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.
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