SATURDAY SURVEY

Breaking news!  Just as we were about to go to print this evening, a national report is just starting to trickle out from the West Coast that involves a potential trade between the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels.

Over the winter, Angels’ owner Arte Moreno made statements about selling the team and then retracted them weeks later.  It is believed that the team’s inability to win at the most important levels, combined with one of MLB’s highest payrolls were factors in his decision to sell.  While Moreno started receiving bids, they were lower than expected.  Part of the reason has been attributed to the team’s very high operating expenses.

LA currently has a payroll that exceeds the luxury tax threshold.  There are multiple players, including Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, who are each making close to $40 mill/year on long-term contracts.  Even having Trout on the roster has not helped the team reach the playoffs since their only appearance in 2014. They are tied with the Tigers with having the longest playoff drought in MLB.

Another one of those players is Shohei Ohtani who is in his last year before hitting free agency.  It is expected that he will command a new record-breaking contract that the Angels can no longer afford.  They are looking to trade him while his value is at its highest and before they get nothing in return. It is believed that the sooner they trade him, the more they are likely to get.

Similar to the trade that brought Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers, Angels GM Perry Minasian and Tigers’ PoBO, Scott Harris have been discussing a trade that would include multiple team-controlled young players in exchange for one of MLB’s best athletes. 

Conveniently, Cabrera’s contract ends after this year, freeing up substantial payroll for the Tigers. It is also expected that both Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez will opt out of their contracts if they have good years. They are the only 2 remaining players with relatively expensive contracts.

In return for Ohtani, it is being reported that the Angels would receive Riley Greene, Colt Keith, Jace Jung and Parker Meadows.  All team-controlled players who would help bring down the Angels’ payroll.

We will update this report as we hear more.


Turning now to the Tigers, this is a difficult time for fans.  A rebuild that failed to work and a new regime in charge of putting this team back on the right path.

We’ve had to endure a rebuild for the last 6 years (officially). However, all of those who were in charge of getting this team back to a competitive level, have been fired.  There is a whole new cast and crew acquired from multiple organizations known for having top talent and well-rated Front Offices.  Many new members have experience in successfully completing rebuilds with other teams.

This is the first year under the new personnel and huge improvements are not expected in 2023.

But this is a turning of the page.  The Tigers have completely changed how they build an organization and gather/develop players.

As the 2023 season starts, how are you preparing yourself as you watch this team develop?  What are you feeling?

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What did you miss on our Twitter feed yesterday?

  • The Tigers trade for yet another player.
  • What do the Tigers and the Mud Hens have in common?

Why should you follow Totally Tigers https://twitter.com/totallytigersbb on Twitter?

  • We tweet out breaking news before it’s published in the sports pages. The best news from the best sources.
  • Want more than 1 Totally Tigers fix every day? How about throughout the day?

LET’S KICK THIS OFF!

The Detroit Tigers played their first game of the 2023 season.  Did you watch?  Did you listen?

Today’s blog is focused on your thoughts and reactions.

Please tell us (in 3 sentences or less) which 1 moment was most significant to you from the game.  It can be a play, a player, a comment, a stat, pattern or something you witnessed.

To make this even more fun, for those of you who prefer to lurk rather than comment, if your selection matches someone who has posted your choice, click their “like” link.  But as Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October said, just one ping, please.

Keep checking back during the day to cast your vote if you don’t see it the first time.

Don’t see your comment? Comments are limited to a maximum of 3 sentences. Please make sure to check out the other rules for posting under the link at the top of the page in order for your comments to be published.


What did you miss on our Twitter feed yesterday?

  • We’ve got the breakdown on how many new players made the Tigers’ roster.

Why should you follow Totally Tigers https://twitter.com/totallytigersbb on Twitter?

  • We tweet out breaking news before it’s published in the sports pages. The best news from the best sources.
  • Want more than 1 Totally Tigers fix every day? How about throughout the day?

AND SO IT BEGINS….

by Holly Horning

Today marks the first game of the Tigers’ 2023 season.  How do you feel about what lies ahead?

Me?  I am somewhere in the middle right now.

I am not terribly excited nor am I ready to soothe my soul with a regular pint or two of gelato on a regular basis.  Pitachio or rose in case you are wondering.

What I am is curious.

And cautious.

I don’t have that sense of dread I’ve had for quite a few years now which is a good sign. 

But I also am not excited or of the belief that the Tigers will surprise us all by performing well beyond expectations.

For the first time, I do have hope.

And maybe that is the most important feeling to have of all.

Hope that this organization has finally figured out what has ailed it for so many years.  Even when they were winning.

This franchise has made a seismic leap from how they were run for decades to now. For the first time in decades, I have more confidence in the organization overall.

Finally admitting that they needed to add and practice all the new technology and strategy that every other team in MLB was already doing.  Acknowledging that old school guys couldn’t keep up or weren’t willing to learn new tricks.  Cutting ties to the cronyism that has been prevalent for over 20 years.  Even beyond that.

Realizing that pouring all your money exclusively into the roster while ignoring the rest of the foundation was simply a band-aid that covered up a very big wound.  A wound that wouldn’t heal on its own.

For all intents and purposes, this is a different – a new – organization.  The likes of which we have never seen.

The team that was always tagged with being the most outdated, most resistant to change is no longer.

Eegads, could the Tigers finally be turning into a modern organization?  Even a pro-active one?

And that is why I have hope.

The biggest move by far this off-season was not related to any player acquisitions.  It was finally bringing in a whole new regime.

Yes, I will be watching every game once again this year.  But I’m going to be less focused on the results of each game.

My attention is going to be drawn to the bigger picture.

I am excited to see Scott Harris come into the organization.  He is the first modern competitive top executive with a clear record of accomplishment with top teams to come on board.

His hiring makes me hopeful.  It is a positive first step but I’m not signing off on him just yet.  I want to see what he does first.

I also realize that he has come into what is probably MLB’s worst-run organization and has inherited a train wreck.

And as such, I understand – as fans also should – that this isn’t going to be a magical quick fix.  The Tigers’ way of operating their franchise has been neglected for decades.  It’s going to take more than a year to sweep up the mess and right the ship.

So rather than expect specific and quantifiable goals like offensive stats and wins/losses, I’ll be looking for upward movement.  Looking for promise.

Improvement in a large number of categories will make me hopeful.

Improvement in player development, drafting and scouting.  Improvement in the ranking of the farm system and the appearance of prospects in the top 100 lists.

Improvement in offense and defense.

Improvement in finding solutions to long-standing problems.  Answers to filling the catching, first base, second base and third base positions.

All of that will give me hope.

I don’t expect the team to meet lofty goals this year.  There is simply too much wreckage left by Al Avila and his crew that needs to be cleaned up first before advancements can be made.

And as I’ve previously written, the Tigers will never, ever reveal just what bad shape this team was in under Avila.

I get the frustration by many fans who have suffered since 2017 (or even earlier).  Myself included.  And the feeling that the Tigers now need a sense of urgency and put the pedal to the medal because we’ve suffered too much.  That this year needs to be a breakout year in performance.  That the team should have signed some known players. A feeling that the Tigers now need to make up for lost time.

But as much as we want that, it’s simply not realistic.  To continue to believe it should be done or even can be done will only serve to fan the flames of frustration.

But fans should understand just how very much needs to be done in order to get this organization’s collective head above water.

So it will be unfair for us to make a definitive decision about Harris and all the new people recently brought on board after only 1 year.

This is very much of a process.  It is akin to building a new house.

Harris and Co. are pouring the foundation this year and fans aren’t going to see much of it right now. 

But it is being done.

Next year, we’ll start to see the building being constructed above the soil line.

So what else will make me hopeful?

Watching the development of the youngest players, esp. those just recently acquired.  It will be the first impression we get about the trading skills of Harris.

I’ll be watching players like Torkelson, Greene, Maton, Vierling and others.  Waiting for the appearance of those like Malloy and Parker Meadows.

And, of course, watching to see if both hitters and pitchers are improving in controlling the strike zone.

That’s going to tell me if this team is moving forward.  If Harris has resolved some issues.  Or if this team is in such bad shape that more tearing down to the studs will be required.

This season is going to give me a better feel for the future.

It’s a year of reassessment as I’ve been writing about ever since Harris was hired.  It’s also a development year.

It is less about the destination for 2023 and more about the journey.

I’m not going to be focused on the win-loss record.  It’s not going to be indicative for the most part about where this team is headed.

Remember the 2021 season?  The one in which the Tigers performed above expectations and we thought the rebuild was over?  It was an anomaly. 

I’m going to be more interested on whether the Tigers find viable solutions for all the holes the previous regime created.  On how many players get sent down or promoted.  On prospects who accelerate their development and move up through the system.

Real change doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes time.

Hopefully, that change will be positive.  Hopefully it will move this team forward.

I ask that you find your hope markers for this team.  Whatever they may be.

What you end up seeing will be more telling than this year’s win-loss record.

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What did you miss on our Twitter feed yesterday?

  • Scott Harris made another yet another trade. What are the chances he keeps working on this roster until tomorrow’s deadline?

Why should you follow Totally Tigers https://twitter.com/totallytigersbb on Twitter?

  • We tweet out breaking news before it’s published in the sports pages. The best news from the best sources.
  • Want more than 1 Totally Tigers fix every day? How about throughout the day?

WATERCOOLER WEDNESDAY

Today, another opportunity for readers to discuss the hottest topics in a forum where thoughtful dialog and a variety of opinions are welcomed.

Let’s create some running conversational threads.  And for those of you back in actual offices, here’s a question to take with you – or use via Zoom – as you talk to your co-workers.

Here is today’s topic……..

Teams are rushing to finalize contract extensions with their top players before the start of the 2023 season.  Of note are rumors about Shohei Ohtani who is entering his final year before becoming a free agent.  In case you are not familiar with him, he is both a starting pitcher and accomplished hitter.

Some teams are already prepping themselves financially in advance of Ohtani’s free agency in case the Angels do not extend him.  They are already committed to a lengthy contract with Mike Trout.

For the record, the Angels have not been to the playoffs in 9 years. Their last season over .500 was in 2015.

Ohtani is expected to command a contract of at least 10 years and worth over $500 mill. Many consider him to be MLB’s best player.

But it begs the question about whether paying 1 player a record amount of money is a sound decision.  Is it better to add a contract similar to what Ohtani is expected to get (and pay your other players less) or is it better to spread your payroll out over a number of players?

Would you prefer to sign a superstar player like Ohtani just to be able to watch him regularly and be able to claim that he plays for your team?

As you know, the Tigers had a number of very expensive contracts and 2 of particular note:  Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. 

When the Tigers become highly competitive again, if you are the owner or GM would you be tempted to throw a record amount of cash to 1 superstar again?  Or is it better to spread that cash out among multiple players?

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What did you miss on our Twitter feed yesterday?

  • The strategy behind the selection of Kerry Carpenter over Akil Baddoo.

Why should you follow Totally Tigers https://twitter.com/totallytigersbb on Twitter?

  • We tweet out breaking news before it’s published in the sports pages. The best news from the best sources.
  • Want more than 1 Totally Tigers fix every day? How about throughout the day?

CABRERA, COMMITMENT AND COOPERSTOWN

by Holly Horning

As I go through the social media comments, including those posted here at Totally Tigers, I am amazed by the constant drumbeat of fans who want to push Miguel Cabrera out the door right now.

He’s served his purpose and it’s time to move on, they write.  Pulling a Janet Jackson by asking “What have you done for (sic) us lately?”

Others commenting that if Scott Harris and A. J. Hinch mean what they say about players needing to earn their positions, they should say adios to him.

And yet others putting the blame directly on Miggy, commenting that if he wanted to do what was right for the team, he’d simply retire.

And it’s so very sad to read all of this.  Understandable to a certain degree given recent history, but nonetheless sad – and short-sighted. 

If there is anyone truly to blame, then the fault really lies with Mr. I.  He was the one who extended Cabrera a full 2 years before his contract expired, giving him another 10 years at $292 mill.  And ending when Miggy would be 40.

Mike wanted Miggy to retire as a Tiger but it was foolish to plan the extension immediately after Cabrera won the MVP Award and his value was at the highest level possible. Sometimes emotions get in the way of practicing good business sense.

And now the time has come. 

We knew this would happen.  So did everyone else in baseball.

After all the years of watching him at the plate and marveling over his talent, it’s now time to pay the piper.

But as we dig into this dilemma, there is one overriding factor.

We can’t compare this situation with what other teams would usually do.  It’s because this is a special and wholly unique situation.

This is a cat with a whole different set of stripes and as such, it deserves special consideration.

Let’s dig into the arguments.

First of all, it’s completely unreasonable to think that Miggy would simply retire on his own and give up his $30 mill salary.  Would you or anyone you know do that?

For those who argue that the Tigers should force Cabrera to retire or cut him from the roster because he can’t “earn” a roster spot, I offer 5 words:

First Ballot Hall of Famer.

No one, absolutely no one, does this to a player of such historic caliber.

The Tigers may have been (hopefully past tense now) a horribly-run organization, but they’ve always conducted themselves professionally for decades.

Maybe they learned their lesson when they treated Jim Bunning horribly and as a result, Bunning went into the Hall as a Phillie. It was at his request despite his best years being a Tiger.

Yes, the Tigers are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place.

But the decision about what to do is not limited to the PoBO and manager.

How to handle Miggy’s last year is an organization-wide decision.

Obviously Chris Ilitch and everyone else involved in the franchise trust has a say.  And they are the primary decision-makers on such a big decision.  It is doubtful that they would dishonor Mr. I’s wishes about his favorite player.

After them, it’s the medical personnel who have to sign off on his ability to play and the risks involved.  They are undoubtedly also being consulted on how often he should play this year.

After that, it’s the business side of the team.  The ones who oversee the books, revenue and attendance.

And they will tell you that despite Miggy’s decline, he is still the overall fan favorite.  He is still the face of the franchise.  Even more so today when most fans can’t name more than 1-2 regular players or even pick them out of a lineup.

I’ve been listening to and watching the spring training games.  When Miggy’s name is announced, he still receives the most and loudest applause by far.

Cabrera pulls in the cash.  People come to see him no matter how poorly he may be hitting.  He sells tickets, pure and simple.  Also jerseys, parking, food and other merchandise.  And tv contracts.

Those who follow the game for quality play are very different than those who attend games in order to be able to say they watched a legend play.

Speaking of tv, these games are also broadcast to Venezuela (and other countries).  In his home country, Miggy is considered to be a god.  And it’s not even close. Even the current stars of MLB from Latin American revere him.  A large percentage of Venezuela’s baseball fans watch him.  And the Tigers benefit financially.

And for all that money the Tigers are paying him, they are going to get every last dollar they can before he retires. You don’t pay a player a record amount of money if you don’t plan on recouping as much of that as possible.

There is also a fourth group the organization brings into this discussion.

The media and public relations departments.

Their job?

To create good buzz, prevent bad publicity from happening and increase attendance and other revenue streams.

Should the option of cutting Cabrera be implemented, there would be a tidal wave of bad PR that would ripple throughout baseball.  You can’t even imagine the public outcry if the team released him.

The Cardinals offered Albert Pujols a new contract but just enough to make sure it got turned down because they wanted to move on.  Their fans went crazy – and not in a good way.  How the Cardinals even gently allowed their Hall of Famer to leave is still seen as a nuclear moment.

The Tigers organization would be thoroughly tarnished and no one, especially a first ballot Hall of Famer, deserves to be embarrassed nationally.

If they did something this déclassé, you can bet that other executives and players wouldn’t want to come to Detroit for fear that they would also be treated shabbily.

So what will the Tigers’ ownership and brass do this year re a strategy about Cabrera?

We’ve already seen some clues.

Both Scott Harris and A. J. Hinch have talked to him several times about playing expectations.  They don’t want any surprises or hurt feelings.  And Miggy is on board with what they have discussed.

But I don’t think this year is completely planned out.  I think the Tigers are going to see how this year plays out and address issues as they appear.

They’re not going to etch anything into stone.  And that’s because Miggy’s ability to play an entire season, even if it’s only 1-2 games each week, is questionable.

He has gone on the IL every season going back quite a few years.

And I’m sure the Tigers are considering that this may be likely again in 2023.

Why make a risky and highly-controversial decision about his playing time when it may end up being moot?

Last year, Cabrera spoke his mind midway through the season.  About considering retirement.  He was obviously tired and in pain.

And then he quickly had to backtrack when his comments made big headlines and sent the Tigers scrambling.

But who’s to say that at some point this year, he will feel that he can’t go on?  That he can’t finish out the year?

Many fans do not know that it takes Miggy multiple hours of physical preparation to get ready for a game.  A full year of play may be too much for him at age 40 with a chronically bad knee.

The smartest course of action – and the most likely – is that the Tigers will take a wait-and-see approach about Cabrera.  There is no need to devise a plan when there is a better than even chance he will go on the IL at some point.

As the season goes on, his playing days could just gradually peter out on their own without any hard decisions having to be made. 

Rather than firm deadlines, what is more likely to happen is a gradual decline in appearances that won’t easily impact games or force any decisions.

And that’s the way the Tigers may want it to be.  Something gradual and quiet in order to avoid any difficult decisions.

A graceful ending free of controversy and a deserving celebration of accomplishments.

Oh, and a player guaranteed to go into the Hall of Fame in 5 years wearing the Olde English D.

Don’t see your comment? Comments are limited to a maximum of 3 sentences. Please make sure to check out the other rules for posting under the link at the top of the page in order for your comments to be published.


What did you miss on our Twitter feed yesterday?

  • Our tweet from the other day about the delay in setting the roster proves true.

Why should you follow Totally Tigers https://twitter.com/totallytigersbb on Twitter?

  • We tweet out breaking news before it’s published in the sports pages. The best news from the best sources.
  • Want more than 1 Totally Tigers fix every day? How about throughout the day?

MONDAY MUSINGS

by Holly Horning

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 bring them out in the open and invite conversation about some of these subjects.

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…


Don’t look now but a team that started rebuilding several years after the Tigers has emerged from their rebuild.

The Orioles.

They have rebuilt within 5 years.  Starting in 2018, they finished 4 games above .500 last year in MLB’s toughest division.   And more than a couple analysts have predicted that Baltimore will make the playoffs this year.

How did it happen?

They hired Mike Elias away from the Astros who broomed the organization. 

And then he pulled a Scott Harris.  Shunning high profile players and most free agents, he loaded up the roster with 1-year contracts.  Nothing glamorous for the first couple of years but there was lots of stuff going on below the surface.

The Orioles pumped most of their money into the farm system.  Elias and his new draft, scouting and player development personnel remade the organization’s farm system into one of MLB’s best. They currently sit at #1 with more than a couple elite prospects who are considered to be the best and deepest group within MLB. 

Elias has experience.  He was responsible for finding Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Kyle Tucker, Lance McCullers, Jr. and others.

With all this human capital, it is now believed that they will trade some of it for top players. Moves that will act as a rocket boosters to jump this team ahead significantly.  It’s being written that the Orioles now have the best “prospect power” of any team in MLB.  It will be interesting to see what happens at this year’s deadline.

Scott Harris is operating along the same paths.  Unfortunately, he inherited a player development system that had just started modernizing but much of the damage has already been done.  For all that tanking, the Tigers’ farm system has fewer top players and little depth.

Expect Harris to continue to expedite the completion of that pipeline.  He’s not going to do what Mr. I did – ignore the farm system and simply buy all the talent.


The stats for the 3 new major rule changes continue to look promising.

The pitch clock is showing the best results so far.  It is sucking all the dead time out of games and keeping the pace even so that fan interest is maintained.

So far, the average 9-inning game is 25 minutes shorter in spring training and an average of 20 minutes shorter when compared to regular season games from last year.  But it’s important to remember that it’s not just 20-25 minutes less.  It’s less dead time. Big diff. 

And the rhythm is finally back in the game.

Stolen base attempts are also up 50%.

Modifying the shift is also working.  Teams are scoring a half run more so far in spring training.  Batting average on balls in play is up 8 pts.  Strikeout rates are down.

And singles up the middle have returned.

What’s not to love?


Well, what’s not to love is seeing the Tigers continue to struggle with controlling the strike zone.

On the hitter side, strikeouts are consistently still in the double-digit range.  As for walks, getting 1-2 continues to be the norm.

When the Tigers get 3 or more walks and moderate their strikeouts, they tend to win all those games.  But there have been more games than not in which their habits from last year are still in play.

It’s unfair and unrealistic to think that all of this can change overnight.  Players can’t simply flip a switch. 

There’s a lot of “re-coaching”, practice and a learning curve that’s involved in changing habits.  It’s going to take more than 1-2 months in order to see a difference.

And there’s no guarantee that every hitter will be able to effect change.

What I do expect is that players who don’t show some modicum of improvement will see less playing time.  A. J. Hinch is not afraid to send a subtle statement to players in an attempt to motivate them.

I also don’t think that it’s a coincidence that they hired hitting guru Anthony Iapoce to manage Toledo.  I believe that some players will be sent down during the season to work on controlling the strike zone with Iapoce. 

Which one of these stories resonated the most with you?

Don’t see your comment? Comments are limited to a maximum of 3 sentences. Please make sure to check out the other rules for posting under the link at the top of the page in order for your comments to be published.


What did you miss on our Twitter feed yesterday?

  • Surprising HR numbers for 5 players.

Why should you follow Totally Tigers https://twitter.com/totallytigersbb on Twitter?

  • We tweet out breaking news before it’s published in the sports pages. The best news from the best sources.
  • Want more than 1 Totally Tigers fix every day? How about throughout the day?

DEEPER DISCUSSIONS

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) just concluded with a thrilling 2 weeks of play.  A number of well-known players left their MLB teams to represent their countries.

The event surpassed all expectations.  All those within baseball saw these games as thrilling.  The best players squaring off against the best players, walk off home runs, exciting play and tons of emotion.

Many also saw these competitions as the kick start baseball needs to renew interest in the game.

Last week, 53% of our readership said that they weren’t interested in the WBC.  But has that changed now given the excitement and quality of play?

Tell us by casting your vote.

And today, for those of you who watched the games, tell us about your favorite in-game moment or memory.  Tell those who haven’t watched what they missed.

Today’s blog allows readers to share their thoughts in more detail. And hopefully, to actively engage with others by responding to their posts and creating back-and-forth discussion threads. The more the merrier!

For this one blog only, you’ve got 6 sentences max to share your thoughts. Of course, you can respond to others’ comments.

Don’t see your comment? Comments are limited to a maximum of 6 sentences. Please make sure to check out the other rules for posting under the link at the top of the page in order for your comments to be published.

What did you miss on our Twitter feed yesterday?

  • Why aren’t the Tigers finalizing their Opening Day roster until later next week?

Why should you follow Totally Tigers https://twitter.com/totallytigersbb on Twitter?

  • We tweet out breaking news before it’s published in the sports pages. The best news from the best sources.
  • Want more than 1 Totally Tigers fix every day? How about throughout the day?

SATURDAY SURVEY

Miguel Cabrera is a shell of his former self primarily due to age and injuries.  He is expected to play in app. 2 games per week this year.

Because of his long-standing physical problems, he is no longer able to hit for power.  For most of his years, he batted third in the lineup.  That spot is reserved for the team’s best hitter who usually always has a high batting average, can drive in runs but can also get on base so the clean up hitter can bring him home.

Among the expected players to make the roster, who is now best qualified to take over that 3rd spot in the hitting order on a regular basis?  Cast your vote and share your thoughts!

Don’t see your comment? Comments are limited to a maximum of 3 sentences. Please make sure to check out the other rules for posting under the link at the top of the page in order for your comments to be published.


What did you miss on our Twitter feed yesterday?

  • Opt out dates are coming. This could change the Tigers’ roster once again.

Why should you follow Totally Tigers https://twitter.com/totallytigersbb on Twitter?

  • We tweet out breaking news before it’s published in the sports pages. The best news from the best sources.
  • Want more than 1 Totally Tigers fix every day? How about throughout the day?

FIVE FOR FRIDAY

by Holly Horning

No one is feeling the heat more to perform this year than Jonathan Schoop.  (Ok, well maybe it’s a dead heat with Spencer Torkelson.)

And Schoop knows it.  He came spring training in literally the best shape of his life.  Massive weight loss and a chiseled body.

Understandably, he also knows that the bigger bases and modification of the shift may negatively impact his defensive skills which is primarily why he lost the weight.

So much is being said about his lack of offensive skills and career-worst year at the plate in 2022.  But not enough is being said for his Gold Glove caliber defense.  An award that should have gone to him considering he put up – by far – the best stats of any 2Ber in MLB last year.

But something has to budge this year for Schoop or the Tigers will make changes. They desperately need offense and players who can control the strike zone.

It is unrealistic and unwise to believe that management will simply cut him, esp. early in the season.  Not just because of the $7.5 mill salary he’s owed.  But because of his superior defense.

The man is still highly valuable.  Just not so much to the Tigers right now. 

Cutting him would only result in a quick flip to another team who claims him. The Tigers would still be on the hook for his entire salary while his new team would get a free player. Not a smart move at all.

He would be especially attractive to another team looking to advance to the playoffs and is in need of depth and someone they can use in the late innings to solidify defense up the middle.

The Tigers would also be stupid to allow someone with value to walk when they are desperately in need of talent.  They simply don’t have the luxury of releasing talent without getting something in return.  This team is in such desperate need of skilled players that Scott Harris has the waiver wire app on automatic refresh. 

But we are hearing repeated rumblings from the Tigers that a change – in the form of reduced play – might be coming if Schoop doesn’t step it up. 

What are they?

I’ve got the 5 biggest clues………

1.Schoop is hitting .176 in spring training with no extra bases, 3 hits, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts.  His performance in the WBC is nothing to write home about either.

2. He is failing to control the strike zone.  Not even a hint of improvement.  And Scott Harris has emphasized that for a player to continue playing on this team, they need to be improving as it relates to his #1 mantra.

3. A. J. Hinch has now told reporters 3 times that Schoop may lose playing time. Not just a threat but also as motivation for Schoop to pick it up because he’s not safe even with that contract.

4. This is Jonathan’s last contract year.  It is doubtful that the Tigers will simply let him ride off without getting anything in return.  They will trade him to a contending team needing to shore up their defense late in the game or wait for a team’s 1Ber or 2nd baseman to get injured.  The Phillies just lost their 1Ber Rhys Hoskins in yesterday’s game with the Tigers.

5. It is rumored that Cesar Hernandez will make the team.  He came to Detroit expecting to play throughout the infield, however A. J.Hinch has had him playing 2nd base, his primary position.

Add to this his batting average:  .270 with 7 doubles and 5 walks in 43 at-bats.  His history indicates a better control of the strike zone with the ability to take a walk and limiting strikeouts than Schoop.

Have you seen any other hints from management about Tigers who may have their playing time limited?

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  • How well are the Tigers controlling the strike zone?

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IN NAME ONLY

by Holly Horning

The Detroit Tigers have now cut approximately one-third of the players invited to spring training.  Over the next week, they will need to cut 15 more.

There are still a few battles playing out.  An infield position or two, some relief pitchers and an outfield position.  Maybe even a starting rotation slot depending upon how quickly an injury gets resolved.

But I’m here to tell you that the Opening Day roster announcement is secondary to the overall roster plan for the year.  It’s not going to count for a lot beyond the first month or two.

That’s because it will only be the first rough draft of many.  This roster is going to churn all year long.

And the Tigers better have a shuttle bus on permanent call between Comerica and Toledo.

So what’s different?

Two words. 

Scott Harris.

I’ve written several times now that this year is one of reassessment.  A time for the Tigers to get a proper read on all of the organization’s players.  And given that, the auditions are going to continue beyond spring training.

Harris DFA’d 16 players last year and spent the off-season acquiring a couple dozen more.  His goal was to try to find viable solutions to some of the many holes, especially the positional ones but also to add depth to a team that didn’t have much at all in 2022.

A handful of games in spring training is not enough to get an accurate read so expect some of these faces sent down to make a guest appearance in Detroit at some point later this year.

Last year, the Tigers had few players they could really call up.  Harris has now added a number of them to some very important positions, esp. within the infield.  At some point, they will be needed.

Those who make the roster will be on a much shorter leash this year.  If they fail to perform or start to struggle for an extended period of time, they’ll be sent down because now there will be other options.

And if they cannot improve on controlling the strike zone, someone who can will get the call.

Let’s say that Akil Baddoo beats out Kerry Carpenter for that last outfield spot but he continues last year’s struggles at the plate.  If Kerry is mashing once again down in Toledo, Harris and Hinch won’t hesitate to make the switch.

The same goes for the youngsters who were just recently acquired in trades.  Will they adjust quickly or will they need some time to readjust in a less-pressured environment?

Then we’ve got a couple players like Justyn-Henry Malloy and Parker Meadows who are expected to reach Detroit this year.  Who will they replace?

Will Spencer Torkelson struggle at all this year?

And what about Miggy?  He’s had to take some off every year for awhile now.  How will the Tigers fill that roster spot temporarily – or even for a longer period of time?

Let’s add in pitching.  The Tigers used 17 different starting pitchers last year.  By the end of the season, only 1 starter from the Opening Day roster remained.

Even those hurlers returning from injury or are in the early years will have their innings limited. They will need to have other pitchers replace them later in the year.

As for the bullpen, there is that natural turnover to some extent that has to be factored in.

A. J. Hinch continues to throw out hints about the future of Jonathan Schoop.  His struggles at the plate continue as he hits .176 with no power.  Combine that with a poor performance at the WBC.  He’ll end up being platooned if things don’t turn around but as we reach mid-year, he could be gone via release or trade.

Let’s not forget that Scott Harris won’t be standing pat with the roster.  He didn’t while with the Giants.  He’s always going to be looking to add someone from the waiver wire who could help the team. Maybe even a trade or two.

Add in the statements that both he and A. J. Hinch have emphasized about how all positions will be earned and not given, and it’s all a recipe for what could be a fairly continuous churning of the roster.

At the end of last year, 16 players on the Opening Day roster were no longer there by the last day of the season.  And that was under a substantially less-proactive GM who had fewer resources with which to work.

This year?  Who knows how many will remain standing? It is expected that this roster will be reviewed by Harris with a fine-toothed comb.

But the process will be interesting to watch.

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What did you miss on our Twitter feed yesterday?

  • Akil Baddoo is making his case for the roster.

Why should you follow Totally Tigers https://twitter.com/totallytigersbb on Twitter?

  • We tweet out breaking news before it’s published in the sports pages. The best news from the best sources.
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