Saturday, April 13, 2019

Its Baseball Season Again!!!

Yes, just as the daffodils and tulips and chives are popping up, the Tigers have come north and are playing baseball again.  A couple of weeks in and there haven't been nearly the rainouts as last year, but one snow-out in Minnesota!

Being a Tigers fan has been painful the last few years, especially during the tail end of the Brad Ausmus human tranquilizer era.  But I feel like the hiring of Ron Gardenhire last year was the beginning of the turnaround for the Tigers.  He brings emotion, intensity, baseball knowledge, willingness to innovate, and the necessary prior success to gain the respect of the players.  I really like him and I like what he's doing on this team that is very young and inexperienced.  I hope he's still around when it's winning time again.  He's been through a lot since being fired at Minnesota.

Which brings me to the players.  An interesting bunch to be sure and if Gardy has anything to say about it they'll be competitive even though it's likely they'll finish with more than 90 losses again.

Unfortunately, they have already lost one of their pitching mainstays - Michael Fulmer - for the year to "Tommy John" surgery.  Probably won't see him again until next year around the All-Star break.  It also adds to the concerns that he is injury prone and will never be be a 30+ starts and 200+ innings pitcher they hoped he would be. We'll see what happens there.

Speaking of oft-injured pitchers, Daniel Norris is back for another try.  After coming over from Toronto in the David Price trade as the prime part of the deal, he has had nothing but health issues.  This will be a key year for his career, as he needs to show he can both stay healthy and pitch consistently.  Came north as a long-reliever, but almost immediately got put in the rotation due to a knee injury to free agent Matt Moore, who will be rehabbing to see if he can avoid surgery to repair a meniscus issue.  The Tigers are hoping he can be another Mike Fiers that can be flipped for prospects at the trade deadline.  This puts a big question mark on that possibility.

The other free-agent pitcher, Tyson Ross, has been OK: 1-2, 3.50 ERA, 1.28 WHIP.  He's getting nearly 6 million dollars this year, so he needs to do well, not just OK

So the other Starters:

Jordan Zimmerman - highest paid pitcher has really been a bust so far for the Tigers. He is another one who just can't stay healthy.  Here's hoping this is his year to rebound, like Justin Verlander did a couple of years ago after some rough seasons health-wise.  Because we're likely stuck with him this year and next.

Matthew Boyd - the real gem of the David Price deal, he has been the steadiest pitcher the Tigers have had over the last couple of seasons.  Really coming into his own now.  Keep going Matthew!  You'll be beloved here like Verlander if you do.

Spencer Turnbull - promising rookie who has all the tools.  Hopefully he'll keep his head above water and grow into what the Tigers hope is a solid starter for years to come.

Bullpen:

Shane Greene has been lights out so far, setting some save records already.  Gardenhire is concerned about overusing him early and he should be.  Tigers need to score some runs so they aren't in the save situation every game, and Joe Jiminez needs to find some more consistency to spell Greene once in a while.

Joe Jiminez.  Frustrating is the word to describe him.  Can be lights out one day, then give up three runs the next.  He is young still - only his second full season.  But he needs to find the consistency that will keep him employed in Detroit for a long time.

Blaine Hardy.  What a great story.  DFA'd last year and cleared waivers, which meant nobody wanted him.  Went back to Toledo and found himself, then got called up and was one of the most consistent pitchers on the team, while handling several roles along the way, including starter when they were short there.  You've got to pull for a guy like that, and he's putting up good numbers so far. Keep it up, Blaine!

Farmer, Alcantera, Stumpf, and Garrett round out the bullpen.  Alcantera needs to be consistent - he's got the stuff to make it.  Stumpf has done well so far but doesn't have much of a track record.  Garrett is a Rule 5 pickup that has some promise, and will be put in positions where he can learn without damaging the team too much.  VerHagen was doing well until an injury in spring training set him back, so data on him yet.

Position Players - Miguel Cabrera is back, but right now is just a singles hitter.  Hopefully as the weather warms up so does he, otherwise it will be like watching the decline of Victor Martinez.  Supposedly he is hitting the ball hard, just doesn't have anything to show for it.  Given his history and the serious injury he's coming back from, he deserves some benefit of the doubt. He'll see a reduced role at 1B as Gardenhire tries to keep him fresh and healthy for an entire season.  That will be his first in about 3 years of that happens.

We imported the Pittsburgh Pirates middle infield from last year - Josh Harrison at 2B and Jordy Mercer at SS - and by all accounts they are doing well,  Except of course that Harrison pulled a quad in flipping Minnesota and is on the DL for a while.  Harrison will be intriguing on both offense and defense, and has already made some big plays.  Mercer is a good glove with a moderately good bat.  Not the defensive whiz of his predecessor, but a little better stick, so we'll see what happens there.

On the other corner Jeimer Candelario is back for his second full season with the Tigers.  Like most younger players he is looking for more consistency at the plate, but has played 3B pretty well.  Hit the wall last year as most rookies do, and struggled at the plate.  Look for him to improve there this year.  There are 3B prospects coming up so if he wants to keep his job he definitely needs to improve.

The outfield has been brutal so far this year.  JaCoby Jones hurt his shoulder making a diving catch late in spring training and was just activated this past Friday.  Center field play has suffered, as Jones is top-notch out there.  Mikie Mahtook didn't play well there and was batting .000 for the year, which got him DFA'd.  I think he cleared waivers but honestly, this was two years in a row he started out badly at the plate, so I don't see him staying around, as there are some prospects coming along that the Tigers will want to invest more playing time in.

Christin Stewart is the new left fielder.  Has a lot of potential and the Tigers are going to let him play and see what he's got.  Already has a Grand Slam, but it is his rookie year so you don't expect him to be lights out for the whole year.  This is where Mahtook's struggles hurt the team.  If he hits even a little he's a guy you can plug in there and he will play a good left field to give the kid a break now and then if he hits a little slump.  Not sure what the plan is there now.

Nick Castellanos is still here, despite being on the trading block the last two years.  Is still learning to be an outfielder but by all accounts has improved even from last year.  A proven major league hitter, of which the Tigers have all too few.  Personally I hope he stays around and gets to be a part of the next playoff contender here in Detroit.  He's put up with a lot of criticism over the years because the Tigers didn't put him in the best position to be successful defensively and I would like to see him have some success after settling in and finding his niche.

Catchers - Greyson Greiner is the rookie starter who by all accounts is a good receiver, caller of games, and has a strong, accurate arm.  If he hits, he stays.  If not, Jake Rogers is coming on in the minors.

John Hicks returns after missing last season with injury - he will share time with Cabrera at first and Greiner behind the plate.  Good spot for him to be - should see a lot of him this year.

Spare Parts - Niko Goodrum returns to his super-utility role after spending much of last year at 2B.  He is off to a great start, and will play most of the positions on the field at some point this season.  Gardenhire really likes him, and he seems to be a spark plug.

Gordon Beckham, against all odds, made the team as a backup infielder.  Has struggled since his rookie year with the White Sox and has bounced around a lot the last few years.  Veteran guy, won't see a lot of time on the field this year, although is the likely fill-in for Harrison while he is on the DL.

Dustin Peterson - called up when JaCoby Jones went down, has only played a little, so not much to go on here.  Lost favor in Atlanta and was put on waivers, where the Tigers promptly snached him up.  Apparently had a good reputation in the minors, which was why it was surprising to find him on waivers, but there it is.  Will likely spend most of his season at Toledo once Jones and Castellanos are back on the lineup.

So there you have it - my "expert" once-a-year analysis of the Detroit Tigers.  Sorry I missed it last year.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Dump Rudy

I'm just going to say it - President Trump needs to dump Rudy Giuliani.  Every time that guy opens his mouth, both of his feet go in and he ends up having to walk whatever he said back.  Which must really hurt given the placement of his feet.

Rudy - you've lost it.  Whatever your qualifications as a lawyer you have lost your PR touch, and you're doing more harm than good, both to the President and to your own reputation.

Mr. President, repeat after me:  "Rudy - you're fired"

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Snyder unveils plan for broadband throughout Michigan

This was the headline in The Detroit News today.  I have two things to say:

1. Hey Rick:  FIX THE DAMN ROADS!  If you've got money to do this, you should be spending it on the roads.  I'll bet there would be a much bigger economic impact from good roads than broadband to 350,000 rural households.  And if there are a couple of billion in positive economic impact in those 350,000 households, why aren't companies building the infrastructure themselves?  They want to make money, don't they?

2. If the government has so botched and mismanaged road repairs over the years, why would anyone think government could construct and manage a project like this?  Road technology doesn't change nearly as quickly as data infrastructure does (I know - I worked with a lot of it in my years in IT), so we'll end up with outdated infrastructure that will take more billions to upgrade in addition to the roads you've already messed up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Jim Brandstatter Out as Lions Color Man? Wow.

This was rather surprising news today (for Brandstatter too!).  Given the proverbial "going in a different direction" by WJR execs today.  Being replaced by Lomas Brown?  Really?  I loved Lomas as a player but he's hard to listen to as a speaker.  Just another painful color man to go along with a pretty good play-by-play guy, joining Jim "art of pitching, double buggywhip" Price (Tigers), Paul uhh Woods uhh (Red Wings), Jason "that's right George" Strayhorn (MSU Football).

It almost makes me want to listen to a UM Football game, just to hear someone who knows the game and can speak intelligibly as well.  Almost.

Jim Miller deserves better, as does Dan Dickerson and George Blaha.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dear Mr. President: No Pardon for Kwame

Yes, for those of you who follow my blog, I am still alive and kicking, and have finally found a topic that has my dander up enough to fire up the computer and write about it.

I nearly choked on my morning peanut butter sandwich when I read in The Detroit News that Kwame Kilpatrick, former Detroit mayor and current federal inmate, has appealed to President Trump to commute his sentence for swindling the taxpayers of Detroit, Wayne County, and the State of Michigan out of millions of dollars during his term of office.  To say nothing of the excruciating process and more millions of dollars it took to drag Detroit through the bankruptcy that got it back on the right track. 

It is not known if he has filed a new request or if this is a holdover from his prior appeal to the now ex-President Obama.  The article goes on to detail Kilpatrick's conversion to Christianity, his earning a Culinary Arts certificate, and all the mentoring he does in the prison as reasons for the pardon.  Additionally (and incredibly, in my mind) Kilpatrick actually has supporters out there who have given statements in the article and have set up a website to garner support for him.

So, since I know he reads my blog whenever I post (although probably at 3 am while he is Tweeting!), here are my thoughts, Mr. President:  DON'T YOU DARE!

Now, if Kilpatrick's prison conversion and subsequent good work with young prisoners are all true, no one will be happier about it than me.  God rejoices when anyone finds his way back to him, and all Christians should do the same.  So God bless and keep you Kwame, and guide you in all his ways.

However - none of this really releases you from the consequences of your prior actions that led to your conviction and incarceration.  You still have to bear the consequences of that, and that means a long prison term for you to serve.  Billy Graham would still have to pay his speeding ticket if he had been caught speeding.  His relationship to Christ would have no bearing on that infraction or it's consequences and he couldn't expect to get off because he was a really godly man who made a mistake.

So Mr. President, as a citizen of Michigan whose tax dollars have gone to recover from the mess this guy made in our state, I implore you NOT to pardon Kwame Kilpatrick.  It would be a slap in the face to all of us here in Michigan who still suffer from his past corruption.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Astroturfing the Brat March (via Aaron at "The Shekel")

Reposting Aarons summary of a Sultan Knish article on the Malevolent roots of the supposed Parkland Kids and their F-bomb dropping leader, young Mr. Hogg.

Aaron's article

March For Our Lies

Over at Sultan Knish, there's a very thorough look at the forces behind the so called "student-led" March for Our Lives push: Who Runs March For Our lives?
Interestingly enough, checking the Delaware Corporations filings, you can see that within 7 days of the Parkland shooting, on February 21 the March for Our Lives Foundation, the March For Our Lives Action Fund (Per Sultan Knish donations are funneled to a company in California) wre incorporated. The March for our Lives Lodging LLC soon followed on March 2 (you have to wonder what that one is for exactly - providing hotel space for activists perhaps?), and were all setup as Delaware companies.
If you think a bunch of teenagers set these up, that quickly, there's a lovely bridge in Brooklyn up for sale woth a special deal just for you. On top of that there was a very, very quick 501(c)4 filing to allow donations without disclosing the identifies of the donors. Kids did not set these up.
Professionals setup the Delaware corps and did the IRS elections, not your average teen that just learned to stop eating Tide Pods.
It's astroturfing from the Bloomberg and Friends through and through with the kids as a front.
If you think this was a sudden spur of the moment teenage-led attack on our rights you're wrong - it's a professionally planned, professionally propagandized, professionally organized, and professionally funded effort and needs to be answered accordingly.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Great Kindness of God

This summer and fall has been a momentous one for me and my family for many reasons, positive and negative.  But today, as well as earlier this summer, I was privileged to participate in baptizing my two daughters.

For those of my readers who may not be familiar with the Christian faith, baptism is a ceremony in which a person affirms his acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior, and joins himself to Christ, both in his death and burial, and in his resurrection, by which God accepted Jesus' atonement for the sins of his people.  Our tradition uses immersion in water as the representation of this burial, resurrection, and washing - others use the sprinkling method which basically involves either a wet hand or a small container of water being poured on one's head. For some traditions baptism is a necessity for being accepted by God, and others it's more of a public profession of the decision you have already made.

When we had our kids, we had the intention (and indeed, the responsibility) to raise them in the faith so they could make the decision to follow Christ for themselves, rather than thinking they were saved because mom and dad took them to church and read them Bible stories. So for both my girls to decide on their own to do this, and pursue it with the church all on their own without any prompting from us parents was really an answered prayer.  Many prayers for many years, actually!

So for me to be able to participate in the moment for both of them was a very great joy for me, and I am thankful to God for his kindness toward me and my children.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

MSU Radio Network Needs a New Color Analyst

Listening to the MSU-UM game on the radio tonight, and frankly, the Spartans radio network needs to find a new color analyst.  I've said it for years, but Jonathan Strayhorn is just painful to listen to.  His favorite saying is "That's right George", and he uses it on nearly every play.  There's no insight, just agreeing with consummate pro George Blaha.  If that's all you're going to do Jonathan, why do they need you in the booth. I know you're a Spartan through and through, and God bless you for it, but you are not cut out to be a broadcaster.

And I'm just going to say it - George Blaha is the Earnie Harwell of foorball announcers.  He is so smooth and so good, you love to listen to him. Football or basketball, it doesn't matter.  He's just that good.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Gotta say - I liked the White Helmets MSU Wore Today

This is apparently their alternate helmet this year.  In the past they have had a bronze one and a shiny metallic green one.  I like this white one a lot better than either of those.  They wore an all-white uniform today, even though it was a home game.  Which was a win, 28-14 over WMU.

I think they should wear the white helmet, white jersey, and green pants when they visit Michigan in a few weeks. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

One thing I'd like to see...

Given the daily reports and videos of the peaceful, tolerant, understanding, benevolent Antifa thugs beating the crap out of some poor schmuck because he's perceived to be a Trump supporter, what I would love to see sometime is to have one of these thugs pick on someone who is an MMA guy or a 5th degree black belt in some martial art, and have the tables totally turned on him. You know it would go viral very quickly on social media.

Yeah.  That would be completely worth watching.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

So now that the Tigers are out of it...

The question I'm asking myself is "Who do you keep and who do you get rid of for next year?"

Position Players
Keep:
Mahtook, CF.  He's played way above expectations and deserves to return as the starter next year.
Cabrera, 1B.  You have to keep him because of his contract, but confound it Miggy, you have to find a way to get your back fixed this offseason.
McCann, C. Still developing, and playing better of late.  Best of the bunch between Hicks and Holaday.
Romine, OF/IF.  Fills the role that Don Kelly used to, only he hits a lot better.  Useful guy.
Upton, LF.  If he wants to stay, keep him.  He's been the most consistent hitter on the team since last August.

Trade:
Kinsler, 2B.  If you can get something for him, do it.  Seems to have hit the age barrier and performance seems to be declining.
Castellanos, 3B.  Defense has regressed, probably better at first base going forward, but unless Cabrera moves to DH, it won't be in Detroit that this happens.
Iglesias, SS.  Machado seems to be ready to go here, and is a lot cheaper.  Get what you can.

Fence Guys:
Assorted pieces and parts, keep or package as needed for depth or prospects.
Adduci, Pressley.

Cut:
V. Martinez, DH.  God bless him, he's been a great Tiger and a great hitter, but the legs are gone and he's just a singles hitter now.  The shift has been his downfall.  Give him a coaching job, make him a scout, or put him in the front office, but his body has given out on him.

Pitchers
Keep:
Fulmer, SP.  New #1 guy, someone you build a staff around.  Only trade for multiple spectacular players.
Saupold, RP.  Found his niche as a long man and has done really well this year.
Greene, RP.  Only thing resembling a closer on the roster right now.  Eventually the closer will be Jiminez, but not yet.
Jiminez, RP.  Just needs to pitch in the bigs.  Nothing left to prove in the minors.
Zimmerman, SP.  Going nowhere because of the money he is owed, but he needs to find himself next year.
Norris, SP.  Another guy that needs to find himself, but too much talent to let go of.
Boyd, SP.  Just needs to pitch in the bigs.  Probably a 3rd or 4th starter long-term.
Bell, RP.  Another guy who is doing well in the long relief role
Stumpf, RP.  Has shown some progress since returning from the minors.

On the Fence:
Rondon, RP.  Big arm, no maturity.  Has to show up to camp in shape and ready to rock or he gets cut.
Wilson, RP.  Another guy who needs to find himself.  Still has potential.
Verlander, SP.  Never thought this day would come, but he deserves to go to a contender and get a championship.  I just hope it isn't the Yankees he goes to.  Must bring a big haul of prospects wherever he goes.

Cut:
Sanchez, SP.  Whatever he may have found earlier, he has lost again.  Time to let him go.

Lots of roles left after this list, particularly Right field, but there's some guys waiting to step in and some other guys that will be on the market for cheap trying to revive their careers.

One big question left:  Manager.  I always liked Ausmus as a player, but I don't see any fire in these guys.  Jim Leyland used to instill it, but you haven't seen it since Ausmus has been here.  Everyone's cool, calm, collected.  "That's baseball" is a common refrain - "nothing you can do about it.  Just show up tomorrow and start over".  No grit.  No toughness.  No fire.  I say find someone who will light a fire under these guys.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Beautiful Stained Glass

Was at my nephew's wedding recently and saw this beautiful stained glass window above the altar.
It's a little fuzzy, and not as bright as it was in person, but it was the best my old iPod Touch could do.  Still, it's a very moving piece of art.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Well, National Match Week is here again

And how do I know this, you may ask?  A couple of reasons:
  1. The house is quiet again after last minute brass-cleaning sessions with the vibratory cleaner running for hours on end cleaning brass because there aren't enough cartridges made. Also, because my daughter and the usual whirl of activity isn't here, having been dropped off with the team yesterday for an 0300 departure this morning.
  2. A car is available for use by someone other than her.
She is fresh off a 2nd place finish with her partner Jed at the NRA's Whistler Boy match in Indiana last weekend.  Rather an underwhelming event this year as it was not held in conjunction with the National Matches at Camp Perry as hss been their usual practice.  So instead of 20 or 30 teams as there would usually be, there were only 4.  Of those, two of them were from our Junior team from Michigan.

The winning team was a couple of high-masters from Illinois using scopes, while our kids all used their irons.  Still, they showed up and shot, which is more than most did, so they got the hardware.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Your 2017 ID4 Overall winner is...

Lauren Smith.

Yes, this is a brag post.  For those of you who are or have been members at the Capital City Rifle Club you know what the ID4 match is.  For those who don't, it's the way our club celebrates Independence Day every year, by shooting a match with rifles that have some significance in the different wars the United States has fought in.  You can bring a flintlock if you want to! Don't know how well those round balls will do at 200 yards, and rapid fire is out of the question, but it's still kind of cool to think about it.  One of my bucket list items is to build up one of the 2 U.S. Krag-Jorgensen receivers I have into a shootable rifle and have a go at it with that.

Mostly people use Garands, or Springfield 03A3's.  One of my friends shot it this year with a 1917 Eddystone Enfield.  A couple years ago they allowed AR's in, but they are not eligible for prizes, as it really is no contest against all those antiques.  Lauren shot her AR (since we don't have any of those other rifles) so she got no prizes, but she did get the admiration of  other shooters on the line, which is no small thing.

So congratulations to Lauren.  A nice lead-in to the National Matches coming up soon.