WE INTERRUPT THE REGULARLY-SCHEDULED BLOG…

By:  Holly Horning

Ok, so today you are tuning in to read Part Two of “Straight from the Horse’s Mouth” that reveals what the national media is saying about the Tigers rebuild. And it’s not here.

Don’t fret. It’s still coming. It’s just that another story hit the wires hours before publication and it’s something we need to address.

The Angels just fired Brad Ausmus.

And I don’t think any of us are surprised.

But some of you may be saying “He’s history. Time to move on. Why are we discussing him when he hasn’t been with the Tigers for two years now.”

(Or you may be saying “Please, no more. My heart can’t take it and my anger management therapy sessions are getting very expensive.”)

And in response, I will say that yes, he is gone, but the people in charge for the Tigers – the same ones while Brad was here – are still around.

Rut roh.

Let’s explore why the Angels action to terminate should be of concern – and a lesson – to Detroit.

First of all, the background.

Ausmus was not fired because of Joe Maddon’s potential availability. No one is going to fire their manager while hoping to hire one who will have many suitors. It’s true that Maddon worked for the Angels for 30 years and has that connection. And he is still employed by the Cubs through October so any contact with him requires the Angels getting permission from Theo Epstein first. So no, the Angels haven’t yet talked to Maddon to gauge his interest.

An equally-compelling case can be made for Joe to go to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Maddon was born and raised there and is fiercely loyal to that city and its nearby towns. He still lives there and has family nearby. He also strongly believes in doing charity work and setting up foundations to help struggling neighborhoods so this may actually be the perfect opportunity for him.

As for Ausmus, the rumors of his demise started over a month ago before anything was really known about Maddon’s tenure with the Cubs. Ironically, it was reported that owner Arte Moreno was livid when the Angels lost 3 out of 4 to the Orioles and 2 out of 3 to the Tigers – and it got him questioning the capabilities of his manager.

It was regularly noted that the Angels underperformed this year and it didn’t help that Ausmus didn’t know how to use the bullpen. If you read their fans’ feedback, it was identical to the comments made by Tiger fans when he was here.

It also didn’t help that, under Ausmus, the Angels had their worst year in 2 decades. They lost 90 games with one of baseball’s largest payrolls and were described as struggling all year. They were outscored by almost 100 runs, had one of MLB’s highest ERAs and routinely finished in the bottom half of most stat categories.

Maybe Moreno saw what happened to the Tigers under Brad. After all, he’s been pouring money into new contracts, including an extension for Mike Trout. And he wants to see results. It would be a crime if Mike Trout didn’t sniff the playoffs again.

It’s also reported that Moreno plans on going after some top talent this off-season. He’s in win-now mode and has been anonymously quoted as wanting an experienced manager.

Maybe Moreno has learned a lesson that the Tigers failed to learn. Maybe Arte saw a team with a huge payroll and lots of stars who failed to win even one playoff game under Ausmus. A manager with a starting rotation of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Anibal Sanchez and David Price.

Maybe he saw a manager who couldn’t get his players into the playoffs for his remaining three years in Detroit. A manager who took all that talent to 2 last-place finishes in his final 3 years. A manager who failed to get top players into even a wild card slot back in 2016.

A manager who had an overall losing record despite the immense talent coupled with one of MLB’s largest payrolls.

And maybe it scared him.

And maybe Arte understands that “fortune favors the bold.”

The Tigers, on the other hand, are anything but bold. They hang onto the same people, the same ideas and the same actions year after year, decade after decade. They rarely rock the boat or go against the status quo.

Even when situations scream for a change.

In 2014, Brad’s first year, the Tigers didn’t win a single playoff game despite the All-Star starting rotation of JV, Mad Max, Porcello, Sanchez and Price. Quite frankly, totally inexcusable and very much a firing offense. And it’s not just me. The national media was all over this at the time.

This was a sign – a big red flag – that the Tigers needed to heed. But they didn’t make a change.

The next year, 2015, found the team in last place. And yet, the Tigers made no changes.

Not even after 2016 when they struggled most of the year and missed the playoffs.

Three years of big red flags, under two different GMs, and what did they do in 2017?

They picked up Brad’s option year.

Seriously, what were they thinking all those years?

Which brings us to today…..

The same people, minus Dave Dombrowski, are still in charge. Still making the same decisions. Still being safe. Still afraid to make moves that may make a difference.

Heck, they can’t even fire a hitting coach who is linked to the overall regression of the entire team’s offensive capabilities.

It’s that bad.

And that is why we need to be concerned. If they couldn’t manage a championship-caliber team, what makes us think that they can manage a rebuild which is much more difficult and labor-intensive?

It took Arte Moreno only 1 year to learn a lesson. The Tigers still haven’t learned theirs.

And they won’t until personnel changes are made.

Maybe Chris Ilitch should review the Tigers history book. Specifically, the section about a previous owner who hired a new GM back in 1978. One year later, this GM snapped up a proven experienced manager despite having hired one just a couple months earlier.

We know how that story turned out.


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JV STILL THE LEAD STORY IN DETROIT

The Tigers’ season is over, but we aren’t!  Totally Tigers publishes every day of the year.  Stay with us in the off-season to get your baseball fix, stay informed, participate in intelligent, respectful conversation with fellow fans and get your needed baseball therapy.


By:  Kurt Snyder

47-114.

It gets its own paragraph.

During a season when we professed that we would not concern ourselves with the record, we are given this at the end.

47-114.

It’s a cold reality, isn’t it? What good came out of this season?  Were there highlights or all lowlights?

When you win 47 out of 161 games, all we really earned or can be positive about is another #1 draft pick.  Other than that, it’s all a bunch of rubble and ashes.

But highlights? Well, here in Detroit, I can honestly say that there is one player, who maybe just had the best season of his career. And it’s this player who has still kept so much of our attention.

Who is it?

Sorry, but it’s Justin Verlander.

While the Tigers played horrid baseball and pranced out less talent than we can ever remember, JV has built a new career in Houston. And it should be frightening for baseball fans in Detroit. The ones who truly care about his legacy and how he identifies himself when he is finished playing.

We still identify with JV’s success, even though he has gone on to play for one of the best teams in baseball. When we watch him dominate in Houston, we nod our heads. That’s the JV we remember. The no-hitters. The Cy Young Award (soon). The strikeouts. The fire. The electricity. Everything that we remember most about JV, he is building on and repeating with the Astros.

The highlights for Tiger fans in 2019? All things Justin Verlander.


Well, how can I say that? You can’t speak for all Tiger fans!  Maybe there is something in Detroit that captured their attention more than what some ex-Tiger is doing.


Well, if that’s the case, I would love to hear what it is. Because of the goals of our owner, we are being robbed of watching our new team develop. Nothing is developing.  Nothing is improving.  So fans may gravitate towards the players who used to be here. The players still making the headlines.

And no one is continuing to make headlines more than JV.

He went to Houston and immediately won his ring.  And after another great season in 2018, the Astros wisely gave him a contract extension.

And in 2019, he has repaid them by eclipsing 20 victories, becoming a slam dunk candidate for the Cy Young Award (and maybe an outside shot at the MVP) and 300+ strikeouts!

And the culmination of all of this outside of reaching 3,000 strikeouts for his career, could mean another ring given the Astros head into the playoffs with the game’s best record.

Never before has a Tiger left Detroit and continued to be so lauded for his personal achievements in another town.  One of our own has left Detroit and his train has kept on rolling.

In Houston, he has become a better pitcher. He has rolled back the clock and looks the same today or even better than the days when he was dominating hitters in Detroit.

In just 3 short seasons, Justin’s big years in Detroit are now being overshadowed by what he is accomplishing in Houston.

No-hitters? Check

20-win season? Check

Compete for the Cy Young and MVP? Check

Almost everything that he did in Detroit, he has done in Houston. Except he has done one better.  He has added a ring to his incredible resume with the Astros and may grab another before his is done.

What he is building is a Hall of Fame legacy in Houston. It’s the culmination of a hugely successful career with all the boxes checked.

And if he goes into the Hall as an Astro, who are we to judge?   Don’t you expect it? Seriously, why would he wear the Old English D?

Certainly you can come up with all kinds of emotional answers, but the Astros have prolonged his career and the way he looks, the end doesn’t appear to be remotely close. And meanwhile, every day, Detroit becomes a more distant memory.

47-114.

When we are dealing with that kind of season, why wouldn’t our attention shift to what once was great in Detroit?  The memories that we have of JV as a Tiger cannot be taken away from us.  But they can certainly be overshadowed when he eclipses them in another city.


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OPEN MIKE!

The Tigers’ season is over after today, but we aren’t!  Totally Tigers publishes every day of the year.  Stay with us in the off-season to get your baseball fix, stay informed, participate in intelligent, respectful conversation with fellow fans and get your needed baseball therapy.

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!


After 2 years of losing 98 games each, the Tigers will finish this year with over 110 losses and under a .300 winning percentage.   The survey below will determine what our readers think the numbers will look like next year.


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TWICE AS NICE

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

The Tigers will close out the season this weekend and if you feel a sense of relief, well, you’re not alone.  It’s time to move on from this and look to the future. Sorry, yes, we are going to take a peek at 2020; in-particular the starting rotation.

Of course, we have to expect some changes and our writers are in the mood to discuss what could change.

Holly and Kurt have not shared their answers to the following question for the purpose of offering a wider range of perspectives.

So let’s get on with it and see what our writers have to say.


What do you think the Tigers will do about next year’s 5-man starting rotation?


KURT

Well, are you ready for a Jordan Zimmermann-led starting rotation? Because I believe that’s where we are headed. Expect Matthew Boyd to be traded in the off-season, leaving only JZ to ‘lead’ the rotation coming off his splendid 1-13 season.

As far as the rest of the rotation, it’s a fair (to medium) bet that Daniel Norris and Drew VerHagen will split up and grab rotation spots along with Spencer Turnbull.

A fifth starter could come from anywhere, but certainly not Double A, even though there should be some promotions to Toledo later in the 2020 season. Will that mean Mize or Manning will enter the rotation, say, after the All-Star break or after the trade deadline? I think it’s a possibility. Until then, does Buck Farmer get another shot at starting? Or will Edwin Jackson find himself an opportunity to give it another go in ’20?

If all of this comes to fruition, the Tigers will have the worst rotation in baseball and will work hard and maybe fail to win as many games as they won in 2019.


HOLLY

First of all, I believe ownership isn’t yet finished with the blood-letting, er, salary dump, as for each of the past 2 years, they have systematically been trading or non-tendering the top most highly-paid players not named Miggy or Zimmermann.

This year, there are a number of pitchers who sit atop that list – and “coincidentally”, all were reported to be on the trading block this past July. I don’t expect that to change so potentially two of them, Norris and Boyd (both arb eligible), may be traded this winter.

Tyson Ross and Matt Moore (remember them?) were under 1-year contracts and will be gone while Michael Fulmer is unlikely to be back until the end of next year (Tommy John surgery) at the earliest so don’t be surprised if he is non-tendered. The Tigers took him to arbitration last year (the first time ever they’ve done that) and he is currently the team’s third most expensive player and due for another arbitration negotiation. Chris Ilitch isn’t going to pay him over $3 mill to sit all year with no guarantees that he’ll be able to return and pitch effectively.

If it all follows this strategy, Jordan Zimmermann returns as a starter, not just for the $25 million he’s owed, but because the Tigers have very few starting pitching candidates.

Their heralded pitching prospects are in AA and with luck, will see AAA this year and maybe Detroit in September if they don’t exceed their pitch limitations. I believe the team will limp through the season with Zimmermann, VerHagen, Turnbull and maybe even Reininger – supplemented by a number of minor league contracts given out to veteran journeyman pitchers like Edwin Jackson as they hope the odds will land them 1 or 2 starters to get them through the year.

I also wouldn’t put it past the Tigers to continue the 4-man rotation they did this year coupled with a bullpen game because ownership has made it clear that the wallet is closed for even the most dire of needs.


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MIGGY SAYS NO TO AREPAS … WHY NOW? WHY EVER?

By:  Kurt Snyder

I had to find out. These arepas that Miggy talked about giving up in the off-season; I had to find out about them.

And mainly what I wondered about was the history. What are these things? Are they something new? Did they exist last year?

The reason I ask? Well, why has Miggy decided, just now, that he needs to give up the carb-loaded corn patty of goodness? Why not last off-season?

These arepas have existed for hundreds of years! This is no new habit for Miggy! So why the delay?

All joking aside, why has he decided now that losing some weight and getting into better shape is actually a pretty darn good idea? Knowing full well the state of his knee, why didn’t he choose to get in better shape before this season?

Miggy could have shown us a lot this year by putting in the effort to really get in the best shape of his life. And from a leadership standpoint, it would have shown us something. Miggy would have turned heads having committed himself to a team expected to struggle mightily in 2019.

But he didn’t do it. And it’s been disappointing. It’s been disappointing all season to see him, not in the greatest shape, struggling with that knee. But hey, he didn’t prepare. He set himself up for more failure than there had to be.

For good reason, he did hear it from the fans. It was the consensus among most, including our readers, that he wasn’t doing himself any favors by carrying that much weight on a wounded knee.

His response?


“As for my weight, throughout my career, I’ve been criticized for that — that I weigh too much, that I’m out of shape. It’s the same story every year.”


Well, if he doesn’t want to hear it from the fans, then at the very least, he needs to have a sense of obligation; to show us that he cares. But he didn’t do that this year.

So now, after mentioning a number of weeks ago about all the flack he gets about his weight, he has now discovered that we were all right to begin with; the man has dedicated himself to getting in better shape, to losing weight in the off-season.

Suddenly it’s his idea! Can anyone go for an apology?  (or an arepa? – is that singular?)


“He has to take a little bit a weight off that knee,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s what the trainers have said. That will probably help it. He’s going to work hard, try to lose weight and see if that will help.”


Wow, what a great idea.

Oh, and the arepas – they look darn good. If he has been dining regularly on those when he goes to Venezuela, well, someone please …turn him away at the border!

History tells us that people used to eat them plain or just on their own. But, the more popular they became, people began adding fillings!  And who knows what Miggy was filling them with?

(Sorry – food is one of my favorite topics.)

These arepas can be eaten at any time of the day? What’s better than that?

A main dish or a side dish!   (Make it stop!)

In the end, all we want from our franchise player is a serious commitment to the team  paying him, the town and the fans who have cheered him for so many years.

Because I know one thing, if Miggy doesn’t act like he cares, Tigers fans will have no problem feeling the same way. Many are there already.

And when Miggy doesn’t care – arepas come calling.

So I guess they are like a tostada.

…where’s my grocery list?


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STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH – PART ONE

By:  Holly Horning

If you read the major Detroit papers, you may never get the feeling that anything is really too terribly wrong with the Tigers. Or that they are MLB’s worst team.

The bad games and performances are downplayed while feel-good stories are appearing with increasing frequency. And if you are waiting for someone, anyone, to finally publish the horrific stats (or lack thereof) or call out the organization, well, it’s really like waiting for Godot.

But if you get away from that bad baseball bubble, you will hear a completely different tune from the national media. To them, the Tigers are a trainwreck. And it goes well beyond being the worst team in MLB this year.

The drumbeat calling out the Tigers is increasing and even when you hear it from MLB-sanctioned channels (who have to be careful what they say because MLB owns their medium), you know things are of serious concern.

Just within the past week, I’ve read and listened to 3 different reports that sound the bell on what the Tigers are doing – or more importantly, not doing – to their team. One from a well-known sports writer, another from 2 former GMs and the last from a former Tiger.

In today’s blog, let’s review what they are saying. In Part Two (next Monday), we’ll get into the particulars that support why this rebuild – if it really is one – is more than likely to not be accomplished successfully.

In this past Monday’s blog, loyal reader “soclosein67”, mentioned an article published in Sports Illustrated recently. It was entitled The Hopelessness Index: Which MLB Teams Have the Bleakest Outlooks?

The Tigers ranked dead last in an estimate of their return to viability. And if they do? The earliest projection is 2024.

The writer points to two concerns. The first, that there are a couple of bright spots in the farm system but beyond that, there really is nothing. Nothing to suggest that there is a bona fide transformation taking place.

Speaking of transformation, his second concern involves the Front Office. He specifically (and politely) takes aim at Al Avila who has been with the Tigers since 2002 and in charge since 2015 with nary a change in thought or strategy. The assumption being that teams who rebuild successfully make changes to who they hire and what actions they take.

On MLB Radio last week, two former GMs spoke at length about the Tigers “rebuild” and they had nothing positive to say. When asked to describe the Tigers’ return to competitiveness in one word, one GM said “dim” and the other said “distant.”

The former said it broke his heart to have to say what he did because he grew up in Detroit and idolized the Tigers. He went on to add, only half-joking, that the team is so bad – and will be for awhile –  that Eminem is considering leaving town.

The other former GM said (and I counted them) that it would be a “long, long, long, long, long time before this team is competitive again.”

Both agreed that the Tigers overrate their prospects. They mentioned that the team has a couple of good pitching prospects but nothing really beyond them. There is no core or even a hint of one which is crucial to building a team.

And over the weekend, the final nail in the coffin was delivered by a former Tiger in a radio interview. You may not like the man, abhor what he did after he left baseball but he has the ability to clearly identify what others are loathe to do.

He is Denny McLain.

You can’t help but listen to him no matter how you may feel about him. He is articulate and speaks directly to the issue. He is, very simply, a great interview despite all of that baggage. And if you watch and listen to a lot of MLB-sponsored programs, he is in high demand as a guest. He is a regular and a repeat guest on a number of shows.

And on Saturday, on MLB Radio, an interview about the current state of the Tigers (and a short segment on the state of the game overall), which was supposed to go for only 10-15 minutes, ended up going on for an hour. They kept asking Denny to stay.

McLain talked about attending a couple games at Comerica recently. Some with former teammates. And they were shocked at what they saw.

He mentioned the Tigers need to use 32 pitchers this year or as he said “32 men who called themselves pitchers”. An amazing record number that pointed to the team’s lack of viable MLB-level talent.

He railed at the level of defense and discussed how routine plays were regularly not being made. He was especially upset at how often players missed the cut off man. He called the level of play “ridiculous.”

Denny pointed out that no one on the team appears to be able to play a single position competently.

And his biggest question surrounds exactly what, if anything, is being taught within the organization. He questioned the lack of development at the MLB level which, of course, is impacted within the farm system. If they are playing like this in The Show, what is happening in Erie and Toledo?

He also wondered what the coaches were doing, if anything. Especially when it came to Miggy.

The former Tigers in attendance all noticed that Miggy routinely never finishes running to first base in order to complete the play. He often stopped halfway and then headed back to the dugout. (For the record, this also was an issue before he hurt his knee.) This was outrageous to them. Denny said it’s a horrible model for the young players and that it’s Miggy’s responsibility to be the leader on issues like this.

Maybe he was a little stern, but McLain did mention that he didn’t see a single player on the roster who was deserving of returning next year.

On the non-play aspects, he did say that the games he attended had only 2,000 – 4,000 fans there. Laughing, he also mentioned that Chris Ilitch doesn’t need to sell that many tickets because the price gouging going on with the food sales helps to offset the almost-empty stadium.

For the record, Denny liked and appreciated Mr. I. Not much love for his son, Chris, though.

The best part of the interview? The last question from the show’s hosts who teasingly provoked McLain after he spent much time discussing what is currently wrong with the Tigers.

They said (sic) “But Denny, Chris Ilitch said he’s very pleased with Al Avila and the progress he’s seeing with the team.”

There was a short pause…… and then Denny and the 2 hosts broke into laughter.

On Monday, we’ll delve further into what has everyone concerned about the Tigers. And it goes much deeper than the mounting losses and short-term gap players.

We’ll cover Al Avila’s strategy, Chris Ilitch’s statement, the farm system, coaching and signs supporting something other than a rebuild. Oh, and maybe a glimmer of hope. So let’s save any comments about these subjects until then.


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NOT QUITE A WRAP FOR JZ

By:  Kurt Snyder

The reader reaction to the latest start by Jordan Zimmermann was strong and clear. Everyone is done with JZ.

It wasn’t a performance we haven’t seen before, but the numbers were for sure. Nine runs, 11 hits, in 3 2/3rd innings of work. They earned him the distinction of his worst start of the season.

In what could have been his final start of  2019, it appeared to be the final straw for so many fans and so many readers. They can’t tolerate the thought of another season with Zimmermann.

However, at long last,  it is the final year of his contract, so we can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Tigers, when it comes to one of the worst free agent signings in their history.

Yes, Jordan will bank another $25M. And yes, he was inundated with injuries in each of his 4 years with Detroit so far. And they have ruined him. More than anything, the situation with his neck was a red flag from the beginning. It was something the Tigers downplayed, but just the description of the problem caused major concern, at least on this site.

So, Jordan has been dealing with it. And dealing with other injuries as well. But this isn’t his fault. The Tigers need to learn from this.

Age 29 free agent signings are extremely risky, especially for pitchers. And analytics certainly play a part in determining the value of players when they are looking to sign for big money. They have put the brakes on so many would-be signings. And when I say would-be, I mean most of these players who have had big careers heading towards their 30’s, have been snapped up pretty quickly in the past.

And Jordan Zimmermann was one of those players. At the time it seemed like a safe signing and I remember saying so on this site. He was billed as a solid #2 pitcher in the rotation. A workhorse. A lunch-bucket carrying, blue-collar guy. Perfect for Detroit.

And we saw that for almost half a season in 2015 when he arrived. But the rest since, has been a disaster.

So how will the Tigers learn? When we get free of JZ and continue beyond this rough patch, what criteria will the Tigers use to sign players again? Well, besides learning from the rest of the league, what they did in signing Zimmermann is everything they can’t do again.

Long-term deals for pitchers heading into their 30’s can’t happen again. In hindsight, JZ’s numbers did show evidence of a career slowing down in just the last 2 years before he was signed. But even with that, the Tigers felt they were being responsible staying away from the high-priced aces and searching the 2nd tier of starters instead.

That’s how it was sold to us and knowing what the Tigers needed in another starter, we pretty much bought it. And the rest is history. What the Tigers thought was a safe signing, turned out to be anything but.

So, we have endured 4 years of a failed signing with 1 more year to go. And our readers have been clear in their disdain for even 1 more year of JZ in the Tiger uniform. They are calling for a release.

Write the check. Let Chris sign it. Send a moving truck to Jordan’s house and be done him. That’s the conclusion everyone wants. But it’s not the conclusion they are going to get.

But why?

Well, the Tigers are in no position to do it. They aren’t ready to do it. They don’t have young pitchers banging down the door at Comerica looking to storm the starting rotation. So as much as dumping Zimm would make us feel good, it really doesn’t make any sense.

I won’t entertain the notion that maybe he will pitch better next season, raising his value. If he didn’t have the chronic neck condition, then I would make a case for the value argument. The fact is, he has the issue. And it is always lingering. And even when it isn’t causing pain, you have to suspect that is causes some weakness.

He doesn’t have the command he had when he arrived. His stuff doesn’t have the bite it had either. He’s about 30% of the pitcher he had been. The man is pretty much finished. And I would expect him to retire after next season.

We learned a lot over the weekend about what our readers were thinking now that Jordan was 1-12 and giving up more than 6 runs per nine innings. That stat is really the one that’s the most maddening of all. And I’m not talking about the 1-12 record.

That earned run average of almost 7, as you know, is measured over the course of nine innings. JZ has rarely made it to the 5th inning and has walked off the mound plenty of times in the 3rd and 4th inning headed for the showers.

Unfortunately, you are not going to see less of that in 2020. His fifth year in Detroit will serve as a final reminder of what not to do when signing pitchers.    It’s just not worth the trip again.


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WHAT’S THE REAL SCOOP?

By:  Holly Horning

We are amongst the wreckage of the rebuild – or in the dog days of the salary dump – depending upon your point of view.

And for an increasing number of fans, the resentment towards the decisions the Tigers have made over the past 5 years or so has been building. You see it in the stands and you are also reading an increasing amount in the social media threads attached to the print (online) media and the many blogs that address the Detroit Tigers.

The comments we are seeing are both supportive and (mostly) critical of the moves made by the team. And a lot of them keep replaying in the threads, especially when it involves a former Tiger who is thriving with another team.

The sheer repetition of some of these fans’ beliefs have created urban myth legend. It happens everywhere, even in baseball.

But what is true and what isn’t? If you read the local Detroit papers, you won’t get any information. The Tigers may be the worst team in baseball, but their PR people are still #1 when it comes to keeping controversial news out of the papers.

It helps if you live outside the region. There’s more choice, more information and less bias. And those who report what the Tigers don’t want you to know can’t be punished by the home team and denied clubhouse access. If you watch MLB TV or listen to MLB Radio, information about what really went down is shared regularly. And many of those who work in the industry also write regular blogs where even more intelligence is shared.

It’s interesting to read what many fans believe to be true – whether correct or not. And there are a number of beliefs that are discussed more than others.

Which brings us to these particular “urban myths.” Let’s highlight what may be the Top 10 along with what appears to be the real truth as reported by either the individual in question or information gathered by accredited and established media.


1. Mr. I was cheap and made a huge mistake by not retaining Max Scherzer.

Mike Ilitch reportedly asked Scott Boras what it would take to keep Max as a Tiger. He was given a number and Mr. I agreed to it. He considered it to be a gentleman’s agreement, but instead, Boras used that salary as leverage with other teams to drive up Max’s asking price.

2. Dave Dombrowski ruined this team by signing both Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera to obscene contract extensions several years before their current contracts expired.

It was Mr. I who initiated those extensions because he wanted JV and Miggy to remain Tigers-for-life.

3. Why on earth did Dave Dombrowski hire a rookie manager, Brad Ausmus, to run this team?

Dave himself revealed that he put Jim Leyland in charge of finding his own replacement. The Front Office signed off on Ausmus but Mr. I balked and it took a lot of convincing to get him to reluctantly agree.

4. Dave Dombrowski was fired by Mr. I because Dave said the team needed “rebooting” and as a result, traded David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Yoakim Soria.

Dealin’ Dave was in the last 6 weeks of his 14-year run as GM (with no World Series ring to show for it) and he had had no contract extension talks with Mr. I, which is telling. He was “released” from his contract because multiple sources reported that Dave saw the end coming  UCB earlier and he had started job hunting while still the Tigers GM.

5. Dave Dombrowski stripped the Tigers farm system bare.

Not clearly a black-and-white decision may be made on this one. While Trader Dave did trade off the most valuable Tiger prospects, the majority of them were not ranked as big impact players.  The Tigers prospect development system was also considered suspect. Dave clearly knew how to sell, but he did leave the system much weaker, plunging it to the near bottom in rankings by most established evaluation systems.

6. Al Avila repeatedly said that the trade market was weak.

Avila actually received 2 offers for Michael Fulmer in which both a young Javier Baez and Alex Bregman were offered to him but he turned both teams down.

7. Al Avila took a poor deal from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for J. D. Martinez because he said they were the only interested team.

He had a much better deal from the Boston Red Sox for J. D. but it was reported that he refused to deal with Dave Dombrowski.

8. The Tigers said that Justin Verlander’s resurgence with the Houston Astros was due to him finally being healthy and reinventing himself as he got older.

JV has done a number of interviews praising Houston’s analytics, hi-tech equipment and staff in helping him understand his strengths and formulating strategies. His form has been tweaked and modern info such as spin rate was introduced to him for the first time which allowed him to pitch more effectively.

9. Justin Verlander did not desire to be part of the Tigers’ rebuild and wanted out.

The Tigers actually created a public situation where they advertised JV’s availability in order to put pressure on him (along with Justin Upton) to accept a trade. In interviews, JV said the decision to leave was the hardest one he ever had to make in his careeer as seen in the signing of the trade agreement just 1 minute before a midnight deadline.

10. The Tigers justified the trade of Justin Verlander as the need for the team to get “younger and leaner.”

A dozen or more former players-turned-analysts as well as former Front Office executives classified the move as a “pure salary dump”, exemplified by the very poor return. They all confirmed that when you accept lesser prospects and have to chip in your own prospect as well – and part of the salary –  it is seen as a desperate move to get payroll off the books no matter what.


More than a few fans may say that the Tigers “rebuild” is also an urban myth. That may be the case, and there’s certainly evidence, but let’s officially give the team the benefit of the doubt for a few more months before we officially list it as an urban myth.

Are there any more urban myths (with knowledge of some official reporting) we can add to this list?


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/.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

It’s time again to hear from our readers!   Today is the day to let us know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Sunday is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can get those juices flowing.

Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.

We can’t wait to get your thoughts on the following topic:


 Next season, in the final year of his contract, Jordan Zimmermann will make another $25M.  If he were removed from the rotation based on his awful 2019 season, the Tigers would have another hole to fill. 

Based on all the factors and given the difficulty they had effectively filling holes left by Michael Fulmer, Tyson Ross and Matt Moore this season, how would you choose to use Zimmermann in 2020?


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/.