TIGERS MUST GET WISE ABOUT MIZE

By:  Holly Horning

Thank goodness we got some good news about the Tigers after Sunday’s disastrous game in which they whiffed 20 times and set a new record. Left unreported after that game was the story about the Coast Guard boats in Lake Michigan. They got a real workout as the Tigers’ fanning created dangerous white caps and boating conditions……

As everyone knows, the Tigers’ #1 draft pick, Casey Mize, threw a no-hitter in his first AA appearance on Monday.

It’s always a good sign when you move up in the ranks and still mow them down. Especially when it’s a revered no-hitter.

And many Tiger fans were quick to express their impatience about when they would see him in Detroit. Yes, there are some who may be unrealistic but I’d also like to think that during these past couple of years, we have been trying to cling to any good news we can – because it’s been so infrequent.

But the buzz on Mize has always been good. Many scouts have said he is physically and mentally advanced for his years. So we have to think that this guy is most likely the real deal. Years will tell if he will be an ace, but it’s a good bet that he’s going to be solid in the majors.

In all the reports I read about him, there are bits and pieces that remind me of Justin Verlander when he was at that stage. And this would be a very good thing if his development paralleled JV’s.

Mize’s progress symbolizes what could be the start of the Tigers rebirth. One of the first players in the minors who appears to be part of that next wave.

And when you add in the progress being made by Alex Faedo and Matt Manning, among others, you start to get hopeful. And if you’re old enough, you hark back to those days when the Tigers were developing players like Trammell, Morris, Parrish, et al and think that maybe this could turn out the same way.

As you do that, your attention then turns to who else is in the pipeline. Do the Tigers have those 2 outfielders getting ready? What about the infield? Can they possibly have all the pieces within a couple of years to make it work?

Times have changed now. Different owners and a different CBA agreement. Teams no longer have that big window where they know players are going to stay for a while. As soon as a contract is bought out from AAA, that free agency clock starts ticking. And analytics is not a friend of the fan because teams now get rid of players before they become more costly.

Take Matthew Boyd, for example. We expect him to be a mainstay – possibly a #1 or #2 starter – going forward. But his entry-level salary of $500K+ jumped to $2.6 mill this year. He will only become more expensive and if he stays with the Tigers, he has only 3 more years left before he becomes a free agent.  And that means if he is part of the rotation, with others coming up, the Tigers may only have him on the starting rotation for a year with the other youngsters before he departs to free agency.

The Tigers have never been known to have a sense of urgency. We remember screaming at management for years as that window was closing. Demanding a bullpen. It never was developed in time. And when that window was almost shut, what did the organization do? They hired Brad Ausmus.

So now, I believe fans are just a liiiiiitle nervous thinking about the future. We keep hearing about the rebuild. Al Avila is no longer giving the public a timeline. Most importantly, we have yet to see the young players up in Detroit and the moves of putting the right pieces in place. The roster is still officially in pre-fetus stage.

Can Al Avila put it all together in time before the youngsters get much older and way more expensive? Will Chris Ilitch open his checkbook so that the missing pieces may be bought? Is the organization actually working with a timeline so they can maximize a window of solid contention?

That is the key.

After this year, Avila has 1 more year on his contract. When he signed his 5-year contract, the Ilitches said that was enough time to see if the new GM would make enough progress. So far, nothing has percolated to the surface to show us that Al has made great or noticeable strides in rebuilding.

With most teams, if a GM can’t point to any big milestones in 5 years, they would be gone. But this is Detroit we’re talking about.

Mize’s progress in the minors, coupled with his no-hitter, has put the spotlight on the Tigers’ Front Office. Everyone sitting in it has now been put on notice. That trigger must be pulled sooner rather than later.

Let’s just hope that Chris Ilitch and Al Avila can make the tough decisions required that will ensure the best talent is developed and brought up quickly. Let’s hope that history is a great teacher.

And motivator.


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A NEW VOICE

By:  Kurt Snyder

Ron Gardenhire said, It’s not acceptable.”

His team is making the record books now for futility, and yes, it’s not acceptable. When the number grows to 20 strikeouts in one game like it did on Sunday, it gets everyone’s attention. And if you are among the fan base who have been following closely, you know this isn’t just a big blip on the screen.

At the close of every series, you can rack up the strikeout totals and they’re always ‘shake your head’ worthy. It’s not a weak hitting team. That would imply that they are hitting the ball. So please, don’t make that mistake.

If this team doesn’t get their arms around this problem, more records are going to be made around here. And yes, it’s not acceptable.

But don’t you get the feeling that because this team is in rebuild mode, that even the unacceptable is fine for now? Isn’t this strikeout issue being passed off as something that you have to understand and tolerate given the current talent and state of the rebuild?

Well, I’m not sure there are many who feel that way. And certainly not the Miami Marlins, who used the same words to describe what was going on with their offense. It, too, was unacceptable. The Marlins, well into their rebuild, felt after 20 games that they needed to make a change with their hitting coach.

Michael Hill, the Marlins’ head of baseball operations, had given Mike Pagliarulo 2 full seasons, plus the 20 games in ’19. Seems fair enough, don’t you? This is what Hill had to say:


“I didn’t get the feel that we were making the necessary adjustments and battling and fighting the way that we know this team is capable of performing offensively. I felt like it was time for a new voice and subsequently a change needed to be made.”


More beautiful words were never spoken when it comes to hitting, of course, and the struggles teams tend to have, especially when you are looking to help hitters grow, or reminding veterans what they normally do to be successful at the plate.

I won’t pretend to know what level of impact a hitting coach has on players. I have never been a hitting coach. But when the Tigers start posting numbers that end up in record books, you must begin to wonder when a change will be made. If ever.

If ever? Well, how long have we been at this? Our hitting coach has taken root in Detroit. And watered every day.

We seem stuck with him.

Al Avila can’t make a move because his clout is limited,  because someone else has a hold on this team, on who stays, who goes and who hires whom.

The Miami Marlins have a GM who actually has power over who stays and who goes, and well, most teams have that.  But we can’t say that for the Tigers. Al Avila will make that necessary move when he is told he can.

But this isn’t good for our team. This isn’t good for the rebuild. You can’t have stale direction when you are trying to build something. Yes, it is time for a new voice. And the new voice has been needed long before this rebuild began.

As loaded as a lineup the Tigers had back when they were winning division titles, they still could have been much better hitters than they were. But the results were good. The winning continued, but it had a cap.

Again, how much impact does a hitting coach have with a team loaded with talented hitters? We just don’t know.  It’s all about staying the course, I guess.

What’s more disturbing than anything is that we all agree that how this team performs at the plate is unacceptable. And what else is unacceptable is that no immediate change will be made to refresh the direction.


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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE M’S

By:  Holly Horning

What a difference a chair makes.

It took an inanimate object to finally break up the broadcasting team of Mario Impemba and Rod Allen after 18 years. And for most of those years, it was known that the two didn’t get along and that their relationship with each other was getting worse with each passing month. More than just the typical friction.

Yet, the decision-makers couldn’t pull the trigger until emotions exploded and a physical altercation broke out. I am absolutely certain that those responsible for closing their eyes and keeping Mario and Rod together were the same ones who decided to keep Brad Ausmus for 4 years.

Maybe, just maybe, someone within the FSD broadcast team couldn’t take it anymore and decided to hasten the departure process. A relationship so volatile that by simply supplying one good chair for two people, he could make it happen. Genius.

Either that or FSD is cheap as hell when it comes to providing the basics for their broadcasts.

I will admit that when the “new” broadcast team was announced, I was less than thrilled. It was safe. It was boring. It was predictable.

Yawn.

But then something happened. It was addition by subtraction.

This group is better than the previous one. To a certain point.

Matt Shepard is growing on me.

He is a subtle guy. He brings no “schtick”. His power comes from encouraging the viewer to adopt a thoughtful mindset and allowing the game to shine instead of the broadcasters. He also asks really good questions that help set up really good answers.

Listen to him. He’s not exciting as other famous tv guys. He’s not one of those dreaded screamers whenever something big happens. He almost hints at being a golf commentator – a quieter voice. A welcoming voice.

And he doesn’t talk all the time. Imagine that. He actually is most powerful when he allows silence to infiltrate the broadcast.

Shepard has two primary partners in Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson – and that’s where the paths separate.

Up until now, I have been silent about Kirk Gibson. I have wrestled with how to critique a guy with a major health issue that is partially responsible for his slow, plodding analysis. I have admired him for his courage and desire to push his limits.

But now that Jack is here doing regular games, I can’t ignore it any longer. There is a huge difference in the quality of the broadcasts depending upon who is partnering with Matt. It’s just very evident now.

As I look back on Gibson’s broadcasts from years ago, he wasn’t good then. As someone who works with the media, I can say that it takes a special kind of individual to work well on tv. The best are somewhat extroverted, comfortable in public situations, know how to keep someone interested and have a quick response time. The best also have a well-honed voice that oozes personality, emotion and intonation.

Gibby simply is not that person. He’s always had that monotone voice. He’s very smart and insightful but much of it gets lost in the poor delivery.

But Jack Morris is that guy made for tv.

And I was surprised at how much I like him. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with him so I wasn’t expecting him to impress me.

Some people may not like him. They may think he’s full of himself. That his ego is on display. And actually, this is a quality that makes for a good media person. Ego also is a necessary trait when you are a top starting pitcher.

Jack has an excellent voice and bonds very well with Shepard. It’s a good rapport – very easy and natural. They have a nice, even rhythm together. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same thing when Matt is paired with Gibby.

Morris shows his personality and love of the game. His intonation is excellent. Those within the media will tell you that viewers and listeners find the voice to be the most important part of any broadcaster they experience. It’s not about what they say but how they say it. We react primarily to sound and secondarily to content.

Most importantly, what Morris has to say is great. He peels back the curtain to reveal baseball insider information. He talks about mechanics. He dissects the problems Daniel Norris is having with his delivery. He shows us how Miggy is not seeing the ball and then going back into the dugout to discuss it with Nick Castellanos.

And all of his stories are very interesting.

The ultimate compliment? I walked out of the room during a game one day and I heard silence. I thought I had lost streaming video. But when I walked back in the room, Matt and Morris started talking again. They were taking a thoughtful break so viewers could watch the action.

Dan Petry is a still a work in progress. I haven’t seen enough of him to accurately judge him just yet. His day is coming…….

But there is a hidden star who should be getting more attention than he is.

Craig Monroe.

C-MO had been given a little more responsibility during the games, in part to help spell Kirk Gibson. And he is good.

Great voice. Great insight. And he works well with Matt Shepard. Like Jack, he’s got some great stories to share. Solid intonation, rhythm and emotion make for a compatible pairing with Matt.

And C-MO should be getting more time. I wouldn’t shed a tear if he became Matt’s new broadcast partner for the home games. Gibby should really focus on his other job in the Front Office. They could really use his help.

I’d love to see the “Q-Factor” on this “new” group. It is a likability rating imposed by viewers who are asked to rate the broadcasters. Hopefully, the Tigers will tweak the team instead of allotting screen time based upon what they believe are fan preferences.

The only other thing I’d suggest?

Make sure everyone in the broadcast booth has comfy chairs.


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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

 The Saturday Survey offers another way for readers to weigh in on a relevant topic.   So here is a poll to gauge the pulse of our baseball-lovin’ peeps.

As always, we welcome your comments, so please vote and then submit your reasons ( 4 sentences max!) for how you voted in the usual comment box.  Don’t forget to come back later and view the results!



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TWICE AS NICE

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

The Tigers have almost finished up their first month of baseball and it’s been quite the start. The team has had some ups and downs but their record is certainly a surprise heading into the last week of April.

As you know by now, Holly and Kurt have not shared their answers to the following question. This is so they can offer a wide range of perspectives. Let’s check out the question ahead for our writers.


HOLLY

The Tigers (through Wednesday) have the 7th best record in the AL and have maintained a .500 or better record almost the entire season so far. A wonderful surprise considering that they have some of MLB’s worst offensive stats.

Simply, it’s been all about the pitching. In almost all categories, the Tigers’ pitching staff are within the top 3 of most categories and no lower than the top 10. They are:

– 2nd in fewest total bases given up and lowest SLG
– 3rd in saves and fewest hits allowed
– 4th in fewest HRs given up
– 5th in lowest OPS allowed and BA (.225)
– 6th in fewest runs allowed and ERs
– top 10 in team pitching ERA

Even more impressive given that they’ve lost Michael Fulmer and Matt Moore, continued to be hampered by Jordan Zimmermann and still managed to put out a top product.

But I’m looking beyond the older, established players and what I’m seeing, I like. Matthew Boyd continues to amaze as does Shane Greene with his double-digit saves and 1.38 ERA.  Add in Spencer Turnbull and his team-leading 2.77 ERA for starting pitchers.

Could it be that the Tigers are starting to form a solid nucleus of their new starting pitching staff? I sure hope so.


KURT

If you look at the overall body of work, which is almost a month of baseball, the Tigers have been playing winning baseball. I just can’t figure out how.

With an abysmal offense and 2 major injury hits to the starting rotation, how are they winning?

Well, April certainly belonged to the pitching. And with an offense littered with sub .200 hitters, the pitching had better be good if you are looking to win under those circumstances.

They have played some sloppy baseball, have made mistakes on the bases, have struck out a gazillion times and have still won their fair share.

Despite Jordan Zimmermann returning to form, and what I mean is, back to the crap, the starting rotation has still held their own. And when they come out of the game, the bullpen has been decent leading up to a shutdown closer in Shane Greene.

It’s been a puzzling April, but that doesn’t mean it’s been a bad month, because it hasn’t. May might bring pain, but let’s appreciate April for the surprises it has supplied.


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NO WONDER!

By:  Kurt Snyder

If you are a baseball purest, old ballparks pique your interest. The older the better. They tend to be the ones with the most charm.

But history drives a lot of the interest as well. Fenway Park has been home to so many historic memories, it’s hard to zero in on one as the most memorable.

Certainly when you think of the Green Monster, you think of Carlton Fisk. And for every great Red Sox memory, there is always one they would like to forget. The name Bucky Dent definitely qualifies.

For the Tigers, Fenway hasn’t been very kind. But that’s not unusual, because it is one of the toughest parks to play in as the visiting team. I would imagine that no matter how much you have played there, you can never quite get used to or feel that you have mastered all the nooks and crannies of the playing field.

Since I haven’t yet had the pleasure of attending a game in San Francisco, Fenway still stands as my favorite. There is really nothing like it, as the Green Monster distances it from the closest contender. It is just so unique.

In my book, baseball stadiums need to possess character and charm. And with Tiger Stadium gone, Fenway edges out Wrigley Field among the stadiums I have visited. Just keep in mind that I haven’t been to many, but I think the older stadiums will always trump the newer ones for me.

Now if you knew about my only visit to Fenway, you must be wondering why I would give it so much high praise.


In 2004, Dad, my 3 brothers and I set out on a road trip to Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. After an afternoon game in the Bronx, the next day we headed to Boston for a night game.

Once we arrived via taxi and walked the rest of the way to the park, Dad was quite spent. It had been a lot of walking over the course of 2 days for your typical 81-year-old.  But once we arrived at Will Call, he was able to sit down while we stood in line for our tickets. The tickets that turned out not to be there.

Nope, we were told they were waiting at the gate at the other end of the park. So on we went walking again and by time we got there, Dad was really tired. This is when it got interesting. And we like to think that the Red Sox really owe us one…

You see when we got to the front of the line, guess what? No tickets there either.

Where were they? Yep, they called and sorry, your tickets are indeed at Will Call. Our mistake, they said!

So now, we are all pretty ticked as it meant Dad would have to walk some more. But my brother had an idea. He explained that we have our 81-year-old father with us and he really can’t walk much further. ‘If you let us through the gate, is it a shorter walk to Will Call walking through the concourse?’

The guy looked at us and said, ‘Well, yeah, but I can’t let you do that because you don’t have tickets.’

‘Well, can you walk us down there?’ No, sir, I can’t do that.

‘Well, can you walk my Dad down there?’ No sir, I’m sorry.

And then the moment that may have changed Red Sox history.

My brother Kent, a fairly emotional guy, decides to end the discussion in a most memorable way.

He says, ‘You’re sorry? That’s it? No wonder you guys can’t win!’

Fifteen years later I can still hear the words as if he said them just yesterday.

You know the rest. Remember? It’s 2004. The year the Red Sox broke one of the longest World Championship droughts in history.

They hadn’t won a World Series in 86 years! And the Snyder boys would like to believe that we had something to do with ending the Boston streak of futility.

‘No wonder you guys can’t win!’ Well, after they met us, they must have figured it out.


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NOT SO SWEET

By:  Holly Horning

Oh, dang, it’s happening again. We are still tightly buckled into that Miggy rollercoaster and picking up speed as we go down that big hill.

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2019/01/24/buckle-up/

Not just one, but two stories hit the press this week that continue to paint an unflattering picture of the team’s sole remaining face of the franchise.

I would have hoped that after a year and a half of legal struggles with an ex-mistress and the 2 children he fathered with her, combined with 2 years of significant health issues, we could sit back this year and solely focus on Miguel Cabrera’s attempts to get back to form.

No such luck.

So far, Miggy’s plate appearances haven’t held a lot of promise. He had yet to hit a HR in over a year and has less than a handful of doubles as his only extra base hits. Yet, I hold out hope that being away from the game for almost a year has only slowed his routine and rhythm and that he’ll eventually return to at least some of his old form.

But the most troubling part is the return to the drama that surrounds his life. The drama that is now slowly but surely encroaching upon and overshadowing his playing days. The drama that is becoming more and more of a distraction to him. It can’t help but take some of his focus and energy away from his performance on the field.

First, the continued saga over financial support for the 2 children he had with another woman. It continues to drag on in court since the 2017 season.

Now, the lawsuit – and countersuit – between him and his former business partners.

If you’re not familiar with all the details, Miggy Foods has gone belly up leaving a bad aftertaste in many mouths. Cabrera’s side has charged that the 2 people he hired took advantage of him, didn’t do the work and spent a lot of money on their offices and on themselves.

But the other side claims that Miggy took advantage of them. They headed up Venezuela’s largest candy conglomerate and say that Miggy approached them (not the other way around) to move to the US to develop his BitBits and other sweets. They say that Cabrera’s plan was to gain access to their expertise, experience and ideas before firing them once he had what he needed.

All of which will be settled in court – eventually. So stay tuned….. It will drag on for at least 2-3 years in court.

Three continuing lawsuits now and counting.

And one big red flag.

We were hopeful after the playoff debacle and arrests in 2009 and 2011 that Miggy had learned some lessons and refocused himself. In 2017, we learned that he had simply replaced them with new destructive habits starting in 2012 when his mistress gave birth to their first child.

What we now know is that there is a pattern. A pattern spanning over a decade. A pattern that is not going away. A pattern that is picking up in frequency.

It’s a pattern of undisciplined behavior.

On the baseball field, it’s been the constant weight issues and spotty training and conditioning. That and the confession that he never felt it important to learn his teammates’ names beyond a couple of players. So much for the principles of being a team player.

On the personal side, it’s been alcohol problems, spousal abuse, an extramarital affair, marital problems including divorce proceedings, drunken driving arrests, public disturbances, threats of violence and being an absentee and non-supportive father.

And now, problems in his business life. An absentee owner, angry employees and unpaid bills. It’s pretty bad when you owe your employer, the Detroit Tigers, money from your candy business and don’t pay them. Even worse when the Tigers had to call him and insist upon payment. Awkward……. (But don’t ‘cha wonder about the poor employee who drew the short straw and had to make that call to him?)

The latest news appears to be just another chapter with the common theme about a lack of discipline. A deficiency that creates problems in all aspects of his life. It’s a pattern with some people and we really shouldn’t be surprised that there are now issues cropping up in his business world, too.

It appears more and more likely that the man just can’t control his life. Can’t maintain the discipline and structure needed to lead a happy, healthy and balanced life. A life beyond the playing field, that is.

It’s a life characterized by overindulging.

Could it be due to that massive amount of money he’s making? Maybe, at least in part. A financial windfall can often tempt an undisciplined individual to make bad decisions.

Could it be due to moving to the US at age 16 and not having the typical teen’s parental supervision available to give him advice? Probably a factor.

The real concern here is that we are seeing lots of smoke. And you know what they say about fire.

All of these problems are starting to take a toll on him both mentally and physically. They are concerns that you can’t easily dismiss and they increasingly become distractions. Distractions that impact your performance on the field.

Ten years ago, when these problems first started to surface, Miggy was at the top of his game. And when you are there, you tend to get a pass. Talent can override a lot. You have people who are willing to overlook the transgressions because you are so good. People who don’t want to rock the boat or play the disciplinarian.

And now, we’re reading more about Miggy’s problems and less about his skills and impact as a player.

Historically, when this has happened to other players, it’s never turned out well. Players who were at the top of their game and had immense talent. But then the problems ended up overriding the talent. And finally, those players became problems to their organizations.

And some of those players ended up being released because of the significance of their personal issues and the impact they had upon their entire teams. Miggy is nowhere near that level but it’s not exactly comforting to know that there’s another 5-7 years with Detroit that need to play out.

There are some fans who view the player as a whole and others who are able to dissect the personal characteristics from the athletic talent. No matter where you fall in the spectrum, you have to be concerned about his legacy as a ballplayer and as a Tiger.

The injuries and personal issues that continue to take a bigger toll on his performance, stats and place within baseball history. The milestones that we recently saw as achievable now have us questioning how viable they still are.

And then there’s the likability factor for fans. Upon retirement, will those who filled the seats feel as favorably about him as they do about Al Kaline, Alan Trammell, Hank Greenberg and others – all with lesser stats?

The Tigers have been pretty lucky with their players and each one’s lasting reputation. But there was one star, a great one, back in the ‘60’s, who was not so lucky. A tremendous talent who was brought down by his own actions – mostly off the field. Too many troubles that got him traded. He was characterized by many as being “undisciplined”.

Today, he’s the “bad boy” and a player that fans don’t want to discuss or even acknowledge. It’s painful to many.

This player and Miggy are very different in their problems –and the levels of severity – but they both share a common bond of allowing messy personal affairs to encroach upon their reputations and interfere with how they play the game.

It will be baseball’s loss if Cabrera’s pattern is not turned around, neutralized or at least modified. But the big question remains……

Who will take the lead in advising and guiding him before it may be too late?


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TIGERS NEED A STEVIE MOMENT

By:  Kurt Snyder

Big news hit Detroit this past week. It had fans excited about the future of one of their most beloved sports teams.

It had nothing to do with the Pistons and their playoff series with the Bucks, nothing to do with the Lions or the Tigers. But it had everything to do with the Red Wings, who are in the midst of a rebuilding cycle of their own.

The franchise has needed a jolt. This is not a town used to the Red Wings missing the playoffs. But with the hiring of Steve Yzerman as the franchise’s new general manager, huge optimism for the future has hit Wings’ fans hard. There is huge belief now that the team has taken a large leap towards reinvigorating the franchise, getting back to the playoffs and becoming Stanley Cup contenders once again.

From a hockey standpoint, Chris Ilitch hit the jackpot. This is a hiring that has gotten tremendous backing from hockey fans all over the state. Yzerman had great success during his 9 years as General Manager in Tampa, only missing out on that elusive Stanley Cup. It’s a home run hire sure to help the Wings turn the corner in their rebuild.


So what do you think?  Well, if you are a hockey fan, you are excited as hell. But if you are a baseball fan, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you are feeling just a wee bit cheated.

Chris Ilitch has done something for the hockey side of the business that we can only dream about on the baseball side. For all of us, it wasn’t for lack of trying. On this site, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

This is not news. It’s not like we haven’t experienced this before. After Mike Ilitch bought the Tigers in ’92, the city was on the cusp of one of the greatest runs of success in Detroit sports history. The Red Wings would soon break a huge drought by winning their first Stanley Cup in 42 years when Stevie Y held the fabled trophy over his head in 1997. And as you know, they followed that up with another championship the very next season and then 2 more in 2002 and 2008.

We all know what Tiger fans went through during this timeframe. And maybe the Red Wing success made Mike Ilitch want more. How great would it be if the Tigers began winning again?

After all, the Tigers floundered for over a decade before Mr. I must have realized amidst all the hockey success that, yeah, he owns a baseball team too.

After the Wings won the Cup in 2002, Dave Dombrowski came onto the scene in Detroit. Finally, the Tigers had a proven exec to run the organization. And it only took him 6 games to determine that Randy Smith wasn’t cut out for continuing as the GM. Manager Phil Garner didn’t survive it either as DD let him go as well.

Dombrowski added the role of General Manager to his title and it proved to be the difference for the Tigers, who went on a great run.

After the conclusion of the Dombrowski era, an Al Avila promotion instead of an all-out search for a seasoned and successful GM candidate continues to be something on which we dwell.

We knew things just weren’t right with Avila when instead of carving his own path, he decided to hold onto Brad Ausmus at a time when he had no better excuse to make a change at the manager position.

It didn’t end there as you know. Chis Ilitch came in after his father’s death and decided to do next to nothing organizationally. With a rebuild on the horizon, he chose to keep Avila. At a time when he could have made a splash by shaking up the landscape, he stood pat. And we have all questioned the direction ever since.

When Chris I took over, the Tigers needed that Yzerman moment. But it may be that bringing in a more qualified GM to handle the rebuild would have been more expensive than he was willing to sign up for, from a baseball point of view.

Meanwhile, the Tigers are in that position again. We may have to wait for the Wings to start grabbing Cups again until they get some attention.

Yep, Chris Ilitch has hit the jackpot with his hire of Stevie Y.  And who knows when the Tigers will get thrown a few coins their way again.


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SIGN, SIGN, EVERYWHERE A SIGN

(with apologies to the Five Man Electrical Band)

By:  Holly Horning

According to published reports, we know that at least half the teams in MLB are rebuilding this year, including the Tigers. Loosely translated, it means a year of no significant signings, no all-star roster, lots of losses and numerous struggles.

So what’s a baseball fan to do? Other than clicking the remote to switch to the professional croquet channel…..

(This is where we start singing Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.)

We start to look for signs. Positive signs. Signs that hint of progress in the rebuild. Wishes for specific players to do well and prosper in their jobs.

Good stuff. We always want to see good stuff.

In this case, we need to look at the Tigers differently. The rules have completely changed now that this team is focused elsewhere.

So what will I be watching? I’m so glad you asked!


I know there’s lots we want as fans but let’s stay relatively realistic about what could happen. Here’s my Top 10 List of goals I’d like to see for the 2019 season:

1. JaCoby Jones becomes a better hitter. As one of the top 2 defensive CFers in all of MLB, it would be a crying shame if he didn’t stick with the team because of his poor hitting.

2. Visible improvement in the fundamentals of how the game is played on the field and at the plate. It would tell me that the team is indeed focused on strengthening the weak links and standardizing the way the Tigers are taught to play the game.

3. Tweaking of the tv broadcast team. The Tigers tv crew has had uneven performances but there are some hidden gems among them who are taking a backseat to fan favorites. (Let’s save this discussion for next week when I will blog about it.)

4. Christin Stewart makes visible strides in his defensive play. Imagine how potent a player he could become if he improved his glove skills.

5. Miggy regains his form, focus and power. He hasn’t hit a HR in a year and the Tigers can’t progress as a team if the next 5-7 years of his contract serve as a complete albatross around their neck.

6. No more trading of young, promising players. Matthew Boyd, for one, is a player you build around, not trade for prospects.

7. Bring up the youth! Young starters and middle infielders in particular to start gauging their major league potential.

8. A change in analytics strategy that plays to Comerica’s size. Less focus on hitting HRs and more decisions based upon getting on base and advancing runners.

9. New hires for the Front Office that pull in younger employees from other organizations. It will tell me that the Tigers are serious about finding new ways to win.

10. A new hitting coach because the Tigers finished last in most offensive categories last year and are on trend to be even worse this year. A new hire will tell us that the team prioritizes talent and winning over keeping the old boy network intact.

Now that I’ve listed mine, tell me what your single top priority is to see this year!


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