From Comcast SportsNetDETROIT (AP) -- Built to win a World Series this year, the Detroit Tigers came close.Now they head into what could be another busy offseason for one of baseball's most talked-about franchises.Although Detroit won the American League pennant, a World Series sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants leaves a disappointing taste for the Tigers. And it's important to remember that if not for a late-season swoon by the Chicago White Sox, Detroit might not have made the playoffs at all."We ended up just not being the main attraction. We got beat by the Giants," manager Jim Leyland said. "They were the main attraction. We got to the heavyweight fight and we got beat."Leyland was managing on a one-year contract. He and general manager Dave Dombrowski tried to forgo any public discussion of the manager's future until after the season, so that's probably the most immediate issue that needs to be resolved.If Leyland is back, he'll again preside over a core of talent that can match pretty much any in baseball. Justin Verlander may win his second straight Cy Young Award, and he's backed by right-handers Max Scherzer and Doug Fister, who have become imposing parts of the rotation.Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is in his prime, and Prince Fielder made a smooth transition to Detroit after signing a 214 million contract in the offseason.That was the move that signaled to everyone that the Tigers were serious about making a title run right away. It had actually been a quiet start to the offseason before designated hitter Victor Martinez went down with a serious knee injury that would sideline him for the whole 2012 campaign. Then the Tigers acted boldly, signing Fielder.They didn't cruise to the AL Central title as many expected. Instead, Detroit went 88-74, barely good enough to outlast the White Sox by three games.But Verlander threw a shutout at Oakland in Game 5 of the division series, and the Tigers swept the New York Yankees in the AL championship series, raising hopes that the team was peaking at exactly the right time."We've got to feel proud about what we did this year," Cabrera said. "We went through a lot, down and up."After Detroit went quietly in the World Series, questions will surface again on what needs to be done to improve."We have more experience now. The same team is going to be here -- that's a positive -- with more," Fielder said. "A lot of great things happened, but unfortunately it closed out with this. You win some and you lose some -- and we lost four."Martinez's return could mean the end of Delmon Young's tenure in Detroit, and closer Jose Valverde may not be in the team's plans either after falling out of favor during the postseason.The Tigers can exercise a team option on shortstop Jhonny Peralta -- or perhaps they could go in a different direction and try to improve their infield defense. If Detroit can't bring back right-hander Anibal Sanchez, Drew Smyly may need to step back into the rotation after a promising rookie year.Austin Jackson has solidified his hold on the center field spot, but left and right could be upgraded. Andy Dirks had a fine season in the outfield and Quintin Berry added some speed to the lineup, but are the Tigers willing to stick with them and Avisail Garcia in the corner outfield spots?A lot may depend on owner Mike Ilitch, who is still chasing the franchise's first World Series title since 1984. Ilitch signed off on the huge expenditure for Fielder, and if he's willing to raise the payroll even more, the Tigers may be active from the start this offseason.It was an uneven year at times for Detroit, but the window of opportunity is still very much open."We had a great run," left-hander Phil Coke said. "We just got cold at the wrong time."
To the surprise of pretty much nobody, Kevan Miller was ecstatic with the four year, $10 million contract extension handed to him by the Boston Bruins on Tuesday afternoon. The 28-year-old is a hard-hitting, big and strong defenseman in the Bruins mold, and has proven he can be a bottom-pairing defenseman in the NHL over the last three seasons of steady improvement.
So Miller was happy to keep things going with the Bruins and spend his prime years playing for the only NHL organization he’s known since signing as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Vermont.
“I’d like to start off by saying thank you to the Jacobs family, Cam Neely, Don Sweeney, and the rest of the Bruins organization. I’m truly blessed for this opportunity and I’m very thankful. I’d like to also say thank you to my family, my friends – they’ve all helped me get to this point,” said Miller, who would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1. “Boston is a great city to play in, and we have the best fans in the NHL. I’m very thankful to them as well.
“I love playing here; it’s an honor to put that jersey on before every game. I feel my style of play fits in well here. I’m really looking forward to helping this [Bruins] team get back into the playoffs and reach our ultimate goal, and win a Stanley Cup.”
On the plus side of the ledger, Miller skated in a career-high 71 games last season and established career highs in goals (five), assists (13), points (18) and penalty minutes (53) while posting the second-best plus/minus rating on the team with a plus-15. Miller topped 19 minutes of ice time per game and played top pairing D-man minutes with Zdeno Chara for much of the season without another viable candidate able to step up into that spot.
On the minus side, Miller has had shoulder problems and concussion issues in his recent past while missing healthy portions of time in just about every season of his pro hockey career. He will be overpaid at $2.5 million per season if he turns into nothing more than a 5-6 defenseman for the Bruins, and it’s hard to imagine Miller ever truly flourishing as a top-4 defenseman given the body of work over the last two seasons.
Nevertheless, Miller hopes to keep improving at an NHL age (28) where you are pretty much a finished product on the ice.
“Everyone’s always trying to improve their game. As you can see, the NHL is changing every year, whether it gets faster here or there. But the game changes a lot and you have to be able to go along with that, and change your game in different ways,” said Miller. “I’m going to stay true to how I play, but I think there are areas where I can improve on, that I will improve on. I’m looking forward to it.”
Given the relatively rich contract that Miller will enjoy over the next four seasons, the Bruins are banking on the 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman improving as he goes in Boston as well.
BOSTON — Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has extended his hitting streak to 28 games with a second-inning double Tuesday night against the Colorado Rockies.
It's the longest hitting streak in the majors this season and tied with Wade Boggs (1985) for the fifth-longest in Red Sox history. Dom DiMaggio holds the franchise record with a 34-game streak in 1949. DiMaggio's brother, Joe, hit in 56 straight games in 1941 for the major league record.
Bradley lined the first pitch he saw from Jorge De La Rosa into left field to keep the streak going.
Robert Kraft doesn't seem all that concerned about the potential pitfalls of having an NFL franchise in Las Vegas.
The temptations found in that city, he says, can now be found around any dark corner of the Internet. That's part of the reason why he would be supportive of the Raiders if owner Mark Davis chose to move the team to Vegas from Oakland.
He explained his reasoning to NFL Media's Judy Battista at the league's annual spring meetings on Tuesday.
"I think we can put the discipline and controls in [for] whatever anyone might be worried about," Kraft said. "With the Internet and the age of the Internet and what's going on in today's world, it's so much different than when I came in 20 odd years ago. If you'd like to move there and they're supportive and Oakland doesn't do what they should do, I'm behind them."
The comments echoed what Kraft told USA Today earlier this week.
"I came into the league in ’94," Kraft said. "Back then, any exploration of that market was dismissed out of hand. I’m looking where we are today and thinking of the last 10 to 15 years, and the emergence of new media, with Google and Facebook and the like. We’re just living in a different world, technology-wise. The [sports gambling] risks in Vegas are no longer exclusive to Vegas. Whatever the risks, they are no greater [in Las Vegas] than playing a game in New Jersey."
Davis' hope to move the Raiders stems from an inability to get a deal done for a new stadium in Oakland.
"I have given my commitment to Las Vegas," Davis said this week, "and if they can get done what they're talking about doing, then we will go to Las Vegas."