QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, KUDOS & CONCERNS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

Spring training is officially here! And that means only one thing…… Time to return to Questions, Comments, Kudos and Concerns – a wrap up of the most important observations of the past week. Observations that will have a lingering impact upon the Tigers and MLB.

Our 2 bloggers have identified their choices and they only have 2 sentences for each of their picks. As always, they don’t share before publication so let’s see how different – or similar – their selections are.


QUESTION

HOLLY

Multiple journalists have pointed out how the Tigers’ new manager and coaches run things so very differently from their predecessors given all the data, off-season workouts, players’ homework, and a plan already in place before spring training even started. It really makes one wonder what the past 3 years were all about and exactly what, if anything, the former manager and his coaches brought to the table.

KURT

Will this be the year that Franklin Perez makes some tangible progress and begins to realize the potential we envisioned when he came over from Houston? What’s encouraging is how Hinch has put some thought into how he can help the club the best and maybe the soonest, which could include using him in the bullpen.

COMMENT

HOLLY

What a difference a competent and communicative manager makes when it comes to Miguel Cabrera. Not only has Miggy bought into Hinch’s strategy and (new) structured workout plan, but he has also opened up extensively to the press multiple times now in some excellent in-depth interviews after earning a reputation for being difficult and refusing to speak to reporters for over a year.

KURT

The players have shared plenty about their coaches as both Chris Fetter and George Lombard have gotten rave reviews for their drills and enthusiasm. What’s different is how A.J. Hinch shelters the members of his staff, allowing them to do their jobs without having to interact with the media.

KUDO

HOLLY

Scott Bream has become the MVP of the Front Office, starting first with his suggestions to several players last year which significantly improved their offensive games. But it’s his best friend status with A. J. Hinch that should be credited for bringing the former Houston Astros manager to Detroit and making Scott a game-changer for the organization.

KURT

Miguel Cabrera has often been criticized by the Tiger fan base for falling short as a leader, but when he admits that he needs to be more of a leader than he has been, it’s encouraging, just as long as it is not short-lived. Miggy admitted that he needs to talk more and share his knowledge with his teammates; let’s hope it’s genuine because he has so much to offer as a future Hall of Famer.

CONCERN

HOLLY

Alan Trammell has been coaching the SS position in spring training to the roster of players who are looking to take over that position. However, more than 1 reporter said that Tram (age 63) played the position far better than any of the young players which made me wonder if I should laugh or cry about their observations.

KURT

Daz Cameron, near the tail end of the 2020 season, did some special things, giving us a little taste of the potential that he may reveal as he develops. But here he sits still dealing with an elbow injury that he sustained weeks ago.

What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?

–        A national writer has put together his all-time list of great outfielders?  Are there any Tigers on it?

–    The attendance may be limited but this guy was sitting front and center at yesterday’s game.

–      Did we need to know this about Jim Leyland?  

Get your Totally Tigers fix beyond this blog.  Follow us on Twitter where we post and dissect additional new content every day, the Totally Tigers way!  Simply enter “Totally Tigers” in the search box at twitter.com and click on “Follow.”


Totally Tigers loves your comments but please be aware of the rules for posting.  Comments may be edited and responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum number of 3-4 sentences.  All rules may be found by clicking on the link at the top of the page.

 

 

 

20 FEBRUARY THOUGHTS

By:  Kurt Snyder

The month of February starts it all for our game of baseball. A new season kicks off with pitchers and catchers reporting to camp and we start thinking about our team.

The rest of the players begin to show up and they are all in the best shape of their lives. The weather is perfect and the sound of the turtle is heard in our land.

Ok, well enough of all that. Gives us 20, Kurt!

Let’s take a hard look at February and wrap it up before we step into what should be a fun-filled March. Topics will be random and all over the map, the way we like them, and holdovers remain important for thoughts that need more time to simmer.

Let’s get rolling! Please enjoy another monthly compilation of 20 Thoughts – for February.


1. The month got interesting really quickly when pitchers arrived and started praising the communication skills of the new staff, especially pitching coach Chris Fetter.  Daniel Norris started with a vocal endorsement for Fetter and Matthew Boyd professed that he would run through a wall for A.J. Hinch. Not bad for initial impressions.

2. February was a strange mix when it came to free agent signings.  It’s fair to say that we have never seen so many players signed to 1-year major league deals and 1-year minor league deals with invites to spring training. There were so many just here in Detroit that fans became irritated. Imagine that.

3. When I think free agency and the month of February, I think of Trevor Bauer and the deal he struck with the Dodgers. I will never warm up to monster deals for less than the best players in the game. The staggering dollars handed out to one player was unnecessary for a team fresh off a title. Don’t ask why I care;  it just bothers me.

4. Julio Teheran was one of my favorite pitchers while he was with the Braves.  So I know how good he was back in his early National League days. But it’s been awhile since he has had success. A one-year minor league deal is about right because it’s a shot in the dark.

5. Is anyone surprised that the training staff has yet to realize any changes? Do you see it being addressed before spring training? Do you see it being addressed at all? (Holdover – we have made it to spring training and nothing. And I’m pretty surprised.)

6. Jake Rogers had better be the backup catcher this season. I understand how 2020 impacted the development of minor league systems league-wide. But if Jake emerges from Spring Training holding only a bus ticket to Toledo, the skepticism will reach a new high. (Holdover: Or maybe worse.)

7. Speaking of ‘returns’ on the Justin Verlander trade, I found it interesting that A.J. Hinch mentioned the possibility that Franklin Perez may be a candidate for the bullpen (when ready, of course). The bottom line is that he needs to pitch. A lot. And he hasn’t, so one step at a time.

8. I feel like we spent an agonizing amount of time in February complaining about the rebuild and professing how nothing is going to improve. And we do it without believing in any possibility that the trajectory could change. We cannot discount the impact the new staff may have on this team and our young talent.  There are signs that the culture has already changed.

9. The Central Division is about to be taken over by the Chicago White Sox and maybe for several years. Their rebuild has been impressive and the Sox are now beginning to reap the benefits. (Holdover: There are polls out there projecting otherwise which I don’t understand. The White Sox, from what I have seen, are clearly on the rise and ready to begin a run. Their success in 2020 was just a small taste of what is to come.)

10. Here is a thought. We have criticized the Tigers for not tearing down their organization from the top down. They have skipped important steps in the interests of rebuilding their team. And now they have a manager who knows how to win. In listening to Hinch, I have no doubt he made some demands when it comes to his coaching staff and some of the infrastructure that needs some sprucing. Is it possible to rebuild this organization from the manager up instead of from the top down to the manager? (Holdover: This one is going to stay for a while, at least heading into spring training when we will have more of an idea on how Hinch has influenced things. Update: It’s March 1st and AJ and staff have already made good first impressions in camp).

11. Nomar Mazara. I am going to make a prediction about a player whom I consider to be the sleeper of this team when it comes to his potential offensive impact. No, I don’t mean his production is going to put us to sleep. I just feel that at age 25, he hasn’t seen his best days yet. The Rangers invested so much time in him prior to him even stepping foot in the state of Texas. And in just 4 seasons, they said that’s enough. Not buying it.

12. A.J. Hinch is already making us question the kind of camp that Ron Gardenhire used to run. Or even Brad Ausmus before him. Because we are finding out from the players themselves that they have been introduced to drills they haven’t been exposed to before. It is really pretty sad the kind of big league operation the Tigers have been running around here. March is going to be more noteworthy than we realize when it comes to preparedness and structure in Lakeland.

13. Miggy answers emails. Miggy sends video of workouts. Miggy arrives at camp early. Miggy gets a tailored plan for the spring. Miggy has goals for 2021. Does this sound like Miggy and how the Tigers have been treating him? Under Ron Gardenhire, Cabrera had his own workout regimen. Under Hinch, they have a plan for him every day and every week.

14. The Tigers have been close to the top of the league in strikeouts over the last few years. And we aren’t talking about their pitchers. It’s been frustrating as fans to watch and realize how poorly coached our hitters have been when it comes to their approach at the plate. So much of what AJ Hinch has had to say about his managing philosophy has been impressive. And what stands out is what he believes the Tigers need to develop offensively. He said we need a “team-based identity.” Music to our ears for sure. (Holdover: I believe we should see a tangible difference when the season rolls around, especially if the Tigers are able to bring in more disciplined hitters. Robbie Grossman checks the boxes when it comes to Hinch’s hitting philosophy and will no doubt hit leadoff when April arrives.)

15. The first pitch of the first game of the spring? A 450-foot home run by Willi Castro. That’s one way to shake off the cobwebs!

16. Matt Manning says he is going to hear his name announced at Comerica Park on Opening Day. That would really say a lot about the kind of spring training that Matt thinks he is going to have. He may be someone who will benefit from an expected 6-man rotation. But which starting pitcher will be left out?

17. I am sure by now that Chris Fetter has had a conversation with each and every one of this pitchers. And I would bet that outside of the opportunity to coach under AJ Hinch, that Chris has been champing at the bit to begin working with the young arms the Tigers have been grooming. Yes, we know the names, but getting Michael Fulmer over that last TJS hurdle has to be viewed as a great opportunity for Fetter. It’s an opportunity to get Fulmer competing for a return to being the ace of the staff. Ideally though, raising Fulmer’s stock and trade value is probably the most important thing. (Holdover – looking forward to seeing the influence that Fetter will have in helping Michael to begin to emerge again and just help his team win baseball games.)

18. If you have missed Jeimer Candelario and the time he has spent with the media on Zoom calls, here are the CliffsNotes. He is excited and we will go from there. Look it up and you will see what I mean.

19. Hinch seems intrigued by Niko Goodrum. Until now, I thought he was overvalued. So many of our players could be viewed as utility guys and Goodrum, because of his inconsistencies at the plate, could not be trusted with an everyday position. But he thrived most when he was playing all over the field. And I see him as a Marwin Gonzalez-type player, someone you see in the lineup almost every day, but used all over. I think Hinch will go back to using him in that Swiss Army knife role, while working on his offensive woes and capitalizing on his Gold Glove defense. (Holdover: here is something to consider. If Niko still doesn’t hit in 2021, is he really that valuable?)

20. We haven’t experienced the annual canned interview from Chris Ilitch yet. I am hoping I miss it so it doesn’t ruin my positive attitude about the return of baseball and my hope that springs eternal.

Yuck, sorry about that.

What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?

–        What did A.J. Hinch bring with him to spring training?

–      Who is speaking out about the integrity of the game?  You will be surprised!

–      What is A. J. Hinch not afraid to face head on?

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OPEN MIKE!

Readers on deck to take the wheel! Here is another opportunity to comment on the Tiger topic of your choosing.

Today, we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can really get those juices flowing. Comments can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.  So pick a topic and let us hear from you!  What’s on your minds?

What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?

–        Is there a difference between AJ Hinch and Ron Gardenhire when it comes to how Miggy is being handled this spring?

–      It’s been more than 6 months since Cabrera did this.  What does it suggest?

–       Cabrera has goals for this season – but how close will he come?

Get your Totally Tigers fix beyond this blog.  Follow us on Twitter where we post and dissect additional new content every day, the Totally Tigers way!  Simply enter “Totally Tigers” in the search box at twitter.com and click on “Follow.”


Totally Tigers loves your comments but please be aware of the rules for posting.  Comments may be edited and responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum number of 3-4 sentences.  All rules may be found by clicking on the link at the top of the page.

THE SATURDAY SURVEY

The Saturday Survey offers the opportunity to weigh in on a relevant topic.   So here is a poll to gauge the pulse of our passionate readers.

Today, we center the discussion on storylines for spring training and which ones have your attention.

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!


This Sunday, the Tigers play their very first spring training game.  For the next 5 weeks, what one storyline will you be watching with the most interest?

What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?

–        Tiger shortstop appears to have a step on the rest – actually it’s not a good thing.

–       Miggy milestones could be in reach if only …

–       A year without baseball.  And the Tigers may benefit.

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RAPID FIRE

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

Spring training is officially on! So let’s start addressing it and share our initial observations. Two bloggers, 5 questions and only 2 sentences each to explain our answers.
As always, Holly and Kurt don’t share their answers in advance so let’s see how similar or different their responses are.


What are your first impressions about the Tigers’ spring training?

HOLLY

For the first time, the manager and coaches came prepared to hit the ground running and players showed up having completed homework assigned during the off-season. Combine that with reports of at least half a dozen showing up early and reporters remarking about the high energy and impressive hands-on work by the coaches and I’d say that this is a really positive first impression.

KURT

Since there haven’t been any games played, the attention all goes to the new manager and his messaging so far this spring.  A.J. Hinch is one of the most refreshing field generals the Tigers have had in a long time and it seems the team is really soaking it in.

 

Do you expect any of the rookies we didn’t see last year make the roster this spring?

HOLLY

If any are going to make it, they are going to be pitchers, but then again, we now officially know (courtesy of the Mariners’ now-former President) that teams go to great lengths in order to delay the service time clock. Time will tell if the Tigers wish to avoid that increased scrutiny or if the molasses-like rebuild will once again tell them to delay as long as possible because the roster is still nowhere near a competitive level and they don’t want to waste the players’ best years.

KURT

There is a sizable gap between the rookies we saw last year and the next round of players still yet to present themselves as candidates for the big club.  Right now, I don’t know who it would be in order to say yes, but any who do come up will be responses to injuries, not necessarily making the team from the get-go.

 

Spencer Torkelson is playing third base exclusively. Was moving him from first base to third a good idea?

HOLLY

Torkelson actually started out as a third baseman so it’s not as far-fetched as we originally thought, so I’d leave it to Hinch to determine whether this can be a successful transition. The Tigers are following the analytic evidence that finding a top quality 1Ber is much easier and more cost-efficient than a player for the hot corner so the rationale seems to be that they will fill the more difficult position first and then possibly trade for someone to man first base later.

KURT

It’s a tough call because I would think the Tigers would want him working at a position that will get him to the majors as quickly as possible. On the other hand, they must really respect his ability to play other positions and will insert him wherever when he seems ready offensively; after all it is his bat that will get him to the big club.

 

What is the biggest difference you’ve seen this spring training? And how do you read this difference?

HOLLY

Unlike last year, no one (save a couple starting pitchers) is yet penned into any position with every opening to be earned during this spring training. It’s as if the team is taking a dry-eraser to the entire roster or tearing the foundation down to the studs and rebuilding from the ground up.

It makes me really want to question what the Tigers have been doing these past 3 years if the analysis of each player is being completely redone to find the best fit. Was the purpose to simply exist under the “tool” Ron Gardenhire and disguise it as a “rebuild” and does the true rebuild only start this year now that A. J. Hinch is managing?

KURT

Player enthusiasm for a new season has been replaced by enthusiasm for the new leadership in the dugout. The players seem to love the new style, attention to detail and high level communication by the staff and I’m anxious to see how it translates on the field.

It speaks to a new culture that was communicated first to the media and then waterfalled down to the players.  You would like to say it has the potential to make believers out of the team, but this is baseball and talent will eventually have to shine through over the course of 162 games.


What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?

–      The Tigers have a lot of them, but what will they do with them?

–      It’s hard to shake what could have been for the Tigers, even 7 years later.

Get your Totally Tigers fix beyond this blog.  Follow us on Twitter where we post and dissect additional new content every day, the Totally Tigers way!  Simply enter “Totally Tigers” in the search box at twitter.com and click on “Follow.”


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SO YOU WANT TO BE THE MANAGER?

Once again, readers get a chance to make their own decisions about the Tigers.  So You Want to Be the Manager? offers you that opportunity.

The segment puts our readers to the test in determining how they would handle decisions as the skipper.  The Tigers have plenty of pitchers to choose from when they make decisions about their rotation.  Here is your next assignment.

(Comments may be extended for this segment, but please do not exceed 8 sentences in your response. )


There are several candidates for a 6-man Tiger rotation should they decide to start the regular season with one.  Boyd, Turnbull and Fulmer seem to be on everyone’s list as locks to anchor the rotation.  And of course, the wild cards are Skubal, Mize and Manning, who certainly could join the rotation at some point this season.

But there are more to consider.  You are the manager and you need one of them (not listed above) to help in the bullpen.  Which one would help in the pen more than as a starter?

What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?

–      The rankings are out for MLB’s payrolls by team.  Where do the Tigers rank in money spent?

–      Most teams have cut payroll this year.  How much did the Tigers cut?

Get your Totally Tigers fix beyond this blog.  Follow us on Twitter where we post and dissect additional new content every day, the Totally Tigers way!  Simply enter “Totally Tigers” in the search box at twitter.com and click on “Follow.”


Totally Tigers loves your comments but please be aware of the rules for posting.  Comments may be edited and responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum number of 3-4 sentences.  All rules may be found by clicking on the link at the top of the page.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING

By:  Holly Horning

The scandals within baseball over the last month all have one thing in common. Loyalty.

Loyalty that allows people to become blind to the bad behavior of others. Loyalty that refuses to punish those who break the law or trample on the rights of others.

Loyalty that ignores employees who do or say bad things and even stands by silently as those same employees get promoted despite their actions. Organizations like the Indians, Mets, Cubs – and now the Mariners – who take a vow of silence about long-standing problems all because they try to protect the guilty parties out of loyalty.

And the organization that leads the industry – MLB – has that same blind eye.

So naturally, the topic of loyalty has been front and center these days.

In better situations, loyalty can be a very good thing. It represents a principle of supporting someone – or an organization – through thick and thin. An unwavering commitment during the good times and bad.

It’s always good to know that someone always has your back. With exceptions, as we are currently seeing in MLB.

But there can be such a thing as too much loyalty. And that happens when there is a systemic organizational problem or serious issue that needs to be addressed – but won’t because of loyalty to the people or to the culture that allowed it to happen. Loyalty to the person or organization becomes a priority over making things better.

And that’s when you have a problem.

With the Tigers, there is also an issue of loyalty – but of a much different kind than the examples we are currently seeing in the baseball world.

While most MLB organizations have changed personnel more frequently and brought in outsiders to help their teams develop and grow, the Tigers have stayed relatively unchanged. A significant number of employees have stayed together for 25-30+ years. Some going all the way back to the Expos with Dave Dombrowski and then following the road to the Marlins. From there, some made a side trip to Pittsburgh but they all ended up in Detroit.

Even when Dave Dombrowski left Detroit, we read that one of the first acts by the team was to nail down all current Front Office employees so they wouldn’t leave.

Until A. J. Hinch came along, you’d be hard-pressed to find employees from other organizations. No Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Rays, Cardinals or other top teams. But then again, Hinch did play very briefly for Detroit and he is best friends with Scott Bream, who was certainly the catalyst for getting Hinch to come to the Tigers.

Al Avila took that same well-worn path from his hiring by Dave Dombrowski with the Marlins. Then, he was hired by Dave Littlefield to come to the Pirates. After Avila’s arrival in Detroit, he later hired Dave Littlefield to come join him. (Reunited and it feels soooo good…..sorry, I couldn’t resist adding this.)

Jim Leyland, of course, was with the Marlins and previously, Pittsburgh. He’s been responsible for hiring a number of his friends and keeping them employed with the Tigers for years. Most of his coaches, including Lloyd McClendon, who played and coached for him with the Pirates.

When JL moved to Detroit, he brought Lloyd with him. First as a bullpen coach, then as hitting coach and his acting manager (before the bench coach position was adopted). After McClendon was fired from Seattle, he returned to Detroit as the Mud Hens manager then back in Detroit the very next year as the hitting coach once again. There was no doubt that Lloyd was here to stay and that an opening in Detroit would be found for him before the next season.

After that, the bench coach job became his once again after he was moved out of his hitting role – due to the Tigers’ last place finishes in most offensive categories for several years running. And when Ron Gardenhire departed abruptly, Lloyd became the interim manager.

McClendon had 7, count ‘em, 7 jobs with the Tigers. Twelve years. Three different managers. And in MLB, the average lifespan of a coach is 3-4 years.

But Lloyd was not the only friend brought in by Leyland. Ron Gardenhire is one of JL’s best friends. In fact, years ago, Leyland told him that he wanted Gardy to eventually manage in Detroit. Gardy had been unemployed for 2+ years before Detroit “scooped” him up. You know the rest of the story……..

Then there’s Gene Lamont, Leyland’s BFF and minor league roomie going back 55 years. Both a Tigers and Pirates alum.

After his firing from the White Sox, Lamont returned to Pittsburgh and inherited the managerial job from Leyland the next year. After he was fired, his replacement was Lloyd McClendon.

Do you sense a pattern yet?

But it’s Lamont’s stint with the Houston Astros where this cozy little club expanded ever so slightly.

Gene became tight with Brad Ausmus.

So tight that when Jim Leyland decided to retire from managing, he was tasked with helping find his replacement. Lamont pushed for Leyland to recommend Ausmus for the job. And yes, you know the rest of this story, too.

And maybe this also answers why the Tigers made such a strange hiring of a rookie manager for a top contending team.

It was a smart move by Lamont because it essentially assured him of keeping his bench coach job. That’s what you get when you help someone get that managerial job.

I could go on and on about all those friendships, all those years together, etc. but you get the picture.

And mind you, bringing people with you to another organization is not a bad thing. It’s known talent and it can be smart move.

That is, if these people are in demand by other organizations and bring top skills to the table.

The problems with Detroit’s hirings are multiple. The majority of them had Tiger roots. Or they came from just a couple other teams like the Marlins and Pirates. Not exactly teams known for their winning ways.

Almost everyone the Tigers hired over the past 15 years or so weren’t poached from other teams. They were unemployed, recently fired or retired. That’s not the way you build a top team.

While the best organizations in MLB were stealing top management talent from the Rays, Cub and Dodgers, the Tigers were plucking friends off the unemployment line. Or convincing them to come out of retirement.

And when they were finished with Detroit, back they went. No other teams wanted to hire them. Neither Ron Gardenhire nor any of his trusted coaches have had any other job offers since leaving.

And as a result, all of these executives and coaches who came to Detroit and stayed are much more advanced in their years than those employed by the majority of other teams. We’ve got a solid number of GMs and Presidents of Baseball Operations in their 30’s and 40’s in baseball. The Tigers? Until this year, most of them in their mid-late 50’s and 60’s. Even one in his late 70’s.

And when the people running your organization are older, it means that you are among the last to keep updated in the game. Among the last to adopt analytics, or understand the importance of a solid bullpen, for example.

It’s not a dig or even ageism. The older one gets, the harder it is to learn and adopt new ideas and technology. Especially in a young man’s game. They become more set in their ways and less willing to entertain ideas that are not part of their toolbox.

When you have a group of old-school guys who have been together for literally decades, you end up with a group behind the times and very insular in their approach. It’s a group that all thinks alike and doesn’t entertain new ideas easily.

Theo Epstein has stressed the importance of fielding an organization of employees who all come from different places. Different ages, different backgrounds, different clubs because that’s how you see the big picture. That’s how you bounce ideas back and forth and don’t get stuck in the same rut.

Consider the rebuilding process. The Astros tore down their Front Office in preparation for a rebuild. They brought on the best and the brightest from all over baseball. Hiring away top talent.

It took them 4 years from start to finish. Four years……

And the Orioles, also rebuilding, started off by brooming their entire organization the very first year and hiring the top talent away from Houston.

The Tigers are in year #5, #6 or #7 depending upon when you thought the process began. And they still have a long way to go.

Other than their head of analytics, it’s the same group of people. And, unsurprisingly, it’s going at a snail’s pace. Many fans would actually say that they’ve yet to see any real improvement.

What are the chances they’ve adopted some or all of the cutting edge strategies and techniques that the top teams in the sport are using in order to get ahead?

Slim.

You see, too much loyalty creates a stagnant work environment. An insular work environment. A secure work environment.

When you are too loyal, you don’t see the problems of others. Or if you do, you’re not going to do anything about them.

Too much loyalty prevents employees from being accountable for their work even if they are doing a poor job. Just look at the coaches who had multiple years when their entire team was sitting at the bottom of offensive and pitching categories. In most other cities, they would have been long gone.

But in Detroit, they either stayed or were just moved into other coaching jobs.

And it’s the same deal within the Front Office. It doesn’t matter how many bad trades were made. Those involved still have their jobs.

The same goes in the broadcast booth. No matter how bad Kirk Gibson is behind the mike, the Tigers will never remove him. He’s part of that tight little group.

And so are a number of other employees including those who address the health, well-being and training of the players. Some of them were part of that core group in Miami. Don’t expect them to leave anytime soon.

But this is why so many are embracing the arrival of A. J. Hinch. He’s new blood. He offers hope.

He comes from a top team and considered to be a highly talented manager. And he brought in youthful, new-think guys. Guys who don’t have a Detroit resume. Guys who come from a top college baseball team, the Dodgers, White Sox and the Nationals.

Guys who were actively sought out by other teams trying to hire them away from top organizations.

Guys who are considered to be among the very best at what they do.

When was the last time we could say that about any personnel within Detroit’s organization?

Let’s hope that Hinch and his coaches are able to expand their influence, not just within the roster, but within the overall organization as well.

What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?

–        The Tigers have pulled out all the stops to help this player.

–       A former Tiger star turns down an offer from a former GM?  Who and who?

–      How fast?  Satchel Paige described how fast.  Now that’s fast!

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QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, KUDOS AND CONCERNS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Spring training is officially here! And that means only one thing…… Time to return to Questions, Comments, Kudos and Concerns – a wrap up of the most important observations of the past week. Observations that will have a lingering impact upon the Tigers and MLB.

Our 2 bloggers have identified their choices and they only have 2 sentences for each of their picks. As always, they don’t share before publication so let’s see how different – or similar – their selections are.


QUESTION

KURT

It’s been quiet on the Christin Stewart front for the Tigers. I know it’s super early, but all the attention when it comes to projecting roster spots for outfielders does not include him, not even coming off the bench – so just wondering if he is indeed a dead-man-walking when it comes to making this team.

HOLLY

In his recent train wreck of a speech, Mariners President/CEO Kevin Mather confessed that they practiced service time manipulation with their top prospects, which the MLBPA claims is an industry-wide problem and one of the biggest issues surrounding the upcoming CBA. Are the Tigers also guilty and will we see everyone come up to Detroit this year who checks all the boxes of being ready?

COMMENT

KURT

It doesn’t matter what the topic is when listening to AJ Hinch talk about his team and his culture and his overall plan for spring training. He is so engaged during his sessions with the media and he just really seems to enjoy just talking baseball.

HOLLY

I cannot remember a single Tigers manager who has been as eloquent as A. J. Hinch when he is interviewed. The man is an excellent communicator with everyone, which studies show to result in improved leadership, performance and team cohesiveness.

 

KUDO

KURT

I tend to not want to make a big deal out of players arriving early for camp, but when it includes Miggy, you have to take notice. I think AJ Hinch knows how important it is to form a bond with Cabrera and entertaining his desire to play some first base I am sure had plenty to do with him arriving in Lakeland early this year.

HOLLY

Back in 2019, the Tigers refused to disclose how many players, if any, showed up early for spring training. This year, despite the additional Covid requirements, more than half a dozen showed up early, including Miggy, demonstrating that these players are excited and buying into the new management team.

CONCERN

KURT

AJ Hinch wants Jake Rogers to concentrate on his strength, which is his defense behind the plate, as it is very important that the team reaps the benefits of a fine defensive catcher. But all eyes will be on Jake when he gets to the plate this spring and if it is business as usual once again, the rumblings will begin about another young Tiger from the Verlander trade becoming a bust.

HOLLY

Payroll currently sits at $71.9 mill which is the lowest since 2005. The focus on the Tigers signing multiple MLB players to minor league contracts, instead of giving out Major League ones, points to a priority of spending as little as possible even though 2 huge contracts came off the books last year.

What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?

–        The Tigers have determined what Spencer Torkelson’s position will be for the spring.

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Totally Tigers loves your comments but please be aware of the rules for posting.  Comments may be edited and responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum number of 3-4 sentences.  All rules may be found by clicking on the link at the top of the page.

 

 

OUR GM AND MANAGER: A WORLD APART

By:  Kurt Snyder

It was incredible the day that we found out that the Tigers were talking with A.J. Hinch about being the next manager in Detroit. It was even more incredible when he signed and it was official.

The Tigers had beaten everyone to the punch, so it seemed. There were other teams in need of a new manager, but Detroit picked up the best available.

I think at the time I described Al Avila as being shrewd. He had done something we had never experienced before since he had become the GM. But in the end the circumstances far outweighed his perceived ability to out-duel someone for a player, or in this case, a manager.

A.J. Hinch wanted to be a manager again and there were only a couple of choices. The White Sox never called and the Tigers did. They called the minute they were allowed after the World Series.

Did the Tigers sell themselves to Hinch? Or did Hinch just simply grab the only job available? Trust me, you are never going to hear A.J. answer that, at least not in the way you would hope.

But it doesn’t really matter anymore. He is here and the Tigers are lucky to have him. And Hinch has admitted that he and Al Avila have formed a partnership. 

What?

After hearing that, I thought it was a good sign. Because Hinch has a winning pedigree and having him involved in decisions in lockstep with the GM when it comes to putting this team together would bode well for the team and the future.   

Frankly, this organization needs A.J. to have a bigger role than a manager would ever have.    So the news of a partnership with the GM was extremely uplifting.

But Avila and Hinch are so different. I could listen to Hinch talk all day. He has so much baseball savvy and intelligence, you can see how his message can resonate with his players.

And that’s important. We have heard players like Matthew Boyd gush about Hinch as a communicator; a master motivator who conveys a consistent message about winning.

That consistent message can go a long way in developing a bond between the manager and his team.

But shouldn’t the GM be transmitting that same message?   Of course!

Take a look at these 2 quotes. One from Al Avila and the other from A.J. Hinch.


“We’re definitely looking for more pitching as we speak,” Avila said. “Whether it be a major-league contract or a minor-league deal with a camp invite. We’re definitely looking. For pitching in general, but one more starter would be ideal.” – Tigers GM Al Avila

“I’m not going to look my players in the face or be quoted saying we need more pitching. That’s not showing confidence in the group that we have.” – Tigers Manager A.J. Hinch


Before we jump all over this and lose our minds, let me say something.

Hinch understands the team needs more talent, but he can’t say it. And Avila obviously knows it, too. But if he is going to talk about it, he needs to say it in a way that is consistent with the mindset his manager is trying to instill in his team.

I don’t interpret these quotes as any kind of a dispute between Avila and Hinch. Many publications could twist this into something really juicy if they wanted. But that’s not the intent.

The intent is to point out that our GM needs to be a little smarter, which by the way always seems to be an issue. He talks when he shouldn’t and the things he says are not thought out. For some reason he feels he owes the press answers and he really doesn’t.

He has no obligation to tell the media that he is looking for more pitching, even if it’s asked of him. But there he is telling everyone, while his manager must sell confidence in who he has on the roster – right now.

Try selling that when your GM tells the world something different.

All we want is for the 2 of them to preach the same message. And I think that’s what A.J. Hinch wants as well.

I don’t care what your job is with this ball club, just say the same things. Promote the same position. Learn the art of saying nothing, because sometimes when you say too much, you undermine what your new manager preaches.

It’s easy to get excited when you listen to A.J. Hinch, knowing that he brings high intelligence and innovation to the managerial position.

And then there is our general manager.

The end.

What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?

–        A backflip after a save?  Why not.

–       Not since 2005 have the Tigers sniffed a $71.9 team payroll, but…

–      A birthday for JV followed by another for a Tiger Hall of Famer.

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Totally Tigers loves your comments but please be aware of the rules for posting.  Comments may be edited and responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum number of 3-4 sentences.  All rules may be found by clicking on the link at the top of the page.

 

 

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.


In considering Rick Porcello as a free agent,  is his value enough to warrant a return to Detroit?

What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?

–        Players are already buying into the new management.  Guess who arrived to camp early?

–       Happy Birthday to former Tiger Justin Verlander.

 Get your Totally Tigers fix beyond this blog.  Follow us on Twitter where we post and dissect additional new content every day, the Totally Tigers way!  Simply enter “Totally Tigers” in the search box at twitter.com and click on “Follow.”


Totally Tigers loves your comments but please be aware of the rules for posting.  Comments may be edited and responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum number of 3-4 sentences.  All rules may be found by clicking on the link at the top of the page.