Monday, April 9, 2007

Chad Durbin's Detroit Tiger Debut, Andew Miller's Future, and More Snow in Cleveland

A few items of note this afternoon, as the Tigers lose to Baltimore in Chad Durbin's Detroit Tigers debut, the Cleveland Indians lose another planned double-header due to snow, and external links in the blog now have a "" preview when you drag your mouse over the link (like this). So let's get to it.

** Tigers lose; Should they call up Andrew Miller?: Chad Durbin's Detroit Tigers debut was less then stellar today in a 6-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on the O's Opening Day. Durbin pitched 4 and 2 /3 innings and gave up 6 runs on 9 hits and a walk. Of positive note, Durbin did strike out five, and actually looked pretty good in the early going. But once Baltimore got a look at what he had to offer, especially the second time through the lineup, they seemed to figure him out, and tagged him. The worst part was, it wasn't as if he was getting squeezed by the umpire or had one or two bad pitches which led to long home runs. It was a steady stream of singles and doubles (aside from Kevin Millar's line drive solo home run) which did him in. The five strikeouts were nice, and he did have a few of Baltimore's batters fooled, but overall, the performance was not what the Tigers were looking for.

So the question is, what do the Tigers do now? Kenny Rogers won't be back until July at the earliest. One thing I think is important to keep in mind, and one thing I keep trying to tell myself, is to try not to over react to one game. Yes, Durbin did not look good today, and his history at the major league level is not stellar, but he had a great season at AAA Toledo last year and was very solid in spring training. Perhaps he can turn it around. But, even if Durbin does pitch better than he does today, and he ends up being a .500 pitcher for the Tigers while filling in for Rogers, would that be good enough to justify not calling up rookie phenom Andrew Miller? Durbin is not part of the Tigers longterm Tigers future. Miller is. And while Miller's inexperience (he has started a grand total of 1 game in the minor leagues -- which to his credit he won, throwing five shutout innings and striking out three while walking none) would hurt, with the kind of stuff he has, he should be able to be a .500 pitcher (or better) at the Major League level right now. And think about what a great learning experience this would be for him. While he likely won't be a member of the Detroit Tigers major league rotation until next year at the earliest (or maybe 2009 if Kenny Rogers returns to Detroit after his contract expires at the end of the season) the ability to have three months of major league starting experience this early in his career would put him light years ahead of where he'll be when he does eventually join the big league rotation.

You always worry about a young kid's confidence, especially when he gets hit around pretty well, which is bound to happen when a pitcher is as young and green as Miller. But, he seems like a mentally tough kid, and Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman and certainly Mike Maroth all struggled early in their Tigers careers, and all are much better pitchers today for it. And maybe he won't struggle. Left handers that can throw in the upper 90's tend to do pretty well in the majors.

All of that said, do I think the Tigers will dump Durbin after one poor start? Probably not. But having a pitcher like Andrew Miller available, it is just so tempting, no matter how well Durbin did, to call him up the majors and give him a chance to show he belongs.

** Snow in Cleveland wipes out Mariners series, transfers Angels series to Milwaukee: Over the weekend I posted an entry talking about how backwards Major League Baseball is, forcing teams to play games in the cold and snow (or not, as it turns out, they are instead having games and entire series postponed) when they could make some slight judgments to ensure that early April games are played in domes and southern locals. After kicking around the controversy on's always lively baseball forums I'm even more convinced baseball needs to make a change. Some of the best suggestions on the board included scheduling division games early in the season to make any potential makeup games easier to schedule. That seems incredibily logical.

The Cleveland-Seattle series, which as earlier discussed was postponed, and led to All Star catcher Victor Martinez landing on the Disabled List with a tweaked quad muscle due to the cold, has since been completely wiped out. After trying to play double-headers on Saturday, Sunday, and today, each of those were canceled because of snow, cold weather, and unplayable field conditions. I don't know what Major League Baseball is going to do now. One solution is, on mutual off-days for both teams, to play two double headers. Since teams never have back-to-back days off, this would have to happen twice, forcing Seattle likely to fly cross country on a day they should have off and play not one, but two games. And do this at two different points during the season. That is going to make life a lot more difficult on both teams, forcing them to be less well rested then the rest of baseball, and will likely play havoc with their pitching rotations around those games. Or, they could just not make the games up at all, or only do so if the results have an impact on the playoff chase. Neither solution is optimal.

Also not optimal was the decision facing Major League Baseball about what to do about Cleveland's next series, a three game home stand with the Anaheim Angels (if Major League Baseball hasn't learned their lesson about scheduling West Coast teams to play in the Midwest in April after this mess they never will). So, instead of risking even more games being postponed (at this rate, the Indians are going to need to head back down to Florida for a second Spring Training) they have decided to play the games in Milwaukee, which is probably the worst of a bunch of bad options. So, Cleveland, instead of getting to play at home, has to travel to another state, play "home" games in a practically empty stadium (while tickets are being sold for $10, I can't imagine a lot of fans will show up to see two teams that aren't even in the National League like the Brewers), losing lots of money for ownership and making life difficult for players. While Major League Baseball said that playing in Wisconsin is "a compromise that does not allow an unfair advantage" it is hard to see how this isn't an unfair advantage for the Indians. It's really a shame this happened, and the worst part was, while weather is unpredictable, something like this happening eventually was entirely predictable, and once again Major League Baseball is reacting instead of acting.

**Admin Note: So you may have noticed by now that when you drag your mouse across an external link on the Blog, a little window pops up giving you a "snapshot" preview of what the linked website looks like. The device comes from the good people over at and I think it's a pretty cool little gadget. I first noticed it at two other great Detroit Sports blogs, Mack Avenue Tigers (where Kurt should have his own thoughts on the Tigers game this afternoon later tonight) and Gorilla Crouch (which has had some great numerical comparisons between the Red Wings and Calgary Flames leading up to their playoff matchup) and I figured when you see something cool, steal it. So I have. Pretty cool what kind of tools you can find on the internet these days.

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Kurt said...

Don't worry, I stole the preview from some other blog myself, but I don't remember which!


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