Monthly Archives: October 2019

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One of the biggest reasons for the Detroit Tigers’ teardown and rebuild was the unsustainable fiscal policies of former president and general manager Dave Dombrowski, as well as the late Mike Ilitch’s willingness to open up the coffers to sign big name free agents.

Now that those contracts and other lingering payments have been mostly scrubbed from the payroll, the franchise is approaching its “young and lean” form that the current front office has been alluding to for some time. After fielding one of the worst baseball teams in major league history last season, it is time to start spending again.

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Longtime Bless You Boys community member David Tokarz published an article at Glass Half Fulmer that discusses the merits of the Tigers pulling out their wallets again. While it is understood that after the passing of the elder Ilitch the team would need to make some adjustments, it appears the Tigers are at that crossroads now where they can start handing out contracts to improve the team.

[T]he Tigers’ payroll in 2020 will be, before free agent additions, somewhere around $80 million. Add onto that $6 million in dead money from the Prince Fielder trade, and the Tigers have about $90 million in payroll. That puts them $46 million behind the average MLB payroll in 2019 of $136 million.

Despite the flexibility afforded by the organization’s parsimonious procedures, there is no indication that Chris Ilitch is about to start spending on this team. It is true that the effort put into rebuilding and replenishing the farm has yielded some positive results, it is also common knowledge that you cannot build a winning franchise simply from the draft alone. After a season that saw Tigers hitters post -3.1 WAR, it is high time for the team to sign some guys who are worth at least more than a replacement player.

tigermike1975
@tigermike1975
So you mean you really have to do more than just draft? Interesting.

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The Tigers need to get better
Evan Woodbery also took a look at what the Tigers need to do to improve in his article for MLive. It is pretty obvious that the major league team has hit rock bottom, but is it enough to deliver the sobering message that this brand of baseball is just not acceptable to the fans?

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“I would hope we don’t do this again next year,” said Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire when asked if the rebuild had hit rock bottom.

Hope alone is not going to fix this team. Because there is little indication that the organization will bring in any quality free agents, all bets appear to be on the prospects performing at the big league level, such as Jake Rogers and Willi Castro. It also appears that players like Christin Stewart, Dawel Lugo and Jeimer Candelario will continue to get their chances to prove their mettle in the majors. And while there will undoubtedly be some bargain bin signings much like with Tyson Ross and Josh Harrison in 2019, they do not offer much in the way of improvement for this ragtag roster.

Coaching shuffle represents nothing
The news of the Tigers coaching shuffle has been all over social media and the blogosphere since it was announced on Monday evening. The general sentiment of the fanbase is that the move is simply adherence to the status quo and is much ado about nothing. So the question that lingers is, “How much will actually change?”

On the face of it, it is very difficult to see any change at all, but there could be some subtle differences that might yield some measure of improvement. Joe Vavra, considered one of the more advanced baseball minds on the coaching staff, could be a better fit at hitting coach, while Lloyd McClendon’s move to bench may take advantage of his managerial experience. Meanwhile, the switch between Dave Clark and Ramon Santiago from first to third base and vice versa probably represents change for change’s sake. Or maybe all of these moves were just an effort to tie the room together nicely.

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Trevor Hooth
@HoothTrevor
I think the preferred term is feng shui https://twitter.com/blessyouboys/status/1179063485977772033 …

Bless You Boys

@blessyouboys
They basically just rearranged the furniture https://www.blessyouboys.com/2019/10/1/20892790/detroit-tigers-new-coaching-staff-2020-ron-gardenhire-lloyd-mcclendon-joe-vavra?utm_campaign=blessyouboys&utm_content=chorus&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter …

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Don Kelly for manager?
Former Tigers super utility player Don Kelly is getting some mentions when it comes to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager vacancy. We are all rooting for Donnie Deeds to get his chance.

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Jon Morosi

@jonmorosi
#Astros first base coach Don Kelly was mentioned to me by one GM as someone who could interview for managerial jobs this offseason. Of note: He’s a Pittsburgh area native and debuted with the #Pirates in 2007. @MLBNetwork @MLB

As all eyes turn to the playoffs, the Detroit Tigers’ season quietly ended with their 114th loss. Although it makes for nearly unwatchable baseball, finishing with the worst record in the sport means the Tigers will have the first selection in the 2020 MLB draft. It’s far too early to have any certainty about the particulars of the draft — it’s a notoriously difficult exercise, even days before the event. However, scouting is getting better and better, and we are generally able to figure out the top players in the class this far out.

Baseball America decided to undertake that project, piecing together a prediction for the top 10 picks in next year’s draft. With the first selection, the Tigers are anticipated to take Austin Martin of Vanderbilt University.

Most likely, we will say goodbye to some friends this offseason. Reliever Blaine Hardy, who made over $1 million and had his season cut short by an elbow injury, might not be tendered a contract. Catcher-first baseman John Hicks, entering arbitration for the first time and coming off a mostly disappointing season, could be in the same boat.

Those two have been with the club since 2014 and 2016, respectively.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer, infielder Gordon Beckham and pitcher Edwin Jackson, pro’s pros who provided invaluable veteran leadership this season, likely will be back on the free-agent market.

Reliever Daniel Stumpf, who finished the season on the injured list, and outfielder Mikie Mahtook, who finished the year at Triple-A Toledo, likely will be on the free-agent market, as well.

And with the Tigers needing to clear space on the 40-man roster to protect prospects like center fielder Daz Cameron, possibly pitchers Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser and others from the Rule 5 draft, the futures of pitchers Victor Alcantara, Zac Reininger, Eduardo Jimenez and Matt Hall are up in the air.

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Pitcher Drew VerHagen, whom the Tigers’ have twice designated for assignment, will be eligible for arbitration this offseason. You would expect, based on his encouraging run in August and September, that he’d be back. But remember, the Tigers’ last year cut bait with Alex Wilson and James McCann prior to arbitration.

Bob Wojnowski and Chris McCosky review the Tigers’ 114-loss season and project the starting lineup for the 2020 season. The Detroit News

Many of the other offseason questions can’t be answered until it becomes clear what, if anything, general manager Al Avila does via trades or free agency this winter. The one trade chip he has, unless he decides to dip into the Tigers’ prospect pool, is pitcher Matthew Boyd.

Last year, he spent about $16 million to sign pitchers Tyson Ross and Matt Moore, and infielders Josh Harrison and Mercer.

There is a good chance Avila again will look to add one or two affordable starters and, as manager Ron Gardenhire has all but begged for, at least one veteran, run-producing bat. The perfect scenario would be if one of those bats belonged to a veteran catcher.

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It seems a long shot that the Tigers would go into next season with Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner behind the plate.

There are similar questions all around the diamond: Did Willi Castro show enough to warrant the every day shortstop job? Should Niko Goodrum settle in at one position (second base or shortstop)? Are Dawel Lugo and Jeimer Candelario everyday players at third and first? How much longer do they give Christin Stewart in left field? Did Victor Reyes show enough to warrant the everyday right-field job? Is Daniel Norris’ best fit as a starter or reliever?

As you would expect, until the hot-stove league kicks into gear after the World Series, there are far more questions than answers. For now, though, here’s one last look back at a dreadful 114-loss season. As always, these final grades are subjective and based on reasonable expectations for each individual player.

The Vanderbilt star is an elite talent, routinely looking the part of a five-tool player. Martin doesn’t have a firm defensive home, but unlike many in that boat, it isn’t due to a lack of defensive acumen. He could settle in at shortstop, second base, third base, or center field. It isn’t clear yet which position will extract the most value from his performance. He figures to be above average no matter where he ends up defensively, but his appeal is centered mainly on his bat.

What sets Martin apart from the pack is his contributions to the Commodores’ lineup. He boasts both power and contact ability. In their brief assessment, Baseball America noted that Martin “took a big step forward in the power department” last season. It’s also important to note that his power is derived from bat speed, which is an encouraging sign that it will hold up better both against higher velocity and as he ages. Another encouraging report came from MLB.com, who wrote that he also has excellent feel for the barrel. That will allow him to bring his power into games.

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The real draw is his plus hit tool. Martin is a well-polished offensive machine, and he led the SEC in both batting average and on-base percentage. Scouts believe he has the best hit tool of anyone in the college crop. That manifested itself in a huge statistical year, as he batted a Ted Williams-esque line of .410/.503/.619. Martin’s well-rounded offensive game would be a welcome addition to the Tigers’ organization, which is riddled with strikeout issues at every level.

Martin would fit in nicely with both the needs of the organization and the Tigers’ next projected competitive window if he is the top choice. While it’s always best to take the best player available regardless of their position or age, Martin is a candidate to be rushed to the majors because he’s already so good. That would put him just behind the core of talented young arms that are to hit the bigs as soon as late next season.

If Martin isn’t the choice, another college bat could supplant him as the favorite. Spencer Torkelson is the rare first baseman to make waves at the top of the draft because his tremendous power plays well in games. While he isn’t a pure hitter like Martin, Torkelson will likely be in play for the first pick because his track record of success is just so attractive. Some evaluators even rank him as the best bat in the class, but Martin has the edge for now because of his superior athleticism and defensive work.

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Shortstops in coffee shops

Detroit Tigers

@tigers
Shortstops in coffee shops talking baseball.

It’s Cafe con Ramón with Willi Castro and Ramon Santiago.

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Tigers top plays of the year

Detroit Tigers

@tigers
From incredible catches to a #walkoff grand slam, you were there to support us.

Relive our top plays of the year presented by @pepsi.

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Remembering 2006
… and one of many reasons why some of us will always hate the Minnesota Twins.

Tigers History
@TigersHistory
#OTD in 2006 after leading the Royals 6-0, the #Tigers lose in 12 innings, completing a crushing season-ending sweep that drops them out of the division lead and into the wild card spot

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Base hits
This Reddit post shows the strikeout champions for the 2010 decade. The Tigers show up four times on the list — three for Justin Verlander and one for David Price — while former Tiger Max Scherzer also has three of his own in the National League.

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Now that the season is over, here is a calendar of dates from now to the amateur draft next June. The next major event is five days after the World Series when free agents are able to sign.
This FanPost presents an alternative vision for MLB expansion: the establishment of a Triple-A veteran’s league. The idea is pretty drastic and would be difficult to implement, but this is the kind of creativity the sport can use.
Can you name everyone who played on the 2019 Detroit Tigers squad? This quiz here will test your memory as well as your tolerance for bad baseball.