The centerpiece of the package the Tigers received in return for Doug Fister is about to arrive.
The Situation: When Anibal Sanchez went on the disabled list with a finger laceration, the Tigers knew they would need another starter on May 6. The speculation as to who that starter would be ended when Detroit announced that the headliner in the Doug Fister trade, Robbie Ray, would take the bump next Tuesday in place of Sanchez.
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A division can't be won or lost in the first week, but these teams did have relatively hefty playoff-odds swings already.
Last year, the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, PA issued a correction for a piece it had written on the Gettysburg Address, 150 years earlier. “We pass over the silly remarks of the President,” they had written in 1863. “For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of." It took some time, yes, but Patriot-News staff eventually did check themselves before they wrecked themselves.
Not one of Tyler Collins' or Roenis Ellis' PECOTA comparables was a major leaguer. But Collins, Ellis, and the rest of these unknowns are on MLB rosters today.
Opening Day is here, and that means it's time to introduce the unknowns who made rosters. This year's edition includes some new quirks. In addition to an expanded roster, each capsule now includes the player's major league service time (MLS) and the percentage of their PECOTA comparables who played in the bigs during the comparable season (MLB%), as a crude way to determine the unexpectedness of their Opening Day assignment.
Viewing the slugger's $248 million deal through a behavioral economics lens.
There is a lot we do not know about the decision to give Miguel Cabrera his new, enormous contract extension. There is a lot we will never know about it. There are factors that might or might not have factored into the decision. We could say that this has been the plan all along. We could say that at this juncture, this is what the Tigers thought was best for the franchise or that this what the Tigers thought was the best allocation of their resources. People will also say that the Tigers may have done this to justify the Doug Fister trade and/or to justify not extending Max Scherzer. People will probably respond to this by saying that maybe the plan was to extend either Scherzer or Cabrera, or both. People will say a lot of things about a person getting paid that much money to play baseball.
Again, we were not in the room (this is an assumption I am boldly making) and we do not know what Dave Dombrowski or Mike Ilitch were thinking. As individuals, I have no idea how either of them usually thinks in these situations. What we do know is how people think; we know how most people think. Consequently, there are some behavioral economic factors that are related to how people might think if in they were in the same situation as the Tigers’ leadership. In other words, the below is not about how the decision was made, but rather about how decisions are often made.
The Tigers and Stephen Drew could help each other out, and the Royals come close to picking a fifth starter.
Could the Tigers and Stephen Drew rescue each other? News surfaced over the past couple of days that Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias could spend most of the 2014 season on the shelf with long-term injuries to both of his shins. Detroit’s only internal replacement is Hernan Perez, who turns 23 on March 26 and did little at the plate in a 71-plate-appearance sample last year.
The Tigers cleared a spot for Drew Smyly to start again. Does he have the right credentials?
Three seasons ago, Phil Coke started 14 games for a playoff-bound Detroit team. Coke, who the Yankees reared as a starter during his prospect days, had appeared in 158 games by that point, with all but one coming in relief. (The exception was a spot-start in the previous season's finale.) Success felt like a long shot, yet Detroit's effort made sense. As Detroit's pitching coach Jeff Jones, who served as the club's bullpen coach at the time, later explained, "[Coke] had the variety of quality stuff, he'd done it before and been successful in the minor leagues." Coke's variety of stuff and minor league success never yielded results, however, and the overwhelmed lefty returned to the bullpen by midseason.
Jones's experience with Coke during that forgettable trial should serve as a nice reference point this spring, when he converts another southpaw reliever into a starter. The pupil this time is Drew Smyly, whose transition should come easier. Smyly's stay in the bullpen lasted one season and was caused by a deep, talented rotation. Rather than send him to the minors, Dave Dombrowski used him to stabilize the bullpen. Things worked out well on all fronts: Detroit led the AL in rotation ERA and Smyly posted the game's second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio among left-handed relievers.