Max Scherzer

Cashman and Dombrowski Set The Record Straight on Robertson and Scherzer

drob

The Yankees never intended to resign David Robertson once they signed Andrew Miller.

 

New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski met with the media at the Winter meetings in San Diego Tuesday afternoon and had something interesting things to say.

Cashman admitted that once the Yankees signed Andrew Miller (four years, $36MM), they had no intention of resigning closer David Robertson, preferring a 2015 draft pick instead. The Yankees never made an official offer to Robertson, who signed a four-year, $46MM deal with the Chicago White Sox. Miller and Dellin Betances will each get a shot to close in the coming season, with manager Joe Girardi using them situationally.

There’s been some speculation that 2014 2nd round pick (from Mississippi St.) Jacob Lindgren could be in the mix, but although he struck out 48 batters in 25 innings, he also walked 13. Lindgren will likely start the season at Double-A Trenton, the highest of the four levels he pitched (and struggled) at this past season, or advanced ‘A’ Tampa.

Dombrowski addressed a statement attributed to the Tigers earlier on Tuesday concerning their free agent starter Max Scherzer. ESPN’s Buster Olney had reported that Scherzer remained a top priority for the Tigers and that they were willing to spend the money necessary to keep him.

Earlier this year, Scherzer had turned down the Tigers six-year offer worth $144MM. This time it was Dombrowski’s turn to do the rejecting.

“I don’t know where he (Olney) got that from,” Dombrowski said. “That’s not accurate. I’m not sure where it comes from, how it comes. I know it didn’t come from this room, but that’s not accurate.”

“The other thing I’ll say is I hope Mr. I (owner Mike Ilitch) didn’t see that,” Dombrowski said, “because he’d be saying, ‘Well, where did that come from?’1

Dombrowski went on to add that starting pitching “was not a priority” and no talks had taken place between the two sides.

 

1 – mlive.com

Traded: Yankees Go From DJ to DIDI

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The last time the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and Arizona Diamondbacks pulled off a three-team trade (2009) the players involved included Max Scherzer, Curtis Granderson, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth, Ian Kennedy, and Edwin Jackson. The names weren’t as sexy this time around when the three teams agreed to a deal earlier Friday.

The Yankees, looking for a shortstop to replace their future Hall-of-Fame inductee, Derek Jeter, picked up the underwhelming Didi Gregorious from the Diamondbacks. The Tigers received gritty starter Shane Greene from the Yankees and the Diamonbacks got pitcher Robbie Ray and infielder Domingo Leyba.

This one is a head scratcher for fans of both the Yankees and the Tigers. The Diamondbacks clearly did not believe that Greene was worth taking straight up  for Gregorious. The Tigers felt Greene was worth sending two players to the Diamondbacks. And the Yankees already have a good glove, can’t hit shortstop in Brendan Ryan. (UPDATE – Cashman was on WFAN and said that Gregorius, who struggles against left-handers, will platoon with Ryan.)

Replacing Jeter is an unenviable task for anyone, but should Yankees GM Brian Cashman get someone who is better suited to play every day (or platoon)? Gregorius was signed as teenager by the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. Nearly a year ago today, he was part of another three team deal, one that involved the Cleveland Indians and the Diamondbacks.

Arizona sent pitchers Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw, and Matt Albers to Cleveland, who also received utility man Drew Stubbs from Cincy. The Reds also sent Gregorious to the desert with Cleveland sending 1B/OF Lars Anderson and reliever Tony Sipp to the same destination. The Indians sent of outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and infielder Jason Donald to the Reds.

Gregorious got an eight-game call up for the Reds in 2012, but played 103 games in his rookie season the following year with the Diamondbacks. His numbers were decent for a light hitting newbie – a .252/.332/.373 slash line – however, his sophomore year went in the wrong direction. The 24-year old put up a .226/.290/.363 line in 80 games.

Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball America had Gregorious as their 80th best prospect out of their top 100 and MLB.com had him rated at number 63. The ranking were based on the 2012 minor league season that Gregorious split between Double-A (81 games) and Triple-A (48 games). The native of the Netherlands had a combined .717 OPS with 7 HR and 54 RBI in 129 games. He slugged .393 by adding 21 doubles and 11 triples.

The shortstop, who has also played some second base, has worked hard on his defense. He committed 32 errors in the minors in 2010, but had 13 for the Diamonbacks in 2013, and six last year. The Yankees are taking a low risk here in what they gave up, but are taking a big gamble on Gregorius showing an improved bat for a team desparately in need of run production. For now, Gregorius seems like the next Bubba Crosby.

Greene was a pleasant surprise as 25-year old rookie that was forced into the rotation due to injuries to CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda. The Yankees had selected Greene in the 9th round of the 2009 MLB Amateur draft out of Daytona Beach (FL) Community College.

Greene won four of his first five decisions, tossing 7.1 shutout innings against the Baltimore Orioles, and eight scoreless frames against the Tigers. He beat the Tigers a second time three weeks later after he allowed two earned runs in seven innings. Perhaps his shaky five starts in September convinced the Yankees to deal Greene while there was still a market for him. Apparently those two wins over Detroit convinced the Tigers he was worth it.

Greene finished the season 5-4, 3.78 with 9.3 Ks per nine innings and eight home runs allowed in 78.2 innings pitched.  With the uncertainty of the health of the starting rotation, Yankees fans better hope Cashman is swinging a deal for a pitcher or signing one of the big time free agents.

The acquisition of Ray by the Diamondbacks is an interesting one. The 23-year old is still somewhat of an unknown commodity. He made six starts and three relief appearances for the Tigers this past season and was roughed up, though he was impressive in his first two starts (11.1 IP, 1 ER 7 K). The 6’2″ left-hander was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 12th round of the 2010 draft and was traded to Detroit last December as part of a package to get Doug Fister.

Ray averaged better than 10 Ks per nine innings in a 2013 season that was split between Advanced A’ Potomac (Carolina League) and Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern League). Perhaps it was the trip to the Majors, but Ray wasn’t as effective last season at either Triple-A Toledo or with Detroit.

Leyba just turned 19 in September and had an impressive 30 games (.914 OPS) stint for Western Michigan in the Midwest League, after a rough 37 games in the New York-Penn League.

Superman is Alive and well and living in Detroit

Up, up, and away!

Up, up, and away!

by Designated For Assignment Staff

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s……Ezequiel Carrera.

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The New York Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 2-1 in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium Monday night, but it could have been an early blowout if not for Carrera. With the bases loaded and no one out in the bottom of the 1st inning, the Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury hit a drive to deep centerfield.

Carrera, playing shallow, raced back and took off like the caped Kryptonian…or at least, Jim Edmonds. The centerfielder snared the baseball and held on as he came in for a heavy landing. What could have been a three-run triple, possibly even an inside-the-park grand slam, turned into a sacrifice fly.

The Yankees eventually got a second run in the inning before second baseman Ian Kisler robbed Chase Headley of another run and ended the frame.

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AL All-Stars take Midsummer Classic 5-3

jeter all-star

By Brandon Karsten

Baseball’s stars came out Tuesday night at Minneapolis’ Target Field for the 85th Major League Baseball All-Star Game between the American and National Leagues. The AL won 5-3, but one star outshone them all in the last Midsummer Classic appearance of his illustrious career.

New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter went 2-for-2 at the plate with a double, a single and a run scored. Before the start of the fourth inning with the A.L. ahead 3-2, Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez jogged out to take Jeter’s place. Then the stadium came to life with people standing and clapping, and flash bulbs twinkling randomly throughout the stadium in acknowledgement of the last time the American League All-Star Team will have a player named Jeter occupying shortstop.

A.L. starting pitcher Felix Hernandez gave up one hit, an infield single to Andrew McCutchen, and struck out two batters in the first inning. With the A.L. up to bat, and after Jeter received a standing ovation, he used his classic inside-out swing to slash a double down the right field line off starting St. Louis hurler Adam Wainwright. Mike Trout followed with a triple to right to score Jeter for the game’s first run. Detroit’s dangerous slugger Miguel Cabrera cranked a two-run homer over the left field fence to put the American League up 3-0.

Boston’s Jon Lester took the hill to start the top of the second frame and ran into trouble. The left-hander gave up a one-out single to Aramis Ramirez of Milwaukee. Chase Utley of the Phillies hit a double to centerfield to score Ramirez and the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy followed up with another two-bagger to score Utley.

After Ramirez replaced Jeter at shortstop in the fourth, the newly inserted pitcher Chris Sale, of the Chicago White Sox, hit Utley with a pitch and Dee Gordon of the L.A. Dodgers pinch ran in his place. Lucroy the former Twin, tied the ballgame for the Senior Circuit with his second double of the ballgame to score Gordon and tie the game at three.

Both squads were held scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when St. Louis reliever Pat Neshek, another form Twins player,  surrendered two straight singles to Oakland’s Derek Norris and Ramirez. Trout came through again, this time with a double down the left field line to score Norris and put the A.L. All-Stars ahead 4-3. With Ramirez at third, Houston’s Jose Altuve hit a sacrifice fly to left to plate Ramirez for a 5-3 AL lead.

Cabrera went 1-for-3 with two runs batted in, and his lone hit was the two-run dinger in the first, which was the first of his All-Star Game career. Trout’s two hits and a pair of RBI earned him the All-Star Game MVP Award.

On the N.L. side, Yasiel Puig struggled at the plate, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Lucroy finished his first All-Star Game with a 2-for-2 performance at the plate with the two hits as doubles. Detroit’s Max Scherzer was the winning pitcher for the A.L. All-Stars while Neshek got the loss and Minnesota’s closer Glen Perkins hurled a perfect ninth inning to get the save to help the American League earn home field advantage for the World Series.

You can reach Brandon Karsten at bkarsten2009@hotmail.com or find him on Facebook.

What’s Up Baseball? – 7/9

ScherzerScherzer vs. Greinke tonight in Detroit


“It’s a great day for a ball game; let’s play two!” – Ernie Banks aka Mr. Cub

by Designated for Assignment Staff

How’s this for a pitching match up when the LA Dodgers and Detroit Tigers meet today? Zack Greinke vs. Max Scherzer. Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young winner is 11-4, 2.66 with 119 strikeouts to just 22 walks. Scherzer, last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, hasn’t been as good as he was in 2013, but he hasn’t been bad either. The 11th overall pick (by Arizona) in the 2006 draft, Scherzer has compiled a 10-3 record, a 3.47 ERA and 139 strikeouts opposed to 33 walks.

Scherzer was part of the three-way trade with the New York Yankees, Detroit, and Arizona in 2006. Who got the best of it? In addition to getting Scherzer, and Daniel Schlereth, from AZ the Tigers picked up Phil Coke and Austin Jackson from the Yankees. The Dbacks got Ian Kennedy from NY and Edwin Jackson from the Motor City while Curtis Granderson went from Detroit to the Yankees.  Yeah, I’m voting Detroit on that one. The only players still on the same team five years later are Scherzer, A. Jackson and Coke. (Schlereth was just reacquired by Detroit from Pittsburgh.)

Brandon McCarthy (Yankees) and Jason Hammel (A’s) make their debuts for their new teams tonight. It remains to be seen if McCarthy, who claims he’s pitched better than his record while with Arizona, will be effective for the Bronx Bombers. Either way, Yankees fans will get to enjoy tweets from McCarthy’s wife Amanda like this one:

Hobbes is Mrs. McCarthy’s beloved Westie.

How about the Oakland A’s, one of McCarthy’s former teams. They picked up their 57th win last night, a franchise record for wins prior to the All-Star break. They accomplished the feat despite losing starter pitchers A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker for the year, before the year even started, and 13 blown saves from the bullpen. Now they’ve added Jeff Samardzija and Hammel. How deep is the A’s staff now? Tommy Milone was sent to the minors, despite a 2.62 ERA in his last 11 starts and a 6-0 record in that stretch.

Masahiro Tanaka had his worst outing of his Yankees career last night. Michael Brantley gave him the most trouble with a home run and two doubles. Overall, the Indians tagged him for five earned runs and 10 hits in 6.2 innings pitched. And there were no midge attacks. Tanaka has lost three of four starts, but he pitched well enough in two of them to win. A 2-1, 9th inning loss to the Red Sox and an 8-0 loss to the Orioles, in which Tanaka allowed three earned runs in seven innings, were the previous two losses.

 Update 5 pm – As first reported by George King III of the NY Post, Tanaka headed back to NY for an MRI after complaining about discomfort in his right forearm.

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Play of the Week – Miguel Cabrera Clubs 2,000th Hit

"<strongMiguel Cabrera hits a two-run home run off pitcher Ryan Webb for his 2,000th career hit.

by Christopher Wenrich

Miguel Cabrera entered the 2,000-hit club in grand style, going 4/5 with a home run and three RBIs.  His two-run shot off pitcher Ryan Webb in the eighth inning made him the 277th player in Major League Baseball history to reach that impressive milestone.  Next in Cabrera’s sights is Jason Giambi (2,002 hits).  Raul Ibanez (1,995 hits) may soon be the 278th member .

In his MLB debut, Cabrera collected his first career hit, which was also a home run.  On June 20, 2003, the Florida Marlins defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 3-1 in 11 innings.  Cabrera was 1/5 with a home run and 2 RBIs.  He hit the game-winning home run in the 11th off of pitcher Al Levine to give the Marlins the victory.  Since then, Cabrera has evolved into one of the best hitters in baseball, with nine seasons of 30-plus home runs and 10 consecutive seasons with 100-plus RBIs.  Heading into tonight’s game, Cabrera had 1,996 hits, 365 home runs, a career .321 AVG, .399 OBP and .966 OPS.  Should Cabrera’s offensive production continue at this pace, and if he stays healthy for another four or five seasons, he will likely be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.

Cabrera was off to a slow start this season (1/7 with zero RBIs in two games), after signing an enormous contract extension with the Detroit Tigers.  The contract drew criticism from baseball pundits, fans, and the 29 other MLB clubs.  Although Cabrera is still arguably the best hitter in baseball today, there is cause for concern with the extension.  One need look no further than Albert Pujols, who left the St. Louis Cardinals and signed a lucrative deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as a free agent years ago.  Pujols was widely regarded as the best hitter in baseball, but quickly declined and struggled with injuries as an Angel.  Pujols is still a very productive hitter, however his statistics over the past few years do not justify the contract he signed with the Angels.

Until there is news of Cabrera struggling with injuries or a prolonged slump (two games does not a slump make), there is no reason to believe he could not win another MVP award this season.  Since joining the Tigers in 2008, Cabrera averaged 156 games played, 37 home runs and 122 RBIs.  He hit 44 home runs in back-to-back seasons in 2012 and 2013, with 137 and 139 RBIs, respectively.  The 2008 season (.292 AVG) was the last time Cabrera hit below .324 and the last time he registered an OBP lower than .393 (.349 in 2008).

Concerns about his contract extension aside, Cabrera has demonstrated excellence as a hitter throughout his career and will continue to add to his legacy as one of baseball’s best hitters.  His past 11 seasons have showcased a display of greatness that will be difficult for others to match.

Christopher Wenrich is a contributor for Designated For Assignment.  Follow him on Twitter (@DuggerSports).

Tigers Look To Come Out Roaring

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The Tigers will go as far as Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander will take them.                                                 

By Brandon Karsten

Key acquisitions: RHP Joe Nathan, RHP Joba Chamberlain, 2B Ian Kinsler.

Key losses: 1B Prince Fielder, RHP Doug Fister, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Jose Veras

Shane Victorino of the Boston Red Sox was staring down at Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Jose Veras. It was in the seventh inning of Game Six of the American League Championship Series with the score 2-1 in favor of the Tigers. On a 1-2 count, Victorino ripped into Veras’ hanging curveball for a grand slam and the lead. In the top of the ninth, with Boston up 5-2, BoSox closer Koji Uehara struck out Jose Iglesias as Boston won the pennant four games to two. It was back to the drawing board for Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski to try to bring that long awaited World Series Championship back to the Motor City.

The winter of 2013-14 was a busy one for the Tigers. One of the first things the Tigers had to do was look for a new manager. After the ALCS loss, Jim Leyland announced his retirement as the Tigers’ skipper and took a job as a special assistant to Dombrowski. The Tigers named former big league catcher Brad Ausmus as the new skipper. Ausmus played from 1993 to 2010 with Houston, San Diego, Detroit and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has had managerial experience with Team Israel in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifying pool in Jupiter, Fla. Israel came up short of moving on to the March tournament after losing in the pool final to Spain 9-7.

Once the calendar flipped to November, the Tigers started a series of moves to help shore up their inconsistent bullpen. The Tigers let Joaquin Benoit and Jose Veras leave via free agency. Veras signed with the Chicago Cubs and Benoit went west to San Diego. The Tigers lost another arm when the Houston Astros claimed lefty Darin Downs off waivers.

On Dec. 4, Detroit finished their two years search to replace ineffective closer Jose Valverde when they signed veteran Joe Nathan. Playing for the Texas Rangers last season, Nathan nailed down 43 saves. It was the fourth time in his 13-year career he surpassed the 40 save mark in a season. Then after the winter meetings, the Tigers announced the signing of former New York Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain for one year and $2.5 million.

The Tigers also made some changes to their starting rotation. Detroit traded Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals in exchange for infielder Steve Lombardozzi, pitchers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray. The Fister trade did open a door for lefty Drew Smyly to go from the bullpen to the starting rotation for the upcoming season.1 The Tigers could also lose AL CY Young Award winner Max Scherzer after the coming season. He and the Tigers agreed to a one-year, $15.5 million contract to avoid arbitration, but Scherzer may test the free agent market after 2014.

A key to the season will be the performance, of course, of their number one starter, Justin Verlander. The former AL CY Young and MVP winner is coming off a rough season in which he posted his highest ERA since 2009 and finished 2013. He also didn’t lead the league in any major pitching category.

Detroit also shook up the lineup during the offseason. The Tigers swapped first baseman Prince Fielder for Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler and let second baseman Omar Infante sign with Kansas City.

Shortstop Jose Iglesias came over to the Tigers last year in a mid-season trade from Boston and made an immediate impact at the plate and on defense while Jhonny Peralta was serving a 50-game suspension for his part in the Biogenesis scandal. The Tigers put Peralta in the outfield in the postseason to allow Iglesias, the stronger defender, to remain at shortstop. Shortly after the World Series, Peralta signed a long term deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Iglesias will stay with Detroit after putting his signature on a one-year, $1.65 million deal Jan. 8. 2

Also acquired via free agency was outfielder Rajai Davis, who throughout his career has been a base stealing threat. Davis played three years in Toronto, and though he averaged a below .700 OPS, he stole 32 bags as a season.

There are a number of prospects in the Tigers’ organization that are looking forward to getting called up sometime during the 2014 campaign. After coming up to the big club as a September call-up, Tigers top prospect Nick Castellanos, who came up as an outfielder, may get a chance to play third base as Miguel Cabrera will back across the diamond to first base to replace Fielder. Castellanos was named the 15th best prospect for 2014 by MLB.com.1

Last year, Right-handed relief pitcher Bruce Rondon found himself splitting time between Detroit and AAA Toledo, but Dombrowski has high expectations for the young Venezuelan hurler for 2014.1

All early indications point to the Tigers remaining as contenders in the American League Central. However, the four other teams in the division are looking to make it a very competitive divisional race. Minnesota added free agent starters Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes and the Chicago White Sox signed Cuban defector Jose Abreu.

2014 should be an interesting and exciting year as the Tigers look to defend their AL Central division title.

1 –  detroit.tigers.mlb.com

2 –  mlive.com

Brandon Karsten is a contributor to Designated Four Assignment. He can be found on Facebook or contacted by email at bkarsten2009@hotmail.com