Posted on: July 16, 2009 11:21 pm

Detroit Tigers 2009 Mid Term Grade Card

Ok… It is midterm report card time again…… Even though I am an Orioles’ fan, I see more Tiger games than O’s games due to geography.  I have found this group to be entertaining and so let’s take a look at the Tigers and objectively grade the individual performances for the first half of the season.


C- Gerald Laird – A- .  I have to admit that when he was picked up by Dave Dombrowski, I was more than a little skeptical.  Gerald has put the gear on every day and done a very good job for this team.  His bat is not spectacular, but it seems like he has the ability to get a timely hit.  He can move runners with the bunt, and he rarely makes mistakes running the bases. Although in an ideal world you would like to see your catcher with 10 or more homers at the break, Gerald has been ok.  Now… his strongest suit is his ability to call a game and work with the pitchers.  Excellent.  I think Gerald has been a nice surprise and I think he has earned an A- for the first half.


1B – Miguel Cabrerra -  A- .   Miguel has very very very good first half numbers. He is hitting .321 with 18 homers.  He has played a very solid first base defensively.  He is an excellent player.  Hopefully he can regain that torrid hitting stroke that he displayed the first two months of the season to finish in the .330 to .340 range with about 40 homers….  That is what will be needed for the Tigers to get past the first round of the playoffs.


2B – Placido Polanco – B- . Placido just hasn’t found the groove so far this year.  He still fields the position as well as anyone.  He has  only one error in 377 chances.  That definitely pushes him into the B range… the offensive side of the equation though is not quite as good.  Placido is only hitting .256.  Not good.  The only ray of positive has been the six home runs.  I certainly hope Placido has a better second half at the plate.


SS – Adam Everitt – B- .  Everitt has done ok.  He has contributed some timely hits, and does a great job moving runners up via the sacrifice.  Eight errors keeps him out of the A range, and even though he is still finding his way with the team, his contribution to the group would be enhanced if he could just get on base a little more often. A .318 on base percentage doesn’t get it done.


3B – Brandon Inge – A .  Period. This man has had a career year going since the opening day.  His extra work with Lloyd McClendon is paying large dividends.  Who would have ever dreamed that he would be hitting a very respectable .268 with 21 homers and 58 R.B.I.’s?  Who would have ever dreamed that he would even be considered for the All Star team, even though he just slipped in?  He has been excellent and even though he threw up a goose egg at the home run derby, he has been nothing short of a quality big league baseball player so far in 2009.


LF – Josh Anderson – B . Josh’s 12 steals are a plus for a team that historically doesn’t utilize speed historically. Josh has made the start in left 37 times.  He has committed three errors.  He has hit for an ok .250 average.  But…. Josh needs to find a way to get on base more often.  A paltry .282 on base percentage reminds us that it is great to steal bases, but it is impossible to steal first.  Josh has been ok.  With a little seasoning, he could end up being a contributor for a few years.


CF – Curtis Granderson – A-.  Curtis has led off games, he has batted third, he has batted fourth, he has done everything the Jim Leyland has asked of him.  He does a wonderful job in the field, specifically the catch he made to rob Grady Sizemore of the walk off home run will be one that I and many others will remember for a long time.  He still strikes out a little too often (75 in 339 at bats, second to Inge), and he still struggles with the strike zone from time to time.  My only real worry about Curtis is the triples thing.  The last couple of years, he has been a triples machine.  This year… drought.  I realize that there is often more luck than skill involved in the triples category, but none the less the drop off is notable.   Now that you think I have spent most of the evaluation on the negative side, let me say this, Curtis Granderson is the deal maker or deal breaker on this team. As he goes, so goes this team.  Right now the Tigers are in first place, therefore, Curtis gets an A.


RF – Magglio Ordonez – C-.  Has father time finally caught up with Magglio?  Is he injured?  He has not been a regular now for almost a month.  He needs to get going, or he needs to go.  I realize that is strong, but his experience and his salary demands that he provide more than he has provided so far.  I have always enjoyed watching him play the game.  Maybe a C- is a little generous, but maybe he can turn it around soon.  I certainly hope so.


SP – Justin Verlander – A-.  The only reason he doesn’t have a straight A is because of the rough start to the season.  He has been a leader in every sense. He has “fixed” whatever was wrong with him a year ago.  His strikeout totals are impressive and the walks have not really been an issue.  He has a better than 50/50 chance to win the game every time out.  An All Star and the team’s ace. 

SP – Edwin Jackson – A .  Has exceeded everyone’s expectations by leaps and bounds.  He is a gamer. He battles and knows how to pitch rather than just throw.  An All Star, who has a very bright future.  A good second half from Edwin, and the Tigers won’t have to worry about the Twins or the White Sox.


SP – Rick Porcello – B+ .  The youngest player in the American League. I know that some out there in cyber land will think this is a low grade for the rookie, but I don’t think he gets the “A” because of his limited durability, his walks, and his recent outings where he was shakey.  I am very impressed with his poise and mound presence. His eight wins are excellent, and the future bright.


SP – Armando Gallaraga – D+.  At first glance maybe a D+ is too high.  But…. You have to remember that last year he was brand new.  We are still waiting to see if Armando can overcome the sophomore jinx.  His last two outings prior to the All-Star break were very very good.  As long as he can continue to work on it, his grade will continue to climb.


SP – Dontrelle Willis – F.  Failure.  Unable to right the ship, and is looking to go the way of Gary Sheffield.  He seems like a likable fella, but bottom line is that he has not earned his pay check, and continues to be a mystery.


CL – Fernando Rodney – A- .  Fernando has converted on all 19 save opportunities.  That is 100% and usually that should be enough to get you the “A”.  However, when called upon in non-save opportunities, Fernando is nothing short of scary.  I worry that he will not be able to keep up the pace and will cost the Tigers some key games here and there.  One other observation on Fernando…. I like that he straightened his cap out this year.  It makes him look more professional.  Maybe that is just foolishness on my part, but I think his approach to the job, has changed from a year ago, and that is a plus.


Set Up – Joel Zumaya – B- .  Joel has shown some flashes of spectacular in the first half.  He has been clocked at speeds upwards of 103.  His physical tools seem to have recovered.  Now… if he can just somehow learn to focus and bring some consistency to the hill, he can be a major asset all the time, not just some of the time.  He is entertaining to watch pitch, but it is sort of like watching a NASCAR race, you just know there is going to be a wreck, but you just aren’t sure when and where.


RP – Bobby Seay – A- .  Has been solid.  He has expanded his role of situational lefty to staying in for a few right hand batters as well.  He doesn’t walk many, and Jim Leyland uses him in some tight spots.


RP – Brandon Lyon – C.  I expected more from Lyon.  He seems prone to giving up the home run, and he always seems to be pitching from behind in the count.  Still, I believe that he can get it turned around, and will have a better second half.


RP – Zach Miner – B.  Zach does a lot of positive things for the ball club and really doesn’t get much credit.  I think he does the dirty work.  Long relief, spot starter, situational match up guy are all roles that he has filled this year.  He is not flashy, but he usually gets the job done.


Everyone else gets an incomplete….  I do want to mention that I am growing more and more confident with Fu-Te Ni.  I think he has the potential to contribute down the stretch in the right situations.


Coaching Staff -  B+.  Despite dropping the ball last year, this staff does a good job on a day to day basis.  I realize that Jim Leyland is a lightening rod every time something doesn’t pan out, but the bottom line is that Jim has the team in first place.  What more can he be asked to do than lead the division at this point?  The pitching consistency has greatly improved and that can be directly attributed to Rick Knapp.  The offense has been pretty thin so far in the first half.  Lloyd McClendon has done a great job turning Brandon Inge around, but the drop off in Polanco and Ordonez is troubling.  Belliard and Van Slyke have the defense playing well.  I believe a “B+” is deserved.  The proof will be in the second half finish.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 1, 2009 8:32 am

Final Report Card - Re-entered

I originally posted this in October, but have discovered that is no longer being posted.  I wonder if it got lost in the transistion to the new URL or some other cyber glitch....  Anyways... I would like to repost it so that it will be saved for reference later this year.


After two of the busiest weeks of my entire lifetime, I have managed to sit and contemplate my end of the season grade card for the 2008 Detroit Tigers.  Now mind you that I should first state publicly that I am a Baltimore Orioles fan deep down inside, but living in the greater Toledo, Ohio area with a long (grandfather that lived/breathed/and died a Tiger fan since the days of Cobb and Gehringer) family historical love affair with the Tigers, very Detroit Tigers, I feel qualified to call myself a Detroit Tiger supporter (except when they are playing the Orioles).


I graded the Tigers at mid-season and now am compelled to evaluate the season in total.


Lets get started with:


The Coaching Staff: D

Their grade at midterm was C+.  The team was not ready coming out of spring training and frankly never recovered.  I have always thought that Jim Leyland has been a very good baseball coach. His approach and method is respected by people who know baseball. He did not have a good year in 2008 for a variety of reasons. No excuses offered…. Jim gets a D+ for 2008.  Belliard and Van Slyke C’s, Gene LaMont B-, Lloyd McClendon D, and Chuck Hernandez D-.  Advice for 2008…. Get ‘em ready before the battle.



C- Ivan Rodriguez - C 

Didn’t finish the year with the club obviously, but still gets a grade since he was a major part of the team for a majority of the year. I was sad to see him go, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come back. He had a subpar year and his durability is starting to wane.  He can still call a game behind the plate and his ability to handle young pitchers is way above average.


C/3B – Brandon Inge – C-

Brandon had a decent year defensively, but obviously continues to struggle at the plate. He is valuable asset because of his ability to play in a variety of places, but I suspect that we grade him down because we expect more of Brandon than he is able to produce on a regular basis. 


1B – Miguel Cabrera  A-

After the adjustment period of switching leagues, Miguel showed why he is paid the way he is paid.  His move from third base to first was far smoother than I would have ever predicted. He hit, he fielded, and he competed.  The only reason this grade isn’t a straight A is due to his very very very slow start.


2B – Placido Polanco – B+

A very good year in the field, even though he did make a few errors this year, Placido is a good player that 90% of the teams in major league baseball would welcome to their team. His ability to get the timely hit is still top notch.  His average slipped this season and that is his strength.  A very good year from Placido, but certainly not his best.

SS- Edgar Renteria – D

Not a good year at all.  An absolutely awful first half with a few exceptions in a game here and there.  He never seemed to get it going until it was clear that the Tigers were not going to the playoffs.  Is it possible that Edgar just isn’t an American League player? 


3B – Carlos Guillen – C+

Carlos was the lone all star representative and for that he gets the “+”….  But as for the rest, Carlos was average.  He always seems to be hurt, and “out of position” defensively.  The injury factor seems to be a yearly thing.  He is a good major league player when he plays, but where?  Shortstop? Third? First? Outfield? DH?  Unknown….  I sure hope he stays healthy in 2009, but I am not going to hold my breath on that one.


LF- Marcus Thames – C

Pretty average season for Marcus. His power numbers were very good in the first half, but as the scouts studied him, he became less of a threat at the plate.  He is a slightly below average outfielder who seemed to struggle fielding balls cleanly. 


CF – Curtis Granderson – A

He came out of the gate injured and simply worked his way back to being the offensive catalyst of the team.  His defense was superb and his weakness of excessive strike outs has been fixed.  He had a very good year and has earned the “A”.


RF – Magglio Ordonez – B-

Hit well but for less power. He never seemed to be quite right though.  His defensive skills seemed to slip away as the Tigers’ chances for qualifying for the playoffs slipped away.  As the true leader of the team, it also seemed like his ability to make the people around him better also faded this year.  A very good player, he just didn’t seem to achieve his usual level of performance.


DH – Gary Sheffield – F

It just didn’t work out this year for the Chef.  He didn’t get to 500 homers. He didn’t get to play in the field like he wanted. He took shots in the media at his team mates when things weren’t going well. He didn’t get the job done.  F



Clete Thomas – C+

Matt Joyce – B-

Ryan Raburn – C-

Jeff Larish – C-



Category: MLB
Posted on: July 13, 2008 1:44 pm

First Half Grade Card


Since I am on vacation and have some free time, I will venture out here and offer the
following grades for this  team.
First Half Grade Card
Despite the hype, this team is average to slightly above average in the American League.
They have the talent to be one of the top two or three, but haven’t performed all that well.
Injuries and inconsistencies on the mound and plate have caused them to disappoint and
not live up to the hype. A great month of June alone is what saved them from the “D/F”
Coaching Staff: C +
This team was not ready to play coming out of spring training and for that the
staff deserve a “D”. That is the number one job of the staff. Granted that they had a large
number of new players to fit into the puzzle, but the team was not ready. No excuse for
that. Now…. Given that I have ripped them, I will say that Jim Leyland has done a “B+”
job with the young guys and adjusting to the never ending stream of injuries. The defense
is ok for the most part thanks to Rafael Belliard and Andy Van Slyke. The pitching staff
has been wildly inconsistent as have been the hitters so Chuck Hernandez and Lloyd
McClendon have each earned a “C-”. Gene LaMont does a decent job at third base. He
hasn’t gotten too many thrown out at home or third. He gets a “B+”
C - Ivan Rodriguez: B -
Pudge has brought his batting average up from a year ago, and still handles pitchers well;
as well as, doing a solid job behind the plate. Six steals are a plus. The only thing that
keeps him from getting a higher grade is his declining durability. He just doesn’t start as
often as he used to and that causes some problems when the back up has to be used more
1B – Miguel Cabrera: B -
Miguel was a very slow starter. There are probably a 100 reasons why. He has the
“potential” to be the “dude”, and although he has shown great improvement over the past
two or three weeks, he is still a work in progress. His defensive move to first base is
scary, but not as scary as watching him play third base was early in the year.
2B – Placido Polanco: B+
After a rugged start, Placido has come around to being the reliable hitter that he has been
in the past. The thing that keeps him from being graded higher is the fact that he has
committed an astounding six errors and has a .986 fielding percentage. Now granted that
is pretty good, but consider that he didn’t make a single error last year in the first half. I
know this is picky, but in my opinion the errors and slow start keep him out of the “A”
range and gives him room for improvement for the second half.
SS – Edgar Renteria: D
Obviously Edgar hasn’t been the boost the team was looking for when they traded to get
him. His May-June-July slump at the plate has been monumental. To his credit, he did
come up with a couple of big hits early in the year that were clutch (2 grand slams vs.
Cleveland, and an 8 game hitting streak in April). Still he has been a disappointment with
assorted injuries and lack of production that you would expect from a veteran of his
experience. He is reminding me of when he played for Boston.
3B – Carlos Guillen: B
Carlos is the All-Star rep for the team. He hits and he occasionally hits for power. He has
been pretty steady the first half. He is very scary in the field. His performance at first
base was poor at best. I would have thought that he would have put some serious work
into learning the footwork during the off season since he was projected to be the starter
from the beginning. He does ok at third base, but I always hold my breath on the
throw. A good second half will earn him an “A”.
LF – Marcus Thames: B+
Marcus leads the team in homers, and has been a very good team player, not complaining
or causing problems when he wasn’t playing on a regular basis. He does a good job in the
field, and even though he strikes out a little too often, he has been a reliable player.
CF – Curtis Granderson: B+
Curtis gets a B+ only because of the slow start due to injury. He has returned to provide
the lead off guy the team needs. He hits no matter who is pitching. He works hard all the
time, you never see him slack on the bases or in the field. If he stays healthy he will be
the most valuable Tiger this year.
RF – Magglio Ordonez: C+
Hmmm… tough grade maybe, but Magglio hasn’t been the Magglio of 2007. Now
granted you can’t expect someone to win the batting title every year, but his average has
dropped quite a ways and his power has dropped as well. Now with the injury bugging
him, I worry that he will not be the “dude” the team needs him to be.
DH – Gary Sheffield: F
Let me start off by stating that I have always liked Gary Sheffield. He hit for average and
power. He ran the bases well. He was never a liability in the field. He seemed like a very
good player for almost his entire career. He has always had a rap for being a pain in the
clubhouse and for being uncoachable, but his performance in my opinion made it possible
to overlook some of his “baggage”. This year Gary has not done anything to really help
the Detroit Tigers. I would personally give him ten games to get it turned around or give
him his outright release (aka Jacque Jones).
Brandon Inge: B
Brandon has been solid for the Tigers. I commend his professionalism of handling his
role change. He is a team player and has demonstrated that he will do what the team
needs him to do. His batting statistics have slipped a little, but I suspect that is due to not
being a “regular”. He has been more than adequate as the back up catcher. Still he needs
to hit for a little more average and pop one over the fence a little more often to reach to
get a higher grade.
Clete Thomas: C+ / B-
It is too early to really know what Clete can do. He has performed pretty much like you
would expect a rookie to perform. His defensive skills seem to be a little ahead of his
offensive skills. I think he will be a very reliable player in a couple of years, or a nice
player to use in a trade to upgrade the team some how.
Matt Joyce: B- / C+
Matt seems to be a little better hitter lately than Clete, but it is way too early to make the
decision as to how good Matt Joyce can be, or what role he will have in the second
half. He and Thomas can be ultra valuable if Magglio doesn’t come back from the
oblique injury strong.
Ryan Raburn: C
Ryan plays a big part in Jim Leyland’s rotation to rest the regulars. He is ok defensively
in the outfield and in the utility role in the infield. He does hit for a little more power than
the other subs, but I just don’t see him being the spark this team needs. Maybe I am being
a little hard on him, but I just need to see more than he has provided so far. Maybe he is
the one to offer in a trade for a more reliable bullpen arm?
Jacque Jones: F
Total disaster. See ya Jacque
Jeff Larish: C
Jeff Larish is probably the guy to eventually take over the DH spot. He will hit you a
home run or he will strike out. He obviously needs to be a lot more disciplined at the
plate and there is no room at first base with Cabrera there. Time will tell, but I suspect
two years from now he will be the everyday DH.
Ramon Santiago: Incomplete
Injuries and very limited playing time don’t allow a grade at this point. Although I will
say the batting average is very promising.
Brent Clevlan, Mike Holliman. Dane Sardinha: No Grade
Each has had a cup of coffee in the first half due to injuries. They will play a bigger role
in Toledo’s quest for a playoff spot in the International League.
Justin Verlander: C+
Cy Young hopeful, was not ready to go the first ten starts. He is still the best starting
pitcher the Tigers have. He will be an all-star for years to come. But he has been average
this first half overall. He needs to cut down the pitch count and challenge hitters instead
of looking to strike everyone out. Like I said, he is the “dude”, but has not performed to
his capability or expectation so far this year.
Nate Robertson: C
Nate is an innings eater. He is not flashy. He does not dominate for more than one game
at a time. He is an “ok” major league pitcher. He has a good work ethic. He seems to be a
team guy, but…. He is average.
Kenny Rogers: C+
I would give Kenny an “A” for guts and determination, but his performance has been
very uneven. I realize that the man is 43 and the oldest player in Major League Baseball,
but his performance is simply ok for the first half. He still fields his position better than
anyone, and his experience is a great plus for the younger guys, but he just didn’t do that
well overall in the first half.
Armando Galarraga: A
Armando has been a major surprise and probably the single biggest reason why the
Tigers are .500 rather than sub .500. He will have to be durable through the second half
for the team to have any chance at a playoff spot. But based on first half alone, he has
earned and deserves and “A”.
Jeremy Bonderman: Incomplete
I know you think this is a cop out, but he didn’t get to finish his work. Who really knows
how long and how badly his injury was hurting him? I have always like him, and I
sincerely hope he makes it back from the career threatening injury he has.
Eddie Bonine: B+
The young fella has done a pretty good job, despite being roughed up the last couple of
times out. He shows good composure and has a future in the second half rotation with his
Todd Jones: C
I know, I know….. some of you want his head on a stake in front of Comerica Park,
however, he has completed all but two of his “save” missions. He is always scary the way
he puts runners on and goes to a 3-2 count on everyone it seems, but there are not many
people who are available to fill the closer role at this time on this team.
Dontrelle Willis: F
I don’t know what has gone wrong here, but no one would have ever guessed he would
be so bad. I hope he can turn it around in Florida, but I have my doubts. I am not ready to
give him his release, but ….. I could be talked into it.
Joel Zumaya: C+
Despite his two initial appearances which were disasters, Joel seems to be regaining his
form and ability to get batters out. He still tries to overpower everyone all the time. In my
opinion, he needs to develop a change up or a pitch other than the burner that he can
throw for strikes. He is better than Matt Anderson was, but, Joel will suffer the same fate
if he doesn’t develop into a pitcher rather than just a thrower.
Fernando Rodney: D
He should probably get an incomplete, but he has just been poor each time he has gone
out and there seems to be little improvement. I suggest he be given ten opportunities and
if he doesn’t perform well in at least seven or eight, be offered for trade or let go.
Bobby Seay, Zach Miner, Aquilino Lopez, Freddy Dolsi, Casey Fossum, Clay Rapada, Francisco Cruceta : B
As a group of “mop up, stop gap, emergency role” guys this group has been a little better
than anticipated. Seay does what he is supposed to do. Dolsi has been probably the best
of the group, and being young has surprised a few. Miner is the long reliever that each
team needs, but has struggled with control issues. Fossum is scary. Rapada and Cruceta
just need work and should live in Toledo or Erie for a whole season

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or