PLAN THE WORK, WORK THE PLAN

By:  Holly Horning

Before we tackle today’s topic, Kurt and I have a confession to make. We punked you yesterday. Well, a good number of you. It was April Fool’s Day and we just couldn’t resist. And for those of you who left comments suggesting that was the case, we “forgot” to post your comments until later in the day. Ooops. Our bad.

We will freely admit that it was just so tempting to write our entries given some of the “can’t-make-this-stuff-up” news we’ve been reading lately. We simply took some true stories and steered them down a slightly more exaggerated path. Steered them in a direction that many of us secretly wanted to happen. To those of you who were elated to hear the news, we are sorry to burst the bubble.

We’ll also admit that we had a little too much fun writing them. In fact, when Kurt read mine, his exact comment was “You are evil.”

For this, we fully expect to burn in Hell. But it was worth it. We hope you enjoyed our warped sense of humor, but if you didn’t, we apologize. Sorta.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled blog. For real, I promise.


One of the mantras I learned early on in business seminars was “Plan the work, then work the plan.” A strategy that supported successful returns and reaching the designated goals. A plan where you stated the ultimate goal, then worked backwards in time to identify the steps and work required. Once you had those steps identified, then you followed each of them.

In baseball, a number of former and current GMs all say that their jobs require looking ahead a minimum of 2 years. Planning where they want to be, how to get there and anticipating how to get what they need. Their job is one that requires long-term advance work before results are readily seen. And this is one of the reasons why Al Avila received a 5-year contract.

Avila has had 1.5 years on the job now and I would have expected him to have a more visible plan in place by now. Granted, he inherited a mess that will take some years to clean up and the change in ownership has probably complicated some of the issues. But I have to really think about the last time we encountered an off-season and spring training where there were so many question marks and mixed messages that didn’t support the goal or even desire of a final credible shot at October baseball.

It started with the “younger and leaner” quote followed by the “everyone is open to be traded” interview. Until neither of them was followed. Someone younger was traded, someone older was acquired and no one else was traded despite multiple teams’ inquiries.

Ah, the trade of Cameron Maybin. Whether or not you believe it was right or wrong to do so, one should never get rid of anything until you have a viable solution ready to put into place. And that was a whopper of a mistake that the Tigers are still trying to solve. Somehow, giving up 1 person has potentially changed 6 players’ career paths and created a trickle-down problem.

Exploding out of the Maybin decision, we’ve now got an infielder who is now an outfielder and an outfielder who is now becoming a pitcher. Who’s next?

And with the announcement of a platoon system in both CF and RF, it doesn’t appear that anyone is comfortable with the arrangement. It is more akin to slapping that smaller temporary tire on a car and driving cautiously down the road at a lower speed, hoping you will get to your destination before breaking down again.

Spring training is audition time where the ones who perform the best and show the most potential are supposed to be rewarded. But do tell that to at least one player who got sent down because, despite his impressive play, the outfield shuffleboard favored non-performance factors. And despite 4 players now occupying 2 positions, viable offensive or defensive solutions are not guaranteed.

But there were also question marks involving starting pitching, and that perennial favorite, the bullpen. Too many starters and too few relievers. Like the outfield situation, pitchers got shuffled, but this time it cost them somewhere between $13.5 – $30.5 million depending upon how you want to look at it. At least now the Tigers can boast that they have MLB’s most expensive reliever.

Spring training is supposed to be about renewed hope. A time when every team is on equal ground, the slate is wiped clean and hope springs eternal. But this year has been different. Have we really been focused on the potential of this team or have we been sucked into the soap operas happening on the mound, in the bullpen and the outfield? Is this the way it should be?

And this is what happens when you don’t have a plan. If you don’t have one, then how are you supposed to identify the steps necessary to get there? If this is your last and best solid year of contending, wouldn’t you have been focused on finding the necessary solutions well before pitchers and catchers arrived? Wouldn’t you have already started to make some changes?

A Front Office should have known that a surplus of potential starters would be problematic as well as costly. That not addressing a problematic bullpen would result in probably more of the same. That getting rid of a player without anointing a replacement would create a problem, not solve one.

We should hope that wanting, not hoping for, a serious run at the post-season would be the true goal of this organization. We know the goal, but do we know that a plan has been put into place? Do we see any steps that were taken to support that October goal? Is there any indication that the decision-makers were proactive rather than reactive? Or does it appear that those in charge did not develop a plan but simply hoped for the best?

It’s one thing to declare you have a specific goal and are working towards it. It’s another when you simply wish for one and wait for it to happen. And if you don’t have an actual written strategy for how to get there, if you don’t plan the work in advance, then you can’t work the plan.


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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

4 thoughts on “PLAN THE WORK, WORK THE PLAN

  1. Well stated, Holly. Always enjoy your articles as you make them both insightful and thought-provoking. It’s quite evident from their general confusion and contradictory actions that the Tigers’ administration has either not heard of, or does not follow the six “P’s” to which all successful organizations adhere, namely that “proper prior planning prevents p___-poor performance.”

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  2. Excellent post! Flying by the seat of your pants is never a plan. Al is like a play wright rewriting the script as the curtain goes up. The 2017 stage is set for opening day. Rave reviews, or panned by critics, he owns it…ready or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the point. Maybin was “traded” only in a technical sense; it was a salary dump. I can see dropping the salary…don’t say I agree with the decision but it wasn’t irrational…especially given Maybin’s brittleness.

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  3. Trading Maybin was huge. The long-term effects could be similar to the Fister trade. There was some planning in a sense but only about the $$$…the Tigers needed Cam’s $9m to offset Lowe and Pelfrey’s $13.5m. Maybin is having a shoulder issue but he still looked better in the old English D.

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