FROM AGENT TO INTERLOPER

By:  Holly Horning

Read any article about the latest free agent leaving their home team for a mega-buck contract and there is always one name mentioned in the article and the social media threads. Scott Boras.

While Boras is undoubtedly a brilliant businessman who redefined the sports agent industry, he is not a fan favorite. Part of this is due to his record of allowing only 3 clients in 35 years of practice to re-sign with their current team. If Boras were a baseball athlete, his salary (commission-based) would rank within the top 50 highest paid players in MLB.

What is not universally known is that the connection between expensive marquee players and winning the World Series is tenuous at best. Out of all the mega-contracts Boras has produced, only two clients went on to help their teams (Cardinals, Yankees) win the World Series. Pssst! Someone needs to tell the Nationals.

Speaking of which, Boras now has 8 clients playing for the Nats with the signing of Max. Four of them will most probably be gone after this year, greatly reducing this team’s above-average success in the future. But eyebrows are being raised over Boras’ conflict of interest over the perceived favoring of Max over his other client, Stephen Strasburg, who now is reported to have asked for a trade.

Certainly, the negotiations over Max’s contract last year left a bad impression with Tiger ownership and brass. Fans and media were surprised at Dave’s statement when negotiations failed, but if you had watched over the past couple of years, Dave Dombrowski was issuing a pre-emptive strike before Boras could implement what amounts to manipulating fans and bullying teams through his sound bytes.

Several weeks earlier, Boras referred to the Blue Jays as “cheap” because they did not sign his player. And his “pot shots” at other teams are only increasing. Currently, he is dissing the Chicago Cubs over a 12-day delay (impacting free agency, a new contract and Boras’ commission) in promoting his client, Kris Bryant, by telling baseball fans that the Cubs are pretending to be winners and misleading their fans. Yesterday, Commissioner Manfred admonished Boras and said this “was none of his business.”

And in 2012, the Diamondbacks were upset over his alleged advice to Stephen Drew – to delay a return from rehab, so he could remain healthy and earn a long-term contract with another team. If it happened once, what are the chances it could happen again?

In social media, many fans have questioned Max’s strict pitch count, especially when he still seemed able to deliver results. Boston Red Sox players were stunned when Max left that playoff game – several on record claiming that he was still effective. And at least one former Tiger pitcher roundly criticized Max leaving a playoff game when there was still gas in the tank and a bullpen waiting to implode.

Boras appears to increasingly go beyond his job description as an agent and now encroaching into team management territory. He’s also advocated for MLB to move the World Series to a bidding system as well as lobbying for the draft to be eliminated all together so amateur players may sign with the highest bidder.

In 2012, Boras had 5 Tigers as clients. Today, other than Andrew Romine, there is only Jose Iglesias. Could it be that Mr. I and Dave Dombrowski feel they’ve been burned? Could there also be a concern that some MLB players are being advised to place their needs ahead of the team’s priorities? It just may be a blessing in disguise that the Tigers do not have a Boras client in his contract year playing in 2015.

ADVICE: QUESTION THESE 2 ABOUT THE ANSWERS TO THESE 3

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

There is something very unique about a blog partnership including 2 very different people, living in 2 different states, with 2 unique writing styles and backgrounds. Oh and by the way, we have never officially met.

So, it’s a bit of a surprise that we have gotten this far and even though we appear to be at different ends of the spectrum in so many ways, we do share some (not all, just some, well a few) of the same opinions, and want to test it with this little exercise.

Below are 3 questions we agreed on; a victory in itself. And we wrote our responses with no knowledge of the others. Trust me, we didn’t cheat. It wouldn’t have been fun if we did. So, hopefully you will find the results quite interesting.

So enjoy, because we did.


1 – As we face the new season, which three Tigers are of greatest concern to you?

KURT

Until the Tigers cut the cord, Joe Nathan will continue to be one of the greatest concerns. A 90 mph fastball in combination with inconsistent off speed stuff is not a good combination for any pitcher, much less a closer.

Jose Iglesias looks to have cleared all the hurdles and is ready to roll. But wouldn’t we all like to see an injury free season from him before we declare him good?

And lastly, until this little mishap he had with the cramp, I did not have a concern with Justin Verlander. I would like to think it’s nothing, but until I see him on that mound again pitching effectively, he will be a concern.

HOLLY

I’m going to ignore Miggy, VMart and Nathan, for obvious reasons, and go with Tigers who must step it up and prove themselves. The first is JV, who must show that last year was due to injury, not decline.

Ausmus needs to show tangible proof that he learned many lessons from last year and has the ability to grow and be confident in his decisions. He also needs to be a leader – his arguments with JV last year and this year’s examples of Miggy and VMart overruling his decisions worry me.

James McCann is the short and long-term hope of the team and fans as this will be Avila’s last year. He’s got to have a solid year defensively and prove to have a reliable bat.


2 – Which two new Tigers do you expect to make major contributions? 

KURT

I think if this season ends the way we would like, we will look back at the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes as being one of the biggest differences. Adding his bat and speed to this lineup along with improved defense in left field is just what the doctor ordered.

And yes, Iglesias is a new Tiger in my eyes and I am really excited about him. We have a dynamic, athletic and defensively gifted shortstop, anything else he contributes will be icing on the cake.

HOLLY

Shane Greene could represent the resurgence of great Tiger pitching. He’s young, has nasty stuff and is a ground ball pitcher, a perfect fit for Comerica with Iggy, Kinsler and Gose behind him.

And although not technically new, I am excited to finally see this year’s Gold Glove shortstop, Iggy, return to flash his substantial style in the Tiger infield. How many highlight reels will he make?


3 – Which two new Tigers do you feel will be disappointing?

KURT

I try not to get too caught up in spring training performance, but when we got Alfredo Simon, I thought it was a move for the bullpen not the rotation. My fear is that he will end up in the pen, just for all the wrong reasons.

Secondly, hitting will be everything for Anthony Gose. My fear is that he will end up being a utility guy / late inning defensive replacement, which is what he will be if he doesn’t hit enough.

HOLLY

I’m not comfortable with Alfredo Simon’s uneven, sometimes unnerving, performances in Spring Training. My gut tells me that at some point this season, he’ll move back to the bullpen.

And the word “disappointing” seems to go hand-in-hand with the Tiger bullpen. I have to add Tom Gorzelanny who has the scary stats of “6,6,6” in innings pitched, hits and earned runs.


Well, after seeing the results, our answers were just similar enough, yet different enough, to give this another go next week at this time.  And feel free to send us questions you would like us to answer.   We would be happy to give them a whirl.   If not, we will dream up some new ones.

 

TIGERS IN A PICKLE WITH NATHAN AS CLOSER

By:  Kurt Snyder

So the weekend is over, and I have completed my fantasy baseball draft for the upcoming season. How’s my team look? Not so hot. (Note to self: lay off the whiskey during the draft.) But I made a decision with my second to last pick. I needed another closer. And lo and behold, who was sitting there? Joakim Soria.

Yeah you guessed right, Soria is now a Pickle Dog. Wait, he’s what? Well let me explain. I found a great name for my fantasy team 4 years ago after taking a trip to a minor league game in Charleston, South Carolina. The River Dogs, a Single A affiliate of the New York Yankees have a unique menu item, a pickle dog. They take a big pickle, slice it open like a bun, scrape out the inside, and add cole slaw and a hot dog on top. That’s right, the pickle is the bun! Who wouldn’t want one of those?

So the Pickle Dogs were born and now Joakim Soria is a proud member of my fantasy team. But Kurt, he’s not a closer? Well people, give it time. Brad will get there, some day, I hope.   But he’s running out of time.

There are decisions that need to be made this week. And by far the most important one is who will be our closer when the Tigers break camp. Ausmus insists there is no competition for closer, which insinuates that Nathan will be the guy. But Brad seems to be ignoring what he see before his very eyes, a dominant Soria and a regressing Nathan.

It again reminds me of the Baltimore series as he ignored the awful performance of his bullpen one day and followed it up with the same strategy the next. And once again this spring, regardless of performances that continue to concern us, Nathan is still the closer, with no indication that it will change.

Surely Brad and Dave have discussed their performances and I suppose you have to give both pitchers until the end of spring to make their case. But aside from an injury, I don’t see what can change in a week. The handwriting is on the wall.

If Soria has been as good as Ausmus suggests while Nathan continues to regress, then what’s the issue? Why bring them both north expecting some incredible transformation?

Who knows, maybe Nathan will find lightning in a bottle this week, everything will come together and both he and Soria will leave camp with confidence and their roles clearly defined. Yeah, I know, that’s about as likely as an 80 degree Opening Day, it just ain’t gonna happen.

So Dave, Brad – there’s this guy who appears ready to seize the closer role and if you’re interested in crossing off things to worry about, here is an opportunity. It’s time to get the elephant out of the room. Don’t wait and potentially sacrifice games in April or even May. Let’s save games instead. Joakim Soria is the Tiger closer in waiting. Logical heads must prevail, because we have a pennant to win.

And most importantly, the Pickle Dogs will appreciate the 5 points every time Soria gets a save.

PUTTING SPRING TRAINING IN PERSPECTIVE

By:  Holly Horning

The big question that comes up every year in the baseball forums is whether spring training (“ST”) records are important. Some say “yes”, others argue “no”, but I would say “It depends.”

While ST in its simplest definition is a time for players to regain their in-season form and determine the roster, it also serves as the occasion for the team to forge bonds and strategy with new or returning players. For the Tigers, there are at least 8 of these players who are expected to head North in a week.

It’s also a time for teams to address the issues that plagued them last year – base running, defense and fundamentals. For pitchers, it’s a time for them to try new pitches and perfect others. For hitters, it’s about getting their timing and swing back by Opening Day. For a manager just entering his second year, it’s hopefully the opportunity for him to add to his skills with a chance to safely experiment.

On a less visible note, ST is the perfect time to evaluate the young and unknown talent for the short and long-term future. Conversely, it’s also the time each team scouts each other’s established and minor league talent in preparation for moves later in the season. For the GM, it’s the chance to see what holes still need filling.

So how do we evaluate the Tigers who are second to the bottom in wins/losses after the Giants?

In the record book, I would put an asterisk next to this year because the team has been without their two star hitters for the majority of ST. But I’d also look at how the team performed offensively without them. Is there enough talent to cover for them?

And that’s where the importance of patterns come in. There were plenty of games where the Tigers scored a lot and only two games in which they were shut out. I think we’re safe here.

But what about other patterns?  Were there pitchers who kept improving – or vice versa? What about the ability to get runners in from scoring position? Are the gloves faster and more accurate? Other than the Bullpen, there’s a lot of information here to which we don’t have access. I’d leave evaluating those patterns to Brad Ausmus – who will never give us those answers (at least the real ones).

But don’t get too comfy in your assessment. The Tigers, since 2010, have had winning ST finishes. Their last losing season was in 2009 (by just 2 games) – and we all know how that year ended. Before that, losing ST seasons were a regular occurrence before 2006.

So are Spring Training results really important? Let’s hope not, for history’s sake.

KUDOS, COMMENTS AND CONCERNS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

As the weekend has arrived and we approach the final week of spring training, we thought this would be a good time to touch on a few things we like, just plain want to mention and something we may be concerned about.

We will let the lady go first, so here’s Holly’s kudos, comments and concerns as the season opener draws near:

KUDOS – Miggy and VMart proved what great hitters they are. Sidelined until this week, they appear to be up-to-speed in no time with their increasing hits/game and two home runs.

COMMENTS – Iggy’s bat may take a while to awaken given his year-long sabbatical from baseball, but he appears not to have a lost a step in the field. I am so excited to be watching this human highlight reel again!

CONCERNS – Will Brad be more of a manager and less of a buddy to the players? After Miggy ignored his no-slide rule and VMart talked Brad out of leaving a game, just how much influence does Brad have with players this year?

Since Kurt happened to see Holly’s KC&C’s before it was time, it’s only appropriate that his be different. But there is little doubt, comments on a certain manager would have been similar.

So Kurt’s kudos, concerns and comments are as follows:

KUDOS – Joakim Soria has had a tremendous spring and if not for one Joe Nathan, he would be the clear-cut choice for closer if we didn’t already have one. But do we have one?

CONCERNS – Sorry but changing the order seems appropriate given the kudos above. I think Joe Nathan needed a good spring to really show he still has something left to give and enough to continue to close games. Since Brad appears like he will leave camp with Nathan as closer, the leash better be so short, his knuckles touch the collar.

COMMENTS: With all the consternation about who should bat second, I will continue to bang the drum to move Cespedes up in the order and into that spot at least for something creative to try. Any bit of creativity would be welcomed from our dear manager.

VMART STRUGGLED, WHY WOULDN’T IGGY?

By:  Kurt Snyder

When Victor Martinez tore his ACL prior to the 2012 season, it was a major blow to the Tigers’ championship dreams.

It was what we know today as the event that triggered the ultimate panic move as Illitch engineered the signing of Prince Fielder. The ‘win now’ approach was officially in full swing.

In the short-term, the move was hard to argue with. Prince didn’t have his best season, but he replaced VMart’s production enough for the Tigers to make a trip to the World Series.

In the spring of 2013, Martinez returned. But he was a shell of the man we signed as a much coveted free agent. It took what seemed like forever for Martinez to warm up and really contribute offensively. Other injuries along the way steered him off course as well. And even with all of that, it was almost miraculous how he was able hit .301 and knock in 80+ runs.

By the last month of the season, the Tigers finally had their fearsome threesome, who they figured would eventually lead them to a championship. But as luck would have it, Cabrera’s injuries took the starch out of the offense, and Prince was nowhere to be found to fill the gap. But going there again is way too painful to rehash even one more time.

Let’s focus on Victor and keep in mind how difficult it was for him to come back and regain his stroke after a year off. He has always been a gifted hitter, but extended time off can rust even the most priceless of metals.

It’s for this reason that we will have to have extreme patience with Jose Iglesias and any expectations we have for him at the plate, must be guarded. Now of course, the canvas is a lot smaller when it comes to Iglesias. Comparing these two guys as hitters is, well, something you should never do.

Victor Martinez is one of the best hitters in the game. And Iglesias? He’s not. But don’t for a minute think that I live in the camp with all the skeptical fans that say Iggy can’t hit at all. I don’t put him in the same company as a Andrew Romine or a Don Kelly. Those guys will give you very little at the plate. But Iggy, because he is so gifted athletically, will grow as a hitter. He has shown the ability to get on base and he has speed. He will get you hits with his legs. And I think he will be a threat at some point, but not right away.

What we have seen from him in the spring at shortstop is supremely encouraging, and that glove and athleticism will win games for the Tigers. Defense wins in just about every sport, and baseball is no different.

So all you folks out there who are already of the mind that Iggy can’t hit, well you are going to spend a fair amount of the first part of the season patting yourself on the back with a lot of “I told you so” talk. He is going to struggle to find it. He talked about it this week, how getting his timing back at the plate has been his biggest challenge.

If a hitter like Victor can struggle to get it back, you sure as heck can’t expect miracles from Iggy.

But I’m easy. I’m just excited to finally have this tremendous talent back on the field. Never mind for now what happens at the dish.

THE PRICE PROBABLY WON’T BE RIGHT

By:  Holly Horning

Last year, we were besieged with media reports speculating on whether our star pitcher was going to stay with the Tigers. A former Cy Young Award winner at the top of his game who surely would command big bucks. Thank goodness that is over and we can get back to watching the game without that distraction.

Oops, my bad. Or as Yogi Berra would say, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Fast forward to 2015 and things haven’t changed. We have another star pitcher and Cy Young winner whose contract expires after this year. Once again, the media wolfhounds are pressing their stories of intrigue and angst. And once again, fans hope the star pitcher will stay.

But he won’t. Sorry folks, there are just too many reasons that support both sides parting ways by the end of the year. Let’s explore just a few of the supporting issues:

CURRENT MARKET VALUE – The dollar range was set this winter establishing the minimum and maximum dollars for a quality pitcher. Jon Lester set the minimum salary at $150 million while Max signed for $210 million. Price is conceivably the better pitcher (and a highly prized rare lefty) and depending upon which pitchers are available next winter, he could earn in the neighborhood of Scherzer. Expect Price to earn something at least in the $180+ million range.

FREE AGENT MARKET – Next winter’s free agent market for pitchers is considered by all to be of epic proportions in terms of numbers and talent. Currently, there are close to 40 pitchers who are eligible and a significant number of them who are young and talented. Expect Dave Dombrowski to work his magic at getting a solid up-and-coming youngster, or two, for a fraction of the Price. Pun and capitalization intended.

AGEING PITCHERS – If David Price stays with the team, the Tigers will have a minimum of 3 of their 5 starting pitchers over the age of 30. JV will be 39 or 40 at contract’s end, while Anibal will be 38 – 39. Price at age 29 (and 30 later this season) will expect a minimum 6 year contract to take him to at least 36 years old. This year, the Tiger rank #3 in possessing the oldest pitching staff at an average of almost 31 years old. Most teams (24) have an average starter age in the mid-late 20’s.

PITCHING PIPELINE – The Tigers currently have a handful of promising young pitchers, like Lobstein, in AAA who have also experience the Big Show. Expect Dave to keep a close eye on them this year with hope that they prove themselves as starters for next year. It was often thought that acquiring Price last year was a strategy for replacing Scherzer but also buying one more year for the youngsters to develop. Young and under contract for years is the way to go, especially when you have a humongous payroll. Which brings us to…

PAYROLL COMMITMENTS – Nothing needs to be said about the Tigers having one of baseball’s biggest payrolls. But given potentially another $180 million for JV and $235+ million (including incentives and options) for Miggy, the Tigers have hit their quota of mega salaries, according to top sports economists. And half of their payroll is tied up in just 5 players. Taking on Price will severely mortgage the long-term future of this team.

Even though Price’s agent, Bo McKinnis, and the Tigers have initiated contract talks, they do not yet involve the exchange of numbers. Each side is feeling each other out and this will be a slow process. McKinnis will perform due diligence and ascertain a top market value for his client. And the Tigers will want to see how all their major and minor league starters perform over the coming months.

Both sides will keep the door open and see where this year takes them. Nothing’s going to happen anytime soon so it’s best that we all sit back and enjoy the show. That is, the one taking place on the field.

WINNING UNDER PRESSURE

By:  Kurt Snyder

Do teams operate differently depending on when they last won? It’s an interesting question I think. It depends on the city perhaps. It depends on the ownership perhaps. In some cases, winning is just a bonus.

The Chicago Cubs have been floundering for my whole life outside of an odd year they win more than they lose, or an occasional playoff cameo. It hasn’t been until now that they have aggressively pursued a championship. The Cubs and losing have run hand in hand within the fabric of their franchise, almost in an acceptable manner, given their last championship took place not far beyond the 1800’s.

So frankly, Cubs games are events, reasons to gather with friends and family for a good time. Winning or losing is a side note. If I need to be set straight on that, I would welcome the enlightenment.

But in Detroit, the goals have been different. Since the Tigers emerged from a decade long slumber with an inexplicable World Series appearance in 2006, a series they most certainly had the ability to win, the team has been in desperation mode.

Has losing that series had implications on the goals of the franchise? I would guess they would say no, the goals are always the same. But how much easier would things have been for all involved if they had actually won the 2006 World Series?

Sure after another 9 years, we would certainly be hungry for another, but urgency wouldn’t be blasting through the ceiling of expectation. There wouldn’t be such pressure on the team to win a title for their owner. And there wouldn’t be so much pressure on our general manager to operate under a “win now” mandate. Smarter decisions could be made without potential fallout.

They could build and tweak their team logically and without so much risk. They could make decisions that are smarter for their future because they wouldn’t feel the constant need to scramble so desperately for a title they haven’t held in 31 years.

I am envious of the San Francisco Giants. When you win a title, your fans are able to bask in it for a while. If you don’t win it the next season, fans aren’t so vocal about every move, every transaction. They don’t question decisions or motives. There is an element of trust.

As a Giants fan, you can sit back, watch the team evolve and see if they make a run. And if they don’t, you trust they will make the right moves to get themselves back in position very soon, knowing that if given the opportunity, their team can close the door.

Winning buys time to win again. And the Giants, having won 3 titles in the last 5 years, have given their fans everything they could ever want; constantly competing for and frequently winning championships.

Unfortunately, most teams don’t get to experience the kind of run the Giants are on. Certainly you must have luck, but you also must possess strength at all levels of your organization to be able to consistently win; from your ownership to your scouts to your manager in the dugout.

This season, the Giants may not have a team that will compete for a title. They may end up spending the season building for next year. They have that luxury. There is no pressure to win. And that’s an incredible advantage.

They will hover under the radar again, without unfair expectations. The St. Louis Cardinals are another franchise able to operate in the same manner. Winning rewards a franchise far beyond the trophy and the championship flag.

Unfortunately the Tigers enter another season under the guise of ultimatums along with huge expectations. They have to win it. It was the same last season and the year before that, and the year before that. Unfortunately, that’s the attitude here. But, when you don’t win a title in over 30 years, I guess you can understand the frustration, at least in this town.

But frustration brought on from a long draught, I believe, makes a franchise operate differently and with more of a sense of urgency which may not be a good recipe for success.

Sure the Tigers have won division titles, and been to the big stage, but if they aren’t raising the trophy, it’s not enough anymore. We long for the feeling we had in 1984, at least the fortunate ones who actually remember it or were there to see it.

The images are forever emblazoned in my memory. It was the greatest season I have ever witnessed as a baseball fan. I lived at that ballpark in 1984, attending certainly no less than 60 games.

But it’s been a long time now. And there are way too many “remember when” stories with this franchise. And we now await another season where the Tigers once again will try to make it all come together. They don’t have a choice.

PERSONALITY A PLUS IN PLAYER PERCEPTION

By:  Holly Horning

After reading the social media sites associated with the Tigers for a while, one can clearly see where the majority of readers posting stand on each and every player.

It’s easy to see why loyal followers universally love Miggy and VMart. They’re great at what they do, they have unbelievable work ethics and outwardly exhibit positive personalities. Most of us also felt favorably about Torii Hunter who always had a smile for everyone and an infectious personality and sense of humor. Same with Austin Jackson. Today, we would probably include JD Martinez, Rajai Davis, David Price and the high-energy Iggy into that category.

But what about the others? The guys about whom we don’t know enough? The guys who are quiet? The guys who don’t show much expression? Just how much does personality and facial emotion play into our acceptance and support for a player?

Well, according to numerous studies, a lot. We are required to form our opinions of Tiger players based upon what we see of them in the dugout, on the field and during the occasional interview. And showing a positive, extroverted or high-energy personality gives them a decided edge in how favorably we rank them.

For example, when Brayan Pena was with the team, he was a fan favorite and many considered him to possess skills higher than he actually had. Who didn’t love that ready smile or the infamous play at the plate where, face down, he raised his arm and shook that ball in his hand in victory? A lot of fans preferred him over the starting catcher. Which brings us to…..

Yes, Alex Avila. Despite the fact that Avila ranked as the third best defensive catcher in MLB last year, he has been designated as the fans’ whipping boy for the past several years. Granted, some of this is due to his rather anemic bat, but few fans give him the credit he deserves. And this is because Avila does not publicly show emotion or give anyone a clue as to what his personality is like. He always appears stoic whether a great play has been made or he strikes out. If he appeared to be friendly and personable or even smiled regularly, would we feel differently?

And then there are the enigmas – Romine, Perez, Castellanos, Soria and Gose. Guys with solid skills for the most part but don’t outwardly show their personalities or emotions. Players who maybe receive more criticism because fans find it harder making a connection with them. Even Anibal Sanchez, arguably one of the best pitchers out there, keeps out of the spotlight and tends to be forgotten in discussions about the rotation. It may be easy to see why given the extroverted personalities of Price, JV – and until recently, Max and Fister.

Coaches and managers are not immune either. Many fans, including myself, are still trying to feel their way around Brad Ausmus. His facial expressions are rather limited and outwardly, he appears hesitant in expressing himself or letting go in interviews or in the dugout. Too soon to tell if this is his authentic self or if the pressure of being the new kid on the block makes him cautious. Only time will tell. You can bet I’ll be watching his every move….

 


THE DOG DAYS OF SPRING

By:  Kurt Snyder

So today I take a break. We can’t continually complain about the inexperience and decision-making skills of our manager. We risk being labeled complainers.

The Tiger roster is pretty much there in relation to being ready for the season. Cabrera and VMart have started getting at bats and that’s a very good thing. We have a set starting line-up and we have a set starting rotation.

We do have risk at closer which will more than likely play itself out early in the season. Nathan is hanging by a thread and it’s just a matter of time before we find out if he has anything left or if he has reached the end. My guess is a new closer awaits within a few weeks.

So the things the club has left to solve are few.  A couple of spots in the bullpen remain undecided and that may be it.  And as much as we debate it, the bench seems very close to being decided. The Tigers look to be taking a backup catcher and 2 infielders north with them.

The highlight there is at catcher. I think we will be very pleased with the abilities of James McCann, both offensively and defensively.

Benchwise, Ausmus has told us, we will pinch run and substitute for defense, but rarely pinch hit, at least early. And if an infielder needs a rest, well, we will have two of those to cover.

I have to believe that Ausmus plans to make use of both Gose and Davis on some days. Cespedes tends to get nicked up a lot so I see Davis filling the void in those instances. This has to be how Brad envisions covering the outfield. That actually would be a good explanation expected from the manager.

In the end, the Tigers are a slave to their personnel. We have 2 infielders that we risk losing on the waiver wire if they aren’t with the big club. What a way to make the team.   I would prefer we add a hitter and drop Perez but haven’t we all just beat this to death this week?

Let’s put an end to this spring training and get a move on.  April awaits.