20 SEPTEMBER THOUGHTS

By:  Kurt Snyder

Well, it’s finally over. 2018 is behind us. And it confirmed one thing for me. I hate rebuilding. Coming into the season, the goal for me personally was to embrace a new beginning. But I haven’t because I’m not sure the Tigers have a plan.

So entering 2019, there will be a lot of uncertainty. As the final month of season, September introduced even more questions than answers.

So what came to mind in September that made the monthly 20 Thoughts?

All thoughts while contemplating the month are captured here. Holdovers are topics we need to continue to follow and ponder, and are necessary in the compilation of 20 more monthly thoughts, of course, for your pleasure.

Let’s begin.


1. When you are rebuilding, September is one of the most important months of the season. The roster expansion meant that we would finally get a look at Christin Stewart. So what did we learn? Nothing new. He can hit for power and field poorly. Is this what we want?

2. I believe the Indians, despite their playoff experience, are poorly prepared to just turn it on in October. This division was decided fairly early and I think it works against them regardless of their roster upgrades.

3. The unprecedented event between Rod and Mario has now sunk in,  and I believe the poor working relationship between the two that reached the boiling point, is a complete embarrassment to the Tigers and FOX Sports. These 2 have seen their last days in Detroit.

4. So which of the new guys will stick around and are worth further investment in 2019? The position player that stands out the most to me is Niko Goodrum. But he is one of the many who needs to hit for a higher average before any long-term obligation is considered. Victor Reyes was another with some good skills. But again, these guys need to be better hitters.

5. Michael Fulmer. I have no more words than these: His return in August? Not pretty. My feeling for September? Must prove to the Tigers that they didn’t make a mistake holding onto him. (Holdover: They made a mistake, a big one.)

6. I intend for this one to carry on all through next spring: How will Miggy fit into the new culture that has been created? VMart has never openly had this much fun in years. Do you expect the same type of invigoration from Cabrera when he returns next season? Yes. I do. (Keeping this on my radar. Expect Miggy to emerge as a leader for these guys.)

7. The Tigers finished the 2018 season appropriately, with their 18th shutout of the year. 18! That’s just silly. But hey, they were bad! They were supposed to be bad and they were.   Avoiding 100 losses speaks to the job our manager did.  Early successes helped to delay the losing.

8. Jordan Zimmermann is damaged goods and his continued time in Detroit will only show occasional success, offer no trade value and serve as the equivalent of holding the team hostage. His continued presence stifles the rebuild of the starting rotation.

9. Who could have guessed that VMart would end his career with an infield hit! The slow-footed DH helped make station-to-station offense famous in Detroit. So, you had to laugh at the irony; a career-ending hit that didn’t leave the infield.

10. One final mention about Victor Martinez. He was a great Tiger. One to be admired for his work ethic and dedication to the game. He will make a great hitting coach, but not here, of course. That would be forward thinking.

11. September brought the news that Ron Gardenhire’s entire staff would return for 2019. Who made that decision? Did he have help? Isn’t a shame we have to ask these questions?

12. I believe Joe Jimenez represents a pitcher with a gifted arm who has worked hard and is gradually improving on his way to becoming the team’s next closer. Bruce Rondon had a gifted arm. Here ends the comparison.

13. Having identified Jimenez as the next Tiger closer, we should be excited about the prospects of the kind of nasty stuff that Victor Alcantara possesses. This is how bullpens should be built. Starting 2019 with these 2 guys positioned for late inning work is pretty intriguing, and encouraging.

14. Who is the next leadoff hitter for the Tigers? They have experimented with Jeimer Candelario, but he doesn’t look like a fit there. I see him settling into the middle of the order next season. (I carried this over, because Candy spent so much time leading off in September. As much as I still don’t think that’s where he will settle, he didn’t look out of place.)

15. Nick Castellanos, like last season, had a tremendous September, coming up just shy of hitting .300 for the season. He is now a rising star at the plate who should garner more trade talk than ever this off-season. Should we trade him? Well, we should listen.  To everyone.

16. Simply put. If James McCann isn’t going to hit. Good bye. (Holdover: Al Avila pretty much confirmed it. His chances of staying are not good.)

17. Have you notice an increase in the pace of play in the game as the season moved along? Have you noticed games getting shorter? Me neither. (Hold over: what has slowed games even more? Instant replay – where easy calls take just as long as the tough ones.)

18. One good thing I have noticed about many of the position players that have come up to Detroit this season. Speed. Guys that can run should be just as important to the Tigers as it has been to the Kansas City Royals. KC, who has now begun another rebuild, are concentrating on speed once again.

19. Do the Oakland A’s rebuild? How would you describe how they continue to stick their nose into the playoff picture every 2-3 years? (Holdover: I was going to talk about how I will be rooting for the A’s to make a run in the playoffs in October. But I forgot one thing. I hate their obnoxious fans. So forget it!)

20. I hope you have enjoyed this segment over the course of the season. If you have, the good news is that it won’t stop. You can count on it every month. The playoffs should be very enlightening and should make for a great set of 20 Thoughts for October.

GREAT (OR NOT) EXPECTATIONS

By:  Holly Horning

Is a manager just a manager? Are all managers created equal? Can any manager be plugged into just about any team?

Or do they constitute a wide variety of types? Do some work better with different kinds of teams?

Many fans tend to think that managers are a singular breed. They don’t consider the different personalities, resumes, preferences or skill sets.

And it’s only getting more complex given the fast and significant changes happening in baseball during the past 5 years.

Baseball currently has some remnants of the older, crusty and traditional manager. Increasingly being replaced by the younger set that is modern and embraces analytics. And now, the rise of the non-manager manager. The guys who never ran a clubhouse and are chosen for their ability to create a positive working environment and successfully juggle different personalities while also ceding power to the directives of the Front Office and analytics departments.

Then you’ve got to consider the areas of expertise of each group. Those who can successfully handle the teams full of expensive and opinionated stars. Those who are more nurturing and best suited for teams with younger rosters. Some managers welcome the stress and expectations of teams considered worthy of winning it all while others prefer the process of teaching and building teams.

And let’s not forget those who have playoff and World Series experience on their resumes. It’s another level of expertise requiring a more-advanced skill set.

So when any team needs a new manager, they don’t simply select the most accomplished guy for the job or the one with the shiniest resume. He may not fit.

For teams rebuilding, you may need a teacher . For teams just existing or going nowhere, a caretaker or placeholder. And for teams in the mix, you need a savvy, motivational leader.

For example, you would never hire Joe Maddon or Bruce Bochy when you are tearing down your team and rebuilding. And you shouldn’t hire someone who has never managed before to take over a team full of expensive veteran stars expected to get you that ring. (Rut roh….)

Except, a few teams have done that. Boy, have we Tiger fans experienced that painful history with the infamous and inexplicable hiring of Brad Ausmus. So far, that formula has failed miserably in this modern era of baseball.

But with each hiring, comes expectations. The more pressure to win, the higher the level. And the higher the level of analysis and criticism.

And when your team is expected to go nowhere, the expectations are almost non-existent. And critical analysis of their actions goes way down, too.

Take Jim Leyland for example. There were few expectations placed upon him in his first year as the Tigers manager. But when he took the team to the World Series in 2006, expectations skyrocketed going forward. He had already won a World Series and his first year showed that the Tigers were ready sooner than expected.

But that level of expectations created an unforgiving spotlight on him that unfortunately never went away. You are judged by the talent – and timeline – you are given. As a result, fans expected much more of Leyland than he was able to give.

The Ausmus era was a total mismatch of expectations created by one of the poorest decisions ever made by the Tigers organization. Hiring someone with no managerial experience whatsoever to take a team with a ticking championship clock to the World Series. And in his first year, no less.

Despite the media’s priority of concealing the problems going on in the clubhouse and in the dugout, instead of doing their jobs, we later learned just how disastrous this managerial stint was.

And unfortunately, most fans held Ausmus primarily accountable instead of the decision makers who hired him. Brad was forced into a position of the highest expectations. And when you are unable to deliver, you are on the receiving end of much criticism. You are the most visible symbol of the failure, not the ones hiding in offices within the confines of CoPa.

Now take the case of Ron Gardenhire. A different manager for a different roster in a different time with different goals. He was selected for a team entering the first phase of rebuilding with no stated timetable for completion.

He was selected for providing stability in an uncertain time. For a team expected to lose over 100 games. For a roster that was turning over into one primarily loaded with greenhorns.

He is, simply, the placeholder. The guy who will watch over the players until management decides that the team they’ve developed is ready to successfully compete. Hopefully.

And with his status, Gardy has almost no expectations placed upon him. Which is why I don’t put him under the same microscope as his predecessors. Quite frankly, there’s nothing much to grade or analyze in 2018.

His hands are, for the most part, tied. He can only work with what he is given. And he’s not being given a whole lot. The only thing that we can judge him on going forward, is whether he is finally able to overcome the long-time Tigers’ m.o. of ignoring fundamentals.

Which is why he garners little criticism right now. Why we all give him a break. It’s not fair to judge him on the same criteria, talent and standards of past teams. He has much, much less with which to work. And you can’t judge a performance when your Front Office is depleting your talent and has yet to publicly state its goals or timeline.

What fans really should do in this case, is to stop focusing on the evaluation of the manager, and start to focus on the executive ranks and ownership. For it is them, not the manager, who actually determines the course and goals of the team through their actions. Or lack of them.


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Even though we are following a team that is playing out the string in September, there is still news. There is always something published here to ponder.

Kurt and Holly don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspectives. During any given week, they could head in a number of directions.

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into last night’s game in Milwaukee.


KURT

The news surrounding Dan Gilbert’s supposed interest in purchasing the Tigers was met with the usual answer from the Ilitch family. They aren’t selling – something they have stood by every time the subject comes up.

So why does it keep coming up and why is there a continued desire, by the fan base, for new ownership? Well, Chris Ilitch, to this point, does not strike anyone as an owner with any kind of passion or urgency to win. He primarily stays behind the scenes and when he does speak, there are generalizations and scripted responses to questions.

We all know this team won’t win overnight; it’s not the way rebuilds work. More importantly, we have ownership doing nothing about how the franchise is structured; people in key positions are setting this team up for failure for the long haul unless Chris wakes up and responds to all the mold growing inside the walls of the organization.


HOLLY

There are signs that the Tigers and Fox Sports Detroit are closing in on a decision regarding next year’s broadcasters.

Within the media world, no one gets hired until they have gone through extensive test marketing in order to ascertain chemistry and receive positive feedback from focus groups who watch and rate the pairings. In the month since the removal of Mario Impemba and Rod Allen, new and old faces from both radio and tv are being test-driven with the combo of Matt Shepard and Kirk Gibson resulting in a pleasant pairing that has seen Gibby’s on-air banter improve.

But Gibson, admitting that Parkinson’s has taken a bigger toll on him and Jack Morris, who is wedded to his home state where he is also raising a second family, have created a situation where Dan “Peaches” Petry will probably step in after years of offering temporary guest commentary and the current one-month trial. There is the added bonus of having an established relationship with FSD and his former teammate, Gibby, which enhances the comfort and banter factors.

And with viewership going nowhere but down, adding former Tigers with World Series rings who can share stories of the glory days, will help stem the viewer bleeding.

As for Mario and Rod, both the Tigers and FSD are likely to make a clean break and not renew either one’s contracts in order to minimize any controversy arising from retaining one or the other.


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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 (normally) 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. What’s on your minds?


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MOVE ‘EM IN AND MOVE ‘EM OUT

By:  Kurt Snyder

Everyone has their opinions. Observations. Predictions. All tools used to come to a conclusion.

The question?

Which new Tiger looks to have the brightest future – and what evidence do you have to support it?


Well, there are a handful of players who turned heads and made some impact; enough to consider them for the roster next season. But that’s it. They have only shown enough to be considered for next year’s Opening Day roster.

But if you have to stick your neck out and pick one, aren’t we all answering the question with Jeimer Candelario?

When the season began, we saw how Tiger management felt about him, as they moved Nick Castellanos from third to right field. They gave the rookie the third base job. For the season.

They put him there and left him there. And that was the rookie side of things. On the other side of the ledger sits the most accomplished hitter on the team outside of the guy we call Miggy.

Nick Castellanos has indeed benefitted from how the Tigers felt about Candelario. As fans, we all screamed in terror as he was given the right field job. The thought of Nick all season in the outfield was frightful.

Nick is not the best outfielder, but he is better now than when the season started.  And that is where Gardy succeeds as manager.  How will a guy improve on a rebuilding team if you don’t give him a fair shot?

Will he continue to improve? Will the day come where fans will be made to look foolish for not giving him a chance? Well, I’m not willing to go that far yet.

But you can’t question Nick’s mental game. His offensive game has reached a level where even another position change has not affected him at the plate. This will be his best season, and maybe, just maybe, it was a relief for him to leave the hot corner.

Third base is a challenging position. But when you aren’t blessed with athleticism, instincts and arm strength, all categories where I believe Nick struggled, you will never master third base.

Nick has a better skill set for a corner outfield spot. Unfortunately, his arm strength is probably more suited for leftfield, but you can’t argue with the assists. He has still managed to throw some guys out.

So have the Tigers made the right move? Well, Candelario was identified as the player most-ready to play right away. And they knew they had a need defensively at third base. They were in need of someone who had a better skill set.

Jeimer is far superior athletically than Castellanos. He has a much better arm, and he looks at home at third base. Now, he hasn’t been perfect, but he has made enough plays that are proof that the Tigers are set at the hot corner.

But what does the future hold for Castellanos?

The Tigers have candidates for the outfield should he leave. Nothing more; just candidates at this point. But you don’t mess around with third base. Third basemen are usually some of the most complete players in the game. It is historically a position where you would expect high-end offense and defense. You need someone to stroke it at the plate, pick it with the glove and gun it with the arm.

Jeimer looks to have that potential – that full package. It’s why he was given the job and why Nick was moved.

So are we set at third? It appears so. Are we set in right or will Nick be moved, and what I mean is, moved out of town for the next Tiger right fielder?

That’s up to our GM. Sorry if you’re scared again.


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OLD WAYS OR NEW STRATEGY?

By:  Holly Horning

There will be a litmus test over the winter that will end with the selection of the Opening Day roster for the Tigers. And it will determine whether the Tigers have realized that their old formula hasn’t worked – and that they need to significantly change the formula.

As most fans have realized, the organization never built a roster that mirrored their ballpark. A cavernous outfield that begged for defensive wizards who were fleet of foot. Instead, we saw much of the opposite. Defensively so bad at times that after the 2014 season, reports had an angry David Price demanding that Dave Dombrowski do something about it because the below-average defensive talent was ruining his stats.

The Tigers have always placed a premium on guys who could hit. Defensive skills were secondary, especially in the outfield. Which is why Al Avila has been trying to trade Nicholas Castellanos for over a year now and has had no takers despite his tremendous hitting skills. The same guy who ranks in the AL’s top 15 in BA, OBP, slugging and OPS and leads the league in getting 3 hits or more per game. Extra points for accomplishing it all without Miggy hitting in front of him.

Now, Avila is running into a real problem given that Nick will be entering his last year before free agency and becomes a lesser-valued rental. He’s also just had his best year ever and chances are that there may be some regression in 2019.

What are the chances that Nick will be in RF next year?

But the situation becomes more complicated given that it appears more and more likely that Christin Stewart will man LF in 2019. A younger Castellanos with a powerful bat but also defensively challenged.

And once again, the Tigers may be repeating their old pattern of having more than 1 below-average outfielder. What may tip the balance in favor of having both manning the corners is that the Tigers have suffered this year offensively. Last or near last in many categories and a record number of 1-run losses.

And this will be one of Avila’s biggest challenges. Stay true to changing the team into one that can win with a different formula or make an exception?

Afterall, he did not sign Christin Stewart. It was one of Dave Dombrowski’s last moves as GM. Different GM, a different time, a different goal and a different philosophy.

If Al is unable to trade Nick over the winter, we can probably count on having both of them in the outfield. Castellanos will be gone after 2019 and the Tigers will need another power hitter to take his place. Enter Stewart.

The only thing we do know for certain is that JaCoby Jones will be manning CF. Thankfully.

He is the complete opposite of the other two. Speedy, a defensive plus but with an uncertain bat. And he’s very exciting to watch. He’s also learned to cover more and more of his teammates’ territory in an attempt to cut down on defensive runs lost.

Jones is already listed as one of the better defensive outfielders in MLB. Currently ranked 8th in the AL for all position players by SABR which helps determine, in part, who qualifies for the Gold Glove at the end of the year.

Will Al surprise us with a trade this winter? It will probably depend upon whether a team is desperate for a bat more than they need a glove.


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

As we enter into the final week of the season for the Tigers, it’s not too early to begin reflecting back on who made the biggest impacts on this version of baseball in Detroit.

We will have all of the off-season to analyze the roster and any changes that are made. But what about Ron Gardenhire and his staff?

As always, our writers have not shared their responses in the interests of offering a range of perspectives. So what will readers get today as Holly and Kurt address a question about the staff who led the team this season?


Which coach (including Gardy) performed the best this year and why?


HOLLY

The best coach has only had the job for just short of 3 months and was Ron Gardenhire’s choice – but not the Tigers, who selected Chris Bosio instead.

Rick Anderson, who took a step down by becoming the bullpen coach, inherited the job he should have had in the first place and showed a marked change in the performance of multiple pitchers in the second half of the season.

I don’t remember any pitchers, for years, giving their pitching coach credit the way a number of Tigers have been lauding Anderson’s work with them – Matthew Boyd, Drew VerHagen, Joe Jimenez, Buck Farmer and others. The latter who bluntly stated that he wished Anderson had been with the team 4 years ago, throwing shade on both Jeff Jones and Rich Dubee.

Under Anderson, Boyd regained his fastball, VerHagen’s performance has leveled out to where he is now posting a 2.21 ERA under Anderson’s tutelage and Jimenez has regained his edge and confidence – important for the closer-in-waiting.

Granted, there is still a distance to go but in comparison to the other coaches, Anderson has shown distinct and consistent results from multiple players. We can’t say the same about the rest, including Dave Clark, who oversees the daily chaos in the outfield where you now wonder how many collisions or near-misses will happen every day.


KURT

Just as I was about to talk up the Tigers’ coach who has made the biggest difference this season, I found an article on him in one of the local rags, so I will shift the discussion in a more unique direction.

Ron Gardenhire, as it turned out, had made a wise choice for his bullpen coach, a trusted friend from his days in Minnesota, Rick Anderson. And little did he know how important the choice would be. Chris Bosio, a high-profile pitching coach who had been fired by the Cubs, was someone the Tigers felt they needed to grab, instead of showing good faith in their manager.

Bosio turned out to be the absolute wrong choice, for reasons we won’t bring up again. But, having Rick Anderson on staff allowed him to smoothly transition into the familiar spot as pitching coach for Gardenhire.

And the results, to us maybe, have been a pleasant surprise; but I doubt they are a surprise to Gardy. The pitching staff has responded to Anderson’s tutelage and they have grown, which for 2018, is what we wanted.

Hopefully the Tigers will start learning a valuable lesson and asking themselves one simple question: Do you trust the men you have hired? Then let them do their jobs!


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VMART RETIREMENT OPENS DOORS

By:  Kurt Snyder

With the 2018 home schedule having come to a close, the Tiger organization accomplished what they wanted to do at Comerica Park this season. They celebrated past glory.

They were necessary certainly, with Hall of Fame inductions and number retirements finally seeing the light of day again in Detroit.

The 50th anniversary of the ’68 Tigers was something to be celebrated and it was a special time for fans to recognize that team and all it meant to the city during a difficult time.

But then there was the ceremony that took place this past weekend. Victor Martinez had announced his retirement, making the pre-game ceremony on Saturday that much more special.

This was a huge part of the changing of the guard for the team. Celebrate the old and usher in the new. It was one more high-profile name heading out the door. And as loved as VMart was over the course of his career in a Tiger uniform, his departure will finally free things up.

No longer will the Tigers be limited by someone who could only DH and nothing else.

So what should we expect in 2019 instead? Well, if you ask me, Miggy should DH a lot. A move that I believe would go a long way in keeping him healthy, in the lineup and producing.

I believe VMart’s inability to field a position over the last several years has impacted Miggy’s health.


https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/is-vmart-really-helping-miggy/


So with Victor now gone, the Tigers have the opportunity to do some other things. They will give Christin Stewart every opportunity next season. The left-handed bat and his struggles on defense will make him a good candidate to DH when Miggy’s at first base, primarily on nights when they want to load up on lefty bats.

Nicholas Castellanos should also be inserted into the DH rotation. Nick will need a break from right field on occasion. And on a team where VMart owned the DH slot, it meant that Nick would have to sit. No longer. If he needs rest, DH him.

When you need another lefty bat in the lineup, you can insert Victor Reyes into the lineup or Niko Goodrum (both switch hitters), while Stewart fills that DH spot. The advantages? More speed and more power.

It was great to see the emotion displayed by Victor Martinez, both in Cleveland and Detroit over the last week. And we should appreciate what he brought to the Tigers.
But emotions helped buy him another 4 years in Detroit.

Mike Ilitch had signed up for 4 more years of gridlock in his lineup. He signed up for 4 more years of Miggy and VMart, but in the end, we learned how limiting it would become.

VMart’s departure opens doors now for a team needing more opportunities for more players. And more opportunities to do different things with the lineup depending on the opponent and matchups.

Constantly plugging in one player into the DH role was something that had become rare in the game. The Tigers were falling behind.

As you have read over the course of the season, the Tigers’ rebuild needs to go far beyond the field. They have fallen behind in so many categories.

This is the smallest of steps; but it is a step.


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THE STARTING POINT

By: Holly Horning

As we all know, the Tigers are in a rebuild.  But what exactly constitutes a “rebuild”?

Is it simply changing the names on the roster or is it something more?

Does it involve a change in strategy?

Does it involve changing how things are done?

If you’ve read any of the books written by those GMs who came into an organization and successful rebuilt their teams, the answer is “yes.”  Most recently, Theo Epstein has emphasized that you need to change the corporate culture first.  That you need to get everyone on board – or get them to leave.  That changes start at the top and trickle all the way down.

And as we know, he was successful in finally changing the Cubs.  But Theo realized that the personnel within the organization was holding them back from becoming a winning culture and he was forced to replace a significant percentage of the Front Office, scouting department and other bits of the Cubs.

He emphasized that when you have a large number of personnel who have been employed by the team for a long time, it is hard to change how things are done, especially when they now skew on the older side.  As stats show, as people age, they are less likely to be flexible, less likely to stay current and proactive, less likely to explore new theories and methods and less likely to change their minds.  Less likely to change their ways.

Simply look around baseball.  It’s happening everywhere.  Gone are the days when GMs and managers worked their way up to their positions after years of working in supporting positions.  The vast majority of GMs now come from outside of baseball and are as young as their mid-30’s.  And more and more managers are coming into the game without having coached or managed.

So what do the Tigers’ personnel look like?

I looked at everyone’s employment history (so you don’t have to) and found a number of patterns.  First, that turnover is almost non-existent.  The only real changes seen have been in developing and hiring the analytics department and some turnover in scouting.   And Ron Gardenhire “inherited” half of his coaching staff.

But all of the most important decision-makers are still there – and have been for quite awhile.  They are the nucleus that have stayed together for decades despite the different teams and several GMs.

Think of the Tigers personnel in the form of a family tree.  Almost everyone is “related” to everyone else.  There are very few people who have come from other teams without a work history that ties back to the Tigers.  It is a very insular group which means that how things are seen and analyzed tend to be of the same group-think.

The main branch is related to Dave Dombrowski with a secondary branch associated with Jim Leyland.

Dave’s first real job with power was with Montreal, followed by the Marlins and finally, the Tigers.  He brought a number of personnel with him from Montreal to Florida and finally to Detroit.  Many of the employees still found in the Tigers’ directory.

Employees who go back decades with Dave.  We’re talking all the way back to the 1980’s.

And of course, Jim Leyland managed the Marlins under Dombrowski.  But there is also a chunk of personnel that date back to his days with the Pirates.

It all makes for a small, insular group of similarly-minded employees who have known each other for decades.  They are comfortable with each other.  And most probably, loathe to rock the boat or even want someone new with fresh, advanced ideas about how to rebuild to join their cozy club.  Replacing someone within their own family would be unthinkable.

And when Trader Dave left Detroit, he took no Tigers personnel with him.  It was reported that Avila’s first job was to lock everyone into contracts so they couldn’t leave for Boston.

I’ve assembled a list of the most important personnel with the dates that first ties them to the organization.

These dates include:

–      When they first started working for Dave (Expos, Marlins, Tigers) or Leyland (Pirates, Marlins, Tigers).

–      In a few cases, some left the Tigers for a year or two and then returned.  Not everyone listed has been continuously employed by Detroit the entire time.

–      A number of the most influential employees do not have resumes that are made available to the public.  If you don’t see a certain name, that is why.

–      In most cases, the doctors do not list the length of time they have been working with the Tigers.  It also appears that 2-3 of them are employed under the umbrella of sports medicine company founded by one of them.  From the information found, it would appear they were hired as a package deal rather than hired based upon their independent qualifications.  They work for the same company as well as the same hospital.  Several of them report that they are also the team doctors to the Wings, Lions and Pistons.

FRONT OFFICE

Al Avila – 1992

Duane McLean – 2003

David Chadd – 2001

Scott Bream – 1999

Dave Littlefield – 1994

SPECIAL ASSISTANTS

All former Tigers players – Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Alan Trammell, Dick Egan who have been in their positions for decades for different owners and multiple GMs.

Jim Leyland – A special assistant since 2013 but dates all the way back to 1963 with the Tigers.

Mike Russell – 1996

ANALYTICS

Jay Sartori – 2016

Sam Menzin – 2012

Jim Logue – 2016

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

Manny Crespo – 1996

Tom Moore – 2006

(Four others who have no findable bios.)

SCOUTING

Scott Pleis – 2007

Bruce Tanner – 2007 (but even earlier with Jim Leyland)

Eric Nieto – 2013

Randy Johnson – early 2000’s

Jim Olander – early 2000’s

Jimmy Rough – early 2000’s

Murray Cook – early 2000’s

Don Kelly – 2001 (as scout since 2015)

Joe Ferrone – 2003

Ray Crone – 2015

Jim Elliott – 2017

Kevin Ellis – 2017

Paul Mirocke – 2017

Yadalla Mufdi – 2017

MEDICAL/TRAINING/CONDITIONING

Kevin Rand – 1993

Doug Teter – 1995

Matt Rankin – 1996

Robbie Williams – 2017

Chris Walter – 2005

Yousef Zamat – 2006

DOCTORS

Michael Workings – no published date

Stephen Lemos – 2006

Louis Saco – no published date

MANAGER AND COACHES

Ron Gardenhire – 2018

Lloyd McClendon – 1990

Phil Clark – 1992

Rick Anderson – 2018

Ramon Santiago – 2002

Dave Clark – 1992

Steve Liddle – 2018

Jeff Pico – 2018

Joe Vavra – 2018

John Murrian – 2009

What will the off-season bring?

Probably no real changes as it pertains to the personnel behind the scenes.  It’s already been announced that every single coach will be returning next year.

No surprise there.

Will we witness more of the same group-think?  Will we finally see the Tigers take that leap forward and surprise us with some cutting-edge changes?

Will this be a complete or partial rebuild?

As long as the power structure doesn’t change, can we expect more of the same?

NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Even though we are following a team that is playing out the string in September, there is still news. There is always something published here to ponder.

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspective. During any given week, they could head in a number of directions.

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into last night’s game at home against the Royals.


KURT

Christin Stewart, all season, was considered one of the better Tiger prospects and on Thursday night, he had a coming out party as he celebrated his promotion to the big club by clubbing 2 homers and driving in 6 runs.

That’s the good news, but the bad news is that his defensive reputation, just like his offensive power, has preceded him.

And it bothers me that one of our best prospects has a major hole in his game. When we are talking about a top prospect, I would hope his talents go beyond his ability to hit the ball out of the park.

JaCoby Jones has struggled at the plate, but provides other opportunities to win games as shown by his speed and athleticism in the field and on the base paths; all of which makes him worthy of  further evaluation.

On the other hand, Stewart doesn’t strike me as a player who will get a long leash playing for a manager like Ron Gardenhire who places importance on players who can help win games all over the field.

Christin will need to prove everyone wrong by working hard on his defensive game in the off-season, which he will need to improve to be considered part of the future mix in the Tiger outfield.


HOLLY

The state of the game is increasingly getting more press by those who feel baseball will lose fans if it continues along the same path.

The latest stats show that balls are put into play only 40% of the time and for the first time ever, there are more strikeouts in MLB than there are hits. If you think the Tigers’ individual batting averages are low, keep in mind that the average BA in all of baseball is around .240. This is similar to the early 1970’s – and a time when the DH was introduced to help counteract the drop in hits.

The evolution of pitchers, as well as analytics, have factored into these changes. Pitchers are throwing harder and harder which makes hitting singles, let alone bunting, not a good option. This is one reason why hitters are boom or bust – trying for home runs or striking out in their attempts.


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