By:  Holly Horning

These are interesting times for us Tiger fans. We’ve spent the past 10 years living the good life. A life filled with fine and splashy player acquisitions, an owner never afraid to spend and a collection of stellar players. Multiple years in a row of division titles, October baseball and a couple of turns in the World Series. Only 2 years in the past decade with records below .500.

Yet, the tide of fan happiness is changing. You read it in the newspapers. We see it here in our blogs. Yes, the window of opportunity has been closing over the past couple of years and fans, understandably, are nervous. They fret that one of the greatest dynasties of Tigers will go unrewarded and never see that ring. They wonder what could have been. What should have been.

Why the Tigers have been so unsuccessful at winning it all is a discussion for another day.

It’s not hard to understand why so many fans are pessimistic. Why so many are currently seeing doom and gloom. We’ve gotten used to 10 years unlimited abundance. Ten years of knowing that Mr. I and Dave Dombrowski would deliver Christmas, Hanukkah and Festivus all rolled into one and place it upon our doorsteps.

And now? Well, it’s been a disappointing off-season filled with……….. nothing. One that tests us to remember the last time this happened. A time that many of us are afraid to revisit.

But given all of this, there are fans of other teams, more often than not, who would love to change places with us. Fans who wouldn’t mind rooting for a team that is likely to be competitive once again and finish above .500. Fans who would love to follow a team that has a good chance of remaining competitive for all or most of the year.

Thus the point of today’s blog is about perspective. An attempt to disprove that “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Because, no matter what happens this year, there is still quite a bit going on with the team that we can appreciate. And that, despite the blunder of not having a legit CFer, some good decisions have actually been made.

And sometimes, we need to remind ourselves to enjoy the good. Sometimes, we need to savor the sweet, especially when we’re dealing with a little more bitter.

So what can we point to as we deal with our nervousness over the starting rotation, how CF will play out and injuries to two crucial players? I’m glad you asked…..

1. It didn’t take long for the first worries about Max Scherzer to appear. His broken knuckle has been an issue since last summer and will continue to impact how and what he throws. Imagine having that contract around until 2028 with another $171 million to go. The Tigers dodged a bullet here because no matter how this shakes out, another 12 years and that money will end up being an albatross.

2. David Price’s condition is regressing and causing concern among Red Sox brass. Only in the second year of his contract, he is still owed $187 million with 6 more years of service. This is making Justin Verlander’s contract of just 3 more years at $84 million look pretty good. Which of these 3 aces would you rather have wearing the Old English D?

3. Fulmer, Boyd and Norris – 3 young pitchers and all under team control. The nucleus of the near-future starting rotation. It doesn’t get much better than this. And this scenario worked pretty well for the Mets over the past couple years.

4. Despite the problems created by too many pitchers for too few starting slots, it’s always a good thing to have a surplus of potential starting pitchers. There are teams still looking to fill in the gaps of their rotations.

5. Rich Dubee has started to visibly make his mark with the starting rotation. The youngsters are developing and those struggling are showing improvement with some rather dramatically.

6. Dave Dombrowski was the best at trades but his old-school style of trading young talent for expensive players is now considered outdated. Dombrowski remains adamantly opposed to analytics so it will be interesting to see if he remains effective at getting the desired players. It was time for him to move on.

7. The push for the Tigers to finally embrace analytics and sabermetrics could only come with the departure of Dombrowski and the ascension of Chris Ilitch. Ilitch, with an MBA, is known for his analytical skills and data-driven decisions. His leadership, along with the new and expanding department, will be the catalysts for offering new and better ways of assembling a winning team.

8. Gone are the days when anointing a closer was an afterthought. It appears the Tigers have a viable closer in Joe Jimenez who should smoothly transition into KRod’s role.

9. Credit it to analytics, but it appears the Tigers are moving away from the typical model of a slow, lumbering, defensively-challenged player. More athletic players are being developed for 4 different positions.

10. The youth movement for the team is looking promising. Jimenez, JaCoby Jones, Boyd, Fulmer, Norris, Machado, and Ficociello have either just arrived or will be part of the regular roster in the near future.

Can you add to this list?

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      Tons of video on all the top Tigers

      In the batting cage with Nick(olas)

      More CF shopping rumors

      Good news on Bruce Rondon

      Jones imitating Kinsler

      Updates on all the news and injuries hours before the newspapers report it

      JV’s killer commercial

      What JV and Lolich have in common

      The New Kaline mural

      Bat flips have been replaced with ????

      McCann’s interview evaluating all the young pitching talent


  1. Ficociella? Isn’t he a third baseman? Are you trying to say Nick should move to first and Cabby to DH? I like it. Maybe next year, or after VMart retires?


    • Hi, Matthew – Dominic can play all 3 bases as well as corner outfield. A couple analysts have compared him to Ben Zobrist as they believe he has that similar potential. We’ll just have to wait and see what they do with him. Thanks for keeping the dialog going! – Holly


      • Ficociello hit less then .250 with no power in AA last year. Actually, if you compare our top minor league position players to teams with truly productive farm systems, like the Cubs, the Indians, or even the Yankees, our crop is extremely unimpressive. Holly, I’m afraid I find “promising” to be quite a mischaracterization.


      • Hi, Max – There are so many ways to compare prospects and we all know where the current farm ranks. But if you break it down, most prospects from all teams don’t fare well unless they rank within the top 20%. In terms of success of actual prospects, the Tigers have over 32% which puts them above average and in the top half of MLB teams. This is a blog about the positives, so I’m stickin’ with that! 🙂 – Holly


  2. Yes, I can add to the list: Both Avilas are firmly in place indefinitely. Brad Ausmus is ready to inspire the players with his knowledge and charisma. Defensive inadequacies and base running blunders have been eliminated in spring training. Methods have been put in place to prevent player injuries. The list goes on and on.


  3. One of the best parts of baseball is watching the kids develop. I much prefer seeing a kid who hustles, over seeing an aging super star who is too “valuable” to do so. 25 points on the BA is only ONE hit every 40 at bats. IMHO, guys who can’t or DON’T hustle cost themselves and the team more than that on the base paths and defensively.


  4. Ficociello has been very impressive this spring. Also Holly, what is the deal with Scherzer, is it his middle or ring finger, and it must be affecting his grip since it has bothered him since last summer. Wasn’t he hit by a batted ball. His contract still runs for 12 more years.


    • Hi, Nick – It is his ring finger. Max can throw his secondary pitches but not his fastball. He is still having pain although the knuckle has healed. Max is now trying to throw a 2-finger fastball instead of the usual 3. As for the injury, no one knows how it happened. Thanks for continuing the conversation! – Holly


  5. How about opening the season against the White Sox? That’s a positive right? I’ve read their schedule is second easiest this season. Theoretically that translates to a few more wins so there’s that.


  6. Holly, I appreciate your accentuating the positive on this gloomy day up here in da U.P. All it is going to take for the Tigers to have a good year is for the high-performing players to keep high-performing and stay healthy and for some of the younger players like McCann to have a good year offensively and defensively. Entirely possible.


  7. Great writing Holly. Joe Morgan on snb once said ‘the tigers early 70’s farm system won the minor league WS with a lot of steady young talent. Boston’s farm was criticized for a have a terrible farm. Yet it produced a great core of every year or so,which is what were getting can leave you pretty good.

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