Throughout the week, there are so many smaller stories hitting the media. They may be bite-size, but often they are just as important as the headline-grabbing news. Sometimes, even more.
And that’s what brings me to today. A way to discuss some of these stories. A way to bring them out in the open for discussion.
And that’s the plan for Mondays. Keeping track of these mighty little bits that hit my radar throughout the week and sharing them with you today because I know one or more will also resonate with you. So, let’s kick off this week’s musings…
Many fans on social media were wondering why Miguel Cabrera and his manager were determined for him to return from the IL with only 2 weeks left in the season. It’s not like there was anything meaningful left in the year.
Then there was the announcement that Miggy would be playing more. Instead of 1 game per series as he had been doing, he’d play in 2.
For Miggy, obviously pride is a factor. Maybe even other motivators.
But it’s much more likely that the Tigers desperately want to get an updated handle on his physical state and endurance before the end of the year. Can he keep up being in the lineup at that frequency? Or will there be days where he can’t play 2 games in a row? Will the knee or bicep flare up again?
They are going to take this info into the off-season as the team, newly steered by Scott Harris, will decide whether or not keeping Cabrera on the roster is viable for 2023. And if so, for how long?
But working against Miggy is the emergence of Kerry Carpenter. In just his first 25 starts, he’s hit 6 HRs as a rookie and averages app. 1 hit for every 3 at-bats. He also leads the team in OPS – and it’s not even close.
He’s also been working extensively with George Lombard to improve his outfield skills and showing progress.
With most baseball teams eliminating a player-specific DH in favor of a rotating one, will the Tigers buck that trend and keep Miggy? Maybe even adding a secondary DH in Carpenter?
If Al Avila was in charge, probably. But given Harris’ background, I don’t think it’s likely he’ll allow this team to continue to remain outdated.
As I extensively blogged over the past weeks, the Tigers will have tons of positional holes to fill. The only position that is a slam dunk is CF with Riley Greene.
The outfield may need as many as 2 new players. Second base and SS may be changing with rumors of Schoop being on the trading block and Javy Baez moving to 2B. First base is a question mark with Torkelson penciled in for now. And the Tigers will be looking elsewhere for their catcher and third base man.
Where will they get all of these players?
If you look at Toledo’s roster, there’s not much depth there. One-third of that roster is “filler” – older players signed for depth due to injuries.
Will Chris Ilitch lay out more big bucks? Probably not just yet. He got burned this year and he may want to see what Scott Harris and the TBD new GM can do first. And who knows? Scott Harris may not hire a GM this year. He may wait a year. Other teams have done that.
The current positional roster members won’t bring back much in trades.
Which leaves pitchers are the primarily source of trade currency.
I won’t be surprised if one of the better starters, like Matt Manning, is traded in order to get multiple players with MLB-ready skills in return. It seems to be the most plausible path at the moment.
And it may just be one of the first real tests of our new PoBO’s trading skills.
Do you remember the blog I wrote not too long ago about the problems created by a team packed with star players? I discussed some of the reasons why the Tigers, with so much incredible talent, failed to win more than 1 game in 2 World Series. A team that collected so many individual awards but little that was team-related.
Here is that blog:
On MLB Radio the other day, Joe Carter was interviewed about his time with the Blue Jays in the 1990’s. It was a team packed with star players, including Jack Morris.
But Carter said that there was a problem created by all those players. Tons of talent but there was no allegiance to the team or to other players. He said that when you get so many talented players, they are focused on embellishing their own egos, stats and prioritizing their futures and earning potentials above working as a team.
Joe said that when players weren’t actively on the field or at the plate, most of them were back in the clubhouse doing their own thing.
But that all changed when the Jays signed Dave Winfield for the 1992 season. Carter credited him as the biggest influence for changing the culture of the organization and taking the team to the World Series – and winning it.
Early in the season, Winfield saw what was going on and went into the clubhouse during the game to use his standing as an accomplished veteran to change the mindset from “I” to “team.” He yelled at the players about the importance of backing up and supporting your teammates and that no one should be in the clubhouse – but on the bench or at the railing instead. After that speech, they all headed for the dugout – and stayed.
Winfield was the catalyst.
The team turned around and ended up winning the ring that year. Didn’t hurt that Winfield got the game –and series – winning hit.
Which brings me back to the Tigers. It sounds as if they didn’t have their own Dave Winfield back in the years from 2006 through the mid-10’s. Who exactly was their leader?
We know that there were multiple malfunctioning units within the roster. Ego battles between 3 starting pitchers. Fights in the clubhouse and selfish moves by certain pitchers during the playoffs prioritizing their next big paycheck instead of taking the team to the World Series.
It just goes to show you that talent is only one factor in creating a team that goes all the way. Leadership can take you over the top.
If you have any.
Which one of these stories resonated the most with you?
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