By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
It’s Tuesday – the last Tuesday of the regular season. Where did the time go? With the season drawing to a close, our writers at Totally Tigers will tackle two topics.
Remember, Kurt and Holly do not share their answers. So, it will be interesting to see the range of perspectives on 2 entirely different questions.
After this weekend, what occupies your mind more, the upcoming week or the off-season and why?
Where Holly and I differ and what makes us a good fit for a blog partnership is, I look at signs for optimism. I look for things we should be encouraged about. I look for things that could spark a run of victories, while Holly admittedly, has more guarded optimism.
But I can’t watch this team anymore. I can’t watch how our pitching staff is mishandled. I no longer have the optimism. And I am no longer focused on the standings and this season.
So much is capable of happening for this team, still. Anything is possible. But you can’t successfully overcome poor game management within your own dugout for very long; and Al Avila will get a firsthand look at a well-managed team in Cleveland, one that fosters success not hinders it.
I tend to be a positive person and while I’ll take each game this week one at a time, and not yet ready to officially write off the Tigers, I haven’t been given definitive proof that the team has upped its game beyond this year’s performance trends.
Part of me wants what happened this season to become crystal clear and leave no doubt in Al Avila’s mind what needs to be done this off-season. After spending the past 11 years waiting, watching, waiting, hoping, waiting and praying for the Tigers to ascend to that best of all places, I am unfortunately, thinking more about what needs to be done after the season ends.
And it’s all because that clock hasn’t been ticking louder than it has all this year. Detroit has a number of long-standing issues that have plagued the team for over a decade now. And I simply don’t want to see this Tiger dynasty go down as one of the top two in baseball history to never have capitalized on their greatness.
Al Avila entered the GM job with not much time to get acclimated before he had to make some crucial roster decisions. Now that he’s been in the job for just over a year, this will be the most accurate time to see what kind of a GM he will be.
Will he simply shuffle the roster around and fine-tune the starting pitching and bullpen? Or will he dig deeper and address the real reasons why the team finds it so difficult to sync their play and score runs consistently?
Has Justin Upton’s resurgence justified his signing?
Upton has proven his appeal and he has lived up to what was expected, finally. We knew he was a good ball player. But who was comfortable with the possibility of him being under contract for 6 years with the Tigers?
He is a big name player; a prototypical signing for the Tigers. But in the interests of keeping some of their other players around, like JD Martinez, who is one of their most consistent offensive stars, the Tigers really can’t afford for Upton to pick up his own option at the end of next season.
It’s much more important for the Tigers to keep JD in Detroit. And the signing of Upton puts that at risk. So even with Upton coming on and how exciting his production has been, I don’t believe bringing him on board was such a good thing. Frankly, we needed more starting pitching depth before we needed a high-profile, potentially long-term, offensive signing.
It’s nice to see Upton start to perform more consistently and get some timely hits. But it appears from the interviews with Mr. I that his signing was done for attendance reasons more than anything else. And while high attendance is required for the Tigers in order to meet those extremely large contracts, his signing means the Tigers are facing a “Sophie’s Choice” at the end of 2017.
The Tigers’ payroll will crest in the 2018-19 seasons with 4 players earning some of the highest salaries in the business. Sports economists will tell you that major-market teams can’t afford to have more than 2 athletes making $25+ million/year. The Tigers, a smaller market will have 4 making $25 million and up to $32 million – and an additional one, Upton, very close to the $25 million mark.
This really means that the Tigers cannot afford to add yet another player who will certainly command a very high salary. JD Martinez. His contract expires at the end of the next year and he will certainly want much more than what the Tigers are paying Upton for a lesser bat and glove.
The future of the outfield is looking very uncertain currently where all 3 positions may be filled with new players for the start of 2018. Do we really want to keep a streaky guy with no consistency playing LF or would we rather keep the guy with the best glove and bat?