2011 Tigers Team Preview: Good Things, Bad Things, and Random Things

No attempt at a witty introduction today, kids. Simply put, I thought I’d go through the team’s roster and list what I consider to be the best and worst things about each player. In addition, I’ll try to find some random fact about each guy that you may not have known before. I live to inform.

Sound fun? No?

Tough. Write your own damn blog…


Alex Avila: Catcher

BEST THING: His amazing ability to grow a full beard within three innings.

WORST THING: Nepotism is the only reason he’s in the majors.

RANDOM THING: Alex’s godfather is Tommy Lasorda, the ex-Dodger skipper and one of baseball’s all-time great personalities.
Miguel Cabrera: First Base

BEST THING: Every time he swings the bat, something magic seems to happen.

WORST THING: Every time he has an alcoholic beverage, something horrid seems to happen.

RANDOM THING: In the 2006 offseason, Miguel became a babalao, a Santeria high priest. Santeria is a largely misunderstood Afro-Cuba spiritual tradition that incorporates the worship of orisha — multidimensional beings who represent the forces of nature — with beliefs of the Yoruba and Bantu people of Africa and elements of Roman Catholicism. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and MLB players Jose Contraras, Francisco Rodriguez, Alex Gonzalez, and Ronny Cedeno have also been linked to the religion.

Carlos Guillen: Second Base, Disabled List

BEST THING: Strong leadership qualities.

WORST THING: Body is seemingly made of peanut brittle.

RANDOM THING: In addition to his dozens of injuries Carlos has seemed to have suffered in his career, he was hospitalized in September 2001 with pulmonary tuberculosis, but was still ready to play in the ALCS the following month for Seattle.
Brandon Inge: Third Base

BEST THING: His glove. Duh.

WORST THING: His inability to lay off a curve ball three feet outside despite a decade in the majors.

RANDOM THING: Brandon’s repulsive arm tattoos say “Chase” and “Tyler” after his two sons. I guess it’s the thought that counts.
Victor Martinez: Catcher, Designated Hitter

BEST THING: Great pure hitter.

WORST THING: Has a worse arm than my six-year old.

RANDOM THING: In 2001 and 2002, V-Mart won minor league MVP’s and batting titles before making the majors in Cleveland.
Jhonny Peralta: Shortstop, Third Base

BEST THING: Been a solid run producer since his debut with the Indians.

WORST THING: Defense at shortstop is questionable. Inge is going to have to cover a lot of ground at third.

RANDOM THING: He claims that he is the only person named "Jhonny" with the name spelled correctly; all other "Johnnies" are misspelled. The letter combinations "Jh" or "Gh" are sometimes used in the Spanish language to represent the English "J" sound. Whatever…
Will Rhymes: Second Base

BEST THING: Kids have someone their own size to root for on the field.

WORST THING: Eckstein-itis. Reporters are unable to write about Rhymes without using the words “scrappy”, “spark plug”, “grinder”, or other lazy terms that mean “small and white” to describe him. They also commonly say he brings “energy” to the team and always gets his uniform dirty. It makes me crazy and that’s why I can’t stand him. Nothing personal, Will. Tell the jackoffs covering you to try and be more original.

RANDOM THING: Will has an identical twin named Jonathan. No idea if Jon also inherited the “scrappy gene”.
Ramon Santiago: Shortstop, Second Base

BEST THING: Good glove and occasional pop…basically the ideal backup infielder.

WORST THING: Is 31 and still looks 17. Pisses me off.

RANDOM THING: In 2006, Ramon was perfect defensively off the bench. Getting time at second, short, and third, he didn’t commit an error in 205 2/3 innings on the field.


Brennan Boesch: Left Field, Right Field

BEST THING: His first half last year.

WORST THING: His second half.

RANDOM THING: Last year, Boesch and Scott Sizemore hit their first career homers in the same inning against the Angels on April 30th. It was the first time two Tigers had hit their first career home runs in the same inning since Pop Dillon and Kid Elberfeld did it in 1901.
Austin Jackson: Center Field

BEST THING: Amazing range in the outfield.

WORST THING: Strikes out a lot.

RANDOM THING: Don’t tell Dave Dombrowski, but AJax is black. If DD finds out, Austin might end up traded, released, or sent down to AAA. Also, in 1999, Baseball America named Jackson the best 12-year-old player in the nation. Three years later, they named him the best 15-year-old player. Something seems wrong to me that they do that to kids that young.
Don Kelly: Outfield, Infield

BEST THING: Can play anywhere the skipper tells him to.

WORST THING: Can’t play anywhere well.

RANDOM THING: Over three seasons playing at Point Park College, Kelly only struck out 20 times in over 500 at bats. Oh, and here’s a bonus fact for you. Every time he manages to hit a home run, three things happen: God kills a kitten, Jim Leyland climaxes in his uniform, and I die a little inside. Fortunately, he doesn’t hit many of them.
Magglio Ordonez: Right Field

BEST THING: 2006, I was in the third row and he takes Huston Street deep to send us to the World Series. I can still hear the roar of the crowd in my head. Greatest day ever. Maggs gets a pass forever for that.

WORST THING: He’s getting old. Also his hair is still short.

RANDOM THING: His .363 batting average in 2007 was the highest by a Tiger since Charlie Gehringer in 1937. His batting title that year was the first by a Tiger since Norm Cash in 1961. Dude was robbed of the MVP that year.

/biased opinion’d
Ryan Raburn: Left Field, Second Base (in a pinch)

BEST THING: Streaky hitting can carry a team for weeks at a time.

WORST THING: Insists of wearing fielding glove made of stone. Also can't keep his tongue in his mouth.

RANDOM THING: Raburn was drafted, and spent his first two years in the minors, as a third baseman.
Casper Wells: Outfield

BEST THING: Solid all around player with both the bat and the glove. I’m intrigued.

WORST THING: Looks like a date rapist…he’s creepy.

RANDOM THING: His legal name is Casper Charles Wells. His parents must have hated him.

Pitching Staff

Joaquin Benoit: Setup Man

BEST THING: What he showed last year in Tampa was amazing.

WORST THING: What he showed the previous nine years was revolting. Could this be DD’s latest pitching contract bungle, like Dontrelle and Nate?

RANDOM THING: Benoit holds the Major League record for having recorded the longest save in history by throwing seven innings of one-hit ball after taking over for Aaron Myette and Todd Van Poppel in 2002.
Phil Coke: Starting Pitcher

BEST THING: He’s bat-shit crazy…I love it.

WORST THING: Has one career MLB start. We’re asking a lot of him this year.

RANDOM THING: Phil’s youngest brother Robert Coke serves in the US Coast Guard. His oldest brother Nathan serves in the US Army. USA! USA! USA!
Brad Penny: Starting Pitcher

BEST THING: Banged Alyssa Milano.

WORST THING: History of injuries have kept him from breaking through as an upper-echelon MLB pitcher.

RANDOM THING: In October 2009, Penny began dating professional dancer Karina Smirnoff of Dancing With the Stars. The couple became engaged on October 4, 2010. Giggity.
Ryan Perry: Relief Pitcher

BEST THING: Sweet tattoos.

WORST THING: Bad hair entering spring. Inconsistent arm.

RANDOM THING: College teammate of Daniel Schlereth at Arizona.
Max Scherzer: Starting Pitcher

BEST THING: Multi-colored eyes. He was born with heterochromia; his right eye is blue and his left one is brown.

WORST THING: Weird mechanics have several scouts seeing him as an injury risk.

RANDOM THING: Was originally drafted in 2003 by the Cardinals, but didn’t sign. Max instead went on to play for the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.
Rick Porcello:  Starting Pitcher

BEST THING: His upside.  I still have hope.

WORST THING: I'm scared they ruined him by rushing him to the show.  Eff you, front office!

RANDOM THING: In May 2007, Kid Rick threw a perfect game in high school.  Also, I forgot to include him in this post in the first draft.  My bad, Rick.
Daniel Schlereth: Relief Pitcher

BEST THING: Live fastball from the left side.

WORST THING: His dad is one annoying SOB as an analyst for ESPN.

RANDOM THING: Born in Anchorage, Alaska. Sorry…that’s all I’ve got.
Brad Thomas: Relief Pitcher

BEST THING: I dunno…can eat innings when we’re already down ten runs?

WORST THING: Bangs kangaroos.

RANDOM THING: Thomas is the only known player to own a World Series Championship ring (2004 Boston Red Sox) and a Japan Series Championship ring (2006 Nippon Ham Fighters).
Jose Valverde: Closer

BEST THING: Dance, fatty. Dance!

WORST THING: Often appears to be taking a dump in his pants.

RANDOM THING: Unpredictable as hell. Valverde is fond of using a high percentage of a given kind of fastball at a time, at times throwing four-seamers exclusively in one outing, then switching to splitters almost exclusively the next game.
Justin Verlander: Ace Starter

BEST THING: The stare.

WORST THING: Insists on pitching in April.

RANDOM THING: JV had been a top pitching prospect in high school, but his career suffered a roadblock when he came down with strep throat early in his senior season of baseball. Verlander only topped out at 86 mph during that season, causing professional scouts to lose interest. After he recovered, his velocity reached 100 mph during his first year at Old Dominion.
Brayan Villarreal: Relief Pitcher

BEST THING: To be decided. I don’t know dick about this kid.

WORST THING: I kinda wanted Robbie Weinhardt to make the team.

RANDOM THING: Is Venezuelan. Does DD get a kickback from the Venezuelan government for each countryman of theirs he employs?
Joel Zumaya: Relief Pitcher

BEST THING: Amazing heater over 100 mph at times.

WORST THING: Arm explodes every 20th pitch he throws.

RANDOM THING: ESPN Magazine reported in 2006 that in an ALDS game in the Bronx, Zumaya threw so hard that Alex Rodriguez said he never saw the ball.

Thursday can’t get here quick enough. Can’t wait.