By: Holly Horning
On Friday, I started a series of blogs on my observations and conclusions, so far, about the Tigers since 2006. If you missed the first installment, catch it here:
This is all about the long-standing direction of the team and why, despite the immense talent, they have been unsuccessful when everything was on the line. It’s all based upon Mr. I’s well-publicized desire to win the World Series. This series is meant to uncover, examine and discuss why their path has never achieved the desired goals and why it’s been 32 years, second-longest in the AL Central, since the last one.
In the media, most portray the process of winning as simply getting the right players. But we know there are many more factors that play into creating a successful team – and franchise. And those factors are tangible and intangible. Just ask Theo Epstein, who has managed to break baseball’s two longest curses because of his vision and strategy.
The Tigers have poured more money into signing players than any other team, save for the Dodgers. Are there beliefs and corporate culture issues that have been holding them back? That’s a primary premise of these blogs.
This is a series that is also dependent upon you, the reader, to weigh in. My statements are only meant to be the starting point. These beliefs are meant to inspire analysis and carry you through the month, season and coming years.
Today, it’s up to you to carry the conversation here. So let’s begin some great dialogues as they relate exclusively to issues surrounding ownership. Over the coming weeks, we’ll also address the Front Office, managing, coaching and other topics.
Please pick one topic and start the conversation. Don’t forget to come back later and respond to others who have posted.
1. We have been very fortunate to have had such a generous owner in Mr. I. However, his judgment about signing certain players as well as his “fast food” approach (buying talent vs. developing players) to winning has been very poor and has cost the team in both the short- as well as long-term.
2. While everyone assumed there was a sense of urgency to win given Mr. I’s advancing age, he did not exercise it as exemplified by retaining Dave Dombrowski for 14 years (second-longest tenured GM in baseball history) and agreeing to the hire of a rookie manager for a team that needed to “win now.”
3. Despite massive amounts of money being put into payroll, ownership invested nothing into the infrastructure and future success of the team via technology, analytics, scouting, farm systems, etc. The Tigers were one of baseball’s most antiquated teams that continued to ignore the evolution of how the game was now being played.
4. Contrary to public statements that placed a priority on winning a ring, attendance really was king above all. High-profile signings, power pitchers and lots of HRs (by big and slow guys) never meshed with a park that was built for doubles, defense and speed. Flashy play attracts the masses while great play is better appreciated by fans who understand the game’s nuances.
5. If Chris Ilitch is now truly the one in charge, he may just be the catalyst for change – rocky and disappointing as it may initially be. Cutting payroll and long-term expensive contracts may be the action that forces the Tigers to develop an updated system that puts a priority on acquiring and developing a more well-rounded athlete and team.
6. Maybe the time has come for the Ilitch family to sell the Tigers. If hints that they may be preparing this team for sale pan out, the upside potentially could be a new owner with a different and updated perspective who will bring in a new vision and fresh personnel.