TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

September can’t get here soon enough for the Tiger starting rotation as pitchers are dropping like flies. Even for the most devoted fans, it’s hard to keep track of who is going to pitch from one day to the next.

As always, our writers have not shared their answers to the Tuesday question, offering a range of perspectives  is always the goal.

So what will readers get today as Holly and Kurt address a question about the state of the starting rotation?


Only 2 starting pitchers in the regular rotation remain. Obviously, 1 was traded and several got injured. But over the past week, the Tigers have been scrambling to find multiple starters at the last minute. What are our bloggers thinking about all of this?


HOLLY

It’s been the perfect storm of losing talent, injuries, a thin farm system and a desperate attempt to find a plausible arm in the bargain basement bin.

The loss of JV and Mike Fiers has obviously depleted the starting ranks, but most of the team’s injuries have been pitchers, especially starting pitchers. Almost all of them have been on the DL this year with 3 of them expected to be out for most or all of the rest of the year and the need to find replacements for all but Zimmermann.

But there’s a concern when 2 youngsters go down at the same time, both with elbow injuries, which just accelerates the destruction of the rotation. I’ve lost count how many pitchers the Tigers have DFA’d recently – Saupold, Turner, McAllister, Bell, VerHagen, Labourt, Hardy, Stumpf, Mujica, and others I’ve forgotten. Some of whom have found their way back into the Tigers system for another go-round and turn up again in the rotation like a bad penny.

It’s also pretty bad when you sign a pitcher DFA’d by 5 other teams, call him up, get bombed, send him down and then call him up again a week later to start a game because there is no one else. But the worst is then finding out he hasn’t yet met the call back date rules and you tell another pitcher as he arrives at the ballpark that – surprise! – you’re starting the game today! That is a mind-boggling, dumb and desperate move unbecoming of a MLB team.

It all either means that you have no one even remotely talented enough in AA or AAA to bring up and/or the owner has told his GM that he can only shop from the 75% off/clearance bin because the wallet has slammed shut.


KURT

There is no better time than year 1 of the rebuild, to be forced to bring up pitchers and evaluating what you have, regardless of the reason. But what is exasperating is finding out how little they have at AAA. The talent, and I use that term loosely, has been sub-par and no one has stood out as potential building blocks for a future starting rotation.

Weeks back, I think both Holly and I mentioned Victor Alcantara as having the most potential to join the starting staff as early as next season. But thus far, he has only been used in the pen, and he has been impressive.

From a starter standpoint, it tells you that even if the team has talented starting pitching in the pipeline, it is so far down the pipe you can’t see the light. They haven’t even been mentioned as possibilities for September call ups. So, will we see more options to consider in September, or is it just too soon for anyone meaningful?


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Even though we are following a team that is not a lot of fun to watch right now, there is still news. There is always something published here to ponder.

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspectives. During any given week, they could head in a number of directions.

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into the series in Minnesota.


KURT

As we head into the final weeks of August and we contemplate who may come up in September when the rosters are expanded, the Tigers have a unique situation.

They really need to expand their roster! Mainly because with everyone taking turns on the DL, more players are needed to fill in. Whether it be in the outfield, the infield or with the starting pitching, the Tigers have put the 10-day DL to good use. But it’s getting kind of ridiculous.

The latest victim? Blaine Hardy now takes his turn on the DL with elbow tendinitis, just after Artie Lewicki took his turn, with his own elbow problem.  John Hicks, JaCoby Jones – yep, they are on the list as well, with Hicks also done for the season.

Just another reminder that the Tigers need to at least have a discussion about their training staff. As if Justin Verlander’s little diatribe wasn’t enough.


HOLLY

And then there were 4. Four core muscle surgeries within 4 years – JV, Miggy, Daniel Norris and now John Hicks. It’s not a standard or frequently seen injury and to have this many all on one team speaks volumes about the poor, outdated training program of the Tigers.

It is an injury created by a significantly weak core, identified as the area that stabilizes the entire body and helps to prevent injury. Most MLB teams now require their players to practice either yoga, Pilates or another core-building discipline, but not the Tigers.

I have attended spring training sessions to watch in horror at how inflexible these players are (based upon my 20+ years practicing both yoga and Pilates). And regular reader Nocynic shared a friend’s report with me about the stark contrast between the pre-game stretching routines of the Tigers and their opponents. (Thanks, Max!)

How many more players have to be diagnosed and operated on…. how many more premier players in all sports do they have to hear endorse the benefits…how many more medical reports do they have to read…before this team finally does something to bring their training into the 21st Century?


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

We can all easily agree that this year’s version of the Detroit Tigers has not offered much excitement. Star power on this team is really non-existent, so fans must really scan the field  in order to find the best source of entertainment. And that source, by far, resides at shortstop.

Our writers again have not shared their answers to the Tuesday question. Offering a range of perspectives is always the goal. So what will readers get today as Holly and Kurt address a question about Iggy?   Let’s dig in.


Jose Iglesias is a free agent at the end of September. Knowing that the Tigers have been trying to trade him for a while now, what do you think the Tigers will do if they can’t trade him by the end of the year?


HOLLY

With only 7 weeks left in the season and until free agency, no team will trade for Iggy unless they are a contender and lose their shortstop between now and the end of August.

The Tigers will not make him a qualifying offer which is expected to be approximately $18.1 million because he will probably accept it, nor will they allow him to walk and receive nothing in return. Remember the backlash when the Tigers did that with Jhonny Peralta?

They are left with re-signing him as the only viable option on a deal with as few years as possible. Then they will attempt to trade him next year, hoping that a new contract will make him more appealing to teams looking for players locked into reasonable contracts.

Ironically, this may be the best option for the Tigers because they appear to have no heir apparent in the near future for their shortstop position going forward. Having Iggy return will buy Al Avila some time to get one of his minor league shortstops not named Dixon Machado ready to take over – and potentially coached by Iggy himself.


KURT

Under circumstances where they are unable to trade him, signing him is really the best avenue, for a number of reasons. His assumed heir apparent does not have a future as the team’s next shortstop, and any other candidates, of which there are a few, just aren’t ready to wrestle the position from someone as talented as Iggy.

And here is where the real value comes in. You know where Iggy stands on my list of favorite Tigers – right near the top. I don’t know if fans realize how lucky we have been to witness the incredible talents of Iglesias.

And if we are lucky enough to have him around a little longer, he will offer so much value in the present and the future. He can continue to play a stellar shortstop, and at the same time let the next guy in line soak up the position from one of the game’s best.

This would be the best case scenario on all fronts. His time here is getting shorter. But we need to squeeze every ounce of value out of him until the next guy gets his shot to shine at short.


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Even though we are following a team that is not real fun to watch right now, there is still news. There is always something published here to ponder.

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspectives. During any given week, they could head in a number of directions.

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into the series back home against the Twins.


KURT

Even as more time passes since the trade of Justin Verlander to the Astros, he still manages to capture our attention, and this week, the topic was pretty eye-opening and downright disturbing.

It’s common to regret saying “I told you so,” but I am not so sure we should be regretting it any longer. For quite a while, regardless of the writer, we have continued to bang the drum about the Tigers’ poor training staff only to be debunked by fans who focus on how few Tiger players have hit the DL over the years.

But when a former star comes out and accuses the team trainers and doctors of misdiagnosing his injury and waiting too long to do an MRI, causing him to consider retirement, well, that’s makes our team look pretty bad, doesn’t it?

This better serve, at long last, as a wake-up call to our ownership and executive staff; the health of our most-prized talents have been neglected over and over again. That includes Verlander and Miggy and VMart over the years.

There is plenty of tangible data out there, especially now, that suggests the Tigers have been slow on the trigger for years when it comes to addressing injuries in a timely manner – it just took JV to come out and say it.


HOLLY

With just 7 weeks left in the regular season, analysts are now making their cases for which players will earn which top awards. So far, the front-runners appear to be……Justin Verlander, AL Cy Young……Max Scherzer, NL Cy Young……JD Martinez, MVP. And there is talk that JD has the potential to also be the next Triple Crown winner, given that he leads in 2 categories and is neck-and-neck in the third.

Make no mistake, I am thrilled for each and every one of their successes since leaving the Tigers, but I can’t help but be bothered over their performances that are said to significantly lift each and every team into contention that signed them.

We had them all on the Tigers together, working together with such a concentrated amount of talent rarely seen including 4 starting pitchers who all won the Cy Young, repeat MVPs and a Triple Crown. And all of that talent together couldn’t do it, but individually, they are largely credited with their new teams’ stellar performances.

Despite the success we saw in Detroit for a number of years – and with only 1 World Series game win to show for it – this is a huge head scratcher that potentially indicates how poorly this amassed talent was utilized, managed, supported – and wasted.

(And speaking of JV, come back on Sunday for an in-depth discussion of his most recent interview.)


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

It was a rough weekend for the Tigers and the series in Oakland cut loose a lot of emotions, well, at least from one of our writers. Yeah, don’t worry, he will get through it…

But don’t think for a minute that the passion will run dry on this site. Oh, far from it! Our writers have another question to address (don’t they always?) and there is no time like the present to dive in and see what they have to consider and share on another Tuesday.


If you could do only 1 thing in an attempt to improve the team this year (excluding trades and selling the team), what would it be?


HOLLY

The Tigers scored only 1 run (and it was unearned) in the last 31 innings and have been shut-out for an MLB-leading 15th time this year to eclipse last year’s record and come within 2 of the record set in 2003.

They look foolish at the plate while situational hitting can only be found on the side of a milk carton. Different players and a different manager from last year, with similar results and 1 common denominator. Lloyd McClendon.

Don’t get me wrong – there are no great hitters on the roster currently, but this is where you need a hitting instructor who has the ability to milk and build every morsel of talent and potential. You need someone who can nurture these rookies and teach them good habits and how to think about their hitting and what to do when they come to the plate.

The Tigers hired Ron Gardenhire to teach these kids and they need to do the same with a new hitting coach – and pay him handsomely because it is worth every penny.

And if they can’t do that, then the guy who attacked Comerica with a sledgehammer should be hired because he made better contact and got more hits than the entire team did in Oakland over the weekend…


KURT

Well, I think I made it abundantly clear what I would do with the hitting coach. So that rant is done.

But to improve the team this year, my guy, my manager, the one I have supported and defended when seemingly no one else did, Jim Leyland must be asked to step away from the organization.

As passionate as he was about the Tigers while he was manager, I truly believe he is just as passionate about helping the team back to success. His intentions are good, but this is not his gig any longer and it is evident that some of the carryovers on this staff, he recommended, and he pushed to keep around, which was so wrong for this team.

It is obvious he is still very respected by this Tiger organization. But that respect cannot steer the course. His role appears too large and because it is, in order to make the team better now and in the immediate future, no more decisions can run through Jim Leyland.


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

All that talk all year about the trade deadline and bam! It’s over. Gone. Done. The result? Leonys Martin moved to greener pastures. In Cleveland. Doesn’t sound like those things go together, but in baseball, right now, they do.

So what else happened this past week? Anything of note?

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

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into the series on the road versus Oakland.


KURT

For me, the trade deadline got my attention in a way I didn’t see coming. The Houston Astros made a mistake. Yep, the team I thought had turned into a model by which to rebuild your team, now looks to be blinded by the bright lights of success.

They want another championship (of course), made a great move to upgrade their catcher position but made a bad move that may upset their whole apple cart. The trade for Roberto Osuna, after he had been suspended early in the season after a domestic violence incident, is a win-at-all-costs move by the Astros.

Everything that this team stood for last season, in making it their goal to win for their city when times were hard, now make this about-face in accepting a player on their team who could care less about how he treats women.

The feel good story of last season now turns into a controversial mess, and all that’s left to do now is wait to see how JV responds over the next couple of months.


HOLLY

This week was about GMs being clueless in the clubhouse and ironically, not about the actual trades that were made.

First up, the Astros trading for Roberto Osuna who has an upcoming legal case for domestic abuse that includes widely seen video of the attack. GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t even run this past some of the decision-makers or even the athletes who would have to play with him. Two of his top players, including Justin Verlander, were incensed over the incident earlier this year and posted many angry comments which now will contribute to destabilizing what used to be one of the most harmonious clubhouses in MLB.

Then there is Mike Rizzo, GM of the Washington Nationals, who had no idea that his clubhouse has been dysfunctional all year until a number of employees, players and journalists leaked the info. Rumor has it that Brandon Kinzler was traded because Rizzo suspected that he was one of the leakers and decided to punish him instead of realizing that a problem had been brought to his attention.

But despite learning that his team’s under .500 performance is due to a lack of chemistry and leadership – and not talent, Rizzo otherwise refused to make trades, including that of free agent Bryce Harper, that would help his team retool for next year. He stubbornly believes that the Nats can overcome a significant deficit in order to nab the second wild card slot.


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

At long last, two more Tigers have entered the Hall of Fame! It was a long time coming for Alan Trammell and Jack Morris who represented Tiger baseball very well in Cooperstown on Sunday.

But before we put that wonderful day to bed and look forward to more celebrations of these 2 Tigers greats at Comerica for the number retirements, our writers would like to comment on the following question regarding Tram and Jack’s Hall of Fame event.


Finally!  The Hall just admitted 2 Tigers.  What are our 2 bloggers feeling?


HOLLY

Seeing the players you grew up watching make it to the Hall of Fame should only inspire feelings of gratitude and love.  But while it was wonderful seeing Tram and Jack enter the Hall, those feelings of joy shared space with feelings of frustration – and I have to admit, a smidge of anger, too.

Especially when Rob Manfred read through Tram’s accomplishments in which he was identified as being one of baseball’s top 10 shortstops of all time according to the large number of categories in which he dominated.  Yet, despite being ranked above 14 shortstops currently in the Hall, it took Tram, via the Veterans’ Committee, a mind-boggling 17 years to get elected.

It’s been a whopping 29 years since the last Tiger, Hal Newhouser, was elected and a glance at Tigers in the Hall show that the vast majority of them were not elected via the player ballot but by the Veterans’ Committee.  The last to go in by regular ballot was Al Kaline, 38 years ago and before him, Hank Greenberg, back in 1956.

The excuse about the Tigers not being a major-market (or even media-based) city cannot be used when you see all the players from smaller towns in Cooperstown so one has to ask why this has been, and continues to be, such a laborious and often up-hill process for Tigers.  Especially when it concerns players who were part of one of baseball’s top 10 teams of all time.

As time goes on, voting writers who watched them play, retire and their replacements often cut corners and don’t perform diligent research before voting.  But let’s also put some of that blame on the Tigers’ organization which, for some illogical reason, does not provide binders, video or even support of their players to the voters unfamiliar with their play, like most of the other MLB teams do.


KURT

Finally, after 29 years of waiting, we finally have another Hall of Famer – and not 1, but 2. And as much as I should be happy, which I am, why is it so difficult to get Tigers into Cooperstown?

I can’t stand the big market argument anymore. What I blame it on most is our ownership and their continued lack of promotion of their former greats. But I also blame it on Major League Baseball, especially at this time when Trammell entered without Whitaker.

This is a team game, and our league has gotten a little stodgy when it comes to celebrating baseball. I know it’s a Detroit thing and nobody lived it more than we did, but Tram and Lou’s 19-year list of accomplishments deserve special recognition.

But the Hall does not allow for these special stories, special parts of their history. It’s only, are you good enough to get in? No room to venture away from the norm when a double play combination did something never accomplished before in the history of the game; you can’t ignore it, but the committee is doing their best.


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NOTABLE NEWS

With the trade deadline now only days away, teams are making moves. But no moves so far involving our beloved Tigers. Our writers have had their say on the topic over the last week, so what is on their minds heading into the final weekend of July?

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

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into the series at home versus the Indians.


KURT

Some of the highest profile news revolves around 2 of the game’s biggest stars and believe it or not, Bryce Harper has been mentioned as someone who may be on the trading block at the deadline. Moving him would be the wisest thing the Nationals could do. I’d trade him in a heartbeat and watch the prospects roll in.

The Yanks, having already made a couple of moves to shore up their bullpen and starting rotation, now find themselves wondering if they need to make a move to supplement their outfield with the loss of Aaron Judge for a while.  Did the trade value of Baltimore’s Adam Jones just take a jump?

On the Tiger front – Iggy may be the only player who is ramping up his trade value.


HOLLY

Trade rumors and actual movement of players between teams is starting to pick up steam with just days to go before the non-waiver trade deadline.

In the case of Nicholas Castellanos, the rumors are slim-to-none based upon the 12+ other outfielders known to be available combined with his well-below-average defensive capabilities.  His defensive value (when compared to the average RFer) currently ranks second to the bottom at a -1.7 among all qualified RFers and essentially turns him into a prospective DH for AL teams in need of one.

And speaking of RFers, an increasing number of analysts are saying that the Washington Nationals should trade Bryce Harper now while they can get something in exchange for him before free agency hits in 2 months.  With yet another DL stint for pitcher Stephen Strasburg, combined with the team’s overall horrible performance and struggle to even reach .500, experts are now saying that the window for the Nats has closed and they are in need of rebooting.  A team identified as one of the favorites for the World Series has taken a spectacular dive and never even got off the ground at all this year.


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

Today, our writers have decided to change it up a little bit. This edition of Totally Tigers is all about lists, and looking forward.

This season is all about evaluating who has a future with this team. So why not try to envision what the team will look like next season? Who will be here? Who will not?

Kurt and Holly have lists that answer the following questions.


1. If the Tigers are truly focused on rebuilding, which players, out of the current 25-man roster, should we expect to see on Opening Day 2019?

2. Are there players from Toledo we should expect to make the roster by Opening Day 2019?

*Indicates position probably needing to be filled from outside the organization.

In case of multiple players listed for 1 position, the first one listed will be the primary player with the second as back-up.


HOLLY

C – Grayson Grenier, John Hicks
1B – Edwin Espinal*, Miguel Cabrera
2B – Dawel Lugo, Ronny Rodriquez
3B – Jeimer Candelario
SS – Sergio Alcantara, Ronny Rodriquez
LF – Victor Reyes
CF – JaCoby Jones
RF – Christin Stewart (by default)
DH – Miguel Cabrera
U – Niko Goodrum

STARTING ROTATION
Victor Alcantara
Matthew Boyd
Michael Fulmer
Blaine Hardy
Jordan Zimmermann

RELIEVERS
Johnny Barbato
Louis Coleman
Kevin Comer
Joe Jimenez
Daniel Norris
Zac Reininger
Paul Voelker
Alex Wilson


KURT

C– James McCann, Grayson Greiner
1B – John Hicks, Miguel Cabrera (as little as possible)
2B – Dawel Lugo
3B – Jeimer Candelario
SS – Sergio Alcantara
LF – Victor Reyes, Mikey Mahtook
CF – JaCoby Jones
RF – Christin Stewart
DH – Miguel Cabrera
UT – Niko Goodrum

STARTING ROTATION
Blaine Hardy
Matthew Boyd
Michael Fulmer
Jordan Zimmermann
Alex Faedo

RELIEVERS
Joe Jimenez
Victor Alcantara
Alex Wilson
Johnny Barbato
Louis Coleman
Drew VerHagen
Zac Reininger
Daniel Norris


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

With the All-Star break behind us and the trade deadline not far away, there is much to consider as the Tigers start the second half against one of the game’s best – the Red Sox.

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspectives. During any given week, they could head in a number of directions.

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into the series at home versus Boston.


KURT

Did you notice anything familiar about this week’s All-Star Game? That’s right, it was a carbon copy of the kind of baseball we are seeing now in MLB.

The game was dominated by home runs and strikeouts, most of which have been examined and critiqued as just another problem with the game. However, our game, which could now be described as ‘all or nothing’, has provided excitement on both ends of the spectrum.

Do I like it – I’m not sure. But I certainly wouldn’t describe it as the latest problem that needs to be fixed. I would only describe it as dominance at opposite ends of the spectrum. It will be someone else’s job to determine if what we saw in the All-Star Game is something we could get used to as the new norm.


HOLLY

This week brought new meaning to “must see JV” as the local media crammed everything named “Justin Verlander” down fans’ throats. And very little of it had to do with the game he pitched against the Tigers last weekend.

One local paper printed as many as 11 articles about him within the span of 2 days from the “I still root for Detroit” to his “reunion” with Max Scherzer, impending fatherhood and all the way down to video of him showing off his dance moves on a private plane. Much of it an attempt by unseen powers to placate bad feelings over the loss of a fan favorite by hinting that he’s still loyal to the team (and fans) and by the media which saw an opportunity to drive up readership.

But then these same papers had the audacity to also tell fans they needed to “get over” JV while printing all these articles about him. Unbelievably, a couple reporters went so far as to chastise fans that they shouldn’t be mad at JV for leaving while conveniently refusing to explain why the Tigers were forced to trade him.

Should we even be surprised that the individuals responsible for the final act of trading one of the franchise’s face and dissolving this team were purposely kept unidentified and instead the critical spotlight was turned, once again, on the fans?


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