Results tagged ‘ Max Scherzer ’
Two days after Max Scherzer said on his Cy Young Award conference call that he’s open to a contract extension with the Tigers, both Scherzer and agent Scott Boras went into a little more detail Friday on MLB Network Radio with Jim Bowden. Long answer short, Scherzer understands why the Tigers would consider trading him if they can’t re-sign him, he’s open to re-signing, but they haven’t had any talks yet.
“When you’ve been traded before in your career, you get the business side of the game,” Scherzer said, “and you also get the payroll obligations that we have in Detroit. I get it. I get there’s an element where there’s a possibility where it would make sense for Detroit to trade me. But at the same time, I don’t want to be traded. I’ve got a great thing going in Detroit. We have a great team. I hope they don’t mess with it. I want to be a Detroit Tiger and hopefully get back to the playoffs and try to do the ultimate goal and win something for the city of Detroit.”
On talks with Boras and the Tigers about an extension, Scherzer said, “We’ve talked about it, an extension, just that we’re open to it. No actual dialogue has been talked or anything like that. I realize I got a good thing going here in Detroit. We’ve got a great team. We’ve got great guys around, I’ve got great teammates around me. And then we’ve got Miguel Cabrera. I mean, who would want to leave and actually want to face that guy? (laughs) For me, I like Detroit. It’s just gonna see how the business game works out and whether or not we go down that path.”
Boras, for his part, characterized the trade rumors as due diligence on Dave Dombrowski’s part.
“Dave is over there managing the crown jewels there. and I’m sure he’ll invite a number of people to come in and look at all of his diamonds,” Boras said. “But in the end. I don’t think Dave is in the business of anything other than what Mr. Ilitch’s goal is, and that is to win a world championship. And I’m sure it is Dave’s goal.
“It is very understandable, as you know, that when a great young player, one of the best pitchers in the game, is on a one-year contract and will be a free agent, these discussions are always had, whether they are public or not. And the reason they are had is that it is good due diligence on the part of any general manager to know what teams are willing to do, because it allows you then to know, if you want to make any other trades of any of your other players, who really is available from them. So, to me, it is a way to invite discussion on who is available on other teams so that you really know what you could do if you didn’t want to trade Max and you may want to trade others.”
Boras represents several other Tigers players, notably Austin Jackson and Prince Fielder, but Scherzer is the one Boras client among the starting pitchers. Rick Porcello’s original contract out of the draft was negotiated by Boras, though Porcello is currently represented by Jim Murray.
Max Scherzer made an appearance on MLB Network’s Hot Stove morning program and talked on a wide range of topics, from new manager Brad Ausmus to what went awry in the playoffs. He said Ausmus called him earlier this week and introduced himself and he was impressed.
“He called me up the other day and I talked with him for a bit,” Scherzer said. “I think we made a great hire. For him, his pedigree speaks volumes. He caught in the big leagues for 18 years. I think with his knowledge of the game, he’s going to be able to fit right in for us and take us where we need to go.”
Whether Scherzer actually makes a start for him, of course, remains to be seen.
Scherzer is staying out of speculation over a potential trade, saying that’s part of the business. But he also said that there are no talks going on about a contract extension, at least to his knowledge.
“We really haven’t had too much talk previously about an extension,” Scherzer said. “Taking care of one this offseason, really I haven’t even approached it. I haven’t even stepped back and thought about it, just because we’re not at the right time to discuss a contract. I’m sure something can be talked about throughout the winter.”
Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, said earlier this fall that he anticipated talking with the Tigers about a potential extension this offseason. Boras has a well-earned reputation for believing players, especially pitchers, should test the free-agent market when they get close to free agency, a factor that played into the trade that brought Scherzer to the Tigers four years ago (Detroit strongly believed Edwin Jackson was going to test the market in a couple years). That said, Boras pitchers have signed extensions ahead of free agency, Jered Weaver being a notable example.
Fitting a potential Scherzer extension into payroll is another matter, which is why it wasn’t lost on reporters have team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said unprompted that they have a surplus of starting pitchers.
“We have some pieces we need to fit together. I mean, we do have six starters at this point,” Dombrowski said Sunday. “People are aware of that, with [Drew] Smyly being available to start.”
Ken Rosenthal, part of the Hot Stove show, said earlier in the show that the Nationals are looking for an elite starting pitcher and could be a good fit for a deal, because of their depth in young power pitchers and their strong relationship with Boras (gee, that sounds familiar).
Scherzer tried to downplay the speculation.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I understand the business of the game and the reality of the payroll. And so, I mean, I get it. But at the same time, for me, I want to be a Detroit Tiger. I’ve been in Detroit for four years and we’ve had a great run. With all the friends that you have on the team, you just want that to continue, so hopefully it can.”
About this time yesterday, I was noting five keys for Max Scherzer to have better fortunes against the A’s in Game 1 than he did in August. Because the A’s were going to stack up left-handed batters and switch-hitters against him, I emphasized the curveball. Turns out the changeup did just fine.
The stats from brooksbaseball.net were impressive. Scherzer threw 25 changeups. A’s hitters swung at 22 of them, and whiffed on 10. That’s more swings and misses than Scherzer got against the A’s on ALL of his pitches in August. Only one of the six changeups put in play last night went for a base hit.
The way Scherzer talked about the game plan after the game didn’t sound like the changeup was originally going to be a big part of it.
“When you’re pitching, you go on your instincts,” Scherzer said. “Alex [Avila] and I had a game plan that we wanted to do early in the game and when you get in the game, sometimes it changes. And today we noticed that my fastball seemed pretty good and my changeup seemed pretty good. So early in the game, I was featuring those two pitches a lot and we had some success there in the game because of that. And that’s why I thought I was able to get in the groove and pitch deep into the game, because of those two pitches.”
That’s the type of adjustment Justin Verlander thrives on, and Scherzer has become better at making the last couple years. That’s not to say that Scherzer will shut down a team on his third- or fourth-best pitch like Verlander has done, but it means he can react to what hitters are trying to do against him. It’s also an example of why Avila works so well with these pitchers.
Other notes from the outing …
- Scherzer used just 14 pitches to get through the opening inning, compared with 25 and 29 during his two regular-season meetings with the A’s this year. He also needed 14 pitches in the fourth. He didn’t have any innings shorter than that, but he didn’t have a 20-pitch inning until his last, when the A’s got 22 out of him. That relative efficiency early pretty much bought him the seventh inning, and it made the bullpen much more manageable.
- Scherzer threw first-pitch strikes to 18 out of 26 hitters, compared with 15 out of 24 in August.
- The A’s fouled off 26 pitches from Scherzer over seven innings, compared with 23 over five. The difference, however, was that just a handful of them came with two strikes to extend at-bats. In many cases, the foul balls came earlier in the count to put Scherzer ahead.
- Oh, the curveball? Scherzer threw seven of them, five for strikes, none for swings and misses.
A year after Justin Verlander’s infamous All-Star first inning, nobody on the Tigers is trying to hide from it. But it’s also clear that nobody wants a repeat of it. The fact that Max Scherzer has his regular coaching staff around him this time, including highly trusted pitching coach Jeff Jones should help.
Scherzer has joked a few times about not taking the mound with too much energy like Verlander did. But just in case, Jones said earlier Tuesday that he’s going to check on his 13-game winner beforehand.
“We’ll talk about that,” Jones said. “I’m going to tell him I want you to come out and pitch the same way you do in the first inning of any game. Because I don’t think it’s going to be beneficial commandwise at the mound to try to do more. There’s no sense in getting out of whack while you’re here.
”You don’t want to change anything. We’ll talk about it. We’ll keep him calmed down.”
Long answer short: Not sure, but there are some clues.
Jim Leyland said Tuesday he still wasn’t ready to reveal his rotation order after Justin Verlander’s Opening Day assignment, even after announcing Rick Porcello will complete the rotation. This is now getting into bizarre territory; usually when the Tigers open a season on the road, Leyland announces his starter for the home opener shortly after his Opening Day starter, if not at the same time. At this point, we still don’t know who that might be. Whether it has anything to do with the Twins having not announced their starters yet is anyone’s guess.
What we have right now, though, is a pitching order for the final games of Grapefruit League play. Justin Verlander will get his final spring tuneup on Wednesday, then Anibal Sanchez on Thursday, then Max Scherzer on Friday, then Doug Fister on Saturday. Verlander is starting on an extra day of rest Wednesday so that he can be on turn for Monday on his regular four days’ rest.
It’s possible the Tigers could slot Sanchez, Scherzer and Fister in order from there and have them all pitching on an extra day’s rest. It’s also possible Scherzer and Fister could close out the series in Minnesota on four days’ rest each, though it seems unlikely they’d make Sanchez wait more than a week before his first regular-season start. All we can gather for sure is that there’s no way Fister could go from wrapping up his spring training on Saturday to starting off his regular season on Wednesday, especially the way he has pitched.
The widespread belief in recent weeks has been that Scherzer would start the home opener as a reward for last season. However, he has been very good pitching at Target Field the last couple years (3-0 in 3 starts, 4 runs, 14 hits, 19 1/3 innings, 23 strikeouts). Now, he would be on six days’ rest going into the home opener, two more days than normal. Fister doesn’t have that same history in Minnesota, though he has been good at Comerica Park since becoming a Tiger.
To get back to the original question: You can read quite a bit into this week’s order and come up with a good guess at the rotation. I wouldn’t be ready to swear to that quite yet, though.
They came closer than ever to a hearing, but the Tigers have avoided arbitration for another year. They reached a one-year agreement with Max Scherzer on Monday to do so, just as arbitration hearings were beginning in Arizona.
The two sides agreed on a contract that will pay Scherzer $6,725,000, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. That’s the midway point between the Tigers’ submission of a $6.05 million salary and Scherzer’s submission of $7.4 million. No initial word on why the two sides agreed to the midpoint now.
The Tigers’ perfect record of avoiding arbitration hearings under Dave Dombrowski’s watch is in serious jeopardy, more than at any other time since he took over GM duties in 2002. With no signs of a deal between the Tigers and Max Scherzer, the two sides are heading closer towards an arbitration panel to hear the matter.
The Tigers and Scherzer stood $1.35 million apart when they filed numbers two weeks ago. They continue to talk, but they still have a distance to gap, and they’re running out of time.
Three-person arbitration panels are scheduled to begin hearings next week in Arizona. A hearing date for Scherzer’s case has been set, but so far, the date has been kept private out of mutual interest. Arbitrators aren’t told ahead of time whose case they’ll be hearing on a given day, and giving a date for players would allow them to put the pieces together and start doing advance research if they so choose.
No Tiger has gone to an arbitration hearing since Dave Dombrowski replaced Randy Smith as general manager in 2002. They’ve come close a couple of times, notably when Justin Verlander became eligible for arbitration in 2009.The Tigers’ goal with arbitration cases under Dombrowski and baseball legal counsel John Westhoff has been to reach a deal with players before exchanging numbers, but that happened a couple weeks ago. They’ve exchanged numbers more often in recent years as their young players have gotten better, but they’ve usually settled those soon after the exchange once a middle ground was clearly established. Given that history, it would be a stretch to suggest the gap between Scherzer and the Tigers is small, though their gap in salaries submitted isn’t as big as what the Tigers faced with Verlander.
Part of the appeal in those cases is the knowledge that arbitration panels have to accept one of the two offers submitted. Unlike in hockey, a ruling can’t give a player a salary in the middle.
Thus, if the case goes to a hearing, Scherzer would either get $7.4 million or $6.05 million.
Scherzer made $3.75 million last year as a first-time arbitration eligible. A victory for him would just about double his salary. Unlike last offseason, his arbitration case will be judged on last season’s numbers alone.
Scherzer set career highs with 16 wins and 231 strikeouts last year, and was in a tight race with teammate Justin Verlander for the Major League lead in the latter category before shoulder soreness knocked Scherzer out of one start and scratched him from another. It also left him with 187 2/3 innings after back-to-back seasons with at least 195 innings.
Despite the shoulder questions, Scherzer made three starts in the postseason, striking out 26 batters over 18 1/3 innings on 12 hits and four walks.
Super-agent Scott Boras represents Scherzer, but Boras and the Tigers have a history of settling gaps with arbitration-eligible players; Boras’ tough negotiations are usually reserved for free agents. He usually encourages players against signing long-term deals avoiding arbitration, not short-term ones, so that they can still test the open market when they become eligible.
That said, Boras is known for keeping a binder’s worth of statistics on his clients, normally for free agents but also for arbitration’s sake.
Technically, the Tigers’ negotiation with Scherzer could actually stretch past a hearing. The two sides are allowed to seek a settlement all the way until an arbitration panel makes its decision. Once a team has to go to a hearing, though, the chances of compromise on a middle ground drop dramatically.
It’s a formality, but still worth noting that the seven Tigers eligible for arbitration all filed on Tuesday. The list includes three members of rotation (Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello), two members of the starting lineup (Alex Avila, Austin Jackson), lefty Phil Coke and outfielder Brennan Boesch.
Basically, what it means is that none of them have apparently reached deals yet to avoid arbitration. There’s still plenty of time for that, but the next big milepost in the process will come on Friday, when they’ll exchange arbitration figures with the team. That’s usually the step that gets both sides moving towards a deal, because it provides a range to use to find a middle ground. From there, the two sides have until at least Feb. 4 to negotiate before hearings begin taking place.
The Tigers have not had to go to an arbitration ruling since Dave Dombrowski took over as GM in 2002. They’ve come close a couple times, but usually they settle soon after the two sides exchange numbers.
Now this offseason market gets real for the Tigers.
I’m off for vacation heading into the holidays, so I won’t be writing about it much the next couple weeks, but I thought it was worth a blog post to set the scene. Because now that Zack Greinke has his deal — reportedly six years and $147 million from the Dodgers — the pitching market is set for others to follow. That includes Anibal Sanchez, regarded by many as the next-best free-agent starter on the market.
For the Tigers’ purposes, that also means Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, both two years away from free agency (when most teams try to lock up the starting pitchers they covet while security is still a big deal for them).
The belief going into the Winter Meetings was that a Greinke deal with the Dodgers would be good for the Tigers, because it would take this offseason’s biggest spenders out of the market for Sanchez. None of the other potential suitors have the financial might that the Dodgers do with new local television money coming.
Well, Greinke is a Dodger, but it’s no longer a certainty that Los Angeles will stop there. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Dodgers have interest in both Sanchez and fellow free agent Kyle Lohse. Whether that interest has a financial limit remains to be seen; the Dodgers payroll is picking up speed towards $200 million. But if they’re interested, they’re going to be a major factor that might force the Tigers to make a very difficult decision.
So, too, could the Rangers, if they want to make a pitch for Sanchez after losing out on Greinke. So, too, could a couple other teams. Maybe the Angels, still with room for a starter, try to answer their neighbors’ news. Maybe the Royals, who have made pitching their top priority this winter, could make a run after all. Maybe the Red Sox try to bring back their former prospect. Maybe a contending team in need of a starter has been quietly waiting for the Sanchez bidding to pick up so it can make a move.
Greinke’s contract didn’t get into the $160+ million territory that had been rumored, but it’ll still rank as the highest average annual salary for a right-handed pitcher (CC Sabathia still holds the overall pitching mark at just under $25 million). Sanchez isn’t in that class, but Greinke’s contract will still have a major impact. Sanchez is just four months younger than Greinke, but he has more than 600 fewer Major League innings of wear and tear. He isn’t nearly as proven, but he also isn’t as taxed.
One talent evaluator observing the Sanchez situation at the Winter Meetings said he doesn’t believe Sanchez will get as much money as many might expects. He might get the years, but not the money. That’s all relative, of course, but it’ll be interesting to watch.
But you know who is easily in Greinke’s class, even above it? Justin Verlander. He’s eight months older, and he has more innings, but he has a lot more accomplished on his resume as well. If Greinke is worth just under $25 million, what could Verlander get on the market in two years, still in his early 30s?
It’s the Tigers’ goal to make sure it never gets to that point. It won’t be cheap, but Verlander’s a superstar, and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch loves having superstar players. If it’s going to happen, this is the offseason to do it. But Greinke’s contract shifts the market a little bit, both in money and in years.
Scherzer, too, is two years out from the open market. He doesn’t have nearly the resume, but he’s coming off the best season of his career (though 2010 is close on the secondary numbers). He also has Scott Boras, an agent who eschews long-term contracts before a pitcher hits the open market. If the Tigers are going to make Scherzer a Tiger for years to come, it is not going to be easy. What Greinke’s deal does for Scherzer is show that you don’t have to be a true ace to get a big-time contract. That, too, is dangerous for the Tigers.
There are few things faster in baseball these days than a Bruce Rondon fastball. It has been clocked as high as 102 mph, including during the Futures Game in July at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.
The only thing faster in the Tigers organization than Rondon’s fastball might be the track he’s on.
Dave Dombrowski’s end-of-season remarks are an annual tradition now, painting the roadmap for the Tigers offseason, both for what they might look to do and what their plans are with pending players. It also seems there’s usually a prospect or two that gets some lift out of it.
Three years ago, it was Scott Sizemore. Last year, Drew Smyly got a mention. Today might well go down as the day Dombrowski set the path for Rondon.
Everybody figured him to be a closer of the future with these guys. Tuesday was the day we found just how near that future might be.
“I would not discount Bruce Rondon in the competition for our closer role for next year,” Dombrowski said. “I’m not saying he’s going to be our closer, but I do not discount him in that role.
“He is a guy that throws — and people don’t sometimes believe this, but it is true — he averages 100 miles an hour and topped off at 103, and throws his breaking stuff for consistent strikes.”
Dombrowski confirmed what others had speculated, that Rondon was a serious consideration for a call-up leading into September this year, which would’ve made him eligible for the postseason roster. Had they known that Valverde was going to struggle the way they did, they would’ve done it, which would’ve put a whole different look on Detroit’s closer by committee.
“This guy is a special potential closer with the makeup of a closer,” Dombrowski continued, “and normally you’re not going to thrust that in a young guy’s hands and say automatically, ‘It’s your job.’ But it would not surprise me if he earned that job. With the number of good arms that are out there, there are not many arms like this, and he cherishes that type of role.”
Dombrowski wasn’t the only one touting Rondon. When Leyland was asked about the difference between going with a closer by committee in a postseason and doing that for a full season, he hesitated.
“I’ve handled those situations before, but who’s to say we won’t have a closer,” Leyland countered. “I think we will have a closer. I think it might be a surprise closer, but I think we might have one. And I’m not talking about Phil Coke, by the way. Not that I don’t like Phil Coke.”
Someone then mentioned Rondon.
“Rondon’s a good name. Here’s a kid, who knows? Believe me, I’m not putting my blessing on Rondon as a closer for next year, but I’m just mentioning that name as a possibility. When you’ve got an arm like that, that’s a possibility. Now, could he handle it mentally, could he handle it in a three-tier stadium with the bright lights? I don’t have a clue.”
It’s an interesting contrast. The last Tigers reliever who threw as hard as Bruce Rondon does was Joel Zumaya, who crashed the roster to become a force in a setup relief role in 2006. At no point did Zumaya ever earn the closer’s job, partly because of injuries but not entirely.
The last rookie to have any sort of closing job in Detroit was Franklyn German, who shared the job in 2003. However, a closer’s role on a 43-119 team isn’t exactly like a regular job. German shared the team lead in saves — with five.
If you count Fernando Rodney’s time down the stretch in 2005, the Tigers have had experienced closers in the role every year since 2006.
“You see [Aroldis] Chapman close and there’s been other young guys close for clubs,” Dombrowski said. “I know it hasn’t been our normal situation. People know how good an arm Zumaya had, this guy has every bit and it comes out easier with less effort in his delivery.”
Dombrowski is aware of their track record. He’s also well-aware he has a team that’s expected to win next year, a team that opened as a World Series favorite this week.
“I think you also have to be open-minded and flexible,” Dombrowski said. “It’s just like a couple years ago when in 2006, Verlander and Zumaya jumped up pretty good for us at that point. This guy [Rondon] is a talented guy. He’s a rare talent. You would not believe the number of clubs that called me about Bruce Rondon to trade him. If I had a choice of any young closer in baseball to give an opportunity to in any organization, it would be him. Now would be ready? I don’t know that. But he is that good.”
Here’s a roundup of the other remarks he had:
- Dombrowski was on the fence on whether Dirks has a full-time starting role for next year: ”Dirks is a good player. Is he an every-day player at this point? I don’t know. He might be. I know he’s a real good player. Can he combine with somebody? So I think we’ll just kind of look at that.”
- Dombrowski poo-poohed the idea that they could non-tender Brennan Boesch. “We’ll tender him a contract,” Dombrowski said. ”He’s not where we would like him to be at this point, because if we did he’d have been on our roster for the postseason, so that’s a pretty obvious summation. But I think it’s the case that he still has ability, he can still hit the ball out of the ballpark. We still see some untapped potential, and he has struggled some.”
- When asked what went wrong in the World Series, Dombrowski cited the offense, and pointed to an article that said they went 1-for-17 when putting pitches in play that were over the middle of the plate (not sure which article, otherwise I’d provide a link). “They pitched well,” Dombrowski said, “but we also didn’t hit the pitches we could handle. Why didn’t they do that? Was the timing a little bit off? Maybe. Did they keep off timing with the layover, did they keep them off-balance with the stuff that they threw, changing speeds? I’m sure that, too. Did they start pressing a little bit, try to do too much? Maybe a combination of all that. But it’s almost hard to believe when you say they went 1-for-17 on balls down the middle of the plate.”
- Quintin Berry will go into camp with a chance to compete for a spot on the roster. Coincidentally, Leyland said that with Victor Martinez back, they’ll have a use for a pinch-runner on their bench.
- The Tigers will designate Don Kelly for assignment later on this week, Dombrowski said, to open a spot on the 40-man roster. From there, clubs will have a chance to claim him, just as they did when the Tigers designated him in August. If he isn’t claimed, however, the Tigers would like to bring him back on a minor-league contract to compete for a roster spot. “He knows how well thought of he is here,” Dombrowski said. “But I also know that other people are in a position where somebody may offer him a better opportunity. That’s what guys look for when they’re free agents.”
- No comment on the status of Ryan Raburn, because Dombrowski hasn’t had a chance to talk with him yet. They still have him under team control for a year, so technically they don’t have to do anything if they want to keep him. If they want to use his roster spot for someone else, well, that’s another matter, and one they would probably want to talk with him about.
- Dombrowski did not want to get into the possibility of contract talks with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, both two years away from free agency. That’s a matter he still has to discuss with ownership. However, he said they’d like to have both for a long time.
- Avisail Garcia, Dombrowski said, is a “tough call” on whether he makes the roster next year. ”He has star potential,” Dombrowski said. “He’s a five-tool player. I’m not sure that he’s ready as a corner outfielder to give us the contributions that we need on an overall basis at this time, but I’m not sure that he’s not. He is going to play everyday in winter ball for Magglio’s team in Venezuela. I think he’s a guy that we’ll keep a real close eye on in how he develops over the wintertime.”
- If the Tigers can’t re-sign Sanchez, Dombrowski didn’t sound particularly strong about getting another starter to fill his spot, saying it would have to be a substantial improvement over what they have.
- Smyly would not be viewed as a full-time reliever.
- Dombrowski is not concerned about Scherzer going into the offseason. ”What happened,” Dombrowski said, “was [his shoulder] got tired like a lot of your muscles get tired, and it’s just more a mater of it needing some rest and then building it back up. So he got some rest and built it back up, but at that time period you don’t have a chance to go out there every five days and build it up. So the feeling is with Scherzer that he’ll be absolutely fine.”
- A second lefty reliever isn’t a high priority for the Tigers to acquire this winter. Dombrowski believes they can fill the spot in-house, though he didn’t rule out adding an arm.