A May without baseball was about as enjoyable as April. It left us wanting for more, or anything. But we wrap up each month the way it should be, regardless of what is going on, or not.
Just like normal, topics will be random and all over the map, the way we like them. Holdovers remain important for thoughts that need more time to simmer.
Now that the season would have been entering its third month under normal conditions, it is safe to say that these wrap-ups have never been more difficult.
But, it’s no time to shy away. We’re going to give it another go, wrapping up May the way we should.
So let’s get rolling! Please enjoy another monthly accumulation of 20 Thoughts.
1. With the MLB Draft approaching, a third name has entered the picture as an intriguing choice for the Tigers at #1. Drafting pitcher Esa Lacy would add a nasty lefty to the Tigers’ stable of talent. But here is the deal. Despite a high end arsenal of pitches, his deceptive delivery could be a good and a bad thing. It’s a delivery that appears hard to repeat and may even be conducive to injury down the road. Two high end position-player prospects await the Tigers if they want them. They should choose one of those.
2. With baseball on hold, one player always stays on the minds of Tiger fans. Miguel Cabrera. How is he? What has he been doing? Is he still in good shape? Well, Miggy has released a rap single. Is there anything else you need to know?
3. Austin Martin and Spencer Torkelson. They continue to be the most talked about players when it comes to the Tigers and who they will select at #1. I have read quite a bit on these 2 and the Tigers probably can’t go wrong with either, but there is one thing that may separate them. Martin is said to be a player who can play anywhere. And that is all well and good, but what that usually means is that he doesn’t have a position. Let’s take the slam dunk, Torkelson, who will play first base for as long as we can keep him, earn a ton of walks and flat out hit bombs. That’s my take. (Carryover – Let’s carry this one over through the draft.)
4. I am still simmering over the Commissioner and his proposal to dump 42 minor league teams. (This has been a carryover and will continue to be. Sadly, this appears to be something that has legs. Fans continue to fall down the priority list for the Commish.)
5. With the draft the biggest thing to look forward to other than, of course, a season, I am reminded of my dad who always felt that you could never have enough pitching and if there is one pitcher that separates himself from all the rest in the draft, then you should take him. Sorry Dad, but in 2020, I don’t feel that way.
6. It’s amazing what and who can be forgotten about on your team when there is no baseball being played. But if there is a season this year, Michael Fulmer should be part of the starting rotation. And that’s important news for the team. Remember the goal though. When the time is right, he needs to be traded.
7. Throughout the course of the “off-season”, there always seems to be a random article about Daniel Norris. His quirky personality seems to gather interest and for years people have been waiting for a reason to love him. Fans have rooted for him throughout his bout with cancer and all the injuries that have kept him from having success. Will 2020 serve as just another roadblock for the career of Daniel Norris?
8. When I first heard that MLB was targeting the 4th of July as a potential date to start the season, my first thought was, how cool would that be? America’s game kicking off on America’s birthday? My second thought was, that’s going to be tough. (Holdover: Why? Well, think about it. America’s game opening on America’s birthday, without fans? Takes the pizzazz right out of it, doesn’t it?)
9. I have been looking forward to a season of baseball with the universal DH. There, I said it. A traditionalist has indeed gone to the other side. If MLB is going to insist on inter-league play, this is a change that is desperately needed.
10. Players on one-year free agent deals are in never-before-seen situations. They have been introduced in their new cities, met their new teammates and are ready for the next chapter in their careers. Incredibly, they may all be skipping their next chapter. Amazing times indeed. (Update: skipping that next chapter seems more and more real every day, opening up the possibility that these new Tigers will never put on a uniform in Detroit.)
11. It is almost more important from a franchise point of view, for notable prospects not be forced to ‘skip a beat’ this season. Burning a season without competitive play is no good for anyone, but from a developmental standpoint, your future is taking a hit. (Carryover – must stay until future of the 2020 season is decided.)
12. Remember, this is the year where the rule kicks in for the 3-batter minimum for relief pitchers. It’s a new rule I am good with and I am looking forward to seeing how it changes the game. I think it is one of the few good proposals which, remember, changes strategy. It doesn’t remove strategy.
13. If the time comes where minor league baseball is confirmed finished for 2020, the Tigers need to include those AAA arms on the major league roster. Whatever the role, it would be better than no role and going home.
14. We have seen on our own forum, some emotional responses to Justin Verlander and his disappointing responses to questions about the Astros’ cheating scandal. Tiger fans hated it and swore him off as someone they had admired, but no longer. Then Al Kaline died and JV’s fight to hold back tears showed us that he is still one of ours. I think in time fans will forgive him. Time heals. (Carryover: Personally, I have been pleased with how JV and Kate have been so active raising money for all the many causes during this pandemic; raising and giving as a matter of fact. It makes everything else that upset us about JV seem so petty.)
15. Let’s jump back to the DH topic for a minute. With Miggy continuing on as the Tigers’ DH for potentially the rest of his career, it begins to remind me of the tedious situation we were in when VMart was closing out his career on his last contract. Remember how restricted it was on the roster to have a full-time DH with no ability to play a position? Are we heading there again?
16. One more thought on the 3-batter rule. Situational lefties of the past have a job to do. Time to remake themselves. With the days of lefties coming in for one batter over, how many of those pitchers will still be able to be valuable on a major league roster? Or will they make them at all?
17. So many of my thoughts continue to gravitate towards the minor leagues and specifically the Tigers’ system. It’s a shame that emerging talent like Riley Greene has been stifled. But I suppose, in the end, the cream will still rise to the top. Prospects who are able to power through this interruption in the game will show their resiliency.
18. From a fan’s perspective, there is a lot of disdain for any kind of baseball that represents a departure from what we are used to seeing. A drastically shorter season would diminish the accomplishments of the champions when the season is over. The winner standing at the end will always be that asterisk champion. But why is that a problem? Any kind of baseball in this disaster of a year would be huge for the game. And I think it would be huge for fans as well, who will not get the taste they prefer, but it is a taste all the same. Keep in mind that the World Series champion of 2020 would never be forgotten.
19. Highlights from May? Classic games from that 2012 season. So much pitching. So much disappointment. But plenty of action.
20. I have been thinking about this return to baseball all month. What would it take for MLB to have a season? What would bring the 2 sides together? Well, after seeing so many minor leaguers clean out their lockers around baseball, my intensity and desire for seeing the big boys play has switched gears. What does the game need more than anything? It could be that we need a full-on minor league season. After all, the very lifeblood is being sucked from the game from the bottom up with minor league baseball getting bloodied. Sadly though, it is a major stretch to expect to see minor league games in 2020.
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