The Tigers could have made a decision to send Smyly down for at least a few weeks to ensure that his arbitration eligibility would have been delayed, thereby saving themselves a few million two years from now. There is a very good rational basis for doing so. Many feel that he’d be better served by spending time as a starter in the minors rather than being the last man in the bullpen in Detroit. But the Tigers are all about winning, and winning now. Smyly is the best man for the job in Detroit, so that’s where he will pitch.
When a fanbase’s biggest complaint about their center fielder and leadoff man is he doesn’t dive for balls, you probably have a pretty good player. Austin Jackson is an excellent center fielder and last season transformed himself into an excellent leadoff man. As far as I can tell, he improved every aspect of his game at the plate. More walks. Fewer strikeouts. Better pitch selection and more contact, resulting in more power. I guess those “he tweaked his swing” stories aren’t always bunk, after all. If Jackson can figure out a way to get a better break on balls in front of him, he might push McCutchen for the best center fielder in the game.
Manager Jim Leyland expertly parried questions Wednesday in the wake of a 4-1 exhibition loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, a game in which Rondon did not pitch well.
“He obviously wasn’t sharp,” said Leyland, “but he wasn’t bad-bad.”
Pitching for the second consecutive day after a 1-2-3 outing Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves, Rondon allowed two runs on two singles, two walks and two stolen bases. One of his two outs was a strikeout.
It shouldn’t be that hard of a decision. If you’re confident that Verlander is that once-in-a-generation dynamic presence on the mound — and he is — lock him up now. Offer him five years at $150 million, making him the first $30-million pitcher history.
He’s going to get paid — big-time!
And he should be paid — big-time!
That faith paid off Tuesday afternoon when Tigers manager Jim Leyland called the versatile non-roster invitee into his office to tell him he had made the big-league club as a bench player.
“Nobody knows how this is going to play out, but if ever there was a guy that came in and opened your eyes up and deserved a shot — the way he’s performed and the way he’s gone about his business — it’s him,” Leyland said. “He’s stung the ball. He’s hit the ball out of the ballpark. He’s hit the ball hard. He’s played first. He’s played third. He’s played in the outfield pretty well.
“I think it’s a great story, and I think you’re supposed to reward people like that.”
Worley went 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA in six starts for the Twins this spring, but he told reporters that he was pleased with how he threw the ball Wednesday in his final start of the spring.
“I’m excited,” Worley said. “Especially after the spring I had, I finally got some kinks out and threw the ball well today.”