Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Detroit Tigers "Black Hole of Suck" team

Today is the halfway mark of the 2006 MLB season. Going into this Tigers season, the most optimstic of fans expected a .500 season, at best. As of today, the Detroit Tigers have the best record in baseball, are 30 games over .500, and have passed the point where they would be considered a fluke. We are all giddy with the thoughts of a pennant race, the playoffs, and what was once unthinkable, a World Series appearance.

So, in honor of this great half season, TWFE decided to take a look back. Not in anger, but to see just how far our Motor City Kitties have come. Inspiration came from a comment over at Eno's blog, Where Have You Gone, Johnny Grubb?. Frequent commenter Ozz said this..

Just for fun, I might have to look over the rosters of the losing years and see if I can come up with the lamest, most pathetic player for each position.

Sounded like fun, well, kinda like fun. Then I started, not realizing the vast amount of ugliness and painful baseball memories I was dredging up. Go thru past rosters, and you'll be amazed by the vast number of terrible ballplayers that came thru the D. Many I didn't even remember or had wiped from my memory (Ernie Young? George Lombard? Greg Keagle?), and their stats show why. This list just scratches the surface of the decade of immense suckitude that was the Detroit Tigers of the past 10 years.

TWFE presents: "The Detroit Tigers 1996-2006 Black Hole of Suck all decade team."

C Brandon Inge 2002: 7/24/.202/95 games - It was this season (and his just as awful 2003) that led me to believe that Inge, to put it bluntly, blew goats. I totally wrote him off as a player. The fact that Inge has become a more than capable defensive 3B with a surprisingly powerful bat, let alone the Tigers elder statesman, is a stunning career turnaround. Absolutely stunning. Dishonorable mention: Paul Bako 1998, Raul Cassanova 1997.

1B Carlos Pena 2002: 12/36/.253/115 games - Looking like a good ballplayer in the batting cage and while taking infield doesn't actually make you you a good ballplayer. The centerpiece of one of the biggest trades in Tiger history, Pena became an afterthought as he didn't hit enough to keep the1B job that was out and out handed to him. This spring, to the relief of Tiger fans everywhere, Pena finally ran out of chances. Pena was an a lock for the annual "Tony Clark Late Season Meaningless Stats" award. Dishonorable mention: Dmitri Young 2006, Tony Clark, first 3 months of every season.

2B Warren Morris 2003: 6/37/.272/97 games - Can you believe that Warren Morris played 97 games at 2nd? Do you even remember? Damion Easley , who along with Bobby Higginson, had a contract that would have made even the Yankees say, "He's too DAMN expensive, even for us" would have been too easy, so he gets... Dishonorable Mention: Damion Easley 2002, Damion Easley, All Star game Home Run Derby 1998.

3B Chris Truby 2003: 2/15/.199/89 games - Truby was Don Wert reincarnated, but even worse with the lumber. In 2003, the awfulness that is Chris Truby played in a total of 124 major league games, between the Tigers and the Expos. Shameful, to say the least. Remember Harold Reynolds stating on "Baseball Tonight" that the Tigers should be contracted? The fact that the Tigers played Truby on a full time basis in the 2nd half of '03 was reason #1 in favor of the Tigers contraction. Dishonorable mention: Eric Munson, 2004.

SS Shane Halter 2003: 12/30/.217/114 games - Mistake #1. Shane Halter being given a multi year, multi million dollar deal after his career year in 2001. Mistake #2. Halter was handed the Tigers starting SS position. This was the absolute apex of the stupidy that infected the Randy Smith era. His 2002 was just as horrible, stat wise, but the fact that he was kept on the roster and in the lineup makes his 2003 season even worse. Honorable mention: Chris Gomez 1996, Andujar Cedeno 1996, Devi Cruz 1997, Ramon Santiago, 2003.

OF Kimera Bartee 1996: 1/14/.253/110 games - Bartee was inserted as the starting CF after the servicable Chad Curtis was traded for the immortal John Cummings and Joey Eischen. Bartee was the 90's version of Nook Logan, but worse. At least the Nookster had a 2 month period in 2005 where he at least looked like a major league player, you can't say the same for Bartee.

OF Juan Gonzalez 2000: 22/67/.289/115 games - Juan Gone didn't want to be here, and his performance confirmed that. Look at Gone's averages for the previous 4 seasons, from 1996 to 1999, while winning 2 MVP awards, and looking like a lock for Cooperstown: 43/140/.314/141 games. After this waste of a season, Juan Gone (and his oh-so-tender hamstrings) was a shell of his former self, and ultimately became a laughing stock. At least Juan kept things interesting, with an entourage than rivaled Vincent Chase's, having his buddy/mouthpiece/lacky/comedy relief Luis Mayoral hired into the Tiger front office, refusing a trade to the Yankees, turning down a 7 year, 144 million dollar contract (Thank God), and pissing off an entire fanbase. Most players don't accomplish all that in a career, let alone in 1 season.

OF Bobby Higginson 2003: 14/52/.235/130 games/$11,850,000 salary - The poster boy for MLB fiscal insanity. According to, Higginson made $52 million over his 11 seasons with the Tigers. $52,000,000. Jesus H. Christ, that's a shitload of greenbacks for an average, at best, player. His 162 game averages? 22/84/.272. And those numbers are inflated, thanks to 2 seasons, 1997 and 2000, which happened to be a contract year. It was all downhill, rapidly, from there. Higgy's accomplishments as a Tiger: Never played for an above .500 team. Higginson's massive contract kept Marcus Thames in Toledo, despite Thames outplaying him, which was the flamethrower to the gasoline that was the 2005 Tigers clubhouse. Never made an All-Star game, despite being paid like one. Managed to go from being the most popular Tiger, to the most hated, faster than anyone south of Juan Gone and Da Meat Hook. Kept local strip clubs in business almost singlehandedly. Quite a career.

OF Dishonorable mention: Alex Sanchez 2004, Wendell McGee 2002, Brian Hunter 1998, Melvin Nieves 1997.

Professional Hitter DH Gregg Jefferies 1999: 6/18/.200/70 games and Craig Paquette 2002: 4/20/.194/72 games - Thinking about Randy Smith and his "Professional hitter" fetish gives all long time Tiger fans a bad rash. The rally killers that were Jefferies and Paquette are the worst of that laughably long line of Smith endorsed "Professional hitters" Dishonorable mention: Eddie Williams 1996, Bip Roberts 1998, Karim Garcia 1999.

SP Jason Johnson 2004: 8-15, 5.13 - Was given a 2 year, 7 million dollar contract to be the Tigers "Ace" and eat innings. He ate insulin and innings, anyway. Even more laughable was the Indians signing Johnson to be their #5 starter in 2006 after seeing him pitch for the Tigers several times a season. Took the Tribe nearly half a season before they realized their mistake.

SP Steve Sparks 2002: 8-16, 5.52 - See the Shane Halter scenario. At age 35, the knuckleballer managed to parlay a solid 2001 career season into a multi year, multi million dollar contract from Randy Smith. Sparks then reverted back to his normal status as a glorified BP pitcher.

SP Felipe Lira 1996: 6-14, 5.22 - Lira was just another in the long ass line of utterly forgettable prospects that the Tigers threw to the wolves over the past 20 years.

The 2003 Tigers was indescribeably bad team. It was tough to only pick 2 starters. But even though the Tigers had pitchers that lost 17, 19, and 21 games respectively, Nate Cornejo, Jeremy Bonderman, and Mike Maroth also manged to win a handful of games as well. We all know how good Bonderman and Maroth turned out to be, and unfortunately, Cornejo blew out his arm and is out of baseball. But...There were 2 pitchers in '03 that were much, much worse, even though they didn't lose as many games.

SP Adam Bernero 2003: 1-12, 6.08 - Bounced up and down with the Tigers for a few years, but was finally given an opportunity in '03 to show his stuff. Turned out he didn't have any stuff, as shown by his starting appearances. 17 games started, lost 12. A horrible percentage till you see...

SP Matt Roney 2003: 1-9, 5.45 - 11 games started, lost 9, never made it back to the bigs. Doesn't get much worse than that.

RP Todd Jones 2006: 1-5, 6.19 - The Rollercoaster has 9 lives. I think he's used up 10.

After researching and writing this piece, a couple of things came to mind. How on earth did I stay a fan of the Tigers all these years? And how did Radar Randy Smith manage to keep his GM job for so God damn long? No wonder theTigers lost a generation of fans.

Feel free to let me know if there's a player I may have missed, or one you feel is more deserving. As for me, I'm off to have a couple of brews in a likely futile attempt to wipe my mind of the memory of Sir Gene Kingsdale.


  1. Remember when the excitement was when the Tigers picked up Hal Moris?

  2. I'm ordering my Chris Truby throwback jersey tomorrow to hang in a hallowed place by my Jeff Komlo jersey.

  3. You say that Matt Roney never made it back to the majors, well he's been up and down a few times with the A's this year.