This week's Potpourri

More notes from the ballpark in my increasingly Larry King-like style (I promise to write like a normal human being soon):

Detroit Ace?
It's kind of hard to get my mind around it but the Detroit Tigers have been the third best scoring team in the AL so far.  The primary reason is an outstanding start from several hitters:

Ivan Rodriguez  - 32 HR, 144 RBI, 90 runs, .359 average
Rondell White - 32 HR, 135 RBI, 113 runs, .321 average
Alex Sanchez - 9 HR, 63 RBI, 81 runs, 36 steals, .356 average
Carlos Guillen - 14 HR, 95 RBI, 131 runs, .316 average
Brandon Inge - 18 HR, 86 RBI, 54 runs, .295 average

That is what each guy is on pace for this season.  It's probably safe to say that each will fall of that pace.

What is interesting is that the Tigers have a starter who's on the edge of everyone's radar, but probably still available in many leagues.  I'm not saying he's this year's Esteban Loaiza (in large part because I don't think there is anyone in the AL who will enjoy the confluence of positive events that Loaiza did last year) but I do think he's worth considering.  And while the Detroit offense will slow down some, it won't drop to league worst levels as it was last year because the Tigers did improve this offseason.  So this starter will get some run support. 

He becomes even more intriguing when you remove two starts against a team he won't face again this year.  Lefties are hitting just .083 against him for the year with zero extra base hits.  His numbers without those two starts: 36 innings pitched, 24 hits allowed, 20 walks, 11 earned runs, 47 strikeouts, which comes to a 1.222 WHIP and an ERA of 2.75.  If you guessed this was Nate Robertson (and knew what he looked like with his two starts against Anaheim removed), you probably already have him on your team.

KC Closer?
Rumors abound that the Royals are considering bringing up Zack Greinke from AAA in the next few weeks to help out their beleaguered rotation.  Brian Anderson is probably the guy he should replace, but there's a growing sentiment that Jeremy Affeldt could be moved so that he could become the team's closer.

That's not a bad idea, actually.  For his career, Affeldt's ERA as a reliever is 3.42 as compared to 4.67 as a starter.  In fact, everything about Affeldt is better out of the pen:

Starter   127.1 IP   142 hits   13 HR   48 BB    88 K    1.492 WHIP
Reliever   76.1 IP    69 hits    7 HR   27 BB    77 K    1.258 WHIP

So moving Affeldt would appear to have some merit. 

What would they do with Mike MacDougal?  It's hard to say since he's only had 3 major league starts in his career and those occurred three years ago but he did have some success as a starter in the low minors.  Since the Royals are quickly falling out of the race, this would appear to be a good time to find out if he can make the transition back to the rotation.

Jose Contreras
I really don't know what the deal is with Jose Contreras.  Maybe he can't get major league hitters out.  Or maybe he just doesn't like pitching in April or whenever the temperature is lower than 80 degrees outside.  But there doesn't appear to be any reason why he can't pitch effectively in the majors other than he simply hasn't done it this year.  His struggles appear to be entirely mental.  These are his numbers in the minors since his demotion:

20.2 innings pitched, 13 hits allowed, 5 earned runs, 5 walks, 34 strikeouts. 

Those are from one start in low A Oneonta and two in AAA Columbus.  Numbers that dominating usually mean that a pitcher can pitch in the majors and Contreras showed that he could in the second half last year.  It'll be interesting to see how they handle him if Tanyon Sturtze, recently traded from the Dodgers, gets off to a strong start in New York.

A move to the pen is probably not the best plan because Contreras is signficantly less effective in that role - 7.43 ERA in relief, 2.34 as a starter.  But if Sturtze pitches well, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see the Yankees try to package Contreras to the Royals for Carlos Beltran.