You asked me questions on Twitter. So I shall answer them.


It was a long offseason, my friends. A light winter in these parts but a harsh one all the same. The usual offseason non-stories seemed even less-satisfying than normal. On a personal level, I spent many long, dark hours searching for meaning and happiness in a world that seemed uncompromising, unforgiving and indifferent to humanity.

So what better to fix all of that than to ask questions about Aquaman and stuff?  The Twitter questions are back.  And the world is somewhat warmer because of it:

Q: Why has it been so long since you answered any damn questions? Afraid?

Maybe. But remember: Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. So I’m back, yo.

Q: What is your favorite show on NPR?

That one aimed at the white professional people who live in big cities and like to talk about the latest books they’ve read. I’m blanking on the name.

Q: Ryan Howard contract: lol, or LOL?

More of a ROTFLMAO

Q: Finish this sentence….”Bobby V’s time in Boston will be ____________________”


Q: Would Aquaman be able to bat over the Mendoza line? Would his pitching line look worse than Bronson Arroyo’s?

I have to make a confession about Aquaman.  After years of bashing Aquaman mercilessly, The Common Man — writer of The Platoon Advantage, Baseball Prospectus contributor and frequent HBT commenter — mailed me the first four issues of the new series.  I read them. And I’ll admit it: it’s pretty good stuff.  Now, to be clear, the writer, Geoff Johns, had to spend a great deal of time in those first few issues making a very clear point about how Aquaman is no longer lame like everyone thinks he is. There’s even a blogger character that tries to interview him about that kind of thing.  If he wasn’t pretty clearly lame in past incarnations, Johns wouldn’t have had to do this.

But superheros are frequently reinvented. Batman had a lame period too. Maybe not as long as Aquaman’s, but it was pretty lame. And he got reinvented in an astoundingly successful manner, so there is hope for Aquaman.

Not that I’m not going to continue to bash him. It’s funny and I’m old and I just don’t care. So: Aquaman — the version of him I like to think of — would hit like Brandon Inge. Except he’d be less useful defensively at every position unless there was a lot of rain and the drainage system malfunctioned.  I’m guessing he could pick it at third better than anyone as long as there was a giant mud puddle just to the right of the bag.

Q: Is Son Of The Collector not the best band name ever?

It’s pretty good. Can’t be considered the best until we sort through all the Milwaukee bands named after Ryan Braun’s pee, however.

Q: How quick will the 10 team playoff end when the Yankees get knocked out every year ?

I’m guessing this helps the Yankees. I’m more interested in hearing what Blue Jays and Orioles fans complain about now that they have another chance to make the playoffs even if Boston and New York do too.

Q: Candidates for this year’s Vogelsong? Also Avengers or JLA?

I think Jamie Moyer coming in and getting people out at age 49 and a year off for Tommy John surgery — in Coors Field no less — would blow Vogelsong’s little Cinderella story out of the water. And, merits of the comics aside, I’ve always been a DC guy for some reason. Just like how I prefer the National Legaue even though I know that it’s not as good as the American League, objectively speaking.

Q: Why do we drive on a “Parkway” and park on a “Driveway”?

Because if we didn’t, bad comics like Gallagher wouldn’t have anything to talk about.

Q:  What on-the-cusp team wins the one-off and wreaks havoc on the playoffs with the expanded system? Jays? Nats? Other?

When Stephen Strasburg and the 85-win Nats win the one-game playoff against the defending World Series champ Cardinals, there will likely be a lot of people moaning.

Q: Rank the TOS Star Trek movies in order, with a letter grade if possible.

1. Wrath of Khan (A); 2. Undiscovered Country (A-); 3. Voyage Home (B+); 4. Search for Spock (B-); 5. The Motion Picture (C-); 6, The Final Frontier (D-).  That last one may deserve an F, but I reserve an F for something that I would just never, ever watch ever, and I can at least watch The Final Frontier for unintentional laughs and mockability, even if it is horrible.

Q: In the wake of the Mike/Giancarlo Stanton news, how Many MLB players do you think are secretly Italian?

I don’t know. And we won’t know until there’s a safe, reliable test for gesticulation and emoting in normal, day-to-day conversation. Until then, everyone is suspect, and that’s the real tragedy.

Q: If the only way to see The Dark Knight Rises, ever, was to pay $100, would you? What would your limit be?

I’m not gonna lie — and I’m not proud of myself — but I probably would pay the $100 if there was no other chance to see it, including on DVD or whatever.  I’m so in the bag for Batman it’s not even funny, but you knew that already.

Q: A genie grants you three chances to get in the best shape of someone else’s life (with no work). Whom do you choose?

I would like to be in The Best Shape of George Clooney’s Life.  Not that he was ever so perfect physically — indeed, note that he doesn’t do a lot of shirt-off stuff in his movies — but because shape is not just about how a dude looks with his shirt off.  Who wouldn’t want one-tenth of his mojo?

Q: With all of your tv spots these days, how long is it until you’re on Celebrity Apprentice Dancing with the Stars or Maury?

True Fact: Both the studios for Maury and the studios for the NBC Sports Network are in Stamford, Connecticut.  Just sayin’.

Q: What do you think the Twins chances to contend are?

Somewhere south of “snowflake’s chance in Hell” and somewhere north of “New York Mets.”

Q: If you had to bet your life on one team finishing 3rd in its division in 2012, who would you pick?

Hmm. Good question. harder this year than in most years.  How about the Kansas City Royals?  I think the White Sox crater, the Twins still stink, and the Tigers still cruise. That leaves Cleveland and Kansas City to battle for second place. Gun to my head right now, I say Cleveland edges out the Royals. But note: I’m almost always wrong about this kind of crap.

Q: Which field has the most blades of grass?

Coors Field. This is just a simple fact. Prove me wrong.

Q: Cards fan, I don’t think they’ll fall off a cliff. Beltran is good. Berkman is good. Division is not ace. Am i nuts?

Nope. I think the Cards will be in it all year and I may even pick them to win the division.

Q: What would you have renamed the Houston franchise, if they had gone through with that process?

The Houston Humid Depressing Sprawling Hellscapes. Because I think a team should reflect the nature and character of the city in which it plays.

Q: Would you like to create a shot for shot remake of the “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys music video?

Hard to top the execution on that.  I’d rather remake Greg Khin’s “Jeopardy” video. Though I’m guessing that rising commodity prices have made the cost of tin foil prohibitively expensive.

Q: What did you think of the end of the new BSG?

Readers from last year will recall that I spent the last part of the summer/early fall watching “Battlestar Galactica” while on the treadmill.  I love, love, loved it. Frakking brilliant series.  The ending? I can’t say it was terribly disappointing. I have some nitpicks, of course, like what the hell was the deal with Starbuck and stuff.  But let’s not make perfect the enemy of the good here.  After seeing finales for so many good shows just utterly fail — can we all talk about how crappy “Lost” was near the end despite the feel-good final scene? — I think BSG did a pretty darn fine job of it.

Q: When taking a deuce, do you drop trousers to your knees or ankles? I’m a knees guy, but I feel I’m the minorty.

I’m a blogger. I don’t wear pants.

Q: Why wear pants, ever?

See what I mean?

Q: To be or not to be?

That is the question, ain’t it? In other news, Hamlet was so emo that I’m surprised he died of the poisoned blade before he died of mono or something.

Q: Isn’t it ironic, dontcha think?

Literally, it is.

Q: Say you’re a Nats fan – riding the wave of excitement for all it’s worth, or steeling yourself for disappointment? 

Ride the wave, man. They’re gonna be pretty good this year.  And starting in a couple of years, they’re gonna be in the playoffs a lot.

Q: What comes first – radical realignment or expansion?

I’d guess they happen at the same time, but not for a looong time.  And not until the territory system breaks down somehow, because if there is to be expansion — or even relocation — it’s going to have to happen in cities that already have teams. Because that’s where the population growth is.  Our nation’s growth is about big cities getting bigger, not old small cities suddenly getting big like it was post-WWII America or something.

Q: Why does some innocent urine collector in Milwaukee request future questions be forwarded to a NY lawyer? & who’s paying?

I would read nothing into this at all. The lawyer was probably furnished by his employer or the league who, naturally, has connections and existing relationships with New York lawyers.  For as far out there in defending the arbitrator’s decision as I have been, even I am not willing to get into conspiracy theories about the collection process in the Braun case.

Q: After Jose Reyes, which NL East shortstop will have the best all-around season in 2012?

Jimmy Rollins. Because he’s probably still the best all-around shortstop in the NL East after Reyes.

Q: To what degree have you controlled the course your life has taken? That is all.

I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.

Q: Biggest disappointment you’ve ever seen? Baseball related or not.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.  We all mock now and act like the prequels were doomed from the start, but if one thinks back to 1998-99 and just how highly anticipated the Star Wars prequels were — and thinks about how George Lucas could have done almost anything he wanted with the story — one can only weep.

Q: 5 people from history to eat dinner with, with caveat that you must consider how they would get along.

Jeffrey Dahmer, someone from the Donner Party and The Fat Boys.  Sorry … too soon?

Q: Who has the better year – Ellsbury or Granderson?

Umm … Granderson. I have no idea why. I just like him better.

Q: Most underrated player in baseball history?

There’s a whole lot of them.  Indeed, I will be part of a project writing a whole book about them soon. I’m going to be writing about Alan Trammell, but he certainly doesn’t qualify as the most underrated because a lot of people know he was awesome.  If I had to guess right now I’d say either Bobby Grich or Darrell Evans, but there are a ton of dudes like that.

Q: How much do you think your background as a lawyer has influenced your thoughts on the Braun scenario?

An outrageous amount.  It’s all about due process for me.  Practicing law for 11 years really brought home how vitally important procedures are to ensure the integrity of a system. You don’t always get the results you want, but if you follow the rules, you can be assured of the best possible outcomes in the aggregate.

Q: Who is Snooki’s baby-daddy?

Ryan Braun.  It’s all been a big cover up.

Q: Does an aversion to the Padres’ camouflage jerseys make Jim Caple a Taliban sympathizer? He says no.

Just what a terrorist would say to throw you off his trail!  Actually, though, it just means that he has good taste. Those things, however well-intentioned, are fugly.

Q: I was told to follow you for a spring training “I’m in the best shape of my life” quote count. Whatcha got?

Pursuant to our scientific system, we have found 40 players and one manager who have declared themselves to be in the best shape of their lives. A full roster!

Bryan LaHair – CHC
Mat Gamel – MIL
Joe Saunders – ARI
Danny Valencia – MIN
Chris Davis – BAL
Brandon McCarthy – OAK
Anthony Swarzak – MIN
Billy Butler – KC
Mike Moustakas – KC
Russell Martin – NYY
Jason Grilli – PIT
Jed Lowrie – HOU
Logan Schafer – MIL
Lance Lynn – STL
Phil Hughes – NYY
Bill Hall – NYY
Yadier Molina – STL
Evan Longoria – TB
Brett Cecil – TOR
Freddie Freeman – ATL
Brian Wilson – SFO
Jason Heyward – ATL
Casey McGehee – PIT
Chris Tillman – BAL
Franklin Gutierrez – SEA
Miguel Olivo – SEA
Miguel Cabrera – DET
Justin Smoak – SEA
Dexter Fowler – COL
Jaime Garcia – STL
Miguel Tejada – FA
Aubrey Huff – SFO
Vicente Padilla – BOS
Carlos Zambrano – MIA
Yonder Alonso – SD
Mark Teixeira – NYY
Dmitri Young – FA
Yoenis Cespedes – OAK
Matt Diaz – ATL
Shin-Soo Choo – CLE
Mike Scioscia – LAA

Not bad.

There were a bunch more questions, but this was all I had time for this morning.  Tune in next week for more of this silly kind of thing.

2018 Preview: Detroit Tigers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2018 season. Next up: The Tigers.

We can’t blame you if you chose to erase the Tigers’ 2017 season from memory. They plummeted to the bottom of the AL Central division for the second time in three years, hobbled by Michael Fulmer’s chronic shoulder and elbow issues, an untimely implosion from Francisco Rodriguez and the worst version of Miguel Cabrera anyone’s seen to date. Their rotation ranked 13th-best among major league teams; their bullpen, dead last. By mid-July, it was clear the team wasn’t going to touch the division-leading Indians or the surprisingly hot Twins or the streaky Royals. Rather than make a pointless push for the playoffs during the second half, they seized the opportunity to get a head start on a lengthy rebuilding process instead.

Prior to the July 31 trade deadline, the Tigers had already jettisoned some of their biggest contributors—and biggest contracts. J.D. Martinez packed his bags for Arizona as the club gained a trifecta of Diamondbacks shortstop prospects: Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King. Justin Wilson and Alex Avila were swapped for Cubs infielders Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes. In one of the most nerve-wracking deadline deals, Justin Verlander and the outstanding $56 million left on his contract (not including the $22 million vesting option for 2020) were shipped to the Astros for prospect right-hander Franklin Perez, catcher Jake Rogers and outfielder Daz Cameron—with just seconds to spare before the cutoff time.

Of course, the writing was on the wall well before Al Avila decided to host a fire sale. Francisco Rodriguez logged six blown saves in his first 25 appearances with the club and was released after he proved incapable of handling any high-leverage situation. His struggles might have been more easily overlooked had Bruce Rondon not tanked as well, depleting the Tigers of much of their bullpen depth as they dropped yet another closer candidate—Justin Wilson—off with the Cubs.

A dilapidated bullpen wasn’t the team’s only weakness. Perennial All-Star and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera labored through the worst year of his career, slashing .249/.329/.399 with 16 home runs and a .728 OPS in 529 PA. His power and productivity was zapped by lingering back issues, and he finished the year with two herniated discs in his lower back and a career-worst -0.2 fWAR. Not helping matters was a series of explosive, bench-clearing brawls against the Yankees in August, during which Cabrera got slapped with a seven-game suspension after he incited the first fight against New York catcher Austin Romine.

The offseason yielded few returns. The Tigers declined a $16 million option for Anibal Sanchez and found a taker for Ian Kinsler in the Angels, who helped restock Detroit’s farm system with minor league outfielder Troy Montgomery and right-handed pitching prospect Wikel Hernandez. The team committed another $12 million to rotation and outfield depth with right-hander Mike Fiers, lefties Francisco Liriano and Ryan Carpenter, and outfielder Leonys Martin. Perhaps most notable was a change in management: Brad Ausmus capped a four-year run with the team as Ron Gardenhire stepped into the dugout.

Looking ahead, the Tigers still have a few items to check off their to-do list before they can stage a full-scale rebuild. That includes offloading the remaining $184 million on Cabrera’s contract, something that will be impossible to do unless and until the 35-year-old has a monster bounce-back year in 2018. It also means exploring trade options for Fulmer, who profiles as one of the biggest assets on the Tigers’ 2018 roster and, with four years of control remaining on his current contract, could net some serious talent as they continue to build for the future. Likewise, closer Shane Greene, shortstop Jose Iglesias and outfielder Nicholas Castellanos are all expected to be made available at some point this year.

Come Opening Day, the club will likely roll out a rotation featuring Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmerman, Francisco Liriano, Mike Fiers and Matt Boyd. Daniel Norris is also competing for a starting role, though he will likely get edged out by Liriano to start the season. Despite the serious health concerns that were raised last year, Fulmer remains the undisputed ace of the pack after putting up All-Star numbers in 2017, including a 3.83 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 6.2 SO/9 in 164 2/3 innings. No one else (save Verlander) managed an ERA under 5.00 last year; Zimmerman kept a 6.08 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 in 160 innings and led all major-league starters with a league-worst 108 earned runs.

Mikie Mahtook, Leonys Martin and Nick Castellanos project as the Opening Day outfield trio, though JaCoby Jones has looked versatile enough to back up all three spots this spring. Both Mahtook and Castellanos had decent runs last year, while Martin will try to stage a comeback after slashing just .172/.232/.281 with three home runs in back-to-back gigs with the Mariners and Cubs.

Cabrera, naturally, is expected to resume his post at first base and fellow veteran Victor Martinez will continue to slot in at DH. Both Cabrera and Martinez have looked exceptional at the plate this spring, but take that with a grain (or several hundred) of salt. Dixon Machado is set for a full-time role at second base, with Jose Iglesias at shortstop and Jeimer Candelario at third. James McCann and John Hicks are scheduled to share time behind the dish again. Barring a lot of surprises and bounce-back efforts, that doesn’t make for a very intimidating lineup, and probably not one that can supersede the collective .258/.324/.424 batting line the offense managed last year.

In a nutshell: Rebuilds are no fun to watch. The Tigers were very bad last season, and they’re going to be very bad this season. Cross your fingers that Miguel Cabrera looks as sharp in the regular season as he has in camp, keep an eye on that no. 1 draft pick this June, enjoy the September call-ups, maybe attend a few minor league games, and keep reminding yourself that contention is only a few years away (probably).

Prediction: 5th place, AL Central