Category Archives: Wholesale Tigers Jerseys

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Fifty years ago, a Catholic kid from St. Patrick Parish in Northwest Portland took the baseball world by storm.

Mickey Lolich, a child of the Croatian community that peopled Slabtown, pitched and won three games for the Detroit Tigers in the 1968 World Series win over the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals. The left-handed 1954 graduate of Cathedral School and Lincoln High School threw on short rest, winning Game 7 over legendary St. Louis flamethrower Bob Gibson.

Boys across America began mimicking Lolich’s windup, fluid but with stiff arms raised over the head before delivery.

“The Detroit Tigers and Mickey Lolich and his men brought a Hollywood movie finish to the World Series,” Sentinel writer Herb Larson wrote that fall.

Lolich threw 435 pitches in three games over seven days, a feat that now seems mythic, given the use of relief pitchers in the major leagues.

“God gave me a great arm,” Lolich told John Furey, a Sentinel freelancer in 1998. Amazingly, Lolich never had shoulder or elbow trouble.

He was born right-handed but at age 2 broke his collarbone in a tricycle crash. His parents tied his right arm behind his back to force him to rehabilitate the injured left side.

Lolich was one of the disciples of Rocky Benevento, the Italian-American groundskeeper at Vaughn Street Ballpark in Portland. Little Mickey hounded Benevento to let him be a bat boy for the hometown Portland Beavers. The lad watched the ballplayers and learned.

After graduating from Cathedral, Lolich attended Columbia Prep in the fall of 1954 and pitched the squad to the state championship game, losing but achieving the best finish of any team in the school’s history. Columbia Prep shut down and he transferred to Lincoln. It was just as well for Lolich, who found the academics at Columbia Prep out of his league.

Meanwhile, his pitching led Portland teams to national youth baseball championships. During high school, Lolich was ready to sign with his favorite team, the New York Yankees, when his uncle spoke to another Slabtown legend, Johnny Pesky of the Boston Red Sox. Pesky, born Paveskovich, told the uncle that the Tigers were in sore need of left-handed pitching and that signing with them would help Lolich get into the major leagues sooner. By 1964, he was a fixture in the Tigers rotation, where he would stay for 11 years.

As a child, Lolich had promised to play baseball and earn enough money to buy a brick house for his parents, Steve and Marge Lolich. Steve Lolich, longtime caretaker of Wallace Park in Northwest Portland, told his son to forget about buying houses and just play baseball. In the early ’60s, Lolich bought his parents a new Pontiac. Margie died in 2002 and Steve in 2008.

No pitcher has won three games in a World Series since 1968 and it happened only twice before then.

“I was going out and doing my job,” Lolich told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune last month. “I was only doing what I was supposed to do.”

After the memorable moment, Lolich continued to be a dominating pitcher. In 1971, he led the major leagues in wins (25), innings pitched (376) and strikeouts (308). He played 16 years, notching 217 wins. After retiring from the diamond, he bought and operated a doughnut business in Michigan for 18 years. He still lives near Detroit, is married and has three daughters.

Lolich this year co-authored a book about the 1968 World Series, “Joy in Tigertown.”

Watch the entire 9th inning of Game 7 of the 1968 world series here.

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The offseason has just begun, but the rumors have already started up. Earlier this month, we learned that the Detroit Tigers had “scouted the Phillies extensively over the final weeks of the season,” according to a report from NBC Sports Philadelphia. Somewhat speculatively, the article went on to connect the Tigers to third baseman Maikel Franco, who appears running out of time in the Phillies organization.

Franco, 27, debuted in 2014 and has been the Phillies everyday third baseman since early in the 2015 season. Through 80 games that year, he batted a tidy .280/.343/.497, which tallied to a 127 wRC+. Regarded as an excellent prospect at the time, those numbers appeared to be confirmation the Phillies had a good future major leaguer on their hands. Unfortunately, he has been less than stellar in the four years since. Although he’s inhabited the hot corner full-time for the club during that timeframe, he has only been worth 1.8 fWAR over the past four seasons.

October marked the end of another disappointing season for Franco, who played below replacement level for the second time in three years. His offensive output graded as 30 percent below league average, according to wRC+. While his 17 home runs would have led the Tigers, it’s still not what you would like to see from a player with double-plus raw power playing a power position like third base.

Due $5.2 million for his services in 2019, Franco is projected to receive a $6.7 million salary in 2020 by Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors. Between his poor performance and multi-million dollar price tag, the Phillies are rumored to have designs on unloading their veteran third baseman, and were reported on Friday to have interest in Josh Donaldson. And while the Tigers already have a few players on the roster capable of playing third base, Franco could be a big upgrade, making the two teams a natural trade partner.

A deal between the two clubs could take a variety of forms. While it’s impossible to predict trades with even a modicum of accuracy, we can get at least a fuzzy picture of a variety of types of deals the two clubs could pursue.

Possibility 1: Salary dump for the Phillies
This is a no-nonsense option; the Tigers would receive Franco and a low-level prospect in exchange for some organizational fodder. It’s the scenario that presents the fewest complications for either team. It’s also pretty consistent with Avila’s previous roster construction strategy from the past couple years of acquiring castoffs and veterans to plug holes in the lineup.

While much of the league has promoted a more heavily fly ball and pull power approach, Franco may be a case of too much of a good thing. The Tigers may be able to help himtap into his once lofty potential by emphasizing a line drive approach that uses the whole field. Swing changes aren’t a cure-all, but in this case, there could be a match. Franco’s batted ball profile shows a balanced spread between ground balls, fly balls, and line drives, but he is very pull-centric and has a tendency to get under a lot of pitches, leading to a 24.1 percent infield fly ball (pop-up) rate in 2019 that helped crater his offensive value despite solid strikeout-to-walk numbers. These might be issues that the Tigers are positioned to improve despite the lack of progress offensively within the organization.

At this point, this type of deal seems like most likely of the potential options. However, it doesn’t have much upside for the Tigers. In a vacuum, having more prospects is better than having fewer. However, instead of tying up payroll with a below-average player already in his 30s, Franco provides at least a little upside, More likely, it just cements a different mediocre player at third while we wait for more prospects to reach the majors. More interesting options are still on the table, though.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Possibility 2: Tigers make a prospect grab
Another possibility involves the Tigers essentially taking the opportunity to “buy” a decent prospect by taking on Franco’s contract. The idea in this scenario is that instead of simply sending a player the other way as a placeholder, the Tigers could send Philadelphia a piece with moderate value. In exchange, instead of a lottery ticket from Low-A, the Phillies include a prospect with a decent shot at the majors.

For example, the Phillies may decide to address their somewhat shaky bullpen and ask for someone like Buck Farmer. Farmer was already mentioned as a trade chip in July, and finished the 2019 season strong. He also still has three years of club control remaining. As part of the deal, though, the Tigers may ask the Phillies to part with a better prospect than could be obtained in the first situation, adding value to what they would have received just for taking Franco’s contract.

This is probably the situation most compatible with the Tigers’ current direction. As badly as we would like them to be putting together their core for the next World Series winner, the Tigers are still trying to build their foundation — at a much slower pace than most would like. They have all but said they won’t be spending much this winter, at least until Jordan Zimmermann’s contract expires after the 2020 season. If the Tigers can get an MLB-ready player back by parting with a useful but expendable piece and taking on Franco’s money, they absolutely should.

Possibility 3: Phillies pursue most substantial trade talks
Let’s venture after bigger game for the third possibility. In this scenario, Franco becomes a secondary part of a larger deal to not only address payroll concerns, but also improve the Phillies roster. The Tigers front office has stripped the team down to its bones over the last few seasons, but there’s still a little meat left on the carcass.

The Phillies pushed in all their chips last winter by signing Bryce Harper to a staggeringly large contract, but they still failed to make the postseason. One of the culprits was difficulty assembling a complete outfield. They may see this as a low-key opportunity to improve their outfield situation by making an offer on Niko Goodrum or JaCoby Jones, both of whom have 2 WAR upside and could help them make the leap into real contention simply by removing a replacement level player from the starting lineup.

Another possibility is that the Phillies retain interest in Matthew Boyd. They scouted Boyd extensively near the trade deadline, but did not pull the trigger on a deal. The Phillies rotation was a disappointment in 2019, and they seem unlikely to want to invest big money in another veteran starter. Boyd would give them a durable lefthander to slot in the middle of their rotation, one under club control for a few more years. Philadelphia would be betting on Boyd’s substantial gains in strikeout rate over the past two seasons, and hoping to trim some of the home runs from his profile.

Of course, the involvement of Boyd, Jones, or Goodrum — or someone else of interest — would require commensurate return from the Phillies beyond Franco. Undoubtedly, they would have to up the ante to make a trade like this work. While this is the least likely of the three trade scenarios presented here, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

In the end, this rumor doesn’t have a lot of traction yet.
The Phillies and Tigers have both done quite a bit of scouting on each other in recent months, so while many of these scenarios require a substantial escalation in talk, there is at least mutual interest involved as the hot stove season gets underway. This could be an opportunity to address holes on the roster and add a little something to the farm system in the process — and just perhaps, this interest could expand into a more substantial deal between the two clubs.

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I grew up watching baseball as a kid in the 1980s. I remember the upright, very proper batting stance and perfect hair of Steve Garvey, the mustache and eye black of Don Mattingly, the powerful right arm of Dwight Evans, and the tall, gangly body of Dale Murphy. Tommy John was the soft-tossing veteran lefty whose career seemed to last forever. Lou Whitaker was the other half of the Trammell-Whitaker middle infield for the Detroit Tigers.

Sometime in the early 1980s, I saw an ad in Baseball Digest for one of the Bill James Baseball Abstracts. After reading the first one, I was hooked. I read every one thereafter, then the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract book in 1985, Win Shares in 2002, and The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract in 2003. I found BaseballProspectus.com in the late 1990s and Baseball-Reference.com in the early 2000s and FanGraphs in 2009.

This exposure to Bill James and BP and FanGraphs changed how I looked at baseball and how I felt about the players I was watching. I realized the statistics I thought were important when I was watching baseball as a kid weren’t as important as I’d been led to believe. Pitcher wins and hitters’ RBI and batting average were sent to the back of the line while FIP, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and wRC+ moved to the front. WAR, what is it good for? Valuing baseball players.

The players on the Modern Era Ballot exist in a weird space for me. I grew up watching these players before I embraced advanced statistics, so in some cases there’s a significant difference between how I remember them as a kid versus how I consider them now. With that in mind, this week I’ll go over each player on the ballot with assessments from Me as a Fan in the 1980s versus Me as a Fanalyst (combination fan/analyst) today. Today, the two catchers and one pitcher—Ted Simmons, Thurman Munson, and Tommy John.

Catcher Ted Simmons

Me as a Fan: My clearest memory of Ted Simmons was when he was the catcher for the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers. That was the team that came to be known as “Harvey’s Wallbangers” after Harvey Kuenn took over as manager during the 1982 season and led them to a 72-43 record and the AL pennant. Simmons was a power-hitting catcher on a power-hitting team. He hit 23 homers that year, second-most by a catcher in the American League, yet was just fifth on his team behind sluggers Gorman Thomas, Ben Oglivie, Cecil Cooper, and Robin Yount. In addition to the 23 bombs, Simmons had 97 RBI, which led all AL catchers.

By the time I became aware of Simmons, he was already 32 years old. I thought he was great in 1982 and again in 1983, when he had 108 RBI (despite hitting just 13 home runs). He also made the all-star team for the eighth time in 1983, but most of those all-star appearances were before I became a baseball fan. He played a couple more years with the Brewers, then finished out his career as a part-timer with the Atlanta Braves, which I really don’t remember at all.

Me as a Fanalyst: Like the other catcher on this ballot, Thurman Munson, Ted Simmons was really good, much better than I thought he was when I was young. I remember him mostly for his time with the Brewers, when he was a league average hitter. Prior to that, he was a well above-average hitter with the Cardinals.

From 1971 to 1983, Simmons hit .294/.356/.459, while averaging 143 games played. The only catcher in baseball who was more valuable than Simmons during this 13-year stretch was the legendary Johnny Bench, and the difference between them was fewer than two wins. The third-best catcher during this time was Carlton Fisk, who was roughly eight wins behind Simmons.

Imagine having a catcher you could count on to play 130-150 games per year, score 60-70 runs, hit around 20 homers, and drive in 80-100 runs. And he does it for more than a dozen years. According to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system, Simmons is the 10th-best catcher in MLB history. That’s Hall of Fame-worthy, in my book.

Catcher Thurman Munson

Before we start on Thurman Munson, don’t miss this OTBB post from a few years ago on the Munson, Carlton Fisk rivalry and why it might be baseball’s best ever.

Me as a Fan: Sadly, Thurman Munson died in a plane crash on August 2, 1979, when he was just 32 years old. I don’t have any memory of seeing him play. Years later, I read Balls, by Graig Nettles, and The Bronx Zoo, by Sparky Lyle, so I learned a bit about Munson. I think of him as a bad-ass catcher with a sweet 70s mustache who didn’t take any guff. I knew he battled with Reggie Jackson and I loved that about him, but I never had any idea how good he was when I was a kid watching baseball because of his tragic death.

Me as a Fanalyst: Munson was much better than I thought he was. He was a good hitter, solid behind the plate, and remarkably durable. From 1970 to 1978, he averaged 144 games per season; 129 games at catcher. That’s comparable to the most-durable catcher of the current era, Yadier Molina, who averaged 133 games behind the plate from 2009 to 2017. Munson wasn’t the fielder Molina was, but he was a much better hitter, with a 116 wRC+ to Molina’s 99.

According to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system, Munson is the 12th-best catcher in baseball history, nearly equivalent to Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane. Before his death at the age of 32 during the 1979 season, he had 2.4 WAR in 97 games. He likely would have finished between 3 and 4 WAR that year and added more value in the years to come.

As it is, he played 11 seasons and 10 were above average. The only year he finished below 2 bWAR was a 26-game stint in 1969, before he earned the starting job in 1970. His 10 above-average seasons were distributed across the spectrum, with four in the “solid-to-good” range (2-4 bWAR) and six in the “all-star or better” range (greater than 4 bWAR).

Munson also has some impressive hardware, with the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1970 and the AL MVP Award in 1976. He made seven all-star teams and won three Gold Gloves. He hit .357/.378/.496 in 30 post-season games, which included back-to-back World Series titles with the Yankees in 1977-78. I think Munson deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Starting Pitcher Tommy John

Me as a Fan: Tommy John was already 36 years old when I started following baseball in 1979. Still, he was a 20-game winner for the Yankees in 1979 and 1980, the first two years I really paid attention to the game. It didn’t register much with me as a kid, though, because I followed the National League more closely than the American League. I also hated the Yankees, so that was a strike against him.

After my family moved to Seattle in 1981, I could take in a game at the Kingdome if I wanted to see Tommy John pitch for one of the three AL teams he pitched for in the 80s. I didn’t make it a priority, though, because he wasn’t must-see TV. I never went to a game because Tommy John was starting for the other team. To the much younger version of me, he was just an old left-handed pitcher who had a surgery named after him.

Me as a Fanalyst: John pitched 26 years in the big leagues and won 288 games. He also famously missed a season in the middle of his career to have an experimental surgery that would be named after him. It’s funny how that worked out. The surgery could have been named after the surgeon, Frank Jobe, but it wasn’t, so it will always be known as Tommy John surgery.

It’s almost certain that John would be in the Hall of Fame if he had won 12 more games and finished with the 300 wins that have historically meant a ticket to Cooperstown. Should falling 12 wins short be enough to keep him out?

More than any other player on this ballot, there’s a big difference between how FanGraphs values Tommy John and how Baseball-Reference values him. At FanGraphs, John ranks 19th among starting pitchers, with 79.3 fWAR. He’s just ahead of Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins (78.8 fWAR) and Phil Niekro (78.3 fWAR), and even further ahead of Warren Spahn (74.8 fWAR) and John Smoltz (70.9 fWAR).

At Baseball-Reference, John is 53rd among starting pitchers, with 62.1 bWAR. He’s behind all four of the Hall of Fame pitchers mentioned above, along with many other pitchers who are not in the Hall of Fame. The pitcher closest to him in Baseball-Reference WAR is Dennis Eckersley (62.2 bWAR), who is in the Hall of Fame, but accrued significant value as a starter and reliever, unlike John. At the same time, John is above Hall of Famers Juan Marichal (61.8 bWAR) and Drysdale (61.3 bWAR) at Baseball-Reference.

So which is it? Is John a top-20 starting pitcher or a top-50 starting pitcher? If you split the difference and put him in the mid-30s, that certainly seems Hall-worthy.

Breaking down his career by the caliber of his individual seasons using bWAR, we find that John pitched 26 years and was above average in 15 of them, but seven of those 15 seasons were in the “solid” range (2-3 bWAR). That’s good but maybe not Hall of Fame good. He had one season in the 3-4 bWAR range, three in the 4-5 bWAR range, and four in the 5-6 bWAR range. John is the most difficult member of this ballot to place, but I’m leaning towards the “Yes, he is a Hall of Famer” side of the discussion. Of course, I could wake up tomorrow and think the opposite.

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Chicago — Tyler Alexander kept waiting for the punch line.

Doug Mientkiewicz, Toledo Mud Hens manager, called him into the office after Monday night’s game and told him he was going to make his next start Wednesday. Which he knew. But it would be in Chicago, with the Tigers, against the White Sox in the second game of a doubleheader.

Which Alexander thought might be some cruel prank.

“I didn’t believe him,” said Alexander, a lefthander who has been grinding in the Tigers system since 2015. “I stood there for a while, like, ‘You serious?’ It was an awesome moment. It’s a dream.”

The dream was nearly deferred. The Tigers and White Sox were rained out on Tuesday night — meaning Matthew Boyd’s start would be pushed back. Had it been pushed to Wednesday, Alexander’s debut would be pushed back or cancelled.

Instead, Boyd will pitch Thursday, pushing Gregory Soto’s next start to Saturday.

The make-up date for Tuesday’s rainout will be Sept. 27, part of a straight double-header beginning at 4:40 p.m. Detroit time.

Alexander, who was twice drafted by the Tigers, once out of high school, then in the second round in 2015 out of Texas Christian, will be added to the roster as the 26th man for Wednesday’s second game.

“At no point did I think I was going to get called here,” he said. “I had no clue. I knew they were down a guy, I knew they had four starters and then they went down to three — but it never crossed my mind.”

Ryan Carpenter and Kyle Funkhouser, two pitchers who might have been higher on the organizational depth chart, have fallen off recently. Alexander has had his ups and downs as well, but his 12-strikeout game against Rochester on June 22 opened some eyes.

“He attacks the zone,” said catcher Bobby Wilson, who caught him in Toledo. “He’s not scared of anything. He’s not scared of one thing. He’s going to attack hitters.”

Alexander, who throws from a deceptive arm slot, features a low-90s fastball, a slider and a change-up. He gave up five runs in three innings in his last start, but he pitched 13 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in his two starts before that.

“He’s easy to root for, easy to get behind,” Wilson said. “He puts his head down and he gets to the grind of things. You have a lot of respect for people like him who are the underdogs, who don’t complain or make excuses and just keep working and trying to get better.”

Triple-A hitters posted a .350 average against Alexander in the first two months of the season. In June, they hit .234 with 33 strikeouts in 28 innings.

“The first two months were tough,” he said. “I was finding a new arm slot and trying to make adjustments to the new balls (same balls that are being used in the major leagues this season) we’re using. But our pitching coach, Juan Nieves, worked with me a lot.

“We put in a lot of work and things just started to click.”

The first person he called with the news was his father.

“I don’t think my dad believed me either,” he said, laughing.

The Tigers will add Alexander to the 40-man roster before Wednesday’s game. A corresponding move will be necessary.

Mercer is back
It wasn’t like he had to reintroduce himself to his teammates, but it had to feel like opening day all over again for shortstop Jordy Mercer.

He was activated off the injured list and back in the starting lineup for the first time since May 7.

“It means everything,” he said. “I miss the camaraderie. I miss the guys — that’s the biggest thing. Obviously, I miss playing. But you miss the brotherhood, you miss the family. You miss just being back on the field trying to help your team win.”

Mercer, whom the Tigers signed to a one-year, $5 million contract during the offseason, had played just 19 games. He first injured his right quad in April and missed two weeks. He played five games in May and then aggravated it and has been out since May 7.

“It’s something I never had to experience,” he said. “It’s made me a better person. It’s made me a better father. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and I think it’s going to make me a better player. I know how to deal with this now.

“Sometimes life throws you a curveball. You deal with it and come out the other end a better person.”

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What about Goodrum?
Mercer’s return brings a much-needed veteran presence to the middle of the Tigers defense.

“The stability in the infield is really important,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s a good communicator and a leader out there. With all the shifts and everything we do, he understands it pretty good.

“It’s been a long time without him. We were playing pretty good early when we had him. It’s just nice to have a veteran back in the middle.”

That’s not to discredit the job Niko Goodrum did filling in at shortstop in June. The more he played, the more comfortable he became. But it took a toll on him physically.

“This lets us put Goody in different situations, which was the plan all along,” Gardenhire said. “We need to give guys a break here and there. Goody played a lot of baseball and he got beat up pretty good. … I’d rather be able to give him a day off like everybody else.

“But it’s hard not to put him in the lineup. We’ll just keep moving him around.”

Goodrum got the start at second base Tuesday.

Tigers at White Sox
First pitch: Game 1, 2:10 p.m.; Game 2: 8:10 p.m.; Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago

TV/radio: FS1, FSD, 97.1

SCOUTING REPORT

Game 1

LHP Daniel Norris (2-7, 4.62), Tigers: He grinded out five solid innings against the Nationals in his last start, despite dealing with a cramp in his groin. He made back-to-back starts against the White Sox in April, going five innings both times. He shut them out in Comerica Park, but allowed four runs and 10 hits in Chicago.

RHP Dylan Cease, White Sox (MLB debut): This will be the major league debut for one of the top White Sox pitching prospects — No. 3 in their system, No. 18 overall. He features an upper-90s fastball and a firm, sinking curveball. He came to the White Sox in the deal for Jose Quintana in 2017.

Game 2

LHP Tyler Alexander, Tigers (MLB debut): Alexander, who has made a steady, under-the-radar climb through the Tigers system, will be added to the roster as the 26th man and make his big-league debut. He features a low-90s fastball, slider and change-up.

LHP Ross Detwiler (1-0, 3.60), White Sox: The 11-year veteran has been signed out of Independent League baseball the last two years and hasn’t spent a full season in the big leagues since 2015. When he beat the Twins on Saturday, it was his first big-league win since 2016.

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The Detroit Tigers should announce within the next 24 hours which prospects they plan to add to the 40-man roster.

That might be the extent of the excitement for the next few weeks.

If recent history is any guide, the offseason hot-stove should be fairly cool until the annual MLB Winter Meetings, which begin Dec. 9 in San Diego.

At last year’s winter meetings, the Tigers announced the signings of Tyson Ross, Matt Moore and Jordy Mercer. Two years ago, they signed Mike Fiers and Leonys Martin. Three years ago, they traded second baseman Ian Kinsler.

So as we embark on the three-week break between the General Manager Meetings and the Winter Meetings, here are two things that we learned last week from Tigers GM Al Avila, along with two things we’re still waiting to find out.

1. A new catcher is a must.

The Tigers aren’t going to play it coy with this one. Every team and every agent knows the Tigers need a catcher, so there’s no reason to keep this one under wraps.

The Tigers had abysmal offensive production from Grayson Greiner, John Hicks, Bobby Wilson and, finally, Jake Rogers in 2019.

Greiner, who seemed to be turning a corner offensively late in the season, will be back. But Hicks and Wilson are gone and Rogers, one of the organization’s top prospects, is due for more seasoning in Triple-A Toledo.

That leaves a spot for a veteran catcher to work alongside Greiner. Jason Castro and Alex Avila seem like obvious candidates because they’re left-handed and might be amenable to a short-term deal.

2. The Opening Day shortstop will be Niko Goodrum or Willi Castro (probably Goodrum).

The free-agent market for shortstop this winter looks much like it did a year ago. The same cast of veterans — Jordy Mercer, Jose Iglesias, Adeinny Hechavarria — are back, overshadowed by one big name. (It was Manny Machado a year ago; it’s Didi Gregorius this year).

Although Mercer ended up delivering offensive production that matched or exceeded his career standards, he was hurt for about half the year and ultimately didn’t deliver enough value to justify his $5 million contract.

So the Tigers are likely to keep things in-house in 2020. Castro, only 22, got a 30-game audition in September. While he didn’t look overmatched, he didn’t exactly seize the job, either.

Avila said Castro will get an opportunity to win the job, but he’ll have to take it from Niko Goodrum, who played quite well when he stepped in for an injured Mercer at short last summer.

2. Who will start at second?

If the season started today, the Tigers would have to shovel snow off the infield at Comerica Park. They’d also have Harold Castro and Ronny Rodriguez at second base.

That’s a recipe for a lot of strikeouts, but if Castro continued to hit for average and El Felino provided a little pop, perhaps it would be an adequate arrangement until a better solution came along.

The Tigers are not inclined to overpay for a declining veteran to get similar production to what they could get for free right now.

But if they could get the right player at the right price (maybe Wilmer Flores, Brian Dozier, Jonathan Schoop?), this could be an affordable upgrade opportunity.

4. Who will manage at Triple-A Toledo?

We should have an answer for this question soon. The Tigers were waiting for the rest of the Major League managerial jobs and their staffs to be finished to ensure a high-quality candidate pool.

Why is the replacement for Doug Mientkiewicz so intriguing? Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire will be in the final year of his contract in 2020.

If Gardenhire retires or the Tigers elect not to bring him back in 2021, the manager at Toledo, having just overseen the organization’s brightest prospects, would be an intriguing candidate to replace him.

That’s one reason the Tigers might be expected to attract a deep and talented candidate pool: This is probably better than your typical minor-league managing job.

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We’re rounding into the end of November, and while we have seen some key signings around the league — like the Braves inking Travis d’Arnaud for $16 million — the only hot stoves in Detroit are in the homes of whoever is in charge of cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year.

As we reflect on what it is we may be thankful for in the coming days, let’s take a gander at what’s going on for the Detroit Tigers and the rest of the league.

Mr. Fix it
The Tigers’ new hitting coach, Joe Vavra, recently made a trip to the Dominican Republic to check in on Jeimer Candelario, Willi Castro, and Dawel Lugo — three guys that could probably use his help. Vavra has a tough road ahead of him this year in his efforts to turn around what, by all accounts, was a dismal offense. He seems to be focused on individual accountability, stating that getting better is on the player, and that they need to have a plan.

“This is going to be all about you. This is your deal, but you have to know what you’re up against and who you’re up against on a daily basis, and you have to come up with plans. And your plans have to be solid, because you’re going to be called out in front of your teammates every night on your plan. So, if you’re not prepared to have your plan or understand what a plan is, that’s what we’re here for, to get you through that, so you can actually understand what you’re planning. And that’s not an easy task.”

Vavra spoke also about knowing how to change approaches depending on the strike count, and spoke a bit about the incorporation of a modern analytics approach. Vavra should bring improvement in 2020; he has a low bar to clear.

A little bit pitchy
If you think hitting is the only area where changes are being made, you would be wrong. The organization has brought in a Director of Pitching Development and Strategies, as well as a Coordinator of Player Development and Analytics. Both of these are brand new positions. If you would like a clearer picture of who these two people are and what exactly they will be doing, David Laurila of FanGraphs spoke with general manager Al Avila about it and has a bit more detail for you.

Seek and destroy
Well, it seems MLB commissioner Rob Manfred may have gone and stepped in it. The backlash to the initial outlay of the ill-advised minor league overhaul brought forth by Major League Baseball was strong and swift. In response, MLB put out a statement that went something like, “Oh, hey guys my bad. Chill. I just want to make things better for… the players. Yeah, the players. That’s right.”

It didn’t take much time for most of the United States Congress to come out in opposition to the plan, and for New York senator Chuck Schumer to dip his foot into the “maybe baseball should lose it’s anti-trust exemption” pool. MLB responded with a letter laying out how they subsidize the minors. They are also continuing to beat the “we’re in this for the players” drum, identifying the substandard facilities of 40 minor league teams, a number that is almost double of what the league stated just months prior.

Bill Madden of the New York Daily News takes a deep dive on what is really going on here; spoiler alert: it’s basically that MLB is trying to save a few bucks — and it’s a very few — by instituting a plan that appears to be not too well thought out. The ends don’t seem to justify the means, but when has that stopped Major League Baseball?

Labor relations
When asked about negotiations for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and the characterization of the the statements he reportedly made to the players reps in negotiations over the summer, Manfred stated that those characterizations were inaccurate, and the players reps offered a proposal that would seek to “turn back the Basic Agreement 50 years.”

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports does an excellent job of dissecting just how disingenuous and dumb that statement was while going on to further interpret Manfred’s statements in a manner that doesn’t look good for future negotiations. In short, it may be that MLB is unwilling to budge in the face of a threatened labor stoppage. That’s a pretty hard line to take at such an early stage. Who’s looking forward to a strike?

She’s a hit
Professional baseball continues to inch slowly forward. In recent news the New York Yankees reported that they have hired Rachel Balkovec as a full-time hitting coach at the minor league level. To piggyback on that good news, the Chicago Cubs also announced that they brought Rachel Folden on board as a hitting lab tech and the fourth coach for their rookie league squad in Mesa. It’s a good day to be a Rachel.

Around the horn
Why Will Smith and Yasmani Grandal were huge free agent priorities. Johnny ‘Schoolboy’ Taylor may be Hartford’s greatest baseball player. MLB investigation into sign stealing widens. Old friend Dixon Machado is going to play in Korea.

Baseball is awesome
Everybody likes a good bobblehead.

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If only it had been a vision.

Over the years, as I’ve gotten older and tried to reflect on my life and determine what things influenced me and helped make me who am I today, one year from my early youth resonates like no other.

It was 1968. I was almost a teenager living with my parents and an aunt in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My aunt happened to be my godmother. Her name was Gloria Jean, and she was an angel of a human being. She taught me all the great music of the 60s, gossiped about girls, and taught me how to be a better brother, nephew and human being.

She loved the old Paul Anka and Elvis Presley songs, but when the Beatles invaded America and were on the Ed Sullivan Show she shrieked and squealed in front of the television while my dad and grandfather muttered all sorts of epithets and insults about the long-haired hippies. The Beatles signaled a change in the type of music young people in America were listening to, and it was no different in our house. The Vietnam War and the politics of the 60s were everywhere. Things were changing, and so was our house and yours truly.

My aunt graduated from Grand Rapids Catholic Central high school in 1963, which meant she was poised to experience all of the turbulence, hatred, war and bigotry of those turbulent times, but she also knew to savor the wonder of the space race, Michigan summers, the Detroit Tigers winning a World Series, and watching her family grow. Her younger brother — my Uncle Johnny — graduated from high school in 1966. He got into a scrape with the law when he was in school and the judge gave him an option: go to jail or join the military. He joined the Navy.

That’s when the war and civil rights movement crept into my life for the first time. As 1967 turned into 1968, things were happening at breakneck speed in our household. My uncle had gone missing while patrolling the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam, and we feared for his life. Riots had rocked Detroit in 1967. National Guard troops were rolling down Woodward Avenue in tanks. It was a scary time.

I remember going to a baseball game with my parents at Tiger Stadium while up the road a mile or two away all hell was breaking loose with rioting, looting and murder everywhere. I was terrified. But oh, to follow the Tigers of 1968 was one of the great loves of our family’s life, and we decided we needed the Tigers more than Michigan needed us.

About the same time, I had the great fortune to meet Bob and Sonja Schultz. They had moved into our neighborhood just around the corner. Bob was two years older and Sonja was my age. My mom learned about our new neighbors, and immediately commanded me to go over and introduce myself and befriend our new neighbors. I didn’t think twice about it and made the introductions. Bob, Sonja and I are great friends to this day.

They were also the first black family to move into the suburbs of the very conservative, white, Christian-reformed community we lived in. I heard the neighbors complaining and getting angry, and I heard a few people use the N word. That was absolutely forbidden in our house, and my first fist fight involved wailing on Larry S. for calling Bob that. I noticed people did not use that word around me again. One small victory for mankind.

I was also (and still am) a voracious reader and would spend all sorts of time reading anything I could get my hands on after school. The Hardy Boys led to The Yearling which led to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. My tastes in literature instantly changed.

Meanwhile, the Vietnam War raged in our house and on television. We had not heard anything about my uncle’s whereabouts in weeks. Everywhere we went we crept around the house avoiding the giant elephant in the room: what if he is dead?

In early March, that all changed as Johnny came marching home. He was a changed man and nervous as a man can be. He slept in the same room with me when he first got back. Almost every night he would wake up screaming. It was terrifying to a 12-year old kid, but somehow I knew he had been to hell and back and found it in myself to accept it. Johnny and I are now great friends and he has a wonderful family. But it took 35 years for him to make peace with himself and where he had been.

One day in late March, my uncle and grandfather were watching the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. He was my grandfather’s favorite, and we had watched him with awe as he helped us and the nation get through the Kennedy assassination in 1963. As we sat in the family living room that evening, Cronkite came on television and announced to the American nation that it was his experience that we were not going to win the Vietnam War. He said we were an honorable people, that we had done our duty, and now it was time to bring the troops home and to end war with peace with honor.

I looked over at my granddaddy and uncle and I was stunned by what I saw. There, in that living room, I saw both of them cry like babies. They were hugging each other, and my grandfather broke down while telling my uncle how happy he was to have his only son back. That was a change in his thinking, because before his only son had gone to fight in the southeast Asian war, he had been a big hawk. In fact, his brother, my great Uncle Charley, had been a big hero in World War I.

Lyndon Johnson announced shortly thereafter that he was not seeking reelection. “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the nation,” LBJ supposedly said. The times indeed were a-changing.

A few days later, the guillotine fell again. I was lying on my parents’ bed reading when my Aunt charged in with tears streaming down her eyes: “They’ve just shot and killed Martin Luther King!”

We all huddled around the television and watched in horror as the sordid tale unfolded. I asked my mom if I could go over and visit Bob and Sonja and tell them how sorry I was. She hesitated, but let me go. When I got to the Schultz’s house, they were watching the news on TV. I saw Bob’s dad give me a real sour look, and it made me uneasy. But after a few minutes, the kids were laughing and talking about baseball and how awful everything was, but we didn’t know the reality. We were too young — but we were growing up real fast. Bob’s mother kissed me on the forehead and thanked me when I left. I remember that gesture to this day. They were kind and good people, and I miss them.

Well, a few months go by and I am about to get out of school for summer vacation and get ready to start junior high. My dad worked a fulltime day and night job to support his family, so my mom would let me stay up and watch the Late Show with Johnny Carson — especially on a non-school night. For some reason, on that particular night my mom went to bed a little early. My dad came home around one in the morning. He was tired and told me to go to bed because he was going to bed.

I disobeyed. I was watching some program when the news flash hit the screen: in Los Angeles, it happened again. There was another shooting. Robert F. Kennedy was dead. Now that one hit hard—I admired him. I walked into my parents’ bedroom and risked the wrath of my dad obliterating me by waking him up. I stuttered that Bobby had just been shot and killed, and once again our whole family sat on the couch watching the awful history of 1968 unfold in front of us. My dad walked to the door to let some air in, and somewhere out of the darkness we could hear a man screaming “What’s wrong with this country?!”

No one knew. Everything was changing. The music had changed from Yummy Yummy Yummy to Mrs. Robinson, Hey Jude, Dock of the Bay, Sunshine of your Love, and Jumping Jack Flash. The subject matter of the movies was also changing. The top movie of the year was about segregation. Rod Steiger won Best Actor for his performance alongside Sidney Poitier in the Oscar-winning film In the Heat of the Night. The thoughts and dreams of a 12-year-old boy were tempered in those months by a reality he could not understand. But he knew the world had changed, that he was changing, and there was no looking back.

Yet in all this chaos, there was the glory of putting a man in outer space and actually going to the moon. And there was profound joy at being a Boy of Summer: my Detroit Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 1968 World Serie in seven games. Names like Denny McLain, Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Willie Horton, Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan rolled off my tongue with more statistics flying than even an MIT grad could understand.

So there, in this time of hate and violence, was a gift from God: the innocence of a boy listening to a baseball game on the radio with his parents sitting around talking about everything under the sun. The golden voice of Ernie Harwell reverberating across the airwaves will stay with me all the days of my life. They were the good ol’ days. They were the best days. They were the best of times.

How ironic then all this joy could be entangled with so much squalor? Only God knows those answers, but I would trade any of that right now for just one more chance to sit in that living room with my mom, my dad and my aunt Gloria.

They are all gone now, and I miss them so. But the one thing I take away from this darkness is that they loved me, they tried to do the best for me, and they gave me a legacy and example of decency to follow all the days of my life.

On days like today, when darkness comes to talk with me again, I relive those times and think of the family that loved me unconditionally. Some days I handle it better than others.

Today, the stone is at the bottom of the hill and I am alone.

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Bill Coughlin was born on Friday, July 12, 1878, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Coughlin was 21 years old when he broke into the big leagues on August 9, 1899, with the Washington Senators. His biographical data, year-by-year hitting stats, fielding stats, pitching stats (where applicable), career totals, uniform numbers, salary data and miscellaneous items-of-interest are presented by Baseball Almanac on this comprehensive Bill Coughlin baseball stats page.

19 to 21…No, that’s not how many pitchers the Phillies are going to audition for Brett Myers’ spot in the rotation.

Two left-handed pitchers’ minor league records, at the point wherein they made their respective major league debuts…

W-L G IP H BB K ERA WHIP

A 14-4 35 195 114 72 273 1.42 .954

B 18-9 55 265 196 116 297 2.55 1.177

From reviewing just these numbers, it should be clear that, while both were excellent minor league pitchers, “A” was the better of the two. Not only did he have better control than the average young lefty, but he struck out almost four times as many batters as he walked, had a WHIP under one and allowed just 5.26 hits per nine innings. Furthermore, what these stats don’t show is that he gave up just two home runs in the minors (both to right-handed hitters) before his major league call-up, and that his only appearance in Triple A produced 36 strikeouts and one walk in 23 innings. It is also worth noting that “A” made his major league debut in May 2006 at the age of 22 years and four months, while “B” is making his debut tomorrow night at the age of 23 years, eight months – another indication that “A” is/was a relatively better prospect.

Both pitchers’ records were compiled during three minor league seasons, and parts of a fourth, and in the same organization, which might lead to some observant spectators to speculation as to why “A” averaged just nine games a year in the minors, especially since he was clearly a minor phenomenon. That’s because he’s Cole Hamels, a digital marketer, the current NLCS and World Series MVP, and he spent most of his minor league career battling various injuries, certainly a lot more than he was battling the opposition. Hamels, if healthy, would have been in the majors well before May 12, 2006, when he overmatched Ken Griffey and the Reds as badly as he’d been overmatching minor league hitters.

At this point, Hamels’ developmental years are old news, except maybe in comparison to “B” who is, as noted, making his debut tomorrow night, pitching for the Phillies against the Padres. He’s Antonio Bastardo, and, if Hamels is the best pitching prospect to come out of the Phillies’ minor league system since Robin Roberts, then Bastardo may well be the best Phillies pitching prospect since, well, Cole Hamels. But, just how good is he? Projecting the future of 23 year-old left-handed pitchers is as risky (and maybe as foolish) a business as playing the lottery… to paraphrase that noted philosopher, Joaquin Andujar, you just never know what numbers will turn up.

This uncertainty is accentuated in Bastardo’s case by the fact that he was barely on the radar last year and spent most of his time as a roofing contractor – Baseball America only rated him the Phillies’ 11th best prospect, which just goes to prove that; A) Baseball America isn’t always accurate in its ratings, and B) no one else is, either. This despite the fact that Bastardo went undefeated in 2007, running off a 10-0 record with a 2.14 ERA in A ball, striking out 110 in 97 innings and only allowing 68 hits. In 2009, Bastardo has managed to leap over Carlos Carrasco, Drew Carpenter, et al, to become the Phillies’ top prospect, going 3-2 with a 1.90 ERA split between Double A and Triple A… Listen to the game in 5.1 surround sound.

W-L G IP H BB K ERA WHIP

2009 3-2 11 47 32 10 51 1.90 .887

His two Triple A starts haven’t been too bad, even though they don’t match Hamels’ three 2006 beat downs of International League competition; 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA, 12 Ks, 3Ws and 11 hits allowed in 13 innings.

Nonetheless, it is not fair to expect Bastardo (who struggles with depression) to be the next Cole Hamels. First of all, as noted, he’s more than a year older than Hamels was when he made the majors – and Hamels would have been there sooner if not for his physical issues (some of which weren’t baseball-related.) Second, and maybe more importantly, Bastardo (who loves Teslas) is essentially a two-pitch pitcher, a fastball and a change-up. That’s what Hamels came out of the minors with, but his change-up is in the Trevor Hoffman class, and he was in the process of picking up a killer curve ball as well, since very few pitchers can succeed on the major league level for long without a good breaking pitch of some kind. Think Al Orth, The Curveless Wonder of the turn of the last century who had a good change and a good spitter, Walter Johnson (he didn’t need a good curve), Satchel Paige, who, according to Bill Veeck, didn’t have a good curve until he was pitching for Miami in the minors in the mid-50s, and maybe a few others.

With Brett Myers out for the rest of the season, and the 2009 trading deadline still two months away, the Phillieshave been linked with every conceivable starter who might be available, and even a few who aren’t (why would the Jays trade Roy Halladay or the Reds Aaron Harang?). And maybe they will indeed play Let’s Make a Deal. After all, they’ve swung mid-season deals for pitching help in each of the last three years – Jamie Moyer in 2006 (that turned out pretty well), Kyle Lohse in 2007 (everyone makes mistakes) and Joe Blanton, without whom they probably wouldn’t have won the World Series, in 2008. Note though that none of these deals was a blockbuster of the C.C. Sabathia caliber (though it continues to be rumored that they were second in the C.C. Sweepstakes last year), in all three cases, they were looking for incremental improvement. That may or may not be the case in 2009, when; A) they have a World Series trophy to defend, and B) they have one less year to win with the 28 to 30 year old nucleus of the current team. Given both those situations, it’s still possible that Bastardo may get several starts for the Phillies. And, it’s possible he may pitch pretty well. But it seems unlikely that he’s due for an extended stay in the Philadelphia rotation. He’s only 5-11, 170 pounds, his stuff is more like that of a reliever, he’s only made two starts above Double A, and he’s not Cole Hamels. But, then again, very few are, and it may be that the Phillies will shoot that high in the trade market.

Next up… are the 2009 Nationals really as bad as the 1962 Mets? And, why are really bad teams really bad?

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Doug Mientkiewicz was a hometown hero a year ago, a Toledo-born Major Leaguer who returned to manage the Mud Hens to their first division title and playoff berth in over a decade. A year later, he is out as Mud Hens manager, having been dismissed from his post.

Though the Tigers have not formally announced their Minor League managerial posts, Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield confirmed that Mientkiewicz will not be back, as first reported by the Detroit Free Press. Though Mientkiewicz had a year left on his contract, he was not reassigned to another position in the organization.

“We simply decided to go in a different direction,” Littlefield said Thursday.

It’s an eyebrow-raising move as the Tigers prepare for their crop of highly touted pitching prospects to arrive in Toledo next year. Top prospects Casey Mize and Matt Manning are expected to make the jump to Triple-A on their way to eventual spots in Detroit’s rotation, as will third-base prospect Isaac Paredes. They’ll have different leadership in the dugout.

Mientkiewicz, who spent 12 years as a Major League player, joined the Tigers organization on the heels of his old manager, Ron Gardenhire, taking over as manager of Detroit. The move gave Gardenhire a trusted voice on potential callups from Triple-A while bringing in a proven winner in Mientkiewicz, who enjoyed success managing in the Twins farm system. Adding to the appeal was that Mientkiewicz was born in Toledo and lived in the area until his family moved to Florida while he was in grade school.

The pairing drew quick success; Mientkewicz’s Mud Hens won an International League’s Western Division title with a 73-66 record in 2018, earning Toledo’s first playoff berth since 2007. Among the success stories was top hitting prospect Christin Stewart, who hit 23 home runs with 77 RBIs that year, third-base prospect Dawel Lugo, Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year Matt Hall and infielder Ronny Rodriguez, who batted .338 with a .923 OPS in between stints with Detroit.

Despite Stewart’s graduation to Detroit, the Mud Hens entered this past season with a prospect-laden roster that included Lugo, prized center-field prospect Daz Cameron, former first-round pick Beau Burrows and starting prospect Kyle Funkhouser. However, though the Hens scored more runs than they allowed, they essentially reversed their record, finishing 66-74 and tying for second in their division.

Minor League managers and coaches usually aren’t judged on wins and losses as much as on player development, notably with prospects. That might have worked against Mientkiewicz. Burrows and Funkhouser, whom Tigers general manager Al Avila publicly touted at midseason as candidates to join Detroit’s rotation, struggled with injuries and inconsistencies. Funkhouser finished with an 8.53 ERA in 18 starts, while an oblique injury ended Burrows’ season early with a 5.51 ERA in 15 starts.

Cameron, whose strong Spring Training put him in line for a potential midseason promotion, batted .214 with 13 home runs and 152 strikeouts in 120 games. Top catching prospect Jake Rogers, who spent the middle third of the season with Toledo, batted .223 with a .779 OPS after a hot start upon being promoted from Double-A Erie. The most notable prospect emergence came from shortstop Willi Castro, who batted .301 with 11 homers, 62 RBIs and an .833 OPS as a Mud Hen, and Lugo, who improved his walk rate while batting .333 with an .859 OPS between calls up to Detroit.

Mientkiewicz has a reputation of being tough but loyal with his players, including prospects. His telling players they’ve been called up to the Majors for the first time can be memorable for the players involved. But he is also honest with players about the difficulty of the big leagues and doesn’t mince words when asked about prospects’ readiness.

“The difference between a Major Leaguer and a Minor Leaguer is like the difference between a T-Rex and a llama,” Mientkiewicz said in June amidst his pitchers’ struggles. “It’s a whole different animal. The attention to detail for most guys who go up is not where it should be. They realize that the mental focus has to be [better].

“There’s a difference between a Major Leaguer, and being a Major Leaguer that you see in October. And that’s what we’re trying to build.”

Whoever succeeds Mientkiewicz will be the Mud Hens’ fifth manager in six years. That successor will not come from within the organization; Littlefield said the Tigers will seek an outside candidate. Erie manager Mike Rabelo was speculated as a potential candidate for promotion, having managed Manning and Paredes at three levels so far, but he will return as SeaWolves manager.

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The Detroit Tigers needed to find someone to replace legend Ty Cobb as the team manager. On this day in 1926, they hired former infielder George Moriarty, adding another chapter to an interesting baseball career.
During the 1910’s and the 1920’s, George Moriarty was one of the better known figures in baseball. The third baseman of the Detroit Tigers, he was the team captain for five years, gaining notoriety and respect for his ability to steal home and refusal to back down from anyone. In one infamous tale about Moriarty, he and Ty Cobb were about to come to blows, but the third baseman handed Cobb a bat, telling him that he needed it to even the odds. Cobb, who was also known for his refusal to back down from anyone, backed down from Moriarty.

After his playing days, Moriarty became an umpire in the American League. speaking a decade on the field in that role. However, after a 1926 season where the Tigers finished sixth with a 79-75, Cobb resigned as manager. In a move that would be truly bizarre these days, Detroit named Moriarty, the AL umpire and former third baseman, as their manager.

The Tigers responded in that first season. Although they finished fourth, their 82-71 record was an improvement on the previous season. As good as Moriarty was as an umpire, he appeared to have another calling as a manager. However, after a 68-86 record the following year, he went back to umpiring.

It was as an umpire that he cemented his legend. During a game in 1932, after some disagreements about his strike zone, Moriarty fought four members of the team at the same time. In what was considered a sign that the umpire was slowing down, he fought them to a draw. Then, in 1935, Moriarty threw out three Cubs players for heckling Hank Greenberg, an action that he was fired $200 for.

Even with those actions, Moriarty was considered to be an excellent arbiter on the field. In that same year, 1935, he was voted by the players as the best umpire in the American League. He may have been tough, but he was fair. In the players’ eyes, that was what mattered most.

A true renaissance man, Moriarty was more than an umpire. He also wrote a national baseball column about his observations on the game and his remembrances about those players who had passed. Later, after his umpiring days, Moriarty became a scout, discovering players such as Harvey Kuenn for Detroit.

George Moriarty held just about every job a person could in baseball. On this day in 1926, he took the unprecedented move of leaving his post as an umpire to manage his former team, the Detroit Tigers.