For the first time in many years, we have very different expectations of the Tigers as they head into 2018. No longer is there any hint of being competitive and the word “rebuild” has now officially been uttered.
So how is a Tiger fan to remain sane? How should we be framing this coming year in terms of expectations? And how can we find ways in which to enjoy our team?
As we have discovered, we didn’t necessarily find a higher level of joy when the Tigers won games despite the clear lack of fundamentals, sloppy baserunning, defensive gaps and dumpster fire relieving. We certainly couldn’t find much emotion in enjoying the game when the players clearly appeared disinterested and unfocused on most days.
But now there is a new sheriff in town who brings hope that some of these things will get better. The winning certainly will be much less but potentially there will be greater passion seen and guys who will be trying harder in the field and at the plate.
Ron’s reputation as a motivator is certainly encouraging, but we need much more proof that the Tigers are serious about jettisoning their old ways and adopting proven strategies that they have ignored for the past decade.
We need signs. We need to hear that changes are being made. And we need to hear them before spring training begins.
Here is my list of the top 10 things I want to see – I need to see – happen. Signs that will allow me to sleep at night. (FYI, this was written 24 hours before the Tigers announced their coaching changes.)
1. The rumors of a new pitching coach are great, but everyone else on the coaching staff needs to go. No more signings of men connected to Jim Leyland or for that matter, old retired Minnesota coaches. Unfortunately, Jim Leyland will be staying because afterall, Gardy is one of his closest friends. But the Tigers need to at least put a restraining order on Gene Lamont to stay 1,000 feet away from the dugout.
2. New coaches. Younger coaches. Successful coaches from teams not named Tigers, Marlins, Pirates, Twins or Mariners. And no coaches who have remained unemployed since getting fired.
3. Miggy needs to get his personal life under control and eliminate the distractions. Then he needs to get serious about his physical condition which should include seeking the advice of his own independent medical specialists and personal trainers armed with the latest proven training regimens. Which brings us to……
4. Saying “buh-bye” to the entire training/conditioning department and seriously rethinking the medical team. No need to rehash why. Somehow, I can’t imagine Kevin Rand, Doug Teter and Matt Rankin incorporating pilates and yoga into their training program which the majority of MLB now require their players to take.
5. Ron Gardenhire being interviewed about his meetings with the analytic department. Al Avila offering more info about how the analytic department works and the tools they use. Increasing the analytic employees hired would be a good thing, too.
6. A statement of intent about how the Tigers are going to change things. Details such as a focus on fundamentals, hiring new baserunning coaches and how the team is going to focus more on adapting to Comerica’s field.
7. Job announcements that show the old faces moving out and being replaced by outsiders from top teams. Extra points for guys who worked with Theo Epstein and Farhan Zaidi and bring MBA backgrounds in analytics, sports economics and psychology.
8. A partnership with a training/conditioning specialist group that develops, oversees and monitors every player’s off-season training regimen. The Nats did it several years ago to combat the rash of injuries and look what happened to them since.
9. An interview with Gardy stating his principles for managing and focus on fundamentals, smart baserunning, defensive improvement and team-building skills. We need to know just how differently he is going to manage.
10. A statement, any statement, by Chris Ilitch about his vision, intent and goals for the team. No cookie-cutter, legalese comments but something that hints of interest and passion. And if it’s not forthcoming, if he remains an enigma, then we know what that’s about, too.
What’s on your list? What one thing do you want to witness before the team gathers in Lakeland?
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