SYNCING THE STRATEGY

By:  Holly Horning

For the first time in almost 20 years, the Tigers are finally developing a team to match their ballpark. Al Avila, only the third GM to man the helm since Comerica Park opened, has stated that the team is now focused on players who are faster, more athletic and defensively solid.

What took them so long?

Haven’t you ever wondered why the organization, given its infamous “Comerica National Park”, never matched the types of players to its stadium?

It’s one of life’s great mysteries along with why the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus.

Or is it?

Let’s think about this….


Mike Ilitch certainly had a ton of input in helping get this stadium made. He fronted 62% of the money required to build CoPa so he certainly had the overwhelming say in the selection of the architect, the design of the stadium and the desired features.

Mr. I also played baseball in his younger days so he was well-aware of the design elements that provide challenges to playing the game. And he built one of MLB’s biggest outfields. An outfield that eventually was pulled in because of the problems seen – and because some players publicly stated that they would never sign with Detroit because of it.

You would assume that such a large expanse of grass would automatically require the scouting and signing of players who could cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Players who would also be regulars on the short list for a Gold Glove.

Instead, the team signed players who were quite the opposite. No need to pull up old memories and names. Especially when we’ve all been doing so well in the recovery process from our therapy sessions. You know who these players were – and are.

Given all of this info, it just doesn’t make sense.

Or does it?

Could the decision about the types of players Detroit acquired for their outfield be based upon something else?

In a word, yes.

Marketing.

Mr. I always loved his stars. Watching them hit home runs filled the seats. And that’s what drove the selection process of the athletes.

Marketing – and the resulting attendance figures – trumped winning. It was made the priority.

Afterall, having star players went hand-in-hand with high attendance figures. The latter was required in order to pay the high salaries.

And when you have great attendance figures, your earning potential goes way up when those same fans buy food and merchandise and park their cars within your facilities. Not to mention frequenting your other establishments nearby before and after the games. There’s a reason why the main doors at Comerica open up directly facing the Fox Theatre.

And then there are the tv contracts. Revenues that are dictated by viewer numbers.

And Mr. I’s strategy paid off handsomely. For him.

He bought the Tigers for $85 million. Today, the team is ranked near the upper third of all MLB teams and valued somewhere around $1.5 billion.

As we’ve seen, having these star-stuffed teams made for some exciting times. But it was a flawed strategy in so many ways.

It was a team built to slug. Even Jim Leyland always had some bon mots about how home runs would take care of everything.

But Comerica was, and is, one of MLB’s most slugger-proof stadiums. Even with lineups that featured Miggy, VMart, JD, Prince and others, the Tigers often had problems scoring consistently.

And the team played half their games at CoPa.

During their most recent best 5 years, they never led the AL in home runs. Their very best years saw them finish tied only for 7th in dingers. And most of those HRs were hit in other ballparks.

And I don’t need to remind you that this team of incredibly talented players never won a World Series. Even when they had baseball’s best starting rotation that could not overcome the flawed hitting strategy.

That in 2 World Series, they won only 1 game. And they had trouble scoring runs in both events.

Remember the station-to-station hitting that we saw, especially in the latter years? The all-or-nothing hitting philosophy, that when faced with superior pitching, the Tigers couldn’t hit home runs and had great difficulty getting players around the bases.

Slow players. Players who couldn’t steal bases or even take an extra base on a hit. Players who belly-flopped trying to get to third base.

Players who couldn’t manufacture runs.

And players who misplayed balls consistently in the outfield which allowed opponents to score on them. Tiger outfields that generally were in the negative numbers when it came to defensive runs allowed.

Ron Gardenhire was the first one to publicly give up the ghost. He recently mentioned that greater defense and speed are how the Tigers need to play. He also reminisced about his days with Minnesota and how his team loved to come to Comerica. All because his teams were speedy and played small ball well. He had players who could manufacture runs.

Remember how pesky his teams were? How they used to drive us crazy?

And now the Tigers are finally adding players like Cam Gibson, Danny Woodrow, Jacob Robson, Sergio Alcantara and Will Castro.

‘Bout time.

We now have a rationale for why Mr. I’s teams never matched the requirements of Comerica. And now we see the Tigers finally syncing a strategy that uses their ballpark to their advantage.

Did they just get smart about it? Or is Ron Gardenhire finally the man to influence the Front Office?

Or is it because the Ilitch family no longer subscribes to the philosophy of spending money and upping payroll to bring in stars?


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PULSE CHECK

By:  Kurt Snyder

I have a few things to ask you folks. Feel free to forward where you are on one or two. And use the rest as issues to contemplate for your next Open Mike opportunity.


ODDS AND ENDS

Have you heard any issue being made of the Tigers medical & training staff other than here at Totally Tigers? And if not, why?

What did everyone think of the Saturday Survey? We started light with the topic, but I think it has the potential to be very thought-provoking.

And what about the question on Saturday? As you continue to watch the playoffs,  if we asked the question again in another week, would your answers change?

Much was made about the potential interest of Dan Gilbert in purchasing the Tigers. Do you think this falls into the classic ‘be careful what you wish for’ category?

On the subject of Chris Ilitch, would you agree that he has more of an obligation to hold onto the Tigers? Does he feel he owes it to his father, regardless of his own personal interest?

Has anyone researched Dave Littlefield? Do it and then ask yourself, why did Dave Dombrowski hire him? And why is he in a prominent role with this organization?


PLAYERS

Are we warming up to the idea of Nicholas Castellanos staying with the Tigers? And do you think he will survive the rebuild?

Let’s talk September call ups. Who moved the needle the most?  Defensively. Offensively. Athletically.

The Tigers have their work cut out for them up the middle, now that Iggy is the next to leave the team. Would you agree that the team should sign a shortstop to eventually trade at the deadline?  And if they couldn’t trade Iggy, does that answer the question all on its own?

James McCann’s future was put on notice, thanks to Avila’s way-too-honest approach. But do you see an upstart talent banging on the door to take over?

Victor Reyes. What are your thoughts on his future?

We saw a lot of different pitchers come out of the pen in ’18, with most of the promise coming from Joe Jimenez and Victor Alcantara. Is there a third guy you thought may be emerging?

Is our future leadoff man in Detroit yet? And while on the subject, how good of a fit was Jeimer Candelario in that spot?

Who has been better than JaCoby Jones in centerfield for the Tigers over the last decade? Anyone?

Is there another Tiger who will get more of the benefit of the doubt like Jones because of superior defense? Is it too early to ask this question?


MANAGER / COACHES

Did you notice more players running through stop signs this year rounding third?

Do you feel the transition and quality of coaching was quite seamless after the departure of Chris Bosio?

How soon do you feel the Tigers should be promoting Doug Mientkiewicz to the big club? Next bench coach-in-waiting? Next Tiger manager-in-waiting?

Who is dying to have a beer with Ron Gardenhire to ask him about his training staff and everyone’s favorite Totally Tigers topic, core muscles?


And the final question, what am I going to have left to talk about for October’s 20 Thoughts? Don’t you worry about it! I’ve got a lot on my mind… and who is going to care if there are 40 instead of 20 this month?


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

Welcome to Week 3 of the 2018 Post Season! And for Tiger fans, well, we are quite familiar with plenty of these players still at work in the playoffs.

Now that we are down to the Final Four, 2 teams have emerged as the battle of the heavyweights in the AL. The team with the best record versus the defending World Champs.

As always, our writers have not shared their responses to the topic below in the interests of offering a range of perspective. So what will readers get today as Holly and Kurt address a question about the Astros and Red Sox.


What are our two bloggers’ thoughts and feelings about the Astros – Red Sox playoffs?


HOLLY

I’ve already let it be known how bittersweet it is seeing so many ex-Tigers not only getting into the playoffs, but being catalysts for their teams’ success. I am thrilled for each one but also can’t help having feelings of extreme disappointment coupled with a dash of anger over how they were all together in Detroit and couldn’t get it done.

And it further rubs salt into the wounds to also know that the Tigers are paying the salaries of 4 ex-players, including JV, to perform in October for other teams.

But if I had to pick a side, it would be rooting for the Astros. Not just for JV, who deserves every accolade, but because Houston plays the game the way it should be. They are solid in every category, play hard and show such a great love of the game.

As for Boston, I wish Kinsler, Price, Porcello and JD well – but I don’t want them to win. Part of it goes back to the gut-wrenching playoffs with them in 2013 symbolized by the vision of the Boston police officer celebrating instead of rushing to Torii Hunter’s aid.

But it would also be too painful to see so many Tigers get it done for another team when they were unable to do it in Detroit. And there is a big part of me that doesn’t want to see Dave Dombrowski get that ring because it would really open a Pandora’s box of concerns about why one of baseball’s best rosters and pitching rotations for nearly a decade couldn’t get it done in Motown.


KURT

Was I alone in wondering why, prior to the start of the playoffs, the Astros were being mysteriously forgotten and rarely mentioned?

Not surprisingly, baseball’s rivalry took center stage instead. The 108-win Red Sox vs. the 100-win Yanks, the series many wanted the most, overshadowed the whooping that Houston put on the Indians.

The Astros are the best team in baseball; only getting better this season by upgrading at starting pitcher, catcher and at closer. But even with all of that, they got no love and I would guess they have enjoyed being in an odd  position – out of the spotlight as defending World Champs.

I don’t think anyone beats the Astros this season, and conquering the Red Sox along the way would make it even sweeter. The last thing I want is for Dave Dombrowski to spend 14 years in Detroit without winning a title, and then go on and win one somewhere else.

I feel like it would be sweet justice if Dombrowski led a team to the most wins in all of baseball, but still didn’t have the best team or win a title; this reflects a lot of jealousy, but it would be the least of a plethora of emotions we all suffered through over the last several years of failing to win.

Meanwhile, the Astros, led again by Justin Verlander, have now conveniently emerged as everyone’s favorites to repeat, which is just fine with me.


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THE LITMUS TEST

By:  Holly Horning

What do the following players have in common?

 

Justin Verlander                                                                        

Miguel Cabrera

Jordan Zimmermann                                                              

John Hicks

Christin Stewart                                                                        

Daniel Norris

Jose Iglesias                                                                                  

Ryan Carpenter


They have all had significant core muscle injuries. All but two have undergone surgery to repair the damage while the others, Iglesias and Carpenter, remain injured and awaiting final evaluation from a surgeon who specializes in this area. (Three others injured their cores during the season and spent approximately 15 days each on the DL.)

In the past 4 years, the Tigers have lost, on average, one player to core muscle surgery every year. Remember when Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera both had the same operation within a couple of weeks of each other just before the 2015 season?

But this year, the Tigers have had 4 players who underwent the same surgery. And in the case of Jordan Zimmermann and Christin Stewart, the injuries are now coming in bunches.

What else do all these players have in common?

Being part of an organization with the same training and conditioning personnel that has been intact since the early 1990’s. And while Al Avila talks about the changes being made within the organization, he has never mentioned improvements and advancements to the program that is supposed to care and protect their players. A plan that is crucial to a rebuild.

The guy who has overseen the entire program for decades, Kevin Rand, got promoted last year to oversee the entire conditioning and training program of all levels of the Tigers’ system. Please, please, please tell us Al what wonderful goals and achievements earned Kevin this new job…..

(This is where I now beg you, dear readers, to step away from the ledge….)

You’ve heard me rail against this supposed program for an eternity now and I only continue because things are getting markedly worse. The same injury, only picking up speed, is stupefying.

The Tigers wouldn’t sign a visibly out-of-shape player so why would they have their primary trainers not walk-the-walk when it came to health and fitness? They are part of an old entrenched system. It is particularly embarrassing when you compare Tigers personnel in-game with those on the opposing team. The other teams have young guys who take the dugout steps two at a time and run to the injured player.

And if you want more info, check out these earlier blogs with additional details:


https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2018/09/15/walking-the-walk/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2018/09/18/loose-lips-sink-ships-2/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/the-long-journey-to-discovery-2/


So how do the Tigers fare re core injuries when compared with other teams? Well, core injuries are not uncommon but it’s the frequency, cause of the injury, recovery time and end results that matter. Core surgeries throughout MLB are occasional but the Tigers blow everyone away with their terrifying numbers. No other team has players regularly undergoing the knife for this injury.

And when you have two players who suffer severe core injuries requiring surgery by simply running to first base, it tells you that there is a significant problem within the organization.

In previous blogs, I have mentioned my observations when I’ve viewed pre-game workouts in Lakeland. Old-school methods that don’t address flexibility or core work. Strategies that place the emphasis on weight-lifting and not much else. And other readers here have testified to seeing the same. And when you don’t address your core with targeted exercise, it gets weak and easily injured, resulting in surgery. The core is the center of the body and all parts of that body are dependent upon a strong, healthy core to remain injury-free. The core simply is akin to the foundation of a house.

Even Miguel Cabrera, after his multiple injuries in 2017, finally was sent to an outside trainer to work on his core. After how many years of playing? It was mentioned that this was the first time he had ever done training that was not weight-related. Just….absolutely….shocking.

The Tigers now remain as one of just a couple organizations that do not require their players to practice yoga or Pilates as a way to increase flexibility and strengthen the core. And in my viewings during spring training, I’ve yet to see anyone even break out something as simple as elastic bands.

One young Tiger player was actually interviewed on tv last month and admitted that he first learned about the importance of a strong core from a doctor outside of the organization. This, on the heels of the infamous interview with Justin Verlander, who also questioned the level of care he received as a Tiger.

The Tigers actually had the audacity to go after JV and tell him he was wrong.

And this, really, is the most troubling part. An organization mired in the past and refusing to see the long-term troubling pattern. An organization that refuses to make changes and instead, doubles down in giving the former head trainer more power and oversight.

An organization that refuses to upgrade and modernize until once again they are forced to do so.

This year’s four core surgeries represent the defining moment for this team going forward. They are something that cannot be ignored. They are the biggest wake-up call for the owner and Front Office.

If we are to have any hope about this “rebuild”, Al Avila has to overhaul the entire training and conditioning program (such as it is) over the winter. And if he doesn’t, I don’t think we can expect this organization to successfully rebuild. It means that the old entrenched system that rewards loyalty and looks the other way when it’s apparent that changes need to be made is given priority over meaningful change and advancement.

Taking action – or not – will be the litmus test of this organization. And if we don’t see changes being made, it will really becomes apparent.

That the only way real change will happen is when a different owner brings in new people with fresh and modern perspectives and methods.


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INTERNAL ROADBLOCKS STIFLING GARDY

By:  Kurt Snyder

What have we noticed about Ron Gardenhire this month? What has he been up to, now that the season is complete?

Well, it appears that Gardy is going through a period of evaluation and philosophically, what he is learning ain’t good. Any success he has had in the game was built on a strong foundation of fundamentals. But when he looks at how his team has done things, he has not liked what he has seen.

At the beginning of a rebuild, isn’t this something you would expect from your manager? What you would like to hear from him?  Well, yes and no. He has made discoveries about the modern-day game and sees his team abandoning fundamentals; strikeouts and his team’s 2-strike approach is concerning.

My purpose here is not to rehash a topic already covered in the local papers. It is more about who should be standing next to or behind Gardy when he speaks and who should not.

I would much rather have Gardy speaking out on team deficiencies as a reason why he has chosen a new coach here or a new coach there.

He is not happy with his team’s approach to hitting. He’s not happy with all the strikeouts. He is not happy about how little they put the ball in play. They are all things that should have been addressed during his first season but were not under Lloyd McClendon. What you saw at the plate was not emblematic of a Ron Gardenhire managed team.

But here lies the problem. This is the hand he was dealt. And sadly, there was not a single card he was allowed to discard. There was no opportunity to grab a new one off the deck.

The man has legitimate concerns about his players and their approach to hitting and if given full control, I believe he would have made a coaching change. A chance to alleviate his concerns. Addition by subtraction.

His statements over the last couple weeks has indicted his GM. Holly eloquently exposed it just a couple short days ago. But Gardy keeps digging in and continues to comment on the state of the team.

We have a very good manager here. But he can only do so much. He knows his baseball. He knows the areas where improvement needs to take place. But too many coaching decisions have been made for him, and he has had to settle. He has had to settle for a coaching staff that may not be preaching or has failed to deliver the message that he would like to see.

Our growing readership group was tormented while watching Tiger baseball this year. They witnessed hitters in the box with seemingly no clue about where they were headed. No clue about their approach. No clue of any plan for their at-bat. Were they waiting for their pitch or just guessing and free-wheeling it at the plate? Were they indeed changing their approach with 2-strikes?

You folks watched. What did you see? Well, we know what you saw. It was a team with no offensive game plan. Game after game after game. These are all indictments on a hitting coach who, as a result, should have found him with his bags packed and sitting on the curb outside Comerica Park following the 2018 season.

Lloyd McClendon has truly been blessed by the Tiger organization. Continually coddled by old Tiger management. Continually overvalued as someone who can help young players.

And his presence on this staff flies in the face of what Gardy preaches and what he is all about as a teacher of the game.  Which brings to mind a question we all had to have screamed when the news was announced.

Why on earth were the Tiger coaches so quickly named to return next season?

Gardy certainly would have liked a reasonable amount of time to evaluate what he had in a staff. A period of time to critique and tweak the areas that needed attention.

Who made that decision so quickly? Knowing what we have learned about our manager, does evaluating his staff after Year 1, seem like something he would do quickly? Just bring everyone back without explanation?

No. Ron has his hands full. He has been asked to guide a rebuild under everyone else’s terms but his own. And it stinks. All of it. All the them.

The Tiger ownership. The executive staff. They have an obligation. They are in positions to help their manager succeed. To expand. To improve. But when decisions are made for him and he has little say or no obvious role in what is decided, Gardy’s hands remain tied.

Meanwhile we watch other organizations seeking to win, not settling for mediocrity, clearing the house of clutter taking up valuable space.

But here in Detroit? We love our garbage. No matter how much it stinks.


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THE SATURDAY SURVEY

Now that the off-season is here, it’s time to mix things up a little bit at Totally Tigers.  We’re adding another day for readers to weigh in.  For Saturdays, we’re adding a new feature in the form of a poll to gauge the pulse of fans.  And as always, we welcome your comments!



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FORUM FOR FRIDAY

microphoneHappy Friday! It’s time again to head into the weekend hearing from our readers.   You have the rest of the week to hear from Kurt and Holly, today is the day to let them know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Friday 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.


Jordan Zimmermann and Christin Stewart had core muscle surgery this week.  What will it take for the Tigers to finally realize they have a systemic training issue? 


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IDEAS, ACTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY

By:  Holly Horning

Things appear to be hoppin’ within the Tigers organization now that the season is over and teams have a plausible excuse to slow things down until the playoffs are over.

It’s good to be reading about what the Front Office wants to do differently. It’s just a little disconcerting reading about who the catalyst for change is.

Ron Gardenhire.

Not Al Avila. Not David Chadd, nor Scott Bream. Not even Dave Littlefield.

We’ve been peppered over the past week with interviews focused on what the team should be doing differently. Extensive interviews with Gardy who points to the frustrations of the year and how things need to change.

We saw how horrible the team was with their fundamentals this year. We heard the interviews with their manager who expressed deep frustration with their habits. We also read about the special coaching sessions Ron held with players throughout the year to try to improve their play.

But then Gardy mentioned indirectly that his feedback was the catalyst for in-depth meetings in Lakeland with all the powers that be. Journalists mentioned that these meetings were a direct result of his feedback and requests to the Front Office. And these meetings will focus on a program to address fundamental play in a major way including teaching and enforcement.

Does this sound like,  as Yogi Berra would say, “déjà-vu all over again?”

Remember, back in 2015, Al Avila did his promo tour for the introduction of the Tigers Way manual. Nevermind that most teams already had their own manual of how to play decades ago. Al said this book would be the “bible” and the centerpiece of how all Tigers will play the game. From the lowest of the minor league teams all the way up to Detroit. That it would create a uniform teaching environment where every player would play the same way.

That was 3 years ago.

I dare anyone to even speculate that the Tigers used this book at all. And even money that probably no one even cracked the binder.

We didn’t see it in Detroit, nor did we see it in the minors. Where were Avila and VP of Player Development, Dave Littlefield?

Was the manual just a beautiful little piece of window dressing or is there a failure within the Front Office to implement and oversee a crucial part of how to play the game well?

And it took an outsider, in the form of a new manager, to push it forward.

Hopefully, that is.

And shortly on the heels of this interview, came the jaw-dropping revelation, again by Gardy, that the Tigers weren’t matching the skills of their players to the size and requirements of Comerica Park. Something that many fans have known and pushed since 2000.

But apparently, this is new to the Tiger brass. Or, conceivably, putting defensively-sound and fleet-of-foot players into a park made for them took a back seat to signing big, bulky lumbering players who fielded poorly but hit home runs that brought in the crowds. A marketing maneuver that most probably came from ownership, and for years (including the present), is probably still being pushed by a former-manager-turned-special assistant who was infamously quoted about not worrying about the finer aspects of the game because home runs would rule his team’s success.

Gardy then proceeded to describe the type of players the Tigers need to sign and develop if they want to have successful seasons once again.

Yes, it’s great to finally have a manager who “gets it.” But shouldn’t the vision, plan and strategy be coming from higher up? Shouldn’t the GM and the Front Office set the tone instead of the guy who reports to them?

From the interviews we’ve read, it appears that the manager is the one pushing for change. Not the GM. And isn’t it just a little scary that the skipper appears to be schooling the GM?

That’s not the way it should be.

A winning formula always comes from the top and trickles down. Not the other way.

When these meetings in Lakeland are held, the biggest question that needs to be addressed is not how to teach the fundamentals. It’s how to put idea into action. How to put action into accountability. And whether the members of the Front Office are capable of doing it.

Successful rebuilding, and that new player pipeline, are completely dependent upon them doing the jobs for which they were hired. And maybe part of that equation should be an evaluation process of those who don’t wear the uniform to determine what exactly they bring to the table.


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REBUILD EXTENDS TO THE BOOTH

By:  Kurt Snyder

Well, it’s over and it should be. Rod and Mario are finished. So how do you feel?

For me, hearing the decision was sad and satisfying all at the same time. You never want to see anyone lose their jobs, but when you do something stupid and unprofessional, you risk losing a job that you love.

There is no doubt that both Rod and Mario love the game, loved their jobs and loved covering the Tigers. But none of that transferred to their personal relationship, one that obviously deteriorated on the way to a very shocking ending.

What could have been done to avoid this? Well, there had to be signs. It was documented that they were not friends outside of the broadcast booth, and that they had a pretty cold relationship. It’s easy to say now, but this couldn’t have been something that just came out of the blue. Regardless, here we sit.

The whole altercation was an embarrassment to themselves, FSD and the Tigers. However, with the release of Rod and Mario, the team and FSD are now forced to make decisions that already needed to be made with the broadcast teams who, to be honest, needed some fresh blood.

Were they planning to make any changes? I would say no. But thankfully, now they must. This was becoming a stale combination and injecting some life into that TV booth is long overdue.

You won’t find this Tiger fan criticizing any part of the Kirk Gibson portion of the team. Gibby is giving it everything he has and deserves no criticism, but shockingly gets plenty. Sometimes I don’t understand people.   People can be heartless and let’s just leave it at that.

On the other hand, if you are a big Gibson fan, maybe you are thinking, fine, he should just replace Allen and his workload. That obviously would be the wrong answer, as you can expect Gibson’s workload to be reduced, not expanded.

So who else?

Well, Dan Dickerson, the Tigers long time play-by-play man on the radio, has done well in his few stints broadcasting on the TV side, mainly because his style is a better fit for TV. Heck, he wouldn’t  have to worry about communicating the score because it will be on the screen!

If the Tigers stay in-house, I believe Dickerson would be a viable option. Fans are familiar and for the most part,  he is pretty likable.  And I like the idea of another ex-Tiger commentator paired with him.  Dan Petry has been someone who has been talked about in the past. He has done some broadcasting and from what I remember, has done a good job.

Petry would be another good tie to a Tiger championship club and I believe, all in all, people like to hear firsthand knowledge from someone who has won, and won here.

So what about Craig Monroe and Jim Price?

Well, regardless of how you feel about Craig  and Jim, they both were popular when they played for the Tigers and both have experience in a World Series, with Jim as a member of the ’68 Championship team.  Despite my frustration over the broadcasting talents of both of those guys, I understand why they are liked by many.

So there you have it! Tiger baseball just got a little more interesting. And we now have one more topic to follow this off-season.

The team on the field won’t be the only one fighting through a rebuild. Their broadcast team(s) are in for a rebuild themselves.


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

Welcome to Week 2 of the 2018 Post Season! And for Tiger fans, well, we are quite familiar with plenty of these players still at work in the playoffs.

And this quite quickly brings us to this week’s Tuesday topic.

As always, our writers have not shared their responses to the topic below in the interests of offering a range of perspective. So what will readers get today as Holly and Kurt address a question about former Tigers?


There are 21 former Tigers in the playoffs this year. What are our two bloggers’ thoughts about seeing these guys who used to wear the Olde English D?


HOLLY

I am thrilled for Justin Verlander, JD Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Anibal Sanchez and the others who are still in the mix this October and deserve all this good fortune. However, forgive me if I also feel a whole heapin’ helping of frustration and anger about all the lost opportunities when they were in Detroit.

In 2014, the Tigers ALDS starting rotation consisted of 3 Cy Young Award (and 1 future) winners – Scherzer, Verlander, Price and Porcello – and yet they got swept by Baltimore. How does something like this happen, especially when it is known that great pitching almost always beats great hitting?

And now that all these stars have left Detroit, they are universally recognized as instrumental players who got their teams to the playoffs and have helped them survive these October games. JV went 16-9 (2.52 ERA), Porcello 17-7 and even Anibal finished above .500. JD’s offensive stats were last achieved by Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx on his newest team – and most recently in all of MLB by Miguel Cabrera.

Even those in the national media joke about the “ex-Tiger effect” that is proving formidable for the new teams. And if that’s not enough, it is painful to know that the Tigers are paying most or all of the salaries of Verlander, Sanchez, Fiers and Martin while other teams are reaping the benefits.

For the Tigers to have such a tremendous amount of talent for over a decade and to achieve exactly 1 game win in the World Series is painful, totally inexcusable and requires an in-depth soul-searching mission and accountability review by the organization. #neverforget


KURT

What stands out the most is how many of the former Tigers have significant roles. They are still, or have become, difference makers for their individual clubs.

JV, of course, is a home-grown Tiger success story, and still sits near the top of the league as one of the game’s best. JD represents a find by the Tigers, from the Astros of all teams, as someone who had been on the scrap heap, but who the Tigers had kept their eyes on a player they felt  had much more to give.. He now sits near the top of the game as one of the most feared power hitters.

And even Anibal Sanchez, who many can admit, seemed only destined for retirement after he left Detroit, had a comeback season in Atlanta and has already started a game in the playoffs; simply amazing in itself.

In Milwaukee, Cory Knebel and Joakim Soria, Tigers who were traded for each other, now play key roles on a Brewer team with a great shot at going to the Series.

All of these and others stand near the top of the heap when we consider all whom the Tigers have let go and are still very much alive and well. They represent what could have been; they represent missed opportunities. So many great players wore the D, and they have all left the city without a single ring; something that is still hard to explain.


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