By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

At long last, we are finally getting down to the nitty-gritty on where the Tigers are headed strategically in the efforts to improve their team at the trade deadline.

The buying and selling topic, though intriguing, has been beaten to death over the last several days. But the Tigers have now revealed what many, including us at Totally Tigers, have been thinking all along.  Cut your soon to be “losses” and turn them into much-needed gains.

And when the dust clears, even though they may not be a playoff team, the right strategy and the right moves can set the Tigers up to be contenders for years to come. So this all brings one very important question:

What does Dave Dombrowski need to achieve in order to have a successful week?

Holly – Well, he just took his first step by acknowledging publicly that the Tigers will indeed retool and be open to offers on all players with expiring contracts this year.

At minimum, Dave has to trade away Price, Cespedes, Avila and Davis. I’d like to include Simon but the bullpen is such a mess that they may just need to move him there for the rest of the year. Same with Soria, unless the team can use a tandem of two of the better-performing relievers as patchwork closers.

But maybe the Tigers acquire a closer and another reliever which will allow them to trade the two “S”s. For any of the players involved, save Avila, the Tigers will need to trade for their replacements.

The bar has been set with the Cueto trade so teams now know they need to offer more in order to get Price, the much better pitcher. Trading Cespedes ironically will put the Tigers in a better position to re-sign him after the season ends, given the structure of his contract. If they keep him and don’t sign him within a couple of days of the World Series, they lose any compensation pick plus the ability to negotiate until May 15th, if he is still available.

I would expect Dave to get 4 players for Price, 2 – 3 for Cespedes, 2 for Davis and 1 for Avila.

So what do the Tigers need? At least two MLB-ready starting pitcher and 2 relievers. I’d like to say more but I have to be realistic. Oh, and an outfielder who bats left-handed. The rest should be current AAA or top-ranked AA prospects to replenish the farm system.

But it would be foolish for Dave to continue to build this house on a shaky foundation so the final move is one of the most important and it doesn’t require a player in exchange. Ausmus need to be given his surfing papers this weekend.

The team is at the point now where his lack of leadership is negatively impacting the team. Time to work with an interim manager until the right candidate comes along. Someone who will right this ship, inspire stability and confidence and start the trek towards competing next year.

Kurt – This is going to be about as strange of a comment that you will ever hear about a baseball team. But I am now finally at peace with where the Tigers are headed.

When you say you are at peace with something, it usually means you have dealt with something that has affected you emotionally, struggled with it, and have now come to terms with the results, good or bad. That’s where I am.

This has been one of the most confusing and frustrating Tiger seasons I have followed in a long time. The team is both talented and a mess, if that is at all possible. So, Dombrowski needs to piece it all back together to become one.

If we can believe what we have heard so far about the value of David Price and a “potential” multi-team bidding war for him, Dombrowski is in a prime position to receive a haul of talent.

And we would just be getting started. Yoenis Cespedes has chosen a great time to have his best season and his stock rises daily as he continues to perform at a high level, both offensively and defensively.

So, to be successful this week, Dombrowski must replenish this franchise with high level talent in exchange for two of the best and most talented assets in the league. I trust that Dave will be patient and make deals that will allow the franchise to move forward more freely towards years of contention without taking a step back in 2016.

But, we must be sure that the advances that the Tigers have made in speed and defense are not compromised. So both of those elements but be replaced and be present in the talent we receive in return.

And of course, I leave the most important piece for last. Pitching wins and the lack of it is why we are in this position today. DD must bring us sure-fire pitching to replenish the rotation, bullpen and the farm system.

This franchise needs to get deeper, and the Tigers have a tremendous opportunity that I am ready to embrace. But you can’t make a transition like this and expect poor leadership to guide it. So Brad Ausmus must be removed from this equation.

15 thoughts on “ONE TOPIC – TWO TAKES

  1. Hopefully they can garner some young strong arms for the years to come. Then an important consideration is their development. Bringing along young pitchers like Rondon, Krol, Greene, Farmer, has been a disaster.


  2. Do the Tigers have the perfect in-house candidate to take over as interim manager in Alan Trammell? How about Omar Vizquel? Also, now that the Tigers are in short-term “retooling” mode will this make the Ilitch family more likely to extend DD?


    • Chuck – I think the Tigers have kicked Trammell around enough. But knowing him, he would say yes to whatever the Tigers ask of him. But give him back the 3, for God’s sake. He at least deserves that. How wrong is it to see him coaching first base wearing the number 4? Why do we make things so hard? Retire these numbers! As for Dombrowski, having him back just means we would still have one of the best, but how many times do we need to ask for a bullpen?

      Thanks, Kurt


  3. What a breath of fresh air it is to read your column. I am so glad that you both included Brad Ausmus in Dave’s weekend activities. Holly, your analysis provides a concise framework for who needs the be traded and what we should realistically expect in return. And Kurt, I get your sense of feeling at peace with where we find ourselves with the team.


  4. The most important thing is that Dombrowski has used the media to signal to all teams that he is open to offers. Kind of like The Godfather in reverse – “Make me an offer that I can’t refuse.” It’s just hard to see the white flag, 9 years after they started contending and 31 years after the last World Series championship.


    • Bob – 1984 was a long time ago and I remember it like yesterday. But what we have been doing to get there again is not working. It’s a depleted organization that no longer has ammo in reserve when we empty the chamber. So as tough as it is to see the white flag, this strategy is necessary. Thanks, Kurt


  5. I don’t see this season as waving the white flag. Injuries,some unfortune and youth caused this. I sense dd will be back–and he should–and if so ausmus will be back as well. there is no way he will be replaced in season. as for trades I will be satisfied if we net one (2016) starting pitcher and 1 bp (2016) pitcher.


    • Steve – I am in agreement and don’t expect Ausmus to be let go during the season. But I expect it to happen before next season. I don’t envision a scenario where he stays …
      Thanks, Kurt


  6. In a gut wrenching decision process it is now a given Price, Cepedes and Davis are gone. Surely it takes no brains to immediately send the squad the message that Ausmes, and Avila(s) are root causes of the disarray also. Lets get busy Dave. Note to file: No sense rushing,Miggy, And rest Iggy and VM as was the initial plan.


  7. Holly: If they’re “waving the white flag” on this season by trading their top free-agents-to-be, why would they worry about keeping a closer? They’d be better off trading them all. Any deal that looks like an improvement moving forward. In for a penny, in for a pound, more or less.


    • Hi, Randall – I generally agree with you and did offer two options. The only reason why they may keep Soria is to avoid an ugly ending because of the lack of options in the BP. Better to limp home instead of dragging the body across the finish line. 🙂 Thanks for reading! – Holly


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