Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring Stats

Well, the regular season is merely a week away now. Here's a perusal of what figures to be the Tigers opening day lineup and starting rotation and key relievers and how they have fared this spring. Hitters have BA/OBP/SLG listed and Pitchers have IP/ERA/K/BB listed.

Curtis Granderson - .310/.328/.483
Placido Polanco - .489/.574/.644
Carlos Guillen - .209/.300/.349
Magglio Ordonez - .260/.316/.380
Gary Sheffield - .256/.456/.538
Sean Casey - .277/.286/.383
Craig Monroe - .350/.413/.550
Pudge Rodriguez - .365/.393/.596
Brandon Inge - .288/.387/.385

Jeremy Bonderman - 18.0/4.00/15/8
Kenny Rogers - 22.0/2.05/5/5
Justin Verlander - 13.0/8.31/7/5
Nate Robertson - 17.1/3.12/16/9
Mike Maroth - 14.0/3.86/4/4
Joel Zumaya - 9.0/0.00/10/2
Fernando Rodney - 8.1/4.32/8/1
Todd Jones - 8.1/2.16/6/1

So who has been playing out of their mind this spring? Well, Placido Polanco doing his best Babe Ruth impersonation is probably the biggest offender. Craig Monroe and Pudge Rodriguez are also killing the ball. On the mound, Todd Jones is probably the only guy really greatly exceeding what he can be expected to produce although even I don't expect Zumaya to carry a 0.00 ERA this year.

Who is playing well, but within the realm of what they could do? Curtis Granderson, Gary Sheffield, Kenny Rogers, Nate Robertson, Mike Maroth, and Fernando Rodney are all playing nicely.

Who is off to a rough start that we shouldn't worry about? Carlos Guillen will not hit this poorly all year, guaranteed! And while Verlander may take a step back from 2006, his ERA will not be north of 8 this year.

What does all this mean? Not a damn thing, but it's 80 degrees in North Carolina today and I can't wait for Opening Day to finally get here as the Tigers open defense of their American League pennant!


Coaching Candidate of the Day

Chris Lowery

  • Who is he? The 34 year old 3rd year coach of Southern Illinois. You remember them, the #4 seed from the Missouri Valley Conference that took Kansas to the wire in the Sweet 16. He is from Evansville, Indiana and played at SIU before becoming an assistant under Bruce Weber at SIU and Illinois.
  • What style does he run? Picture the Baltimore Ravens circa 2000. His team plays a mean nasty defense that beats up the opposition. They are nothing special on offense, but the tenacious defense gets the job done. This past year, Southern Illinois averaged 60.5 possessions per game which ranked 324th in the nation. That is damn slow. They did manage to rank 18th nationally in defensive efficiency and a pedestrian 141st in offensive efficiency. Defense, defense, and more defense. Last year, SIU finished 4th nationally in defensive efficiency. His kids just get after it on the defensive end with no regard for the well being of their opponents.
  • Why would he come to Michigan? Come on, it's Southern Illinois. I don't care how long he has been there, he's a rising star in the coaching ranks and Michigan is a big step up in the world of college hoops hierarchy. Michigan can offer a lot more money as well.
  • Why would Michigan want him? Could be a little risky considering his lack of experience, but the guy has star written all over him with what he has accomplished with the Salukis. If Lowery lands at Michigan, the Wolverines are instantly one of the toughest teams to play against in the Big Ten.


Saturday, March 24, 2007


Curtis Granderson, he of View From the Outfield on MLBlogs, is already one of the coolest people in Major League Baseball. The question for me, is, what kind of a season will he put together in 2007? The kid from Chicago tore up Detroit's minor league system to the tune of a career .300 batting average, .383 on base percentage, and .495 slugging percentage. And he did this at age appropriate levels so he wasn't padding his stats as a 23 year old in low A ball.

Those stats suggest he will be a productive player in the majors. In 2006, however, Curtis was up and down and finished his first full season with a .260/.335/.439 hitting line that had to be a little disappointing. Let's dig further...

In 2005, Curtis was a part time player in July and August before playing the entire month of September. Since he became a full timer in September of 2005, here are his month by month stats...

Sept 2005 - .287/.337/.500
April 2006 - .269/.376/.473
May 2006 - .287/.365/.475
June 2006 - .303/.384/.495
July 2006 - .273/.332/.352
Aug 2006 - .156/.224/.256
Sept 2006 - .273/.314/.555

Notice something here? The kid has been great except for July and especially August last summer. Did he hit a rookie wall in his first full MLB season? Did pitchers start to figure him out? Well, he did bounce back with a nice September that included 15 extra base hits (5 doubles, 4 triples, and 6 home runs).

This spring, he has been working on cutting down on the strikeouts. He has always K'd a lot, but last year he whiffed 174 times in 159 games. That's a lot. This spring he has cut back to only 6 strike outs in 16 games (53 at bats) which probably works out to around 70 or 80 in a full season for a leadoff hitter. On the other hand, he has only walked twice which isn't very good for a guy with a good eye.

I guess what I'm hoping is that when you combine his minor league performance with the fact that 5 of his 7 months as a pro have been very good, I am quite hopeful that Curtis will have a big year in 2007. Something along the lines of a .285 BA, .360 OBP, and .475 SLG is not out of the question.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007


One of the big rumors/wonders/much-to-do-about-nothings is wondering what Michigan's roster will look like in 2007/8 on the court now that Amaker has left town. The biggest names being thrown about are current freshmen DeShawn Sims and Ekpe Udoh along with signed recruits Manny Harris, Alex Legion, and Kelvin Grady.

Sims and Udoh? According to the Ann Arbor News..."Ekpe Udoh isn't going anywhere. And neither is DeShawn Sims. Three days after Michigan fired basketball coach Tommy Amaker, Udoh told The News he has no plans to transfer and neither do any of his teammates." My current level of concern for either is quite low, expect both to be around next year.

Alex Legion? According to the Detroit News....“I’m still committed to Michigan, as long as I have players around me like (incoming recruit) Corperryale Harris and (current player) DeShawn Sims,” Legion said. He is certainly talking the talk right now, but he has to be the most likely to head elsewhere since he already decommitted from Michigan once and took a big look nationally when he was being recruited. In the end, it probably depends on who Michigan hires. I'd still say better than 50/50 he is a Wolverine.

Manny Harris? According to the Detroit News..."
"As of right now my heart is with Michigan," Harris said. "I will wait and see who they will hire. We've got to see what coach comes in." This is a kid that chose Michigan in no small part because it is so close to home. I'd be very surprised if he went elsewhere.

Kelvin Grady? Apparently still weighing his options including playing football at Michigan. His brother is UM tailback Kevin Grady. There are still strong family ties to Michigan and I think in the end he will end up at Michigan playing basketball.

I'd imagine the most likely scenario is that everybody shows up who was expected to be on the team next year. Next most likely is that one of the three recruits heads elsewhere with Legion being the most likely to move on. It certainly appears that the roster will be pretty stable, however, which is a relief to a program looking to avoid taking a big step back.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Coaching Candidate of the Day

John Beilein

  • Who is he? The current coach of West Virginia who sports a career record of 548-318. He has taken LeMoyne, Canisius, Richmond, and West Virginia to the NCAA tournament. He is in the NIT this year with a young Mountaineer squad, but before that reached the Elite 8 in 2005 and Sweet 16 in 2006. He has posted a winning record in 26 of his 29 years as a head coach.
  • What style does he run? Beilein favors a spread offense that stretches the defense out and makes them defend the entire court. His Mountaineer squad plays at a slow pace (63.3 possessions per game which is only slightly faster than Michigan this year at 62.7). They are very efficient on offense, however, scoring 1.131 points per possession to ranked 15th best in the nation. They allow 97.6 points per possession on defense which is 71st in the nation. This is the 3rd year in a row that WVU has ranked very highly in offensive efficiency and not nearly so high in defensive efficiency. And in a major departure from Amaker ball at Michigan, they rarely turn the ball over, only on 16.9% of possessions this season which is the 9th lowest rate in the nation. If putting the ball in the hoop efficiently is your passion, Beilein is your man. If you believe in tough nosed defense, maybe not so much.
  • Why would he come to Michigan? Well, WVU is still small time when it comes to basketball. It's a lot easier to recruit high end talent to Ann Arbor than it is to Morgantown. Michigan also might actually pony up some $$$ and exceed his $700,000 or so annual salary for the Mountaineers.
  • Why would Michigan want him? He's a likeable guy that has won everywhere he has been. Turning WVU into a respectable basketball program is a tougher job than he'll face in Ann Arbor.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

The End of an Era

So long Tommy, we hardly knew ya. Wait, maybe we knew you too well. You are a great guy. Nice, respectful, clean cut, always saying and doing the right things. You took a Michigan basketball program that was on the verge of disaster and righted the ship. You got them through the darkest days in Michigan athletic history. But in the end, you couldn't win enough games.

Was it the lack of recruiting? The sloppy offense? Was it the players? Does it matter? The official tale of the tape: 6 years, 109-83, 43-53 in conference play, 3 NIT appearances, 2 NIT finals, 1 NIT championship, and one big gaping hole in terms of NCAA tournament appearances.

The big question is, what's next?

Michael Rosenberg wonders, "Here is a crazy idea: Why doesn't Michigan close the truck stop and start a major basketball program?"

Gary Parrish notes that there could be major interest in the job: "Now you know why people weren't jumping all over the Minnesota job. It’s because few wanted to get too involved with that gig until they were certain Michigan wouldn't open considering everybody assumed Michigan would open eventually.

On Saturday, eventually arrived. And if Michigan is willing to throw around big money and invest in facilities then it will lure a high-profile coach from somewhere and again become a basketball power now that the uninspired Tommy Amaker era is complete. "

Even the New York Times chimes in: "Publicly, Big Ten coaches will say that the firing of Amaker is unfortunate, but privately they are concerned about the reawakening of a power that won a national championship in 1989 and made the title game in 1992 and 1993 behind the famed Fab Five."

What does the future hold for Michigan basketball? I have no idea. Lots of names are getting tossed around right now, some of which are pipe dreams and some of which are possibilities. Tubby Smith, John Beilein, Mike Montgomery, Lon Kruger, Steve Lavin, Chris Lowery, Tony Bennett, Gregg Marshall, Karl Hobbs, etc.

I would think Chris Lowery would be my top choice aside from Tubby Smith if he resigns from Kentucky. Then names like Beilein or Hobbs or Marshall. All I know is that Michigan has to get this one right. They need to right the ship and reawaken a sleeping giant of a basketball program.