A Detroit Tigers Blog with a Feminine Touch

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Five Guys

SO. It is now down to just two contestants, folks. Duane Below vs. Drew Smyly in the fight for their lives. Or, rather, the fifth starting spot on the Detroit Tigers pitching staff: the opportunity of a lifetime.

So, what do you know about these dashing young prospects? Not much, you say? Well, we're here to give you a ton of info about the dynamic duo that you need to know (and probably some that you don't).

Duane Below
Duane Arthur Below, as many of you know, is a Michigan boy, born and raised. This 6'3, left-handed, 26-year-old stunna started for the Tigers last year and did reasonably well in the job. However, he excelled in the bullpen with one of his best outings being in that horrible, drawn-out, extra-inning clusterf*** of a game at Progressive Field, where Duane pitched four scoreless innings with nary a baserunner. (He was one of the only bright spots of that game of terrors, if we remember correctly).

He's also fairly adorable, and this is one quality that never, ever hurts. Ladies, are we in agreement???

The upside to Duane is that we know what he can do. He's proven that he's more than capable of, at the very least, coming out of the bullpen, since he did pretty well in that role last year and barely missed making a playoff roster spot. The real question is though is if he has the stuff to perform consistently well in a starting role. We're not looking for Justin Verlander material here. We're just searching for a guy who can go out there and get a quality start the majority of the time. And Duane definitely has the potential to do that.

Now, on to our other canidate…

Drew Smyly
Todd Andrew Smyly. What a name. This alone gives him some sort of leg up, right? Wrong? Well, either way, this guy may be a skinny kid with a funny name, but boy can he throw. At 22 years old he is already vying for a starting spot in the Bigs after posting a stellar 2.07 ERA last year in Lakeland and Erie.

He, too, is also fairly adorable. This never hurts.

However, he is a gigantic question mark when it comes to taking a starting spot in the Major Leagues. He's never done it before, so why rush him? The Unproven Rookie scares a lot of people (read: Lynn Henning), and we can't say we blame them. The question is if it will scare away the coaching staff as well. Baby Smyly has put up some really impressive numbers this Spring Training and last year. It would obviously be a move laced with risk (is he really ready?), but it could be hard to deny him.

A Fight to the Death this probably isn't--these two could both wind up on the team at the same time--but it is exciting nonetheless. There seems to be a small faction of Tigers fans still hoping that Dombrowski will look outside of the system for our Number Five Guy. We think that Tigers fans should see what the new starter--whoever he may be--can do.

As a quick PS: We're so excited for the one and only Craig Monroe to be a part of the Fox Sports Detroit team!!! Can you imagine Rod Allen AND C-Mo in the same broadcast? Mind. Blown.

One week to go. We can make it. We can make it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Who's It Gonna Be?

With Spring Training winding down and Opening Day looming right around the corner, it's almost the time when the final cuts are made and the official 25-man roster is formed. So far some semi-interesting decisions have already been made (Jacob Turner and Quintin Berry are gone) but, as expected, the major question marks still linger. Will Brandon Inge or Ryan Raburn get the nod at second base? Will Inge be on the team at all? Will Miguel Cabrera really be ready for Opening Day? Will Andy Dirks or Clete Thomas get the fourth-outfielder spot? And, most intriguingly, which young gun will get the fifth starter job?

First things first. Brandon Inge has long been a topic of conversation on this little blog, not to mention all of Tiger Universe, so we know we're kind of beating a dead horse when we bring him up. We don't think he should start. Period. His fielding at the 2nd base position has been decent, but his hitting has been poor as usual, hitting a whopping .174 with very little power.

That's been the problem with Inge his whole career. His spectacular defense used to make up for his hitting, but that has diminished as he's gotten older. In our minds, there is no question that Raburn should  start at second, given his massive RBI production and power this Spring. The defense hasn't been horrific either, so that's a plus! The question that Leyland and the Tigers face now is to keep Inge on the team at all. Want to know our opinion? Bench player. But we'll see what the coaching staff thinks…

In good, happy news, it looks as if our poor Miguel Cabrera will be ready for Opening Day! He was cleared by the doctors this morning and his eye is de-puffed, and as usual he's hungry to get playing. We had to admit, the image of Miguel all bloodied and badass with his teammates and coaches frantically swarming him made us incredibly worried, but it seems like everything's all good. We'll meet you in Comerica, big fella!

But who else will we meet in Comerica? Clete Thomas or Andy Dirks? People (read: Jim Leyland) keep making this sound like an actual freaking debate, but we don't think it is. Andy Dirks all the way, baby. He's younger, faster, has a bigger learning curve, and is just plain better offensively. Andy is raking up the hits, while Clete is playing at his same lukewarm pace. Look. We love our selves some Clete Thomas (who doesn't?), but it would be absolutely ridiculous for him to be chosen over Andy "Forrest" Dirks.

The final, big, most interesting question of who should get the starting spot? We have no idea. Three young, attractive guys are neck and neck. No problems here. Sure, we think it would be great if Drew Smyly got a chance, since Andy Oliver is stumbling a little recently. But Duane Below, dark horse that he is, looks pretty decent too, though he might be better suited for the bullpen at this point. Smyly has that 1.13 ERA, after all. And there ain't nothin wrong with that.

This Spring Training isn't really that cut-and-dry. But that's what makes it so exciting. Whatever Leyland chooses to do with Inge, Dirks, Smyly and the rest, the 25 men we will have in Comerica Park in less than 10 days is going to be a great group.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Because Nothing Can Ever Go Perfectly...

So, we're sure you've already heard, but Miguel Cabrera is on the DL.  He took a ground ball to the face yesterday, and apparently was bleeding when he left the field.  Now we're hearing that he broke the bone underneath his eye.

On a pessimistic note, weren't we all thinking something like this was going to happen? Miguel is not exactly the world's best third baseman, despite his commendable effort to lose weight and get in shape.  And although he's super athletic, he was bound to trip up sometime.  It stinks that it had to maim his adorable mug, but, on the bright side, we're sure glad that this is happening during Spring Training, and not when we actually need him, during the regular season.

We here at April in the D felt this storm a'brewin'.  It seemed impossible that the Tigers could win so many Spring Training games without a serious calamity to follow. Let's all just thank our lucky stars that it wasn't his ACL, or his hand, or those freaking obliques that seem to trouble the tigers so much!

So, you feel better Miguel!  Put a big old bandaid on your face and do some sit ups in the meantime.  Use the time to get mentally prepared for the season ahead! We are just so pumped.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ryan Raburn Awareness

Brennan Boesch. Miguel Cabrera. Prince Fielder. Delmon Young. Alex Avila. Those are the Tigers' project 2-6 hitters, the core of a lineup with such lethal potential that has even the most seasoned pitchers quaking with fear. But this year, even with this deadly of a lineup with so many sluggers, opposing teams might have someone else to fear. That man is none other than

Yeah. Ryan Raburn. Him. "Well, what about the usual first-half slump?" some may ask. The average M Live or Facebook commenter may hate Raburn with a burning, fiery passion, but the educated fan really shouldn't. Wanna know why?

Let's take last year for example. Raburn started off with a relatively decent April before free-falling in May to a brutal .113 average. Of course, most people (including us at times) grumbled and groaned about this predictable outcome. What most people didn't really think about was that Ryan had completely  broken his finger in early May. Many Tiger fans knew this, but attributed Ryan's rough first half to preconceived patterns.

But hello?!? Of course a broken finger could be potentially damaging to Ryan's productivity. As soon as his finger healed up Ryan slugged his way to .275, .323, and .383 in July, August, and September respectively. Imagine what that kind of offense could be like year-round, alongside Miguel Cabrera and Prince Freaking Fielder??

In fact, Raburn has definitely already shown that he has a potential for a breakout year in Spring Training. Not that we put too much stock in anything that has to do with Spring Training numbers, but our beloved hayseed has exploded for 4 homers and 14 RBI in 15 at bats. Holy crap. He has been the most productive player on the team, and that should give him some kind of credit.

Unfortunately, until he starts making noise throughout the whole season, and not just the second half (it's due to injury! Don't forget that), he will still be a controversial figure for Tigers fans and an ever-suffering scapegoat. Let's stop the madness. We need to put an end to the constant Raburn-bashing and start appreciating him a little--no, a lot--more.

Please, Ryan, just stay healthy. Please. For our sake and especially yours.
(We're not making any excuses for his defense though. Good Lord. Some people just can't be helped.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Man, The Mystery

Dat Hollywood Swag.

We love Brennan Boesch. Who doesn't? We were thrilled when at the start of the '10 and '11 seasons when he performed so well. He has the power. He has the personality. He has the smarts. And he has the looks.

However, there are some reasons why people could dislike Brennan, or at the very least not trust his abilities. He fell apart mentally in '10 and physically in '11, and Tiger fans have always been wary of one-half-only players (read: Ryan Raburn).

Early today the Detroit News put out an article that explained a little bit about Brennan and his background. Everyone should read it. How he was raised as a rich kid from LA who played a mean piano to a struggling rookie outfielder who questioned his devotion to baseball. He wasn't sure if he wanted to do it anymore.

He obviously had a choice of quitting baseball and going back to the Good Life in LA. He could have done that, could have quit right then and there. But here's what we like the most about Brennan Boesch, and one of the things we like the most about baseball: it doesn't matter where your from, what your background is, or how much money you have. To make it in pro baseball you have to have talent, but more importantly you have to have ambition and drive. Brennan has all that, and he used it to get to where he is today. He took the hard way.

He also seems to have great personality and character, which isn't something required of big leaguers, but certainly doesn't hurt. He speaks Spanish to the hispanic players, who no doubt appreciate that. He seems to be friends with everyone, most notably Miguel Cabrera, and has quickly befriended newcomer Prince Fielder. He even spends a lot of time with other player's kids--something he definitely doesn't have to do.

Perhaps the coolest thing though is that Brennan has serious respect for the city of Detroit. In the aforementioned article he states: "I'm more Detroit than Southern California. If only I could bring the weather to Detroit, I'd be here. I love this area, everything about it." The Royal Oak resident further goes on to say that "I just get really, really defensive about (Metro) Detroit. It bothers me…I got my GMC outside. I think it would be blasphemy for me to drive a Mercedes in Detroit."

If that isn't the quickest way to a Michiganders heart, than what is?

Combine this great clubhouse personality with massive potential and is it any mystery why he's such a fan favorite? Of course, if he has a second-half dip for a third year in a row it could be potentially problematic, but we don't really see that happening. We, along with countless other Tiger fans, have always, always admired Brennan for his bat, but now we should all give him more respect for his character as well. This is the kind of ballplayer that clubhouses, managers, GM's and cities should love.

Somewhat surprisingly, this pretty-sappy-but-also-pretty-good article was written by Lynn Henning. Nice job, Lynn, but this one line had us literally dying laughing.

"He has an ever-expanding fan club in Detroit galvanized by his slashing, game changing bat, and by a certain mystique, crafted mostly because he's a native of Hollywood's backyard who looks and sounds as if he might have had a shot there."

Brennan Boesch has a mystique? That sounds like something we'd have to judge for ourselves one day!

*Fingers crossed*

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's Good To Be Back

It's that time of year again, folks: Spring Training is back in all its glory. Everyone knows that teams don't live or die by Spring Training, and that it doesn't go too far in determining the outcome of a season. So why bother to get so excited?

Because our boys are back on the scene, that's why. Maybe in limited quantities, and maybe under the hot Florida sun in March instead of the dreary Michigan sky in April, but still, it's them. And not only do they look good, they look hungry. Make all the Prince Fielder jokes you want with that example, but our guys are looking sharp and ambitious and just plain good.

Yes, we're only five games in. But we're also 5-0. And it's hard not to get excited when you hear about Fielder, Avila and Cabrera blasting huge homers, or Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello and Fister looking sharp, not to mention young guys like Andy Oliver and Drew Smyly impressing coaches and fans alike. There isn't too much to be troubled about at this point, and that's just making us more and more pumped.

Of course, there is one bit of sad/nostalgic news. Carlos Guillen, one of the few remaining players from the '06 team who was with the club last year, has officially retired. There were a lot of good moments with Carlos over the years (and also a lot of injuries) but our favorite favorite FAVORITE came during the 2011 season, when the Tigers were in a heated, tied game with the Angels. It was billed as a potential Cy Young showdown between JV and Jered "Whiny B****" Weaver, but instead the game will be remembered as  Weaver vs. Guillen.

When Weaver talked smack to Magglio Ordonez after he hit a 2-run homer, and then continued to jaw at Miguel Cabrera, Carlos took issue with that. As he should have. What he proceeded to do was drill a pitch from Weaver for a solo shot, and then spectacularly and wildly inappropriately showboated in retaliation for Weaver's smack talk. 

Mature? No. Necessary? No. Hysterical? YES. Weaver then got his butt tossed out of the game after throwing at Alex Avila's head, and Detroit fans will forever hate him. That says a lot about Carlos Guillen, though. He wasn't going to let Weaver trash poor sweet Magglio, who we kind of doubt has ever showboated unnecessarily in his life. "The way he reacted to Magglio, he's my teammate. We're a team," said Carlos.

That epic event aside, Carlos will always be one of the classiest Tigers (and one of the flyest dressers) and the baseball world will miss him. And his gold chains. We love you, man!!!