Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com said today that the Tigers offseason priority is to find a leadoff hitter. Not surprisingly, Crasnick says that Jose Reyes is a “dream candidate.”
Just about anyone I talk to about the Tigers seems to think that too. The only problem with it is that the Tigers already have $90 million committed to just nine players, and by the time they fill out their roster, pay the necessary raises for 2012 and all of that, they’re looking at something like $120 million at least. Probably a bit more. They’re even still paying Gary Sheffield for cryin’ out loud.
Oh, and they still have Jhonny Peralta, who just had an awesome season and is under contract through 2012 and has a club option for 2013 that is exceedingly affordable.
To be sure, Mike Ilitch has shown in the past that he’ll spend money if he thinks it’ll make the difference. But it’s a 95-win team already and they have shortstop covered. If the Tigers are going to spend money, they should spend it elsewhere.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.