What are the Tigers’ plans for the year? That is the $194 million question. It’s the same old team (minus 1 guy) that is now being run by a new guy. And therein lies the problem.
No one yet has a great feel for what kind of owner (technically the main trustee) Chris Ilitch is. All we have to go on is his short stint running the team back in 2013 when he forced Dave Dombrowski to cut $9 million so a closer could be signed. You may know it as the Doug Fister trade. That example, along with this year’s unique off-season hibernation, is all we have in which to work.
A hint of what may happen, but not enough of a track record.
So do we wait and sit on our hands all year waiting to find out? If you’re like me, I want to know as early as possible which path may be the designated one. I like to be able to monitor my expectations and adjust to the situation. Afterall, Chris is not going to spring something on us – at least to those of us paying attention. He’s a smart businessman and already has a plan in mind with potentially a couple of options at the ready.
Has he already given up on the year? Is he simply practicing “tough love” on a GM and the payroll? Has he decided to change how the Tigers operate? Is he looking to embrace the changes happening in baseball? Is he waiting to see how the team will perform? Or is he gradually transitioning the team to be more buyer-friendly?
That we don’t yet know. However, there will be indicators all along the way that will offer insight as to where this team is headed and whether there will indeed be a serious push to “win one for Mr. I.”
So what are those indicators? I’m glad you asked…….
1. Will the Tigers end up signing anyone before Opening Day? Rumors have it that they are looking to acquire a CF and also another back-up catcher for depth. Or will they work with what they already have and make do?
2. Who will make the 25-man roster? Will money triumph over talent? Will Lowe, Pelfrey and Sanchez head north because of their contracts? Or will performance win out?
3. Will the team get out of the gate early and stay near the top? Will they look like a viable contender?
4. Will Brad Ausmus’ contract be extended no later than the All-Star break which is considered the very last date for a team to re-up their manager? Or will ownership allow him to become a lame duck manager and thus risk losing the clubhouse?
5. Will Lloyd McClendon be more successful than Wally Joyner as the hitting coach? Will he be respected by the players? Will he become the interim manager if things go south?
6. Where will the Tigers be sitting near the July trade deadline? If they’re doing well, will new players be acquired? Or will they sit pat despite the opportunity to get stronger?
7. If the Tigers aren’t in the thick of it come July, will they trade off players? Will they try to fill their farm system with solid prospects? Or will they look to primarily dump salary?
8. If the team does end up trading players, which ones will find new homes? Not all trades are created equal and the type of player involved speaks volumes about the future.
a. Will they trade KRod, Iggy and JD who all have either free agent issues or will leave the team anyway at the end of the year?
b. Will they trade away players with expensive contracts like Upton or Zimmermann?
c. What about solid players under team control like Castellanos?
d. Will they keep or trade a team leader like Kinsler who conceivably could return next year?
e. What if the Dodgers are still interested in JV and need him for a pennant race? Will JV accept a trade to a town where he now lives and to a team that could give him a better chance of getting a ring and into Cooperstown?
All of these points, whether enacted or not, will hint towards the direction this team will take in 2017 and potentially beyond. This is a list meant to be saved. We’ll certainly be referring back to it throughout this year. It is the key to the future.
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If you haven’t checked out our site (@totallytigersbb) yet, here’s what you missed this week:
– Who was behind the team bonding day? It’s not who you think.
– Scouts are talking and they indicate the Tigers are looking to add an outside CFer and also another backup catcher.
– Through age 33, there are only a handful of players with more hits than Miggy.
– Why sabermetrics don’t matter when Miggy is at the plate.
– Now that the automatic intentional walk is official, managers are getting creative in how they signal it.
– Stats show great promise for Matt Boyd evolving into a top of the rotation pitcher.