By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
The Winter Meetings have come to a close and for now the Tigers have efficiently filled their most important needs. But the team has not only made news on the field, but off the field as well, over the past few days.
And with that, let’s see what’s on the minds of our writers as we put a capper on another week of baseball; the sport that never sleeps.
While the Tigers have worked hard to finally rebuild their bullpen, acquiring 3 very nice pieces for the back end, the Yankees already had a solid pen, but seem intent on dismantling an area of strength.
The Tigers’ acquisition of former Yankee Justin Wilson is arguably one of the biggest additions to the bullpen the Tigers could have made. How the Yanks could unload a lefthander of his caliber is beyond me.
Do I still smell a big trade coming for the Tigers? Well, yes, but the air is beginning to clear.
All eyes have pointed to one of two free agents, Cespedes or Gordon, as big prizes the Tigers could still target, despite acknowledging that they are not interested. But, if there is anything the team has done (outside of Jordan Zimmermann), it’s add pieces that the “experts” didn’t predict.
If the Tigers don’t make another move until spring training, we can honestly stamp the off-season as a huge success. Unlike in past years, when they still had real needs and obvious holes, the team can enter Lakeland knowing they don’t have to fill a single hole in their roster, other than maybe a bench piece.
They will have the advantage of sitting back and giving some of their young talent the opportunity to make a case for taking them north; a shot to beat out guys who currently hold spots in the starting rotation, bullpen or the outfield.
Despite all the hype surrounding the signing of the most expensive free agents, it’s really only a maximum of 3 (and often much fewer) teams who get involved. It turns out that only the Nationals were involved in bidding for Max Scherzer last year. Many teams will say they are interested or indicate they will get involved, but often they say it in order to drive fan interest, appear they are “players” or try to convince fans that they are “contenders”.
I am both thrilled and shocked (that it didn’t happen decades ago) that the Tigers are developing their own branding tool in the form of a manual covering the minors through majors. I was not surprised to hear that Brad Ausmus was one of the first to discuss this concept, given his exposure to it while on other teams. Would Brad be better suited as a behind-the-scenes Front Office executive-type who works with concepts instead of as a guy who manages people?
I heard a former Front Office executive say that GMs sign players to these long, expensive contracts because they figure they won’t be around when the contracts and performances go south. In other words, they won’t be held accountable in the end and will reap the benefits in the beginning. It would be interesting to know if this was a factor when Dave Dombrowski signed JV, Miggy, VMart, Prince et al.