For the sake of nostalgia, I will occasionally bring one of my favorites from Tiger past back to the present.
Today, from the top of my list, is pitcher Mike Maroth.
The 2003 season did not exactly make Maroth's career, but it did put his career in the record books. It was Maroth's first full season in the big leagues.
He pitched on a disgraceful Tiger team that lost a nearly record setting 119 games.
Twenty-one of those losses were put on Maroth's tab, giving him the record for most losses in a season.
In the games preceding that in which loss No. 21 occurred, Maroth was unfazed by the idea of possibly owning the record for most losses.
Manager, Alan Trammell, offered to take him out of the rotation in mid-September and pitch him from the bullpen, and in situations when taking a loss was less likely.
Maroth didn't like the idea; he was a competitor.
In his mind, if healthy it was his job to take the ball every fifth day and pitch his best effort. Well, he owns the record now. If for nothing else, he will be remembered for that.
The rest of Maroth's career in Detroit was fairly unremarkable…the type of pitcher Maroth is.
His fastball doesn't reach 90mph; he doesn't strike out many. He does have a great change, a good pick off move, and eats innings like a bowl of Wheaties.
The addition, of Kenny Rogers in 2006 he made Maroth even better.
Maroth improved his changeup and his pitching strategy thanks to Rogers and was on his way to a break out season. After seven starts he had five wins and could have been on his way to an All-Star bid if he had continued pouring on the wins.
That was where Maroth's career derailed. He went on the disabled list due to bone chips in his pitching elbow, and hasn't been quite the same pitcher since then.
He came back at the end of the season, from the bullpen, and was then left off the post-season roster.
2007 wasn't much kinder to Maroth.
An inflated earned run average and more walks than strikeouts lead to his departure from Detroit. He had a phenomenal start to his career in St. Louis, going 7.1 innings while only allowing two hits and one run.
The wheels came off the wagon quickly thereafter, as he was repeatedly hammered and demoted to the bullpen where the pummeling continued.
I have heard it said that for pitchers, recovery from elbow surgery could take longer than initially anticipated. It extends beyond being able to get back on the mound and throw again.
After surgery it can take as much as a season to get "that feel" back again, as the sensations in the elbow can be different, and discomfort can be felt and linger.
I think Maroth's 2007 season was a leftover side effect of his elbow operation in 2006.
Despite that, free agency after the season left him with nothing more to look forward to than a minor league deal, which he took with Kansas City. His 2008 season was cut short by shoulder surgery and rehabilitation afterward.
This off season he signed a minor league deal with Toronto, with an invitation to major league training camp and a chance to make the team as the fifth starter.
His spring performance was sketchy, his left knee ailing and possibly in need of surgery. And quite unfortunately his bid to make the Blue Jays roster ended on Friday when he was given his outright release.
I still wear my customized shirt with the old English "D" on the front and his name on the back.
Maroth needs a home again. Why not bring him home to the Tigers' organization?
Undoubtedly he would be willing to take a minor league deal, as that is all he is likely to be offered at this point. Even if he needs a knee operation he could probably be back on a mound by June.
I'm of the mind that an organization can never have too much pitching depth. No matter who the Tigers anoint as their starting pitchers now, that will all change throughout the course of a 162 game schedule.
Due to injuries and inn effectiveness the makeup of the pitching staff will change, guys will be brought up from the farm in Toledo.
Why not bring back a guy who proudly wore the uniform and took the ball every fifth day, once to the tune of 21 losses?
Those are the kind of guys that built the auto industry in Detroit, those are the kind of guys we need wearing the old English "D.”
Dear Mr. Dombrowski, bring back Mike Maroth.