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Score one for Proven Closers: Jose Valverde signs a minor league deal with the Tigers

Apr 4, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

The Tigers grand bullpen experiment — which really isn’t a closer-by-committee thing — will apparently not last indefinitely:

Valverde will not join the big club immediately, Reusse reports. He’ll presumably go to Lakeland to throw some and then, eventually, find his way to Toledo. And if the Phil Coke/Joaquin Benoit follies continue, Papa Grande — who saved 35 games last year but proved unreliable down the stretch and ultimately lost his job in the playoffs — will be dancing his way across a diamond near you soon.

But the Tigers need to act on him soon: his contract has an opt-out clause dated May 5. Meaning if Valverde is not on the big club by then, he becomes a free agent again.

  1. dondada10 - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    So Leyland lets Coke face two righties he shouldn’t have face and the organizational reaction is to the sign the guy who they didn’t want the entire Spring?

    Screams overreaction.

    • unclemosesgreen - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      Sometimes you make bad decisions when you’re going through the Coke-sweats.

      • dondada10 - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:39 PM

        Yeah, like calling your ex. Been there.

  2. verlandersrightarm - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Oh boy here we go….. Hopefully the reports about him are true and that he did find his mojo again.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      /riffles through box in the attic to find good juju charm in a sweaty panic

      • cur68 - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:53 PM

        /laughing hysterically

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        Maybe the Tigers will also go out and get Inge.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        Dear Senator Inhofe:

        Please bomb Canada.

        Yer Constituentses

      • cur68 - Apr 4, 2013 at 4:12 PM

        Don’t force us to burn your stuff again. You know we like a good fire. That’s why we spend all day collecting that wood.

  3. alang3131982 - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    What is so wrong about the Tigers pen right now? You got Benoit and Al Al for 7th/8th…then a ROOGY (Dotel) and LOOGY (Coke) for the ninth — how is this hard? Are rational people missing something?

    • klbader - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      Is there a reason that Al Albuquerque isn’t the closer? Small sample size caveats aside, his numbers looks good. I haven’t seen him pitch much though, and I don’t know his minor league track record.

      • shawnuel - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:46 PM

        Reports have been that Leyland doesn’t have enough confidence in Al Al.

      • verlandersrightarm - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM

        Smokey doesn’t have enough confidence in anybody unless their name is Don Kelly.

      • detroitr1 - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:00 PM

        Yeah, they like his role as a strikeout guy. His pitch is a vicious slider and it is so violent, they feel like AL would get injured being used on a nightly basis.

      • weaselpuppy - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        Al-Al had elbow surgery in 2012 and is still not 100% back. His motion is still a bit rough on his arm, so they aren’t pitching him in back to backs, which as a closer you have to do. He is still a bit iffy on his control, but yes, that slider is filthy nasty unhittable when he’s on. He’s still a project, but IMO could close twice a week no problem.

        Dotel on the other hand. can’t close. They gave him one closing opp last year and he threw two over the backstop and gave up 3 runs w/o getting an out….has the arm to be a nice 7th inning guy, but no head for closing.

        Here’s the deal-

        Smyly- Long reliever/spot starter as LH. Likely to go down and start at AAA when Rondon or Papa come up.
        Downs- Long reliever
        Coke- LOOGY for any inning from 7-9th but Can’t Pitch To Righties (2012 RHB OPS 1.040)
        Dotel- 7th inning, see above
        Villareal- Coming along nicely, gets lefties as well as righties as a RHP w 98 MPH and a developing secondary arsenal 7th or 8th inning guy right now, could close in future.
        Al-Al- see above. *th inning now plus could do CBC with one other guy just fine. Absolutely nasty stuff
        Benoit- Great 8th inning guy. Not a closer and was a HR machine last year. Primary 8th inning guy
        Rondon- Needs at least half a year against advanced hitting. 100+ MPH nasty stuff w/movement with decent secondary pitches,
        Papa Grande-Turned into Todd JOnes last year, then in the playoffs turned into Byun-Hung Kim…still was 35/38 last year and 49/49 the year before…Conditioning sucks. The issue was his splitter stopped dropping and he literally had to throw only fastballs at 92 MPH last year after May or so.

        They have arms, Leyland has to quit being a jackass about it.

      • pestiesti - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:49 PM

        Alburquerque’s walk rate is a little troubling. His slider is unhittable, but if you stop trying to hit it, he may just walk you.

      • Detroit Michael - Apr 4, 2013 at 3:08 PM

        He can’t stay healthy and perhaps can’t pitch on consecutive days yet.

        They may not be good reasons, but those are the main things.

        Yes, Alburquerque walks too many guys too, but you’d think that would be more of a problem when he is brought into a bases-loaded one-out 7th inning jam than when he is brought in with no baserunners and no outs in the 9th inning.

  4. alexo0 - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Oh wow. I don’t think anyone saw this coming…

  5. kander013 - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    As a Twins fan, the Tigers should make a bid for Matt Capps. That’s worked well in the past. He is proven, and a closer.

  6. albertmn - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Can we now recognize and admit that Leyland isn’t an infallible manager like some would have us believe? I won’t say he is bad, but too many write about him as if we were God’s gift to baseball, and none of his decisions should ever be questioned.

    • Detroit Michael - Apr 4, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      Who claimed Jim Leyland was infallible? That’s a straw man argument.

  7. historiophiliac - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:13 PM


    • historiophiliac - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      Ok, now, it was just a minor league deal. Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. DON’T FREAK OUT!

      • paperlions - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        Viva El José Tigre!

      • historiophiliac - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:39 PM

        Well, I’m glad someone is enjoying this.


      • paperlions - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:41 PM

        If he does make it back to the big club…I’ll be rooting wholeheartedly for him to be a smashing success…equal to the level of rooting I have for Kozma, who has been just fine (or better) through 3 games.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        It would be really good for me if he would find his mojo and repeat 2011’s level of work. Trust me, those wins weren’t pretty, but they ended up in the right column. I am used to pacing the 9th inning as a Tiger fan. I don’t mind it, if he squeaks it out.

      • cur68 - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        Tell me: Why isn’t Al Albuquerque the Tiger’s closer? Younger. Better. Stronger. NOT 6 Million Dollars. NOT crazy. Why not Albuquerque? He got cooties?

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:59 PM

        Freaking out seems to be the proper response.

    • unclemosesgreen - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      Minor league deal … May 5th out clause …. Brian Wilson still throwing somewhere, preparing to let the white smoke out the chimney any day now.

      Reasons to breathe out slowly.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        /breathing into a paper bag now

        Much better.

  8. Just a Fan - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Bryan Villirial is the clear guy for the ninth. A flamethrower with one inning stuff. He is what Zumya was and he was thought to be a perfect closer…..till he “dropped a box on his arm”. Or just let Rondon grow into the position.

    • proudlycanadian - Apr 4, 2013 at 4:46 PM

      Hope that Villarreal does better in the 9th than in the 8th. In the 8th inning today he gave up 5 runs. He seems to be better at starting fires than putting them out.

      • Old Gator - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:33 PM

        Well then, they ought to keep a pet rhinoceros in the bullpen. Rhinos are renowned for stomping out campfires.

  9. Old Gator - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Tigger fans shouldn’t lose hope. Kevin Gregg is available again!

  10. hieronymous27 - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:07 AM

    Why aren’t people demanding Dave Dombrowski be fired? Double D, who is suppose to be an astute judge of baseball talent, convinced Mr. I that Bruce Rondon, a rookie, was capable of being the team’s closer. Rondon is down in the minors and the Tigers are stuck with a bunch of sluggos who can’t get people out. Now the Tigers turn to the biggest hot dog in baseball – Papa Grande Valverde all because their G.M. blundered terribly by failing to go after a quality free agent closer. Time to send Dombrowski packing.

  11. albertmn - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Everyone always downplays the role of the closer and complains they are overpaid and their role is overhyped. But, then as soon as a team doesn’t have one, they struggle, and some people want everyone fired because they didn’t sign a closer in the offseason. You can’t have it both ways.

    • joerymi - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      Because managers that don’t have high-end closers still name a closer. It is craziness.

      Jim Leyland lied. He didn’t have a “closer by committee,” he simply had Phil Coke as his closer. Coke should be a situational lefty. Then Coke gets shelled, and people say “seeeeeeeeeeeeee, you need a closer.” Yet, he in fact had a closer.

  12. mikecubbie69 - Apr 6, 2013 at 12:08 AM

    I guess after looking at the alternatives(like Carlos Marmol!) the Tigers decided Valverde is not so bad after all!

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