By:  Holly Horning

Will he or won’t he? Will he stay or will he go? Will they stay put or will they sell?

To whom am I referring? Actually, all of these questions could be applied to Chris, Al, Brad and the entire roster. And it’s all because things are starting to get complicated with this team. Some of it their own doing, some of it not.

The calls for the heads of our GM and manager are getting louder. Fans have become disappointed and gotten tired of waiting. And if you read the social media threads, more and more are indicating that they will go on an extended vay-cay if changes aren’t made, especially when it comes to the longevity of a certain GM and manager.

But will keeping Avila and Ausmus send a message that the Ilitch family is happy with their performances? Maybe not.

Because the decision to keep them may be based entirely on something else. And it involves the potential sale of the team.

You won’t read about it in the local papers but the financial ones are providing evidence that ownership is exploring options. And during one of the recent telecasts, the broadcasters showed footage of Steve Greenberg visiting his father’s statue at Comerica. What they didn’t mention, and what they may not know, is that Greenberg was in Detroit for board meetings.

Steve is a dealmaker, specializing in the buying and selling of sports teams. And he’s been a long-term advisor to the Ilitch family.

Let’s save the discussion about the rationale for selling the team for another day. What’s important here is to understand that decisions about all Tigers personnel will be based, in part, upon the possibility of a sale.

If the team goes on the market, don’t expect to hear about it. Or see it advertised on Craigslist. And it definitely won’t happen during the baseball season. That’s the quickest way to destabilize an organization and send fans fleeing towards the exits.

In all likelihood, Ilitch Holdings is going to wait until the sale of the Marlins is finalized so they can use that information to bolster their asking price.

But if the team is going to be sold, Chris Ilitch has to enhance its perceived value. Homes that are being prepped for sale use stagers and selling a baseball team is no different. Things need to be put in order so that the team is framed correctly in order to attract the highest bidder.

Obviously, part of that revolves around paring down payroll. But also, having minimal contract commitments. Any new owner doesn’t want to be tied down with people they didn’t hire. And they certainly don’t want to have to pay out on existing contracts when they decide to bring in their own replacements.

Which is why a potential sale will partially impact whether Brad stays or goes. Whether his contract expires or is extended for another year. Whether anything longer than a single year will also tell us about Chris’ intention towards keeping the team.

As for Al Avila, his contract runs through 2020. Not known is whether there is a clause that addresses contractual obligation in case of a sale.

Will there be any management departures before the end of the 2017 season? Highly improbable. Firings tend to destabilize an organization on a short-term basis and if the Tigers are indeed going into sell mode, it may impact their asking price. Timing is everything.

On Sunday, join us for It’s Complicated, Part 2. when we delve further into the issues surrounding the future of the manager and why the timing of a potential sell-off is more important than we may think.

15 thoughts on “IT’S COMPLICATED (Part 1)

  1. Holly
    Although you made some excellent points, I believe management will send a message to the rest of the team by unloading Ausmus soon. They need to keep folks coming to the ball park and a drastic change could do that.


    • I agree Luis. I just read K-Rods comments about lack of communication with the coaches and consider this to be the second in-your-face slam against Brad in the last week, with Nick’s outburst the first. If they extend Brad another year I am not sure I can keep my Tiger Enthusiasim up.


    • I’d also agree that dumping Brad, would help keep the fans engaged. Replacing him with one of the existing coaches as interim manager would give the appearance of change (or help ‘stage’, to borrow from Holly’s home seller analogy) without having to actually make any additional contractual obligations.


    • Luis, attendance has not yet been an issue at COPA. Maybe later in the season, but not to date. Mike I’s approach might be working. Fill the team with stars, and they will come.


  2. I agree that reducing payroll may be more attractive to potential suitors but am curious about what the impact would be if J.D., Kinsler, Iggy and potentially JV were traded. Sure, probable expensive FA contracts would be avoided along w/ higher priced current contracts, but the talent cupboard would be pretty bare.


    • If I were in the market for a baseball team, I would find the Tigers a far more attractive property with the assets stripped. Along with the reduced payroll, it is to the new regime’s advantage to start at the bottom, when the only way to go is up. Expectations are lowered, and the fan base will be far more patient.


  3. Best recent example is the Houston Astros over the last ten years. Usually when teams get bad it’s deliberate strategy for several reasons. Rarely is it due to incompetence like Mr. I’s tigers after they moved into Comerica.


  4. Not sure how the Marlins value over $1 Billion, but that is the report out there. If so, I am having a hard time with someone paying more than that for the Tigers with long term money tied up in Zimmerman, Miggy, Verlander, etc. smells of a huge fire sale if you ask me.


  5. Selling the team will be the change that we need. Mr. I is gone, and there is nobody left that cares as much about the Tigers. Chris is a good business man and person, but he’s not Mr I. New owners will likely replace our GM and our manager. Both are in over their heads. This team needs to begin change at the top.


  6. Watched Tigers vs Dbacks last night on the AZ channel here in Phoenix. Very interesting comments from their broadcasting crew on the effort being put forth by the Tigers: sleepwalking, disinterested, and unfocused were terms describing the Tigers – sounds like a team that doesn’t give a damn about what happens. Sad.


  7. In baseball, and life in general, I’ve found when mng.stops communicating with you about mistakes-they’ve given up on you. Time to find a new job.


  8. Holly, please I am begging you for the last time: you need to cash in one of your 401k’s and buy the Tigers now. I will contribute what I can. We can hold a raffle.

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  9. I don’t know about keeping status quo until the end of the year. My enthusiasm for this team has devolved into near-apathy and it’s not even July. I won’t be going to any games the rest of the year with the team “as is”.


  10. I stopped attending games after the ’14 season. Late last season I pretty much stopped watching live on TV. This year I simply record the game and watch “in progress” on DVR. I no longer am interested in sitting there for a few hours only to be disappointed with a blown save. I am rapidly losing interest in this team, but will still love them forever.


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