YOUR BEST OF THE BEST

As we close out this holiday weekend, we pause to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  

But in keeping with our daily format, Totally Tigers will keep readers engaged with another question; one that everyone should find enjoyable.  

Readers:  please answer based on the parameters outlined below following the question.


Where do Tiger fans sit regarding their favorite Tigers?

All Tiger players from the franchise’s inception are eligible, living or dead, seen in person or not.  

Please list your top 3 in order with 1-2 sentences for each player explaining why they have made your list.


Enjoy the holiday and stay warm!

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

It’s time again to hear from our readers!   Today is the day to let us know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Sunday 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.


With teams no longer so quick to sign high-priced free agents, do you feel this will be good for baseball in the long run?  Explain.

Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

THE SATURDAY SURVEY

 The Saturday Survey offers another way for readers to weigh in on a relevant topic.   So here is another poll to gauge the pulse of our baseball-lovin’ peeps.

As always, we welcome your comments, so please vote and then submit your reasons ( 4 sentences max!) for how you voted in the usual comment box.  Don’t forget to come back later and view the results!



Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

TWICE AS NICE

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

No need to check the Hot Stove. All the burners are set on simmer.

That’s a good way to describe the off-season as we await the biggest of signings. But a dirty word is floating around out there to describe the inactivity.

As always, Holly and Kurt have not shared their responses to the topic below in the interests of offering a wide range of perspective. Let’s see what they have cooking this week.


The Hot Stove season has been rather cold with very few free agents signing new contracts. Is the “collusion” argument that many players are offering, a valid reason?


KURT

The market is actually more active than it was during last year’s off-season, so it would be one heck of a time to claim collusion – ‘cause that ain’t it.

Last year, JD Martinez had to wait until spring training to get signed; all his numbers and outfield deficiencies had to be run through the meat grinder before the Red Sox realized his bat would make them forget everything else.

The same is happening this season. I am sure we are all getting a little sick of  hearing who’s offering what to Machado and Harper, but no one is biting until they know for sure what they are doing makes sense. Finally, a little thought is going into these transactions.

This isn’t collusion – when 2 players like Machado and Harper publicize the kind of the money they want; you have to expect a little time for some soul-searching.

General Managers and their finance people need to make damn sure they don’t strike deals that will handcuff the franchise for a decade. I know that sounds funny, because isn’t that what they are destined to do?

Like I have said before, the teams who end up signing these 2 better hope the championships start rolling in before Manny and Bryce become debilitating anchors. It’s what the Tigers hoped when they re-signedMiggy.


HOLLY

I believe the moves – or non-moves as the case may be – are a result of everything but collusion. It’s been years in the making but baseball owners are finally getting smart and making more decisions based upon the swarms of top college grads they’ve hired who have degrees (including MBAs) in sports economics, statistics and other baseball-relevant fields. The human emotional factor that often makes expensive mistakes has been removed and replaced by cold, hard stats and charts.

Even the Tigers have taken the decision-making about contracts away from the GM and lawyers and given them to young guys who can easily tell you how many more game wins a particular player may be worth.

The dramatic decline of PED use has continued to add to this pattern with the hesitancy now to sign players over 30, combined with what is now a lengthy trail of proof that long-term contracts have been overall disastrous.

But for me, the second biggest reason (after the effect of statistics) is what I wrote about last week – the staggering influx of revenue for teams that is not based upon performance. Income from media and technology rights, combined with the dual welfare system that rewards poorly-performing teams doesn’t inspire any sound businessman to spend his own money fielding a highly-competitive – and expensive – team. Ironically, teams are making more money by stripping their teams of expensive players and not teams (most of the AL) claim they are “rebuilding.”

I don’t think owners have been on the phone with each other sharing details of how to save money or keep costs down. As it currently stands, they simply have to sit back, do nothing and watch the money roll in with no effort at all. All courtesy of MLB.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

NC TO THE DC

By:  Holly Horning

Relax folks, the title of this blog has nothing to do with solving math equations……

…but it has a lot to do with solving two teams’ problems.


At the time this blog went live, baseball was reporting that the Washington Nationals were now highly unlikely to re-sign Bryce Harper. We know things can change on a dime, especially when Scott Boras gets involved with an elderly owner who desperately wants to win a ring. Detroit fans may know a little something about this…..

But, in consideration that Harper appears not to be returning to DC, one analyst said that if that truly becomes the case, then “the Nats need to fill that right field hole with a big bat.”

Uh, paging Mr. Avila! Paging Mr. Avila!

Please call the Nats GM, Mike Rizzo, immediately!

The Nats need Nick.

Nick is the perfect fit.

No, really.

Both Castellanos and Harper are similar in more ways than you think.

First of all, the hitting. Both had very similar slash lines last year. But Harper hits in a smaller park and Nick had no protection at all in the lineup. Think what he could do in a smaller stadium surrounded by established hitters.

Then there’s the defense. Both ranked last in their leagues in RF.  Thus, there’s no need to worry about Nick’s glove.

They are the same age. The only real difference is the salary. Bryce is asking for upwards of $300 million for 10 years. Nick is now making just under $10 million for the coming year and it gives him the chance to try out the Nats to see if they fit for his upcoming free agency.

The DC location also puts him closer to home where he shares custody of his son.

And it reunites him with Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez.

But Nick would bring value added to the Nats. Qualities that have been missing with this team and the lack thereof attributed to their reason for losing last year.

Leadership.

It was often mentioned that the Nats sat in their clubhouse – silent and keeping to themselves. No interaction with each other at all. And not one single player stepped up to take charge and help build a true team.

Castellanos was the point man for the Tigers last year. He took over the leadership role and was said to have been successful – and popular.

He also has the highest work ethic. The Tigers moved him from SS to 3B to LF, back to 3B and then to RF. He never once complained. In fact, he is on record multiple times saying he would do whatever the Tigers wanted if it helped the team.

Wouldn’t you want this guy on your team? Especially if you currently lacked this type of guy?

Nick would be the glue for the Nats.

And the fact that Castellanos is not represented by Boras is a definite plus. You see, the Nats are way in over their heads with salary. Seriously over their heads.

They are going into their third year of exceeding the luxury tax, incurring substantially higher penalties with every year.  And they are expected to go over that same threshold the following 2 years.

We’ve now seen them sign 2 players, including Max, to delayed salaries that extend beyond retirement. And this was done because they don’t have the money to pay today.

Part of the reason is that the Nats, unlike most of baseball, do not have a good media contract. As baseball’s newest team, the Baltimore Orioles fought their formation because it would impact their fan base. The Orioles are majority owners of the MASN network and the 2 teams have been locked in legal battles since 2012 over millions of dollars the Nats believe belong to them.

Without Boras as his agent, Nick would more likely return to DC and sign a team-friendly contract. And don’t think that he wouldn’t jump at the chance to move to a team that is in serious contention for October baseball.

What we now need to wait for is for Harper to be signed. Boras historically always waits until very late in the Hot Stove season to make deals. But once that’s done, we should expect the rest of the free agent dominos to fall.

And what do the Tigers get? Knowing that they will not extend Nick’s contract, they risk losing him and getting nothing in return. The Nats have a decent farm system with 3 of MLB’s top prospects.

One can only hope this comes together.

Stay tuned because what happens to Bryce Harper may mean very good things for the Tigers.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

LIGHTEN UP, THIS WILL BE GOOD

By:  Kurt Snyder

“Matt’s roots here in Michigan had a large influence in our decision. The fact that he not only knows the fan base, but is the fan base, represented a lot of what we were looking for in our future play-by-play man.”

                                                                                                       – FSD General Manager Greg Hammaren


Greg Hammaren got it right.

If there is one thing the Tigers needed to accomplish in their search for a new TV play-by-play broadcaster, familiarity was the key. To think that the transition from a 16-year partnership to a new situation would be seamless is, well, unrealistic. First and foremost, they needed to keep things close to home.

Didn’t you expect the fan base to respond negatively to Matt Shepard and the duo of Kirk Gibson and Jack Morris?  People just don’t respond well to change. But FSD and the Tigers were right in staying local with their decision.

Like Mario Impemba, Matt grew up here, and grew up a fan of the Tigers.  Mario graduated from State while Matt was a Chip (Fire up!). Both realized their dreams when they took on the play-by-play role in a great baseball city.

It is a dream job. And Shepard will prepare himself to be great.

When he took over at the end of last season, Matt did quite well considering everything. He had his thumb in plenty of pies, and added the Tiger gig to his already full plate. Many fans decided to form an immediate and negative opinion on Matt and his performance.

Of course they did.

Don’t give anyone a chance to succeed.

Strike the man down from the get-go.

Sorry, but this is a good hire. I have no question about it. Shep is a talented announcer and given time to prepare, which he had no luxury of having in September, he will grow.

Additionally, it sickens me to hear people constantly ridicule Kirk Gibson. His battle with “Parky” has been admirable. And that should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind as they spend time critiquing him.   Instead, what people concentrate on is Gibby’s monotone voice and how boring he sounds. That is the kind of depth (or lack thereof) we get from the fan base, and it is disappointing to say the least.

Gibson gave us so many memories during his playing days in Detroit. But he also rubbed people the wrong way.  However,  this is a man now battling a disease hell-bent on beating him down. And he doesn’t need senseless and shallow fans insulting his abilities as an announcer; a job that must be incredibly tough to master.

This is where I don’t mind the Tigers’ allegiance and loyalty. I applaud them for sticking with Gibby. It will be his decision how long he wants to continue in the booth.  Keeping him engaged helps him. It strengthens him. And as fans, we should put our selfish needs aside and commend Gibby for how much he is fighting in the face of adversity.

Would you expect anything else from him? I didn’t think so.

If I read any more about how boring the broadcast is going to be with Shepard and Gibby and Morris, well then, fans have completely overvalued the team that held the jobs before them. They were as milquetoast as they come.

And milquetoast is not what you get from Jack Morris. He adds a bit of spice and edge to the broadcast. He is not afraid to be critical and will not fawn over the Tigers; something that Mario and Rod did continually.

I plan to wipe the slate clean and be ready to give this team a fresh start. And when the 2019 season is done, I firmly believe that people will feel differently about the hiring of Shepard and the familiar roles of Gibby and Jack.

Only the closed-minded ones will continue to complain.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

REWRITING HISTORY

By:  Holly Horning

You know how they say that given time, our perception of a President will change based upon history and the comparison with his fellow brethren? The same is true with baseball owners and GMs.

Let’s start with the case of Mike Ilitch. To many today, he was beloved. But back in the ‘90’s and early 2000’s? Er, not so much. In his first 14 years of ownership, the Tigers had below .500 records 13 of those years. Including 3 years of 100+ losses that included a record-breaking one the team is still trying to live down.

But then he started to spend and fans loved him. The Tigers started to contend and all was right with the world. Fans got spoiled from all the splashy signings and a roster filled with stars.

And it stayed that way mostly until 2015 when he released GM Dave Dombrowski as the window for winning was starting to draw to a close. And Mr. I’s reputation stayed largely intact until the rebuild started impacting the team and fans started questioning how much the owner was at fault. It’s tough when your favorite players go on to wear other uniforms, especially when they didn’t achieve the desired goals.

We read now how much Mr. I and Dave bumped heads. How Dombrowski had to navigate the poor signings forced upon him by the owner. We questioned the signings of Prince Fielder, Jordan Zimmermann and others which resulted in multiple players being moved from their normal positions in order to accommodate a new star. Not something most GMs would entertain doing.

We wonder how wise Mr. I’s decision was in filling the team with stars. Did his marketing strategy to put fannies in the seats override and/or clash with the priority of winning it all?

And the biggest question of all…..How much blame for not winning that ring can be placed upon Mike Ilitch?

For some, his reputation has come full circle.

Many may not even have considered this until GM Dave Dombrowski took his new team, the Red Sox, to the World Series in just his third year. When someone can’t meet the goals for 14 years with one team, but can do it quickly with another, you have to think about the factors – and people – involved.

When Dombrowski came to the Tigers in the early 2000’s, he was considered the savior – in comparison to those he was replacing. He quickly broomed much of the Front Office and brought in many of his former employees from the Marlins.

Five years later, the Tigers started to win – and win big. Fans were enamored of Dave for his signings and spectacular trades.

But despite a couple of World Series appearances, and a number of division titles, he could never get it done. The bloom started to come off the rose for many right about the time Brad Ausmus was brought on board.

And it was telling that with his second 3-year extension, Mike Ilitch had zero meetings with Dave during his last contract year. In most cases, if you can’t do the job in 14 years, you’ve been given more time than most others would have been given.

The criticism about Dombrowski started to gain traction. He was criticized for not building a bullpen, for not having enough defensive muscle – and who can forget, hiring a rookie manager with no managerial experience whatsoever to take a team with their World Series window closing.

But Dave’s star is rising once again with his work in Boston. He’s now done everything he was criticized for in Detroit. And he finally won that World Series ring. Twice now with 2 out of his 3 teams.

And you have to question why he was able to win two World Series with the Marlins and Red Sox and not with the Tigers.

So naturally, we now have to ask how much interference Mr. I contributed. How many signings did he force on Dave? Did he only want to spend his money on stars instead of investing in relatively boring relievers who would save games in the playoffs?

We also have to ask which one of the two were responsible for those monster contracts and extensions given to Fielder, Zimmermann, Verlander – and Miggy. Contracts that now serve as albatrosses around the rebuilding neck. Contracts that have created immense inflexibility and resulted in fire sale level trading and non-tendering of most of the recognizable faces left on the team. Creating a situation that is painful to fans and now generating bad feelings towards both the former owner and GM.

And now, there is Al Avila. Reviled at first for the perception that he stole Dave’s job. Now, disliked for all of the disappointing trades and tearing down of the team. He’s got the hardest part of the job. A painful, unglamorous duty of demolishing the product and quality before he can rebuild.

But what if Avila’s strengths are what the Tigers need the most? His strength is in scouting and he’s the first GM in decades to care about the farm system and rebuilding it. He was the first to push for analytics and is expanding the department on a yearly basis.

Maybe he is the guy who will finally take the Tigers into the 21st Century.

There is nothing splashy about his work. There is nothing we can currently point to and get excited. Unlike Dave, maybe Al has more steak to his former boss’s sizzle.

Only time will tell.

In the meantime, Mr. I’s reputation will continue to change as the Tigers go through their growth pains and potentially a new owner takes over.

Dave’s legacy will also change as he continues with Boston and potentially gets them another ring.

This rebuild, if it is indeed a real and timely one, will tell us more about who these 3 men really are. And it may not be what many fans currently believe.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

By:  Kurt Snyder

The Washington Nationals certainly made an effort.  And they may find that not being able re-sign Bryce Harper might turn their fortunes.

Harper said ‘thanks but no thanks’ to the Nats when he turned down their offer of $300 million over 10 years. I don’t know if you are with me on this but don’t teams get nervous when they offer that kind of money to one player?

How many of these teams find themselves in a bind when what they thought was their missing piece doesn’t make the difference they thought?

And doesn’t it always seem to happen? I don’t know, maybe it’s the failures that get the most attention. All I know is that the Tigers felt they could not win a championship without Miguel Cabrera. They offered him a huge extension so he could eventually lead them to the top.

But now what? Well, we sit here in a rebuild and the huge anchor of a salary belongs to Miggy.

Would we do it all over again? Well, when you think about all the factors, I’m still not sure the answer is no.

When you sign or extend a superstar, yes, you are looking for them to be a huge piece that carries you to a championship. A lot of fans would say, stop right there.

That’s all that matters to them. Help us win it. I don’t care about anything else.

But when a team considers and then pulls the trigger on a player who will make $25-30M annually, there is a whole list of things, boxes to check, that say, yeah, this is worth it.


These are the factors (and feel free to add to them):

-Attendance

-Merchandise

-Brand

-Face of the franchise

-Entertainment

-Winning

-Championships


Mike Ilitch got another big taste of what stars can do for his franchise when he traded for Miguel Cabrera. Dombrowski obliged him by handing over a hand full of top prospects for Cabrera and it has been great for the Tigers.

But it’s the way the Tigers built the team around Cabrera that has led us to this day. The signing of more stars. The departure of the farm system in trades for high-priced stars. It’s how the Tigers built the team.

Piece by piece, they dismantled what they had because they ran out of money and ran out of prospects. And who remains? The man whom we couldn’t win without, so it seemed.

But let me tell you something. We need to check ourselves. It’s really easy to sit here today as a fan and say, ‘why did they re-sign him?’ Well, come on already!

This is Miggy. The future Hall of Famer. One of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time. One of the greatest Tiger hitters ever. It is easy to say, but not easy to do.

He was everything to the Tigers. He checked the boxes on all the factors listed but one. He impacted all of them. And he was brought back to help finish the job and check the last box.

The Nationals, who have been following the Tiger formula, have built a team capable of winning division championships but not much else. And they are starting to bleed. And yet, they still offered their star, the fan favorite, their face of the franchise, $300M.

It doesn’t appear that Harper will come back go back to the Nats and they may find out it was a blessing that he didn’t. He has yet to be the difference on that team. He has not brought them a championship. But he has been exciting.

He has checked all the boxes but one. That elusive championship.

So, answer me this. Isn’t it much easier to be rationale when you are talking about someone else’s star and suggesting that they would be better without him? You can take out all of the emotion and take a good hard look at Bryce Harper and his impact on the Nationals. Bottom line:  He hasn’t made the difference when it comes to winning.

The St. Louis Cardinals were another team who had that big decision to make with Albert Pujols. It was time to re-sign him to a big contract. Surely they would. He was the face. A future Hall of Famer. The fan favorite. Heck, he even checked that elusive championship box with the Cards. (Sorry to bring that up).

But they made that tough decision. They considered how crippling it could be to bring him back. And they let him walk.  An extremely tough call, but the right call. Maybe it was because they won that title. It’s much easier to let the guy go who indeed made the difference and finished the job.

Bryce Harper hasn’t. And sadly, neither has Miggy.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

It’s time again to hear from our readers!   Today is the day to let us know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Sunday 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.


Which Tiger acquisition has the best chance of bringing the team good value at the trade deadline?  Explain.

Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

THE SATURDAY SURVEY

 The Saturday Survey offers another way for readers to weigh in on a relevant topic.   So here is another poll to gauge the pulse of our baseball-lovin’ peeps.

As always, we welcome your comments, so please vote and then submit your reasons ( 4 sentences max!) for how you voted in the usual comment box.  Don’t forget to come back later and view the results!



Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.