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.


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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.


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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.”


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

It was a big week for the Tigers given their rebuild effort would be fortified by their selections in the 2018 MLB draft.

But was there anything else that caught the attention of our writers heading into the home stand against Cleveland?

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 Boston versus the Sox.


HOLLY

The Casey Mize selection by the Tigers is important not only as their top choice but for what the selection signifies.

Mize has 4 strong pitches, an amazing strikeout-to-walk ratio (308/37) which shows a strong command level of each pitch, the ability to mix and match pitches extremely well and a personality that is described as very hard-working, popular and possessing a team-centric attitude. Everything the Tigers really need.

He is described as the best player to come out of the SEC since David Price and said to be more advanced than Justin Verlander was when he was selected back in 2004.

But the more intriguing part of this news is what it may do to the Tigers timetable for contention as Casey has been described by many scouts as MLB-ready now. Will they be forced to speed up the rebuild machine? And will the selection of Mize change the Tigers’ strategy for rebuilding this year? (Come back on Sunday as these questions will be discussed in detail.)


KURT

Tiger fans did their impersonation of Lions fans this year as the highlight of this particular season would be, by far, the MLB draft, and the selection of Casey Mize was no surprise. In fact, the only surprise would have been if the Tigers would not have selected him.

It all comes down to one key point about Mize. You can read all you want about his command of the strike zone and his strong character. But who is a better candidate for the first pick in the draft than a talented pitcher who is ready to pitch with the big club, well, almost right now?

It’s what stands out most about Mize, and his selection is very exciting when you consider that he may be ready to make an impact with the Tigers in Detroit as soon as next season. And that alone describes why he was a sure thing #1 selection.


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

The Tigers have been anything but boring this season. And there have been a handful of contributors who have helped to keep the team above water as they compete in, so far, what has been a pretty weak Central Division.  And some appear to be keepers for the future.

To whom do we give credit for this year’s team?

On this Tuesday, our writers have this question to ponder. If you are new to Totally Tigers, please note that Kurt and Holly do not share their answers to weekly topics in an attempt to give you, the reader, a wider range of perspective.

Here’s our topic for today.


How much credit, if any, do you give to Al Avila for this year’s team?


KURT

If I was going to credit Al Avila for anything, you have to congratulate him for what I would call an absolute fleecing of the Chicago Cubs in the deal for Jeimer Candelario.

The Tigers will be building around this kid, whom they got from Chicago for only Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. The more time he gets, the better he looks. If Jeimer continues to trend upward, it would be a Dombrowski-like example of theft.

But to credit Al for this year’s team and their performance is a bit premature. I have to give the credit to Ron Gardenhire.  Sure, Al brought the tools, but most of these guys may still be minor leaguers if not for the state of the team; the fact that Gardenhire has gotten them to develop this soon is a testament to him, his philosophy and his experience with this kind of rebuilding situation.

I would wait on the, ‘Al put this team together’ mantra until we see where we sit at season’s end. I won’t be evaluating record, but I will be looking for the beginnings of a new promising core. In June, you can’t make that call.

But assuming it was indeed Al’s decision, he must get credit for bringing Gardenhire here, who has been the key to the energy and development we have seen to this point.


HOLLY

It’s always hard to live up to the reputation and good will generated by fans of a former boss who was dynamic in both personality and speech and known for signing splashy, expensive high-profile players – especially when you are very quiet and laid-back as Al Avila is.

A GM is given his marching orders by the owner and it is apparent that Al does not have anywhere near the resources that Dave Dombrowski was given by Mr. I. To further complicate his work, he is still trying to dig out from the mess he inherited, right the ship and get it sailing in the right direction.

We came into this year expecting the worst but have been pleasantly surprised so far with the team’s never-say-die attitude and many close contests that could have easily gone in favor of the Tigers. While Ron Gardenhire (and let’s throw in Chris Bosio while we’re at it) can certainly take a lot of the credit, the odds of him getting almost every player on the team to perform above expectations are a little too high. He had to have help.

That’s where Al Avila comes in with his strong background in scouting. We shook our heads when he signed Fiers and Liriano as starters but look how well they have been doing. Candelario, Hicks, Rodriguez and Goodrum were all his signings/trades, as were Jones, Martin and Reyes – too many players with under-the-radar potential that seem to indicate the man knows what he’s doing.

We’re not used to these types of players who overall are way more athletic all-around and less flashy than the previous bunch of 2017.  But Avila should get a lot of credit for finding the talent – and also finding the leader and motivator in Ron Gardenhire.


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

The Tigers have capitalized on their return home and have played good baseball. They have become a difficult team to play thanks to the environment that Ron Gardenhire has fostered.

But their success has not come without its challenges. And the Tigers have needed just about everything to keep their heads above water.

So, what caught the attention of our writers heading into the home stand?

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 through Thursday’s series finale with the Angels.


HOLLY

Quick, call a shaman to come in with a dump truck full of sage and clean Comerica! The list of injuries, almost on a daily basis, is getting so ridiculous that the bad juju has jumped the shark and started attacking umpires and wildlife, too.

The season is only 9 weeks old but 11 different Tigers have hit the Disabled List – more if you include the ones who were out for entire weeks and not officially on the DL. Out of those 11, 8 were injured in May and only 1 player qualifies as having injuries directly tied to an in-game incident.

Nine of the 11 have strains, which is defined as damaged soft tissue unable to stretch enough to complete the action, which once again points to a concern in how players are conditioned, whether they focus on lifting too many weights and whether the training program is outdated, one-sided and flawed.

In all, every position in the field has been impacted by injury and been filled with replacements from Toledo. The amazing fact is that this team, despite all the injuries, has won more games than they lost in the month of May.


KURT

It doesn’t take much for a team that has shed the rigidity of an emotionless manager and has gained one who fosters an environment that is fun and energetic.

This is now a team that has the freedom to use just about anything to motivate them. Enter the Rally Goose.

It doesn’t take much in baseball for crazy things like this to happen during the course of a long season. In the Tigers case, a random goose finds its way on the field with no real clue how to get out of the park; and almost tragically, blindly flies into an auxiliary board and falls down into the lower deck stands.

The goose was fortunately nurtured back to health by a fan and sent back into the wild a couple days later; a fun story during a season where not much fun was expected.

This is just one more element introduced to a group of hungry and enthusiastic players embracing an emerging bond and a new resident within the dugout – a decoy version of the now famous Rally Goose displayed prominently for all to see.

This season will continue to evolve and there will be things that will go unexplained; the presence of the goose is certainly one of them that has become part of the team’s identity – a goofy one, but who cares if it inspires unity and success.


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

The Tigers have been anything but boring this season. And there have been a handful of contributors who have helped to keep the team above water as they compete in, so far, what has been a pretty weak Central Division. And some appear to be keepers for the future.

On this Tuesday, our writers have a question to ponder. If you are new to Totally Tigers, please note that Kurt and Holly do not share their answers in advance with each other in an attempt to give you, the reader, a wider range of perspectives.

Here’s our topic for today.


The Tigers are rebuilding. Given the 25-man roster, and including those currently on the DL, which 10 players would you keep (contracts notwithstanding) if the Tigers intend on becoming competitive in 3 years?


KURT

Picking 10 was beyond tough. But these are the guys, Miggy included, that we have learned a lot about. I surprised myself when I looked at the list, given guys like Goodrum and Hicks have made it; guys who helped to mainly fill out the roster.

The inclusion of Cabrera is further evidence of my defiance against all who feel he can’t still make a big difference with this club.

Matthew Boyd

Michael Fulmer

Joe Jimenez

Jeimer Candelario

Jose Iglesias

Jacoby Jones

Grayson Greiner

Niko Goodrum

John Hicks

Miguel Cabrera


HOLLY

Making this list really shows just how far away the Tigers are from being competitive. I could only come up with 4 players who show they have the tools to perform well. I then added 4 players who show potential, are young and making minimal salary but it is still too early to comfortably list their names in ink. As for the last 2 spots, I have to leave those blank. Having to fill 21 roster spots in a mere 3 years, even with 4 potential candidates, is one very tall order.

Matthew Boyd

Jeimer Candelario

Michael Fulmer

Niko Goodrum

Grayson Greiner

John Hicks

Joe Jimenez

JaCoby Jones


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

The Tigers have returned home and as of Friday began a stretch of games where they will spend 18 of 21 at Comerica Park.

So, what caught the attention of our writers heading into the home stand?

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

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired through Wednesday’s game in Minnesota.


HOLLY

They sure are dropping like flies, aren’t they? Nine Tigers in 8 weeks have succumbed to injuries and 5 of those players have extended their time on the DL. And 3 of those 9 are starting pitchers while at 1 time, 5 of the 8 field positions had players out due to injuries.

While 2 of them can be excused due to existing conditions or in-game accidents, the rest are classified as “strains” which are injuries to the soft tissue – muscles, tendons and ligaments. And if you talk with those in sports medicine, physical training, and physical therapy, they will tell you that when you have a lot of players within one group getting injured, it points to an imbalance in the training program – and possibly the failure to correct and improve body alignment resulting in repeated injury.

Strains, especially those that involve the team’s current list of hamstring, groin, oblique and quad injuries, are indicative of not enough work done to promote stretching and flexibility. In most cases, a pronounced focus on muscle-building, which shortens muscles, creates bulk and weakens stability and proper movement, is blamed for the inability to stretch muscles enough in order for athletes to perform the necessary movements.

The Tigers head trainers and conditioning team have been with the team forever – from 12 years to over 20 – and offer the same insights and approach without the input of fresh eyes. It is a bare-boned staff compared to other teams – and unlike those other teams, does not possess or require players to undergo core training (specific exercises, yoga, Pilates, etc.) until they get repeatedly injured like Miggy.


KURT

I found myself having to come to my senses this week as I scanned over the Central Division standings and wondered how on earth the Tigers could still be in contention.

It wasn’t a good week on the road, they have players hurt all over the field, and still found themselves 4 games out of first place.

This is what happens when, at one point, we were looking at a division, heading into Memorial Day weekend, with no one (yes, no one) playing .500 baseball. Even teams like the Tigers could find hope under that scenario, I guess.

But that’s where you need to splash your face with some cold water, because this team, even if they are hanging around in the Central heading into the trade deadline, will not be doing anything but selling at that point.

Our baseball team in Detroit, which may look like a division contender at that point, will not be after July 31st. After another purging, they will not resemble anything like a team sniffing the post season.

This is still a season about grinding away, getting better, and along the way, trying to get healthy. With so many injuries, more players are getting opportunities, but it’s not doing much for the win column.

But again, it’s not about that this year; forget the record and the standings. Just resist, I say – resist!


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Plenty of storylines are playing out already this season when it comes to the Tigers and their interesting cast of characters. Production of one player may affect another or another, or another.

On this Tuesday, our writers have a question to ponder. If you are new to Totally Tigers, please note that Kurt and Holly do not share their answers to weekly topics in an attempt to give you, the reader, a wider range of perspective.

Here’s our topic for today.


Which player do you believe is going through the most interesting scenario currently? Explain!


KURT

Someone within the Tiger starting pitching rotation needed to emerge this season, and it would have to go beyond the ace of the staff.

Michael Fulmer will continue to be a trade candidate later this season. Francisco Liriano has pitched so well that his name has now begun to float around as a player of interest as well;  the primary goal for the Tigers when he was acquired. And Mike Fiers has had his moments and has earned his spot as the 5th starter on a depleted staff.

But no one has taken that step for the future like Matthew Boyd. He is growing in confidence, pitching deeper into games and right now is performing better than anyone else, including Michael Fulmer.

It’s interesting because heading into the regular season, Boyd and Daniel Norris had their usual battle brewing for a spot in the rotation. But who knew that one would emerge as not only a candidate for a spot, but the top spot on the staff?

Matthew Boyd has seized the moment which could determine the strategy the Tigers take at the trade deadline. Come August 1st, we may have no choice but to name him the ace, and not just by default; he may have earned it .


HOLLY

You’ve got players with contracts that dictate how they will be used, others who are expecting to be traded at some point this summer and a couple rookies expected to survive the rebuild. A potential outfield battle over LF that may be solved once Nick Castellanos gets traded and a shuffling of players around the SS and 2B positions once Iggy leaves.

And then there is John Hicks, who is hitting .359 in May with 3 HRs and sitting third in batting for the team after Miggy and Castellanos. He’s had the same number of plate appearances as Miggy (their numbers are eerily similar), he has more HRs (tied for team lead) and total bases and hit safely in his last 15 out of 18 games, batting .353, with 14 runs scored, 6 doubles, 3 HRs and 13 RBIs.

Meanwhile, you’ve got James McCann, who has played in 10 more games and with offensive stats that are less than his backup, is under increasing criticism from some in baseball for his skills behind the plate and is ranked by analysts as #29 out of 30 MLB catchers.

McCann is just 1 year younger than Hicks, makes $2.3 mill and will be arb-eligible next year while Hicks remains under club control, earns the MLB minimum salary and is acting and playing like he’s serious about staying and playing regularly.

The Tigers have been stockpiling catchers over the past 1+ year, including Grayson Grenier, for a reason so don’t be surprised if there is a changing of the guard behind the plate with a possible trade of McCann this year.

Given that Miggy will eventually return, will the Tigers be willing to allow Hicks’ bat to sit or will they give him more playing time? Could we potentially see Hicks take over the duties of the first-string catcher with Grenier as his backup?

Stay tuned – this should be interesting… and somewhat expected given that the Tigers’ have 3 catchers on their 25-man roster and are still looking to cut payroll.


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/.

NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

The Tigers have hit the road after a successful home stand where they won 2 series versus the Mariners and Indians.

But, what caught the attention of our writers since then? It’s been an interesting week on the field and off, to say the least. Topics in baseball have come from every angle.

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

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired through Thursday’s game in Seattle.


HOLLY

The Robinson Cano suspension for using a drug masking agent banned in MLB has created an incredibly large ripple across the game. First, seeing his stats historically and how they have skewed the importance of some of the game’s greatest players.

But then you learn that Melky Cabrera and Alex Rodriquez have been his best friends for years and inseparable when they played together for the Yankees. And now all 3, along with Andy Pettite and Francisco Cervelli, have been caught violating MLB’s drug policy and suspended. That’s 5 players, all connected to Biogenisis, cheating and winning a World Series ring in 2009 for NY.

And this week we learned that the Yankees reluctance to re-sign Cano and allowing him to leave for Seattle is now explained as the team believing he was taking PEDs for years.

But what is now raising eyebrows is that Cano is very good friends with Jeimer Candelario and the two work out together – a friendship that dates back to their fathers who were very close friends.


KURT

Count me out on the criticism of Miguel Cabrera despite all the comments this week about him feeling unappreciated for playing when he’s hurt, and the whole discussion about him wanting to be in Miami, which is laughable considering the mass exodus of players out of South Beach this season.

But I guess it goes with the territory when you’re a star who is not playing and there are no performances to evaluate. To many, he is just an oft-injured, overpaid, over-the- hill superstar holding his team captive under an enormous, immovable salary.

However, if you evaluate the situation when it comes to the Tiger rebuild, it is the exact opposite when you consider the comments about him being stuck in Detroit, when in fact, it’s the Tigers who are stuck with him; if he could be moved, he would be.

In the meantime, I just see all this as a lot of talk that has taken on a life of its own. I will continue to concentrate on a team continuing to grow and mature under a manager who simply wants Miggy back in the lineup. Then we can all concentrate on Cabrera’s play, which, by the way, was just fine when he left the lineup.

And if you still want to worry about something when it comes to Cabrera, consider how upset he is with the suspension of Robinson Cano, an association of which Miggy needs to stay clear.


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