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Monday, June 19, 2006 

Eat 'Em Up Tigers


Saturday wasn't the first time I've ever been embarrassed at a Tigers game, but it was the first time I've been embarrased for the other team. It didn't take long either, as the first chants of "LET'S GO TIGERS!!!!" began in Wrigley Field after Curtis Granderson tripled to start the game. When Carlos Guillen smoked a 2 run homer later in the first inning, the Detroit faithful in attendance roared in delight, easily drowning out the boos of Cubs' fans. Fortunate enough to be seated in the season ticket holder section, I was shocked at how many peeps in Tiger hats and jerseys spotted my shirt and offered me high fives after big plays. Meanwhile, the Cub contigent could only groan as Jaque Jones five-hopped a throw to the cutoff man (hilarious, by the way) and Dusty Baker trotted in one ineffective reliever after another. It was sad really, as the Cubs were out-played, out-hustled, and out-managed by a Tiger club that just destroys lesser competition (33-10 against sub-.500 teams).

As the Tigers continue to hold off the White Sox, there have been a few developments this week in Tigertown...

1. Curtis Granderson is becoming "jersey-worthy."
He began all three of this weekend's games with a base hit and seemingly just keeps getting better with every game. Granderson plays the game hard, but gracefully and with intelligence. Able to hit for average or power, he's patient and will make adjustments. I'll stop short of saying that I want to have his children, but Granderson is everything that Juan Encarnacion wasn't. This isn't a feeling that often strikes me, so I don't say that this lightly, but I'm strongly considering purchasing his jersey. It would be a bold step for me as a fan to become a jersey wearer after so many years of staunch resistance. Putting someone else's name on your back is a big commitment: you have to be sure that 1. the player will be good for an extended period of time (think Rick Ankiel or Bobby Higginson), 2. the player will remain on your favorite team for years (think about all those now useless Johnny Damon jerseys in Boston), and 3. that the player won't turn out to be a jackass (think Eagle fans purchasing TO's #81). Granderson seems to meet the criteria.

2. Tis the season to be trading.
One of the biggest perks for fans of a winning team is the drama of the trading season. Figure on the Tigers making a move or two before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline, with the primary target being an affordable left handed bat. Dave Dombrowski will also consider adding another arm for the bullpen, but will first have to decide if he is willing to give up some of his prized pitching prospects for a true impact player. The dream acquisition is Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford, a young left handed hitter who can provide the Detroit lineup with the thing it lacks most: speed. Crawford is hitting .315 with 10 homers and 22 steals and rumors of his availability will not go away. Is there any real chance that DD brings CC to Motown?

A package for Hot Carl would start with Humberto Sanchez, who was recently promoted to Toledo after posting a 1.72 ERA with 86 K's in 71.2 innings in Double A. He has emerged as an elite prospect and would probably step immediately into Tampa Bay's rotation. Jordan Tata could sweeten the deal, but given their recent history, the Devil Rays will ask for more. One player who would make a lot of sense for the manager Joe Maddon is Omar Infante, although Jim Leyland would not be happy to give him up. Infante is still young and inexpensive, plays 3 infield positions (as well as OF in a pinch) and has a lot of pop for a little man. However, if the Tigers included him along with Sanchez, Tata, and a lesser prospect (Jack Hannahan?) the Devil Rays might not receive a better offer.

According to ESPN's Jason Stark, the Tigers have already made inquiries but the favorites to land Crawford are the Los Angeles Angels with a probable package of Ervin Santana and Brandon Wood. I put the chances of a serious Tiger run at Hot Carl, who is under club control until 2010, at around 10%. It's much more likely that DD hangs onto Sanchez and adds a player like Jeromy Burnitz or even Aubrey Huff. Still, isn't it an exciting change to be a buyer in July?

3. Tiger Stadium is being torn down.
The announcement made by the city of Detroit isn't a surprise, but we'll always have a soft spot in our hearts for the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. While the actual field is being preserved, here's hoping that the project will revitalize that area of the city.

-NJV

Naters, even though you don't want to bear Granderson's children, I still suggest that you give him a courtesy handjob.

Great work Nate. I was in Chicago this weekend and can confirm that the streets were filled with Tigers hats and shirts.
The chances Crawford gets traded anywhere are 10% at best in my opinion. I know they're the Devil Rays, but Crawford is locked up long-term, owed $31 million over the next 6 years, which is EXTREMELY friendly for a player of his ability.
Would I love to see the Tigers add him? Of course. But I don't see the Rays moving him. Then again, they didn't become the Devil Rays by making smart decisions.

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