By now everyone has probably seen the Jose Bautista takeout slide during the Toronto Blue Jays game against the Texas Rangers on Sunday, but for those of you who haven’t take a look:
Was Bautista dirty? Yes. Did Rougned Odor overreact? Probably. Did Bautista deserve what he got? In my opinion…YES!
For those of you that do not know the new slide rule that was instated by the MLB for the 2016 season here it is, as written in the Official Baseball Rules 2016 Edition:
Sliding to Bases on Double Play Attempts
If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempt to make) contact with a fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference under this Rule 6.01. A “bona fide slide” for purposes of Rule 6.01 occurs when the runner: (1) Begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base; (2) Is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot; (3) Is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after complete of the slide; and (4) Slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purposes of initiating contact with a fielder. A runner who engages in a “bona fide slide” shall not be called for interference under this Rule 6.01, even in cases where the runner makes contact with the fielder as a consequence of a permissible slide. In addition, interference shall not be called where a runner’s contact with a fielder was caused by the fielder being positioned in (or moving into) the runner’s legal pathway to the base. Notwithstanding the above, a slide shall not be a “bona fide slide” if a runner engages in a “roll block,” or intentionally initiates (or attempts to initiate) contact with the fielder by elevating and kicking his leg above the fielder’s knee or throwing his arm or his upper body. If the umpire determines that the runner violates this Rule 6.01(j), the umpire shall declare both the runner and the batter-runner out. Note, however, that if the runner has already been put out then the runner on whom the defense was attempting a play shall be declared out.
Ok, so now, I don’t want to debate the rule and what should or should not happen, I strictly want to discuss why I believe Bautista’s slide was dirty and that he deserved what he got from Odor.
First and foremost, Bautista violated the new rule, and it wasn’t the first time he had done so this season. Here’s the first against Tampa Bay:
Now I will speak from my perspective – I played the middle infield when I was younger and dealt with plays like this.
While I believe Odor may have overreacted to an extent after Bautista’s slide, I don’t necessarily believe that he was in the wrong for going after Bautista. As a middle infielder you prepare yourself for hard slides, but you don’t expect a runner to wait until they are on top of the base to start their slide as Bautista did.
In expecting hard slide, I wasn’t upset if a player took a slide in attempts to break-up a double play, but I would get upset when a player tried to hurt my legs.
You can see Odor try to protect himself with the base and in his attempts his throw to first was erratic. With the late slide and the attempt to take out his legs, Odor was naturally upset. I’ve had a few shoving matches after similar plays, however, the escalation to a punch to the jaw never happened.
While I believe Bautista deserved everything that he got and I understand Odor’s frustration, the MLB needs to suspend both players.
The Tigers have played just over a month of the 2016 season and there are plenty of indicators that this is going to be a long season for Detroit fans. Other than Jordan Zimmermann the starting rotation has be dismal, the lineup has not produced like it should, and the bullpen has had some rocky moments. However it is not quite the time for panic, there are 3 moves the Detroit Tigers must make if they want to save the 2016 season.
3. Release Mike Pelfrey – when the Detroit Tigers announced they signed Pelfrey to a 2 year $16 million contract I was not upset by it, however, I was not ecstatic about it either. I felt that Pelfrey would be able to come to Detroit and eat innings out of the No. 4 or No. 5 position of the rotation and end the season with a .500 record – this thought coming from the fact that the lineup was expected to do a lot this year. However; this has yet to be the case. Pelfrey is currently 0-4 with a 6.23 ERA on the season. It is time for Al Avila to let Pelfrey go – more than likely they will have to eat part of his salary, but it would be for the betterment of the team. Avila and the Tigers will just have to accept the fact that the Pelfrey contract was a mistake.
2. Move J.D. Martinez back to No. 5 – Ausmus made a decision to move Martinez up to the No. 2 spot and move a struggling Justin Upton down to the No. 5 hole. At first the move made Ausmus look like a genius and the Tigers offense clicked for about 5 games. However, since that time Martinez is batting .105 (4 for 38) and has not hit a home run and has only driven in three runs. Last season Martinez belted 38 homeruns and drove in 102 while hitting in the No. 5 spot. It seems as though being moved to the No. 2 spot in front of slugger Miguel Cabrera has added extra pressure to J.D. and it is time Ausmus moves him back to his familiar No. 5 where he can flourish.
1. Fire Ausmus and bring in a veteran manager – Ausmus should not be fired for his managerial moves, rather he should be removed from his duties due to the fact that his team seemingly does not respect him any longer. Ausmus cannot be blamed for the poor pitching of the starting rotation or the poor at-bats the lineup has taken over the course of the second half of the 2015 season into the 2016 season. However, managers are always the first to go. With the talent that this team has, it seems to be the time the front office needs to shake things up and let relieve Ausmus of his position. Despite that Ausmus has learned from mistakes in the past, he continues to make some mistakes – but these are the growing pains of a young manager – and it seems appropriate to find someone to replace him. Mike Ilitch and Al Avila need to go out and find a veteran manager that will bring a new voice to the Tigers clubhouse. Two managers that come to mine are Ozzy Guillen and Ron Gardenhire.
The Detroit Tigers have finished the first month of the 2016 season. Detroit has a current record of 14-10 sits in second place 3.0 games behind the Chicago White Sox (18-8). The Tigers have already had some ups and downs to begin the season. I have decided that I would like to borrow from the Karsch and Anderson show on 97.1 The Ticket radio and name a Champ and Chump for the lineup and pitching staff for the month of April.
I’ll start with my chumps….
The winner for chump of the pitching staff goes to……MIKE PELFREY!
One of new general manager Al Avila’s first moves was to sign free agent veteran starter Mike Pelfrey. Unfortunately for Tigers fans, Pelfrey’s contract is a 2-year $16 million contract. Pelfrey has started a total 5 games for Detroit, posting a 0-4 record. While yes some of the record can be blamed on the lack of run support Pelfrey has received – his first run of support came in his most recent start against the Twins on Sunday May 1st in the second inning – Pelfrey has to take a majority of the blame for his poor performance.
Through his 5 starts Pelfrey has only made it out of the sixth inning once, going 6.2 innings against the Oakland Athletics – all other starts have been 6.0 innings or less. Pelfrey’s best outing came in his second start of the season against Houston where he only gave up one run over the course of 6 innings, but ended up taking a 1-0 loss.
Over the course of 25.1 inning pitched in 2016 Pelfrey has only managed to strike out 12 batters while walking 15 and giving up 21 runs (16 earned) leading to an elevated 5.68 ERA. If Pelfrey continues to struggle it is possible that Detroit will need to find another arm to replace Pelfrey in the rotation. While I supported the addition of Pelfrey, I was not ecstatic about it. It was my belief that he would be able to eat innings and keep the team in some games and manage to win a game here and there and walk away with a number of no decisions, thus far my prediction couldn’t be more incorrect.
The above reasons are why I have named Mike Pelfrey the pitching staff chump for the month of April.
The winning for chump of the lineup goes to…….JUSTIN UPTON!
Justin Upton is the biggest signing made in the offseason next to starter Jordan Zimmermann. The Tiger’s brought Upton to Detroit on a 6-year $132.75 million deal, and was expected to do big things near the top of Detroit’s lineup – however this has not been the case.
Upton finished April with a .242 batting average with only 2 homeruns and 8 RBI. Over the course of the 103 plate appearances Upton has made he has struck out an alarming 39 times – which comes out to 37.9%, well above the MLB and his career average.
However, in recent games Upton has strung together hits and when he has made outs via a batted ball, the ball has been hit hard. I do not believe his strikeout rate will remain as high as it is, I do believe he will end the season with a significantly higher strikeout percentage in comparison to his career average.
Upton was recently moved to the No. 5 spot and it seems to have helped the bat. Despite the recent uptick in numbers, his overall month of April is why I have named him the chump of the lineup for the month of April.
Let’s get to the happier part of this article, the champs…..
The winner for champ of the pitching staff goes to…….JORDAN ZIMMERMANN!
Everyone knew about Zimmermann’s track record when the Tigers inked him to a 5-year contract during the offseason, but no one thought it would be as prolific of a start in a Tigers uniform as it has been for the righty.
Zimmermann has started his Tigers tenure with a 5-0 record to go along with a microscopic ERA of 0.55. The righty has been more impressive than anyone could expect. Zimmermann has gone at least 6.0 innings in every start and has gone as deep as 7.0 innings on two occasions. Over the course of 33.0 innings in his 5 starts, Zimmermann has struck out 23 batters and walked only 7 – good for a 3.2 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio.
For each of his 5 starts the crafty right hander has hovered between 100-110 pitches needed to give his team a quality start and chance to win. Of the 4 runs he has given up thus far only 2 have been of the earned variety.
These and the fact that he was named the AL Pitcher of the Month are why I have named Jordan Zimmermann the champ of the pitching staff for the month of April.
The winner for champ of the lineup goes to…….NICK CASTELLANOS!
Thus far, through 23 games, the talented third baseman is batting .361 with 4 homeruns and 18 RBI. Casty has tallied 30 hits collecting 7 multi-hit games this season. He put together an 8 game hitting streak from April 13th to April 22nd and is currently riding a 4 game hitting streak – during which 3 of the 4 games have been multi hit attacks.
If you look at his current statistics, Castellanos is on pace for (if my math is correct) 211 hits, 28 homeruns and 126 RBI on the season.
The above reasons are why I have named Nick Castellanos the champ on the lineup for the month of April.