Avila could be the sleeper of 2012 draft

Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Mike Piazza, Alex Avila?

The Tigers’ young catcher, a certain first-round draft pick in 2012, is having a season that stacks him up in pretty good company among all-time catching greats.  According to Tiger Tales: A Detroit Tigers blog, Avila’s OPS+ mark of 140 through last Friday (OPS adjusted for ballpark and league average) ranks him eighth among catchers all-time under the age of 25.

The blog goes on to note, “There are no flukes on this list” and Avila “seems to be destined for more great seasons in the future.”

‘Baseball Dentist’ Ken Kuzdak drills off into the sunset

After 31-plus seasons as a manager in the I-75 League, Ken Kuzdak is hanging up his spikes.

In an interview conducted in 1989 for the I-75 League’s 10th anniversary, Ken Kuzdak famously pledged, “I’ll never quit this league. I’ll die before I quit this league.”

Well, things change, and Ken hasn’t died, but he has retired from the league.

After 31-plus years as the manager of the Detroit Drill Team and Demolition Dogs, Ken is bowing out and saying he won’t be back.

Ken had taken leave of the Demo Dogs after May, but given the option to return for 2012, he has decided to decline, leaving behind a legacy that included three World Championships, three regular season titles and a division title.

One of the league’s original nine managers who had formed the league in 1980, Ken will long be remembered as the manager who more than any other had a zest for the annual March convention, often being the first to arrive and the last to leave, spurred by a desire to see baseball, mash a softball, renew acquaintances and flee the Michigan winter.

Ken’s love of Florida prompted him to purchase a condo in Kissimmee, which he provided for league use for the conventions of 1994-1998.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

His 1986 Drill Team, led by the likes of Dale Murphy, Pedro Guerrero and Dave Winfield, plus a 12-1 season from Oil Can Boyd, won both the regular-season title and the World Series title, knocking off the vaunted Washington Senators.

The Drillers repeated as regular-season champs in 1988, again with an 89-71 mark, marking the era of Detroit’s fascination with the long ball. The ’88 Drill Team socked 328 homers, a league record at the time, with eight Drillers finishing with 24 or more. George Bell hit 52 homers and Andre Dawson 50; even the catching combo of Alan Ashby and Bill Schroeder teamed up for 46 homers, 123 runs scored and 111 RBI.

Continue reading