Are you perusing the papers every day looking for updates on the Tigers? Good luck with that.
Even if you go to the major local papers, where any news at all should be located, there is “Nix! Zip! Diddly! Bupkis!” (Forgive me, I have to regularly include a quote from A Fish Called Wanda in my blogs.)
And there won’t be anything for awhile. (Imagine how hard it is for Kurt and me to write about this team every day. The beat writers are weenies compared to us.)
Chris Ilitch has said he’s “extremely pleased” with the progress. He’s extended Al Avila, who is doing a phenomenal job. So is the Front Office. The manager is still gainfully employed as are all of his/Jim Leyland’s/Brad Ausmus’ coaches because they are great at what they do and the stats prove it.
As for players, we’re not expecting anyone from AAA to make the jump until maybe late next year. Or, should we say, deserving to make the jump.
As well, we’re not expecting free agents of any significance to be signed. If any holes need to be filled, the Tigers will sign a journeyman or two. Maybe.
More than likely, they will sign guys who have been around and trying to get back to the bigs by accepting minor league contracts. Bargain basement shopping at its finest. Ron Gardenhire said as much in an interview a week ago. He commented “I’ve been told there’s very little money to spend on players for 2020.”
So there you have it. A team that finished with MLB’s worst record for 2019 with 114 losses and a .292 winning percentage is quite happy with how things are going. No need to fire anyone, hire anyone new or spend any money to help the team get better.
This either means that the world’s biggest idiots are running this organization or that MLB needs to start an investigation focused on the owner’s intent to be purposely non-competitive. There’s a phrase for this now – “tanking is banking.”
Don’t go near that ledge, readers. Just not yet.
What we’re seeing could actually be a good thing. A great thing even.
This frozen-in-time situation – this nonsensical lack of action – we’re seeing, most logically supports the strategy that the team is closer to being sold.
The drumbeats are getting louder, folks. And more frequent.
And people are talking. People who have connections to the team, like former Tigers.
I know I’ve been writing about this move for 2 years now with the first clues appearing. And like any big, expensive organization for sale, it takes time to make it happen. Pieces have to be put in place, the books need to be righted and the organization has to be stripped down and made as efficient as possible so it looks good to a potential new owner. Afterall, you want to get the maximum price when you sell.
So, the clues. I’ve got lots of them. Some big, some small. All logical. And all support each other.
And when you add them all up, there is a pattern. And you know how I feel about patterns if you’ve been reading Totally Tigers for awhile…
In fact, too many clues to write about all of them in one blog, so I am going to split this discussion into two parts. This means you have to promise to come back next Tuesday because I’ll be saving the best for last. And if you don’t, I’ll be coming for you…..
Let’s get on with it!
First of all, who is the buyer?
Everyone who is talking only mentions his name, no one else’s. And it’s also been said that his stroke put a kink in the timeline of the sale – but that it is still happening with some reports saying as soon as “this spring.”
Gilbert, as you may know, already owns one sports team – the Cleveland Cavaliers. And he’s from Detroit.
But did you know that he really wanted to buy a baseball team instead of basketball? Back in 2004, he tried to buy the Milwaukee Brewers. Now is just the perfect time to buy his hometown team. Baseball teams don’t come up for sale frequently.
Buying the Tigers would also enhance and complement his current downtown projects. Projects, btw, that are actually in progress, unlike Chris Ilitch’s District Detroit.
The biggest clue that there is a deal brewing is Gilbert’s continuing efforts to sell all of his casinos. As you know, MLB forbids ownership of them.
Dan’s casinos are reported by the financial media as being “hugely profitable.” If so, why would he want to sell? He’s given no reason at all despite the imminent signing of papers with the new owners.
Gilbert is selling the Greektown Casino for $1 billion. Conveniently, it is close to what the Tigers are asking for their team.
On the other hand, several financial papers are speculating that Ilitch Holdings is having some cash flow issues and needs to free up some greenbacks in order to pursue some non-baseball-related projects. Remember, most baseball owners don’t buy teams because they love baseball so much. They buy them for the investment – the very safe and very lucrative investment that they can later sell at a huge profit and use to inject into their other businesses.
It’s clear that Chris doesn’t have the connection with baseball that his dad had. If he did, we’d be seeing much more of him at Comerica. He’s absent from the owner’s suite and makes only 1-2 appearances each season for mandatory events. Heck, he didn’t even appear at the contract extension of his GM, Al Avila.
Chris’ real passion, however, is hockey. He has played since a kid and continues playing every weekend for the past 20 years in an adult league. He’s also grooming his kids to play the game. There are a number of national articles in which he gushes about the game.
And baseball? (Insert the sound of crickets here.)
“Nix! Zip! Diddly! Bupkis!”
You’re simply not going to keep a team that doesn’t interest you. You’ve got enough going on in life and other projects that require your time and attention. You can’t spread yourself thin with too many businesses. Your other businesses will suffer.
Meanwhile, at Comerica, a number of reports are coming out. Employees reporting that the team is in “budgetary lockdown.” That Ilitch is only focused on saving money, not on improving the team, from all of their interactions with ownership.
Articles have come out about employees being laid off and Comerica shops being closed. Especially this year. And it helps support the financials in which the Tigers drastically cut their operating expenses which used to be double the average in MLB. The organization made their first profit last year – even after 98 losses – after over a decade. It helps to make the books look good when you want to sell.
Several employees have reported that they are seeing a swarm of new, non-Comerica people in suits, digging around. Whether they are accountants hired to reduce costs or investigating on behalf of Gilbert is unknown. But the employees sense that something is happening.
To come full circle, it now makes sense that the Tigers aren’t making any personnel moves. They are keeping everyone, despite the 114 losses this year. They are not going out to hire anyone new and logically, that is because the team is going to be sold. It doesn’t make sense to spend the time and money to bring in new people who will most likely be gone in (maybe) months.
If you’re selling the team, you really don’t care about its progress anymore. You’ve moved on.
You simply care about the sale price now.
Next Tuesday, come back for Part Two in which the biggest clues will be revealed that point to the Tigers being sold. Until then, please limit your comments to those topics listed above only, saving your thoughts on other subjects for next week.
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