July 09, 2017

Supply, Demand, & the Future of the Detroit Nine


As you've read here and everywhere else recently, this is a lost season for the Major League Baseball team in Detroit. The Club is struggling. You could argue that this team is more talented that the 2006 club that had a great manager and a hunger — not to mention just three seasons removed from a 119–loss debacle. A season that, in retrospect, was more enjoyable than the current season. And I'm not just saying that. That team was bad, and we knew it.


I don't know if Al Avila can pull off any miracles. I'm not talking about a miracle to save this season because I don't think this season can be salvaged. This team is a mess from the top down. Brad Ausmus has not made good choices on his coaches, and perhaps we was guided by management in making those decisions. Jeff Jones was ravaged often as the pitching coach; however, Rich Dubee seems to have messed things up majorly. In fact, you can see that Anibal Sanchez went down to Toledo and came back improved, but that didn't happen while working with Dubee in the cities with the tall buildings. Of course, Lloyd McClendon just seems to wander back to Detroit regularly. You have to wonder why Wally Joyner left the organization (in a timely manner). The hitters have regressed this season, which may be natural.


The Tigers miss the energy of Cameron Maybin. Maybin has been moved a great deal in his career, so he may be more of a burden than his leadership seems to offer. You can't help but wonder why people are frequently traded during their careers, you can only make assumptions. You have to go back to December 2, 2013, to understand the unraveling of the Detroit Tigers. That's the day the Tigers shocked everyone by shipping Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals in exchange for Robbie Ray, Steve Lombardozzi, and Ian Krol. The Tigers quickly soured on Ray and shipped him out in a deal that netted the Tigers Shane Greene. Now, Ray is an all star for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I site that day as a watershed moment in the Tigers unraveling. The 2013 season should have been one that we celebrate forever; however, the Boston Red Sox pulled off a big series win and ultimately won a World Series. I can't complain too much about ?Dombrowski's trades because he somehow jettisoned Prince Fielder (and his contract) to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler on November 20 of the same off season.


Can Al Avila do anything to initiate change to the organization? Rumors persist that a couple of teams are interested in last year's American League Cy Young runner up, Justin Verlander. Verlander is not having a good season in 2017; however, he may be valuable to a contending team like the Chicago Cubs or Las Angeles Dodgers. It's a shame the team couldn't move him in the off season because his value was high. Maybe one of the teams could send us a prospect or two to the Tigers for a future Hall of Famer. Something might be possible. JD Martinez should command three decent prospects in the right deal; perhaps a return to the Houston Astros. He's a slugger who will immediately help a contender. Justin Wilson is a perfect fit for another trade with the Washington Nationals. I don't know that the Nats have any prospects they could ship our way, but they need to figure out how to acquire Wilson. He'll be lights out in D.C. and help carry the Nats over the Dodgers in the NL. The Nats absolutely have to find a closer and his name is not K–Rod, who they signed (and are having the Tigers pay). Justin Upton is having a great season, but it's unlikely anyone would want to trade for him because of his opt out possibilities after the season. The Tigers could deal him for little in return, as well. Jose Iglesias could also bring something in return.


The Tigers' young pitchers have good futures. Michael Fulmer is a certain ace and Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris both have upsides. I believe the first round draft pick Alex Faedo also has a solid future. The Tigers have to build a bullpen, as well. You've certainly heard that before. Finally, the Tigers have to build a team for Comerica Park for the first time in 17 seasons. The Tigers home ballpark is one that should require excellent defense and a quick team; however, the Tigers currently have three of the slowest players in baseball. The Tigers need to acquire or promote a fast center fielder who can leadoff and make things happen from that spot in the batting order. They then need to find someone who can play defense at third base. I don't know if Nicholas Castellano will develop as we have expected. He's on a pace to hit .245 with 20 HR and 90 RBI, but his defense hurts the team overall. Kinsler has had a great career, but Omar Infante could man second base during a transition period. The team can't move the legendary Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez has cement holding him to his contract in Detroit (one more season at $18 million with a full no trade clause).


The off season will also help, as Sanchez's contract will be off the books at a cost of a $5 million buyout. Kinsler has a club option for a $10 million contract which would be worth doing if they don't move him prior. Jordan Zimmermann is signed through 2020 at nearly $20 million a season — a contract that is an albatross. The Tigers also owe the Rangers $18 million toward Fielder's contract. The Tigers have only seven players signed for 2018 and the amount of salary there is already $150 million. Cabrera, Verlander, Zimmermann, Upton, Victor Martinez make up much of that. Kinsler and Sanchez are also factored in to that cost and it could change. The Tigers have to find a way to pare some salary and begin building for a sustainable future.

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