Tigers likely playoff bound in spite of Washburn

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Thanks to playing in baseball’s worst division the Tigers look headed to the postseason despite Jarrod Washburn posting a 7.33 ERA in eight starts since arriving via trade with the Mariners, but now his status for the playoffs is in doubt. That is, if the Tigers even wanted him stepping on the mound in October.
Washburn allowed four runs in the first inning of yesterday before exiting with pain in the left knee that has bothered him for much of the season. As manager Jim Leyland put it after an ugly 11-1 loss: “Right now, it doesn’t appear he’s pitchable.” No structural damage has been found via multiple MRI exams, but Washburn made it clear that something significant is wrong:

It’s just as bad, or maybe a little worse, than it’s been. The pain has been pretty bad, but it’s never swelled up. And today after just one inning, it swelled up pretty bad. I don’t know if something else got hurt in there or what. It’s definitely not getting better. I’ve tried to pitch through it, and I’m not helping the team at all.



We’ve tried everything. I don’t know if there’s anything more that we can try from a treatment standpoint or medication or shots or things like that. We’ve tried everything we can to try to get the pain out of there and put it at a tolerable level. Just nothing’s worked right now.

Detroit’s rotation is a mess right now and the Tigers have lost six of their last eight games despite playing the lowly Royals and Blue Jays, but ultimately they’ll probably limp into the playoffs with or without Washburn. And once there the Tigers can take advantage of the drawn-out postseason schedule to lean heavily on Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and Rick Porcello in the rotation and Fernando Rodney, Brandon Lyon, and Ryan Perry in the bullpen.
Washburn has been a complete bust and Detroit has just the 10th-best record in baseball at 77-67, but barring a total collapse they’re headed to the playoffs and have the top-end talent to make a deep run once their lack of rotation depth is no longer a major factor.

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.