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.
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.