On holiday weekends, and in particular, this President’s Day, we like to step back and offer you a look back at some past blogs that may still have interest today. Back in November 2016, we were uncertain about who would stay and who would go.
JD Martinez was the player most talked about leaving first. So at the time, it was appropriate to remind everyone how the Tigers found JD and how he had become a star in Detroit.
This look back at Diamonds in the Rough will serve as a reminder of how much we needed to appreciate JD. His path since leaving the Tigers has taken a strange turn, from budding star to a free agent waiting to find another home. Let’s take a look back…
FROM NOVEMBER 2016
The Tigers had no business signing Justin Upton, knowing what was to come for JD Martinez. They needed to take care of their own before they brought in a fresh, shiny new toy who would command the money you would need later.
Diamonds in the rough. They are hard to find. They are so very precious when you get one. And now as the Tigers set a new c
They are a baseball scouting department’s dream. Low cost talent. Untapped potential. Nothing to lose. Potential diamonds in the rough.
Scouts spend their careers constantly looking for these players. They are players withering on the vine. Still young, but wearing out their welcome with their current teams. Raw talent that can’t turn the corner.
Sometimes they need a new vantage point. A new set of eyes. The proverbial change in scenery. Or maybe they just need more time.
JD Martinez was that player for the Houston Astros. He was drafted in 2009 and released in 2014. An outfielder with power but not much else. The Tigers had been watching him from afar, actually attempting to trade for him long before he was released.
That’s why 2 days after he was released, he was signed by the Tigers. Here was a player we know now, was a tireless student of the game. How much the Tigers knew that at the time is in question. But part of JD’s story was a swing change he was making prior to being released from the Astros. And it turned out to be a change that translated into JD becoming one of the most feared power hitters in the American League.
We are not used to the Tigers finding guys like this. Diamonds in the rough. Untapped potential ready to explode. But they certainly struck gold when they found JD Martinez.
But in 3 short seasons, the Tigers are changing dramatically as a franchise. Always the spenders under Mike Ilitch, the Tigers are now looking to cut back. And their most productive offensive players are now being offered up on the trade market; with one, JD Martinez, at or near the top of that list.
What are they looking for? What does the future hold? We all have our opinions. We can only go by what the Tigers have chosen to tell us. Get younger. Get leaner. But still be competitive. Well, sometimes those ingredients don’t all go together. A good reason why most of us are scratching our heads about what is really going on here in Detroit.
Mike Ilitch doesn’t make public appearances anymore. Chris Ilitch does. And ironically, as Mr. I fades into the background, the foreground is changing. The Tigers landscape is being reshaped.
The Tigers success has had a ceiling for 10 years. At their zenith, they tap out just short of World Championships. Most of the time, they have spent big to get better. Sure, you always look for that diamond, but most of the time, teams get too impatient. Ownership and fan bases demand winning and immediate gratification. So that mindset doesn’t leave much time or room for the search for those diamonds.
Now JD Martinez isn’t perfect. He ranks as a below-average outfielder defensively. But that’s not where he is going to make his money. He will make it because of what he gives you with the bat. He will command a lot of money as a free agent after the 2017 season. And it scares the Tigers.
But they have blown it with JD Martinez. They should be commended for watching him and keeping tabs on his progress while with Houston. They should be lauded for jumping all over the opportunity to grab him when he became available. They saw something in him they liked and they were dead right.
But they blew it. Mike Ilitch has become a knee jerk owner over the years. Just when you think the Tigers have enough star power, Mike wants another. General Managers are asked to do things under Ilitch that are against their better judgment when they look at what is ahead.ourse, a jewel like JD may be jettisoned for players hopefully just like him when he arrived. The signing of Upton has necessitated this. The situation has shown no forethought.
Diamonds in the rough? Generally you treasure them and protect them when you find them.
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