OPEN MIKE!

microphoneIt’s Friday folks, which means it’s your day! This is the day for you to be heard. Today is the one day during the month where you get the opportunity to comment on the Tiger topic of your choosing.

This is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can really get those juices flowing. Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.  So, pick a topic and let us hear from you. We know there’s a lot on your minds…


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IN YEAR 1 – BE REASONABLE

By:  Kurt Snyder

Seat belts.

That’s what we will all need. We aren’t driving down the street to the neighbor’s house. This is a cross-country trip and patient fans will need to buckle up.

For more than a decade, Detroit worked tirelessly trying to capture that Title, only to fall short each year. That’s a long time. And that was AFTER they went to a World Series.

AFTER.

One year after reaching the World Series signaled a sudden, sense of urgency for the Tiger organization. And they spent 10 solid years aggressively pursuing what they were unable to grasp in that 5-game series against the Cardinals in 2006. A World Series where the Tigers were considered the better team.

But now we start over. For real. Because this isn’t a quest for a title after reaching the World Series, this is a quest to build a team again after falling to the bottom of Major League Baseball.

This is Ground Zero people. And it needs to be greeted with patience and reasonability when it comes to the goals for Year 1. Because the goals, which may or may not be revealed to us, will be different from year to year.

Did you catch that? Reasonability. It’s a word I have never written. It’s a word that hardly applies in this context but I am fairly certain you can understand how it fits.  It explains the focus for next year. The goals need to be reasonable. Our expectations need to be reasonable.

And in doing so, letting go will be important. Any fan favorites who are still part of this team, players who were once important to the future of this team when winning was the goal, now must be considered potential trade bait.

The last thing I want is for the Tigers to break up what right now is their strength; their combination at second and short. Kinsler-Iglesias have made their mark in Detroit. They will be remembered as one of the best duos since Trammell and Whitaker.

But we must let go and realize what the goals are in Year 1. You can say all you want about how winning is still the most important thing. But it isn’t in 2018. It just isn’t. Not yet.

2018 will be about transitioning. Players who were stars, big time stars, left Detroit and it hurt immensely. Most of that glitter is gone. And any experienced talent left must be let go, if possible, in exchange for the future. I am coming to that realization. But it didn’t come easy.

Dixon Machado must play. He must start. He must be given an Opening Day position, assuming he continues to impress in the spring, which we would all expect. He must play in the middle of that infield in 2018, whether it be at second or short.

He offers speed and athleticism. There are signs of offensive skills but only signs, given his relative lack of playing time. This is what Year 1 is all about. Target the people who you feel are part of your future and make them your present.

You can do that at one of the middle infield positions. Machado is a known, young, commodity. He is one of a handful of players we have seen at the major-league level and seen them have success. With experience, they can flourish. Pieces from which you can build.

You see it with Machado and you saw it with Jamier Candelario when he came over in the trade with the Cubs. They are just 2 pieces. But they are 2 to plug in, play and let them go. And grow.

That is Year 1. Forget wins and losses. Plug in who you are confident are part of your future and gather a stable to pick from for the rest.

Simple? Oh, no way. As a fan, enjoying the ride will be difficult. It’s going to be a bumpy road to start and things won’t smooth out until all the holes are plugged.

One piece at a time.


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PERSONAL EGREGIOUS DECISIONS (P.E.D.s)

By:  Holly Horning

It’s been going on for awhile now. It is the elephant in the room and everyone in baseball is trying to ignore it – hoping it will go away. But it won’t.

Instead, it is going to evolve into a crisis of epic and lasting proportions until someone decides it’s time to put some clarity into the voting process.

And no, we’re not talking about the political elections. This is about voting for the latest members to go into Cooperstown.

Joe Morgan recently wrote a letter to the entire voting body of the BBWAA sharing the concerns of many who currently sit in the Hall. And there are rumors that some of those who attend the ceremonies are prepared to turn their backs to the stage at the ceremonies – or not attend at all – should certain former players be elected.

Last year’s election, with a visible increase in voting percentage for a couple of players, was the obvious red flag that is now inspiring greater attention. The writing is on the wall which is why Morgan chose to speak out about it. And he is correct that silence is often misconstrued as being accepting of policy.

What I don’t understand is why some in baseball are shocked at Morgan’s action. Even angry over it.

I, for one, am seriously shocked that there are those who actually condone the actions of a few who cheated. Those who feel it is acceptable for them to be voted into the Hall because of a previous fuzzy MLB policy or that they require absolute legal documentation of guilt.

We’re really talking about voters who don’t want to take the time to make educated, thoughtful assessments. Voters who don’t want to face the difficult decisions. Even voters who don’t want to face the truth about some of their beloved favorites.

We’re talking about people who are focused on the immediate and haven’t considered what the future holds should baseball go down the darker and messier path. We’re also talking about voters who have not taken to heart the guidelines for how to vote.


From the BBWAA:

“Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”


Let’s face it – there are lots of excuses offered to help ease the individual voter’s pain and explain away why they may vote for someone with dubious stats. But the bottom line is that some of these players cheated.

Cheating is still cheating and there are no excuses for it nor are there acceptable levels of cheating. It’s never been acceptable. Period.

And I doubt anyone who has a vote would allow it to happen in their own homes with their own family. And last I heard, there are no two sets of rules for how to judge humankind and how to evaluate baseball players.

Players who used PEDs benefitted from both significant physical and mental changes to the body. Using them allowed for longer careers and enhanced salary. Using them gave them an edge over their teammates – who made the roster and who got more playing time. They cheated their own team, owner and fans. They also got people associated with their sport fired for doing their jobs correctly.

And they are about to cheat some of the greats of the game by denying them deserved votes and pushing them further down the BBWAA totem pole. Do you think Lou Whitaker would have been ignored to this degree if certain high-profile players with substantial PED rumors had been removed from the voting process? Removed so that the distraction of their candidacy hadn’t clouded the achievement of others?

And in every other sport, players are banned and stripped of their medals, stats and membership for much less. And in most cases, positive drug tests were not required. Look at Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez who never failed their drug tests but got caught via other means. Athletes still hold the upper hand when it comes to avoiding positive drug tests by staying one step ahead of recent advancements in testing.

But there continues to be that silent rift in baseball. Barry Bonds who “broke” Hank Aaron’s record but no one within the Commissioner’s Office attended the game. And Roger Clemens’ trial in which he was acquitted but jurors said it was because of the reputation of his primary accuser, not that they believed he was innocent.

And then there is the Mitchell Report.

So how should we be thinking about all of this? Do the players and voters in question have valid arguments for inclusion?

That’s something we will explore in detail on Sunday. Let’s save any arguments for inclusion/exclusion until then. Today, let’s focus on discussing the big picture of cheating and the rocky road baseball may be traveling very soon.


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

There are so many pieces of the pie to consider when it comes to putting together a successful sports franchise. So much pressure on so many people when a team is rebuilding. Critical decisions need to be made at every corner of the organization.

So, since it’s Tuesday, our writers have a question to answer.

As is the norm, Holly and Kurt have not shared their responses to today’s topic. It’s the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here is our main question to address.


During this off-season, who within the Tigers’ organization will be saddled with the toughest job?


KURT

Well, the most popular answer on who will have the toughest job would be Al Avila or perhaps Ron Gardenhire, but they just don’t happen to be my answer.

With the team transitioning into a total rebuild, reboot or blow up, whatever you want to call it, young talent is what will be the foundation from which to build. Al Avila has said it, but it didn’t need to be said. It’s the logical first step; continuing to build that foundation and loading up the farm.

Every 2017 playoff team has benefitted from a loaded farm system and it’s where the Tigers have been hurt the most. Not by bad free agent signings, not by big contracts but the lack of developing talent in the minor leagues.

So, who’s got the biggest challenge? Well it’s Dave Littlefield, VP of Player Development and Sam Menzin, Director of Baseball Operations & Professional Scouting.

And they have a very important job that starts with finding that star in the draft that the Tigers have not unearthed since Justin Verlander was drafted. The Tigers have the first pick in the draft and they need to find their star. They need to find their Bryce Harper, their Mike Trout or their Carlos Correa.

You guessed it, this is the perfect time for the organization to make that first pick a position player. They will always need pitching and they will have plenty of opportunities to draft more, but they need to choose wisely and ask themselves if the players they choose will someday be guys they can eventually build the team around.

This year’s draft will be the first of perhaps many where the Tigers will be near the top of the pecking order. The goals? High impact, potential stars brought on board to build their future, not someone else’s. This is not an easy task by any means, but a task Littlefield and Menzin will be charged to lead.

It’s easy to put all the pressure on the guys at the top, but they have entrusted people who will be on the ground floor. These are the people who will have the most pressure and will be at the forefront of all of it. You will hear little about them, unless of course they are unsuccessful; it’s normally how things work, unfortunately.


HOLLY

We may automatically think that Al Avila will have the most challenging job as he tries to find buyers for older, expensive players – or attempts to round out the roster with a bare bottom budget. Others may think that Ron Gardenhire may have his hands full trying to change the clubhouse culture which embraced conflict and no accountability. And yet, an argument may be made for pitching coach, Chris Bosio, to pull one of MLB’s worst starting and relief staffs out of the cellar.

But the truth is that the one with the toughest job doesn’t wear a uniform or even step onto the field. It’s the Marketing Department.

Let’s face it – they don’t have a lot to work with this year and not much in the way of people or stats to help them sell tickets. A team now officially in rebuild mode with a GM telling us that it could be a rough 3 – 5 to maybe even more years ahead of us. A GM who has told us several times now that the team will lose a lot of games but won’t purposely be trying to lose them. TMI, Al……TMI…

Adding to that, the organization is continuing its effort to trade at least a couple more players. Players we’ve come to know and love like Iggy and Ian. With JV, Upton, JD and others gone, it’s getting harder and harder to feel warm and fuzzy about those remaining.

The franchise face theory – the strategy that pulls in the greatest number of fans – is on life support. They’ve lost JV to the Astros and their other one, Miggy, isn’t faring well. A guy who had his worst year ever, was injured once again and now facing renewed public scrutiny about how he conducts his personal life. Stories of his reluctance to pay more child support for two children combined with the fact that he is one of the world’s 50 most highly paid athletes. There will be a lot of fans who will no longer see him as favorably as they once did, especially when he didn’t perform well in 2017.

So upon what does the Marketing Department have to hang their hat? Either promoting a pitcher who has been with the team for only 2 years and is coming off elbow surgery combined with MLB’s worst fielding third baseman until he was moved to rightfield. Are we excited yet?

More than likely, the marketing team will try to pull a rabbit out of their magic marketing hat focusing on history rather than reality. Expect lots of special events centered around the 50th anniversary of the 1968 World Series Champion team.


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FIRST STEP ACHIEVED – ADMITTING A PROBLEM

By:  Kurt Snyder

Experts say it’s the most important first step for someone in peril. To admit that they have a problem. To admit that they have hit bottom. They recognize the situation and understand that they need to pick themselves up and begin anew. But they first must admit that there is actually a problem.

The Tigers have taken that first step. They began last season thinking they had one more shot, but quickly realized there was no way they could continue doing what they were doing. The game was getting away from them.

I don’t want to overdramatize things, but this is one way to describe the situation. Because the Tigers chose Brad Ausmus to finish the job of winning a championship and he failed, we naturally feel that all these additional hirings of young and inexperienced candidates are sure to fail.

But are they wrong? Again, no crystal ball, so we don’t know.

Think about how we felt when Dave Dombrowski announced that Ausmus was his choice to succeed Jim Leyland? Wasn’t it a positive? Didn’t we all think the team needed to go in a younger and fresher direction?

Heck, even Jim Leyland said that it was time for someone younger to take the reins. He was part of the decision of who it would be, but there was no way of knowing Brad wouldn’t be successful.

We had that Mike Matheny influence clouding our perspective.

Two teams have handed over their contending teams to relatively inexperienced, new managers. And in Detroit, don’t we all feel that both Washington and Boston have made big mistakes? I think they are both good candidates, knowing their pedigree. But until further notice, I consider them perfect choices for teams rebuilding, not trying to win it all.

Until further notice, I believe those 2 teams have taken a risk.

And risks are not necessary when you are as close to winning as Washington and Boston. They just need a good fit; a new face, one of veteran guidance, who has been there. We needed that after Leyland left and the Nationals and Red Sox need it now. We think so anyway.

Both Martinez and Cora were candidates I believed should have been considered for the Tigers. Philadelphia is rebuilding with a young, progressive, analytic fanatic to help rebuild their franchise. Was Gabe Kapler the right choice for Philly? Again, still searching my basement for the crystal ball I can never find.

We all think we have this figured out. We all think we know what is best for our Tigers. But until one of us works for them (which could happen some day 🙂 ) and helps run the ball club, we are on the outside looking in. We cannot call ourselves experts on what kind of manager they needed and what kind they didn’t. The bottom line was that they needed a new one. And they have one.

That’s good news, isn’t it?

It couldn’t get worse, could it?

It’s not going to hurt the Tigers to have someone come in and improve how they approach the game. It’s not going to hurt the Tigers to get back to the basics, preach fundamentals, play a better brand of baseball. Of course, a shortage in talent will only allow a team to improve so much, but at least they will begin with a stronger base, more discipline and improved leadership. That’s the least they could do.

This is the bottom, folks. The Tigers have admitted it and are taking steps to make changes. Their leadership from ownership on down has been wearing them down. Their philosophy has driven the organization to this point.

So, the Tigers have chosen to take a slow, methodical and conservative path through the analytical forest. Their new manager says he will embrace it. Is Ron Gardenhire who we wanted or needed? Most fans stand in agreement that the answer is an emphatic ‘no.’

I am standing there with them.

Contending teams have chosen a faster track with young hot shots speaking the gospel everyone wants to hear. We question the formula because we were also a contending team who has been burned by the approach.

This will be an interesting season to see if the Tigers are still on the wrong path. Even though there will be losing, we will be able to tell.

But it will also be interesting to see if these teams looking to grab that title by means of inexperienced creativity, should have slowed down and invested just a little more thought.


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THE SIGNS

On this holiday weekend, let’s take a look back in time as the Tigers were just starting to make changes after the 2017 season. How many of these signs have we seen? How many can we expect to see before spring training gets underway? Is this a team in full change mode or are they just tweaking? And will there be more changes than not?

Totally Tigers

By:  Holly Horning

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…

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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

Totally Tigers has decided we can better serve Saturday readers during the off-season by commenting on what we think is the most interesting or important topic of the week. In doing so, we want the readers to participate. We will share our topics, but want to hear yours as well.

Let’s see what Holly and Kurt have on their minds this week. Saturday topics are not shared and it’s only for the readers’ benefit. So, what stood out this week?


HOLLY

Joe Morgan wrote a letter to all the voting members of the BBWAA indicating that there is a concern by those currently in the Hall of Fame about rumored PED users being elected into Cooperstown. He inferred that there is a measurable level of unhappiness over the continued failure (or avoidance) to address and interpret the problems created by those who sought to enhance their performance by other means.

Many believe that Morgan’s letter is representative of the group’s growing concern over some questionable elections last year as well as the increasing vote totals for those with obvious signs of PED use.

An increased focus on attempting to validate the talent of those who cheated also serves to diminish and take away the focus on players who played the game by the book. Players with numbers who get lost when compared to the group in question, players who lose valuable votes and are dropped off the ballot, players who rank among the best in the Hall but sadly continue to be ignored. Players like Lou Whitaker.


 KURT

Giancarlo Stanton continues to be the big prize this off-season; teams are lining up to put together trade packages in exchange for the reigning NL MVP.

After experiencing a season where home runs were hit at a record-setting pace, teams continue to be transfixed by power hitters; they build excitement, increase attendance and when they are mega-stars like Stanton, they are a marketing department’s dream.

But Stanton has a history of injuries and he’s not a free agent. You are not only shelling out money, you must give up prospects as well as pay him his hefty salary. Does all this sound like a recipe for a championship, a deal that can take a team over the top? Sorry, not for Giancarlo, but I may be naïve by thinking that winning is the preferred end game here.


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OPEN MIKE!

microphoneIt’s Friday, folks and it’s your day AGAIN! We have the luckiest readers as they enjoy yet another Open Mike opportunity. That’s right, another  shot  to comment on the Tiger topic of your choosing.

This is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can really get those juices flowing. Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.  So, pick a topic and let us hear from you. We know there’s a lot on your minds…


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HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM TOTALLY TIGERS

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE! For the most part, our greeting from a year ago still works for today. So we rolled it on out again. Have a great holiday!

Totally Tigers

This is a day where we all give thanks. And we here at Totally Tigers want to show ours to you, the readers. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. So we send out a big roar of approval to those who read us every day, to those who binge-read us, the solid core who comment regularly and to the many who silently lurk in the shadows. Even those who read us occasionally. We love you all.

We are thrilled that you get us and why we started this blog. We love that you’re looking for conversation starters and not spin. And the fact that we often don’t give answers – and that explanations are often presented. All in a civil, user-friendly environment that encourages the sharing of thoughts and ideas.

And as we go forward, expect some tweaks from Totally Tigers. We’ll be expanding, adding new…

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THE FINAL ANALYSIS – PHYSICAL & MENTAL

During this holiday week, it’s time to revisit a multi-series blog. Perfect to read (or re-read) should you find yourself alone with the in-laws – or unable to move off of the sofa. Enjoy – and may everyone have a most wonderful Thanksgiving!

Totally Tigers

By:  Holly Horning

Did you think the multi-part blog analyzing the factors involved in the Tigers’ failure to win a ring over the past decade was over? Or that I had forgotten to finish it? Now that the World Series, the selection of a new manager and coaches and everything associated with Justin Verlander is over, it’s time to finish what we started.

So much information that needed to be analyzed and dissected that it was broken down into categories. If you haven’t read the series, or need to brush up on the factors (there will be a quiz later), here they are:

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/previews-reviews-interviews/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2017/10/07/the-final-analysis-the-individuals/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/the-final-analysis-the-groups/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2017/10/14/the-final-analysis-the-priorities/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/the-final-analysis-the-2-as/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2017/10/24/the-final-analysis-the-habits/


Today’s final installment is a curious one. Two opposites. The factual and the intangibles. The physical and the mental. The policies and the emotional. Both equally compelling in just how much damage each did to a team wanting to win it…

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