By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
It’s the Virtual Winter Meetings! Instead of cold conference rooms, we got the chance to see how A. J. Hinch and his family decorate their home for the holidays as he did multiple interviews with both local and national media.
So what did he say? Or, are you more interested in reading between the lines?
Today, Kurt and Holly are tackling the Hinch interviews. Five questions, 10 answers and only 2 sentences each allowed for each question. As always, their answers aren’t shared until publication.
Let’s see what they have to say….
What is your overall impression of Hinch’s interview with the media?
The Tigers have a manager unlike any we have had in Detroit in a long time. This is a man with a high baseball IQ, but what stands out the most is that he has great love and passion for the game, even when he is just talking about his team.
Hinch is excellent in both describing his goals and very precise in sharing his expectations. There are no generalities or the typical PR spouted by many other managers but you get the sense that he’s got a very clear vision, a specific set of goals and will be an inspiring leader.
What do you believe was the most important piece he communicated?
He’s got expectations and it starts with a new mindset, a new creed if you will; and those expectations begin with believing you can win and starting every day with one common goal and that is to win today’s game. Hinch has a plan when it comes to the kind of player he likes on the mound and at the plate and it sounds like he will have a say in those decisions.
We’ve been waiting for what seems like decades for someone wearing the Old English D to say it. Hinch did – he wants to change the culture of the team, esp. regarding limitations players put on themselves because it “is a garbage mentality and it’s not how we’re going to operate here.”
What are your thoughts about Hinch wanting to stretch out Daniel Norris and Tyler Alexander to see if they fit the starting rotation?
I see it as a worthy exercise to challenge every one of his pitchers to expand their roles or change them if it means they can add depth to the starting rotation. Norris and Alexander both have starting experience but not a ton of success – Hinch may explore why that is and see what can be done to help them improve.
Hinch focused on Norris, stating that he has all the tools and it’s puzzling how it’s just never come together for him. Reading between the lines, he’s throwing diplomatic shade on the previous manager/coaches and wants to get in there with Chris Fetter to tap unrealized potential.
How do you feel about his statements about Miggy playing first base?
I have to say, it’s a pretty smart idea to begin your time in Detroit by getting the franchise player behind you as the new manager. Everyone knows that Miggy is happiest and most productive when he’s playing first base and just considering it, even a couple games a week, serves the team well.
I don’t think Hinch will take unnecessary risks but overall a very smart move to inspire Miggy in the off-season to become his physical best and have him arrive in Lakeland ready to roll. It’s always good to have the face of your franchise, your most expensive player, start off liking you and buying into your program while also having your manager understand what motivates you, which Miggy has stated is his need to play in the field which also makes him a better hitter at the plate.
What was the most important overall theme you heard from the press conference?
Over and over, AJ talked about ‘winning today’s game,’ and never selling yourself short. He said you can’t lose a game without playing it and that limiting your own expectations would not be tolerated – it’s a mindset that should get us excited.
Unlike Ron Gardenhire, we heard repeatedly that A. J. is an active participant in sharing and formulating policy and decisions with not only Al Avila, but also with Scott Bream, David Chadd, Sam Menzin and others on a daily basis. Hinch comes across as a partner in this rebuild, unlike Gardy, and there’s evidence that he is also involved in roster decisions.
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