PITCHERS, PENS, PAYROLL, PATIENCE & PROBLEMS

By:  Holly Horning

Thank goodness the Tigers took our minds off the bullpen by distracting us with their sloppy error-filled games this past week. Ah, but not so fast Front Office. This pen is soooo bad (ok, everyone, you know you want to ask that infamous question) that whenever we walk past a dumpster fire, we automatically think of the Tigers relievers.

In case you were wondering, the bullpen has totally bottomed out now and hit the very bottom of MLB teams in the majority of categories. Through the first 21 games, they have a collective 6.72 ERA and 1.73 WHIP.

Yet, the bullpen remains relatively the same. No fresh names or faces. And KRod will remain the closer until hell freezes over. But despite their constant “pay no attention to the kerosene and box of matches on the mound” spiels, all of those responsible for this mess know exactly what is going on. They aren’t ignoring it despite their Mel Brooksian excuses. And they really, really want to do something about it.

But in reality, they probably can’t.

Let’s look at the warm bodies. Logically, if the Tigers had someone capable in the minors, that person would have been brought up by now. Their best prospect, Joe Jimenez, arrived and it’s now apparent that he is not yet ready.

KRod remains the closer despite his 6.23 ERA, 1.85 WHIP and mind-blowing 87.5% ability to allow inherited runners to score. (We won’t even touch the subject of whether or not he should remain the closer – a subject that will take at least a week’s worth of blogs, several bottles of Grey Goose and an experienced shrink.) But the scariest point is a comment published indicating that he would remain the “9th inning guy” simply because, logically, there was no other place to put him.

Anibal Sanchez is still warming a seat in the pen. That’s the good news because when he gets up, that’s when the problems start. Fans universally feel that he should be released. They point to the sunk cost and a body taking up a roster spot. But truth is, he is still there because he still remains valuable in some capacity (still largely unknown) to the team.

The same with Bruce Rondon. A guy who goes through surgery, gets sent home due to his work ethic, gets into fights and shows up hugely overweight to spring training. Yet, he’s still with the team.

Sense a pattern here?

The reason these guys are still drawing breath wearing the Old English D is in part because the Tigers have no one else to replace them. Blame much of it on Dave Dombrowski who ransacked the minors system for trade chips but now, add Avila to the mix. He did nothing to improve the pen after another horrible 2016 year.

But as Deep Throat infamously said, “Follow the money.” It always goes back to the dollars in the end. The Tigers have already released Mike Pelfrey and Mark Lowe to the tune of $14 million.

Add in Sanchez’s $22 mill, KRod’s $6 mill and $1 mill to Rondon. Dumping 5 players to the tune of $43 million is, for some teams, half their payroll. And then there’s the issue of new payroll of some level to replace these lost souls. It would be a headline-grabbing move that would publicly make the organization look foolish and inept. And for some employees, enough to get them fired because someone will have to take the fall for a mistake of this magnitude.

Add to the argument supporting finances and lack of personnel is a new one. Chris Ilitch. Maybe the reason why Avila was unable to revamp the pen was because he was given no payroll. Maybe the reason why these under-performing players have stayed is because Chris won’t sign off on their release.

And that, right now, will be the biggest question going into the summer. A summer considered to be the last possible hurrah for this core before the team is forced to go into rebuild mode.

If the pen remains the same in personnel and performance, it means the priority for winning is no longer there because the focus has been put on the money.

And that’s because the team and its books are being prepped for sale mode, not playoff mode.

20 thoughts on “PITCHERS, PENS, PAYROLL, PATIENCE & PROBLEMS

  1. If this team was talented and hungry enough to contend, they’d be 4-1 on this current homestand instead of being 1-4. Does anybody, with all the defensive, bullpen issues and excuses, really believe we can compete with the Yanks, Orioles and Astros? The lowly Mariners and White Sox have already won important early/season series’ against us.

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  2. This team is a “hot mess”. The bullpen is almost the messiest part. AButthe worst part: this team is UNWATCHABLE. There is no sin worse than being absolutely, totally boring! If yo are a masochist, you watch to see players collide, balls falling between players, consecutive errors, etc. Is there no end to this agony?

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    • Agree! Not only are they a bad MLB team, they take too much time to lose. After many decades as a loyal fan, I cannot and will not waste any more time watching this team fail.

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  3. The Tigers and Wings have a lot in common besides their owners. They both have poor Gms, managers and coaches. What else should we expect from these teams? The “established” players are generally overpaid, management is inferior, and ownership has deteriorated recently. These teams need major changes, beginning perhaps with ownership.

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  4. I totally agree. Afraid our pessimistic fears of Chris going back to the fister mistakes are right. Cost his father his WS. Penny wise and two-houndred millions foolish. AA has had long enough to fix the pen. Either he personally can’t get it done or he’s not being allowed by Chris. What a shame- what a waste. Such a lack of vision.

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  5. Holly, as you point out, The Tigers bullpen is the worst statistically in all of baseball. Because of that one fact, they cannot be considered contenders for the playoffs, or anything else. In another month, they should explore trading pieces away and most everyone should be made available. They have a dearth of talent in the Minor Leagues.

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  6. “Sunk Cost” is one already incurred and cannot be recovered. It should have no impact on future decisions. The great generals, businessmen, politicians, and others, have understood sunk cost. It seems the Tigers don’t. The bullpen is one giant sunk cost mess yet is seems that the sunk costs is still impacting the decision making process.

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    • That is true unless there is no better body to fill the place of the released player. That is what Holly stated and it sure looks true.

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      • I believe there is a certain amount of myopia in only looking “down on the farm” for bullpen help. There is a whole wide world of baseball going on out there. I watched a lot of the WBC games and saw some great talent, many of which were not in MLB. The Globe is covered with baseball leagues.

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  7. The other day on the telecast ROD said Avila stocking the minors with washed up, has been “journeymen” was a smart move. Yeah, but all the young pitching talent is stockpiled in other clubs farm systems. Hey Avila, thanks for addressing that pre-rebuild need – while Mr.I was still running things btw.

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  8. Their foolishness & ineptitude is hidden in plain sight. A pick your poison pen, a jerry rigged roster, lax leadership, & an overindulgent organization have been on public display for years. The sports world, fans, & future buyers are acutely aware. That forty three million $’s is the tip of the iceberg.

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  9. This lousy bullpen means the manager needs to be even more creative than usual. Anyone think Ausmus is doing the best he can with the lousy hand he’s been dealt? His refusal to consider revising roles or going off script tells me no.

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  10. Mess started with Prince Fielder . That turned out well, not. Mistake after mistake in player signings, this is the result. It could be at least 2 years with decent trades or signings before we have a contender again. Pray that Brad is let go. His formula does not work. No enthusiasm or fire.

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  11. I wouldn’t give up on Jimenez yet. Two good outings, two bad outings so far. As long as the other options are as bad as they are, why not give him a chance to settle in? He has major league stuff.

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  12. Holly is right on – Tigers are being prepped for sale. So are the Wings(?). Could be that CI wants to off the sports ownership side of the family business(?). BTW – they’ll keep the new arena in the family business and collect rent – forever.

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  13. Thanks sprocket for your phrase ‘sunk cost’. Chris I -refusal to invest to repair a policy mistake of undervaluing the last third of the games is sinking this team. What a waste.

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    • Thanks Mike. I first learned about Sunk Cost in my Econ 101 class all those years ago when I was in college. Understanding the concept can aid a person as they negotiate life.

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  14. Lots of sunshine around here . Consider the fact krod has the third highest save percentage in all of baseball over the past three years and had a bad April last year but did pretty good after that . Rondon is not with the team right now and they don’t seem to be using Sanchez at all.

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  15. Holly your comment about the problems starting when Sanchez gets up has had me laughing for two days. Lol !!

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