By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
Dave Dombrowski, prior to being let go by Mike Ilitch described the Tigers situation as a reboot not a rebuild when we traded 3 of our best players at the deadline.
Removing those players from the roster and combining those losses with key injuries makes you question whether the team will need tweaks in the office season or wholesale changes.
We selected this topic before Lynn Henning wrote about it just a day earlier. So, take a minute to see where Totally Tigers stands on the following question:
Will this really be a reboot or a rebuild?
Kurt – Sorry, but I really have to answer a question with a question to kick things off. What was the impact on this team when we stripped it of the ace of our starting staff, a solid and effective closer in the bullpen and a talented and dynamic outfielder who is currently putting his new team on his shoulders as they march to the playoffs?
Incredibly, this is a team that still floundered even with those pieces in place. It was why Dombrowski had to deal them and make the Tigers sellers instead of buyers. And a team that was teetering on the edge between contending and falling off the map at the trade deadline, made moves that pushed them over the cliff on July 31st.
The failures of this Tiger team cost us a GM and will cost us a manager. So given what is left of the team, I don’t think the term “reboot” describes what we are about to experience in this off-season. This team needs too much.
For one, the pitching staff has degraded to a level that borders on a crisis level. As we sit here today, we don’t know if Anibal Sanchez will even be able to pitch next season, at all. Secondly, we no longer have a staff ace; Justin Verlander holds the title right now because he is the only man left standing.
I don’t deny that JV has taken tremendous strides in the latter half of the season, but he will not be our ace going forward if our intention is to win a World Series. We will need another ace at some point; whether it’s in the off-season or at next year’s trade deadline, and acquiring one will be expensive, whether via trade or free agency.
The rest of the rotation and the bullpen is in flux and will need an overhaul for the Tigers to compete. The Tigers again lack a closer after the trade of Joakim Soria. Bruce Rondon is in training but is still not ready, but will be a very important piece next year. But a closer is on the shopping list again for the Tigers.
So, just the mention of these few pieces illustrates that this is a team that is going to be forced in an area closer to a rebuild. We can’t possibly bite off all that needs to be chewed in one off season. The list of needs, especially on the pitching front, is very long, and Al Avila will need all of his might to contend for a division title next season.
Holly – I’m thinking it will be a mutant version of a reboot, called a “rethink.” It won’t be a rebuild because Mr. I was quoted by Avila saying the foot was still on the pedal “hard.”
There is an ageing owner and ageing superstars who need that ring sooner rather than later. And Mr. I has been patient for 14 years with Dave at the helm – I doubt there’s much patience left.
And we’re already seeing the first signs of this “rethink.” We’ve got a new GM and sometime shortly after 7PM on October 4th, there will be a new manager. This week, Avila took a broom to the minors which is a sign of unhappiness with the coaching, approach and results. It appears Al has determined that more than the roster needs to be tweaked and hopefully a new philosophy will include addressing such issues as fundamentals and situational hitting.
People are quick to lump Al with Dave simply because he worked under him for many years. However, Al has a very different background having grown up in the Dodger family and earning a reputation as a top trail-blazing scout who discovered Miggy and JD among others. I think we’ll see a change of perspective as a result.
But philosophy and the intangibles only work in tandem with talent – a factor that’s not as dire as some paint it. The infield is as solid and talented as it gets. The outfield has a couple of question marks but doesn’t need the rebuild it did last year.
It’s the pitching which is really the biggest concern. A rather tall order there with starting and relief needs. But I think, unlike Dave, Al is not going to be focused exclusively on the physical skills. Given the significant personnel changes already, I believe he’s going to approach building somewhat differently as well as insist on new coaches with fresh approaches who will help facilitate more consistent performance.
Undoubtedly, some significant work needs to be done but it’s not an overall Herculean task. For the first time in years, it appears there just may be a new breeze blowing into Detroit that may bring in a slightly different way of doing business.