Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

THE BUDDY BELL TIGERS

From Seth...

I noticed during the Mets/Tigers series that there have been a lot of guys from those awful '90s Tigers teams who went on to play in the World Series with other clubs.

Guys who played in the World Series are bolded.

RF: Juan Encarnacion (won with Marlins in 2003 and Cardinals in 2006)
2B: Damion Easley (could win with Mets this year if my prediction holds)
LF: Bobby Higginson (never was on a winning team, going back to high school)
1B: Tony Clark (won as a backup with the Red Sox in 2004)
DH: Dmitri Young (released in '06, now with Washington)
3B: Dean Palmer (retired after 2001)
SS: Deivi Cruz (Joined San Fran at trade deadline of 2002)
CF: Brian L. Hunter (went to 2005 WS with the Astros)
C: Brad Ausmus (went to 2005 WS with the Astros)

Bench:
OF: Frank Catalanotto (Blue Jays and Rangers since -- no postseasons)
UT: Shane Halter
C/1B/RF: Robert Fick (Got as far as NLDS with Braves in 2003).
C: Raul Casanova (won with White Sox in 2005)

SP: Jeff Weaver (won with Cardinals in 2006)
SP: Justin Thompson (got injured w/ Rangers and disappeared)
SP: Brian Moehler (been with Astros and Marlins but not in WS years)
SP: Jose Lima (*shudder* got to NLCS with Mets last year)
SP: Steve Sparks (traded to Oakland in '03, then finished in Arizona in '04)

Cl: Todd Jones (won with Marlins in 2003)
SU: Doug Brocail (Texas and San Diego since Tigers)
SU: Matt Anderson (had a bad year with Colorado and called it quits)
LR: Willie Blair (retired with Tigers after 2001)
RP: Mike Myers (won with Red Sox in 2004)
RP: C.J. Nitkowski (lost ALCS with Yankees in 2004)
RP: Danny Patterson (retired with the Tigers)

Discussion:

While this is a lot of success for these former Tigers, I don't think it's because they were necessarily a good team that underperformed all the time, though it certainly suggest they were better than their records show. If you notice, the starting pitchers who defined that period were awful, with Jeff Weaver's performance in last year's WS considered more fluke than skill.

The players I included are those who were with the team at least three years and would be considered guys who defined the era between Sparky Anderson and Jim Leyland. So while Dmitri Young (2002-2006) was traded for Juan Encarnacion (1997-2001), if you are asked to define the Tigers of 1995-2005, they are both players you would point to. There are other guys who played for the Tigers for one or two of these years (David Wells, Frank Castillo, Chad Curtis, Gabe Kapler and Luis Gonzalez) who've won championships, but I wouldn't say Wells (1995-96) or Castillo (1998) defined our starting pitching like Justin Thompson, Jeff Weaver or *shudder* Jose Lima.

I also discounted players from that era who are still with the team. Fernando Rodney, Craig Monroe, Mike Maroth and Brandon Inge were all rookies in 2002, so technically they qualify as representatives from the 1995-2005 era, but I think they will come to be identified more with Jim Leyland's Tigers than the empty years before that. I also did not count Jamie Walker, who had four solid seasons of relief for the Tigers from 2002-2005 before breaking out last year then bolting for the Orioles, because it is his role on the 2006 team that he will most be rememebered for.

This takes explaining because Dmitri Young, who was on the team those same years, is the 1995-2005 DH. The explanation is simple: Walker was a seldom-used young middle reliever who spent much of those seasons in the minors, while Young was a centerpiece of those 2001-2005 teams, and mised most of 2006 before getting booted. Todd Jones is a separate case, since he was our closer from 1997 to the trade deadline of 2001, firmly putting him in the Randy Smith era. He came back last year and is our closer again this year, but he's over 40 now, and we really see him as an old-timer who returned, not a defining closer of the 2006-? Tigers who just happened to play for us before.

That same logic made me leave off Travis Fryman at 3rd base, even though he played about as many games at 3rd from 1995-97 as Dean Palmer did from 1998-2001. But from 1990-94, Fryman finished 6th in rookie of the year voting and made three All-Star appearances, so if the Cecil Fielder/Rob Deer/Mickey Tettleton years are considered a mini-epoch in Sparky's era, he's certainly part of it. We could have re-signed Fryman long-term in '97, but if we had made smart moves like that, it' wouldn't have been the Randy Smith era, would it?

I had the hardest time with the outfield, as the Tigers had a new guy there every season. In '95 it was Chad Curtis, '96 was Kim Bartee, '97 was Melvin Nieves, '98 was Luis Gonzalez, '99 Gabe Kapler was promoted to starter, 2000 it was Juan Gonzalez, 2001 was Roger Cedeno, 2002 was Wendell Magee and Rob Fick, 2003 was Alex Sanchez, 2004 was Rondell White, and 2005 was the year of Nook Logan (and Magglio's first year here). Brian L. Hunter, however, despite the best efforts of his managers, was able to magically appear on lineup cards from 1997 'till we traded him in early '99. Since he has more games played there than anyone else besides Higgy and the "5-tool" guy Encarnacion, during our defined period, I went with Hunter.

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