Nerd of Batman, sports, logic, objectivity, Star Trek, personal enlightenment, Lincoln, the Rays, psychology, mic dropping. Kind've in that order.
After Victor Martinez turned his knee into a joint of mostly useless ligaments, the Tigers got bullied into a questionable contract, that became an abhorrent one. It wasn't Dave Dombrowski being pushed around by Scott Boras, it was Mike Ilitch.
Without a replacement for Martinez to the caliber of Prince Fielder, the Tigers are unlikely to reach the 2012 World Series. They needed Fielder, and he was young enough, and DH-able enough towards the end of the timeline where the 9 & 214 wasn't THAT jarring upon first taste. Things change over 22 months.
To do more than just reach the Series in the fast approaching twilight primes of Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers had to do everything they could to escape the three glaring negatives that turned Fielder into an unbearable cross.
1. The contract with $168 million dollars remaining over 7 years was choking the payroll, and to a lesser degree doing the same to the Tigers options at four positions; LF, 1B, 3B, and DH.
2. Finding piece amid his domestic situation, Fielder's offense, especially in Arlington, is sure to rebound, but will his defense do the same? If it does, the level of it will leap from '13s unacceptable to the future's barely sufficient. This deal means it's likely only 1/4 of the Tigers infield will be poor, rather than half.
3. Sample size is important to me, 39 games, 164 plate appearances and a .620 OPS is enough for me to say that just isn't something the Tigers can manage around from their cleanup hitter in the postseason. You wouldn't hit Ramon Santiago fourth during the season, with Fielder, you were essentially doing that in October.
After all this manifested itself, it's clear the Tigers small error of wound, changed into something that needed amputation. The surgery required an NBA-themed trade - you take my problem, I'll take yours - to reestablish a financially traversable path to winning a World Series.
Because of the size of his contract, by no means is the acquisition of Ian Kinsler a complete liquidation of all that's attached to Fielder, so it's crucial not to make future errors that will double in size as the calendar sheds years.
They have two bellwether moments to either allow history to repeat itself, or exercise the discretion they've hopefully learned from the $214 million baby albatross turned baby eating vulture signed back in January of 2012.
Both should be future ex-Tigers.
If my math is correct, even with the Tigers sending $30 million to Texas (I've said they'd have to pay all along), they've saved themselves about $76 million dollars over the years.
There's at least 62 remaining with Kinsler, add the 30, and subtract that 92 from Fielder's remaining 168.
I wouldn't put much of those estimated savings towards Scherzer or Cabrera. In fact, I might not put any in their pockets.
Scherzer will be 30 when he enters free agency. I would expect his megacontract will be very comparable to the numbers Zack Greinke signed for with Los Angeles last year. $147 million over 6 years.
That, with Verlander and Sanchez is too rich for me.
Verlander. Sanchez, who could be a bargain with at least $66 million remaining over 4 years, and either Porcello or Fister (who won't be cheap, but it won't be Max money either) and Smyly and the prayer that a young arm moves through the system is a fine starting five.
You simply can't keep resigning your stars. That's why it's imperative to draft and develop, draft and develop, draft and develop.
If you're not concerned that Cabrera's sports hernia injury isn't a harbinger of future ailments, then you're wrong. Age wise, he is beyond his peak physical years. That doesn't mean he's going to tumble to even a .280 hitter, but Albert Pujols' recent ailments have me envisioning a painful track that Cabrera could travel.
His current deal ends after two more seasons. Let's say the Tigers extend Cabrera RIGHT NOW. $75 million over 3 additional season. That's probably even too consevative. You can do the AAV math. In 2016 Cabrera would finish the season at 33, then 34 in '17, and 35 in '18. Sorry for the first grade math, but you need to actually see and digest those numbers to understand my rationale.
33, 34, 35. Paralleled to those years, the young slugger who the Tigers absolutely would not part with, Nick Castellanos, will be 24, 25 and 26.
Now I will convince you that paying Cabrera is at least a risk, at most ludicrous.
Of the top 20 position players in WAR in 2013 was 27.6. Without the RAMPANT PEDs in the game, being better than those 5 years younger than you, when you're 32 and beyond, just isn't feasible anymore. If it does occur, it's a complete outlier.
Even though I still wouldn't pay any closer $8+ million, there's more room for the Tigers to do that, but for no more than 2 years. Perhaps a third option year. Depending who plays where, they could use the savings this year on a LF, 3B, even 1B.
The Fielder catharsis has given them some flexibility. It was priority #1 for me this offseason. I'm glad Dave Dombrowski had the same minority thought I had; Fielder's not immovable.
What should become the next major priority, assuming he's all many have said he can be, is after an accomplished rookie year, is using some of those Fielder savings and not tapping further into free agency, but inexpensively buying out Castellanos' arbitration years and a some of his free agency. I like to call that 'The Longoria.' Those are the sagaciuos economics of the game now. Buster Posey, Matt Moore, Anthony Rizzo are other examples. Project well, pay more now, rather than take a much costlier risk of giving tens of millions to a post prime player.
There are two possible decisions at the Tigers' financial fork in the payroll.
One way turns you into the Phillies, who spent lavishly, didn't develop and are now closer to letting the Marlins pass them, rather than retaking the East from the Braves and Nationals.
The other direction allows you to let your star free agents depart, you bring along cheaper young talent to fill the void, a savvy, short free agent pick up here and there and the annual contender keeps rolling along with a few foundational pieces. Here, probably Verlander, Sanchez, Iglesias and Castellanos.
With the Fielder move, the Tigers took a step in the direction where the Cardinals reside.
Resigning Scherzer, and/or extending or resigning Cabrera is a step towards Philadelphia.
You'll need a parachute.
One last thing, don't EVER play poker with DD. How he wasn't bawling in hysterical tears preaching confidence in Hernan Perez as a viable starting second baseman was Machiavellian.
Top 10 reasons the Pistons beat the Knicks last night.
1. Rodney Stuckey had his best game in a long time. No Bynum or Billups, likely allowed Stuckey to comfortably settle into the game knowing exactly the minutes he'd get. That may be the key to sharper consistency from Stuckey. He needs an absolutely defined role. 6th man, on a unit where he's fluid and interchangeable with the other guard in the backcourt.
2. Josh Smith stayed close to him and it frustrated Carmelo all night. Nothing was easy for Anthony. It wasn't what I'd call sensational defense, but perhaps Melo, expecting to score 50 on the worst defensive team in the league, got frustrated early and never got further involved in the contest.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
3. Probably because he was sick, but Brandon Jennings did the opposite of what Dumars told him to do last week. It's idiotic to tell a wayward gunner to shoot more. Jennings took just 3 shots (7 assists, 1 TO) and not coincidentally, the Pistons won. The talent around Jennings & Smith isn't good enough to overcome inefficient games from both of them on the same night.
4. The Knicks probably peaked as a good basketball team last year. Leave, Carmelo.
5. The Knicks stink to the sewers of New York without Tyson Chandler. It would've been fun to watch Drummond bang with a guy I compared him to 10 or 11 months ago.
6. Drummond is staying in his zone, which, again, is the restricted area of the restricted area. Drummond's missed 14 shots in his last 7 games. Andre, if you look down and don't see the half circle creating the restricted area, DON'T SHOOT.
7. The Knicks really missed point guard Raymond Felton. Running offense would've been more convenient if he wasn't out with a hip injury.
8. Anthony needed shots in the second half, so that took the ball away from Bargnani who was destroying Greg Monroe. A lot of that happened while Drummond was on the bench with two early fouls.
9. Drummond, athletically gifted as he is, still has frequent mental lapses defensively. He gets confused on who to guard, and when. Those occasions were limited in the second half.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
10. KCP took more 3s (7) than anyone on the Pistons, and sunk 3 of them. That's an outlandish - for Detroit - 43%! Mo, I implore you, keep playing him, and excluding a 5 game window of 22% shooting, keep him in there. He was drafted to shoot, don't bench him for missing.
Extra credit - Josh, you can be a really swift passer, so don't hesitate to try playing point forward every now and then. I think I trust your ability to distrubute more than Brandon's.
I didn't give much thought to how the Pistons would function defensively after their procurements of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Neither player, aside from Smith's skill of weakside shot blocker, was ever known for their defensive attributes.
Most of the concern about Smith was that he was going to have to play the 3 and that's way too much size in the front court to function in today's NBA, where many teams often prefer a small ball lineup.
That spacing issue has appeared at times, but it hasn't been iceberg of the Pistons' true struggles. Those have come defensively.
For the dozenth time, teams can easily avoid the Pistons interior size and strength by shooting over it. Which they've done very successfully.
Let's sift through some grizzly numbers.
The Pistons allow the most points per 100 possessions in the NBA at 106.9. For context, Indiana leads at 90.6. Here.
Pistons opponents lead the league in effective FG percentage at 54%. Indiana at the top again at 43.7%. Here.
Pistons opponents non-blocked 2 point FG% is 28th in the NBA at 57.1%. Chicago leads the way at 43.9%. Here.
The Pistons are letting opponents slice them up, as they allow 24.1 assists per game, that's 25th in the NBA. Here.
Their turnovers and opponent rebounds are turning into 14.9 fastbreak points per game. That's 24th in the league. Here.
Pistons opponents shooting 43.4% on shots from 15-19 feet (25th), 46.8% 20-24 feet (last) and they can't even protect the rim. They're allowing 64% on FG within five feet (27th).
It's ugly. Carmelo might score 50 tonight.
We were so enthralled with slamming Jim Schwartz's hideous decision to call for a fake field goal, we completely forgot to acknowledge that the difficulty of some games on the Lions remaining schedule went from Rookie to at least Normal, if we're grading on the Madden scale.
The skill level wasn't actually increased in one single day of games and performances, but over the course of the last few weeks. Things do suddenly change directions in the NFL quite often. And they could change again before the Lions encounter these impending challenges.
The good news is still that they've got any tiebreaker over Chicago with their two wins against the Bears. If the Lions beat Green Bay on Thanksgiving that'll be 1-1, but the Lions will move to 4-1 in the North, with only a game at Minnesota remaining in Week 17 that would prevent them from 5-1 in the North.
Now the bad news.
The Buccaneers, who visit as 9 point underdogs this Sunday, have won two and a half of their last three games. They took Seattle to OT 3 weeks ago on the road, they won the Distraction Bowl against Miami and they just hammered Atlanta. Tampa's backs keep dropping and no name heroes keep popping up to save the day for their run game, and rookie Mike Glennon has a 109 passer rating over the last year. Sunday won't be the walkover we expected several weeks ago.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
Almost from Week 1, I expected the trip to the Linc in Philly to be a loss, but the way the Nick Foles has played for Chip Kelly lately, the Lions defense - particularly the secondary - could be in for a humiliating afternoon. If they couldn't tackle Antonio Brown, good luck catching Desean Jackson and Lesean McCoy.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
And here come the Giants on their almost annual spurt through November + December, which almost always lands them winning their only game in February, and oh yeah, if they needed extra motivation that game will be played in their stadium. If the Giants handle their remaining schedule of Dal, @Wash, @SD, Sea, @Det, Wash and make the playoffs, then stay out of their way, and start thinking about Eli being up TWO Super Bowls on his brother. Could you imagine Eli vs. Peyton in the NY area Super Bowl. It would be like an entire entourage of Jerome Bettis's on one team being from Detroit. Prepare for incessant.
The Lions remaining schedule isn't unmanageable, and 12-4 wasn't going to happen anyway. Three of the final 6 games just became a bit more grueling, which isn't a bad thing if you're trying to define a winning identity that can help you advance through January.
And by the way, I'm not backtracking on my Ws and Ls.
Green Bay Win
@New York I'll flip here. Loss. EDIT - This is in Detroit. But the point remains, often the Giants are not to be toiled with in December.
10-6. 2-0 over the Bears, 1-1 vs. GB and 5-1 in the North. That SHOULD claim the 3rd seed in the NFC, and possibly create The Handshake Bowl at Ford Field during Wild Card weekend.
The Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since they were implicated then fined for Spygate in 2007. One of the three teams New England beat in those title games were the Carolina Panthers. Perhaps there was fine print in addition to the $750,000 dollars in penalities that stated 'the league has the right to punish as we see fit moving forward until Brady & Belichick are gone.'
No black helicopters, just a lousy, cowardly retraction of a thrown flag.
Here is the photo of the final play of the Pats-Panthers game. Tomorrow morning, it will be everywhere. https://t.co/t5rNeb2DHE— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) November 19, 2013
That could have been three penalties in my opinion, and possibly yours; DPI, holding or illegal contact.
If it was DPI, Carolina would've needed a goal line stand to prevent the Patriots from winning. That penalty would have moved the ball from the 18 to the 1.
Illegal contact would have moved the ball to the 13, and if I'm correct, holding would've moved the ball to the 8 yard line, and downs wouldn't have mattered since the clock had expired.
Just because the Panthers got the benefit of a poorly officiated final play, doesn't mean they still wouldn't have won that game anyway on the untimed down.
And even if they did lose, I would still state the following...
Because of the 27 Denver put up on KC, Carolina now leads the league in points allowed per game at 13.5. They're the number two defense in overall yards per game. Along with their stout defense, I have immense trust in the Panther running game - even after a quiet night for the backs - which can be guided by Cam Newton's legs if needed. The Panthers exhibit characteristics that travel well to any environment. With two games against the Saints looming, they can win the division, but I think the Panthers may be the only team in the NFC that visit Seattle or New Orleans in January and win on the road.
Which leads to my second notion, that the ascending Panthers remind me a lot of last year's Super Bowl participants.