Tag: Jose Iglesias

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Today was a good day for the Tigers


While veteran reliever Joel Hanrahan is headed to see a specialist about his continued arm soreness, today was mostly a positive day for the Tigers on the health front.

According to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, Miguel Cabrera took on-field batting practice today for the first time this spring and said it felt “good.” Of course, he’s making his way back from offseason surgery on his left foot and just received clearance to increase activities less than two weeks ago. He’s still running on an anti-gravity treadmill, but the early signs are promising. The Tigers are hopeful he’ll be ready for Opening Day or at least right around it.

The good news doesn’t end there, as Victor Martinez arrived in camp today and did his first workout. Specifically, he took 30 swings off a tee from both sides of the plate and also ran on the anti-gravity treadmill. The 36-year-old had surgery less than one month ago to repair the medial meniscus in his left knee, but the expectation was that he would be ready for full activities in 4-6 weeks. Barring any setbacks, that puts him on track to be ready for the season.

Finally, shortstop Jose Iglesias saw his first game action in a year today when he played one inning in an exhibition game against Florida Southern. It wasn’t much — he recorded one put-out on a pop-up and grounded out in his only at-bat — but it’s nice to hear for someone who missed all of last season with stress fractures in both of his shins. Iglesias is a ton of fun to watch play shortstop and Tigers pitchers are surely hoping he’ll be able to stay healthy this year.

Jose Iglesias, with an extended aside about cheeseburger and burrito stats

Jose Iglesias

The Tigers were dealt a big blow last spring when their starting shortstop, Jose Iglesias, went down with fractures in both of his shins. He’s been rehabbing, however, and reports have been good. The latest report has him almost completely cleared for baseball:

“The only thing he hasn’t really done full bore is a sprint on a regular basis on hard ground,” [Tigers GM Dave] Dombrowski said . . . He’s running on a physical therapy treadmill designed to put less pressure on his feet.

“He’s running almost 100% on that,” Dombrowski said, saying he is where he needs to be without any pain. “All very encouraging,” he said. “They tell me he’ll be OK.”

In other news, that story is from Anthony Fenech at the Detroit Free Press. He’s the new regular Tigers beat guy. He’s young and he’s good and evidence of that can be seen by the fact that, when talking about Iglesias’ 2013 season, he casually-but-usefully drops Iglesias’ BAPIP:

Iglesias hit .303 during his rookie year in 2013, split between Detroit and Boston, but that mark was aided by a .356 average on balls in play.

It’s just one part of one sentence, but that one part of that one sentence is significant and provides beat writers with an excellent example of how to deal with advanced metrics.

These days most mainstream baseball writers are conversant with advanced stats. Yet either they or their editors still have this habit of treating them as some foreign thing that requires a separate conversation complete with extended definitions and prefaces giving readers a general overview of the sabermetric movement. Bill James is still often name-checked. It reminds me of when Taco Bell menus used to look like this:


Maybe there was a need for this in the late 60s and early 70s when burritos were still sort of exotic to a lot American fast food eaters, but they stopped doing that at some point. Why? Because Taco Bell realized that we can handle a burrito. Yes, we ate nothing but cheeseburgers for years and we probably still understand cheeseburgers better, but by some time in the 1970s we were totally are capable of processing what a burrito was as long as it was presented properly (i.e. fast, cheap and available at, like, midnight).

Mainstream baseball writing (i.e. newspaper baseball writing) still hasn’t figured that out for the most part. It probably was necessary in 2002 to explain advanced metrics, such as they were then, in greater detail. Batting average and RBI were our cheeseburgers, and we were being asked to process something new.  But we’ve been eating our SABRburritos for a good while now, so it’s not necessary for them to be over-explained to us. It’s actually sort of distracting and creates unnecessary controversy when they are. WAR debates and “geeks vs. jocks” cultural garbage. I’m rather tired of that. Aren’t you rather tired of that?

The point of advanced stats is to help people understand baseball better. And while, yes, like any advances in any field, advanced baseball analysis lends itself to super-esoteric thinking and debate, only the academics really care about that. I’m glad they do care about it, because all of their thinking and arguing about it moves the ball forward and helps us learn stuff, but the vast majority of fans care no more about the details of that sort of analysis than they care about what’s going on in a test kitchen someplace.

Just like your average restaurant goers just want a good meal and appreciate a better one when they get it, regular baseball fans just want better information, preferably in context, preferably in a way that relates directly to the game as we consume it. Wanna signal to people that Iglesias may not really be a consistent .300+ hitter? Drop a quick, clear reference to his batting average on balls in play like Fenech did there, don’t do yet another feature article on “The Sabermetric Revoltuion,” complete with Bill James quotes, a “Moneyball” reference and a diplomatic handling of the stats vs. scouts divide, eventually getting to the point — gently given, as if the reader can’t handle non-cheeseburger stats — that perhaps Jose Iglesias will not be hitting .303 on the regular. To do so is distracting and risks losing the reader with crap they don’t care much about.

This is a small thing, but it’s an important thing.

Alan Trammell returns to the Tigers

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From the Twitter feed of Tom Gage:

Trammell, of course, was Kirk Gibson’s bench coach in Arizona, and that house was so totally cleaned that you probably can’t find a trace of his existence at Chase Field. Before that Trammell was Lou Piniella’s bench coach in Chicago, but was passed over for the job when Piniella retired. And, of course, managed the Tigers as they rebuilt for three pretty horrible years before Jim Leyland took over. The guy has never been in a really fantastic situation, frankly.

So now he regroups in Detroit. Or gets activated to play shortstop if Jose Iglesias’ shins don’t improve. Which would be pretty sweet and maybe finally convince someone he should be in the Hall of Fame.

Jose Iglesias should be ready for spring training

Jose Iglesias Getty

The Tigers were dealt a big blow last spring when their starting shortstop, Jose Iglesias, went down with fractures in both of his shins. But according to GM Dave Dombrowski, he should be OK come February:

Iglesias is ramping up his baseball activity, president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said during the team’s end-of-the-season news conference Tuesday.

“The doctors tell me he’ll be fine,” Dombrowski said. “He’s going to be ready for spring training, he’s going to be ready to go, and he’s over all of his (injuries).”

Dombrowski is cautious in his assessment, however, likely remembering that last winter the thought was that Iglesias merely had shin splits and that he’d be fine with a few days off.

Either way, Iglesias going down led the Tigers to make constant adjustments at short, from Alex Gonzalez to Andrew Romine to Eugenio Suarez. Getting Iglesias back for 2015 would be like adding a top free agent for free.

Tigers face losing Max Scherzer, Victor Martinez to free agency

Max Scherzer

Celebrated Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski has a very difficult couple of months ahead of him. Not only is he faced with the annual questions about the state of his bullpen, but he could lose 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and 2014 AL MVP candidate Victor Martinez in free agency.

Related: Orioles sweep away Tigers in ALDS

The Tigers prepared for Scherzer’s departure when they made the David Price trade in July, so they can subtract their best pitcher and still have one of the AL’s best rotations with Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez sticking around. They’ll probably add a veteran fifth starter, too, or at least someone who can compete with internal candidates like Kyle Lobstein and Robbie Ray.

The lineup is a bigger concern. Martinez seems happy in Detroit and will be quite a bit cheaper to retain than Scherzer. There’s a good chance Dombrowski can convince him to stick around, perhaps for something like $60 million for three years. The Tigers will also have to decide whether to retain Torii Hunter in free agency. He might choose to retire. They’ll need to go out and get a center fielder after trading Austin Jackson as part of the Price deal. The shortstop situation could be resolved if Jose Iglesias makes a successful return after missing the season with shin splints. Thoughts of trading Ian Kinsler and installing Eugenio Suarez at second base should be on the backburner now after the rookie’s disappointing finish.

Of course, Dombrowski can be expected to throw some more money at the bullpen this winter. Last year, he let Joaquin Benoit and Jose Veras go, replacing them with Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlain. He also traded for Joakim Soria in July. Nathan is due to return in 2015, but Chamberlain is a free agent. The Tigers hold a $7 million option on Soria’s contract that they might prefer to decline. Expect Dombrowski to open the wallet for a lefty this time around. Andrew Miller , who pitched 3 1/3 hitless innings in the ALDS, would be ideal, and the Tigers might well be the favorites to land him. Zach Duke, Neal Cotts and Joe Beimel would be more affordable options. Depending on how much he spends on offense, Dombrowski could also sign one of the top righties available from the group of David Robertson, Koji Uehara, Francisco Rodriguez and Sergio Romo.

With the Royals expected to lose James Shields and no one else spending big in the AL Central, the Tigers will likely enter next year as division favorites once again. After all, they have one of the best GMs around and almost twice the budget of their competition. It just won’t be as clear cut as it has been in recent seasons, at least not unless Dombrowski has something truly special in store.