Tigers owner Mike Ilitch doesn't spend a lot of time hobnobbing with the sports media. However, with his baseball team about to begin the second playoff appearance under the 19 years of his ownership, Ilitch spoke with Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnowski.
I think the highlight isn't so much talking about this year's team, or Dave Domrbrowski and Jim Leyland, or his feelings about Randy Smith's tenure, all topics Ilitch was asked about. I actually pricked my attention to a statement about the offseason.
Q . Your payroll is in better shape with some big contracts going away. You feel good about the direction of the Tigers?
A . Yeah, but I'm challenged to keep it there like the Yankees and the Red Sox. I haven't totally zeroed in on our payroll yet. What I'm still trying to figure out is what we need for next year. I want to be in a position to make one or two additions, and generally, they're pretty big additions.
Q . So you could add a couple of big-time players?
A . Yes. I'm already thinking about that. Can you imagine another big bat in our lineup?
Actually, no, I can't imagine it. I'm not even sure where you could get one for a position the Tigers needed, either. But I certainly believe they'll give it the ol' college try and bring some name player in.
As I mentioned earlier, former GM Randy Smith was another topic. But it goes beyond that, actually. Wojo asked Ilitch about the losing years, which basically made up the first two-thirds of Ilitch's ownership of the Tigers. Ilitch pin-pointed a couple of mistakes. One was having too much faith in his abilities thanks to his ownership of the Red Wings. He said he didn't really take the time to get to know baseball people, other owners, and get "wired" into the MLB. He learned from that. As for Smith, Ilitch said it took a few years to really realize he had a bad administration running the club. And once he did, it took a few years to get out of that hole. Still looking back he stuck with Smith "way too long." We can all agree with that point!
It's a good interview. I don't want to reprint too much of it. But those were the topics that drew my interest.