INJURIES DAMPEN DEADLINE DEALS

By:  Kurt Snyder

The worst possible July scenario for the Tigers has happened.

Any value they had to offer for quality prospects is now reduced to whatever they can get for Nick Castellanos and Shane Greene.  Nick’s defense will limit his value and Shane Greene’s stock has gone down too.  But all hell broke lose when Michael Fulmer went down.

His oblique strain now makes him untradeable. And isn’t that just perfect? He represented the Tigers’ best shot at getting real value in return. But now, that’s all done. For how long? That remains to be seen.

This new development only reinforces my position on the ‘Trade Fulmer’ side of the equation. He may win games next season, but they will be empty stats for a losing ballclub.

But right now, Fulmer’s next season is up in the air. He will recover, but will remain a ticking time bomb. You have to wonder about him even more.  Another reason to wonder about his long-term viability if he stays a Tiger. Another reason to wonder about his future value if you are a prospective trade partner.

If trade partners for Michael Fulmer have had reservations about him up until now,  this certainly impacts how they feel about him in the off-season even after his oblique has healed.

Expect them to take a step back and take a ‘wait and see’ approach until this time next season. But also expect teams to lowball the Tigers, just to see what they are willing to take.

Gauging the market in the future will continue on the Tigers’ end. He stays in Detroit for now, with more to prove to both sides. Can he stay healthy and have success on a more consistent basis when he returns to action?

For now, expect the team to shift gears and be more protective of Fulmer than ever. The controllable years in his contract just became more valuable to them; more than just a marketable part of a talented trade piece.   They can invest more time in him without an eye on the clock.

But, the injury forces the timeline to 2019. As we all know, this is still a pitcher who looks like he is an injury waiting to happen every time he throws the baseball.

He has a well-known violent delivery that appears to stress his body and his arm. I don’t question his talent. I don’t question his great arm. He is a power pitcher, but he does not possess the traits of someone who will have a long career.  Sorry, he just doesn’t.

So where does the fan base stand now on Michael Fulmer? Are there readers out there who are starting to move over to my side of the ledger? Or are there readers who stand firm in their support for him and feel these injuries don’t cause concern.

Who still believes he is the future ace of the Tigers? Who feels the team is set at that most important of positions as we continue with this rebuild?

Michael Fulmer came to Detroit with high hopes. And heading into a rebuild, he was more valuable for someone else than he is in Detroit. He was. But the window to shop their most prized possession has now been slammed shut.

Any trade is on hold and the rebuild just took a severe hit.


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SILENT PARTNERS

By:  Holly Horning

Baseball has been going through so many changes over the past couple of years. Time clocks, shifts, “bullpenning”, launch angles, high-speed cameras, length of games and more.

There’s one other change happening, but it’s not on the field.

And the Tigers were one of the first teams to practice this strategy. Imagine that! Finally, this organization is at the forefront of implementing new ideas instead of consistently being one of the last.

And they do it very well.

It’s………..

….controlling the message via the media.

(Insert rim shot here.)

Whaatt? You were expecting some new analytical discoveries?

We’ve all seen it. The articles by the local media that read like press releases. Often the same information in both major city papers at the same time. Articles meant to soothe the fans’ frustration and gloss over the mistakes of the organization. All for the purpose of deflecting criticism and maximizing attendance figures.

The same articles that deflect attention away from the bunglers and instead, accuse the fans of having “bad attitudes”, “misplaced beliefs” or being “shriekers.”

The “articles” that make us go back to the byline to see if it includes the team’s media department.

But you know what? There are a significant number of other teams starting to do it, too.

My ears perked up the other day when I listened to a conversation between 2 former GMs on the radio. They were discussing how there are so many more leaks of information in baseball. Players rumored to be traded to other teams before it becomes official, managers getting extension contracts, managers on their way out and potential trade conversations.

When Dave Dombrowski first came to the Tigers, he was victimized by leaks but able to effectively shut everyone down within months. No one was more secretive than Dave. We never heard a peep about anything he was doing until it happened. I hear he was so good that the CIA tried to recruit him.

But his successor, Al Avila, is not even in the same orbit as Dave. He’s good, but the leaks have been happening sporadically. And often, his non-stop public confessions have been the primary agent of information.

And the reason this is happening more and more within the baseball world is because those within the Front Office have found it to be a necessary tool in helping them navigate their jobs successfully.

One of the former GMs mentioned that those on their way up the baseball ladder feel it crucial to develop relationships with members of the media. By giving them information in advance, they curry favor with that journalist. And when the time comes, and that executive needs someone in their corner, it’s time for the reporter to return the favor.

As a result, blunders are conveniently either ignored or soft-peddled. Favorable reviews that deflect analysis and minimize criticism may also be written.

And the writers most likely to do this are the ones assigned to regularly cover local teams. Less likely are those who cover a team infrequently or primarily address the national baseball picture.

We’ve all read stories about how hard it is for some hard-hitting journalists to get press passes. And how allegedly, a local writer, considered to be one of the area’s finest, was removed from covering the Tigers regularly.

And things can get rather complicated when two organizations have relationships with each other that involve advertising dollars and clubhouse access.

Are you uncomfortable yet? Are you surprised that this is happening?

Should we be surprised that during the last crucial 4 years of the Tigers’ infamous “window”, that hard-hitting analysis of what was wrong was completely missing?

That Brad Ausmus was given a free pass, and staunchly defended, until he left his managerial position?

That at least one reporter knew Ausmus was leaving weeks before he did and wrote nothing about it?

Should we be surprised that multiple reporters are now admitting that they witnessed in-house fighting among players, clubhouse dysfunction and open dissention between a number of the players and their former manager? And that they didn’t say anything to their readers for 4 years? In fact, that some went out of their way to quell the rumors and discount the unhappy events we saw on the tv broadcasts?

It all, conveniently, is only coming out this year.

I know I’m not the only one who believes that if the media had done their due diligence, we would have seen changes made at least 2 years ago. Especially when it comes to the Big One – who’s to blame for wasting all those years and all that incredible talent for just 1 game win in the World Series.

The Society of Professional Journalists established their Code of Ethics back in 1909. It lists 4 principles of ethical journalism which is the exchange of information that ensures it is “fair, accurate and thorough” and supports the integrity of the reporter. Those principles are:

– Seek Truth and Report It

– Minimize Harm

– Act Independently

– Be Accountable and Transparent

But in the end, no matter the team, no matter the city, no matter the media organization, when information is withheld, discounted or manipulated, the trust factor is gone. And as well, performance accountability. Look no further than the shockingly bad professional sports situation across the board in Detroit with the Lions, Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers.

Simply a coincidence that all 4 teams have been in performance droughts for years?

You know the answer to this one.


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

With the All-Star break behind us and the trade deadline not far away, there is much to consider as the Tigers start the second half against one of the game’s best – the Red Sox.

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspectives. During any given week, they could head in a number of directions.

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into the series at home versus Boston.


KURT

Did you notice anything familiar about this week’s All-Star Game? That’s right, it was a carbon copy of the kind of baseball we are seeing now in MLB.

The game was dominated by home runs and strikeouts, most of which have been examined and critiqued as just another problem with the game. However, our game, which could now be described as ‘all or nothing’, has provided excitement on both ends of the spectrum.

Do I like it – I’m not sure. But I certainly wouldn’t describe it as the latest problem that needs to be fixed. I would only describe it as dominance at opposite ends of the spectrum. It will be someone else’s job to determine if what we saw in the All-Star Game is something we could get used to as the new norm.


HOLLY

This week brought new meaning to “must see JV” as the local media crammed everything named “Justin Verlander” down fans’ throats. And very little of it had to do with the game he pitched against the Tigers last weekend.

One local paper printed as many as 11 articles about him within the span of 2 days from the “I still root for Detroit” to his “reunion” with Max Scherzer, impending fatherhood and all the way down to video of him showing off his dance moves on a private plane. Much of it an attempt by unseen powers to placate bad feelings over the loss of a fan favorite by hinting that he’s still loyal to the team (and fans) and by the media which saw an opportunity to drive up readership.

But then these same papers had the audacity to also tell fans they needed to “get over” JV while printing all these articles about him. Unbelievably, a couple reporters went so far as to chastise fans that they shouldn’t be mad at JV for leaving while conveniently refusing to explain why the Tigers were forced to trade him.

Should we even be surprised that the individuals responsible for the final act of trading one of the franchise’s face and dissolving this team were purposely kept unidentified and instead the critical spotlight was turned, once again, on the fans?


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FORUM FOR FRIDAY

microphoneHappy Friday! It’s time again to head into the weekend hearing from our readers.   You have the rest of the week to hear from Kurt and Holly, today is the day to let them know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Friday is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can get those juices flowing.

Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.

We can’t wait to get your thoughts on the following topic.


What Tiger still has a lot to prove in the second half to be considered part of the team’s future?  Explain your answer!


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MISSING PIECES OF THE PUZZLE

By:  Kurt Snyder

So did you take full advantage of the All-Star break? Did you sit back and consider where the Tigers are headed and if they are indeed on the right track?

Do we have the right leaders leading the franchise back to where we all want to be? Or have there been puzzling missteps – things that normally would not be done?


Geez, why all the questions, Kurt?

We’ll, it’s because I took a look back during the break. Way back to the beginning of the Brad Ausmus tenure, when a pattern began to form. And since I was asking myself all the same questions, I thought I would ask all of you.

Before Brad Ausmus was hired, Jim Leyland had input that he shared with Dave Dombrowski. It was a hire in a direction Dombrowski was not expected to go. With a team still loaded with talent and the ability to still compete for a championship, I still wonder why Dombrowski would choose inexperience. Who influenced him? Who advised him and what made him listen? Because it seemed like a very un-Dombrowski move.

So leave that there for second and clear your mind. You done? Ok.

Fast forward to the hiring of Al Avila. The first order of business, typically, after a firing of a GM and the hiring of a new one is the selection of a new manager. So who would Al pick to put his stamp on the team and the new direction of the ball club? Who would be the new field boss?

In the end after much deliberation (or maybe none), Brad Ausmus was retained. What? That’s Al’s first order of business? To do nothing? Was he influenced in any way? Was he advised to hold on to Brad?   And who influenced him to do it all over again a year later?

So again, leave that there for a second. Clear your mind, and let’s keep going.

After the passing of Mike Ilitch, his son Chris took over the reins of the ball club. There was one logical order of business. Establish complete control of the ballclub. Act swiftly and decisively and begin your search for a new general manager.  This was an important time correct?  It was important for the right leader to take over.

Chris knew what the plan would be. He needed to get the ball club fiscally under control. He needed an experienced GM, one of his choosing, to effectively lead the team during a very important time.

This was his opportunity to put his stamp on the ballclub, and restructure from the top down. He would rebuild. He knew he would. So of course, Chris did what? He. Did. Nothing.

Al Avila stayed in place. Brad Ausmus stayed in place, and the team moved on its merry way with the same cast of characters leading the team in a new direction.

You got that?  The same cast of characters leading a new direction.

Sounds logical right?  No, you know better. We all know better.

In 2017, it took Al a preseason filled with failed attempts to trade anyone and a failed attempt at one last shot at a title, which we all knew had no merit, before he finally, mercifully, fired Brad Ausmus.

And given everything we have discussed so far. The next natural questions go like this: Did he come up with this on his own? Who influenced him? Was it Chris Ilitch? And while we are at it, was there someone who influenced Chris?

If this feels like you are trying to put together a puzzle knowing you don’t have all the pieces, well, that kind of describes the Tiger franchise and the way in which they have begun this rebuild.

Ever find an old puzzle up at your cottage, open it up and start putting it all together?When you begin to discover that some of the pieces are lost, what is your next move? You dump it, don’t you?

Well, normally yes. But this is the new order of Tiger baseball. The puzzle is being put together, but so far it just doesn’t look right. And it’s all because, since the day Dave Dombrowski left and the day Mike Ilitch died, the Tigers have ignored the holes and pretended they weren’t there.

Sure, things have begun to improve.  Important steps have been taken behind the scenes with the development of an analytics department and some key moves in scouting.  All good stuff.  No argument here.  It’s hard to screw up everything, right?

The hole at the managerial position previously occupied by Brad Ausmus, was more appropriately filled with Ron Gardenhire.  Check.

But the franchise is still having trouble getting out of its own way.

What have we now discovered? Gardy was welcomed to town only to find out he would be limited in who he could bring on board to complete his coaching staff. He wouldn’t get to pick his pitching coach. He wouldn’t get to pick his hitting coach.
The two most important coaches on his staff were chosen by someone else.  Al Avila? Jim Leyland? I don’t know, you guess.

And so the beat goes on.  This is the new guard in Detroit,  where logic is ignored and decisions are made for you, by some man behind the curtain.


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THE CORPORATE CULTURE OF CONTINUED EXCELLENCE

By:  Holly Horning

This past weekend, Mike Matheny, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, was fired along with 2 of his coaches. His team was above .500 and sitting in third place behind the Cubs.

Matheny had been the manager for 6.5 years, had an excellent .555 winning percentage and took his team to 43 post-season games including 6 division titles and 2 pennants.

What team wouldn’t be happy with that?

More importantly, what teams would find that record to be a firing offense?

Well, the Cardinals. They hinted, in part, that there was a concern about his losing playoff record (1 more loss than wins). But they clearly stated that the organization wasn’t willing to go 3 years without an appearance in October. They believed that players weren’t playing up to their potential and the fact that there was some friction with one of them was the tipping point.

This is an organization that not only wants to be good, but they want to be excellent. And not only excellent on occasion, but excellent most of the time. Excellent as the norm.

The Cards have set one of the highest bars in MLB for performance, expectations and results out of all 30 teams. Just look at their recent history.

Since 2000, the Cards have had only 1 season under (barely) .500 and finished in first place 10 times out of 17. Played October baseball 12 years out of 17. Four World Series with 2 rings.

That just doesn’t happen on its own. It doesn’t happen solely because a team has a great amount of talent. It doesn’t happen because you have solid pitching and defense. Or great offense.

It happens because of a strong, solid corporate culture that is communicated effectively from the very top to the very bottom of the organization.

It starts with the owner who sets the standards and expectations. The Front Office that develops the best path in order to achieve the goals and stays on top of the latest tools and resources.

They describe themselves as an “aggressive” organization that values flexibility and the willingness to change as the games, talent and financial factors evolve and change. The GMs (past and present) say that teaching a love of the game, where players are involved and engaged is most crucial.

The Cards are considered to have the best player development program in MLB. A complete and detailed program that addresses the physical, mental and emotional aspects of the game. Players universally comment that they feel the Cards really care about each and every one of them. St. Louis says that building personal relationships between players and staff is crucial to developing talent.

The Cardinal mentality goes all the way down to ensuring that the players they sign come in with some leadership abilities. Every new player gets 2 mentors when they arrive in the majors who advise them on everything both on and off the field.

There are a variety of resources for them to use in the off-season (conditioning programs, nutrition, sports psychologists, etc.) and the progress of every player is monitored. They also have required programs all players must complete over the winter.

Daily batting and fielding practices are “optional” but every player attends.

And it was branded years ago as “The Cardinal Way.”

On the other hand, within that same 17-year time period, the Tigers had 8 seasons above .500 with only 4 of them finishing in 1st place. Five years of October baseball, 2 World Series and only 1 game win out of 9.

A team that kept 2 different managers despite 2 last place finishes for rosters that were expected to go all the way in October.  One, who even had his option year picked up despite, once again, not having his team in the mix.

And since 2006 until this year, the Tigers have had higher payrolls than the Cards every year.

The Tigers certainly had the talent. Absolutely had the starting pitching and some of the best offense in the game.

We understand the impact sketchy defense and the lack of a bullpen made. But did we believe that this was a cohesive roster with great teamwork and leadership?

A team that tracked player performance, conditioning and nutrition and enriched their off-season with programs? A team that offered software programs and state-of-the art analytics with most of the other MLB teams?

Or could it be that the Tigers period of glory happened because the owner tried to take a shortcut and throw money, instead of developing a philosophy, in order to get that one ring? Did the corporate culture, or lack thereof, have anything to do with winning?

I think we know the answer.

All I can say is that if I was the owner, I’d be holding baseball branding boot camp with every single employee. Oh, and trying to lure away as many Cardinals employees as I could find….


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

It’s the All Star break folks! And if anyone needs a break, it’s the Tigers and their fans. But at Totally Tigers, we don’t take breaks. We just keep motorin’ along!

On this All Star Tuesday, we have chosen an obvious but appropriate topic. It should be interesting where our writers stand on this one.


What are our feelings about the overall state and purpose of the All-Star Game?


HOLLY

Since the first All-Star Game in 1933, MLB has given and also taken away the ability for fans to vote numerous times based upon ballot-stuffing issues. While changes once again have taken away some of the fans’ influence, the game is still a popularity contest that favors larger markets and recent playoff and World Series winners.

I have little to no interest in a game with a selection process that gives the non-experts a significant power to outvote the experts who work within the industry.

Today, the game has been turned into primarily a “dumbed down” money-making opportunity that now encompasses several days of “special events” with price-gouging tickets. Many top players are now declining the invitation because they see a greater value in having time off or saving their energy for the regular season – and when this happens, the point of being able to see all of the top players voids the real purpose of this game.

I doubt anyone within MLB would be so bold to completely re-design this event, but I believe it could be rejuvenated as MLB’s biggest charity event that would generate major headlines, strengthen the brand and create good will among fans.

Return all voting to the players, managers, coaches and others working directly with teams to ensure that the biggest and best talent gets selected. Create 2 days of special events – demos, interviews, round tables, etc. – in which fans can get up close and personal with these players. And all tickets sales would go to a different charity designated each year.

I can dream, can’t I?


KURT

Baseball’s All Star Game is the best one among all the sports. The game is played the same way as any other baseball game, which cannot be said about the other sports. But the age-old issue is who gets to vote.

The game is about the stars and the best performers of the season belong there. Every year there are examples of players who haven’t earned the spot, based on what they have accomplished in the current season.

The fans don’t do a very good job of voting the best into the game, so the rights need to be handed over to the experts. That doesn’t mean the media; it means the baseball people – the managers, the coaches, the players themselves.

However, there is room for one exception. When a retirement of a sure thing, first ballot Hall of Famer is imminent, the game needs to celebrate the player or players, on the All-Star stage – as participants, for the fans to appreciate one last time.

Lastly, I am incredibly glad that we are no longer talking about the All-Star Game having an impact on the post-season. All-Star Games are a break from the pennant races for the players. The best are playing the game that they love in a more-relaxed atmosphere and the fans benefit by knowing that yes, these are the current stars of the game, all on one stage, and what’s better than that?


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ANATOMY OF A SERIES

By:  Kurt Snyder

As we head into the All-Star break, let’s talk a little about the series just completed with the Houston Astros.

Heading into the series, this had mismatch written all over it. A rebuilding Tiger team versus an already rebuilt Houston team with the 2017 World Championship under their belts was not going to be must-see-TV.

My dad used to say this when the Tigers were overmatched on the diamond: “We don’t deserve to be on the same field as that team.”   Seemed applicable in this case.

So how did it play out? Let’s take a look.


GAME 1

Friday was a game we have grown quite accustomed to in 2018. Next-to-no offense, zero runs and a league-leading 12th shutout of the Tigers. Easy pickins’ for an Astros team loaded with pitching, matched up against a meek Tiger lineup in no position to put up much of a fight.

Mike Fiers pitched well. He has been solid all season and I would expect him to be dealt at the deadline as he appears to possess more value than any other Tiger pitcher outside of Michael Fulmer. Francisco Liriano is declining, almost with every start, especially now that he was sidelined with back stiffness after 3 innings of work on Sunday.

GAME 2

The Tigers arrived at a 9-1 loss to Houston in a very strange way. With the ace on the mound, this game represented the best shot at winning a game in this series, with JV lying in wait on Sunday.

But Fulmer was not only a victim of an offense that took advantage of every opportunity to score, they also got plenty of help. And this is where it really gets frustrating.

Fulmer got little help. The Tiger bats once again remained silent and the Astros got extra outs and extra strikes from the home plate umpire, who missed 10 strikes that were called balls. That’s right, 10! You want to lengthen a game? This will do it.

GAME 3

JV Day – a day many predicted another no-hitter for Justin Verlander. Surely this pitiful offense would have no shot against JV. This was going to be ugly.

But just when you think you have baseball all figured out, well, you don’t. It’s the beauty of the game. You know the stats that stand out. Over six innings of work, JV stuck out 12. Over 6 innings of work, JV served up 4 home runs.

Outside of the catcher, the Astro defense got very little work. When the ball wasn’t hitting the catcher’s glove, it was finding the outfield seats or whatever counts as a home run in one of the game’s oddest of stadiums.

Yep, the Tigers avoided a series sweep by beating Verlander. JV was dominant but gave up 6 runs. Make sense? Nope, not at all.

If you don’t watch baseball, this game was the perfect example of why you should.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Three games – all took less than 3 hours to play. So it’s all good right?

Well, I represent the part of the fan base the game has nothing to worry about. Those of us who love baseball don’t worry about length of games. We only care about how the game is played, how the game is called and protecting the sanctity of the game. And there is clearly work to be done.

MLB needs to take a hard look at umpires. The Saturday game against the Astros represented how much work needs to be done. Houston didn’t need help against Detroit, but they got it whenever they needed it, 10 times.

If the commissioner wants to turn over every stone in the attempt to solve slow play in baseball, how the game is officiated is one more stone.

The commissioner needs to spend less time trying to figure out how to shorten games and more time on what has been stripped from the game, what has watered down the game, what has made the game less exciting, and most importantly, what hurts the game.

Pace of play? Length of games? Sorry, not bothered. I’m a big fan and will watch as long as it takes. I will listen as long as it takes. Just protect what I grew to love.

Let me leave you with this:  Do you think fans of tennis cared that the 2 semifinal Wimbledon matches lasted 6 and 5 hours each? I’m pretty sure they didn’t. What mattered to them? It was great tennis.

A wise man once said, “Who wants to watch their favorite sport for long periods of time?”

You answer.


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POSSIBLE & POTENTIAL PERFORMANCE PREDICTIONS

By:  Holly Horning

We know the Tigers are going through a rebuild. And we hope that the owner and management know it, too.

This has been a very different year and our expectations for a positive season, for the most part, do not exist. It is a year where we can sit back and hopefully watch for signs of meaningful changes and progress.

We are now at the halfway mark of this season with the All-Star game happening in less than 48 hours. So what will the rest of this year – from now until December – bring?


Here are my top 10 predictions……

1. Victor Martinez will remain on the roster until the very last day of the season unless he is hurt. It is not in the Tigers’ nature to release anyone early. Actually, quite the opposite. But they are also a professional organization and loathe to insult or embarrass employees even if they can no longer perform.

2. For the same reasons listed in #1, Lloyd McClendon will finish out the year despite the overwhelming collection of sitting-at-the-bottom MLB offensive stats and regular quotes from his manager about the poor and impatient at-bats. Maybe Al Avila will allow Gardy to hire his own batting coach next year.

3. Performance will get uglier and messier before it gets better, especially if Castellanos’ bat, Fulmer’s arm and Iggy’s glove move to other cities.

4. The Tigers will have a tough time making trades this season. Between Nick’s defensive weaknesses, Iggy’s inconsistency with the bat and Shane Greene’s injury, combined with a buyer’s market, the Tigers will have to decide how desperate they are to get something in return, especially for the first two.

5. Speaking of Castellanos and Iglesias, they have the largest salaries after Miggy and Zimmermann – and expected to earn even more next year. The Tigers’ payroll sits exactly at MLB’s average and just a couple million away of taking the top spot as the AL Central’s most expensive team. Expect the payroll cuts to continue.

6. If Castellanos gets moved, don’t be surprised by how little the Tigers get back in exchange for him. His value resides only with his bat – and his leadership skills.

7. Should Iggy get traded, expect Avila to work his magic in finding a solid infielder to replace him at a decent price. Don’t expect Machado to return.

8. Niko Goodrum, one of this year’s most pleasant surprises, will stick in Detroit beyond this year and potentially turn from a super-utility player into the regular second baseman – at least for the short term. Afterall, he has the most experience playing that position. The Tigers may just end up searching for another utility guy to replace him.

9. The Tigers will finish this year with a better record than last year despite having significantly fewer solid talented players on the roster. They had a .395 record in 2017 when they came up 2 games short of 100 losses.

10. While the team finished dead last in 2017, and earned that #1 draft pick, ironically they may not be as “lucky” after this season. There may be as many as 6 teams – and as few as 4 others – who will end up with worse records when all is said and done.

What about you? What ONE prediction do you see happening by the end of 2018?


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NOTABLE NEWS

During a week where the Tigers went 0 for Tampa, it doesn’t get any easier as they limp into a series in Houston to face the World Champion Astros.

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspective. During any given week, they could head in a number of directions.

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into the series into the weekend.


KURT

As talk continues to swirl about the potential trades of Michael Fulmer and Nick Castellanos, the value of Francisco Liriano has been taking a hit.

Liriano has been getting knocked around and may now be someone who brings very little in return come the end of July, if anything at all. But what about Mike Fiers? He has been one of the Tigers’ most consistent and reliable starters.

Little has been mentioned about him for some reason and yet, he is the kind of pitcher who, if inserted into a rotation of hard throwers, would offer a change of pace variable.

He still has the ability to keep hitters guessing, and has kept the Tigers in games all season. Look for Mike Fiers to become the more valuable starter at the trade deadline versus someone becoming less and less desirable.


HOLLY

As expected, there was a lot of teeth-gnashing over the omission of Nick Castellanos from the All-Star roster earlier this week but the media failed to dig deeper than the simple issue of “rejection.”

MLB changed their selection method after last year in order to give players and teams more selection power in order to reward those more truly deserving. Player voting was enhanced as well as the decision to allow all 30 managers, not just the 2 from the 2017 World Series, to create each league’s roster.

This, of course, means that those directly working in baseball were responsible for assembling the reserve roster – one that did not recognize Nick by his peers. A decision that maybe isn’t a surprise, given his defensive challenges, but certainly doesn’t bode well for his future or the Tigers’.

Is this decision a tease about how difficult it may be to trade Nick? Or if it does happen, should we be surprised at a potential underwhelming return?


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