By Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
After Wednesday’s win over the White Sox, it’s now official. We are back to celebrating JV days! Verlander is back! Unfortunately, for the most part, the other 4 days aren’t really worth watching.
But we must power through as fans, we must stay the course. But are the Tigers? Should we question their motives as they sit here as one of the worst teams in baseball?
Well that’s for us to answer and for you to read. So let’s get to work and answer this little nugget.
The Tigers are currently one of the top 10 worst teams in MLB. With only 9 more games to go, do you think it is their intent to stay within this group for the advantages it brings?
Kurt – Is it difficult to motivate your team given how awful the season is ending up? Of course. But, are we suggesting the Tigers are tanking it for a better draft position or a better return on a free agent signing that doesn’t cost them a draft pick? Is that what we are doing here?
The Tigers seem to have had more walk-off wins over the last couple weeks than they have had all season. Does that sound like a team that’s quitting to stay in the bottom 10?
Does the play of Ian Kinsler both at the plate and in the field suggest an example of a player not giving everything he’s got so the team can continue to lose? Every ground ball anywhere in his vicinity has been slickly gobbled up and zipped to first. And he continues to lead the league in multi-hit games. So Ian hasn’t called it a season quite yet, has he?
Any wise reporter worth their salt wouldn’t dare ask Justin Verlander if the Tigers intend to stay in the bottom 10. If there is anyone on this team giving it all he has to return to form and win ballgames again, it’s JV. He should be applauded for how he has worked and for how much he has progressed in this lost season.
I have never been of the mind in any sport other than say basketball that a team would give away games for the sake of putting themselves in a better position for drafting or signing players. The NBA smells like that every year. It’s why I don’t watch pro basketball anymore.
Sure, the media can suggest it and it makes a good story but obviously my answer is no, it is not the Tigers intent to stay in the bottom 10. They may not be able to avoid it, but they won’t work to stay there.
We have players who have openly shown their disgust over how this season has gone and giving away games would not be consistent with their behavior. Just the comments by the Alex’s, Wilson and Avila, are proof enough that they have no intention of justifying the kind of attitude and lack of desire that Bruce Rondon has been demonstrating.
There is pride in the Tiger locker room. All the signs point to at least that.
Holly – I don’t think anyone in management is telling the team to lose, but I also don’t think they are giving motivational speeches in the clubhouse. Nor do I think the majority of players are taking these remaining games seriously.
The social media threads have been burning up with comments questioning game strategy this month. Specifically, why players like McCann, Miggy, Davis and others were sitting on the bench in a couple close games when they might have made a difference.
And then there was the double-header double-loss in which MLB’s 47th ranked starting pitcher one-hit the Tigers, despite a year filled with struggles and an ERA north of 5.00. He faced just one more than the minimum number of batters and pitched a complete game in just over 2 hours. He made 91 pitches and it was noted that most of the Tigers were swinging on the first pitch. Whether intentional or not, most are in agreement the Tigers weren’t trying very hard.
It’s no secret in baseball that teams take into account their standings at the end of the year and the rewards they may reap by placing in the last 10. A number of teams, including the Astros recently, have realized that the quickest way to get back on top is to add onto your losses.
Teams with more losses receive better draft picks. They have protected first round picks if they sign free agents who have received a qualifying offer. They also earn a number of other advantages – bigger draft budgets, ability to shift money to impact other rounds, a larger international free agent budget, high selection in Rule 5 draft, a top waiver claim position for 7 months and fewer penalties.
The Tigers used this to their advantage (when rules weren’t as favorable as they are now) back in 2003 when they had 119 losses and grabbed a pitcher named Justin Verlander. They were back in the World Series 3 years later.
Through September 22st, the Tigers rank second worst in the AL and overall at 9th worst. But there are 7 other teams who could conceivably displace them and shove them out of the bottom 10. Any smart GM will be keeping an eye on how those other teams are performing.
What a great way for the Tigers to replenish their depleted farm system. Not to mention trying to score another pitcher like JV.