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!



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 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

TWICE AS NICE

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

As the MLB season gets ready to head into month #3, it is perhaps a good time to take a pulse check on moves our GM has made so far this year.

But we can’t talk about all of them. Picking just one should cause enough of a stir.

Our writers will give their answers to the following question, never sharing before publication in order to offer a better shot at a wider range of perspectives.

Let’s get after it.


So far this season, what single action (or failure to act) by Al Avila has stood out the most to our two bloggers?


HOLLY

Al Avila has had a bad year of signing free agents. All four – Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison, Tyson Ross and Matt Moore – are out for most or all of this year.

Is it just bad luck or something else? I’ll go with the latter because this is what happens when you go bargain bin shopping. There is always a greater percentage of risk involved including purchasing damaged goods.

All 4 of these players are in their early 30’s, considered to be reclamation projects and Avila took a calculated risk on each of them, hoping to flip them at the trade deadline for prospects.

His up-the-middle defense played exactly 12 games together and it’s looking less and less likely that they will be a tandem again this year. Instead of solidifying the defense and bolstering the starting pitching rotation, Avila created 2 holes that didn’t exist last year, all in the name of cutting payroll which was probably dictated by Chris Ilitch.

And these 4 players are being paid a total of $15.5 million not to play this year – their only signed year with the Tigers. Combine their salaries with another injured Avila signing, Jordan Zimmermann, and you’ve got 5 IL players making $40.5 million in 2019 and absolutely untradeable.


KURT

You might say that Al Avila was too “quick to act” in one case. Being so quick to sign Jordy Mercer, as if he was some hot commodity who would be stolen out from under his nose, was nonsensical.

Since the Tigers have been so adamant about not spending money, paying what they did for Mercer so early in the process was strange, given his underwhelming talent. Once Al settles on someone, he fails to survey the field, seemingly concerned his favored choice will be snapped up.

Knowing Jose Iglesias signed a minor league deal with Cincinnati makes you cringe every time you see Ronny Rodriguez botch plays at short that Iggy would have handled without a thought.

Why do I mention Ronny Rod? Well, maybe because Jordy is out of the lineup again with an injury, something he has in common with more than one free agent signed this season.


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/.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

By:  Holly Horning

Are you ready for the playoffs?

Whaaat? It’s only May?

Nooo, look at the standings. The playoff teams, for the most part, have already been decided. In the AL, it looks likely that the Yankees, Twins and Astros will be playing. Possibly joined by the Rays and Red Sox.

In the NL, it’s the Phillies, Cubs and Dodgers with the potential for the Braves and Brewers to join the mix.

And no, it’s not because certain teams are running away from their division.

It’s because so many teams have decided they are “rebuilding.”

In the AL East, the Jays and Orioles have announced this will be a non-competitive year. In the Central, 3 out of 5 – the White Sox, Tigers and Royals – are retooling. In the West, Texas and Seattle have already thrown in the towel. The Angels have made no announcements but no one figures they will be in the mix anytime soon.

Easily, almost 2/3rds of all the AL teams do not intend on pursuing October dreams this year.

In the NL East, the Mets and Nationals are getting close to officially starting team tear-downs given their performances. And the Marlins have been torn down completely. The NL Central is a little bit more of a mystery with teams not informing the media or fans of their intentions. The same in the West with only the Giants officially labeling this year as a “rebuild.” Less than half the NL teams will be focused on playing post-season ball.

But because teams are not announcing their official standing, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily pursuing that pennant. The simple fact is that when you indicate you won’t be competitive, attendance will fall. Some teams prefer to keep their fans in the dark. Just look at those teams in desperate need of another player and all of those free agents still on the market. Do you see any of them being signeddespite the real need?

But 2019 is an ideal year for teams who want to do well. They have much less competition. Only 2 out of the 6 divisions are expected to have any kind of a race.

But how do you feel when so many teams are purposely non-competitive? When they all argue they are “rebuilding,” when maybe they are doing something else?

Last weekend, Rico Petrocelli took MLB to task for allowing the quality of the game to diminish to such a great extent. He mentioned how the quality of the product is diluted and how the potential exists for the fan base to wither – all due to the lack of a quality product being put on the field.

Rico was solidly on the side of fans. He pointed out that fans shouldn’t have to watch one garbage team face another. And have to pay all that money. Baseball is an expensive sport to attend and it doesn’t help when these “rebuilding” teams also raise their prices. Like the Tigers.

Last year, one-third of all MLB teams lost at least 89 games. This year is trending even worse with approximately the same number of bad teams, but with 4 of them on track to lose at least 100. Including the Tigers. The same team that raised their seat prices for 2019 along with some food items as well. The same team that cut their payroll by more than half over the past 2 years.

But what really should constitute a rebuild? Should this term be reserved for teams that have an aging roster? For teams that simply want to significantly reduce payroll? Or for teams that couldn’t find the right formula and have decided to rethink their formula?

And if a team is telling us they are “rebuilding”, shouldn’t they have to show us signs of progress? Rookies coming up and sticking? A pipeline of solid prospects who are on the cusp of being called up? An improved roster? More wins – or some other signs of visible improvement?

And the real question. How long should a rebuild really take? The Yankees did theirs in less than a year and cited their impatient fans as the reason. Some of the other top recent contenders took 3-6 years but with the latter it was because of new owners retooling their entire organizations.

The Tigers, according to Al Avila, started theirs 3 years ago and we’ve yet to see any real signs of improvement. They’ve been tearing down for the same 3 years and the Front Office is still intent on trading more players like Boyd, Greene and Castellanos. Another 5+ years is not out of the question which would make this rebuild easily a decade in the making. That is, if they are truly intent on rebuilding.

So why are so many teams rebuilding all at once? Is it a coincidence or some cyclical force?

Maybe it’s due to the majority of MLB teams now putting top Wall Street finance guys in charge of overseeing their organizations. Also guys with degrees and MBAs in sports finance and economics. Guys who know how to maximize profits.

Maybe all these guys are telling their owners that they can make more money by cutting payroll and tanking. As you’ve read in this blog recently, to the loser goes the spoils. There’s more money to be made by performing poorly than there is by winning. And when you are the recipient of baseball welfare, you don’t want to give it up.


https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2019/01/07/contracts-and-contending/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2019/02/27/players-payrolls-profits-and-pockets/


Remember when we thought teams were so foolish about how they spent their money? How they signed players to expensive, long-term contracts that rarely ended well? Remember how we wished they would get smarter about how they spent their money?

Be careful what you wish for… It just may be that they learned their lesson. To the detriment of fans…


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/.

OH, THE SIMILARITIES

By:  Alex Hosmer

On this Memorial Day, Totally Tigers would like to extend heartfelt recognition and appreciation to the brave men and women in uniform, whose sacrifices give us the freedom to enjoy our national pastime and the ability to freely share opinions and perspectives on platforms like ours.

One year ago Monday—on Memorial Day 2018—I had the privilege of taking the pen for the Totally Tigers post of the day after being on location at Comerica Park, a deviation from my normal duties under the hood as technology administrator of the site. On Monday, this time reporting on-site from Camden Yards, I am grateful to share some thoughts on the Tigers’ 2019 Memorial Day game.


Despite the holiday and temperate weather, the attendance was just over 18,000, not even enough to give away the 20,000 promotional Orioles Pint Glasses and fewer fans than attended Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston. I practically had a row to myself. If only that would happen on airplanes more often!

Those who attended were a mix of Tiger and Oriole faithful, both young and old. Fans were present and engaged, but equally on both sides, I could sense a rather subdued overtone among them, one characteristic of two teams going through tough stretches within the context of major rebuilds. Fans were there out of sheer love for the game and their team, despite the less than ideal performance to this point on the field. Some observations:

• I sat a few rows ahead of a family decked out in Tiger gear. Arriving a mere 5 minutes after the first pitch (before the Orioles had even gone to bat), one of them said, “Are the Tigers down yet?” Compared with last year’s experience at Comerica Park, more skepticism has certainly set in. At last year’s game, what seemed to be cautious optimism and excitement for upward trajectory has shifted to skepticism and fearing the worst. And after the May the Tigers have been having, their sentiment is not hard to imagine.

• What struck me on the Orioles side was the standing ovation many fans gave Dan Straily after his 4-inning relief appearance. His pitching was very respectable for sure, but the ovation almost seemed overdone (like an ovation you’d give someone for pitching a shutout). Learning that he was recently shifted to the bullpen after several rough starts, it made me think seeing him succeed on the mound in some capacity provided a sense of relief for the fans. For a team like Baltimore, small victories go a long way.

It is always exciting to watch as new storylines emerge between two teams with long, storied pasts, no matter the circumstances or magnitude of any particular game.

Roaming the concourses at Camden Yards, much like Comerica Park, statues, signs, and original gear are tastefully integrated into the aesthetics of the ballpark. It feels like a walk through history. And should any readers find themselves at the park, Boog’s BBQ (a local favorite) or anything smothered in Old Bay seasoning is a must! Both the Orioles and Tigers have long histories and continued reverence to past greats—Gibby, Tram and Cal, to name a few—but must nonetheless look forward to achieving and sustaining similar success in this century, to write a new chapter that future generations will revere.

Both the Orioles and Tigers are charting similar paths for the cellars of their respective divisions in 2019, as can be expected for two teams in the midst of rebuilds. It is hard to believe the Tigers were just two games under .500 earlier this month, now being discussed with the likes of Baltimore and KC.

Both franchises hope that this series can allow them to put considerable skids behind them and start to build upon the newly laid foundations. I hesitate to say that any stretch at this point is pivotal or “must win” for teams in the cellar, but series like these against teams in the same situation are key opportunities to turn the corner.

For the Tigers on Monday, two cardinal sins plagued them from starting that critical upward trajectory: multiple defensive miscues and lack of timely hitting. The unearned runs resulting from Tiger errors were the difference in the game.

The turning point was Ronny Rodriguez’s botched double play that would have gotten the Tigers out of the 3rd inning with no runs scored. Instead, both Oriole baserunners took three bases, scoring one run and allowing Pedro Severino to smack a sac fly on the very next pitch. Oh, and who did Ronny think was going to cover second base in the 4th?? Credit the Orioles’ baserunners for their heads-up play.

Taking advantage of these mistakes and relying upon respectable pitching, notably getting out of the 9th inning where the Tigers had two on and nobody out, got the Orioles the W. Dan Straily, despite a recent demotion to the bullpen, made the most out of his lengthy relief appearance to silence the Tigers’ offensive responses during a brief outing from Gabriel Ynoa.

As for Daniel Norris, this loss will be tough to swallow, having given up only two earned runs through 5 and 2/3. While some feel he deserved better fate than taking the L, his throwing error in the first helped set up Renato Nunez’s two run homerun. Though scored as a single and a throwing error, if the throw were on-line, it seemed like he had a chance to throw Alberto out from my vantage point sitting on the first baseline.

After this series concludes on Wednesday, these teams will not see each other again until mid-September at Comerica Park as the season winds down. I am very interested to see how the remainder of the season plays ou and who will be in better shape going into 2020.

The games in-between now and then will dictate whether both teams’ recent losing is a microcosm of what we can expect down the stretch or an anomaly that will work itself out. Will we continue to consider them one in the same or will they change course and start to string wins together? On Monday, though, it was the Orioles who took that step in the right direction.


Thanks to Alex for being our eyes and ears in Baltimore.  Glad we could give him the wheel for a day.  Nice thoughtful and informative piece, Alex!  Great job!


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/.

ANY QUESTIONS?

By:  Kurt Snyder

I don’t know about you guys but I have questions. And what I’m finding out with each passing game and each passing loss is that more questions need to be asked.

This has been a very telling month for our beloved Tigers and we are days away from May’s version of 20 Thoughts.  And to supplement those topics, questions need to be asked.

It may be that you have your own answers to the following questions or maybe we share the same questions.

I hate to break it to you, but they are all negative. So if you were looking for a breath of fresh air today, I won’t be providing that for you.

But here we go – 10 questions to ponder as we close out May.


Why must Miggy continue with this happy-go-lucky charade on the field as if he’s having the time of his life?

Why has James McCann exploded offensively in Chicago?

Why has Jose Iglesias improved in practically every offensive category in Cinci?

When will Nick Castellanos realize that he just isn’t a good baserunner?

How many sub .200 batting averages do we need to field before the team pulls the trigger on a coaching change or 2?

Why is Christin Stewart considered part of this team’s future?

How many utility infielders do we have on this roster?

Is Ronny Rodriguez really part of this team’s future?

Are the Twins just another team we could use as an example of a path not taken by the Tigers to respectability and contention?

Are the Tigers the worst team in baseball?


There, I asked … but you have to be wondering by now, too.


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/.

WEEKEND RECAP

By:  Holly Horning

On this holiday weekend, as we observe those who gave their lives for this country, let’s revisit some recent blogs. They are just as relevant today as they were when they were written. Unfortunately.

Earlier in the season, we brought up the concerns about what habits we were seeing. The almost non-existent hitting. The strikeouts. The cellar-dwelling stats. The sloppy play. And the common thread among it all? Why the Tigers continue to ignore the clear signs. Why they continue along the same path, with the same excuses, with the same methods, with the same people.

Is this really a rebuild? Is it just an extremely slow one with no timetable? Or is it something else? You decide.

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/?s=holding+off+for+now

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/?s=all+or+nothing

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2019/04/17/oh-man-yall/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/?s=it%27s+truly+offensive

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/the-lead-dog/


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/.

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!



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 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

TWICE AS NICE

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Sometimes this can be a painful segment when you are following a team that has hit the skids like our Tigers. It has been a week to forget, a home stand to forget.

But even with that, it begs a question.

Out writers will painfully give their answers to the following question, never sharing before publication in order to offer a better shot at a wider range of perspectives.

Let’s dig in.


What 2 things – good or bad – caught your attention this past week about the Tigers’ performance?


KURT

1. This was to be the break in the schedule as the Tigers got ready for a lengthy home stand that yielded zero wins. What stuck out in all these losses was the continued inability to score runs, a season-long theme with no break and no indication that anything new will be attempted to rectify things.

2. While we are talking about the offense, let’s dig in and concentrate on how hard the team is actually hitting the ball. Well, in general a slumping offense normally includes a lot of bad luck – you might find that no matter how hard they hit the ball it’s always right at someone; but it just doesn’t happen to be the case with the Tigers given everyone is retired rather meekly across the course of 3 hideous hours of … baseball.


HOLLY

1. The Tigers, like in 2018, have been sitting in 29th or 30th place (including last in team batting average) for most of this current season in every single offensive category. If the team doesn’t make any changes given all of this, including being swept by the only other team as bad as them, how horrible does it have to get (and is it possible to sink any lower?) before something is done?

2. The team just isn’t losing; they are completely stinking up the joint after 9 straight losses – even to baseball’s other worst team which just swept them. It’s just not being “unlucky” as claimed, but they are solidly and completely missing the ball on getting runners advanced, getting thrown out at the plate regularly, missing routine catches and double plays and overall playing sloppy, ineffective minor league baseball.


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 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

RISKING REWARD

By:  Kurt Snyder

One reason it is so tough to be a general manager has everything to do with timing. You not only have to make the right moves and decisions; you have to make them when the time is right.

Al Avila has that challenge with this year’s Tigers and the trade deadline that will come around once again at the end of July.

The Tigers were reasonably successful last season grabbing affordable free agents who could be dealt for young talent if they impress in Detroit.

This year it hasn’t turned out too well as the players they had signed to potentially deal for prospects have been struck with injuries. Matt Moore is gone for the season and Tyson Ross has missed a fair amount of time as well.

Josh Harrison, another veteran we hoped would hold value, is having an awful season at the plate and looks to be just another player holding very little value for the Tigers when it comes to talking trades.

But the Tigers do have 2 players, both pitchers, who are having nice seasons, amidst all the losing and ugly baseball.

Shane Greene and Matthew Boyd hold the most value when it comes to acquiring prospects. Go ahead and scan the roster for more, but you just won’t find anyone. Things are that bad right now.

So Al Avila has a decision to make. With a team in the middle of a free fall, how long can Greene and Boyd keep it up? Will they have the same value at the trade deadline as they do now?

Greene, flat out, is having the best year of his career. And as the losses mount he is going to have fewer and fewer opportunities to save games. How will he keep his edge and competitiveness if he is brought into games with no ability to get a save or help his team win?

And Matt Boyd? Do you risk having him experience a slump which ends up affecting his trade value? How long do you wait?

So, of course, all these questions bring more…questions.

And they reside on the other side of the coin. If you pursue trades now and you get lesser value in return, what have you gained?

This is precisely where GMs earn their money.

Shane Greene especially, is already being mentioned in trade talks with the Atlanta Braves – a team still loaded with talent in their farm system. Should the Tigers bite the bullet, if indeed the stories are true?  There is no way of knowing.  Risks are hiding everywhere. The tide can turn for both of these guys, Greene and Boyd.

As we have seen with Michael Fulmer, the Tigers waited too long to deal him and now injuries have put him on the shelf, leaving him with no value whatsoever, when at one point, he had so much.

So, I think you split the difference. Greene is as hot as he’s probably going to be all season. He stands to be the lone Tiger All-Star should he continue this tear.

Already teams are finding out they need to shore up their pens. Not just for the stretch run, but now, so the stretch run is as meaningful as they hope. So the Tigers should aggressively attempt to trade Greene now.

That leaves Matthew Boyd. He will have value at the trade deadline just for taking another big step up the improvement ladder this season as a young lefty with a handful of controllable years and winning games with a bad team.

Teams will continue to watch him all season. His numbers won’t be as important as they would normally be considering the team around him. Save Boyd for the deadline. Let him mature and continue to lead this team as the only remaining pitcher capable of anchoring a rotation.

But in July, they have to say goodbye. But not until then.

Al Avila has tough decisions to make.    Timing is indeed everything.