239 chances in 2008, and 73 times in 240 chances in 2006.
Also for comparison’s sake, the Twins did it 92 times in 329 opportunities. The White Sox did it 85 times in 294 chances.
The Tigers earned a +23 net gain in baserunning, also their best since at least 2002. Add in basestealing, and Detroit’s +23 net gain was their best since 2007, when they somehow earned a huge rating on stolen bases.

Monday: Tigers at Mets

I’m back in Lakeland today, but the Tigers are on the road at Port St. Lucie to meet the Mets. Magglio Ordonez and Brennan Boesch are not on the trip, held back another day with a sore hamstring and back respectively. They worked out with the rest of the non-traveling team Monday morning.

I wouldn’t take their absence as any sign it’s more serious. The Tigers are like a lot of teams on this: When there’s any sort of nagging injury, it doesn’t make sense to put a player on a bus for close to three hours one way. It certainly won’t help the injury.

Interestingly, Don Kelly gets the start at second base today. Both Will Rhymes and Scott Sizemore are back here in Lakeland working out this morning.

TIGERS

  1. Clete Thomas, RF
  2. Andy Dirks, LF
  3. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. Brandon Inge, 3B
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Don Kelly, 2B
  8. Casper Wells, CF
  9. Scott Thorman, 1B

P: Brad Penny

Sunday: Tigers vs. Phillies

Officially, Magglio Ordonez is day-to-day with a left hamstring spasm he suffered Saturday morning. Unofficially, according to manager Jim Leyland, “He’s fine.”

Likewise, Ordonez indicated it’s nothing serious and isn’t particularly worried about it. He took fly balls during batting practice Sunday, but was held out of Sunday’s game against the Phillies as a precaution.
 
Also, Leyland said Brennan Boesch (back) wanted to play today, but will get the game off.

Your lineups …

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Clete Thomas, RF
  3. Andy Dirks, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Brandon Inge, 3B
  7. Bryan Holaday, C
  8. Will Rhymes, 2B
  9. Danny Worth, SS

P: Phil Coke

PHILLIES

  1. Wilson Valdez, CF
  2. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
  3. Ben Francisco, LF
  4. John Mayberry Jr., RF
  5. Robb Quinlan, 1B
  6. Tagg Bozied, DH
  7. Carlos Ruiz, C
  8. Carlos Rivero, 3B
  9. Freddy Galvas, SS

P: Kyle Kendrick

Jackson finishes second in AL Rookie balloting

Austin Jackson will have to settle for the respect of his peers among American League rookies. The Tigers center fielder finished as the runner-up to Rangers closer Neftali Feliz in balloting for the AL Rookie of the Year award.

Jackson did not respond Monday to an email from MLB.com seeking comment.
The results, released Monday, came after Jackson topped Feliz last month for AL rookie honors among The Sporting News and MLB Players Choice awards. Both awards were based on player balloting.

In the end, though, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America valued Feliz’s contribution to on a division champion over Jackson’s all-around game for the .500 Tigers. Feliz took 20 of the 28 first-place votes, with Jackson taking the rest along with 19 second-place votes and one third-place nod.

Fellow Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch, a strong contender at midseason before he fell into a second-half slump, garnered three second third-place votes to finish tied for fifth.

Jackson still ended up with the best finish by a Tigers position player since Lou Whitaker won the award in 1978. Justin Verlander remains the last Tiger to win the award in 2006.

In a year when few American League teams had rookies last the entire season in meaningful roles — remember when another Tigers outfielder, Brennan Boesch, was a midseason sensation — the choice essentially came down to Jackson or Feliz. While Jackson’s supporters could argue he had more of an impact as an everyday player, Feliz had the advantage of tangible results for a contending team.

Wanted: One run producer (at least) for Tigers

Miguel Cabrera is a physical presence at 6-foot-4, with a listed weight of 240. In real life, he doesn’t need a whole lot of protection.

In baseball, Miguel Cabrera received 32 intentional walks this season, more than any American League player received since 1993, and more than the next two highest AL totals this year. He could use some protection in the lineup.

In a year when the Tigers have potentially more than $50 million to spend on upgrading the club, protecting Cabrera with at least one proven hitter will be one of team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski’s two biggest goals, if not the biggest.

Help could be in the form of a corner outfielder, of which there are many potentially set to hit the mark. It could be in the form of a designated hitter, and Dombrowski didn’t rule out the idea of going back to a full-time DH again. They could do multiple signings, something Dombrowski hinted at when he talked Sunday about being nimble in this market. But some way, they need to bulk up the heart of the lineup.

“We need a middle of the order bat to drive in runs,” Dombrowski said. “We have to have that. And it’s most likely going to come either in the outfield or at DH, or both, because we already have that type of bat at first base. There are other areas [where it could come], and that’s why we need to be flexible this winter in what we do. But those are the most likely areas that it would come.”

The difference that support makes can be seen in the splits. Cabrera, and in turn the Tigers, were at their best in May, June and early July, when Magglio Ordonez was getting on base in front of Cabrera, and rookie Brennan Boesch was proving to be a potent run producer behind him. His top two months in terms of OPS were May and July, and three of his top four months for RBIs came in that span.

Once opposing pitchers began approaching Boesch differently after the All-Star break, and his amazing production went south, the walk totals on Cabrera logically soared. Once Ordonez suffered his season-ending ankle fracture, of course, Cabrera’s RBI opportunities dipped.

Ordonez’s injury set in motion a lot of moving parts. Once it became clear he wouldn’t get enough at-bats to best his $15 million option, it became the club’s decision whether to pick it up. Dombrowski announced Sunday that they won’t pick it up, making Ordonez a free agent this winter.

The Tigers and Ordonez have mutual interest in working out a deal, but it’s going to take some creativity, beyond simply the contract terms. The Tigers have to look at Ordonez’s recovery from ankle surgery as it goes along and project how much time he can realistically play in the field at age 37.

“At this point, I don’t know how much you consider him being an outfielder compared to also where it fits into [him] being a DH,” Dombrowski said. “I think you have two spots you’re talking about, and see where eventually he kind of fits into that.”
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If the Tigers re-sign Ordonez, Dombrowski indicated, it likely wouldn’t be their only signing. But if Ordonez is back, can they still sign someone for the DH slot, or would they need that fifth hitter to play the outfield at least some?

For what it’s worth, Dombrowski’s comments indicate he’s more open to having a full-time DH again than he might’ve been, say, two years ago with an older lineup.

“I guess you’d prefer not to,” Dombrowski said, “but would we consider that? I think we’ll consider anything that gives us some offense in the middle of the lineup at this time, that we think we need, somebody that can drive in some runs. Ideally you’d prefer not to have it, but if that’s the way it fit in, that’s the way it fit in.

“One thing is that we don’t have as many players going forward that are older. I mean, we’ve kind of turned into a little bit younger club. So most guys can go out there and play most days. You might look to give a day off to somebody once in a while, and then [manager Jim Leyland] can decide who he wants to DH at that particular time, but we don’t have a lot of older players. … If the right guy fit, we’d sign a DH.”

Dombrowski said the Tigers would prefer to add at least one left-handed bat to their lineup. That could come internally, if Carlos Guillen is ready for the start of the season after microfracture surgery, or if Boesch wins an expected competition for an outfield spot. More likely, though, they’d like one of the bats they sign to come from the left side.

That shouldn’t be a big problem to find on the free-agent market, where the top end could potentially include slugger Adam Dunn and multi-tooled catalyst Carl Crawford, among others. Dunn, specifically, would seem to fit a DH type of role, though he has told reporters in Washington he’d rather not do that full-time.

Dombrowski isn’t getting into any names at this point, other than the guys on his team, but he believes there’s enough on the free-agent market for them to find help. He also has players on the team who can supplement that.

One of those guys is Ryan Raburn, who might finally be poised for close to an everyday role. Dombrowski stopped just shy of labeling him as such, but made it clear he has stepped up in importance to the lineup.

“I don’t know if he’ll be an everyday outfielder or not, but I think we feel he could be a primary guy,” Dombrowski said. “How many at-bats that entails, I don’t know. It depends on who else is with our club at that time, how the manager makes out the lineup, how he produces. But we look at him as being an important part of our team, and a guy that’s going to play a lot. I wouldn’t say he’s an everyday outfielder yet, but he’s going to play a lot.”

Wednesday: Cabrera out of Tigers lineup

Not surprisingly, Miguel Cabrera will not be starting for the Tigers tonight after leaving last night’s game with more bicep tendinitis in his left shoulder. Johnny Damon also has a day off, so the middle of the Tigers order is looking pretty good with Ryan Raburn batting third, Brennan Boesch in at cleanup and Casper Wells batting fifth.

TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Rhymes, 2B
  3. Raburn, LF
  4. Boesch, DH
  5. Wells, RF
  6. Peralta, SS
  7. Inge, 3B
  8. Kelly, 1B
  9. Avila, C
P: Jeremy Bonderman

Friday: Tigers at White Sox

Normally, left-handed hitters like Brennan Boesch and Johnny Damon wouldn’t be playing against White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle. With a hot, humid night in Chicago and the ball threatening to fly (though the flags atop the scoreboard are blowing in), however, Leyland wants to get his power guys in the lineup. Thus, Boesch and Damon play. Ramon Santiago is off.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, DH
  3. Peralta, SS
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, 2B
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Boesch, RF
  8. Raburn, LF
  9. Laird, C

P: Jeremy Bonderman

WHITE SOX

  1. Juan Pierre, LF
  2. Omar Vizquel, 3B
  3. Alex Rios, CF
  4. Paul Konerko, DH
  5. Mark Teahen, RF (just activated from DL today)
  6. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  7. A.J. Pierzynski, C
  8. Mark Kotsay, 1B
  9. Gordon Beckham, 2B

P: Mark Buehrle

Tigers debated sending down Boesch last week

How close did the Tigers come to sending Brennan Boesch back to Toledo? They had meetings about it last week, manager Jim Leyland said, and they decided to let him play through last weekend.

And it wasn’t a unanimous decision. But Leyland sounds very much like a guy in Boesch’s corner.

“I don’t know what the best solution is. I’m going to be honest with everybody in here,” Leyland said after Wednesday’s game. “I don’t really know if it would’ve been best a few days ago. We were kind of going to give him the weekend, kind of look at it. He kind of came out of it a little bit, hit the home run to right field, hit a home run to left field. And it’s not that a performance [judgment] guy. It’s just that it’s a tough decision.

“But I decided, I think it’s best for the organization right now if we stay with him, because I think he’s part of the future. I see his face is a little bit better right now. I think he’s relaxing a little bit more again. I like him that much. I don’t want to tear the kid up. I don’t want to hurt him in any way, shape or form. But I think he can handle it. I’ll just pick some spots and watch him.”

Those meetings apparently came late last week, and they included front-office folks and the coaching staff alike. The success that Max Scherzer had since coming back was an exhibit in favor of moving him. The idea that the experience will make him better was an argument in favor of keeping him.

“We had meetings,” Leyland said. “Not official meetings, but meetings in here with Dave: What’s best for the kid? What should we do? Is it better for him to go down, let him relax for two weeks down there and bring him back? Some people felt it was best to let him grind it out. Some people felt it was best to send him down. We ended up saying we were going to check the weekend out.

“I didn’t want to get him like a deer in headlights, because we’re not sending him down. But we did discuss it. And you know what? It goes to show you that nobody knew the answer, because there were several different opinions from a lot of people I respect.”

Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski wasn’t available today, but he said on MLB Network Radio earlier this week that they see Boesch coming out of his slump. So that sounds like a vote of confidence.

So did Leyland’s opinion of his potential.

“I’m going to watch him a little bit,” Leyland said. “I’m going to try to pick spots to let him breathe a little bit. But I want to kind of see him grind it out. I think he’s a real keeper. I like him a lot. I really do. I think he’s going to be a very good Major League productive hitter. I really do. I think right now we’re going to let him kind of grind it out.”

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