Tag: Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Tigers 2B

In an effort to lower their payroll heading into 2017, the Detroit Tigers are reportedly willing to trade second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Continue for updates.

Kinsler Could Be on the Move, LA a Possibility

Sunday, Jan. 15 

“The Tigers are a willing trade partner because they’re trying to get rid of payroll. Kinsler is still a top player, and he only has two years remaining on his deal,” a major league executive told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were mentioned as a potential suitor if they are unable to land Minnesota Twins star Brian Dozier.

Kinsler, 34, hit .288/.348/.484 with 28 home runs and 83 RBI last season. It was his first 20-homer year since 2011, and he posted 5.8 wins above replacement, the second-best number of his career, per FanGraphs. He also won his first Gold Glove at second base.

Kinsler credited his experience for his improvements as a fielder, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press

Obviously being a veteran and playing a lot of years, a lot of repetition, a lot of practice, obviously being more and more comfortable with the game, that all plays into it. It’s really about understanding yourself and what plays you expect yourself to make and how to get certain balls and how to make it easier on yourself and all of that stuff starts to happen quicker and quicker the older you get. That’s my experience and I don’t really plan on slowing down.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported the Dodgers and Tigers initially discussed a Kinsler move in November. Kinsler has a partial no-trade clause, which includes Los Angeles, so he would have to approve any trade. His agent, Jay Franklin, told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that Kinsler would not approve a trade to any team on his no-trade list without an extension. 

“His ultimate goal is no different than when he went from the Rangers to the Tigers. He wants to win. If anyone knows Ian Kinsler, he has always been that type of guy,” Franklin said.

Per Spotrac, Kinsler is scheduled to make $11 million in 2017, and the Tigers hold a club option of $10 million for 2018—a paltry sum for someone with his history of production. It’s possible Kinsler doubles his salary on a per-year basis if he signs an extension, though it’s unlikely any team will want to carry a deal as he heads into his late 30s.

The best-case scenario for Kinsler might be a trade with a team that’s willing to tack on a couple of years to his deal now before the age curve kicks in. 


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Top Potential Ian Kinsler Suitors, Trade Packages

The hot-stove rumor mill has made it clear that the Detroit Tigers have all their star players on the table. Miguel Cabrera. Justin Verlander. J.D. and Victor Martinez.

And then there’s arguably their most attractive trade chip: Ian Kinsler.

Kinsler, 34, has racked up more wins above replacement over the last three seasons than every second baseman except Jose Altuve. And counting his 2018 option, he’s owed just $21 million over the next two seasons.

There is one string attached to Kinsler’s trade value. As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported, he has a 10-team no-trade clause that he wouldn’t waive unless his new team agreed to extend him.

“If one of the 10 teams happens to call and wants to talk about it, we’re open to talking about it,” said his agent, Jay Franklin. “(But) they’re going to have to extend him for us to waive the no-trade.”

Further complicating matters is how, as Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors noted, there’s a “relative dearth of demand” for second basemen right now. Second base was one of the most star-studded positions in the majors in 2016, after all.

However, none of this can stop the more imaginative among us from speculating about possible suitors and trade packages for Kinsler. So let’s get to it.


Los Angeles Dodgers

You knew this was coming, for you also saw that one report from Jon Morosi of MLB Network: 

After posting an .823 OPS with 28 homers and playing Gold Glove defense in 2016, Kinsler would be a considerable upgrade for a second base spot in Los Angeles that produced just a .723 OPS without great defense. With Chase Utley and Howie Kendrick out of the picture, said position is also wide-open.

We don’t have to speculate too hard about what the Tigers would take in a trade. Morosi claims they have their eye on a particular Dodgers prospect:

Cody Bellinger is just the kind of blue-chipper the Tigers need to be targeting as they seek to satisfy general manager Al Avila’s vision (via MLB.com’s Jason Beck) for a “younger” and “leaner” team. 

Bellinger put himself on the map with an .873 OPS and 30 homers at High-A in 2015, and he kept it up with an .872 OPS and 26 homers at Double-A and Triple-A in 2016. Baseball America ranked him as the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect midway through 2016 and as the No. 24 prospect overall.

Per numbers crunched by Kevin Creagh and Steve DiMiceli at The Point of Pittsburgh, that kind of ranking equates to $62 million in surplus value, defined as the “amount of value that a team places on that asset when discussing him in potential trades.”

That comes close to matching up with Kinsler’s value. In light of his strong track record and cheap contract, Rob Rogacki of SB Nation’s Bless You Boys put the “conservative” estimate for Kinsler’s surplus value at $50 million. A straight-up Kinsler-for-Bellinger swap may be a fair enough deal.

But since the Dodgers are one of the 10 teams on Kinsler’s no-trade list, a trade between the two sides would more likely involve Kinsler and cash going to Los Angeles to offset any difference in surplus value and help pay for his new extension.

Or, the Tigers could do business with the…


Pittsburgh Pirates

I’m not aware of any rumors linking the Pirates to Kinsler, but Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com has the right idea in seeing them as a suitor. Kinsler would provide an upgrade at second base and free up Josh Harrison to go back to a super-utility role.

Several of the Pirates’ best young players would probably be untouchable in trade talks. Their lack of starting pitching depth behooves them to hold on to Tyler Glasnow. Andrew McCutchen’s fading star power puts them in the same boat with Austin Meadows. Josh Bell is already penciled in as their everyday first baseman.

Instead, the Pirates and Tigers would have to center a deal around Kevin Newman.

Newman’s a 23-year-old infielder who hit .320 across Single-A and Double-A in 2016. And while he’s a shortstop now, the popular wisdom appears to be that he’s ticketed for a job at second base.

The one problem: Newman landed at No. 51 in Baseball America‘s midseason top 100. That equates to $22.4 million in prospect value. Give him the benefit of the doubt and put him in the top 50, and it only improves to $38.2 million. Still not enough for Kinsler.

Ke’Bryan Hayes would do the trick of evening things out. He landed at No. 72 for Baseball America, giving him $22.4 million in prospect value. But since he’s a 19-year-old third baseman who hasn’t quite put it together yet, he also strikes a balance between an expendable piece for Pittsburgh and an upside play for Detroit.

Or, the Tigers could set their sights on a deal with the…


Atlanta Braves

The Braves have been linked to big-name starting pitchers this winter, most notably Chris Sale. That could just be them throwing a bone to fans who have had to abide two straight terrible seasons.

Or, they could be serious about getting better in 2017 and beyond.

If so, second base would be another good position to upgrade. Jace Peterson, who hit .254 with a .350 on-base percentage in 2016, isn’t bad. But without standout power or defense, he’s not great, either.

Even if Dansby Swanson, now Atlanta’s everyday shortstop, is taken off the table, the Braves still have prospects galore. But there’s one in particular who would stand out to the Tigers in trade talks: Ozzie Albies.

Albies is still only 19, but he owns a .310 average in a minor league career that’s already advanced as far as Triple-A. And while the Braves have him on a path to play second base, MLB.com posits he’s an above-average defensive shortstop.

Albies showed up at No. 17 in Baseball America‘s midseason top 100. That gives him the same prospect value as Bellinger, so a straight-up Kinsler-for-Albies swap could do the trick. If not, the balance could be evened by Detroit sending some money to Atlanta.

Since the Braves may indeed be bluffing about their desire to win now, deals with the Pirates and the Dodgers are more likely. The Dodgers, in particular, loom as the team that needs Kinsler the most and also as one of the best trading partners Detroit could ask for.

However, there could also be some mystery teams out there…


Mystery Teams

The Los Angeles Angels would no doubt love to have Kinsler to fill their black hole at second base. Cliff Pennington as a starting second baseman is…well, not ideal.

The absence of top-100 prospects in the Angels’ decrepit farm system means they’re incapable of matching the quality of other trade packages. But if they were to start a deal with toolsy outfielder Jahmai Jones and pile on, they might offer the Tigers too much quantity to refuse.

The Kansas City Royals are another American League team that needs a second baseman. Of course, there are real barriers between them and Kinsler. They and the Tigers share a division, and adding him doesn’t mesh with their desire to cut payrollRustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star has more on that.

Still, never say never. The Royals could make shortstop Raul A. MondesiBaseball America‘s No. 55 midseason prospect, the centerpiece of an offer and go from there.

The Philadelphia Phillies could also be lying in the weeds. Cesar Hernandez is a good second baseman, but not a franchise cornerstone. The Phillies may want to do better with the end of their rebuild nearing.

A deal between the Phillies and Tigers could involve Hernandez going to Detroit alongside one of Philly’s better prospects. Outfielder Nick Williams, who landed at No. 40 for Baseball America, would work.

There could be other mystery teams out there that are too mysterious to show up on radar. Perhaps Kinsler will end up with a team we haven’t named.

Or, he could end up with one of his most obvious suitors. Let’s go with that until we learn of his fate in real life.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. Payroll and contract info courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Analyzing Buzz on Andrew McCutchen, Ian Kinsler and More

Free agency gets all the headlines this time of year in Major League Baseball, but a dreadful crop of talent for all 30 teams to choose from should boost interest and activity in the trade market over the winter. 

The end of November is often the calm before the storm, as MLB players and executives are making their final preparations for the winter meetings that will begin on Dec. 4. 

That is the key date to focus on for when a deluge of trades is likely to happen. Teams already have a strong idea of what their payroll will be for 2017 and how much they have to spend, though trades are more complex because they require teams to give up assets and money in order to improve. 

Given what the trade market could bring this hot-stove season, here are the hottest rumors two weeks away from the winter meetings. 


McCutchen’s Market

Coming off the worst season of his career, Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen finds himself at a crossroads. He’s only 30 years old and finished in the top five of National League MVP voting each year from 2012-15, so there is reason to be optimistic about a turnaround next season.

Other teams are aware of this, which is why they have called the Pirates about McCutchen. 

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported the Seattle Mariners inquired about McCutchen earlier this offseason, but whatever talks the two sides had did not advance. 

The Pirates may not be able to wait around for McCutchen to figure things out in 2017. His salary will be $14 million, per Spotrac, which is a manageable figure for most teams. 

Per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Pirates’ payroll has exceeded $90 million the previous two seasons and their obligations for next season when factoring in estimated arbitration salaries. They also have to supplement the roster with free agents. 

The Pirates are a small-market team, so having one player eating up a significant portion of the payroll severely limits what they are capable of adding around him. They also have a nearly ready center field prospect in Austin Meadows, who ended this season in Triple-A. 

ESPN.com’s Keith Law highlighted another reason it could be enticing for the Pirates to move McCutchen now:

Trading McCutchen, as painful as it might be, could be a big retooling move for the Pirates, who still have a strong farm system and could use Cutch to keep the team competitive without having to go through a few losing seasons first. There should be 20 clubs lined up to make offers, as anyone could take him and put him in left field, where I expect his defense to be plus and his offense, at pre-2016 levels, to still make him an above-average or better regular.

McCutchen hit .256/.336/.430 with a career-high 143 strikeouts in 598 at-bats. His defense fell off a cliff, with FanGraphs’ defensive runs saved noting he cost the Pirates 28 runs in center field. 

There is an injury explanation for McCutchen’s offensive performance. He had a right thumb issue that flared up in May and June, and any issue with the hand is going to impact bat speed and power. 

The defensive fall is more worrisome since it could be an indication McCutchen is losing a step now that he’s reached 30. 

If the thumb issue is a problem in the rearview mirror, McCutchen’s offense should at least approach his 2012-15 levels and make his $14 million salary a relative bargain. He’s exponentially more valuable if he can play center, as opposed to moving to a corner, but the bat will play anywhere. 

The Pirates certainly don’t want to trade McCutchen because of how important he’s been to the franchise, but they also can’t afford to hang onto him one year too long when his market could completely collapse if he has another down season. 

The Mariners may be the most recent team linked to McCutchen, but when the winter meetings begin, any team that might think it needs an outfielder should be calling the Pirates to see how serious they are about engaging in trade talks. 


The Kinsler Complication

The Detroit Tigers could be at the epicenter of trade discussions this offseason. General manager Al Avila said in October the team has been operating “way above its means for some time,” per MLB.com’s Jason Beck

Owner Mike Ilitch has been willing to spend freely for the last five years in hopes of bringing Detroit a World Series title, but that strategy has limitations. The Tigers are now saddled with a lot of large multiyear contracts for players well into their 30s. 

Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander are still terrific players. However, they are almost impossible to move because they will make a combined $172 million through 2019, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, and Cabrera is signed through 2023 (excluding option years), when he will be 40 years old. 

Ian Kinsler becomes one of the most valuable trade chips for the Tigers because he’s still a star player who is signed to a modest deal that pays him $11 million in 2017 with a $10 million team option for 2018, per Spotrac

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers have had talks regarding Kinsler. 

Things would not be as simple as merely agreeing on pieces being moved if the two sides were to strike a deal.

Rosenthal noted Kinsler has a limited no-trade clause with 10 teams on the list, including the Dodgers. Kinsler’s agent, Jay Franklin, told Rosenthal his client would be open to agreeing to a deal under one condition.

“If one of the 10 teams happens to call and wants to talk about it, we’re open to talking about it,” Franklin said. “(But) they’re going to have to extend him for us to waive the no-trade.”

The problem with extending Kinsler is he will turn 35 in June. He’s coming off a strong 2016 in which he hit .288/.348/.484 with 28 homers and won his first Gold Glove. 

As a result of that success, Kinsler could and should be seeking a multiyear extension. But how many more years can he realistically be expected to have anywhere near that kind of production?

The Dodgers would be a perfect fit because they need a second baseman with Chase Utley being a free agent, and they certainly have the money to do whatever they want. Yet this front office, led by Andrew Friedman, let Zack Greinke walk last winter after he had a 1.66 ERA in 2015. 


Wacha’s Last Stand

When Michael Wacha burst onto the scene in 2013, the natural assumption was he would be the St. Louis Cardinals’ No. 2 starter and heir apparent to Adam Wainwright as the ace. 

Three years later, Wacha’s career has been a disappointment due to a series of injuries that have hindered his performance. 

Perhaps as an indication the Cardinals don’t want to wait around for Wacha to regain his 2013 form, Rosenthal reported the team has “floated” his name around in trade discussions. 

However, Rosenthal added “it’s unlikely they would get much for a pitcher who has a history of shoulder trouble.”

Last year was rock-bottom for Wacha. He had a 5.09 ERA with 159 hits allowed in 138 innings over 27 appearances (24 starts). He missed one month from Aug. 8 through Sept. 14 with a shoulder issue. 

Per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch, Wacha and the Cardinals doctors worked together to develop a new rehab strategy to get him healthy. The results didn’t show upon his return, as he allowed 13 earned runs in 6.2 innings. 

One advantage Wacha has for any team potentially interested is age. He’s only 25 years old and under team control through 2019. His struggles last season will help keep his arbitration salary down next season, with Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors estimating he will make $3.2 million. 

Wacha is just one year removed from making 30 starts with a 3.38 ERA and posting a career-high 2.3 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs.

He may never be the pitcher who looked like an ace and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his first playoff start in 2013, but a low-cost starting pitcher is the most valuable commodity in baseball. 

The Cardinals are smart to dangle Wacha out there to see if any market develops. If it does, they can deal him without hesitation. If it doesn’t, they will do everything in their power to make sure he starts 30 games once again.

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Ian Kinsler Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation on Tigers 2B

If the Detroit Tigers start to tear down their aging roster and build for the future, second baseman Ian Kinsler will be an attractive piece for an opposing team.

Continue for updates. 

Dodgers Look at Kinsler

Thursday, Nov. 10

Per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Los Angeles Dodgers believe Kinsler is a potential fit for their roster but did not have any substantial talks with the Tigers during the general manager meetings this past week. 

The Dodgers do have an opening at second base with Chase Utley entering free agency this offseason and Howie Kendrick being shopped as a potential trade candidate, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. 

Tigers general manager Al Avila previously said the team would likely be taking a different approach this offseason by trying to add more young talent and create more financial flexibility, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press:

I can’t call it a rebuild, because we haven’t really broken anything down. I’m not comfortable with the word ‘rebuild.’ I don’t think that’s the right term. I’ve read ‘retool,’ but I don’t know if that’s the right term. I don’t know if there’s a term for what I want to do here. I really don’t. If you guys can come up with a slogan, let me know, and we’ll go with it.

Per Evan Woodbery of MLive.com, Avila said Tuesday the Tigers were willing to hear offers for players like Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera but were not actively shopping them. 

The Tigers do have an aging and expensive nucleus heading into 2017. Cabrera, Verlander, Kinsler, Victor Martinez, Anibal Sanchez and Jordan Zimmermann are all 30 or older. 

Per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Tigers currently have $179 million in payroll obligations for 2017 before factoring in players who are eligible for arbitration.

Kinsler has an affordable $11 million salary with a team option for 2018 at $10 million, per Spotrac. He did have a strong 2016 season with an .831 OPS, but at 34 years old, it’s fair to wonder how many more peak years he has left. 

Because Kinsler’s contract falls closer to team-friendly territory than the longer-term deals for Cabrera or Verlander, it would make sense for the Tigers to dangle him in a deal to see if it brings back any significant bites from a team. 


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Will Ian Kinsler’s Anger over Rangers Trade Fuel Him into Big 2014 with Tigers?

I’ve been referring to the blockbuster that the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers pulled off in November as “the Prince Fielder trade.” Beyond having a nice ring to it, it’s struck me as appropriate to name the deal after its principal component.

But right now, it’s hard to ignore that Ian Kinsler was also a pretty important part of the deal. And come the end of 2014, it’s possible he’ll have done enough to make me start calling it “the Ian Kinsler trade.”

If you haven’t caught wind of the day’s drama, Robert Sanchez of ESPN the Magazine has a piece out on Kinsler’s thoughts on the deal, and the big takeaway is that the veteran second baseman is not too happy and, well, kind of a jerk about it.

The highlights include:

  • Kinsler calling Rangers general manager Jon Daniels a “sleazeball.”
  • Kinsler complaining that he felt “bogged down” by a new leadership role in 2013.
  • Kinsler wishing an 0-162 record on the Rangers in 2014. 

[For those interested, Kinsler also spoke of Nolan Ryan as one might speak of Tywin Lannister. Let’s just say they apparently produce gold the same way.]

If the drama aspect of the story interests you, B/R’s Mike Chiari has you covered. Here and now, however, we’re going to skip ahead to some of Kinsler’s less sensational comments that concern how motivated he is to prove himself.

You can find those in the latter half of Sanchez’s article, including the following summarizing remark:

I haven’t been this excited about baseball in years. I’ve got a stomach-butterfly feeling…I want to prove to myself that these last two years are not the direction I’m going. Plus, I want to prove to everybody who thinks it is that I’m still an elite ballplayer.

For the record, FanGraphs says Kinsler was worth 3.0 WAR in 2012 and 2.5 WAR in 2013. This after being worth an average of 5.0 WAR between 2008 and 2011.

Now, sure, every player who’s ever been traded has been motivated in much the same way. The “I’ll show them!” instinct is strong in all athletes.

What makes Kinsler’s case special, though, is that he actually has some specific ideas for how he’s going to get back to being a superstar. These specific ideas also happen to be the right ideas.

Kinsler’s aware that it won’t be easy for him to rebound as an offensive force after being roughly average over the last two years (101 OPS+). He is moving from Globe Life Park in Arlington to Comerica Park, after all. That’s a switch from an awesome offensive environment to a less-awesome offensive environment that, specifically, will make it hard for Kinsler to get back to being a top-notch power hitter.

But as Kinsler said…

I don’t want to go 30/30. That’s not ideal in that ballpark. I want to be more of a gap-to-gap hitter. I’d rather have 10 triples, 40 doubles and 30 bags and score over 100 runs. If I can get on base and steal and put myself in scoring position for great hitters behind me, that’s the goal.

It’s Kinsler’s desire to become more of a “gap-to-gap hitter” that’s important here. Given the circumstances, he’s due for that sort of transformation.

FanGraphs has Kinsler’s career fly-ball rate at 44.8 percent. He’s traditionally been a fly-ball hitter. And while that was fine when he was still capable of putting a charge into the ball, this home run and fly-ball data from BaseballHeatMaps.com says Kinsler’s ability to do that is dwindling:

Trends don’t get more alarming than that, and what this trend suggests is clear: the fewer fly balls, the better.

But here’s the good news: That’s a path Kinsler’s already on.

The 39.4 FB% Kinsler posted in 2013 was the lowest of his career. Even better is that it came paired with a 23.7 line-drive percentage that nearly matched his career-best rate of 24.2 from 2008.

Even then, however, Kinsler wasn’t distributing his line drives as evenly as he did in 2013:

Kinsler was much better about spraying line drives all over the field last season. And while it’s not a big gap, maybe that had a hand in him posting a better overall BABIP on line drives.

Further, his spray chart from Brooks Baseball shows a decent number of line drives into the gaps:

We can look at this as a seed for the type of hitter Kinsler has his eye on becoming with the Tigers, which is encouraging. He doesn’t have a complete reinvention process ahead of him.

One guy whom Kinsler can learn from is Torii Hunter, with whom Kinsler just so happens to be very excited to play.

“I can’t wait to pick that dude’s brain,” said Kinsler. “His style is very similar to mine: very aggressive, takes a lot of chances — educated, calculated chances.” 

Hunter has undergone a transition very much like the one Kinsler’s looking to make. After spending the bulk of his career as a power hitter, he’s spent the last two years as more of a line-drive hitter with gap power. If anybody can give Kinsler pointers on the process, it’s Hunter.

I’m not sure about Kinsler’s idea that he can get back to being a 30-steal guy again. But if he makes good on his mission to alter his hitting style, he’ll settle into a groove in which he’s inflating his on-base percentage with BABIP and rescuing his dwindling power with a steady diet of doubles and triples. And considering the relative offensive weakness of his position, a groove like that would absolutely make him a dangerous offensive force once again.

However, Kinsler’s not content to stop there. He wants to improve on defense as well, and he has Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to thank for that as well.

“He’s an all-around player. He’s not known for his outstanding range, but we think he’s a real steady second baseman,” Dombrowski told reporters at one point, according to Sanchez.

If we look at UZR’s measure of Kinsler’s range over the last five seasons, we’ll see that part is true:

Kinsler was known for his range on defense. But Dombrowski‘s right. These days, Kinsler’s not known for his range on defense.

Kinsler did, however, go about getting his range back the right way this offseason. He told Sanchez he’s lost 15 pounds. Ideally, being lighter will mean being quicker.

“I want to prove Dombrowski wrong,” said Kinsler. “I want to surprise you. I’m going to impress you with my range.”

And you know what? Maybe he will. Subtract 15 pounds from his listed weight of 200 pounds, and you’re pretty close to the 175 pounds Kinsler weighed when he was still a prospect. Provided he keeps the weight off, improved swiftness on his feet in the field is possible.

Between what Kinsler might do on offense and what he might do on defense, you are left with the sense that he can be better than expected in 2014. If you take Steamer’s word for it, that means he can be better than a 3.7-WAR player. 

And that’s an interesting thought, as that projected WAR is already better than the 3.4 WAR Steamer is projecting for Fielder. If all goes well, Kinsler’s 2014 production is going to completely overshadow that of his blockbuster counterpart.

Look past all the jerky things Kinsler had to say and all you’re looking at is a guy who’s determined to make sure that the Tigers got the better end of “the Prince Fielder trade.” And since he knows how to go about doing that and indeed can go about doing that, we might just be calling it “the Ian Kinsler trade” after 2014.


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Ian Kinsler Hopes Rangers Go Winless, Texas Players React

Ian Kinsler will enjoy a new start with the Detroit Tigers this season, but not before taking some parting shots at his old team. 

According to ESPN The Magazine’s Robert Sanchez, Kinsler had some interesting things to say regarding the Texas Rangers, including expressing a desire for them to finish winless in 2014.

“I hope they go 0-162,” Kinsler said. “I got friends, and I love my friends, but I hope they lose their (expletive).”

After eight productive seasons in Texas in which Kinsler earned three All-Star nods, the second baseman was dealt to the Tigers in exchange for first baseman Prince Fielder this offseason.

Kinsler backed off the statements later, according to Tom Gage of the Detroit News:

#Tigers Kinsler calls ESPN the Magazine piece about him “a story written for drama” and “a little out of context”

But, the damage was already done.

Apparently there were some hard feelings, although they aren’t necessarily shared by his former teammates.

Per Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers wishes Kinsler well, but intends to ensure that his desire doesn’t come to fruition.

I don’t think he’s going to get what he wants. I have all the respect in the world for Ian. He’s taught me a lot, but he’s now with the Detroit Tigers. I wish him luck and I wish luck for everybody. I think we’ll do our talking on the field. We’ll see what happens between the lines.

Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison echoed those sentiments and claimed that friendships and past relationships don’t matter in the heat of battle.

No matter how good a friend you are, once you step in between the lines, all that goes away. I’m trying to get you out, no matter who you are. He’s going to try to hit home runs off us just as much as anybody would. If you step on the mound, you’re going to try to get your mom out. It doesn’t matter who’s in there.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times provides a statement from Kinsler’s former teammate, Josh Hamilton:

Angels OF Josh Hamilton on Kinsler comments: “At least I won’t be the only villain in Texas anymore.”

Hamilton later posted on his Twitter account regarding Kinsler’s comments:

Not any fun being in the Texas doghouse, is it @IKinsler3?

Kinsler’s issues with the Rangers organization, however, appear to be focused on the front office more so than his former teammates.

Kinsler called out Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, according to Sanchez, and blamed him for the departure of former Rangers president Nolan Ryan.

Daniels is a sleazeball. He got in good with the owners and straight pushed Ryan out. He thought all the things he should get credit for, Ryan got credit for. It’s just ego. Once we went to the World Series, everybody’s ego got huge, except for Nolan’s.

Not surprisingly, Daniels was unwilling to take the bait, per Durrett.

It’s not worth defending. I’m really proud of the group we’ve got here, the decisions we’ve made, the people we have in place and what we’re building. Based on how he feels, the trade is probably a good thing for all parties involved. It’s a fresh start for him and a fresh start for Prince and us and Detroit, so we’ll move on. Name calling and stuff like that, what are you going to do about that? Just take it in stride and move on.

The 31-year-old Kinsler is seemingly making new enemies in Texas, but he rubbed some people the wrong way during his tenure with the Rangers as well. That is evidenced by a tweet courtesy of  MLB.com’s Richard Justice:

Weird to hear Ian Kinsler torch Rangers GM Jon Daniels. I thought he only despised reporters. Guess he has a list.

Now that Kinsler’s feelings are out in the open, it should make for a very interesting 2014 season. The Tigers and Rangers figure to be among the top contenders for the American League pennant along with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

Tigers vs. Rangers hasn’t exactly been a marquee rivalry in Major League Baseball, but perhaps that will change with Kinsler leading the charge.

Although Kinsler has been one of baseball’s best second basemen for the past several years, he hasn’t always gotten his due. Maybe he believes the Rangers bear some of the responsibility for that.

He isn’t likely to receive a very warm reaction when he makes his return to the Globe Life Park in Arlington on June 24, but he can certainly silence his critics if he lets his play do the talking.


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Detroit Tigers: Ian Kinsler 2B for Now, but Will He Switch Positions Soon?

Ernie Banks. Pete Rose. Rod Carew. Robin Yount. Paul Molitor.

The common thread may seem obvious—they’re all Hall of Famers (with the exception of Rose, of course). But there’s something else that ties them together, and it’s something that may end up being very relevant to your Detroit Tigers.

Each of them, from Banks to Molitor, started as a middle infielder. And each of them would abandon that position and move to other places on the diamond and further their Hall-worthy careers.

What does this have to do with the Tigers? Let’s just say that you might not want to get too comfortable with the idea of a double-play combination of shortstop Jose Iglesias and second baseman Ian Kinsler, the latter acquired last week from the Texas Rangers for Prince Fielder.

Kinsler is 31 years old. Already there are signs that age could be rearing its head with Kinsler, at least in the form of stolen base output.

Age and middle infielders are usually not a good mix, Omar Vizquel notwithstanding.

The Tigers may have—emphasis on “may have”—traded for Kinsler with the idea that he could move elsewhere, such as the outfield, or first base.

Some history, first.

Banks broke into the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs in 1953 as a shortstop. By 1962, his tenth season, the Cubs had moved the 31-year-old Banks to first base, where he pretty much played the rest of his career (including past his 40th birthday). Banks played 1,259 games at 1B, and 1,125 at SS.

Rose was a rookie in 1963, age 22. He debuted as a second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds. By 1967, at age 26, the Reds shifted Rose to the outfield. He would spend the next 10-12 years moving all around the diamond, eventually settling at first base. Rose played 24 years, but only 628 games at 2B, his so-called “natural” position.

Carew broke in with the Minnesota Twins as a 21-year-old second baseman in 1967. In 1976, at age 30, Carew was playing first base, and he never looked back.

Yount was an 18-year-old rookie with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1974, arriving on the scene as a shortstop. But by 1985, before his 30th birthday, the Brewers moved Yount to the outfield.

Molitor was 21 years old when he broke into the bigs with the Brewers as a second baseman in 1978, functioning as Yount’s double-play partner. A mere three years later, the Brewers moved Molitor—first to the outfield, then in 1982 to third base, which would be his position until 1990, when Molitor became mostly a designated hitter for the last nine years of his illustrious career.

It would be a big shock to me if the Tigers see Kinsler as their everyday second baseman much beyond 2016. By that time, Kinsler would be 34 years old.

Ah, but what about the greatest DP combo in history, you might ask—our own Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker?

It’s more than fair to bring them up.

Tram and Lou never budged from their original positions, though the former did spend a handful of games in the outfield, at second base and at third base. Trammell played until age 38. Whitaker never played anything other than second base in a career that spanned from 1977 to 1995 (also age 38).

But let’s face it: Trammell and Whitaker are anything but the norm—in so many different ways.

The good news is that, as we have seen, switching positions for the aforementioned Hall of Famers took nothing away from their offense. And their move from the middle infield came relatively early in their respective careers—all within the first 10 years.

Kinsler is entering his ninth season, and he’s played all but two innings in his defensive career at second base (the other two innings were at third base, in 2012)—over 1,000 games as a second baseman.

He’s ripe for a position change.

It could be that Dave Dombrowski traded for Kinsler with an eye toward having Kinsler wear another type of glove. It could be that second base may be the territory of Hernan Perez before long. Kinsler may find himself at first base, and Miguel Cabrera could be a full-time DH.

Or Kinsler could move to the outfield, a la Yount.

Yes, acquiring Kinsler was a short-term move as the Tigers are in a “win now” mode. But while Kinsler may be an oldish second baseman, the Tigers could flip him into a youngish outfielder or first baseman.

Stay tuned.


Note: All stats referenced in this article are from www.retrosheet.org and www.baseball-reference.com

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Texas Rangers’ Ian Kinsler Hits Controversial Inside-the-Park Home Run

Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale technically surrendered four home runs on Friday night, although the one that came off of Ian Kinsler‘s bat only landed about halfway between home plate and the bleachers.

Judge his third-inning, inside-the-park blast for yourself:

Even for a great baserunner like Kinsler, line drives hit down the left-field line don’t typically result in anything more than doubles. Chicago’s Dayan Viciedo had ample time to get in front of the ball.

Unfortunately for the home team, Kinsler’s hit rolled underneath the wall and abruptly stopped. Viciedo dropped to his knees, exchanged a “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me” glance with the umpires and began searching. The Texas Rangers second baseman continued sprinting, so by the time Viciedo recovered the ball, he had to rush his throw to the plate, and Kinsler scored standing up as it skipped offline.

Tater Trot Tracker shares the unofficial time of his mad dash:

Good fortune and sheer hustle can be a lethal combination. In this scenario, those factors culminated in Kinsler’s 11th bomb of the season and second since the All-Star break.

However, not everybody was impressed by the feat:

U.S. Cellular Field has been open for more than two decades, but apparently, nothing like this has ever transpired there. Otherwise, the ballpark’s ground rules would’ve had a passage specifying how the umps should judge the play.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura immediately emerged from the dugout, imploring third base umpire Greg Gibson to use his common sense. The tactic didn’t work, as Gibson eventually ejected him.

It’s been that kind of year for Ventura’s players, who buried themselves deeper in the AL Central cellar with their 75th defeat of the 2013 season.

Texas won comfortably, 11-5, but going forward, expect such plays to be ruled dead once the ball becomes trapped. Nobody wants a close game to be affected by this sort of confusion.


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MLB: Selecting the AL West’s Quarter-Pole All-Star Team

As the 2013 Major League Baseball season race reaches the quarter pole, it becomes time to take stock of where teams and players are in terms of production. 

In the American League West, the Texas Rangers have taken their customary position of being the front runner, largely due to tremendous pitching and consistent power in the lineup. The A’s and Mariners have both been largely inconsistent, with the A’s scuffling back to .500 since starting the year 12-4. 

However, the biggest story has been the lack of success in Anaheim as the Los Angeles Angels are not fighting for an expected spot at the top, but trying to keep clear of division newcomers the Houston Astros. In the basement.

There have been solid performances from individuals on all five teams. But sometimes, overlapping positions keep deserving players from receiving deserved accolades. This will likely be no exception. 

So instead of lamenting who is not, we shall spotlight who is. Starting with catcher and ending a pitching rotation (relievers included), here is the AL West’s Quarter-Pole All-Star Team.

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Texas Rangers: Why Elvis Andrus Should Be Leading Off, Not Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler has hit leadoff for the Texas Rangers during the most successful run in team history, but the time has come for Elvis Andrus to ascend to the top of the order.

Andrus is having a breakout season for the Rangers. In the past, he had been a slick fielding shortstop with a decent bat. But this year, he has transformed into one of the top hitting shortstops in baseball.

He’s hitting for a .296 average, but even more importantly, he has a .372 on base percentage—12th best in the American League.

This means he manages to get on base 37 percent of the time. An outstanding rate for a middle of the order hitter let alone a line drive hitting shortstop like Andrus.

The great OBP rate can be attributed to his excellent eye at the plate.

He has the ability to distinguish between balls and strikes with the best of hitters, and he has the discipline to lay off of tempting breaking balls and fastballs just off the strike zone.

Another factor in his outstanding OBP rate is his ability to drive the ball to all fields, which is highlighted by his impressive ability to work the ball the other way.

Kinsler, on the other hand, is a power hitter masquerading in a second baseman’s body.

Every time he comes up to the plate, Kinsler is looking to get the most out of his at bat, swinging with a powerful uppercut that is rarely seen from a leadoff hitter.

Despite bucking normal baseball principals, his swing has been effective throughout his career.


In only seven seasons, he has 131 home runs—averaging just under 20 a year. Like Andrus, Kinsler has a great eye at the plate. He has drawn over 40 walks in each year of his career and drew 89 bases on balls in 2011—the fifth-highest total in the AL.

However, for all of the positives that Kinsler brings to the leadoff spot, his inability to hit for a high average is a major weakness.

Kinsler has the ability to hit for a solid average, as he showed in 2008 when he hit .319. But that was the only time in his career where he has hit above .300, and his aggressive nature at the dish has hurt the Rangers, at times.

His career average is only .275, and in 2012, he’s hitting .272. This low rate can be attributed to his tendency to hit fly balls, which is a consequence of his uppercut.

Kinsler seems to pop up, hit a home run or walk in almost every at bat with no in-between, hurting his ability to reach first base.

Andrus, on the other hand, has no such problem. He hits the ball with authority to all fields and walks at the same prodigious rate as Kinsler.

Kinsler’s game is much more suited for the fifth or sixth spot in the order, where his uppercut swing would have a chance to consistently drive in runs.

So why hasn’t Ron Washington made this change?

That’s a question to ask him, but it probably has something to do with the old adage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”


After all, Kinsler does lead all of baseball in runs scored, and the Rangers do have the top offense in the league.

But for a team that has reached two straight World Series only to fall short on both occasions, they should be looking for any way to improve instead of sticking to what got them there.

Andrus is a natural leadoff hitter, and the Rangers’ already potent offense would be augmented by moving the 23-year-old Venezuelan to the top of the order.

Kinsler has been great, but it’s time for Washington to make this change.

Andrus has earned the opportunity, and Kinsler would flourish in the middle of the order, where he could swing for the fences to his heart’s content.

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