DETROIT -- As the Tigers head into the final two weeks before the July 31 Trade Deadline, they might be picking up a valuable new piece to offer clubs -- a tradeable Draft pick.
It's part of the Competitive Balance Lottery, which was set up in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to provide a new avenue for smaller market teams to compete against the big boys by awarding them extra picks in the following season's First-Year Player Draft. The selection process takes place Wednesday afternoon, deciding 12 picks after the first two rounds among 14 teams.
Despite the fifth-highest payroll in baseball, the Tigers are in the mix for a pick. In fact, the way the lottery works, they have a pretty good chance at gaining a pick. It's a complicated formula, but somehow, the Tigers just made it in.
The picks are divided into two groups -- six picks at the end of the first round, six more at the end of the second. The first group of picks are given out among teams with the 10 smallest markets or 10 lowest revenues. That includes 13 teams: D-backs, Orioles, Indians, Royals, A's, Pirates, Padres, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Marlins, Brewers and Cardinals.
Six of those 13 teams will end up with a pick. The other seven teams will enter the lottery for the second group of picks. By rule, teams who receive revenue sharing money and aren't located among the top 15 markets are also added to that mix. Only one team qualifies this year under those rules: Detroit barely falls outside the top 15 markets, but it does, and the Tigers received a little bit of revenue sharing money last year.
The Tigers will be one of eight teams vying for six picks, so their chances are pretty good. That said, teams' chances are higher or lower based on their winning percentage last season. So the Tigers' best shot comes if teams such as the Royals, Pirates, Padres and Orioles win picks in the first round, pitting Detroit against teams such as Milwaukee, St. Louis and Tampa Bay in the second round.
The Draft picks awarded in the lottery are tradeable, and teams can deal them as soon as Thursday. If teams are going to trade them, though, they have to do it during the season, either this one or next.
Porcello working to command inconsistent slider
DETROIT -- Both Rick Porcello and Jim Leyland were blaming themselves for the curious case of Porcello's struggles Monday. But they were coming at it from two completely different viewpoints.
Porcello was looking at Monday's no-decision against the Angels, who put up five runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings, and sounded some frustration.
"Need to go back to the drawing board a little bit and rethink what I'm doing with my offspeed stuff," Porcello said after the Tigers' 8-6 win. "Fastball is there, but I should be pitching a lot better than what I did tonight."
That has been said more than a few times this season. Leyland has been calling it a process with his 23-year-old sinkerballer, but he said some of the process could've established itself in the Minors on his way up.
For that, he blames himself and the decision he made three years ago to put Porcello in the rotation out of Spring Training.
"We brought this kid up too early, and that's my fault," Leyland said. "I'll take full responsibility for that."
Monday's issue, Porcello said, was a slider that wasn't consistent enough to get him swings and misses, or swings and outs. It was a huge pitch for him when he tossed seven scoreless innings on four hits at Tampa Bay on June 30.
Porcello had been giving up hits over the past month, but the Angels had as many extra-base hits off him Monday (four) as he allowed in his previous four starts combined.
"The slider's been a pitch I've been battling all year, not to make excuses or anything like that," Porcello said. "I got to find a way when I don't have my slider to get through games. That's what good pitchers do. I know in my mind if I get that pitch going or get some type of breaking ball going, I can have a really good second half."
Had Porcello spent more time in the Minors, Leyland said, "he would have thrown that pitch more."
Villarreal 'ready to go' after neck cramps
DETROIT -- Brayan Villarreal's neck cramps were no longer a problem Tuesday, much to his relief as well as manager Jim Leyland. He was available in the bullpen Monday night, but wasn't used.
Villarreal saw a neck specialist Monday, who found nothing serious with the neck issues Villarreal experienced since waking up Friday in Baltimore.
"I'm ready to go," Villarreal said. "It was just muscular."
Nothing found after bomb threat at Comerica
DETROIT -- A rash of recent bomb threats around Detroit landmarks added Comerica Park to its list on Tuesday, prompting a Detroit police and Tigers security search around the stadium, which revealed no explosive device.
"The situation was handled by the DPD and local authorities," said Tigers vice president of communications Ron Colangelo, who referred further questions to the Detroit Police Department.
A police spokeswoman told the Detroit News and Free Press an anonymous threat came in to 911 operators around 8 p.m. ET, prompting the search. No device was found, and no evacuation was ordered while the game continued.
The threat came a day after a similar 911 call led to the shutdown of the nearby Ambassador Bridge over the Detroit River into Windsor, Ontario. Another threat at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel downtown last Thursday closed that border crossing temporarily. Neither of those searches found explosive devices, either.