By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
Well, the Tiger hitters have been putting on a show the last few days, but the pitchers are dropping like flies, which will surely mean the end of any kind of hopes to get back in the Wild Card race. Not that we realistically had a chance anyway.
So, slowly but surely, our thoughts (and yours) are turning towards next season, and our new GM has much to do.
Here’s a question that’s a toughie but it’s worth discussing sooner or later. We chose sooner.
What are the top 3 things Al Avila needs to do before Opening Day 2016? (And let’s put them in order of importance.)
1. Well, number 1 on just about everyone’s list, especially for a GM looking to put his stamp on his team, is to hire a new manager. But, this won’t really be the reason.
Ausmus has already put his own stamp on this team, and it has left quite a stain. Avila is expected by anyone who has really watched these games to name a new manager sooner rather than later when the season ends.
Ron Gardenhire has been the name most talked about. But I won’t venture to guess until the time is right.
2. Secondly, pitching. If the Tigers don’t improve their overall staff significantly for next season, then we will be talking about more disappointment just like this year.
Avila will need to really study who would be good fits for the rotation and of course must not drop the strengthening of the bullpen any further down the list than #2.
There are lots of names out there that will be considered as additions for the rotation. But also, Al, to be safe, must look for another closer. Rondon can go a long way to someday becoming the closer by staying healthy next year and spending the entire season perfecting the set-up role.
3. I only put this one last on the list of 3 because Al will dread this one. Al Avila must let go of Alex. The time has come for the changing of the guard for the Tigers.
James McCann has wrestled the position away from Alex and he is already a fine catcher, soon to get much better.
Financially, it would make no sense to hold onto Alex. So the time has come. But I wouldn’t want to take on the task of having to send your son out of town.
1. Avila needs to find a new manager who will bring in a new set of coaches and mindset. But not just an experienced manager – a manager who will be able to successfully handle and motivate the players.
This guy is the foundation of the team and if it’s not solid, the team won’t be either. All the egos and personalities require an equally strong character.
And enough with all the low-key managers of the past 10 years. This team needs to find Joe Maddon’s long-lost twin brother.
2. Al has to fill the holes in R & R – rotation and relief. A minimum of 2 starters from the advertised abundant winter free agent market. And the long-standing “how to build a bullpen” concept needs to be blown up – abandoning the rehabbed, aged, reclamation projects of years past and model the formula of the KC Royals.
Let’s face it – this team is filled, for the most part with great players and only a couple of question marks. It’s the pitching that will hold them back if not addressed. And hopefully, a lesson will finally be learned after 4 years of wandering in the wilderness without a shut-down bullpen.
3. Time for Avila to bring the Tigers out of the Dark Ages and update them on a number of fronts. And the top priority is to develop an analytics program.
The team has ranked near the very bottom of MLB for their minimal use of this strategy for the past 10 years and it’s well-known that Jim Leyland refused to use the stats. Top teams have 8 – 10 analysts and the Tigers only hired their first one, a part-timer, in 2014.
Ironically, the Tigers are one team that can truly benefit from the advantages. Adopting the principles will allow them greater flexibility in signing players who will fit their now-limited available payroll dollars.