It’s real easy to talk about the team in a negative tone given all the troubles the Tigers are having in Houston. If the team went into this series looking like a contender as Cleveland did last weekend, it would be a different story.
It says a lot about the Indians when they can walk into Houston, during a season where both teams have legitimate title aspirations, and sweep the Astros’ doors off in their own building.
But the Tigers are a different story. It’s during these times that you discover how the flaws are too large to sustain anything positive. They are too large to get on a roll. The flaws are exposed by elite teams, particularly on the road.
And Tiger management knows it. They see it with the same eyes we do. Poor defense loses games. Poor offense loses games. Poor execution. Poor baseball.
When the power light goes on, all things are well and good with the Tigers, but when you shut it down, out come the ghosts, and they are pretty scary, don’t you think?
So as we continue through May and soon head into June, you realize that all the money, the high payroll, the luxury tax penalties the team pays to keep a flawed team afloat, doesn’t make sense anymore. Afloat doesn’t equate to championships. Afloat may mean competitive, but that’s all. And as we have learned, the luxury tax becomes less about luxury the more you are unsuccessful in your attempt to win.
Heading into Houston, you see a team you want to become. Watching the Cubs play at Wrigley opened my eyes to a team and an environment that we should crave. And, of course, Holly’s deep dive into how Theo Epstein built the Cubs makes you hungry for that kind of success. It makes you want your ownership to open their eyes to the process that has made other franchises succeed. You don’t have to forge your own path. You just need to follow the one that exists.
So brace yourself. The flaws and the lapses that we see over and over again should only lead us in one direction. The team may indeed make the playoffs. But they are going to have to do it after selling off some of our favorites at the end of July.
That’s when the best deals are done. That’s when the Tigers will begin to get out from under their malaise. Look at what the Yankees were able to do at one deadline and have now, in one offseason, opened the eyes of their fans to a fresh, new and potentially dominant, new group of talent.
So the Tigers must take the painful step, regardless of where they stand in July. And it will be painful, there is no question about that. You can get attached to a team like this, who can look so exciting and dominant in stretches. But we can’t be blind to the anemic stretches that hold the team back.
So, I am tired of this ride. Sure it seems premature to get this discouraged during 1 series in May. But the signs are all too clear when you face the cream of the crop on the road.
We know the ceiling of this team. We know its potential. And what they are able to give us is nowhere near worth the price the franchise pays for mediocre team results.
The luxury tax is meant to help even the playing field across the league so teams that have the ability to spend frivolously, pay a penalty for that “luxury.”
But the Tigers and ‘luxury’ don’t belong in the same sentence. Not anymore.