Thursday, August 20, 2009

Around the League with Richard Kincaide

by Richard Kincaide

Cash For Clunkers…

I will try really, really hard not to laugh out loud as we type this, but I can’t guarantee anything. 

According to, the highest-paid pitchers on the current Detroit Tigers roster are:

  • Jeremy Bonderman, $12,500,000
  • Dontrelle Willis, $10,000,000
  • Nate Robertson, $7,000,000

If you don’t like math no worries, I’ve done it all for you.  The cost of these 3 golden arms comes in at a not-so-grand total of $29,500,000.  Not 29.5 million dollars spread out over x-number of years.  No.  That would be 29.5 million for the current 2009 season only.  Here, then, is what 29.5 million dollars will buy you these days in the good old baseball game which is the best game you can play, incidentally:

  • Bonderman (0-1) 13.50 ERA
  • Willis (1-4) 7.49 ERA
  • Robertson (1-0) 7.71 ERA

Let’s see.  I’ll do a little figuring here and, oh yes, 29.5 million dollars divided by two wins computes to $14,750,000 per. 

Now, toss in the $18,971,596 Detroit is paying Magglio Ordonez for his 7 homers and 37 RBI and the $14,000,000 the Tigers are paying Barry Bonds’s workout partner Gary Sheffield to hit 10 homers and drive in 43 runs for the Mets this year and you’ve just rung up a little under 63 million dollars for five players who have given your club 2 pitching wins and 37 RBI which I think is why any baseball man worth his salt will tell you—as he prays, hard, that if the “you” he’s talking to is his boss that you will believe him—that putting together a Big League roster is more art than it is science.  At least that’s what I’d be saying.  Just sayin’…

I HATE Pennant Races… 

Wednesday provides an excellent example as to why this is so.

On paper, on Wednesday, the Tigers should have won at home against Seattle in a night game and Chicago should have lost at home against Kansas City in a day game. And when it comes to “The Race for the Flag,” I don’t have to tell that what the other team does is exactly as important as what your team does.  Chicago has been chasing, but never quite catching, the first-place Tigers for over three months now. (Yes, I know the Tigs and White Sox were “tied” for first on July 23, I’m not an idiot, but Detroit was still first with a winning percentage of .527 to Chicago’s .526, so there.)

Back to Wednesday where In Chicago the White Sox were up against Zach Greinke while the Sox countered with Jose Contreras who, when last seen last Friday night had been staked to a 6-0 lead at the Oakland-Alameda County Fair Stadium but who had proceeded to cough up 7 runs in four-and-two-thirds and had to be yanked before getting in the 5 innings of pitching required of a starter to get a win. That same night, last Friday, Greinke was here in Detroit, blanking the Tigers on 3 hits through 7 innings before Brandon Inge homered in the 9th off somebody else for the games only run.  Greinke—until the All Star break the Best Pitcher in the History of the American League, ever—pitched 101 innings and faced 398 batters before he allowed his 3rd home run of the season.  On Wednesday in Chicago, he pitched 7 innings and faced 28 batters before he allowed his 3rd home run of the day.  Contreras, meanwhile, tossed 7 innings of 3-hit ball and the White Sox won 4-2.

Wednesday night, the Tigers had their bargain-basement ace Justin Verlander going—he’s only making $3,675,000 this season but when you lose 17 like he did last year what do you expect?  That they’re going to triple your salary?  Well, it turns out that’s exactly what the Tigers did since he made 1.1 million last year but I digress.  The point is that he’s won 13 this year and was coming in off that heroic shutout at Fenway last Thursday in which the Tigers really, really needed a win or else they were going to be swept four straight in Boston and that would have been quite upsetting to everyone, indeed.

So it’s Verlander against some hamburger for Seattle who comes in, from Australia, no less!, with an ERA of, wait for it, 8.77.  That’s almost 9 for those of you scoring at home and I hope you are.  And not to jinx anybody or anything but in the always spot-on “scouting report” they show on the TV while the pitcher is warming up, Rod Allen (he of the .091 Batting Average in his 7-game major league career) says the pitcher, (0-1) Ian Snell, has “command issues.”  Why don’t you just finish the job and say he sucks, Rod? 

I don’t have to tell you how this ends, do I?  Snell shuts the Tigers down and Verlander pitches well but on a night when the three he gives up are too many against a pitcher who came in with no wins, an ERA of 9 and “command issues”.

Instead of picking up a game on Chicago Wednesday, the Tigers lose a game to Chicago Wednesday in the Division Standings. 

Good of the boys to come back from that 6-2 deficit Thursday to beat Seattle 7-6 and go back up to a 2.5 game lead over idle Chicago. 

There will be more days like Wednesday the rest of the way.  And more days like Sunday when the Tigers blew a game by going 0/16 with RISP, only to have the White Sox keep pace with a heat-breaking 10-inning loss in Oakland.  It’s going to be exciting.  Nerve-wracking.  And no fun at all!