November 01, 2013

Tigers Outlook for the Offseason

How can the Tigers be even better next season? 

  • Hire a manager who will be more aggressive with the offense and push the bullpen to be more efficient. The manager is the field leader who drive the ship. The Tigers played well this season and lost the ALCS to the Red Sox. And with a bit more speed on the bases, better base running, and a more efficient and effective bullpen, they would have been better. Right now, I think the best choice is Torey Lovullo. I think he will bring a new perspective to the Tigers. It may help that he's coming from the team that one it all — one that does a couple of things the Tigers need to improve upon.
  • Get a lefty in the rotation. Drew Smyly is already here, so he may be a great choice. Sure, it would possibly require trading a current starter to make room for Smyly in the rotation. Having at least one lefty in the rotation would be a benefit both through the season and in to the playoffs. Rick Porcello hasn't pitched 200 innings in any of his five seasons but he has been consistent. He's not a power pitcher, doesn't strike out a ton of people, but he does okay. He may be an 18–game winner on a team with good infield defense but that's not guaranteed. Keeping an "okay" pitcher on a potential championship team would be akin to moving forward with Brad Penny — who I didn't realize had pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 2012.  
  • Replace a few of the coaches when the new manager (Lovullo) comes in. I know that there is a belief (see Bo Schembehler's belief in "the Michgian Man") that sometimes it pays to stay inside. But Lloyd McClendon, Tom Brookens, and Gene Lamont are not the answer to replace Jim Leyland. In fact, I would argue that they should all be replaced. I feel like the Tigers are at a point where a new "idea" needs to be put in place. Sure, Leyland guided the team to the playoffs in four of his eight seasons and to the Championship Series in all four of those playoff seasons. But, the Tigers have not won a World Championship. It seems that it always comes down to poor defense, inconsistent bullpen, and lack of what they call team speed. I hope that the Tigers go outside the organization to hire a new manager and allow that person to bring in his own staff — similar to how Leyland was allowed to bring in all of the former Pirate managers. 
  • Consider trading Austin Jackson and investing in a true lead off hitter who can set the table. Jackson is a good outfielder and can be a good hitter. He's a good defensive outfielder but not necessarily great. The market for him might not be that great — but maybe they could move him. Although he compares favorably to Coco Crisp at a similar age — I wonder what the upside to Jackson will be. Crisp has been dealt several times but he's blossomed in Oakland. Can you imagine Crisp in the Tigers line–up? What if Jackson can somehow turn it up and become more similar to Crisp? The Tigers need a leadoff hitter — and signing Curtis Granderson, putting him in leftfield, and batting him leadoff is not the answer. Now, signing Granderson and batting him sixth or seventh … that may be an answer. But that doesn't solve the leadoff dilemma. 
  • Let Joaquin Benoit go. He's an okay set–up man and did okay as the closer. But not in the playoffs. I don't know if I endorse spending big bucks going outside the organization and spending big bucks on an ace reliever; I'd rather see if Bruce Rondon could become that closer. Wait, didn't we go down that road last year? The Red Sox pulled Koji Uehara basically off the trash heap last winter and put him in the bullpen. Now, a look at his career stats shows that he's been solid since coming up; however, there must be a reason that he didn't last in Baltimore or Texas. But, I was at the game that Andrew Bailey went down as the closer for the Sox (a week–end in Detroit when the Tigers took three of four) and they were forced to make a new decision. Uehara was the man for the Sox — and the new man is out there somewhere for the Tigers to find. 

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