Tag: Alex Avila

Alex Avila Injury: Updates on White Sox C’s Hamstring and Return

Chicago White Sox catcher Alex Avila is currently hampered with a strained right hamstring, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com.

Continue for updates.

Avila Placed on Disabled List by White Sox

Sunday, April 24

The White Sox announced on Sunday that Avila would be placed on the disabled list and catcher Kevan Smith, 27, would be recalled to the active roster.

Avila, 29, is hitting .214 this season with a run scored. He has yet to register a home run or RBI. 

He was clearly disappointed to suffer this latest injury, as he said after Saturday’s game.

“I’ve been feeling great physically,” Avila said, per JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago. “I was really swinging the bat well and having some good at-bats the last few games, as well. It’s a little frustrating.”

Per the White Sox, Smith is hitting .345 with two home runs and six RBI in eight games with Triple-A Charlotte this season. He has no MLB experience and will likely serve as the team’s backup catcher behind Dioner Navarro.

Much like Avila, Navarro, 32, has had his own struggles at the plate, hitting just .100 with two RBI. If Smith brings a hot bat to the big leagues, he could very well find himself earning a big share of the playing time while Avila is shelved.

Despite the offensive struggles from the catchers, the White Sox have gotten off to a strong start, going 12-6 to open the season and finding themselves in an early lead in the American League Central. If there is one position where the team seems capable of handling an injury, it’s at catcher, so Avila’s setback shouldn’t be a major loss for the White Sox.


You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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Tigers’ Alex Avila Makes Incredible Leaping Grab While Falling in Stands

Thanks to Miguel Cabrera’s calf injury, Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila is out of place at first base.

Before his first career start at the new position, Avila spoke humbly to reporters:

If Avila meant “unbelievably good” when he said he’d be “adequate,” he was right. With his team up 4-0 in the top of the fourth, the 28-year-old made an absolutely insane catch as he fell into the stands.

Looks like “adequate” has a new definition.

[h/t The Score, Twitter]

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Handicapping the Detroit Tigers’ Hotly Contested Position Battles

The Detroit Tigers appeared to have all of their major roster spots sewn up not so long ago. But things can change in a hurry.

The injury bug has bitten this franchise again, which will force some significant shake-ups in the weeks to come.

A knee injury to designated hitter Victor Martinez has put a giant monkey in Detroit’s wrench. Martinez’s recovery from meniscus surgery—due to take place next week—will almost certainly rule him out beyond Opening Day, and potentially as late as midseason.  

With Miguel Cabrera also rehabilitating this winter, Detroit’s two biggest offensive threats could both be watching from the sidelines when April rolls around.

Even if Cabrera is able to DH, it still leaves a big hole at first base. That leaves the Tigers with plenty to mull over.

Apart from this new dilemma, things seem pretty stable. The other position players look concrete in their starting roles, and the rotation is a done deal—notwithstanding a daring move for starter James Shields.

Any other battles waged will be for places on the bench or in the bullpen. The latter could be particularly intriguing with one or two sleepers getting a chance if they have a spectacular spring.

With a few openings available, let’s take a look at the contenders and what their chances are of grabbing one of the available spots.

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Changes the Arizona Diamondbacks Should Make Before Spring Training

Change is certainly on the wish list of Arizona Diamondbacks fans as the holiday season approaches. 

And with spring training and the regular season also approaching, change must happen now. The 2014 season was one to forget. The D-Backs finished 64-98worst in MLB.

Injuries to Patrick Corbin, Mark Trumbo, A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt all contributed to the struggle. It also likely led to the firing of Kirk Gibson and the hiring of new manager Chip Hale.

Corbin is projected to return to the rotation midway through the 2015 season. Goldschmidt should be fully healthy coming off a fractured left hand.

However, Arizona’s intriguing offseason moves to this point have already made headlines.

The most notable acquisition was Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas. He should provide much-needed power and protection for Goldschmidt in the lineup.

The D-Backs also acquired pitching depth in Jeremy Hellickson (from Tampa Bay) for prospects, and Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster (from Boston) for Wade Miley

Yet, there are still holes the organization needs to fill for a successful 2015 campaign. Here are some changes the D-Backs should make before spring training. 


Go After James Shields

D-Backs.com lists Josh Collmenter at the top of the rotation on the depth chart. Collmenter precedes De La Rosa, Hellickson and Webster.

With Corbin coming off Tommy John surgery, there are no guarantees regarding his return or performance. Arizona’s front office knows a top-of-the-rotation arm is needed to compete in the NL West.

Money is no longer the issue it once was now that the D-Backs sent Miguel Montero to the Cubs. Montero was scheduled to make $40 million over the next three years.

With some payroll flexibility, adding Shields would greatly bolster the rotation. Shields went 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA last season with the Royals, helping them reach the World Series. His durability also makes him an attractive commodity. Shields has started 30-plus games in each of the past eight seasons. 

Expect Arizona to take a look at Shields knowing that pitching has been a recent problem. Here is how the starting rotation would look midway through the 2015 season with Shields and a healthy Corbin. 

1. Patrick Corbin

2. James Shields

3. Josh Collmenter

4. Rubby De La Rosa

5. Jeremy Hellickson


Replace Miguel Montero

Losing Montero leaves Arizona with Tuffy Gosewisch as the starting catcher on the depth chart. That will certainly not suffice, especially on the offensive end. 

There are several potential trade targets for general manager Dave Stewart to consider. One is Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila. He is not known for his offense, but he can be a solid defensive replacement for Montero. Avila led AL catchers in runners caught stealing with 36. 

Another option Stewart has reportedly considered is Toronto Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro. The latter is the more attractive offensive option. Navarro hit .300 with 13 home runs in only 89 games with the Cubs in 2013. Last season, he hit .274 with 12 home runs in Toronto.

Both stat lines were more impressive than Montero‘s past two seasons (.230, 11 HR in 2013 and .243, 13 HR in 2014).

Expect Stewart to explore both options as potential replacements at the catcher position in 2015.


Consider Trading Aaron Hill

Aaron Hill’s power-hitting days are behind him. With only 21 home runs in the last two seasons and several bites from the injury bug, it is time for Arizona to part ways with the veteran second baseman.

Hill is due $24 million over the next two yearseven more reason to cut ties. If the D-Backs can trade Hill, it would open up even more money to pursue quality starting pitching.

Arizona has plenty of young infield talent to replace HillChris Owings, Jake Lamb and Nick Ahmed, to name a few. Veteran Cliff Pennington can also play second base if needed.  

The D-Backs’ offseason plans involved adding a power bat, shedding salary and getting younger. Trading Hill would follow suit, and it also makes sense for the long term.

Competing against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants and the playoff-caliber Los Angeles Dodgers will make contending in the NL West difficult for the D-Backs in 2015.

But with these changes, expect Arizona to have a good chance at finishing over .500 for the first time since 2011.

Adding quality pitching while creating a more flexible payrollthe formula for success in Arizona. 

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Detroit Tigers: Don’t Discount the Tigers Making a Big Offseason Move

With their most important bit of offseason business (re-signing Victor Martinez) wrapped up, the Detroit Tigers can now turn their attention to other needs. These needs used to include adding an outfielder, but Anthony Gose’s acquisition seems to have satisfied that. Re-signing the rehabbing Joel Hanrahan will help strengthen the bullpen, which was and still is another need, if the former Pittsburgh closer is healthy. Still, more bullpen additions can be expected.

If the team does sign free agents to fill the need, or goes after trade targets to achieve the same purpose, it wouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. But history tells us that the Tigers general manager makes transactions that shock just about anyone—generally making deals to acquire premium players at positions where an upgrade isn’t necessary. Past examples include signing Ivan Rodriguez and dealing for Miguel Cabrera and David Price.

After re-signing Victor Martinez and handing out arbitration raises to standout performers like Price and J.D. Martinez, the Tigers will have little wiggle room financially. This shouldn’t dissuade any thoughts of Detroit making a big move.

In December of 2009, Dombrowski sent Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson packing in a three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks to avoid giving them hefty raises and to alleviate pressure on the salary cap. The deal allowed the Tigers the room to sign lockdown closer Jose Valverde. The trade also brought Austin Jackson and Max Scherzer to Motown. The moral of the story is that Dave Dombrowski knows how to make impact moves on a tight budget.

Detroit’s general manager is already helped by the fact that the collective salaries of Torii Hunter, Don Kelly, Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain have come off the books, thus giving him some wiggle room. While a percentage of that money was likely allocated to Victor Martinez and saved for arbitration rises, it still creates cash.

Dombrowski knows how to make his team younger, with the Granderson/Scherzer deal serving as a chief example. He has already acquired a young, controllable player with considerable upside in Gose and may not be done dealing.

Already, rumors are swirling about potential Tigers moves. The latest involves listening to trade offers for catcher Alex Avila. Dealing Avila would seem unconventional for a couple of reasons, one being the fact that Avila works well with Detroit’s starting pitchers. A second is that defensively the catcher grades out positively, while bringing power to the lineup as a left-handed hitter. Thirdly, the next catchers in line for the Tigers are backup Bryan Holaday and prospect James McCann.

Dealing Avila would mean that Detroit either has another deal lined up/in the works for a cheaper catcher they feel is an upgrade or that they feel McCann is ready to take the next step and start full-time.

Despite all the potential negatives, sending Avila to another team comes with benefits. The first would be wiping his salary from the books—Avila will make $5.4 million next season. The second would mean that the team could move on from a player who has been seriously affected by injuries.

Avila is still a starting catcher in the major leagues and certainly brings positive attributes to the table, but he isn’t what he once was. His finest hour came in 2011, when he posted an .895 OPS and drove in 82 runs. Injures soon ran rampant on Avila’s offensive production. Starting with the 2011 postseason, where he hit .063 against New York in and .080 against Texas.  The catcher has hit a combined .235 since 2011.

With surprise moves becoming the norm this offseason, (thanks to the Jason Heyward/Shelby Miller trade and the Mets signing of Michael Cuddyer), it wouldn’t be a shock to see the baseball landscape rocked by an unlikely Dombrowski trade. He’s turned potential salary cap burdens into, among others, a Cy Young winner (Max Scherzer) and a player used to acquire yet another player with a Cy Young on his resume (David Price).

It’s unknown if Alex Avila’s name will appear in the transactions logs due to a trade, but it wouldn’t be surprising. Neither would be a conceivable, cost-cutting trade of a player like Rajai Davis. The bottom line is that Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers front office know what they are doing, and with the offseason in full swing (pun!), the ball is in their court.


All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted. 

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MLB Rumors: Latest Trade and Free-Agent Rumblings from Around the League

Winter might be the time you like to cuddle in your blankets, but it’s also the time MLB players are getting set to move around.

Baseball is unlike any other sport in that an exorbitant amount of players change homes during the offseason. The winter months are truly a time of activity for MLB clubs, as general managers across the league make acquisitions in order to put together their rosters.

Through trades and free agency, GMs and front offices put countless hours of work into constructing their teams. There’s no hibernation for them.

The work starts early, evidenced by the bevy of rumors already making their way through the MLB rumor mill. A few notable ones are discussed below.


Yasmany Tomas

Yasmany Tomas, 24, is the top Cuban slugger available this offseason. Naturally, his market is pretty competitive. We don’t know which teams are in the mix at this point, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News keyed us in on one team that likely won’t be:

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors and Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports tweeted that there are multiple teams actively courting him:

It has taken a while for the market to really heat up for the Cuban prospect. He has major power and a decent arm, but his contact skills against breaking pitches surely hasn’t impressed scouts. Ben Badler of Baseball America pointed out a few of his flaws at the plate:

Tomas did show some swing-and-miss tendencies at the WBC with an uppercut stroke and trouble handling good breaking pitches. Three months after the WBC, when Cuba took a team to the U.S. last summer to face the college national team, the U.S. power arms were able to exploit some of those holes by beating him with good velocity up and in and getting him to swing through soft stuff in and out of the zone.

The potential is there for him to be a solid contributor at the big league level. That is, of course, if he corrects those problems. Major leaguers will exploit those weaknesses.

Teams are apparently ready to move past those flaws and sign him, though, as Arangure tweets:

Without a ton of big-time bats on the market, Tomas could command a contract in excess of five years and $80 million. Whether he’s actually worth that is debatable.


A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett hasn’t retired despite early-offseason rumors, and his agent told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com that he “wants to pitch for a contender.”

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted that one potential contender, the Baltimore Orioles, had extended an offer his way:

Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun refuted that report, however:

It’s reasonable for Burnett to want to pitch for a contender, but not that many contenders might want him to pitch for their team. At least, his 2014 numbers indicate that he doesn’t have much left in the tank.

He led the National League in losses with 18 (eight wins) and also posted an ERA of 4.59 (4.14 FIP). That number was influenced by the fact that he led all starters in the league in earned runs and walks issued.

Granted, there were some positives teams could look at. He struck out 190 hitters in 213.2 innings. He also pitched much of the season with a hernia issue. That definitely affected the way he pitched.

Burnett is not the right fit for the Orioles. They’re still trying to cope with the massacre that was Ubaldo Jimenez’s contract, and he still has three years remaining on his contract. The O’s could trade him, but then why would they replace him with a similar hit-or-miss pitcher?

Burnett will find a home for 2015. That said, it might not be for an early-season favorite. It might not want to take the risk.


Alex Avila

The 2011 season was an outlier for Alex Avila.

He slashed .295/.389/.506 and produced a 5.1 WAR that year for the Detroit Tigers. He hasn’t hit over .243 since, and his total WAR in the past three seasons is just 5.4.

As a result, the Tigers could finally be fed up with the 27-year-old backstop. He’s still a buy-low candidate for other teams, however, and Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe tweeted that Detroit would be willing to move him:

Avila, a left-handed bat, would be semi-useful in a platoon on the right team. He’s a career .256 hitter against right-handers compared to .215 against southpaws.

At this point, the Tigers would probably take anything in return for Avila. His strong defense isn’t enough to make up for his poor offense, and the Tigers might just dump him after three straight disappointing seasons.

Detroit might only get cash relief and a mid-level prospect in exchange.

It’s interesting to hear from Cafardo that the Atlanta Braves are interested. Christian Bethancourt is supposedly the catcher of the future, and that has been reinforced with rumors that Evan Gattis is permanently moving to left field.

Unless the Braves plan on platooning Bethancourt and Avila, the veteran’s presence on the roster would simply take at-bats away from the youngster.


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn

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Why the Detroit Tigers Need to Pick Up Alex Avila’s Option for 2015

The Detroit Tigers don’t have long to decide about the future of catcher Alex Avila:

Detroit would be wise to re-sign Avila for another season. A catcher’s first job is to play solid defense, and to say Avila was solid behind the dish in 2014 would be an understatement—he was outstanding.

In addition to handling Detroit’s pitching staff with aplomb, Avila was highly effective at neutralising the opposition’s running game. The 27-year-old gunned down 34 percent of would-be base stealers (second in MLB) this season.

Avila also made one of the best defensive plays of the year when he climbed the screen at Comerica Park to make a Spider-Man-style catch in September.

His excellent defensive play was recognised when he finished among the finalists for the 2014 American League Gold Glove—ultimately won by Kansas City’s Salvador Perez.

On the offensive side, Avila’s contributions have caused more than a few groans in Motown in recent times. This is especially true for fans who still see him through the prism of his breakout season three years ago. In 2011, Avila emerged as Detroit’s everyday catcher, with his offensive numbers (.295, 18 HR, 82 RBI) convincing many people that he would be the Tigers’ everyday backstop for the next decade.

As the table below shows, Avila has been unable to reproduce anywhere near that level since. In fact, since the initial big dip in 2012, his productivity has dropped a little more each year.

Avila is not the offensive player he was in 2011, and he may never be again. However, what his bat does provide for the team is by no means terrible. His ability to walk and provide occasional pop helped him post an OPS of .686 this season—not far below the AL mean (.706).

Also, that bit of pop has often been of a timely nature. According to Matthew B. Mowery of The Oakland Press, three of Avila’s 11 home runs this year gave Detroit the lead and each came in the eighth inning or later—two in extra innings.

His left-handed bat also provides a good balance to Detroit’s lineup. Of the Tigers’ nine everyday players in 2014, only Avila and switch-hitter Victor Martinez hit from the left side. Detroit cannot afford to lose a lefty, especially since prospect Steven Moya may not be ready to face big league pitching next season.

So, with all things considered, where does Avila’s productivity place him among his peers? Perhaps the sabermetricians can decide for us.

As wins above replacement (WAR) combines both offensive and defensive data, it is the most comprehensive sabermetric stat for evaluating players. Avila’s WAR (2.1) ranked 13th out of 23 MLB catchers (minimum 400 at bats) in 2014, according to FanGraphs.

It is fair to conclude from this information that Avila is an average MLB player. So why should an ambitious, big-spending club like the Tigers settle for mediocrity?

Because picking up Avila’s option is only a one-year commitment, and the team will need him more in 2015 than it will afterward.

James McCann is the heir apparent at catcher, and he should be ready to usurp Avila’s position soon. The 24-year-old made his MLB debut in 2014 and has impressed at all levels in the Tigers system. He is close but not ready yet for everyday duties.

The optimal scenario for next year would be these two playing a catcher platoon. That would enable McCann to ease his way into the Detroit lineup and prove himself at this level.

At $5.4 million, Avila is not an expensive 12-month option for Detroit. There is also a chance he could recapture his 2011 form. You never know.

Call him mediocre if you like, but bringing Avila back is a pragmatic decision for the Tigers. With a shortage of lefty hitters and no ready successors, he is their best choice for starting backstop next Opening Day.

Worries about his three concussions last season have also been put to bed after a recent interview with Chris Iott of MLive.

Of course, Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers’ president, CEO and general manager, may choose to scour the trade market in search a new catcher. That is never out of the question.

If not, Avila will do—and be just fine too.


Unless otherwise stated, all stats in this article are courtesy of ESPN.com.

Follow me on Twitter: @jdunc1979

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MLB: 5 Bold Predictions for the Detroit Tigers’ 2012 Season

The Detroit Tigers are most likely to win the AL Central division with very little competition from the other division rivals—there is no arguing that. But what about the fine print? What could the Tigers do to shake things up? Will any of the lesser known players break out and become all-stars?

With no one expecting the loss of Victor Martinez to an ACL tear, truly anything could happen this year. I have made some bold predictions, and I am going to tell you why.

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Justin Verlander Throws No-Hitter: Will It Spark Detroit to Make a Division Run?

Around 6:45 p.m. EST, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander threw a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, facing the minimum 27 batters in leading his team to a 9-0 victory.

It is Verlander’s second no-hitter of his stellar six-year career and the seventh in franchise history. He threw the team’s most recent no-hitter in Detroit’s 4-0 victory over Milwaukee on June 12, 2007. 

The difference between that performance and this one is the fact that today’s performance was oh so close to being a perfect game. In fact, Verlander’s lone mistake came with one out in the eighth inning when he walked Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia on a 3-2 pitch after a back-and-forth 12-pitch at-bat.

With his performance today, he becomes the 28th pitcher in MLB history to throw multiple no-hitters.

Verlander improves to 3-3 on the season and lowers his ERA from 3.75 to 3.16. He is currently tied for fifth in the Majors with 55 strikeouts.

“I had really good control of my fastball,” said Verlander of his performance. “I was able to move the ball around, keep guys off balance and get some quick outs. Having been in this situation before, I was able to calm myself down a little bit better.”

The Tigers, who currently stand at 16-18, good for third place in the AL Central, were expected by many to contend for the division crown this season, yet have struggled through the first 34 games.

Who knows? This performance may be the spark the team needed to get them out of their early-season funk. Should Austin Jackson and Magglio Ordonez began to hit their stride, this lineup could look quite potent.

With a starting rotation that features three pitchers with an ERA under 4.00, it is reasonable to believe that the Tigers are on the verge of breaking out.

Detroit took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, scoring runs on a walk, a wild pitch and a groundout. Two home runs in the fourth inning pushed the lead to 6-0, effectively putting the game out of reach.

Verlander had some help from his teammates, as his defense came up with some stellar plays behind him.

In the fifth inning, after being hit on the forearm off a line drive from Edwin Encarnacion, Verlander picked the ball up and rifled a one-hopper to Miguel Cabrera, who handled it for the close out at first.

Cabrera outdid himself one inning later, jumping and catching a liner to end the sixth, and a great, back-handed scoop was made by shortstop Jhonny Peralta for the first out of the seventh.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft, Verlander has been part of a resurgence in Detroit that has seen the Tigers go from perennial losers to legitimate playoff contenders year in and year out.

Going into today’s game, Verlander’s career stats showed that he had a 85-55 record with a 3.80 ERA in 1112.1 innings pitched with a K/BB ratio of 1016/370. Only once has he finished a season with an ERA above 3.66.

In just his short career, Verlander, with his second no-hitter, has etched his name with some of the game’s in the history books.

“It’s really amazing when you consider that Greg Maddux never pitched a no-hitter,” said ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst Tim Kurkjian. “Throwing two (no-hitters) puts you on a very special list in baseball history.”

And this may just be the beginning of greater things for the Cy Young candidate.

“Keep in my how young he is,” said Kurkjian. “It’s relatively safe to say at his age (28) that’s he’ll get another no-hitter.”

Could this be a signal that baseball is becoming more dominated by pitchers after an era that saw incredible performances from hitters in recent years.

There were six no-hitters last season, two this season, and we nearly had another one by Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo early in the day. Gallardo lost his no-hiiter when he gave up a single to St. Louis third baseman Daniel Descalso to lead-off the eighth inning.

“I’ve been charting this for years now,” said Kurkjian. “Pitching has been making a comeback for the last five years now. Look at how many players and how many teams are really struggling. Pitching is really close to being all the way back.”

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Monday Morning Manager: My Weekly Take on the Detroit Tigers

Last Week: 3-3
This Week: at NYY (8/16-19); CLE (8/20-22)

So What Happened?

The Tigers began their new role as AL Central spoiler in grand style, taking two of three from the White Sox over the weekend, with both wins being of the come-from-behind variety.

There were also fireworks—and MMM doesn’t mean the kind spewed from the U.S. Cellular Field scoreboard after White Sox home runs.

Tigers starter Armando “Nobody’s Perfect” Galarraga got into a tussle with catchers Alex Avila and Gerald Laird in the dugout Sunday after the first inning.

The incident was captured by Chisox TV while Fox Sports Detroit chose to ignore it, which MMM finds troubling.

“Maybe this is the spark we need,” Laird said afterward about the confrontation, which threatened to turn physical and ugly before peacemakers rushed in.

All parties brushed it off as a “misunderstanding”, or some such rot. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, “I kind of liked it.”

The Tigers have won three of their last four after starting the week ominously with two losses to Tampa at Comerica Park.

Hero of the Week

MMM has two on its radar.

First, the runner up: Ryan Raburn.

As much as it pains MMM to type this, Raburn is…Raburn is….he’s…ho….ho…HOT.


Raburn is on a bit of a tear, slugging home runs and slapping hits and driving in runs.

He’s 8-for-17 with three homers and four RBI in his last four games. His BA is “up to” .238.

But for all that prowess, MMM is going with lefty reliever Phil Coke as its weekly hero.

Coke had to play the part of Jose Valverde in Chicago, recording the final out in both the Tigers’ wins.

Valverde is nursing a sore abdomen.

Coke entered Saturday’s game in the eighth inning, and was the pitcher of record as Avila slammed a stunning two-run homer in the ninth to grab the win.

On Sunday, Coke was set to close the game again, warming up with the Tigers protecting a 9-8 lead in the ninth. As it turned out, the Tigers scored four times, negating a save situation. But Coke pitched the ninth anyway, and after a slow start (a leadoff walk followed by a 3-1 count to the next hitter), he shut the Pale Hose down.

Maybe in some people’s eyes, what Coke did wasn’t as impressive as Raburn’s hot streak. But with your All-Star closer out unexpectedly, it’s nice to be able to turn to Coke, who’s been outstanding this season in his usual role as utility man in the bullpen.

Goat of the Week

First, Jim Leyland nearly landed here.

His decision to pull Johnny Damon for defensive purposes almost came back to haunt him Sunday. Damon delivered a clutch two-out, two-run triple in the eighth inning, nudging the Tigers ahead 8-7. Then he was lifted for Don Kelly.

In the top of the ninth, with the White Sox within 9-8 and the bases loaded, Damon sat helpless on the bench while the light-hitting Kelly batted in his place.

But Kelly stroked a two-run single, giving the Tigers some breathing room.

MMM could almost hear the Tigers fan base screaming at the TV when Kelly came to the plate. Why you’d take a guy with over 2,500 hits out of the game in a slugfest is beyond MMM.

But the goat is Brennan Boesch, who was 0-for-Chicago and who is simply hurting the team right now. MMM feels for the kid, but if Boesch was named Raburn or Kelly or Inge he’d be getting blown up by the fan base for his God awfulness.

Boesch is 13-for-107 after the All-Star break, which just might be one of the worst stretches of 100+ at-bats ever seen from a Tigers player since Ray Oyler circa 1968.

Yet he plays everyday because Leyland has no one else.


Upcoming: Yankees and Indians

MMM thinks the four days the Tigers will spend in the Big Apple this week will either be pleasantly surprising or a freaking nightmare—no in between.

The Yankees look strong in their bid to repeat as World Champs. They are holding off a good Tampa Rays team. They are as talented and as deep as ever. And they play very well at home.

This has four-game sweep written all over it; MMM gets that.

But baseball is a funny game, and it will be interesting to see if Sunday’s dugout skirmish has any effect on the Tigers’ countenance, and whether that translates to success on the diamond.

As for the Indians, what can you say?

The Tribe are who started the Tigers’ freefall, sweeping four games from the Bengals in Cleveland coming out of the break. But they’re still a bad team, made up of AAAA players. Kind of like the Tigers!

The Tigers usually beat the Indians at Detroit; it’s one of the few scenarios where the Tigers are successful within their own division.

BTW, the Tigers optioned 1B-OF-DH Jeff Frazier to Toledo and recalled lefty reliever Daniel Schlereth.

That’s all for MMM this week. See you next Monday!

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