THE SATURDAY SURVEY

 For the off-season, in the interests of mixing things up, Saturdays are now offer another way to gauge the pulse of our readers.    Today’s poll addresses the more-than-likely scenario about James McCann leaving the organization.

As always, we welcome your comments, so please vote and then submit your reasons for how you voted in the usual comment box.



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TWICE AS NICE

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

After a long drought in Detroit, it took a trip to Boston for Dave Dombrowski to win another championship. And our writers would like to put in their 2 cents.

As always, Holly and Kurt have not shared their responses to the topic below in the interests of offering a wide range of perspective. So what will readers get today as Totally Tigers addresses a question about the former Tiger GM?


Dave Dombrowski just won his second Executive of the Year Award with the Red Sox to join the one he received with the Marlins. What are our two bloggers’ thoughts?


HOLLY

Sometimes it is much easier to work with an organization that gives you an unlimited budget with which to work as is the case with Dave and his tenure with the Marlins, Tigers and now Red Sox. And it’s also an advantage to come into an organization with a fully loaded farm system and a roster of emerging stars as he did in Boston.

But Dombrowski is indisputably talented as evidenced by this second award and recognition as only 1 of 4 GMs to win in both leagues – joining Gillick, Schuerholz and Epstein. Unlike his tenure in Detroit, he was described as being highly adaptive to the changes in the game and for the ability to analyze Front Office talent and maximize their ability to produce.

Which now begs the question as to why he did not win this award with Detroit. Was it due to his bad decisions involving the bullpen, lack of analytics and hiring of a rookie manager? Or were his ideas and goals thwarted by Mr. I and other employees? Did Dave take his experience with the Tigers and hard-learned lessons to Boston where he changed his approach and strategies dramatically?

The only thing we do know is that Dave took absolutely zero Tigers employees with him when he got the job in Boston, keeping the entire Boston Front Office intact.
Lots of factors are probably involved but it never looks good when your GM leaves and earns everything your previous employer wanted but never got including that infamous ring and industry-wide accolades.


KURT

Fourteen years come to mind when contemplating Dombrowski’s successful capture of a World Championship in Boston. They represent the time he spent in Detroit trying so desperately to attain what he achieved in just a few years with the Red Sox.

The list of similarities is short. In Detroit, the money to build was limitless under the guidance of ownership, just as it is in Boston. The star power in both cities rivaled each other, even with some of the same players playing for both franchises.

But there is one big difference – Mike Ilitch was involved when he shouldn’t have been and wasn’t when he needed to be. At times you wondered who was responsible when the Tigers made outlandish deals for talent that maybe DD wouldn’t have made on his own.

In Boston, ownership pulled back the reins on Dombrowski when the talent in the farm began to thin due to deals for veterans. In Detroit, he never had a leash and Ilitch never stepped in until the very end when DD revealed he was all out of bargaining chips – i.e. farm system talent and depth.

In the end, there is no doubting Dave’s skills as one of the game’s best general managers and he deserves everything he gets for delivering that prize to Boston, but the Red Sox ownership and deep farm talent helped him navigate the ship, keeping him from veering off course.


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SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN

By:  Holly Horning

Breaking news! Al Avila has been quiet.

Rut roh, maybe that’s not a good thing after all.

You see, 2 seasons ago, Al told us that the rebuild would take 2-3 years. Then early last year, he said it would be closer to 5. And since then?

(Insert the sound of crickets here.)

For Avila to be quiet about the rebuild timeline probably means that the plans are no longer on schedule or that he, and the Front Office, have no idea how long this will now actually take.

And you really only have to look at the roster to see that the team has made little progress in putting their pieces in place.

For purposes of discussion, let’s not include the pitching staff in our analysis. Now, let’s look at the players manning the infield and outfield in 2018.

Calling it an official “rebuild”, the Tigers put one, count ‘em, one viable new player on the roster. Jeimer Candelario. (We’re not going to count Niko Goodrum who is a super-utility guy.)

They’ve got to move faster than that. Otherwise, we’re talking about a process so slow that it rivals the speed of maple sap during a Vermont winter.

As we move into this off-season, many of those who played regularly are either gone or in the process of being cut loose. Iggy is looking for a new home and the Tigers have been trying to find one for Nick Castellanos. Some positions, like 2B, never even found a reasonable solution after the trade of Ian Kinsler.

Al Avila has indicated that we may not see James McCann come February as well. If this is the case, the Tigers will have vacancies at C, 2B and SS for the 2019 season. Three out of 5 infield positions.

The outfield, if Castellanos is not traded, will be intact unlike the infield. But this is not a good thing. Call it the yin-yang sandwich outfield. Two corner outfielders who can hit but can’t play solid defense and a center fielder with exceptional fielding ability but often has difficulty hitting his way out of a paper bag.

Unless Christin Stewart miraculously finds a cure for his glove, these 3 will not be part of a contending team in the future.

And if you look at the big picture, the Tigers only have 2 out of 8 slots filled that appear viable for the short-term future. Candelario and Miggy – the latter because of salary and also given his statement that he doesn’t want to be a full-time DH. When you are the most famous, most expensive and longest- serving veteran on your team, you tend to get what you want.

So if we’re looking at the positions that need to be developed, the Tigers must find 6 everyday starting players.

And that’s a very tall order.

It’s also going to take more than a couple of years.

This is where the prospects come in. And despite the write-ups, rankings and hopeful wishes, they are still – prospects. Unproven in the majors. Guys who need to spend time at the MLB level and get experience and seasoning. Guys who need to avoid injury. Guys who need to pull deep from within and show their fortitude. Or lack thereof.

None of them are a sure bet until they spend some time playing. And let’s face facts – the chances of all the hopeful top prospects succeeding is very slim. Some will fall by the wayside.

A former GM said today that the one common denominator of any great team is to have a solid core of young players who have come up through the minors together. He went on to talk about those players from the Red Sox and the Astros, among others.

We saw it in Detroit back in the late 70’s – early 80’s with the rise of players like Trammell, Parrish, Morris and others.

What are the chances that the Tigers have that nucleus already in the pipeline?

One can only pray. We can’t foretell the future. Even 21 teams didn’t see the potential in Mike Trout when he was finally drafted.

What we do know is that the Tigers are unlikely to field what is essentially an entirely new team and do it in a couple of years. It’s going to take much longer than that.

We also know that Al Avila was given a 5-year contract as GM because, as the Ilitches explained, it will take that amount of time to rebuild the team. That contract expires after the 2020 season. And if not enough progress is seen, the rebuild may be handed over to someone else.

And if there is little show for this tenure, then we should hope that is the case.


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MLB & MGM – NO GAMBLE AT ALL

By:  Kurt Snyder

Welcome to the new age of Major League Baseball.

Yesterday, MLB and MGM announced a gaming partnership that will offer more fan engagement, through wagering on the many aspects of a stat-laden sport, among other things.

And somewhere, Pete Rose is shaking his head.

But it will only be in response to the irony of how the league, which banned him from the game for, well, betting on the game, has turned to gambling to help gain more popularity and to drive more interest.

But there is no reason for confusion. There is a big difference. The rules do not change for players and managers and team executives, who still live under the same restrictions when it comes to betting on outcomes of games. You can’t do it. Ever. And Rose is painfully aware of that fact.

The deal that Major League Baseball made with MGM yesterday is a godsend for Commissioner Rob Manfred. And he should be applauded for it. This is where all of sport is headed. Fantasy sports has already taken over almost every professional game out there and it has even captured and engaged casual fans in an activity they previously would not have had an interest.

Justin Verlander just a short time ago tweeted that fans needed to better educate themselves about the game of baseball. He was speaking to the fans who find our game boring. Well, guess what? Things just got a whole lot more exciting and intriguing when a fan experiences a baseball game.

Rob Manfred said it best.


“We have to take advantage of every opportunity to drive engagement with our fans.”


You have to wonder how many hours were spent in the Manfred war room talking about how to make the game more appealing. And it’s already been mentioned how Manfred now doesn’t seem quite so bothered about pace of play, mainly because this new endeavor gives fans more time between plays to place wagers on just about any stat-related part of the game.

Some on this forum won’t like this, but I love it. And I don’t gamble! But I might! Because this intrigues me. And this appears to have the makings of something great for the game of baseball. Yes, it will mean more money for teams and owners and of course, players. But it will be in the best interests of the game.

The game has got to grow. Only creativity will make it happen. And as we have said before, Major League Baseball doesn’t have a problem with the 50 and older crowd. They already have us. Because we are loyal and will continue to be. Baseball is in our bones and in our souls. But the young fan doesn’t have that kind of passion – not yet.

Right now, the fringe fan has a problem with a short attention span and an insatiable desire for sustained action. Baseball just can’t bring that to the casual fan and their efforts in tinkering with the game to garner more interest have been futile.

With this deal, assuming things fall into place, we won’t look so sideways at people in the stands staring at their phones as if they don’t want to be there.  It will be more about the game than you think.  The younger fan and even the older fan will have more things to entertain themselves, and it will have everything to do with baseball.

Wagering fans at games will not only bring more engagement, it will educate them at the same time. You better believe this is all about money. Making money. But this time, it’s on both ends.

MLB stands to benefit. It adds more intrigue to the fringe baseball fans, making them want to attend more games and maybe even, forgive me, watch the game!

JV may get his way in a manner he may not have considered. Introducing in-game wagering to a sport that maybe keeps track of more stats than any other, will no doubt, educate. Knowing more about the game, the rules and the players will enhance the experience and educate the fringe fan, who in turn can wager from a position of strength … knowledge.

Imagine it! This stands to reap great rewards for the future of baseball. You can bet on that.


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HOT…OR NOT?

By: Holly Horning

Let’s face it – this Hot Stove season is going to be a snore-fest for Tiger fans. Al Avila is going to continue his attempt to trade Castellanos and potentially anyone else who is making above the MLB minimum salary. And he’s going to try to find a couple of journeyman pitchers and a SS to fill in for just one year.

Zzzz………….

So what’s a fan to do during the next 2-3 months? Other than read Totally Tigers every day that is……..

Realistically, there are a lot of great stories to follow this off-season. It’s just that they will involve other teams.

But trades and other moves involving teams-not-named-Detroit really could be very significant. Much like last year, they will be forecasters of the trends teams are adopting. Trends that will take hold and become regular patterns. Patterns that will help us gauge the speed (or not) in which the Tigers embrace these trends or cling to the past going forward.

We’ll discover whether teams are continuing to turn away from long-term expensive contracts. And whether the importance placed upon players with solid offensive and defensive stats – not just one-tool players – will command priority.

Teams will be hiring fresh (and young) faces for their Front Offices. Young dudes (and hopefully dudettes) with degrees in computer software, statistics and sports economics. And some organizations, who sniffed the playoffs but failed in their quests, will undoubtedly be making changes.

So what stories will I be watching most closely? I’m glad you asked……


1. WILL MIKE TROUT SIGN THE OFFERED EXTENSION? His contract expires in less than 2 years and the Angels have been trying to sign him for life. So far, he’s resisted. Is he waiting for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to sign first so his agent can gauge the numbers? Is he contemplating whether the Angels organization can put together the missing pieces that will finally get him into the World Series? Is he waiting to see how well Brad Ausmus manages the team?

2. WHERE IS MIGUEL CABRERA? We’ve seen 2 very brief glimpses of Miggy during his DL stint. The papers have not been reporting on him other than the lawsuit brought against him for child support. A lawsuit that is continuing past expected dates with more court time now scheduled for December, no rulings yet made and the threat of interfering with his physical and mental prep for the 2019 season. He’s still got the herniated disks in his back and bicep surgery long completed. And unlike last year, Miggy is posting no updates nor any pictures that show him rehabbing in the gym and appearing dedicated to regaining his form.

3. WHAT DOES THEO EPSTEIN HAVE UP HIS SLEEVE? The Cubs were eliminated early in this past year’s playoffs and it didn’t take long for Theo to start making some moves. Some top players are rumored to be available for trade. Several coaches released. And Joe Maddon heading into his last contract year. Epstein has told the media that there are no plans on extending Maddon’s contract and that he will be evaluating his manager during the 2019 season. Theo has always been proactive, so expect him not to sit still.

4. WILL SCOTT BORAS RETAIN HIS VAST POWER AND INFLUENCE? We saw more and more teams backing away from the expensive long-term contracts for players during last year’s Hot Stove season. And Boras goes into 2019 with several top players, including Bryce Harper. Will he be able to negotiate that infamous $400 million contract he wants for his client? Will they settle for much less? Will Boras attempt to pull the same controversial schtick he did to the Tigers with Max Scherzer? The verbal contract agreement that he instead turned into point of leverage with other teams in order to drive up the price?

5. WILL FARHAN ZAIDI TURNS AROUND THE GIANTS? He recently left the Dodgers to become President of Baseball Operations with the arch-rival Giants. The same Giants who are ageing and have lost their regular odd-year pattern of World Series championships. How will he retool the team? What moves will he make to get them competitive once again? Will he decide to do a rebuild – or will a retool be enough?

6. WILL THE NATIONALS TURN INTO THE EAST COAST TIGERS? History can be a great teacher – if you allow it. And the Nats have followed the Tigers ill-fated strategy for years. Selling off the farm system….signing multiple expensive free agents………allowing Scott Boras to have a significant amount of influence with an ageing owner……..hiring a rookie manager……..not paying attention to the importance of leadership and team player centric skills. All of this while they’ve watched their window of opportunity gradually close over the past couple of years. Will they end up exactly like the Tigers?

7. WILL TALENT ALWAYS WIN OUT OVER ATTITUDE? I’ve watched Manny Machado since his rookie days with the Orioles. The attitude problem we saw during the playoffs is not just recent as many believe. He has a history of fighting with players both on his team and with others sporting different uniforms. He’s been suspended for fighting and known as a problem child for a while. And with his failure to run out a ball during the playoffs, which generated a lot of criticism, combined with his controversial comments that seem to support a selfish attitude, will a team decide to roll the dice and sign a player who may disrupt team chemistry?

All of these stories will impact teams over time. The smart teams will be watching and adopting the strategies that will help give them the edge. I can only hope and pray that the Tigers will be watching, too. And hopefully, implementing…


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KELLY FOLLOWS TRENDY FORMULA

By:  Kurt Snyder

If we were to head back to the spring of last season, there were plenty of people to evaluate when it came to new managers.  Brand new.   And when we took a look at the group of  newbies,  they seemed to have varied levels of opportunities for success in their respective cities.

New managers with no managerial experience were set to take over high pressure situations in big market baseball towns. And we all know now that Alex Cora took home 1st prize as the most successful of all the new managers who came on board in 2018. His Red Sox won it all.

And for those rebuilding teams out there who are looking to contend in the next few years under this new formula, Alex Cora is not a bad place to start, now that his pedigree has proven to be a slam dunk.

His pedigree included a stint with a championship franchise. Working as the bench coach under Houston manager A.J. Hinch, he could not have chosen a better place  to develop his leadership skills and prep his career for someday becoming a successful manager.

Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox snapped him up just as they were putting the finishing touches on a roster sure to contend for a World Title.  Two people turned out to be the difference –  JD Martinez and Alex Cora.

It was in Houston where the Tigers found their diamond in the rough, grabbing JD at a time when he was making tweaks to his swing that would turn him into an All-Star.

It was in Houston where Alex Cora learned his craft, under the guise of Hinch, learning how to go about managing a clubhouse full of stars and experiencing a championship run. The kind of experience that certainly prepared him for the even hotter lights of Fenway Park and all the stars Dave Dombrowski had accumulated for a run of his own.

Alex Cora, a former Boston player, turned out to be the slam dunk Dombrowski was looking for; one he had been seeking since his failed experiment with Brad Ausmus in Detroit.

And now, it appears that Don Kelly, a utility infielder during his playing days in Detroit and most recently as a scout with the Tigers, now takes a very logical next step, obviously not ignoring the path of one, Alex Cora.

Don Kelly is considered to be a candidate for a managerial job in this league someday, and he appears to be preparing himself for an opportunity. Kelly, as you may have heard, left the Tigers scouting gig for a job as the first base coach in Houston. A great move for his development as a coach, and also an opportunity to learn from one of the best managers in the game, with one of best organizations in all of baseball.

Kelly is no dummy. Staying with the Tigers at this point when he has managerial aspirations would only hinder his development. If he wanted to be a scout, he could have spent some more time here. But he has bigger plans.

And you just never know where his move to Houston may lead him. Alex Cora, after spending time as a player in Boston, went to ‘manager school’ in Houston. He graduated and now sits at the top of his class.

Don Kelly was a popular clubhouse guy with the Tigers, experienced almost every position and played good fundamental baseball all over the field; everything you would want from a super-utility guy. And he left Detroit in good standing.

Expect Kelly to make good career strides over the next few years in Houston, maybe even ending up as a bench coach. The timing may indeed end up being right for Don to get an opportunity in Detroit should they be ready to contend and move on from Ron Gardenhire.

Gardy is here to fill the gap, and hopefully within the next 3 years, the Tigers will be ready to make that next hire.

Don Kelly, perhaps following the road of Alex Cora, to a town where he used to play, could find himself back here.

And if Jim Leyland is still roaming the halls of Comerica Park, who wouldn’t put their money on Donny Kelly?


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OPEN MIKE!

microphoneIt’s the last Sunday of the month 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?


 Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

 

THE SATURDAY SURVEY

 Saturday’s offer another way to gauge the pulse of our readers.    So here is this week’s poll to see what you’ll be watching for in 2019.

As always, we welcome your comments, so please vote and then submit your reasons for how you voted in the usual comment box.



Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

FRIDAY FOWL

This week, Totally Tigers turns the tables on our terrific readers! Just in time for Turkey Day, we want to know more about you. Every day, we’ll have a new question for you to answer.

Today, you will have a maximum of 8 sentences to share your answers.  Sooo, let’s talk turkey!


Friday’s question comes from Holly and she wants to know from our readers ….

During this time of Thanksgiving, what are you most thankful for as it pertains to the Tigers?


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HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM 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 formats and other new ideas to keep you informed, entertained and intellectually stimulated. And if you have ideas and/or topics you’d like to see, email us and let us know. We won’t publish your thoughts but we will give you credit when they appear.

Thank you from the bottom of our little blue and orange striped hearts for being our readers. And may the only turkey you see this coming holiday season be the one on your dining room table – and not in the form of a player trade.