By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

This is where our real talents start to come out. We have reached a point in the season where things look bleak and unfortunately we need to start looking to the future, as the present is getting pretty darn ugly.

But we’d be in big trouble if we stopped working when things got bad. So, without further ado, let’s discuss a couple of future issues.

1. What should the Tigers do with JV?

Holly – Justin is owed at least $140 million over the next 5 years, has a complete no-trade clause and has yet to show anyone, let alone other teams, that he is capable of pitching adequately and injury-free. He is simply, untradeable.

That said, the Tigers need a sense of urgency because right now, it appears they will only have one solid starter next year in Anibal Sanchez. And that means they need a new manager who can establish an effective relationship with him as it’s been a very rough ride given the public fighting between him and Ausmus dating back to last year.

It is obvious that JV has not caught up to the reality that ageing brings with his arguments about not needing some rehab starts in AAA. Not to mention his media debriefings after he pitches when he tries to spin his performance.

Maybe his longtime manager, Jim Leyland, can get through to him but someone, like a professional performance coach, needs to help him travel the unfamiliar road and discover that changes need to be made. It worked for John Smoltz and 4 other Hall of Fame pitchers who give them credit for successfully extending their careers.

In the meantime, Bruce Bochy has been effective in sending his underperforming pitchers to the BP, who often came back stronger, better and more determined. Maybe sitting in the pen is the motivation Justin needs in order to reinvent himself.

Kurt – Unless some Texas Ranger type team is going to swing a trade with us and take this contract off our hands, there really isn’t anything to do but pitch him.

But the question is where? Given the state of the standings, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of risk continuing to run him out there every fifth day. Justin has to pitch and whether that’s here, Toledo or some other town, it will be the only way we will find out if he’s got anything left to give.

I don’t subscribe to the JV to the bullpen theory. I doubt he would have interest in contributing out of the pen. So we are kind of stuck.

With so many years left on a lengthy and a very expensive contract, we had better pray he’s got plenty left. Because we are saddled with Justin Verlander. And we can only hope that he figures out how to transition to the back-end of his career while still being effective.

2. Price, Cespedes, Davis, Avila, Soria and Simon: If you could only save one free agent, who would it be and why?

Holly – While I would love to have Price stay, his salary would push the payroll for just him, JV and Miggy to 50% of the entire team payroll. It is financially unsustainable and would create significant and long-term roster problems.

Cespedes, too – his contract is structured to attract the maximum number of interested teams and create a bidding war. Besides, Tyler Collins, young and controllable for years, would look great in leftfield with that desperately-needed left-handed bat.

And while I’m tempted to say Soria, I’m starting to doubt his effectiveness lately and a check of his stats show a trend of peaking a couple of years ago.

But I do like Rajai – he is the catalyst, fastest guy on the team and it’s no coincidence that when he starts, the Tigers win significantly more games. He’s worth another couple of years as Gose’s platoon partner and comes at a reasonable investment. Remember when the Tigers struggled for years trying to make Jackson, Carrera and all the others fit into that postion?

And because playing centerfield is particularly demanding, Davis needs to stay, especially since he can play all three outfield positions. Cespedes, with a whopping 3 stolen bases this year, hasn’t played more than a couple of games in centerfield in almost three years – for a reason.

Kurt – It’s David Price. I know there are plenty of pitching candidates on the market for 2016, but I think we have seen plenty of evidence that we are a pretty darn good team with Price on the mound. It’s when he is not on the mound that things fall apart.

And isn’t that really been the story of the season? The Tigers record has been absurd with Price on the mound versus when it’s someone else.  And if the Tigers pull the unexpected and retain Dombrowski, why shouldn’t Price be the first order of business?

The Tigers are in need of a stud to continue to lead that rotation. And Price is that stud.   The challenge will be to give him a reason to return.  And I’m not talking about money.


  1. Kurt: You “doubt JV would have much interest in contributing out of the pen”? Wow. Not saying you’re right or wrong about that but it actually seems like a bizarre thing to even consider. At $28 million a year, who’s he to complain?? He should be happy to do whatever they ask him to do, whether it’s pitch out of the bullpen or clean up the clubhouse after the game. Just saying.


    • I’m guessing the real problem with Supermodel Boyfriend is that he doesn’t listen to what anybody else has to say, his delusion of being a power pitcher in disregard of all evidence to the contrary, being the prime piece of evidence.


  2. Unloading Price, Cespedes, Soria and Nathan, would clear up something around 50mil! I guess that is plenty money to bring over a couple of quality starters. I think Davis is a keeper and one of the OF LHBs from the minors has to step up. Verlander has to come down to Earth and understand he must make a change in his approach.


  3. Kurt, I have to disagree about keeping Price. I have enormous admiration for him, but the Tigers have already made this mistake twice. Tying up a ton of money in a long contract for a guy on the cusp of his 30th birthday is pretty much always a sucker bet. You can’t build a team like that when so much payroll is tied up in 3 guys.


    • Absolutely correct. If they are going into rebuild mode, which is necessary, then having another 200M long term contract on the books makes no sense. Another way of looking at those extended contracts is that they are paying for PAST performance rather than building for the future. Take that 200M and invest it in the farm system .


    • Opus – I understand where we are headed, but if I am going to pick a free agent I wish we could keep, it’s Price. He’ been so good and he will be missed. In fact it’s hard to watch Cespedes knowing we can’t keep him. This team never came together like we envisioned. So much talent, so few results. Thanks, Kurt


  4. ESPN reporting Tigers as seller…no huge surprise … as discussed here. I could see 3 individual deals headed by 1. Price 2. Kinsler 3. Cespedis. The “farm” could get very healthy and the Tigers could be back in sooner than later. I think you keep Davis among others. Speed is king.


    • Vince, it’s hard to disagree with you. That said; both Holly and Kurt provide more insight than any of the “writers” covering the Tigers in the major newspapers around town!


  5. I would shop Verlander to the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants. The Yankees and Dodgers could afford an expensive experiment, and Verlander could continue his celebrity lifestyle. Bruce Bochy of the Giants could probably give Verlander the coaching and kick in the pants that he needs.


    • Hi, Bob – Thanks for the blog idea about Gage. Not sure I can cover it, but we’ll see if Kurt can. Allow us to kick the topic around and do some brain storming. Thanks for reading! – Holly


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