It’s so close I can taste it. The trucks have completed the journey to Lakeland. Tuesday is a cold open of sorts for spring training as pitchers and catchers will officially report to a newly renovated Joker Marchant stadium for camp. It’s not the full-on start of spring training, but it’s more baseball than we have today, and that’s enough. As I settle into my boxed-wine induced slumber tonight, I’ll do so knowing that when I awaken I will have survived another offseason. One more day, folks. Here are some links to get you through.
The passing of Mike Ilitch
On Friday, we mourned the passing of Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. Tributes and outpourings of support from those in and outside the organization — and baseball in general — were plentiful. There isn’t anything I can say about Mr. Ilitch that hasn’t been said more eloquently already by others. I’m just thankful for a man who brought my team in from the wilderness and made them, and their city, relevant again. God speed, Mr. I, and thank you.
If you happen to be in the area and would like to pay your respects here are the details.
Five to watch
With spring training right around the corner, we’re running through previews of different positions. In that vein, George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press gives us five guys who won’t be heading north with the big club he thinks are worth keeping an eye on this spring. Spoiler alert: Joe Jimenez is on the list.
Getting in the zone
Craig Edwards at FanGraphs tackles a proposed rule change that is getting less coverage because it’s not as asinine as a proposal to start extra innings with a runner on second. The consideration of raising the lower bounds of the strike zone could have a pretty significant effect on pitchers who work lower in the zone, and closer Fransisco Rodriquez falls into that group. Fortunately, the Tigers have three starters who land firmly on the opposite end of that spectrum.
Oh, look, more prospect rankings
Baseball America, like so many publications before them, have released their list of the top 100 prospects in baseball. Pitching prospect Matt Manning is the only Tigers player to make the list, coming in at No. 61. I don’t know where their rankings generally tend to stack up with others, but it’s worth noting that when they ranked the top 10 in the Tigers organization back in November, they left Joe Jimenez off that list.
That’s a lot of blue
Check out this chart tracking how many 100+ mile-per-hour pitches have been thrown by individual pitchers. All that dark blue is Aroldis Chapman and his 1,942 pitches. Coming in fifth is Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon. Joel Zumaya managed to throw enough heat before his arm disintegrated to come in at the No. 7 spot. Justin Verlander is the first Tigers starting pitcher to make the list. There are a few current and former Tigers on that list. The one I love the most is Edwin Jackson down there at the very end. I’m not saying Jackson couldn’t throw hard in his day, but to see him on the list was surprising. I figured the only way that guy could find 100 mph was on the Autobahn.
Breaking down just how many more pitches 100 MPH+ Aroldis Chapman has thrown compared to everyone else... Although Cabrera is coming! pic.twitter.com/RCwgBgEBgk— Daren Willman (@darenw) February 10, 2017
Bartolo the boss
I have always had a soft spot for Big Sexy. To be honest, I would’ve loved to have seen him come to Detroit this off-season (but maybe not to the tune of a $12.5 million contract). Instead, the Atlanta Braves will be the full beneficiaries of this greatness. Oh, what could have been.
For your free time
Jeff Passan doesn’t seem to like Jeffrey Loria. The Braves, looking to up their old dude factor, acquire Brandon Phillips for dirt cheap. New Royals starting pitcher Jason Hammel apparently left the Cubs because of a disagreement with manager Joe Maddon. I don’t know that much about it, but you can put me in the “Maddon was probably right” camp. Collin Balester took a roundabout path back to the Tigers organization.
Baseball is awesome
Come to hear an announcer sleep on Vladimir Guerrero. Stay for him doubling down on his bad take. Guerrero shows just a glimpse of what will make him such a great player.