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Comerica Park Park Factors: Hits 98; Runs 88; HRs 81  

(100 is average, under 100 is favorable to pitchers)

Jason Johnson

Values ~  2000:  -$14     2001:  $4     2002:  -$1     2003:  -$1

Johnson stayed healthy last year but again failed to deliver value to owners. He throws a low 90s fastball, slider, and change. Control of his breaking pitch is key; when he loses command, he runs deep counts, gives up a lot of walks and hitters can start looking for him to come in with a fastball. Now that he's turned 30, he's well past the prospect stage. His ratios don't recommend him and despite the fact that he's pitched well when I've seen him, he doesn't merit more than filler consideration at this point.

Jeremy Bonderman

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  NA     2003:  -$9

With just 27 professional starts at the A level behind him, Detroit thought it was a good idea to throw Bonderman against seasoned major league hitters. The only sense shown here was to shut him down early so that he neither lost 20 not unnecessarily piled up more innings on his arm. It's almost useless to use last year's ratios to evaluate Bonderman's status; he was overmatched, but then it was expected. I'll take some encouragement from the plate command ratios and predict that he'll have a better 2004. He has a low to mid-90's fastball, an excellent hard breaking pitch and an improving change. A better choice for '04 or '05 as he matures, owners in continuing leagues may want to gamble on when he will emerge.

Nate Cornejo

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  -$8     2002:  -$3     2003:  -$6

Cornejo had good ratios in the minors but was rushed to Detroit in 2001, was ineffective and has struggled ever since. He's supposed to have a good sinker and curve, but two pitches are a thin repertoire to succeed in the majors. Clearly, he should have been developing a third pitch last year against less accomplished hitters. Cornejo had a less disastrous season than his mates in the Tiger rotation, but that .24 K rate is not a good indicator of a promising future unless he can add a pitch that will give hitters more to think about. Toward that end, there are reports that Cornejo is working on a splitter this spring. He's worth keeping an eye on at this point.

Mike Maroth

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  $1     2003:  -$9

Maroth needs to throw strike 1 to succeed, which he was less effective at doing last year. When he can get ahead of hitters, he can rely on a very good change-up and slider to keep batters off-balance, but when he has to come in with his high 80s fastball he's hittable. Maroth managed to lead the AL in HRs allowed despite calling Comerica home. Not on my list.

Nate Robertson

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  -$4     2003:  -$4

Robertson was acquired from Florida in the Redman trade. He's made fairly steady progress through the minors, putting up good, though not outstanding ratios. Last year at AAA is representative: Hit Rate = .94; K/BB Ratio = 2.17 with a .66 K rate; HR Rate = .090. Robertson is in the mix for the #5 starter role, but could be headed to long relief. Wait and see.

Ugueth Urbina

Values ~  2000:  $6     2001:  $14     2002:  $26     2003:  $24

Urbina will close for Detroit when he's healthy and ready to go, which may take a month. I saw Urbina start a game in AAA and not only was he unhittable, but there was so much movement on his pitches the catcher would have had a half-dozen passed balls had there been anyone on base. He dominates hitters with a 98 mph fastball and mixes in a hard slider that appears unfair when hitters are prepped to try to catch up to the cheese. Although Urbina starts the season in the minors to pitch his way into shape, he's a draftable commodity in leagues that will allow his selection.

Danny Patterson

Values ~  2000:  $5     2001:  $9     2002:  $0     2003:  $4

Patterson throws a "vulcan change-up", which is held between the middle and ring fingers. He complements it with a 90 mph fastball and sinker. He throws strikes and induces a lot of groundball outs. Patterson missed most of 2002 with a torn elbow ligament which required Tommy John surgery in midseason. He managed to return to action in the second half of 2003. Although his ratios were very encouraging (Hit Rate = .85; K/BB Ratio = 4.75; HR Rate = .057) in the 17.2 innings he pitched, the fact that he had to be shut down in September with a tender elbow wasn't. Patterson is, for now, the Tiger closer.

Fernando Rodney

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  -$1     2003:  -$1

Rodney has an explosive upper 90s fastball that doesn't have a lot of movement, mixes it with a change-up and is working on developing a slider. He's been lights out in the minors the last two years (Hit Rate = .59; K/BB Ratio = 4.04 with a 1.21 K/IP rate; HR Rate = .012) but he struggled during his call-ups to the big club. With closing experience in the minors, he's worth keeping an eye; if he can show some command at the major-league level, he becomes an interesting speculative pick. He's had some tendinitis this spring and opens the season on the DL.

Jamie Walker  

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  $6     2003:  $8

A finesse lefty, Walker has good control and has developed into a good set-up man for Detroit. He's prone to giving up the long ball but otherwise his ratios have been good over the last two seasons. End of the draft filler material

Esteban Yan

Values ~  2000:  -$5     2001:  $16     2002:  $13     2003:  -$8

Yan has a power fastball, slider and change and has been generally ineffective the last few years, putting up poor ratios and getting passed from team to team. He's had a good spring apparently and could make the staff and possibly the rotation. There's no reason to be tempted until he shows sustained success in-season.

Al Levine

Values ~  2000:  $3     2001:  $12     2002:  $4     2003:  $6

Levine is a sinker/slider pitcher and is not overpowering. His career strikeout rate is very low (.5), so he has to keep the ball down to be effective. Not recommended unless you are in a deep league and need a free agent to fill a spot.

Chris Spurling

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  NA     2003:  $1

Spurling was yet another Rule V pick on the Tiger 2003 staff. However, at 26 with a successful year pitching in relief at AA including some experience closing, I commented last year there was a better argument to be made that he belonged in the show and Spurling in fact more or less held his own. His minor league K rates were inconsistent, and since I haven't seen him pitch, I'm not sure how much of a chance he has to develop into something more than he's shown thus far. Spurling has had ligament replacement surgery; I haven't heard what the timetable is for his return, but I expect he'll miss 2004.

Gary Knotts

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  -$1     2002:  $2     2003:  -$9

Detroit converted Knotts from a reliever to a starter last year without very much success. His ratios at AAA were dreadful but that didn't deter the Tigers. Knotts throws a decent curve and a fastball with some running movement. No interest.

Steve Colyer

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  NA     2003:  $0

LA converted Colyer to relief at AA in 2002. Since then he's made some progress with his plate command; however it remains below average. He's supposed to have mid 90s heat and a very good curve. He has a chance if he continues to make progress with his command. Wait and see.

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