The 2012 Major League Baseball season officially opened last week in Japan, where the A's and Mariners played a mostly forgettable two-game series, and starts Stateside on Wednesday night when the Marlins face the defending World Series champion Cardinals. Thursday, though, is when the season really begins.
In 2011, the Tigers were the only team in the American League Central to post a winning record, they won the division by 15 games -- the largest margin by any first-place club in baseball -- boasted the league's dual MVP and Cy Young winner in Justin Verlander, and added to their division-leading payroll by making the division's most prominent offseason acquisition in free-agent slugger Prince Fielder. Perhaps that's why, when he was asked this spring if he was in favor of MLB adding a second wild-card team to each league, White Sox general manager Ken Williams said, "Hell yeah I want it."
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The day his manager called, January 22, was the day Miguel Cabrera officially swore off arepas, the traditional Venezuelan patties made of ground corn dough or cooked flour. Cabrera had been working with a trainer through the winter with an emphasis on improving flexibility and agility, but the call from Tigers manager Jim Leyland brought a new urgency.
Three weeks ago, when the news broke that Tigers' DH Victor Martinez had injured his knee and could be out for the season, it created a window. The Tigers' offense, so reliant on just a few hitters in 2011 when Detroit won the AL Central, would be down a big piece in 2012. There was an opportunity for an up-and-coming team like the Royals, set on offense but with a questionable rotation, to step into the vacuum and close the gap on the top of the division by signing an available free-agent starter such as Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt. That kind of aggressive move could have turned the division race into a coin flip.
You have to admire the gusto of 82-year-old Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. When Ilitch wasn't happy with patchwork contingency plans about replacing Victor Martinez, he said he turned to GM Dave Dombrowski and said, "You know, I think we should go after Prince."
At Thursday's press conference announcing the Prince Fielder signing, Tigers manager Jim Leyland confirmed that incumbent first baseman Miguel Cabrera would be moving across the diamond to third base this spring to make room for Detroit's new $214 million man. It's a risky move, one that seems unnecessary given the makeup of the 2012 Tigers roster.
Prince Fielder has reportedly agreed to a $214 million, nine-year deal with the Tigers, making him just the third player in major league history to receive a contract worth $200 million or more. He joins Alex Rodriguez, who has done so twice, and Albert Pujols, who signed with the Angels for $240 million over 10 years in early December.
Five thoughts on Tuesday's news that former Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder had agreed to a nine-year, $214-million contract with the Detroit Tigers:
Five reactions to Tuesday's news that Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez is likely to miss the 2012 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee during offseason workouts:
Baseball got it right in deciding on one-game knockouts between two wild card teams in each league in the coming expanded postseason. Well, it's not officially done, but when Bud Selig gives it his public endorsement ("Dramatic," he called it), he knows the votes are there for it.
This week, SI.com will analyze the offseason plans for each team in a division-by-division format. Teams are listed in order of finish in 2011.
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Maybe the biggest games the Brewers won this season were the final two games against Pittsburgh. With those wins, Milwaukee secured homefield advantage in the Division Series -- a key factor, as the Brewers won Game 5 in a walkoff at Miller Park to advance to the NLCS.
Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland had a seven-run lead when he took the mound for the fourth inning in Game 6 of the ALCS. This being the Postseason in Which Starting Pitching Doesn't Matter, Holland would not even qualify for the win.
The American League Championship Series returns to Arlington Saturday night for its final act, in which the Rangers need to win just one of the next two games to claim their second consecutive American League pennant, while the Tigers continue their quest to become just the 12th of the 76 teams in baseball history to fall behind 3-1 in a best-of-seven series to comeback to win that series.
DETROIT -- The very name of the sport is baseball, a juxtaposition of two of its most important ingredients. Early writings of the sport first referred to it as "base ball" -- with a space -- and rarely does the nine-inch-round cowhide ball collide with a 15-inch-square base except in the modernized spelling of the word.
Following their 11-inning loss on Wednesday night, the Tigers are the first team in this year's League Championship Series to face elimination. On Thursday afternoon, they'll send Justin Verlander to the Comerica Park mound to try to stave off the gloomy history of teams that have fallen behind 3-games-to-1 in a best-of-seven series.
Shortly after 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, the Tigers, already trailing the American League Championship Series 2-games-to-0, fell behind the Rangers in the first inning at Comerica Park. Just twenty-four hours later, Detroit could be tied at two-games each in the ALCS. Tuesday night's 5-2 win gives the Tigers a chance in Wednesday's afternoon affair to knot the series and turn it into a best-of-three with ace Justin Verlander slated to pitch Game 5 on Thursday.
DETROIT -- Doug Fister hails from a law enforcement family in Merced, Calif. -- his father has been a policeman and then fire captain for more than 30 years, and his uncle was on the S.W.A.T. team -- and as a child he used to hang around as they practiced. From that experience he gleaned a guiding mantra of "One Shot, One Kill."
1. It was either a huge breakdown in communication or in execution, but the Texas Rangers lost ALCS Game 3 on an inexcusable mistake, one so bad they had trouble getting their story straight after a 5-2 loss to Detroit Tuesday.
MILWAUKEE -- Postseason baseball has been in session for more than a century, yet not before Monday had a player ended a game with a walk-off grand slam. That came courtesy of the Rangers' Nelson Cruz, who hit an 11th inning slam to win Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
Having lost their travel day to Sunday's rainout, the Rangers and Tigers head to Detroit for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series with the Rangers leading two games to none. How significant is that edge? Of the 21 teams to go up 2-0 in a best-of-seven LCS, only three failed to win the pennant: the 1985 Blue Jays, the 1985 Dodgers and the 2004 Yankees, the only team to blow a 3-0 lead in baseball history.
The big news out of Chicago this weekend was that Theo Epstein might have been spotted at a Lincoln Park Starbucks. Not kidding. That came via a Cubs fan who said he was "99.9 percent'' sure it was the celebrated, elusive longtime Red Sox general manager, and it shows how secretive the Cubs' GM search is being kept by relatively new owner Tom Ricketts. If Ricketts is as good at building a successful team as he is at keeping a secret, maybe the Cubs will break out of their century of general futility.
Rain postponed Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, but it was still an eventful day for the LCSs. The Brewers did Harvey's Wallbangers proud by out-slugging the Cardinals, 9-6, to take a 1-game-to-0 lead in the National League Championship Series, and the Tigers lost yet another outfielder to injury.
Taking a look at Sunday's playoff action ...
It's hard to imagine that the League Championship Series could live up to the excitement provided by this year's Division Series, but then we didn't think the Division Series could live up to the final few days of the regular season, and they totally did. That's only one reason, and the weakest to be sure, that I expect both series to go a full seven games. So, I hope you all had a restful morning, because this year, the postseason doesn't believe in off-days.
The Texas Rangers' defense of their American League title continues on Saturday with the first game of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers, it should be noted, just eliminated the team with the American League's best regular-season record in the Division Series without the benefit of a quality start from their ace, Justin Verlander, and they represent a significant hurdle for the Rangers. Detroit went 38-16 (.704) over the final two months of the regular season, 20-6 (.769) in September, and 6-3 against Texas on the year, with the Rangers' three wins all coming in games started by Alexi Ogando, who has been moved to the bullpen and won't start a single game in this series.
Five thoughts on the Division Series:
NEW YORK -- All around him was chaos. Small boys -- and grown men acting like small boys -- were bouncing around the room, spraying what had to be the cheapest alcohol-free wine in New York City, and old men were turning the hallway outside the Detroit Tigers clubhouse into their personal cigar bar and yet no one was calmer than Delmon Young -- not counting the sleeping infant being held in his mother's arms.
Thanksgiving Day 2008 shows where Detroit has been.
Now that they've dispatched the Yankees in five games, is it enough for the Tigers to take the same approach to the ALCS matchup against the Texas Rangers that they used in beating up the AL East champs? What issues came up in the Division Series that they need to address, and what changes are necessitated by their new opponent? Here's some changes the Tigers should make for the series against Texas.
In the middle of July, Ivan Nova was pitching for Scranton-Wilkes Barre, a Triple-A team, and Doug Fister was pitching for the last-place Seattle Mariners, an approximation of a Triple-A team. Tonight they get the ball in Game 5 of the ALDS with the entire seasons of the Yankees and Tigers reduced to how well they handle a sudden death game.
For only the second time in the wild card era, and the first time since 2001, there will by three Game 5s in the Division Series. The first comes Thursday night in the Bronx, where the Yankees will play in their first double-elimination game since losing Game 5 of the ALDS to the Angles in 2005, and the Tigers will play their first since losing Game 5 of the 1972 ALCS to the A's.
DETROIT -- And then ... A.J. Burnett successfully saved the Yankees' season.
Five cuts on the Division Series:
DETROIT -- There's no script in postseason baseball. So why do we keep trying to write one?
Cliff Corcoran will preview each day's games at SI.com throughout the postseason.
NEW YORK -- Game time was fast approaching, and it was difficult not to look at the sprawling expanse of Yankee Stadium in all its vivid colors and see black-and-white. It was 61 degrees early on an early October afternoon before a postseason game, with bunting ringing the decks of the three-tiered ballpark and a living, breathing Yankees legend striding to the mound to throw the first pitch of the day.
Cliff Corcoran will preview each day's postseason games on SI.com.
NEW YORK -- The denizens on the D train, fueled by enough beer but not enough baseball as it rumbled away from a soggy Yankee Stadium, didn't seem to mind. Neither did the two managers, one of whom, the Yankees' Joe Girardi, did almost as much giggling as talking in his post-"game" press conference and the other of whom, the Tigers' Jim Leyland, opened his remarks with a joke of his own ("Heck of a game. It was great."). And, if the grinning faces and shrugging shoulders of Ivan Nova and Justin Verlander, two of the players most affected by the bizarre developments Friday night at Yankee Stadium, were any indication, the players weren't the slightest bit fazed.
While everyone was watching the Cardinals, Rays, Red Sox and Braves, the Tigers were quietly staging a late surge of their own, going 38-16 (.704) over the season's final two months and 20-6 (.769) in September to win the American League central by a whopping 15 games over the course-corrected Indians, the biggest division lead in baseball this season. Still, that wasn't enough to give them homefield advantage in the playoffs, so they travel to the Bronx to face the Yankees in the postseason for just the second time in franchise history and a rematch of their last Division Series in 2006. The Yankees, meanwhile, posted the American League's best record this season, going 97-65 on the strength of the second-best offense in baseball and, surprisingly, the third-best pitching staff in the AL according to runs scored and allowed.
The Detroit Tigers won their 11th straight game Tuesday night behind yet another gem from likely American League Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander, who pushed his record to 23-5 with seven scoreless innings against the White Sox.
You don't need me to tell you that Jacoby Ellsbury is important to the Red Sox or that the Brewers need Ryan Braun to hit if they're going to have a big October. Every team in the postseason -- and the remaining wannabes -- have guys who don't get quite as much pub as those stars, but who will be critical to their success or failure. Here's an X factor for each of the 10 teams still alive in the races.
The start of September should be the time of year that the pennant races are heating up, but with an average of just 25 games left on each team's schedule, only one playoff spot is currently being decided by less than 5 ½ games, leaving the pennant races lukewarm at best. For all intents and purposes, the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Braves and Brewers have their postseason spots locked up, each exceeding a 98 percent chance of a playoff berth per Baseball Prospectus's playoff odds.
Blue Jays star Jose Bautista deserves strong consideration for the American League MVP award, and if someone thinks he's the MVP because he's been the best player in the league, that's understandable.
Five Cuts on American League happenings ...
The Tigers acquired outfielder Delmon Young from the Twins on Monday to displace a has-been for a maybe-never-will-be.
Insult me once, shame on you. Insult me twice, duck and cover.
There may be a bit of debate whether talented right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez is a bona fide ace or a No. 2 starter, but he appears to be the No. 1 pitcher out on the trade market.
PHOENIX -- Thank God for baseball. It's the dead of summer, two major sports are locked out, and baseball is the only thing we have to satisfy our sports appetite.
Home runs have been the story as the Most Valuable Player races in both leagues have begun to tighten up. Jose Bautista's power outage has kept the door open a crack in the American League, while a pair of National Leaguers have ridden the long ball to the top two spots on the senior circuit list, bumping the leader from three weeks ago down to third. Meanwhile, members of the exceptional 2005 draft class dominate the down-ballot candidates. Looking at the bottom six men on each list, six of those 12 were drafted in 2005, five of them in the first round, and four of them in the first dozen picks of that draft, and that's without Troy Tulowitzki (seventh overall) or Ryan Zimmerman (fourth), the former of whom made the NL list three weeks ago, and the latter of whom was a regular presence on the list last year.
The late stages of winter can see some strange bedfellows, as teams that haven't filled needs arrange marriages with players who haven't filled bank accounts. It's an awkward dance, orchestrated in no small part by agents who can't get commissions on salaries that don't exist. Sometimes the baseball end of it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Let's try to find dance partners for a handful of the top remaining free-agents, keeping in mind that spring training is less than three weeks away.
DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers appear ready to part ways with Armando Galarraga, the right-hander who missed a perfect game last season when an umpire's wrong call cost him what would have been the final out.
The Tigers are the earliest winners of this offseason. In a players' market, they already added two exceptionally talented guys -- Victor Martinez, an excellent hitter, and Joaquin Benoit, a dominant reliever. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, who engineered the deals, said, "We've been happy so far.''
Victor Martinez is a catcher and will turn 32 next month. The sad fate of most slow power hitters in their early thirties being well-known, you might wonder just why the Detroit Tigers would want to sign him to a four-year, $50 million contract, which the two sides have reportedly reached a preliminary agreement on. Think it through for a while, and you'll still be wondering.
BOSTON -- The hero's welcome is gone for good, and so too may be the spark the Red Sox needed to make a serious playoff push.
The Boston Red Sox claimed Tigers designated hitter/outfielder Johnny Damon on waivers, which means Damon could be returning to Fenway Park.
On Wednesday, Max Scherzer, 25, of the Tigers threw 123 pitches and Chad Billingsley, 25, of the Dodgers threw 125 pitches. The next day, Josh Johnson, 26, of the Marlins threw 121 pitches and Justin Verlander, 27, of the Tigers threw 120 pitches. Nobody seemed to get too worked up about it.
Focus on LeBron. Check out the Tour de France. Start looking at your fantasy football cheat sheets. You can skip the rest of the MLB season, because here's what's going to happen:
One of the greatest underappreciated truths of wild card era baseball is that losers turn into playoff teams every year. In the 15 years since baseball split into six divisions and allowed eight playoff entries, every postseason but one included at least one team that had a losing record the previous season. Thirty teams -- fully one-quarter of all playoff teams from 1995-2009 -- made the immediate turnaround from a losing record to the postseason. Why should this year be any different? Who will it be?
Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga talks about the blown call that cost him a spot in baseball history.
A former MLB umpire reacts to a bad call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig won't reverse an umpire's admitted botched call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.
With the most heartbreaking missed call in baseball history, Jim Joyce gave official proclamation to the 2010 baseball season: welcome to The Year of the Umpire.
Former Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas, owner of baseball's other most famous near-perfect game, told SI.com in an interview Thursday that he hopes Bud Selig overturns the bad call at first base that cost Tigers starter Armando Galarraga a perfect game Wednesday night.
Baseball history's goat farm threw wide its paddock gate and welcomed a new member on Wednesday night. Merkle, Denkinger, Buckner, Bartman and all the rest, bleat hello to the mustachioed umpire, Jim Joyce, perhaps the only person -- either at Comerica Park or watching on television at home, even before slow-motion replays could be cued -- who believed that the 27th consecutive out that Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga recorded against the Indians on Monday was not, in fact, an out.
"Baseball is this: Have one good year and you can fool them for five more because for five more years they expect you to have another good one." -- Frankie Frisch
The Tigers have traded Dontrelle Willis and cash to the Diamondbacks for Billy Buckner.
Every week I will rank the top five candidates in each league for one of baseball's three major awards. Having looked at the MVP and Cy Young races the last two weeks, I turn my attention to the Rookie of the Year award this week.
Brilliant right-hander Stephen Strasburg looks so flawless in the minors, he seems more machine than phenom.
Every now and again, I would wake up early and go to my computer, check my email, and there would be the most wonderful thing in there: An email from bbpeach80.
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Marlins acquired left-hander Nate Robertson from the Detroit Tigers for left-hander Jay Voss on Tuesday.
This spring, SI.com writers are filing postcards from all 30 major league spring training camps. To read all the postcards, click here.
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- Johnny Damon played against the New York Yankees for the first time since leaving after four seasons to sign as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers.
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- To Johnny Damon, the Detroit Tigers were the right team.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Free-agent outfielder Johnny Damon shot down rumors that his wife Michelle so much prefers Chicago to Detroit that it could sway where he winds up playing.
Johnny Damon, with the matinee-idol looks and obvious love of the big stage, is starring in his very own soap opera this winter.
Are you ready for the 2014 World Series between the Pirates and Royals? It could happen. I'll admit that it sounds insane. Aren't the Pirates and Royals two small-market teams that just spent the last decade or two in the cellar? Can I really be talking about the same two inept franchises who don't spend much money and whose farm systems are just so-so? Aren't these two teams the same clubs that just lost 99 and 97 games respectively? Even the most optimistic fans in Pittsburgh or Kansas City might concede that there's little hope for contention any time soon. So why on earth would I be predicting a World Series involving these two clubs in just five short years?
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Curtis Granderson is all set to put on the pinstripes. Only one thing to settle: What number does he wear for the New York Yankees?
Everyone knows who the top players are on the free-agent and trade markets this winter: John Lackey, Matt Holiday, Jason Bay, Roy Halladay and perhaps Adrian Gonzalez. But who are the players behind the players? With a week to go before the start of the winter meetings in Indianapolis, here are the players who are expected to be the real movers and shakers this winter ...
Back in the day, the Thing That Wouldn't Leave was John Belushi, in a classic Saturday Night Live skit about a rude slob who plants himself on the neighbors' couch, raids their refrigerator, dials long-distance and sent his castmates into screams of mock terror. It was all done to -- da-dah-DAH! -- blaring sound effects and ominous voice-over, parodying those vintage '50s sci-fi trailers.
Whether in their highlights or their shortcomings, this has been a season unlike any other for the Detroit Tigers.
With all due apologies to TNT -- the sister station to TBS that will broadcast Tuesday's one-game American League Central playoff game between the Tigers and Twins and the ensuing Division Series that awaits the winner -- we can say this about the mediocrity that has been the majors' weakest division the past two years: they know drama. For the first time in baseball history, a division or league will require an extra regular-season game to decide its champion for the second straight season. Unfortunately, these two races have been notable as much for the flaws of the teams that survived as for the pennant race excitement that they've produced. While the other seven postseason teams all finished with a win total north of 90, either the Twins or Tigers will sneak in with 87, the fewest by a division winner in three years. In fact, the two teams that will face off in what is really, truly the last regular season game at the Metrodome have arrived at Game 163 because they were so
As team sports go, the regular-season collapse is a phenomenon unique to baseball. After all, there isn't much sense getting too worked up over whether a team blew its chance to be the No. 8 seed in the NHL or NBA playoffs, or one of two wild cards in each conference in the NFL.
With one weekend remaining in the regular season, baseball suddenly finds itself with the one thing it seemed almost sure to be without this year: pennant race drama, albeit a much more muted version than the high-stakes scenario that has played itself out so often through the years. For instance, with three games remaining, seven of the eight playoff spots are already taken, the American League matchups have been set (AL East vs. AL Central, AL West vs. wild card) and the series that might have been the most compelling because of its head-to-head nature (Rockies-Dodgers) instead will be not much more than a postseason warmup act for two teams who are already playoff-bound. 1951 it is not. That said, there are still several playoff plotlines yet to be determined.
As close a race as is the American League Central, a winner already has emerged as the Tigers and Twins battle to the wire: it's the New York Yankees, the winner's Division Series opponent.
The biggest-market, biggest-spending Yankees just wrapped up the AL East crown and appear to be a threat to steamroll teams in October. The Red Sox, the Yankees' only slightly poorer rivals to the north, are in such fine overall shape that they showed only marginal interest in a series in which two wins would have guaranteed a playoff spot, and one would have prevented a Yankees divisional clinch.
CC Sabathia stood in the center of the Yankees sprawling clubhouse on Sunday afternoon celebrating their division championship and their official return to the top of the American League East. It was a perfect spot for the man who was at the center of the Yankees rebuilding efforts in the offseason and the center of their midseason surge that carried them from 6 1/2-games out in mid-May to a clinching celebration with still a week to go in the regular season.
Only five teams in baseball history have made the playoffs while getting outscored by their opponents (excluding strike years).* This year's Detroit Tigers have a chance to become the sixth. It's not a proud achievement. The Tigers have, so far, been outscored by three runs -- three is also the number of games that the Tigers are ahead of the Minnesota Twins in the loss column, which is the only column that matters in the defective American League Central.
The transformation starts in the morning. In the shower Justin Verlander closes his eyes, runs through the lineup of that evening's opponent and visualizes "not just getting them out, but dominating them." On days that the Tigers' ace is to start, he blocks out the world. He won't return a call from his best friend. He has yet to speak before a start with Edwin Jackson, who occupies the adjacent locker. His pitching coach, Rick Knapp, won't initiate a conversation, speaking only when asked a question. Even then, "the answers are short and to the point," Knapp said. Outfielder Marcus Thames describes Verlander's look as one that says, "Don't talk to me today. I'm about to go out and shove it."
This summer the news division at Time Inc. bought a house in Detroit. Why? Following the lead of editor-in-chief John Huey, the editors agreed that even Detroit's unequaled influence on the economic and social evolution of America as the cradle of the nation's middle class was scraping bottom, and that the city's rise and fall and struggle to rise again reflected the harshest of changing American realities. So what's it really like to live in Detroit? That's where the house on Parker Avenue comes in.
They overlap before home games on Thursday afternoons, the thousands rushing into Comerica Park and the hundreds filing into Central United Methodist Church one block over on East Adams. The crowd streaming into the yard is drawn by a baseball team in first place, a pennant race on full blast, one final taste of summer. The group headed to the church is drawn by a free lunch. In the auditorium on the second floor of the church, the folks sit on metal folding chairs at wooden tables, wolfing down sloppy joes and talking about their neighbors, the Detroit Tigers. "You see the Twins blow that lead last night?" asks Willis Snead, who lives in a trailer park nearby. "That was great for us."
DETROIT -- Rick Porcello stands 6-foot-5, has a four-seam fastball that touches 96 mph and a sinker that looks like it's falling off a cliff, but his catcher is worried about his facial hair, or lack thereof. "Look at his beard," said Tigers catcher Gerald Laird, staring at Porcello in the home clubhouse at Comerica Park after a recent start. "It's peach fuzz. It's all blotchy. He's not a man yet. He's still a kid."
MINNEAPOLIS -- Five things I learned while covering what walked, sounded and looked like a pennant race, however brief, in Detroit's 6-2 victory Sunday over disparage, er, division rival Minnesota:
1) The Twins have played the entire season in a narrow window of mediocrity. They never have been more than three games better than .500 and never worse than six games below .500. Their first baseman and their third baseman are hurt. But here they are with just 16 games left in the season and they still could be a division champion, especially with seven of those games against first-place Detroit, starting on Friday. Really, it's only by virtue of the lousy play of the Tigers that Minnesota has hung in the race.
As the season winds towards October, here are some key players to keep an eye on:
Thank goodness for the wild card.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Don Banks had to say about the new-look Lions in Allen Park, Mich. For an archive of all the camp postcards, click here.
SEATTLE (AP) -- After days of debate, the Seattle Mariners traded left-handed pitcher Jarrod Washburn to the Detroit Tigers for two young pitchers, giving the Tigers another veteran for their rotation as they try to hold on to the AL Central lead.
1. You have to give the Phillies and the Red Sox credit. Yes, they have large payrolls and have resource advantages most clubs do not have. But both organizations were able to draw from fertile farm systems to make key deadline deals this week -- and do so without giving up their very elite prospects. The Phillies made themselves the team to beat in the National League by getting pitcher Cliff Lee without trading pitcher Kyle Drabek or outfielder Dominic Brown.
E-mail question from John: "Are the Phillies really not going to trade for Roy Halladay because of Kyle Drabek? Kyle (bleeping) Drabek? Who the (bleep) is Kyle Drabek? I don't care if Kyle Drabek goes on to win 500 (bleeping) games ... how can you not trade for Roy Halladay?"