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Robertson trade

Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The largest debate amongst Tiger fans this offseason was what the rotation would look like at the begging of the season. One week before opening day it is obvious who will be in the lineup after Robertson was traded. I will talk about the rotation but first I will talk about the specific trade.

First off I really don’t get this trade unlike Rob Otto. When I first heard this trade I figured it was a dump of salary because Robertson was making a hefty (and undeserved) $10 million.  This isn’t the case however; Detroit will be paying $9.6 of the $10 million. Jay Voss is still a young player but he is not a top of the league type of prospect. He may be eventually be a major league player but he will never be a closer or setup guy.

Although there was a debate at who was going to get the 5th spot in the rotation this was not due to the fact that there was big pool of talent, but instead a lack of talent. Robertson didn’t do anything special during spring training; Dontrelle’s statistics were actually more impressive.

The Rotation:

Ok; here we go. Obviously we will have the staff ace Justin Verlander. Verlander was in the running for the Cy Young last leading the AL in strikeouts.  We have very little to worry about him, he may not pitch as well as last year but he is still an elite pitcher.

Rick Porcello will be an interesting player to watch next year. Porcello looked great as a rookie especially for only being 20. Rick’s innings were limited for the most part last year but he looked great at the end of the season when they allowed him to pitch 7 instead of 5 innings. I don’t anticipate a sophomore slump but it is always possible.

Max Scherzer is a great addition to the young pitching staff of the Detroit Tigers; the only negative is that he doesn’t pitch left handed. Scherzer is still young at 25 and hopefully will have his most productive year with the tigers.

Bonderman has never quite recovered from his shoulder injury that stunted his once promising career. The good news is that his velocity has risen this year from the last couple into the low 90’s, but still significantly lower than when he looked close to an all-star pitcher. This is a make or break year for Bonderman who is entering his last year of his multimillion dollar contract.

Dontrelle has had similar issues a Bonderman but with his mind not his body.  After winning the rookie of the year and coming in second for the Cy Young Willis has fought anxiety disorders inhibiting his production on the field. The great news is that he is throwing strikes and his velocity is topping out around 90. I wouldn’t get my hopes up though because we have heard this all before. The true test for Willis is when the bright lights are on him during the regular season.

Eddie Bonine could possibly replace Willis as the fifth starter. Bonine had limited work during the season last year but was fairly impressive.

Responsibility of Reporting

What has always been an issue with sports writing has become painfully obvious this past week with the constant news about Pacman Jones. Writers are always trying to increase their credibility and popularity by being the first person to report breaking news. For the most part this is great for consumers, especially ones that pride themselves on being well informed about their favorite teams (or any area of interest for that matter). However an epidemic of publishing false information has struck the internet.

Unlike newsprint an article online can easily be published and updated at the click of a mouse. This freedom and ease of publishing has lead to haste with reporters. Are the early first reports worth it if they are constantly wrong or inaccurate? To some degree they are worth it if mistakes are limited. No matter how hard people try, there will always be mistakes made. My problem is not that the mistakes happen, it is the fact that people are starting to put more emphasis on the timeliness of the story than its accuracy, for which there is no excuse.

What disappoints me greatly about the new trend of reporting is that writers are starting to hide behind their nameless “sources”. It is important to protect your sources from scrutiny, or they will no longer give you valuable sources. However when these “sources” give false information, especially on a regular, it makes the reader wonder if the source itself is credible or if it exists at all. Call me a cynic but I can see a non prominent reporter or blogger make up a story that could possibly be true. So blogger John Doe hears that the Lions are interested in Pacman Jones, he leans over to his shitshu who informs him that a deal between the Lions and Pacman has been signed. Now either this fictional deal ends up happening and the writer looks like a well informed insider, when actually he just got lucky. On the other hand if it becomes apparent that the signing will not happen,  John will simply amend his article with no consequences what so ever.

With the specific article in mind by Pro football talks, I have no clue how someone could be so wrong. It would be understandable if, say the Lions and Pacman were close having a deal and that the Lions were the only team in contention, and then a report came out saying that the Lions and Pacman agreed to terms. It appears however that the Lions and Pacman are nowhere near reaching a deal, and other teams are still thinking about signing the cornerback.

Although my scenario of the writer discussing sports with his dog may be far fetched, it could be possible(not the dog part but the made up story aspect). I highly doubt this particular writer made up the story, because he does write for a prominent online new group, but it does however remind me of a story that could be made up. The point of this post is simple. Before you write something as fact, make sure it is fact and don’t rely on updates to correct your mistaken information.

Lions defensive needs

Defensive end: The defensive line needed more attention than arguably any other position this off-season.  With the addition of Kyle Vanden Bosch the defensive ends need less attention than they did be fore. However Vanden Bosch won’t be a long term answer.  The Lions could pick an end as early as the second round(assuming they don’t move down in the draft) but i doubt it. My anticipation is that they will pick a defensive end in the later round to add depth and potentiality pick another Sammie Lee Hill type player.

Defensive tackle: The defensive tackles on the field next year may look dramatically different than they did last year. Sammie Lee Hill looked like a solid NFL player last year despite being a late round draft pick. The addition of  Corey Williams will also help bring depth to the position. This is small news compared to the fact that most likely the Lions will end up getting Suh the game changing defensive tackle with the 2nd overall pick.  After all of the change with the defensive line, it will move from a weakness to a strength.

Linebackers: The Lion’s linebacker will not look that different as last year. Foot is out and Levy is in as the new starter, and we will all see how that works out. There may be small additions in free agency and through the draft but most likely there will be no major change in the core.

Safety: Louis Delmas looked great last year and will help bolster the secondary for years to come.  The other safety spot is up for grabs and may change in a multitude of ways. My best guess is that they will address this hole with a veteran  but add depth with the draft. Hopefully they will hit on a late round draft pick like they did last year.

Corner: The corners will be completely different  than last year. Jonathan Wade and Chris Houston will replace Buchanon and Henry.  Hopefuly this will be an improvement from last year, but there is no real way of knowing.

Zack Follett Lion Fan Favorite

No rookie player in recent memory has acquired so many fans despite being a 7th round pick. The Lions standout special teamer Zack Follet has attracted fans both with his hard hits on the field, and his antics off the field. Zack has been extremely involved in community service since he was drafted by the Lions. He is constantly raising awareness and money for certain foundations he feels needs support. In his newest adventure Zach decides to spend the day with real Lions. Make sure you check out this video and you will be able to tell why so many fans have fallen in love with this player.

Detroit’s Needs Before the Draft

The Lions have been extremely active this offseason as expected, especially on the defensive side of the ball. As the free agent market starts to cool down, fans such as I, naturally begin to formulate what needs should be addressed during the draft.  Instead of blindly picking players that could be drafted I will simply talk about what positions need to be addressed. The Lions draft strategy will be the same as last year (pick the best player available).

Quarterback: Matthew Stafford showed great promise and appears to be the future quarterback for years to come. However, he still needs a serviceable back up. Daunte Culpepper is still an unrestricted free agent and a deal may not happen. This would be a quick free agent fix; Detroit would not want a rookie quarterback. If Jake Delhomme would come at a low price he is a possibility. Charlie Batch could also make a return to Detroit because of the emergence of Dennis Dixon as a serviceable backup in Pittsburgh.

Running Back: Once again Detroit’s running game was anemic at best. The blame is not just on the running backs but also on the line. However the running backs as a whole were unimpressive especially Kevin Smith, granted he was injured, but still even when he was not injured the explosion I expected was not there.

Running back is not a high priority but most teams are running a rotation of running backs and it would be beneficial for the lions to do this as well. If Jahvid Best or Ryan Matthews is available in the second round I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lions picked one of them up. Older free agents like LT, Westbrook, and Jones are a possibility but are unlikely unless Detroit overpays.

Other thoughts: Also it would be nice if the Lions picked up a franchise fullback late in the draft. Yes, you heard right the highly important franchise fullback. In all serious I would love to see someone like Cory Schlesinger back in Detroit. There are thoughts of picking up someone like Dexter Mccluster (A pass catching scat back). To me this is a luxury (and a waste of a pick during this phase of rebuilding) especially when Aaron Brown showed potential last year as a pass catching running back.

Wide receivers: The wide receiving core is much improved with the addition of Nate Burleson. The signing added depth to the position and also provided a more legitimate number two threat next to Calvin Johnson. Derrick Williams was pretty big disappointment last, but he is still extremely athletic and with hard work and good coaching I think he could become a good slot receiver. The Lions could possibly pick a true slot receiver later in the draft, but it isn’t as pressing as some needs.

Tight End: The lions have no true need for a tight end. Brandon Pettigrew looks like a promising blocking and catching balanced tight end. If there is a good tight end available at the end of the draft they may select him but once again that is unlikely.

Offensive Line: Oh the offensive line, the topic of concern every year. In all honesty the lions protected Stafford pretty well last year. Jeff Backus the perennial fan hated tackle once again impressed the current coaching staff, and probably will stick around. I think if the Lions could pick up a good offensive guard, the whole line would become a little better. If Mike Iupati may be available in the early second round but I highly doubt it. Luckily with good scouting and a little bit of luck a solid offensive lineman can be selected in the late rounds. If the Lions pick up a lineman later in the draft he may not be ready to play his rookie year but could contribute in upcoming years.

Similar analysis on the Defensive side of the ball will come when all the details about newly acquired corner backs Jonathan Wade and Chris Houston are announced.

Fans Need to Limit Their Expectations

Source: Detroit Lions

The news of the Nate Burleson and Kyle Vandenbosch signing excited all Lions fans, myself included.  However the excitement should not lead to lofty expectations for next season. The Lions had two simple goals for this off season. One, get Matthew Stafford some offensive weapons to help take pressure off Calvin Johnson. Two, to improve their abysmal defense.  These two free agent signings will help the overall team talent, but they are not a cure-all.

Nate Burleson obviously will help the Lions talent shallow offense, but not as much as people may hope. When looking at stats they are extremely similar to Bryant Johnson. I don’t mean to say that Burleson won’t help but he is not the true offensive threat that you want on the opposite side of Johnson. Burleson does provide much needed depth for the wide receiving core. Overall Burleson will be an improvement over Bryant Johnson but don’t expect two 1,000 yard receivers.

Kyle Vandenbosch will be a great improvement over the current defensive ends on the roster, but will also provided much needed leadership to the young team.  Vandenbosch did go to the pro bowl last year but I would not classify him as an elite defensive end or pass rusher.  He is a very good player but is getting up in age at 31.  I would hope that Vandenbosch will be able to provide solid playing time while also being a little bit of a player coach.  Overall I am very happy with this signing. But once again don’t expect to much he will not have double digit sacks like 2005 and 2007.

The signing of Burleson will change how the Lions will draft this off-season.  More than likely the Lions will not draft a wide receiver anymore, while offense is still a priority it is more likely they will go with a offensive lineman or running back. If the Lions do indeed take McCoy or Suh, the defensive line would move from one of the weaknesses on the team to one of the biggest strengths.

New and Note for NFL Combine

(February 26, 2010 - Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images North America)

Today is by far the most boring day of the combine. As much as it is funny to watch 300 pound man running a 40 yard dash it isn’t that applicable to  their success in the NFL.  I watched the offensive lineman over the tight ends (who would be much more fun to watch) because the Lions have much greater need for a lineman after the pickup of Brandon Pettigrew.

Three players caught most of my attention during the workouts.

  1. Russel Okung came into the combine as the undisputed highest rated offensive tackle in the draft. He did nothing to change this view (unlike Andre Smith did last year). Okung looked strong in drills and had the second highest amount of reps in the bench press (38). After the combine I think it is safe to say that the Okung will be picked high in the draft unless he completely flops during his pro day.
  2. Mike Iupati was a little disappointing. I have not seen him very much mostly because Idaho doesn’t get very much national exposure. I really have only heard great things about him and I was disappointed in his numbers.  Numbers really don’t mean that much with offensive lineman compared to film, that being said I still would like to have seen him put 225 up at least 30 times. However this might be a blessing in disguise, he might fall into the second round where the Lions could snatch him up.
  3. The most impress combine performer of the day was Bruce Campbell. He looked very athletic (32 inch vertical and a 4.85 40) and has the prototypical frame of 6 foot 6 and 315 pounds. Before the combine he was slated as a late first round pick at the highest with a lot of upside. After today I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the second OT taken. Jason Smith proves that the NFL is moving toward more athletic tackles to counter the speed rushers prevalent in the NFL

I doubt that the lions would get either of these tackles but mike Iupati is still a possibility. Tomorrow the QB, RB and WR will take the field.