TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Who would have thought that the Tigers could have a deep starting pitching rotation – one where they cannot get down to 5 starters? Well, this may be a reality soon, as least through the end of July.

With Francisco Liriano almost ready to come back, the team has a decision to make.

Here’s our topic for today.


With Jordan Zimmerman’s return to the rotation, are the Tigers doing the right thing by moving Blaine Hardy back to the bullpen? Do they have any other options?


KURT

While the Tigers ponder the suddenly conceivable 6-man rotation, let’s think about what that means. Just to get us grounded, the 6 starters would be: Fulmer, Boyd, Fiers, Liriano, Zimmermann and Hardy.

When Liriano comes back, the last thing you want is for him to leave the rotation; he must continue to be groomed as a coveted lefty starter and trade piece. Fiers is the same type of asset.

Zimmermann needs to start because, damn it, that’s what we are paying him to do. And Hardy – well, he has earned the right to continue in the rotation; in fact, he may be better than he has ever been in this new role.

So let’s give that 6-man rotation a go, because none pf the pitchers make sense in a bullpen role going forward, for all their individual reasons.


HOLLY

With the news that Francisco Liriano will need at least one more rehab start, Blaine Hardy’s starting job is secure for at least 1 more week. He has the best won/loss record of all the starters and has an ERA second only to Matthew Boyd, allowing 2 runs or less in each of his last 6 of 7 starts with opponents hitting a mere .226 against him.

And this is where reality bites because almost all teams will select the guy owed $74 million instead of the most deserving, not just because of the money factor, but because it tells the world that the Front Office made a really big mistake if they drop him from the rotation.

These costly mistakes, when made official, also tend to get at least 1 person involved in that contract signing fired.

Ron Gardenhire has just started talking about a 6-man rotation and credited Chris Bosio with persuading him with the stats that support the move. But I believe that such a strategy will never progress to adopt a strict 6-man rotation because of injuries and potential trades.

After his initial – and still classified as mystery injury(ies) 2 years ago – Zimmermann has yet to pitch that 30-game minimum number of starts as a Tiger and I don’t think he will finish the year without having to go on the DL at least once more. He’s already had 4 injuries and trips to the DL just this year.

Both Liriano and/or Fiers could also be traded this year which would keep Hardy in the rotation to stay. I think between 1-2 trades combined with the DL factor, Hardy’s job as a starter could remain safe if he can just hang on for another 3-4 weeks.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

THEY AIN’T PERFECT, FOLKS!

To celebrate Father’s Day, I dedicate this previous blog to my dad, who appreciated great baseball talent. JV and Miggy were among those players. Happy Father’s Day Dad!

Totally Tigers

By:  Kurt Snyder

We have had 2 baseball players in this city who, together for so many years, changed the landscape of the game in Detroit. And one day, we may see them both representing the Old English D in Cooperstown.

Being too quick to judge Justin Verlander has burned people before, and let’s be careful not to do the same thing with Miguel Cabrera.

It’s really easy to get caught up in the off-the-field battles and mistakes players make during their careers. Some players, like Derek Jeter, like Al Kaline, can go through their entire careers without seemingly doing anything to raise the eyebrows of fans or the press who are waiting for any kind of slip up. But many players don’t.

Justin Verlander had so many great years with the Tigers; so many mind-numbing performances, that they will stay imbedded in our brains forever. But during those years…

View original post 821 more words

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU (AND DON’T)

As we celebrate this Father’s Day, let’s return to a blog written 6 weeks ago. How many names on each of the lists should remain? How many should leave? And are there now names that we should be adding?

Happy Father’s Day!

Totally Tigers

(with apologies to The Romantics)

By:  Holly Horning

What can we say about this new Tigers team so far this year? Certainly not as much as we’d like. Afterall, those infamous 40 games haven’t been played yet.

Players who are hot, may cool off. And some may not have found their groove yet. And Ron Gardenhire, like all experienced managers, is still exploring how to maximize his team’s ability.

But in the meantime, as we watch the games, we’ve come to have expectations about certain players and how the team performs. There are those we can’t wait to watch and also others who make us cautiously peer out from behind a pillow when they step up to the plate, walk to the mound or wait to catch a hard-hit ball.

Call this the “first impressions” era of the season. A time of the year where we have a decent idea…

View original post 573 more words

NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

The big news of the week? Not hard to figure out in Tiger Land.  But was there anything else that caught the attention of our writers heading into road games beginning in Chicago?

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspective. During another interesting week, they could head in any direction.

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week culminating with the final game in Detroit versus Minnesota.


HOLLY

A surprise, yet not really one at all, that Miggy is once again injured and out for the rest of the season.

But quite frankly, other than Miggy, the only one who may feel it’s a tremendous loss would be Chris Ilitch for payroll and attendance reasons because Cabrera is still quite the draw at putting fannies in the seats. Unknown still is whether the Tigers, who historically have not insured their players, actually insured (or were even able to) their franchise face.

His glove at first base may be missed but John Hicks now gets his first real chance to play with a team and show his true potential. In approximately the same number of games as Miggy, he holds almost identical stats and even outpaces his predecessor in HRs, runs and hits.

Also on the bonus side is that the Tigers now are forced to play more of their younger, unknown players and actually speed up the rebuilding process. The injury also forces the Tigers’ hand on whether to keep or trade Nick Castellanos, who is now the only proven power bat in the lineup.


KURT

It’s hard to dismiss the departure of Miguel Cabrera from the lineup for the rest of the season. But I owe you some sort of direction on where my analysis will be focused as a result.

And the direction this whole scenario sends me is not to John Hicks but to Niko Goodrum, who as a utility man, looks to have a bright future somewhere in the lineup, somewhere on the diamond, almost every single day.

The guy has skills and they have been on display all over the field at and the plate. If there is one guy who stands to benefit even more in the absence of Miggy, it’s Niko. And during a season of observation versus a season of fandom, he is a good candidate on whom  to focus your attention.

He is just another player, who because of his athleticism and versatility, has a shot to stick with the team beyond this season.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

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.


With Miguel Cabrera sidelined for the remainder of the season, do you think the Tigers will miss him? Why or why not?


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

 

 

 

THE FINAL FACE

By:  Kurt Snyder

With just under 100 games left in the 2018 season, Miggy is gone for the year.

By far, it is the most serious injury of Cabrera’s career requiring immediate surgery and the immediate end to his season.

Just like that. It’s over.

Just like that, fans have another reason to not come to the ballpark this season. Is it the biggest reason? It really depends on the kind of fan you are.

The Tigers have lost their biggest of stars and the final face of the franchise, before the new era begins. VMart would be the other, but we know he is gone after this year and we know his career as a Tiger is coming to a quiet end.

But Miggy is going to be around for a while. Have we seen his best baseball? Unfortunately, yes.

Have injuries clouded his future? Yes, it’s been cloudy for years now. But this injury will bring  more clouds and thunder claps of discussion. More and more negative talk is going to come down on Miggy and the Tigers like a torrential rainstorm.

Obviously, as a fan, you can vent about him to your heart’s desire.

You can complain about all the years left on his contract at $30M a season. A contract offered by Mike Ilitch and accepted by Cabrera and really all of us.

If you deny that you were part of the “whatever it takes to keep him” crowd, make sure you’re honest with yourself. Because there is no complaining now about the contract if you didn’t complain about it then.

You could say this injury offers opportunities, it’s just a disturbing way to get them.

I felt so bad for Miggy watching him walk off that field, bent over and holding that arm.

I felt bad for him while he talked about not being able to play the rest of the season. He seemed like he wouldn’t be able to talk about it much longer without succumbing to his emotions.

Regardless of how much he makes and how much longer we have to pay him, he has always been a star we have been lucky to be able to watch every day.

I can’t stand all the talk about the contract now. I can’t stand the talk about how we are stuck with him. We knew we would get here. This is no surprise. He would not continue performing at a high level throughout the length of the contract.

The goal was to win it. The goal was to keep the stars who would help us get there. And Mike Ilitch kept everyone around as long as he could before it was clear the formula was not going to produce the desired result.

Miggy’s injury is severely disappointing. The whole rebuild is severely disappointing. It would be much more palpable if the team had completed the goal at least once before having to take this step.

But we are here. There is no denying it.  Miggy will be out for who knows how long and others will get their shot.

So, there is nothing left to do but see what happens next. Will the loss of Miggy open the door for someone who will be a big part of our future? Or will we desperately miss his presence in the lineup all season?

I do know one thing.  As a fan of the game, having Miguel Cabrera done for the season is pretty demoralizing; he will be missed tremendously.

I don’t cast aside greatness that easily. Certainly not when we are talking about someone heading to Hall when it is all said and done.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

I’VE GOT QUESTIONS

By:  Holly Horning

If you’re reading our blog, then chances are you are what we call “the thinking fan.” Someone who likes to dig below the surface of an interview, play, game, month, year and direction of your team. A fan not afraid to ask questions or consider what something may say about the team – good or bad.

And if you’re a thinking fan, it means you have questions that keep popping up. Some of the same questions. And sometimes, you just don’t have answers.  And probably, no one else does either.

So it’s apt that as we move into third full month of the season (if you don’t count games called due to snow), I have questions. And not just the regular questions. I don’t do simple. Or normal.

But I do have a top 10 list so far of questions I keep asking myself. Some of them substantial, some of them questions for the ages and some of them, well, er, a little off the beaten path.

Let’s get to them, shall we?


1. Since the Tigers are doing better than expected, and pulling in more attendance than previously believed, will ownership order that the remaining stalwarts of the team not be traded – thus slowing the rebuild – in order to take advantage of a continued revenue stream, especially as attendance and viewership will assist them with the new tv contract negotiations?

2. I understand the need to trade Justin Verlander, but am I the only one shaking my head that the Tigers are actually paying 30% of his contract for 2 years to the Astros while he puts up Cy Young numbers?

3. Am I the only one who has to inch closer to the tv screen and look long and hard to see if it’s Ron Gardenhire or Chris Bosio making a mound visit?

4. Why did Dave Dombrowski completely ignore developing a bullpen for the Tigers for over a decade but one year after arriving in Boston, the Red Sox have had 1 of the top 3 bullpens in MLB for both 2017 and 2018?

5. Have the plethora of players hitting the DL this year been due to an actual increase in injuries or because Brad Ausmus was unable to influence them/allowed them to play hurt?

6. Why do all the other teams in MLB have trim, toned physical specimens as trainers except for the Tigers?

7. Who is the power within the Tigers organization who forced Miggy to go on an extended apology tour and explain over and over how much he loves Detroit, his team and the fans?

8. If Al Avila tells us that the Tigers are moving in a different direction and employing different ideas and strategies, why was Jim Leyland sitting in the seat of power to Avila’s immediate right (Chris Ilitch to the left) in the front row of the Tigers’ war room during the MLB draft last week instead of, say, Dave Littlefield (VP Player Development) or Sam Menzin (Director Professional Scouting)?

9. After officially confirming that Miggy, VMart and other players (who now join Justin Verlander, David Price and Max Scherzer, among others) in admitting they didn’t like Brad Ausmus as their manager, why then, did the Tigers refuse to fire Brad and inexplicably pick up his option year to boot?

10. If Miggy did indeed tell the Marlins former President that he wanted to return to Miami, was his desire based upon his dislike for Brad Ausmus or to be near both of his families?

So you, dear thinking fan, which questions do you have?


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

As Tiger fans, we know what it’s like. It consumes us. It frustrates us. It’s an animal we continue to fight.

This week’s Tuesday topic focuses not just on the Tiger bullpen but on our closer. Can you imagine Tiger fans being obsessed and frustrated with the struggles of our 9th inning guy?   Oh you bet, and it’s happening again.

Here’s our topic for today.


Should the Tigers continue to use Shane Greene as the closer?


KURT

I would expect the Tigers to leave everything alone when it comes to how they close out games. Shane Greene is and should continue to be the closer until the end of July when he will be traded.

This is a year for the Tigers where everything and everyone needs to be viewed differently, with all evaluations base on the future, not now or this season.

The closer experience that Shane Greene is getting is great for him. Regardless of where this team is heading, as a natural competitor, closing games is a pressure-cooker type of situation, and if you show you can succeed most of the time, which Greene has done, it makes him more valuable.

Shane has a great arm and has great stuff. He has had some struggles, but sorry, it’s ok right now. He will be a valued commodity come the trade deadline when contending teams are looking to add a bullpen arm with experience in the heat of battle.

What is most important for our team is the development of Joe Jimenez, who has taken a huge leap this year in his 8th inning role. He is the closer of the future, and when I say that I mean August; that will be plenty soon enough for him.  So, just leave him alone as well for now – and enjoy.


HOLLY

There’s a big difference between should, would and could and it may not be up to Gardenhire, but to his boss, to make that final decision.

If the Tigers strike a blow to Greene’s confidence by removing him as closer, he may never come back. Secondarily, who would close? Gardy has already said that Joe Jimenez is still too green and hasn’t yet learned the mental mindset of a what it takes to be a closer. He doesn’t want to damage who is undoubtedly the closer-in-waiting.

But Shane is believed to fetch the next most valuable price (on the team) on the trade market in July when teams in contention are in dire need of shut-down relievers. And unfortunately, Greene is putting almost 1.5 runners on base for every inning he pitches. Al Avila is in charge now of how Greene is to be used which means that it’s likely he will remain the closer with hopes that he can pull out of this nosedive in time to be attractive to others teams.

Even if he is moved down to the 7th or 8th (or the inning assumed to be less important), this means his value, because of the new role, will go down as well.

So “should” becomes maybe, “would” becomes “probably not” and “could” becomes “not likely.”


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

A BUMPY RIDE AROUND THE HORN

By:  Kurt Snyder

When you scan the Tiger infield in the midst of ‘The Rebuild -Year 1’, you see players heading all over the map in terms of stardom, development and their future value to the ball club.

Let’s start behind the plate and move around the horn.


CATCHER

The catching position seems to be in flux, with so many names which could still be in the mix. James McCann, who has been perceived as one of the team leaders, still has doubters out there about his long-term stability. He no longer has a stranglehold on the position that appeared to be settled. Not anymore.

John Hicks deserves discussion, not just for his ability to catch, but for his ability to hit for power and play first base.

Grayson Greiner deserves discussion. Jake Rogers will someday get his audition.

Knowing all of this and all of the candidates, James McCann could still emerge on top. The only conclusion you can draw at this point is actually a good one. He needs to watch his back; where competition lingers. And to me that is a good thing. There is talented competition on his heels, which is always a healthy situation.


THIRD BASE

This by far is the most settled situation in the infield and frankly where the most exciting talent on the team resides. The Tigers have a gem in Jeimer Candelario. And given how talented he is, I am surprised the Cubs gave him up for marginal talent to fortify their attempt at another championship.

Candy is the real deal and will be the anchor of this team for years to come.


SHORTSTOP

Any discussion about Iggy causes me to throw all rational thought out the window. It’s an easy call for many to cast him aside and assume he will be jettisoned out of Detroit at some point before next season.

I understand how emotions must be taken out of decisions that need to be made for the long-term. And the Tigers have traded for players who could be candidates to replace him.

But I believe further emphasis on analytics will make him difficult to trade. And to me that is good news.

This is a man who so gifted with the glove. A player who can shorten innings with his defensive athleticism.   But he is a shortstop who may not be that attractive for teams looking for the whole package at the position.

He has little power and his offensive skills are limited. But he has speed and is near the top of the league in defense;  a game-saving defensive ability that I believe is undervalued, and will be undervalued in the market. Taking a warm body in order to dump someone so gifted would be a crime.


SECOND BASE

This is a position loaded with question marks which explains the platoon situation that Ron Gardenhire has instituted.

This season was the perfect opportunity to hand Dixon Machado the job and see what he would do with it. Ian Kinsler was a town favorite but I understood the need to move him. Given his age, it was time to move on and look to the future.

But Machado has not proven he can be an everyday player. He has waited a long time for this opportunity and to me he has only proven one thing. He ain’t the guy… at second or at short.

Niko Goodrum has been a gem. His ability to play multiple positions while swinging a dangerous bat, makes him a valuable commodity. So if you’re thinking Machado has more of a future as a utility infielder, well forget it. Niko and others can fill those roles.


FIRST BASE

There is a reason I have saved this position for last. My blood is beginning to boil with frustration and emotions that are all over the map.

I am absolutely done with the Victor Martinez influence on this roster. I do give our manager credit for sitting him at times, in favor of giving Miggy time at DH and off the field. But I don’t understand how VMart still warrants a spot in the middle of the lineup, as if he is a threat for an extra base hit. He isn’t – not anymore.

This last year of his contract is no good for this team, and the perceived obligation to play him stifles the development of players who may very well be part of this team when they are ready to contend again.   John Hicks should get more time at first. Niko Goodrum should get more time at first. Let’s see who the next man is to succeed Miggy. And let’s do it full time.

Victor’s 2018 salary is a lock. Let’s move on. We all know Miggy’s future with this team is at DH. But we need to move him there while he can still play a position.

The last thing we need is another VMart, someone broken down and with no ability to do anything but DH in an era where you need the opposite.  Save Miggy while he can still put a glove on and use it.  Yes, we need to cut VMart.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

JUST-IN TIME

By:  Holly Horning

While everyone was focused on the MLB draft this week, all of the discussion centered around Casey Mize and secondarily, all of the other players the Tigers drafted. But almost no one discussed what the selection of Mize may, or may not do, for the Tigers’ rebuilding timeline.

Until now.

First of all, let’s understand the significance of Casey’s talents beyond his selection as the #1 draft.

He is unique in that he has 4 pitches, not the typical 1-2, that are considered to be dominating. He’s got speed and amazing control. A huge strikeout-to-walk ratio that would make Max Scherzer envious. But scouts go further and describe him as a creative pitcher who understands how to mix and match pitches really well.

Add in his mental skills and he’s considered to be at the top, too. His work ethic is considered to be flawless, he is popular with all teammates and considered to not possess an ego nor be high-maintenance. And he is very much focused on promoting a team-centric attitude.

All skills the Tigers desperately need.

Yes, newbie pitchers can be an iffy bunch and it’s hard to predict their success down the road. But the fact that almost every single scout and Front Office executive assigns the same high evaluations of him can’t be discounted.

And over one-third of the scouts claim in their reports that Mize is technically MLB-ready. Many of these same scouts also said that Casey is more advanced in his pitching than Justin Verlander was when he was drafted. And JV saw his MLB debut exactly one year after he was signed.

Assuming the Tigers sign him, how does this impact the team’s rebuild? Al Avila has been all over the place with his estimates – anywhere from 3 years, to 5, to undetermined. But if Mize turns out to be all that he promises, does this change how the Tigers move forward with their plans for contending?

Should Casey make it to Detroit in 2019, the following year will be one of continued learning and seasoning. Maybe even exceeding expectations if the scouts have it right. If we’re more conservative, potentially 2021 could be a year when the Tigers are playing some consistently solid and highly-competitive baseball.

As we all know, this organization has always lacked a sense of urgency which may be one of its biggest organizational weaknesses. But shouldn’t they understand that a pitcher has a certain window of opportunity to be at the height of his game while also being safely under club control?

If Mize rises to the challenge, he could potentially be part of a solid rotation with Boyd and Fulmer. And because of the latter and their move towards free agency both after the 2022 season, the Tigers have a small window of opportunity before dismantling or retooling once again has to happen.

So is it as simple as that? Or are there other factors that may throw a wrench into the contention plans?

Unfortunately, yes. Here are the biggest major obstacles the Tigers may face:

1. $204 million in salary to Cabrera and Zimmerman covering the next 2 – 8 years and severely impacting the ability to sign needed players.

2. A new owner still looking to reduce the Tigers’ payroll, which remains the largest in the AL Central.

3. A new owner who may be preparing to sell the team and not invest in it any further.


But as Monty Python infamously sings, let’s also look on the brighter side of life. For reasons other than listed above, why may the Tigers decide to speed up the rebuilding process?

1. They are re-negotiating a new media deal that a rise in viewership would benefit.

2. A younger team with diminishing payroll, coupled with the promise of near-contending, could fetch a higher price should the team go up for sale.

3. Al Avila’s contract runs out after 2020 and he will want to be in a position near contention for job security – either in Detroit or with another team should the Tigers be sold.

The signs of what strategy this organization may adopt will start to be seen as soon as next month. Will the Tigers continue to trade off assets? If so, who will be traded? Trading solid pieces, especially younger players like Michael Fulmer will not be a good sign. Neither will trading players with promise who are coupled with harder-to-trade and expensive players in order to slash payroll.

On the other hand, extending the contracts of players like Iggy (defense) and Castellanos (needed offensive power) may be seen as good – at least for the shorter term.

And if we start to see the younger players from Toledo come up earlier than expected, that may be a sign that the Tigers are trying to see what they have and what they still need more quickly. It might be seen as, gulp, a sign that they have a sense of urgency.

And that would be really nice to see. Finally.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.