SPARKY SAYS IT’S TIME TO TAKE A LOOK

By:  Kurt Snyder

When a veteran manager stays around long enough, they eventually become remembered for something they said – over and over again.

Jim Leyland was continually asked about momentum and he repeatedly denied its existence. He just didn’t believe in it from one game to the next. In his mind, “you’re only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher.” It’s a quote from Leyland that rings pretty true in most cases. If you don’t pitch, the chances of winning are low.

Sparky Anderson could really keep the quote machine churning. My personal favorite, “It’s my way or the highway.” And he continually declared things set in stone, when not long after the words came out, the decision did indeed change.

But Sparky also had a way of monitoring a season that we will always remember. He declared the 40-game mark as a point deep enough in the season to be able to make some determinations about the team and where they could be headed; a point where strengths and weaknesses could begin to be determined. It was a decent sample size to make an initial progress report.

In Detroit, the 40-game mark gets fans’ attention. They always bring up Sparky’s deadline for a personal progress report.

Every season, fans take a look at their team around this time. And well, I guess we should. Sparky after all, came to Detroit in 1979 and immediately declared that they would win a World Series within 5 years. He not only said it, they did it.

So when a veteran manager who has won a title, talks about when your team will win one, and delivers, well, fans are going to listen to what you have to say.

Where are the Tigers after 40 (now 42) games? What judgments can we make? Well, we could go through every phase of the team and grade them, but I won’t do that. I would like to take this 40 game mark in some different directions. These are the things that have caught my attention and questions we should ask.


What have you noticed about this particular Tiger team?

Certainly, the injuries have continued, but unlike other years, the team doesn’t seem to be using them as excuses for any failures so far. Not yet anyway. In fact, I think they have made it through the first wave in pretty good shape.

Given all the top-tier injuries, being around .500 and staying close in the race through 40 games is a decent accomplishment.


Are there any concerns with the starting pitching?

I believe, simply, that it’s important to have made it through the first 40 games with the same rotation. With the youth in this group, we have seen some bumps in the road, but they are weathering the storms, which is huge in their personal development.

There is a lot of learning going on. And each youngster acquired in those 3 trades in 2015, are at different levels of development. Fulmer is clearly the cream of the crop, while Daniel Norris continues to be touted as extremely talented but still trying to find consistency and command. Matt Boyd? He’s developing but has to eliminate those real bad games from his resume.

JV after the 40-game mark? Well, he’s back to throwing high 90’s fastballs when he wants to throw them. It is maybe the most remarkable story of the first quarter of the season, the fact that he raising the bar again. He’s just been an incredible pitcher for the Tigers.

Jordan Zimmermann is the one Tiger starting pitcher that we can still label as a concern. He is getting hit around pretty well, lacks a lot of command with his pitches and makes you wonder about his health. He is obviously someone we will watch closely as we move forward.


Who are the surprises up to this point?

1. Alex Avila. The Tigers, as you know, made very few additions to this year’s team. Alex was one and the move brought nothing but yawns and shaking of heads. Well, Alex? We are awake! And yes we are still shaking our heads.

2. JD Martinez. Who could have imagined a start like this when he returned from his foot injury? The Tigers will have a real decision to make if this assault on pitchers continues all season.

3. Justin Verlander. We had regained enough confidence in our ace that we were not at all worried about him continuing the same rate of production heading into this season. But to look even better and improve his velocity? Come on, JV!


Did I leave anything out?

Well, they are showcasing their power as expected.

Their outfield defense still struggles as expected.

They have developed some depth as injuries have forced them to give some guys from Toledo a shot, and they have delivered.

The bullpen?  It has settled down after the initial KRod implosion and subsequent dismissal from the closer role.

All things considered, the Tigers look to be a Wild Card team, at least for now.

BUILDING A WINNER (PART 1)

By:  Holly Horning

Don’t be alarmed Tiger fans. We are not turning our blog into Completely Cubs or Mostly Maddon. This despite the fact that today’s blog also comes on the heels of Kurt’s visit to Wrigley Field. It appears that Kurt and I both had Cubs baseball on our minds at the same time – but for different reasons.

The Cubs were on my radar even before last year. And the reason? Theo Epstein. And he is the reason why the Cubs were able to break sports longest championship drought.

Epstein is in his early 40’s and became a GM at the age of 28. In his first 9 years, he took his team, the Red Sox, to the playoffs 6 times in 9 years and collected 2 World Series rings. This from a guy who never played baseball, majored in American Studies and has a law degree. A guy who was grabbed as soon as he resigned from the Red Sox because ownership tried to implement a policy where their marketing department was going to have a significant say in which players were signed.

The Cubs new owners, the Ricketts family, did not hesitate in snapping him up as their President. And with his hiring of GM, Jed Hoyer (also in his early 40’s), the Cubs turned the corner. They took one of baseball’s most antiquated Front Offices and renovated it top to bottom. They turned baseball’s oldest, worst and most expensive team (in its division) into one of the sport’s best.

If you really want to know how serious a team is about winning, you have to scratch below the surface. Does the team put all its money into player salaries or do they spend on the structure that supports the players? The structure that fans don’t see? The structure that isn’t sexy and doesn’t put fannies in the seats?

In other words, does the team only focus on the flowers of the tree or do they focus on the roots which feed, maintain and create the flowers?

In stark contrast to the Tigers, the Cubs have an extensive Front Office. Many more departments including a state-of-the-art medical/training/conditioning program as well as a separate Sports Psychology division. A huge Research and Development office as well as a Strategy and Development Office that handles everything from analytics to education of all employees, including the scouts. And a focus that placed an emphasis on hiring employees with math and science degrees.


Epstein introduced so many new concepts that it’s impossible to describe each one, but here’s a quick summary of some of the more notable changes:

– Parallel programs specifically designed for their Latin players to successfully navigate the differences and expectations in language and culture.

– The introduction of neuroscience, and its off-shoot, neuroscouting, that go beyond the stats and gives weight to the intangibles.

– The latest technology system and tools that everyone, including the scouts, must use.

The Cubs’ Way – a 100 page manual every player is given on their first day and emphasized as the team’s “Bible” because it clearly outlines the expectations of how each player should address batting, fielding, mental fortitude and team-building skills.


But as with any great venture, it’s not enough to simply spend money and add some nice toys to your organization. Winning takes a whole lot more. Winning goes beyond the stats to consider other factors. The intangibles.

That is what the Cubs do better than any other organization. Scratch below the surface, and there’s a lot going on. A solid foundation. The right blend of people. And the necessary mindset that creates winners.

All interesting details that will be covered in Building a Winner, Part Two, next week.

And this is when we will naturally want to compare the Cubs to the Tigers. And in a year that is expected to bring changes in Detroit, this could be a very interesting analysis. Stay tuned…..

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, KUDOS & CONCERNS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

After 40 games (20-20), the season is in full swing and plenty of storylines have played out before our eyes during the first quarter of the schedule.

Saturday’s segment is a day to touch on as many issues as possible. Let’s see what Holly and Kurt have on their minds this week. They don’t share their Saturday topics and it’s only for the readers’ benefit. So, expect a wide array of thoughts.


HOLLY

QUESTION

Why does it appear that Cameron Maybin does not hold fond feelings for the Tigers? When the two teams last met, Maybin refused to do any interviews about his time in Detroit nor answer any questions about the team. And in his first game against them, he swiped 3 bases – making his own kind of statement.

COMMENT

On 2 different programs this week, 2 former Hall of Fame pitchers both mentioned that the Tigers will not drop the contracts of Anibal Sanchez and KRod given that the team has already released several pitchers and millions of dollars – for them to pitch free for other teams – and that Detroit will attempt to find some value from using them. One mentioned that he believed the Tigers may resort to the “nod and a wink” DL for KRod, in which they “find” something “strained” that requires “rehab” in the minors. He said this is done quite often in MLB which allows the team to try to salvage the reliever’s career and give him the ability to recover in a less-visible environment and under less pressure.

CONCERN

The Mets have come under heavy fire for the way they oversee training, conditioning and the overall health of their players. Repeated injuries to top players, not properly diagnosing injuries on a timely basis, failure to delay putting players on the DL, training methods, the staff’s credentials and track records, among other concerns, were identified. The terrifying part is that Tigers have the identical system and m.o., yet no one has questioned their system despite the patterns seen and the yearly injury excuse the team offers every October.


KURT

CONCERN

Oblique strains are nothing to fool with, especially when you are dealing with your franchise player. So, when it appears that Miggy is dictating when he can return to the lineup, it’s enough to make you nervous. I would hope that would not be his call, but at the same time, would it surprise you?

COMMENT

Even prior to Miggy’s latest injury, I wonder what ratio of work has been spent between the marketing of his new product and working himself out of his funk at the plate. I am sure he has a whole marketing team for his off-the-field Miggy Foods business initiatives and he just needs to write an occasional check as his sole responsibility. But I will be more comfortable when Miggy’s Bitbits start to take a back seat to some hit-hits.

COMMENT

Daniel Norris is obviously still trying to figure out how to be a major league pitcher. His struggles on the mound have not been consistent, they are expected. But, he is a battler and is clearly infuriated by the fact that almost every start consists of the same troubles with control, getting behind hitters, back-breaking extra base hits and high pitch counts before he is able to get deep into games.

OPEN MIKE!

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 now 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.


 Do you think Justin Wilson will remain the closer for the remainder of the season or do you foresee more changes?


 

 

 

 

 

 

WRIGLEY FIELD – CHICAGO’S CROWN JEWEL

By:  Kurt Snyder

I know, I know. This has nothing to do with the Tigers, but I had to share. Instead, I checked an item off my bucket list Wednesday night.

After a lifelong drought, I finally found my way to Wrigley and it did not disappoint. Of course, it didn’t hurt to visit the year after the Cubbies won it all after a 108-year break.

The fans were extremely enthusiastic, appearing to still be in the afterglow of last October’s fantasy-come-true.

Wrigley certainly had a charm, possessing many of the same attributes and qualities of Tiger Stadium and Fenway Park. You are just so close to the field. Even where I was sitting which was in the 400 level seating in the rightfield corner, you were still close; enough to feel engaged.

Comerica Park doesn’t offer that. You seem miles away when you are in the “cheap” seats and in general, I find myself distracted. The sight lines are poor. You lose track of the baseball and on and on I can go. But at Wrigley? None of that.

One thing I didn’t know about Wrigley? The bullpens are under the stands in left and right field. I had no idea! I need to start paying better attention.

One thing I did know, they are still manually changing the scoreboard just like they do at Fenway. It doesn’t seem like a big thing, but it is to me. I love the old charm that is preserved at these old ballparks; the parks that are still around.

It’s intriguing how Wrigley has mixed high-end, crystal clear HD images and video on a huge screen in left field and then in center, the same old green scoreboard, updated manually between innings.

Now it wasn’t all glitz and glamour either as on occasion, some liquid, still yet to be identified would occasionally find us from somewhere further up in the stands. I suspected beer but told my daughter they like to spray the crowd on occasion with a fresh aloe spritz to cool you down.

But I digress. So what caught my eye the most? It was all that seating on top of those buildings across the street from the ballpark. What an opportunity that has become, as you can call a number or visit a website if you are interested in actually sitting on one of those buildings.

What else? Oh, the golden balls on top of the foul poles. You tell me, have those always been there?

What about the baseball? Well, it’s a different ballgame in that outfield when balls are hit deep and players finds themselves close to or on the warning track. There is lots of shying away from those ivy-covered brick walls. I guess I don’t blame them.

Oh, and a successful suicide squeeze laid down by the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks. That’s right, their pitcher! Perfectly executed.

Oh, and 2 guys warming up for the ninth inning, not just the closer, Wade Davis. I guess Joe Maddon wasn’t worried about offending. Does Brad Ausmus know you can warm up more than one guy in the ninth?

And clearly, soon to be listed in the chronicles of “Something you have never seen at a baseball game,” Kris Bryant’s busted bat which flew backwards and got tangled high in the netting behind the plate after he sent a line drive to the glove of the Reds’ pitcher. It was a couple innings before they brought a huge ladder tall enough to scale and pull the barrel of the bat out of the netting. I can honestly say I have never seen anything like that before.

What else? Well it wouldn’t be a Cubs game without traditions. Take Me Out to The Ballgame sung loud and proud by the Chicago faithful during the seventh inning stretch, drowning out the video of Harry Carey leading the singing like he always used to do, was truly a highlight, but I never thought it would be, until I actually stood among the fans singing their hearts out.

And speaking of singing, boy can they belt out “Go Cubs Go!” at the end of victories! It’s quite the spectacle. The singing in combination with the dozens and dozens of ‘W’ banners held up all around the ballpark, is really something to experience if you haven’t seen it.

The thing is, Cubs fans are still celebrating, folks. They waited so long for a team to come together and finally win that title that they are going to enjoy every lasting moment while they have a championship-caliber team, which they do, despite their slow start.

I walked out feeling like I had gone home again. Watching the great game of baseball in an iconic stadium that so many just didn’t want to leave when the game was over. It was pretty magical on a warm and breezy night at Wrigley Field, despite the occasional ‘aloe’ spraying.

Oh, and Mr. Commissioner? Another 3-hour game, and it didn’t bother me a bit.

STUBBORN OR SAAVY SURVIVOR?

By: Holly Horning

Yesterday, we tackled the question of Brad’s decision not to move Victor Martinez down in the order. And once again, fans, not just us, pointed out that it was yet just one more example of Brad being stubborn or incapable of using his gut to determine when changes need to be made.

But what if everyone is wrong? What if there was actually another motive behind the non-action? Let’s explore….

A recent discussion on radio came back to me as I was writing yesterday’s blog. It was about the changing dynamics within a baseball team and all due to the money players are making. Money that gives them a bigger say in how things are managed.

Gone are the days when the manager made the most money and ruled the roost. He told players what to do and they feared being punished by getting on his bad side. The manager had the power and also the ability to provide feedback to ownership about which players should return – and who should go.

But with the significant ascent of players’ salaries over the past decade, came another benefit. Power and influence. Their paychecks exploded while managers saw a drop in theirs. There are less than a handful of managers who make $3 million or more per year with the rest making somewhere around or below $1 million. Including Brad.

Owners, having made these huge investments, certainly want these expensive players to remain happy. Thus it’s become habit for these players to be consulted on all major team issues that would impact them. New players, moving positions, play time, current players – and their managers.

Wonder why certain beloved players have been traded away? You’d be surprised to know that it wasn’t necessarily due to talent or contract. You’d also be surprised to know that some of the stars flexed their financial influence and gate draw to hasten some of these departures.

Matt Williams, former manager of the Washington Nationals, was fired after the 2015 season primarily because he had lost the confidence of his players. A number of their top performers met with ownership to express their unhappiness. And Williams is only one of a number of managers who have fallen victim to the preference of players, not owners or GMs.

Earlier that year, we witnessed the ongoing saga of Victor Martinez and his inability to swing a bat, let alone run. The man was in obvious pain, not producing a single hit at the plate and obviously a slam-dunk candidate for the DL. Yet, he continued to play and fans screamed. Everyone wondering why Brad did not do the deed. It was obvious to everyone.

Then, the infamous midnight meeting between Mr. I, Dave Dombrowski, Brad and Victor happened. And lo and behold, VMart went on the DL within hours. Sometimes it takes a village, especially when it includes the owner.

Couple this with other multiple examples of players who didn’t want to listen to Brad. JV’s epic rants on the mound and dugout trashing when he didn’t want to leave the game. David Price’s disappearance and AWOL status in the middle of a game. The dugout disagreement with Rajai Davis. Most of them examples of the expensive stars of the team unhappy with the manager’s decisions and pushing back.

You would think that the Tigers had learned their lesson when they hired Alan Trammell, a first-time manager to take over a team that was starting to add star power. Players, like Pudge, savaged him. And when you make an insane amount of money in comparison to your manager, have star status and are one of the team’s faces, it’s really not a fair battle, is it?

The Tigers have once again put themselves into a similar position with their expensive stars and newbie manager, Brad. If you are the owner, who are you going to back? The guy with the long-term mega-millions contract or the guy on the short-term, “inexpensive” contract? The marquis player who may just not perform as well because he’s unhappy and may spread his unhappiness in the clubhouse? I think we know the answer to this one.

So while the early days may have been about Ausmus having to earn his street cred as a manager, this year is about something else. His contract. His single-year option was picked up late last year without the typical 1+ year extension.

This is it for Brad. At the All-Star break, he officially enters lame-duck status. That is the drop-dead deadline for managers to be signed for the coming year. Without a new contract in the second half, players historically tend to start ignoring the guy running the ship.

All of this helps explain Brad’s “non-move” moves over the years even though most thought they were warranted. Allowing both Miggy and VMart to avoid the DL despite the obvious signs. Not benching Upton during his horrific slump until very late in the season. Not removing KRod as closer until it was painfully clear. None of it easy. None of it done cleanly. And all of it still open for review according to the manager.

All done because Brad was stubborn? Maybe not.

Maybe he ignored necessary moves in order to keep clubhouse harmony. Maybe he delayed making changes for as long as possible in order to maintain the goodwill between himself and the players. And maybe he knew that some of these players were so focused on themselves that they wouldn’t consider putting the team above their own interests.

And maybe he knew that in a power struggle, he would lose.

Maybe he did what he did because he wants a new contract. By all accounts, the players like Brad. He is a likeable guy. And when you like someone, chances are that you want to bring them back.

But the real question is whether the team respects their manager. Liking and respecting are two different things. Respect involves a much higher bar and making some tough decisions that players may not like but end up understanding why they need to be made.

Are the Tigers capable of putting aside their personal interests for the good of the team? That’s a bigger question and one best reserved for another day.

TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

It’s been a much talked about topic since spring training. The Tiger lineup. The JD Martinez injury. And the question about whether VMart should stay in the cleanup spot when all things come together.

But with JD back in the fold, nothing has changed. So, of course, we have a question to address.

As is the norm, Kurt and Holly have not shared their answers to the following question; the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.


Do you support Brad Ausmus’ explanation of why he will continue to slot VMart into the #4 hole in the lineup?


KURT

Brad has proven us all right once again.  Out-of-the-box thinking is just not part of his DNA.

I do understand where he is coming from to a point, before the argument gets weak and falls off a cliff. I guess (and I am really trying hard here) I am glad to see he has not only thought about why to keep things the way they are, but stands behind it unwaveringly. I just don’t happen to agree with it.

Right smack in the middle of his justification for the status quo is a complete lack of confidence in his middle of the order power hitters and their ability to give Miggy the protection he feels he has with VMart.

These are accomplished hitters who are in the lineup every day. Left-handed or right-handed, pitchers have quite the challenge whether Victor hits 4th or 6th.
With his power numbers down, I can assure you, Victor is far less menacing batting behind Miggy now that the ball is staying in the park.

How many teams in baseball have a cleanup hitter with one home run? With JD back and already hitting homers, this is Brad’s opportunity. And it’s not just about the power. JD has demonstrated his ability to hit .300. You would be replacing a player who hits .300 with, well, a player who hits .300.

And Justin Upton? Well, with him hitting so much better and displaying an early power surge, moving him to 5th gives the Tigers more speed behind Miggy with the guys with the most power (outside of Cabrera).

JD and his ability to hit the ball the other way, in the gaps and out of the park, will do just fine protecting Cabrera.

Victor moving down and batting #6 moves a pretty gifted hitter behind Justin Upton, lengthening the lineup in the most intelligent way possible.

Brad may have his reasons for why Victor should bat cleanup.  But they just don’t carry much weight any longer.


HOLLY

There is nothing more infuriating than being stuck behind the slowest car on the highway – and in the left lane. You can see it’s a nice car and capable of doing fine things, but it’s the driver holding everyone back. And other cars, much faster, are piling up in back of it and unable to reach their destinations efficiently.

That car, of course, is Victor Martinez with Brad Ausmus as the chauffeur and caught behind them are Justin Upton and JD Martinez, to name a few. And station-to-station baserunning continues to be alive and well even after the horrific experience of watching the 2013 playoffs with Prince Fielder serving as VMart’s doppelganger.

Sure, Brad has a point about inserting a LHB into yet another RHB-heavy lineup. But there’s not much to protect at the moment given Miggy’s extended slump. But he tries to prove his point using the later innings as his example when the opponent will determine which relievers to send in. Once again, he’s planning the game out in advance – putting the focus on the final destination instead of the journey and how to get there successfully.

In the last 2 of 3 games, VMart was left on second base, unable to score. And in 3 games in which the Tigers scored a whopping 5 runs total and lost 2 of the 3. Let’s face it; Victor is officially the slowest runner in baseball which now requires herculean efforts by his teammates to get him home safely.

And that is exactly the point. Upton, JD and et al now have more pressure placed upon them to not just hit, but to get extra-base hits because that is the only way Victor will be able to score. Even doubles are risky if VMart is on second base. Why have hitters of this great caliber if you aren’t going to maximize their potential and get the desired results? Put any other runner on second base and a single will much more likely score them.

Isn’t it a better rationale for Victor to sit lower in the order so he’s the one responsible for advancing more runners – instead of other hitters trying to advance him? This is an issue that not just fans are questioning, but many of the former players, managers and GMs in the national media are adamant about the changes needed.

But there may be something else going on – an issue I’ll continue to address in Wednesday’s blog.

IS JV OUR JETER?

By:  Kurt Snyder

As Snyder kids, we were brainwashed into thinking New York was indeed the Evil Empire. Dad taught us to hate the Yankees. For years, he showed his disdain for them and his sons followed suit.

But after Dad’s career with the Tigers was over, he took a break from following baseball in Detroit and began following the Yankees. As a family, we could never understand it as he had spent his entire career despising the Yanks.

Maybe in the back of his mind he waited for the day to finally admire the team who first drafted him. The team his father turned down because he wanted Dad to finish high school. So Dad had to have had a special place in his heart for the Yankees. He just never showed it. Not until he was done working for the Tigers.

As he began to appreciate the great teams managed by Joe Torre, he grew to love the play of Derek Jeter.

And why not? Any fan blessed to be able to follow the Yanks during the Jeter area, well, let’s just say, they had it pretty good.  But even if you just plain love the game, it’s hard not to admire Jeter and his fabulous career in New York.

And Derek was like Teflon. For his entire career in New York, Jeter kept it clean. The media, not for lack of trying, never found anything to pin on him. No steroids, drugs of any kind, alcohol, domestic abuse, legal issues, nothing. Clean as a whistle.

He was Captain America. And not since Al Kaline, have the Tigers had anyone remotely close to having someone like Derek Jeter rule baseball in Detroit; for his entire career.

Sure, Miggy will someday have his number retired after he waltzes into the Hall of Fame.  But he’s not a career long Tiger and he’s had his bouts with alcohol and brushes with the law as a result. But he is a slam dunk Hall of Famer.

He won’t be an Alan Trammell or a Lou Whitaker; career-long Tigers we have been banging the drum for, in an attempt to promote their entrance into the Hall. All campaigns have failed, as they have never been able to turn the heads of the voters.

So who is Detroit’s Derek Jeter? Who is that life-long Tiger who burst onto the scene with stardom, represented the city well every step of the way and has the potential to be a slam dunk Hall of Famer?

It’s Justin Verlander. JV is our Jeter.

Derek Jeter wowed the city of New York his entire career. Hard work, dedication and clutch performances made him the king of Yankee baseball. And they won. They won big all through Jeter’s career.  Five World Titles.

Unfortunately, the Tigers won’t reach those heights before JV hangs it up. But he has been brilliant in a Tiger uniform, dazzling fans with no-hitters and pure pitching dominance. It didn’t come without hard work. There were down years. But they have only served as motivation for JV.

The more failures he had, the harder he worked to get back to what we have been used to seeing since he broke onto the scene in 2006. And it’s hard to envision JV playing in another city – the only variable that, if he left, would take him out of this conversation.

JV should be our Jeter. He should be a first-year qualifier for the Hall when all things are said and done – as a life-long Tiger.

What could possibly hold him back? Well, in a nutshell … run support. JV has an endless list of well-pitched games deserving of victory that have cost him wins.

Run support is probably what cost him the Cy Young Award last season, when it seemed Rick Porcello took home the prize based on having more victories and a boatload of run support that helped him get there.   JV’s dominant numbers, aside from victories, downright dwarfed all the other candidates.

So pick it up, Tigers, because if JV is left out in the cold someday, run support may be the reason.

He has a chance to be our Jeter. But he’s going to need some help.

EVERY DUGOUT NEEDS A MOMAGER (2017)

Happy Mother’s Day! As a tribute to how moms can make baseball better, please enjoy this year’s newest installment of the importance of momagers. And don’t forget to call your mom today……

Totally Tigers

By:  Holly Horning

In advance of the upcoming Mother’s Day, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer an homage to all moms. I wrote my first ode last year and unbelievably, it was one of the most requested topics from readers to bring back. And given the team’s current troubles, well, let’s say that moms are needed in baseball more than ever.

And just maybe, there might be a few who are capable of closing out the 9th inning…..

It is way past due for baseball to recognize the contributions of moms because without us, teams wouldn’t have anyone to draft, trade or sign. And if you’re still not sure, I’m here to tell you that moms can run a dugout much better than a manager. We are, after all, momagers. And most of us work for nothing. Think of the savings and value added, owners!

Like the…

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QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, KUDOS & CONCERNS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

After 33 games (17-16), the season is in full swing and plenty of storylines are playing out before our eyes during the first 6 weeks of play.

Saturday’s segment is a day to touch on as many issues as possible. Let’s see what Holly and Kurt have on their minds this week. They don’t share their Saturday topics and it’s only for the readers’ benefit. So, expect a wide array of thoughts.


HOLLY

COMMENT

Despite their repeated poor performances, Anibal Sanchez and KRod continue to be part of the Tigers’ roster. Taking into consideration that their performances have continued to decline given their history, loss of velocity and the natural ageing process, it is even more telling about what the organization is thinking by keeping them. These two are here to stay (unless they completely flat-line) because of a combination of salary, Chris Ilitch’s decisions, lack of depth in the minors/no viable replacements and what releasing 4 pitchers and $42 million in salary says about the organization and their bad business decisions.

KUDOS

To you, dear Totally Tigers readers. You have been the bomb over the past week with tons of thoughtful comments and long conversation threads spread over the week’s blogs. This is exactly what Kurt and I wanted for this site – a forum that encourages dialog especially among those with great thoughts but wanting to avoid the nastiness running rampant on the major established sites. It’s great to see our wish of having readers talk with each other instead of simply trying to talk to people. Thank you!

QUESTION

When was the last time the Tigers actually had real competition for roster spots and actual play? Competition is a really good thing and we can see players stepping up their game in order to win more playing time. McCann/Avila, Jones/Adduci/Collins, Collins/Mahtook, Romine/Machado and the ever-evolving sacrificial system known as the bullpen – which may never be fully resolved.


KURT

CONCERN

After missing the first 33 games of the season having injured his foot during spring training, the hope and frankly, the assumption, was that JD Martinez would be 100% when he returned. But the description of the status of his injury falls short for sure and is fairly disappointing. “Sore and achy” is not what we wanted to hear about his foot when JD returned to play.

KUDOS

All indications point to a future for Michael Fulmer that will inevitably anoint him as the ace of the staff. Certainly, as long as JV is around, he will have a lot to say about that, and looks to be nowhere close to giving up the throne. But Fulmer’s performance so far this season and of course last season’s Rookie of the Year campaign, bodes well for the Tigers as there is little question about who will lead this staff for many years to come; and who better to emulate than JV himself.

KUDOS

It’s been a great week for Jose Iglesias defensively, as game-after-game he has made all the plays. It’s been the kind of defense that has highlighted his quickness, both with his hands and his feet. Athletically, he is as good as it gets at the shortstop position, something the Tigers cannot take for granted when they determine his future beyond this season.