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Tigers rethinking reliance on Bruce Rondon?

Mar 1, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT

Bruce Rondon AP

Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, on a “personal guess”, thinks Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is “scared stiff” about relying on Bruce Rondon in the closer’s role:

A personal guess is Leyland is scared stiff his kid closer isn’t ready. Minus an Opening Day closer he can trust, the Tigers could be in early trouble. In that dark scenario, Dombrowski will either be obliged to trade for a stand-in fireman, or borrow from the stable of seventh- and eighth-inning relievers in a community effort to finish games the Tigers should, on many days, be leading when that ninth arrives.

It’s going to be a white-knuckle month, however this issue plays out.

Rondon, just 22 years old, struck out 66 and unintentionally walked 24 last year with a 1.53 ERA in 53 innings of work between Single-A Erie, Double-A Erie, and Triple-A Toledo. Dombrowski joins an ever-growing list of general managers to toss out older baseball orthodoxy — relying on veterans with experience — to maximize value out of younger, cheaper players who are just as capable. 2012 saw only six players age 29 or younger post 30 or more saves, but it was down from a whopping 12 the year prior, the highest total of the 2000’s.

Should the Tigers feel Rondon isn’t a fit for the role yet, they can hand the ninth inning to Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, or Octavio Dotel.

  1. historiophiliac - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    Bill, I’m so glad you’ve decided to dedicate your inaugural post to the Tigers. This suggests excellent taste on your part.

    /serves bowl of hot bread pudding w/ bourbon sauce..with a little extra shot — for medicinal purposes, of course

    Ahem, as I’ve mentioned before on this site, MY personal guess is that DD has not actually given up on a veteran closer. He is buying time to see if Brian Wilson comes back strong. If he does (in a couple of months), I believe they will try to sign him. If not, I expect a trade some time this season. Everything doesn’t have to be locked up Day 1 — as the Sanchez trade proved last year. Let’s not forget that Ilitch wants a ring and he needs it now. If time was on our side, I would agree w/ the youthful rotation idea, but it is not.

    And, thank you for the extra daily dose of Tigers awesomeness. <3

    • cur68 - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:29 PM

      pssst! Bill! You don’t have to eat the bread pudding. Just wring it out for the alcohol and have that.

      Ahem. Valverde’s available.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:37 PM

        Shouldn’t you be gnawing down a tree so you can kill a superior species you’re too chicken to confront face-to-face? BTW, that Jealous Green you are currently wearing is not good for you either!

      • cur68 - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:56 PM

        FYI, it is Lincoln Green and I look smashing. And as for taking on a porcupine face to face, well that’s what the spine pig wants, see? The Art of War is very clear in these cases: never fight an enemy on their terms.

        Once again; Valverde.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:06 PM

        If you’re going to troll me, Jolly Green Beaverman, at least pick something good. We both know good and damn well that DD is not bringing Valverde back.

        Drinking yet?

      • proudlycanadian - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:12 PM

        The Tigers do not need a closer anyways. If their #1 fan on this site is to believed, they will easily win 100 games by more than 3 runs.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:16 PM

        Hmmm, PC does have a point there…the 2-5 of Hunter, Cabrera, Fielder & V-Mart combined w/ V, Scherzer, Fister & Sanchez COULD make the closer obsolete.

        Missed you, PC. Snowed in or something?

  2. dracko19 - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Coke makes RHP hitters look like Ted Williams. Dotel is a train wreck in the 9th. Benoit had a scary gopher ball rate last year and blew saves as a set up guy. Rondon is walking 2+ every outing so far. DD is a master at finding solutions to these kinds of problems….and it is a problem

  3. dondada10 - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    K-Rod is still available.

    • Bill Baer - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:39 PM

      Brian Wilson too!

      • proudlycanadian - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:13 PM

        Aren’t the Beach Boys still on tour?

    • historiophiliac - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:01 PM


      /throws peanut shells

  4. thebadguyswon - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    It would be one thing if the “kid closer” had a modicum of command over his pitches.

    I listened to some of the game today. The Tigers broadcasters were raving about Rondon having three pitches. He got ahead of Justin Turner, a marginal major leaguer if there ever was one, and then gave up a 1-2 single on a 96-mph fastball. Mix in the walks he’s going to issue and I’m telling you, Detroit is playing with fire.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:13 PM

      Rondon did better than Below — and he has big league experience.

      • proudlycanadian - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:14 PM

        Look out Below! Rondon wants your job.

  5. aiede - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    You’re reporting on Lynn Henning’s guesses? Dude’s the Joe Morgan of Detroit baseball media, writing columns something like 10-15 years behind the times.

    (Among other gems, he didn’t want the Tigers to sign Prince Fielder because he’s too fat.)

    The Tigers can afford to work with Rondon and some mix of Benoit/Dotel/Coke/Alburquerque/Villarreal/etc. until later in the season. Closers are overrated, trades for “proven” versions of them doubly so.

    • proudlycanadian - Mar 1, 2013 at 9:15 PM

      Coke? Eventually Coke is bound to flunk a drug test.

    • jwbiii - Mar 1, 2013 at 10:18 PM

      Heavy 1B don’t age particularly well.
      Boog Powell’s last good season was when he was 33.
      Lee May’s last good season was when he was when he was 33.
      George Scott’s last good season was when he was 33.
      George C. Scott’s last good movie was when he was 46, but he was neither heavy nor a 1B.
      Kent Hrbek’s last good season was when he was 33.
      Cecil Fielder’s last good season was when he was 31 or 32 (depending on how far below average you wish to consider “good”).
      Bob Horner’s last good season was when he was 28.
      Mo Vaughn’s last good season was when he was 34.
      Prince Fielder is signed through his age 36 season.

  6. tuberippin - Mar 1, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    Can’t be significantly worse than Valverde either way.

    At worst he plays out like Henry Rodriguez did in the closer’s role for Washington early last season when Storen was still rehabbing his injury.

    • natslady - Mar 1, 2013 at 10:03 PM

      Really, that is NOT what you hope for unless you want a heart attack! Henry drove fans and Davey nuts until Davey gave the closer’s job to Clippard and stashed Henry on the DL.

  7. joerymi - Mar 1, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Maybe they break the cycle of this league wide saves fetish.

  8. frank433 - Mar 1, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    Why not just schedule Verlander to throw his side work and bullpens on game day during the 9th inning?

  9. Minoring In Baseball - Mar 2, 2013 at 5:38 AM

    Those of us who’ve seen Rondon pitch in the minors aren’t really surprised by what he’s doing in spring training. Although he can throw a fireball, he’s always had some control issues. This is just spring training, though, and I’m sure with every outing the coaches are doing their best get him under control. I’ll wait and see what he’s pitching like at the end of the month, and if he’s worked any of the bugs out of the system.

  10. Detroit Michael - Mar 2, 2013 at 5:54 AM

    Henning jumped off that bandwagon in a hurry.

    In December, he wrote that the national baseball pundits “just can’t believe this Rondon kid, who on Sunday turned 22, will be promoted to the bullpen’s highest-profile, heaviest-pressure role. But he will. Unless he implodes during spring camp. Which he probably won’t.”

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