Starting with the Tigers stud arm, Justin Verlander has remained in Lakeland over the past couple weeks, resting and slowly working his way back after being removed early in a start for Erie.
As has been stated earlier, there is no set timetable for Verlander, as the Tigers plan to remain cautious with Verlander, as he has done plenty in 2005 to prove he has the ability, and will not be pushed should his arm remain less than 100%.
As for when he may return, rumors are circulating that he may make an appearance somewhere in the farm system (a rehab start in Lakeland would seem plausible) as early as this weekend, but again, that's just speculation and entirely dependent on how Verlander has progressed as of late.
Moving on to another pitcher who in 2004 had a year much like Verlander's in 2005, Wil Ledezma made his return to the rotation this past week, making the start for Toledo. Speculation was rampant that Ledezma night have needed season ending surgery after seeing his velocity dip in 2005 and experiencing pain in his elbow.
However, Ledezma may not be in the clear just yet. The Tigers doctors elected to use rest and rehab for Ledezma's particular case, but that doesn't mean Ledezma was all the way back. He was obviously rusty having not pitched in a couple months, but of more concern to observers was that Ledezma's velocity still had not returned to his 2004 form, when he was dominating the opposition in AA Erie.
Ledezma isn't doomed or for sure headed for surgery, but don't let his impressive outing fool you just yet, Ledezma still has more strides to make before we can look forward to him making a push to get back into the Tiger rotation and fulfilling the promise he had in ‘04.
Finally, to a puzzling situation; what is going on with Cameron Maybin and his contract negotiations? By now, it's been widely reported that the Tigers had come to an agreement on a deal for a $3.3 million signing bonus but that before anyone signed off on the deal, it was pulled off the table by Mike Ilitch, indicating that even the Tigers initial $2.75 million offer was too high.
However, while it appears Ilitch pulled the carpet out from underneath his negotiators, there may be more to the story than just Ilitch. It has been widely known that Major League Baseball has been unhappy with signing bonuses, and has been pushing teams to follow their recommendations for slotted money. $2.75 million is well above the amount that would be slotted for the tenth pick, so $3.3 million is obviously way above what baseball wants.
We're not advocating conspiracy theories, but don't rule out Ilitch receiving a call from someone within the league office telling him as much.
After a rather unsuccessful crackdown on escalating player salaries, small market teams are now pushing baseball to help them cut costs on player development and scouting, where they dump millions and millions every year, meanwhile getting very little in return considering the crapshoot that is the baseball draft.
Reports have already emerged that there is a major shift coming along in baseball when it comes to the draft and player development, including eliminating all rookie ball teams (the GCL Tigers in our case), moving the draft back to the end of June, then creating only a six week signing period, at which point players would enter an extended orientation and head straight to instructional ball.
Not only would this eliminate an entire team (and likely a decent amount of players from the organization), but it would also limit the bargaining power of players, as they would no longer be able to hold heading to college as a point of power.
But the most important thing will be to get Maybin signed, however that happens. As has been stated many times before, the Tigers farm system is certainly improving, but the organization simply cannot let a player of Maybin's caliber go, regardless of how unrealistic he may be with his demands.