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Written by Matt Snyder | 01 June 2012

OmarInfanteTigersPat Caputo of the Oakland Press published a blog post on Monday calling the Tigers’ 2007 offseason trade of Omar Infantethe worst trade made by Dave Dombrowski that nobody talks about”. It’s true that Jaque Jones was terrible as a Tiger (he’s the guy the Tigers got in return for Infante), but Caputo’s point wasn’t that Jones himself returned poor value for Infante, instead he argues the Tigers were wrong to choose Ramon Santiago over Infante. Here’s the crux of his argument:

But the biggest mistake, in retrospect, the Tigers made regarding their infield was choosing Santiago over Omar Infante following the 2006 American League pennant-winning season.

Infante has gone to make an All-Star team as a utility infielder when he was with the Braves, and has since moved onto the Marlins where, playing second base, he is currently 10th in the National League with a .319 batting average and tied with Prince Fielder in OPS (on base and slugging percentage combined) at .880. His OPS has been .750 or better every season but one since leaving the Tigers. He is easily a stronger, faster, more productive player than any of the Tigers' current second base candidates.

Caputo wishes that Infante was around to handle the second base duties for the Tigers, which is fair (I think we’d all take him right now), but it’s not fair to blame his absence on a trade that took place five offseasons ago.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 01 June 2012

QuintinBerry2Detroit is Quintin Berry City, USA right now, but you can hardly blame the fans for going nuts over the guy. He’s touched home plate seven times in eight games, and has seemed to give the offense a shot in the arm with his speed. Since Berry’s call up, the Tigers’ offense has averaged 5.4 runs per game, a full run more than their season average to date.

But, while Berry has been pretty good at the plate (with a slash line of .294/.368/.412), there’s no way he’s going to keep those numbers up for very long.

Berry has very little home run power, only hitting 20 career homers in parts of seven minor league seasons. He may hit one or two if he was to stay in the lineup all year, but his power really comes from putting the ball in play and using his legs to take an extra base or two. That’s all well and good, plenty of players have made long and useful careers out of doing just that, but Berry’s future problem will be getting those balls in play to continue falling for hits.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 23 May 2012

ChrisTrubyIt struck me today that this 2012 baseball season marks the 20th year in which I have been “baseball conscious”*. Usually such milestones would cause one to wax nostalgically about the greatest players they saw play, but I’ll take the opposite approach. I caught the tail end of Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammel, and Kirk Gibson, which was cool, and I clearly remember Cecil Fielder blasting 30 home runs every year as a youngster, but the Tigers slugged through mediocrity in my youth, and then fell into the abyss when I turned into a teenager. (Remember that long gap between winning seasons in 1993 and 2006? That was ages seven and twenty for me.)

*Now that I think back and count the years, it’s probably year 21 (or 20 and a half), but that would ruin my even number upon which I’m basing this post.

I know I’m likely in the minority, but I count all the horrible years filled with horrible players among the things I’ve been blessed with as a Tigers fan. It gives me great perspective on the “horribleness” of this year’s currently “failed expectations”. With that in mind, I present to you the bottom of the barrel: the most forgettable player seasons of the last two decades**.

**To qualify for my list, a player must have played more games at his position than any other player on the roster that year. I’m taking the player with the lowest single-season OPS at each spot.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 22 May 2012

QuintinBerryAustin Jackson appeared all set to return to the team after the initial lineup had him penciled in prior to Tuesday night’s game, but he ended up being scratched from the lineup. Following the game, the Tigers designated pitcher Colin Balester for assignment, and purchased the contract of Quintin Berry from Toledo.

You may remember Berry as the center fielder who caught fans by surprise in spring training, hitting .333/.441/.556 in 30 plate appearances and remaining in camp until the final roster cuts. But hot spring aside, Berry has been a career minor leaguer with very little power, a mild batting average, and some decent on-base skill.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 22 May 2012

AustinJackson3A few pieces of important roster news trickled out today. First, Ryan Raburn was placed on the bereavement list*, and Danny Worth was called up from Toledo up to take his roster spot.

*The bereavement list allows players to take a handful of games off to attend to family emergencies. This usually indicates a serious illness or death in the family which, needless to say, is unfortunate news.

The Tigers have been hoping that Austin Jackson, who’s been out since May 16 with a strained abdominal muscle, would be able to return to the lineup tonight. Jackson spent some time in the batting cage this afternoon, but Jim Leyland is waiting for final word on his health before releasing his lineup. Leyland did say that Jackson will leadoff if he’s able to go, and Ramon Santiago would leadoff if he isn’t.

[UPDATE] Austin Jackson is included in the lineup tonight. Very good news.

[UPDATE 2] Apparently the lineup that was tweeted out was erroneous. Kelly is playing center field for Jackson.

As reported by James Schmehl of MLive, Jim Leyland announced that closer Jose Valverde will be available out of the bullpen tonight. Valverde has been out of action since leaving the field on May 15 with a lower back strain. He’s expected to slide back into the closer role, while Joaquin Benoit returns to eighth inning duties.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 21 May 2012

2012ASGMost teams have now played between 40-42 games, so we’re now pretty much at the quarter point in the season. If Wins Above Replacement was to select the American League All-Star squad at this point in time, what would that team look like*?

*For the purposes of this post, I’m going to average the WAR values as reported on FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.

Before I get to the picks, here’s my selection process: I wanted to mimic last year’s roster composition of 21 hitters and 13 pitchers. For hitters, I selected the top two players in WAR at each position to have a starter and a reserve (I selected a second reserve at the catcher position). I then filled out the hitter portion of the roster (the last two spots) by selecting the two highest WAR players that ranked third at their position. For pitchers, I copied last year’s mix of eight starters and five relievers, and selected accordingly (players with both starting and relief appearances were classified as starters).

I’ll start with the hitters:

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Written by Matt Snyder | 19 May 2012

OrlandoHudsonOrlando Hudson was designated for assignment and then released from the San Diego Padres late this week, making him available for any team to sign. The Tigers have struggled to get any sort of prodction out of the second base position so far this season, so I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to kick the tires on the veteran second sacker.

Hudson has won four gold gloves in his career -- he's played nothing but second base -- but advanced fielding metrics indicate that he's no longer the plus fielder that he once was. Not that he's close to being a butcher at second base, but his defense is probably only average (plus or minus a couple of runs) at this point. Almost certainly better Ryan Raburn with the glove (although he hasn't been the nightmare I expected), but not an upgrade over Ramon Santiago or Danny Worth.

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