As I sit down to write your Monday links column, fall is in the air. College football has started (kinda), NFL players are making the final adjustments for the start of the season — and if you’re Andrew Luck, that means retiring. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is finishing up the most recent iteration of the players weekend wherein the nicknames were more interesting than the uniforms (which were terrible).
Although the seasons appear ready to change, the Detroit Tigers remain the same. They held the status quo over the weekend, dropping two games of a road series against the Twins. Detroit now heads into an off day on Monday while they await a matchup against the Cleveland Indians.
Mercer moves aside
In a move that many a Tigers fan was hoping was inevitable, the team called up shortstop prospect Willi Castro from Toledo. Castro put together the kind of season at Triple-A that basically makes a call-up the only thing left to do. Considering that the only thing really blocking his way was Jordy Mercer — who has played (or not played) a season that would be generously described as lackluster — this is a move that seems to make sense. That said, it probably wouldn’t have happened until September had it not been for the injury to Niko Goodrum.
It was a move that Mercer knew was bound to happen sooner or later, and he’s handling it with class. Manager Ron Gardenhire, for what it’s worth, confirmed that Castro is here this early only because of the injury. He voiced a reluctance to release players who have been with the team for the whole season.
“That would be silly to do that, releasing people who’ve been here and done well for us and been good in the clubhouse.”
I’m assuming he’s referring to Mercer here — although quite a few might not agree with his opinion or philosophy. For Castro, the thing the team wants to see him improve upon is the defense, which is getting better. Let’s see what the young fella can do.
Cabrera and who?
Everyone knows the longest tenured Tiger is Miguel Cabrera. What most people do not know is who holds down the number two spot. That would be Harold Castro — a name I would hazard a guess many casual fans aren’t at all familiar with. This is a roster that is changing fast. Of the 25 players who broke camp with the team in March, only 11 remain. If you want to go into more depth on where players have gone or how long the guys the team currently has have been around check out Mike Mullholand’s piece for MLive.
Who is the real Drew VerHagen?
There are few players who have donned a Tigers uniform as frustrating as Drew VerHagen. He of the oddly capitalized last name has shown flashes of brilliance only to follow them up with maddening stretches of absolute mediocrity. After pitching himself out of the conversation of being a contributor to the current team in early spring, VerHagen has made his way back and his start last week — which capped off a solid four outing stretch — was one that may have people reconsidering his worth to the organization. VerHagen is pitching well and says he feels great. Let’s see if it sticks.
As the “This Team is Terrible” train continues to gain steam, the folks at FiveThirtyEight have jumped on board with a look at just how not good the 2019 Tigers are. It’s a stark look back at the futility of an organization that ended up with the abysmal 2003 team. The stats seem to line up pretty similarly for both squads, but ever the optimists, the team at FiveThirtyEight sees the 2019 team coming up just shy of the 2003 team in losses.
Catcher Jake Rogers isn’t supposed to be someone to worry about on the defensive side of things. That’s his calling card. So, it’s a bit surprising to see that he has six passed balls through his first 19 games. The team is chalking it up to a few different things, but the main focus is on pitch framing. The thought is that an effort on trying to “steal strikes,” as bench coach Steve Liddle puts it, has allowed pitches to get by the young backstop. When you go to the stats, some of the best pitch framers in the league are also guys with a high amount of passed balls. If all of this is to be believed, I guess it’s up to Rogers and the team to decide which of those two things they feel is more important to focus on.
Around the horn
Baseball is awesome
Here is Aaron Judge promising to hit a home run for a fan.
Here is Aaron Judge delivering.