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A YouTube scouting report of new Detroit Tigers pitcher Shane Greene, who might be a demon

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(Photo: Keith Allison)

The Tigers traded their No. 5 and No. 7 prospects for Shane Greene. You’re reaction was probably similar to mine: Who?

Bless You Boys actually has a post titled: Who is Shane Greene? You can go there to get stats. For a review of how he plays, go find a number of other people who have A.) Seen him play and B.) knew they were watching him play. They can tell you whether it was a good idea for the Tigers to give up two of their best prospects in their shallow farm system in order to acquire a bottom-of-the-rotation starter.

(My two cents: I get why they did it. They’re trying to win now. Greene has a full season in the bigs while Robbie Ray doesn’t. Greene and Ray are both arbitration- and free-agent eligible at the same time. Detroit will gets more major league use out of Greene than they do Ray and they get it starting next year.)

Here, we’re looking for pure entertainment value. Will Greene be worth watching?

For that, we need to go to the one place that provides more entertainment than any other thing in the world: YouTube.

It’s time for another YouTube video scouting report.

Greene was a rookie last year, so that’s not much that we have. The journey starts off with a 2:43 video of him going 7 1/3 innings and striking out nine against the Orioles.

OK, so Greene can get nasty. The strikeout pitch at 0:30 would make a priest blush and the one at 0:38 is even better. I also enjoyed the pitches at 0:55, 1:24, 1:41 and 1:53, especially the one at 1:53.

I’m already on the Shane Greene bandwagon. He’s got the ability to throw a pitch that makes you go, “Oooo” at least once a game. Rod Allen is going to enjoy him. He’ll get his fair share of “I see you” praises. This is a good start. Next video.

Ummmmm.

A quick recap of 0:11 – 0:17: Greene fields a ground ball, runs until he’s 15 feet away from first base, and THROWS AN UNDERHAND LOB INTO THE CROWD.

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What a power outage and the Detroit Red Wings can remind us about sports

The first time the lights went out, on Sunday against the Canucks, it was quirky. Stuff happens. In an 82-game regular season something needs to break the monotony. A little delay that didn’t hurt anybody? Perfect.

But when the lights went out again on Tuesday, it provided a small reminder.  Joe Louis Arena lost power just before the Red Wings took the ice for their morning practice. Detroit and Florida both cancelled their skates. The Red Wings Twitter sent out a tweet that I took as one of the sadder I’ve seen.

At one point it was unclear whether the game would be played. Mike Babcock made light of it at the time, as he should have. There’s nothing he could do to control the power to the building (although if he found the right person and combined it with the right the death stare he could probably expedite the process).

Most of the time sports are insulated from everything else. It’s part of its charm. A random Red Wings/Panthers game has no innate value on the world. It doesn’t have any political bearing (at least not since Tim Thomas left), it doesn’t affect the war or terror or fix any broken communities. We as a collection of individuals place some value on it: an accumulation of random games leads to million-dollar contracts and careers and lives and statues in the downtowns of major metropolitan areas. But even then, that value is segregated.

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Should the Detroit Red Wings trust Jakub Kindl more?

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It’s Jakub Kindl’s fault. The Red Wings being weak on the back end, the rampant Tyler Myers rumors, it’s all because of Kindl.

He’s a former first-round pick that kind of sort of panned out. The two-way hope for him is gone. He’s a bottom pair defenseman and one who makes more than Danny DeKeyser and Brendan Smith. More importantly, he’s lost all of Mike Babcock’s trust. It’s been that way since before the season started. 

The chart above shows level of competition vs. percentage starts that begin in the offensive zone for all of the Red Wings defensemen this season. The circle colors represent relative corsi. Kindl has started more than 70 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, that’s about 10 percent more often than Brian Lashoff, the next closest defenseman. He’s played against some of the easiest competition. Only Dan Cleary has a lower TOI Competition percentage on the Red Wings. 

In short: Babcock is only playing Kindl when he absolutely must. But is that too little?

Look at the defensemen in the Atlantic division. (all charts courtesy of war-on-ice.com.)

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Kindl is one of two clear outliers in how much he’s been protected, but he’s shown he’s been up to the task given to him. He’s playing against mini-mites in the offensive zone most of the time, but he’s dominating them. His relative Corsi rating is around +10 percent, the highest among the Red Wings’ defensemen. The rest of Detroit’s blue liners are in the red except for Ouellet (who was protected in his own right) and DeKeyser (who is about even).

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For once, a different kind of Thanksgiving memory for the Detroit Lions

Lions fans thanksgiving

I watched the Lions game not huddled with my family but with two colleagues in the Dallas Cowboys press box. All three of us were Michigan natives and when we saw the Detroit fall down 14-3 the same thoughts ran through our heads: here it comes.

On the drive over I’d talked with one of my colleagues about how this was the one game in the next four the Lions could not lose. With Chicago twice, Minnesota and Tampa Bay, 3-1 over those four was the most likely outcome. Detroit was going to lose a game it shouldn’t. That’s how the NFL works. But losing this one would wipe 3-1 off the table.

A loss at home to an inferior team in the Lions’ signature game to extend a losing streak to three would’ve been the official marker of the Detroit Lions trademark second-half slide. The three of us saw it. At 14-3, 25 straight drives without a touchdown and a shaky Thanksgiving Day history outside of last year when they played an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team, autopilot takes over.

We discussed Stafford and whether he was good enough, how his physical tools would allow him to be have a stranglehold on the starting quarterback position and how his limitations would prevent him from doing anything with it but put up big stats. We discussed Jim Caldwell and Joe Lombardi. We discussed the Lions’ failure to be able to get two rushing yards when they needed it. We discussed how easy it would be for them to miss the playoffs despite the schedule unfolding in their favor.

You know what happened next.

Stafford led three straight scoring drives, the defense allowed three more points the rest the game and the Lions not only won but an embarrassed an inferior team — as they should have. Two of us watched the events unfold silently. The third gleefully updated us with Stafford’s passing statistics after we’d spent the past five minutes trashing him.

“22 for 26, two touchdowns.”

“29 for 38, 370 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions.”

Stafford finished the day 34 for 45 for 390 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

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Breaking down the Red Wings’ second segment: This is the story of how special teams can save a team

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Franzenstein

Not too long ago, people were worried about the Red Wings power play. LOL.

The Red Wings completed their second segment on Monday. They went 5-3-2 in the 10 games, earning 12 points. When combined with their 15-point segment in the first 11 games, they’re ahead of where they were after 21 games a year ago.

They probably shouldn’t be. Look at the chart:

2013-14 Averages Segment 1 Segment 2
GF 27.1 29 30
GA 27.6 22 27
5-on-5 GF 19.1 19 17
5-on-5 GA 18.4 15 18
PPG 6.1 5 12
OPP PPG 5.9 3 5

(*The splits don’t add up to the total because I didn’t include empty-net goals, short-handed goals, 6-on-5 goals, etc. on the chart.)

The scoring has been good, but the Red Wings were a net minus 5-on-5 and gave up five more goals than their previous segment. Yet they sit tied for third in the division and hold two games in hand on their Boston mates thanks to continued wizardry on the penalty kill and a ridiculous 12 power play goals. The most power play goals the Red Wings had in a segment last year was eight.

So who’s responsible for the uptick? Here are the top five Red Wings this segment in terms of adjusted GRM.

(A note before the numbers: Last year I provided straight GRM numbers. These skewed towards favoring forwards and punishing defensemen just on the basis of their positions. With a year-plus of data we can somewhat overcome that by making adjustments based on position. I averaged all the GRM totals from each segment — including this one — separately for forwards and defensemen, and subtracted that number from a player’s score depending on his position. The average GRM for a forward was 0.708. For a defensemen it was -0.900. So a forward who posted a 0.00 GRM will have an Adjusted GRM of -0.708, while a defense with a 0.00 total GRM has an Adjusted GRM of +0.900.)

Top 5 

1. Johan Franzen,  2.01

2. Tomas Tatar, 1.70

3. Xavier Ouellet, 1.4

4. Justin Abdelkader,  0.79

5. Henrik Zetterberg, 0.6

Franzen has always used the power play to earn his money. This segment, he had a total, non-adjusted GRM of 2.72. Almost all of that came on the power play, where he posted a team-leading +2.34 GRM. When he’s he’s walking through entire teams like this, that should be no surprise.

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Jim Caldwell’s 11-game referendum as Detroit Lions head coach

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Jim Caldwell was trying to minimize the pain, get out before the bomb went off. The questions didn’t stop. Most of them were the same, some variation of, ‘Why has the offense sucked?’ Caldwell let the pressure pierce him. His demeanor changed. He spoke clear and fast, but with bitterness. He was either a man without answers or one with answers he’d rather not say.

Caldwell spent a lot of his press conference saying he needed to “look at the film.” The reason for the offensive struggles? We’ll have to take a look at the film. How were the Patriots so effective? We’ll have to take a look at the film. I know you’ll have to take a look at the film, but just from what you saw out there today how did you feel Matt Stafford played? We’ll have to take a look at the film.

At one point he told a reporter asking about Stafford’s inaccuracy:  “Well, that’s your opinion…We’ll look at the film.”

Last week we learned the Lions weren’t among the NFL’s elite. This week we learned how big the chasm was. The Patriots dominated, and they did so because they played off their opponent.

Golden Tate said the Patriots had a “good game plan” to limit him and Calvin Johnson, (Tate finished with 97 yards but, like the rest of the Lions offense, didn’t find the end zone). James Ihedigbo and Glover Quin both talked about the Patriots’ up-tempo offense and how it took the Lions defense out of rhythm.

New England knew the Lions had a dominant rush defense, so despite rushing for 246 yards the previous week, the Patriots went away from the run and relied quick passes instead, forcing the Lions’ weakest unit to do the work. Caldwell and Lions meanwhile, insisted on balance in the first half. Before Stafford threw six straight passes in the half’s final minutes, the Lions ran 17 pass plays and 15 rush plays. It earned them a 24-6 deficit.

“We thought they would actually try to run the ball,” Ihedigbo said. “You run for 200 yards, you think you’d kind of stick to it, but when you have a quarterback like Tom Brady you can do whatever you want.”

For as good or as bad you think Caldwell (or offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi) has been tactically, he came to the Lions with the reputation as a quarterback engineer. He’d built Peyton Manning. Now he had the quarterback with all the raw tools anybody ever wants in front him to craft. Matt Stafford was going to be more efficient and stop forcing things but retain all the good things he’d done before.

Stafford’s raw numbers are way down. His completion percentage is up by less than three percent. His QBR and quarterback rating are nearly the same as last year. Calvin Johnson has been hurt and his receivers seem to enjoy dropping balls, but this updated version of the Stafford robot hasn’t been what was promised, at least not yet. Whether it’s Stafford or Caldwell’s fault doesn’t matter.

Caldwell was brought in to do two main things, besides win: groom Stafford and instill discipline.

The Lions sit with a worse offense, a stagnant quarterback and just as many penalties as they had last season. Yet the Lions are 7-4. Good but not great, better than last season but by how much? With two games against the Bears and one each against the Vikings and Buccaneers, the record could be significantly better. They can make the playoffs, get a home playoff game, win that and possibly get a few lucky bounces to get to the NFC Championship game. But if whatever is about to happen in the next month and half to two months is positive, will it be because of Caldwell or in spite of him?

It’s probably the latter if the offense keeps sputtering along at 21st in the league.

“We’re going to have to figure it out,” Tate said.

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Tracing the Detroit Red Wings’ roster roots: How one draft pick in 1990 is still paying dividends

slava-kozlov

Thank this guy for Darren Helm

On June 16, 1990, the NHL converged upon BC Place Stadium in Vancouver for the NHL Entry Draft. The Red Wings’ Bryan Murray was in his first year as coach and GM and was tasked with improving a team that had posted a 28-38-14 the previous season and finished last in the Norris Division

Murray selected Keith Primeau with the third overall selection. The Red Wings had no second-round selection, so Murray’s next pick came in at the top of the third, when he selected Vyacheslav “Slava” Kozlov with the 45th overall pick.

Primeau would become an All-Star. The Kozlov selection would turn into the most productive draft pick in Red Wings history — although Murray had no way of knowing it at the time.

On Thursday Grantland put together a list of the longest MLB transaction trees for each team: What’s the longest back that we could trace a current player’s roster spot? It’s fascinating. Read it and learn how Fernando Rodney eventually yielded the Tigers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol.

In this same spirit (i.e. pirating their idea), I traced the origins of every player to have played one game for the Red Wings this season — except for Andrej Nestrasil because he’s in Carolina now so screw him, amirite?

Click any of the charts to get an enlarged version.

Forwards:

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Defensemen/Goalies 

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Some notes:

–Seventeen of the 25 players are Red Wings draft picks, including all of their top forwards. Only four of those have come in the first round (Kindl, Kronwall, Sheahan, Smith)

–Both of the second-round picks the Red Wings received when they traded their 2011 first-round pick to Ottawa have yielded players already in the NHL: Tomas Jurco and Xavier Ouellet. Matt Puempel, the player the Senators took with the Red Wings pick, is yet to play in an NHL game.

– Detroit essentially flipped Sebastien Piche and Andrei Vasilevski for Kyle Quincey. Piche is playing Austria, but Vasilevski, 20, could still swing the trade in favor of Tampa Bay. He came into the season the top goalie prospect according to ESPN.

But back to that 1990 draft pick. Kozlov played 607 games and helped win two Stanley Cups for the Red Wings before he, along with a 2002 first-round pick, was traded to Buffalo for Dominik Hasek. (Buffalo later traded the first-round pick to the Blue Jackets who traded it to the Thrashers (R.I.P) who selected Jim Slater). Hasek played 79 games in that stint with the Red Wings (he later returned but that doesn’t count for our purposes) and led Detroit to the Stanley Cup in 2002. In 2004, after retiring and unretiring, Hasek left Detroit for Ottawa in free agency. The Red Wings were awarded a fifth-round pick in compensation. They used it on Darren Helm, who has played 310 games with Detroit and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2008.

When Helm was three years old, the Red Wings set in motion the series of events that would lead him to Detroit.

Since the Red Wings also sent a first-round pick to Buffalo, let’s halve Hasek and Helm’s production when looking at the impact of that 1990 third-round pick. It still yielded 1.5 solid players, 801.5 games played, a part in three Stanley Cups, and half of a Hall of Famer. The Red Wings might’ve had better draft picks, but there’s none that produced more.

And more than 24 years later, it’s still contributing.

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