THE SATURDAY SURVEY

Now that the off-season is here, it’s time to mix things up a little bit at Totally Tigers.  We’re adding another day for readers to weigh in.  For Saturdays, we’re adding a new feature in the form of a poll to gauge the pulse of fans.  And as always, we welcome your comments!



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 SECOND ACT?

On this holiday, let’s take a look back at a previous blog written last month. It’s only fitting that we pay Victor Martinez one last tribute. That is, unless the Tigers get wise and bring him back as a hitting coach. One look at the Tigers’ offensive stats this year, combined with management’s comments, should be proof enough that the team needs a new hitting strategy.

Mr. Avila, are you listening?

Totally Tigers

It is tough being an ageing athlete with an expensive contract. And ironically, many fans blame the player and not the person who developed and OK’d the deal.

Take the case of Victor Martinez.  Mr. I personally made that contract happen when Victor came to him almost 4 years ago to tell him that another team had made a higher bid for his services. It was Mr. I who added that fourth year and VMart accepted it. You’d do the same, too.

Most of us knew the day of reckoning would come sooner or later.  But during the first 3 years of his contract, Victor put up some solid numbers – despite the age, the injuries and the knees.

And towards the end, the ageing process gained the upper hand. Say what you will about VMart, but he was always serious, dedicated and disciplined about the game of baseball –…

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FACING TIGERS IS A PITCHER’S DREAM

In case you were not aware, it’s a holiday weekend. So don’t ‘dis the Chris, because Monday is Columbus Day!

So as many take a break, Totally Tigers will, too.  But take another look at a nugget from a couple months ago.  Don’t want to leave you completely hangin’.

Al Avila, within the last week, talked about how the lineup can’t be filled with .200 hitters. So in honor of those comments, let’s take a look back at a post published in August on the very same subject.

Enjoy the holiday!

Totally Tigers

By:  Kurt Snyder

One question. Yeah right!  One of many.

Has everyone had enough of Lloyd McClendon?

Did the Tiger offense reach a new low in Oakland?

Even in a rebuild, is the pressure off the coaches?

Are they only as good as the players they have in the lineup or do they have a responsibility to have an impact?

Who has improved as a hitter this season? Seriously, who has improved?  Who is better now than they were when the season started?

At what point do you decide to head in a different direction when it comes to your hitting coach?

How many times does a team have to be shutout before we consider the notion that the hitting coach is stinking up a perfectly good uniform?

Are 15 shutouts this season enough? Is that enough for you?

Or was 12 enough last season? Was that enough?

Should the…

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FORUM FOR FRIDAY

Happy 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.


In just the first few days of October, bullpenning, where several relievers cover all nine innings of a game, has invaded the playoffs.  Does this hurt or help the game?

Explain.


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 STARTING POINT

By: Holly Horning

As we all know, the Tigers are in a rebuild.  But what exactly constitutes a “rebuild”?

Is it simply changing the names on the roster or is it something more?

Does it involve a change in strategy?

Does it involve changing how things are done?

If you’ve read any of the books written by those GMs who came into an organization and successful rebuilt their teams, the answer is “yes.”  Most recently, Theo Epstein has emphasized that you need to change the corporate culture first.  That you need to get everyone on board – or get them to leave.  That changes start at the top and trickle all the way down.

And as we know, he was successful in finally changing the Cubs.  But Theo realized that the personnel within the organization was holding them back from becoming a winning culture and he was forced to replace a significant percentage of the Front Office, scouting department and other bits of the Cubs.

He emphasized that when you have a large number of personnel who have been employed by the team for a long time, it is hard to change how things are done, especially when they now skew on the older side.  As stats show, as people age, they are less likely to be flexible, less likely to stay current and proactive, less likely to explore new theories and methods and less likely to change their minds.  Less likely to change their ways.

Simply look around baseball.  It’s happening everywhere.  Gone are the days when GMs and managers worked their way up to their positions after years of working in supporting positions.  The vast majority of GMs now come from outside of baseball and are as young as their mid-30’s.  And more and more managers are coming into the game without having coached or managed.

So what do the Tigers’ personnel look like?

I looked at everyone’s employment history (so you don’t have to) and found a number of patterns.  First, that turnover is almost non-existent.  The only real changes seen have been in developing and hiring the analytics department and some turnover in scouting.   And Ron Gardenhire “inherited” half of his coaching staff.

But all of the most important decision-makers are still there – and have been for quite awhile.  They are the nucleus that have stayed together for decades despite the different teams and several GMs.

Think of the Tigers personnel in the form of a family tree.  Almost everyone is “related” to everyone else.  There are very few people who have come from other teams without a work history that ties back to the Tigers.  It is a very insular group which means that how things are seen and analyzed tend to be of the same group-think.

The main branch is related to Dave Dombrowski with a secondary branch associated with Jim Leyland.

Dave’s first real job with power was with Montreal, followed by the Marlins and finally, the Tigers.  He brought a number of personnel with him from Montreal to Florida and finally to Detroit.  Many of the employees still found in the Tigers’ directory.

Employees who go back decades with Dave.  We’re talking all the way back to the 1980’s.

And of course, Jim Leyland managed the Marlins under Dombrowski.  But there is also a chunk of personnel that date back to his days with the Pirates.

It all makes for a small, insular group of similarly-minded employees who have known each other for decades.  They are comfortable with each other.  And most probably, loathe to rock the boat or even want someone new with fresh, advanced ideas about how to rebuild to join their cozy club.  Replacing someone within their own family would be unthinkable.

And when Trader Dave left Detroit, he took no Tigers personnel with him.  It was reported that Avila’s first job was to lock everyone into contracts so they couldn’t leave for Boston.

I’ve assembled a list of the most important personnel with the dates that first ties them to the organization.

These dates include:

–      When they first started working for Dave (Expos, Marlins, Tigers) or Leyland (Pirates, Marlins, Tigers).

–      In a few cases, some left the Tigers for a year or two and then returned.  Not everyone listed has been continuously employed by Detroit the entire time.

–      A number of the most influential employees do not have resumes that are made available to the public.  If you don’t see a certain name, that is why.

–      In most cases, the doctors do not list the length of time they have been working with the Tigers.  It also appears that 2-3 of them are employed under the umbrella of sports medicine company founded by one of them.  From the information found, it would appear they were hired as a package deal rather than hired based upon their independent qualifications.  They work for the same company as well as the same hospital.  Several of them report that they are also the team doctors to the Wings, Lions and Pistons.

FRONT OFFICE

Al Avila – 1992

Duane McLean – 2003

David Chadd – 2001

Scott Bream – 1999

Dave Littlefield – 1994

SPECIAL ASSISTANTS

All former Tigers players – Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Alan Trammell, Dick Egan who have been in their positions for decades for different owners and multiple GMs.

Jim Leyland – A special assistant since 2013 but dates all the way back to 1963 with the Tigers.

Mike Russell – 1996

ANALYTICS

Jay Sartori – 2016

Sam Menzin – 2012

Jim Logue – 2016

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

Manny Crespo – 1996

Tom Moore – 2006

(Four others who have no findable bios.)

SCOUTING

Scott Pleis – 2007

Bruce Tanner – 2007 (but even earlier with Jim Leyland)

Eric Nieto – 2013

Randy Johnson – early 2000’s

Jim Olander – early 2000’s

Jimmy Rough – early 2000’s

Murray Cook – early 2000’s

Don Kelly – 2001 (as scout since 2015)

Joe Ferrone – 2003

Ray Crone – 2015

Jim Elliott – 2017

Kevin Ellis – 2017

Paul Mirocke – 2017

Yadalla Mufdi – 2017

MEDICAL/TRAINING/CONDITIONING

Kevin Rand – 1993

Doug Teter – 1995

Matt Rankin – 1996

Robbie Williams – 2017

Chris Walter – 2005

Yousef Zamat – 2006

DOCTORS

Michael Workings – no published date

Stephen Lemos – 2006

Louis Saco – no published date

MANAGER AND COACHES

Ron Gardenhire – 2018

Lloyd McClendon – 1990

Phil Clark – 1992

Rick Anderson – 2018

Ramon Santiago – 2002

Dave Clark – 1992

Steve Liddle – 2018

Jeff Pico – 2018

Joe Vavra – 2018

John Murrian – 2009

What will the off-season bring?

Probably no real changes as it pertains to the personnel behind the scenes.  It’s already been announced that every single coach will be returning next year.

No surprise there.

Will we witness more of the same group-think?  Will we finally see the Tigers take that leap forward and surprise us with some cutting-edge changes?

Will this be a complete or partial rebuild?

As long as the power structure doesn’t change, can we expect more of the same?

LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS

By:  Holly Horning

It started with the Justin Verlander interview that seemed to question the accuracy and level of care he received when he was with Detroit. A mere week later, a young reliever unintentionally revealed on tv that he learned about the importance of a strong core for the first time from a doctor outside of the organization. Shortly thereafter, John Hicks became the 4th Tiger in 4 years to have core muscle surgery.

But it was Kirk Gibson who fully blew the lid off during both Saturday’s and Sunday’s telecasts.

After the departure of Michael Fulmer, Gibby mentioned that Fulmer had been having knee problems, including pain, all season. He also said it was no secret within the clubhouse.

Gibson then explained how any injury can negatively impact a pitcher. Logically, a pitcher will try to avoid the pain by favoring other parts of the body to take more of the workload. This, in turn, can easily change his mechanics and delivery. And thus create a situation where a pitcher becomes erratic in his starts and performance.

Doesn’t this describe Fulmer’s performance this year in a nutshell?

Of course, all of this is interesting because fans never heard a peep out of the Tigers about Fulmer’s knee all season. Maybe it had to do with HIPAA laws. Or maybe Fulmer insisted on continuing to pitch. Or maybe it had to do with other motives.

Most disturbing obviously, is that he continued to pitch despite being injured. And we saw the results. Both in his stats and also in his starts. Every month, save one, there were at least 1-2 games in which he was unable to pitch beyond the 3rd or 4th inning.

And on Saturday, he threw exactly 5 pitches before leaving. All 5 were described by his catcher as being off and different from his usual stuff. Was no one watching Fulmer as he warmed up before the game?

And now it’s been revealed that Michael has a torn meniscus that will require surgery.  Actually, this will be his second surgery on the same knee with the first one back in 2013.

Gee, what a surprise.

But the Tigers have yet to say a word about his year-long knee pain. And that is the greatest mystery of all.

Was it because Fulmer wouldn’t release the information or was it because the Tigers were desperate to trade their last viable trade chip and didn’t want to scare away suitors?

Did Fulmer insist on pitching or did the Tigers turn a blind eye and allow him to pitch in order to showcase him? Could there actually be a situation where risking the long-term viability of a starting pitcher takes a back seat in the attempt to trade him?

Don’t you wish you were a fly on the wall?

The organization did, however, talk about his other injuries this year. The oblique strain that required over a month on the DL. Then, the meniscus. As if they were two separate unrelated injuries.

But if you ask most professional trainers, coaches and physical therapists, they will tell you that it is very likely that the knee pain (and damaged meniscus during that time) was the catalyst for the oblique. When one part of the body is hurt, alignment is thrown off that creates imbalance, and thus, further injury in other parts of the body.

As Justin Verlander pointed out, his injuries were the symptoms of a root injury, not the cause. His doctors had to look elsewhere for what was creating them.

And it is much more likely that Fulmer’s injuries and ineffectiveness are due to the knee disintegration and pain over the course of the year that changed his alignment and mechanics as he sought to compensate for the weaknesses.

We can only hope that he and his (continuing) mentor, JV, have had some serious discussions about how to be pro-active and find the right medical personnel and solutions.

In the meantime, this news certainly checks the boxes as the latest incident supporting the cavalier attitude taken by this club towards their players’ health and effectiveness. It appears that Fulmer will join that long list of Tigers like JV, Miggy, Zimmermann and others who have now spent years trying to regain fully functional physical form.

And the eternal question about the inability to protect a team’s most valuable assets goes on…


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 LONG JOURNEY TO DISCOVERY

Since this blog was published earlier this month, the Tigers have lost 3 more players to core injury-related problems. John Hicks is the 4th Tiger in 4 years to have the surgery and out for the rest of the year. And Jose Iglesias, now the poster child for the lack of proper core training, injured his by merely running to first base.

He joins Norris, Hicks, Miggy, Carpenter, Coleman and Fulmer with core injuries this year. What are the chances that Fulmer has called close friend and mentor Justin Verlander to discuss his medical concerns and proper treatment?

And speaking of JV………..

 

 

Totally Tigers

By:  Holly Horning

Many fans thought about it. Wondered about it. And given the pattern and numerous examples over the years, came to believe in it.

And if you were looking for confirmation, you’ve come to the right place.

So what is it?

It’s the long-running hot topic about some of those who care for Tigers’ players when it comes to keeping them healthy. They may not be doing their jobs as well as they could be.

And you’d have plenty of proof even if you only looked at the history since 2012.

You could even ask Justin Verlander because he did an extensive interview that called out the Tigers’ staff for poor conditioning and “misdiagnosing” him over a period of 3 years.

If you haven’t read it by now, the writer starts by describing JV’s “scars” – both physical and mental – and his anger over that long journey…

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NICK NEEDS TO BECOME A STAR

The Tigers closed out a series on the 4th of July at Wrigley on Wednesday. As has been the norm of late, the team struggled to score runs. After another Castellanos homer, Rod Allen said doesn’t want to be good, he wants to be great. Given that, I had to repost the blog below. Enjoy it again as you continue your holiday. Happy 4th!

Totally Tigers

By:  Kurt Snyder

Nicholas Castellanos is a major league outfielder who is a talented hitter and emerging leader with the Tigers.

But the problem is – I am done. That’s it.  That’s all I have for you, folks!

Castellanos will head into a trade deadline next month with no emerging contract offer on the table. He will be one of a few Tigers expected to be on the trading block.

Why?  Well, we all know why. He can’t play the outfield a lick. And it is hurting his stock in a big way. He was an emerging hitter as a third baseman for a few years, but he couldn’t play there either, so the Tigers have an issue.

They have a talented one-tool player they would like to deal, mainly because, well, he’s a one-tool player. There will be no big money, long-term deal for a player who can only…

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JUST-IN TIME

As we celebrate this great country on the Fourth of July, here’s an earlier blog that is still relevant today. And as the year moves forward, and we head into July, there is an increasing fan voice about bringing up some of these youngsters. Is it time to see what we’ve got? It is time to sit some of the older players or those who are just here for the year? Should this be a true rebuild or should we gradually slide into it? All good questions that will hopefully be answered shortly.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Totally Tigers

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…

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READERS WEIGH IN

Holidays always mean more opportunities for our readers to get their hands dirty and dig into more topics. We can’t wait to hear your answers to the following question.

Enjoy the 4th!


If you could make only one change to this team, what would it be?


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/.