The promotion of Al Avila to general manager of the Detroit Tigers was a surprise due to the circumstances, but not because of the man himself. Avila has long been thought one of the most savvy and connected men in the game. Known in particular for discovering the teenage Miguel Cabrera, Avila is deeply tied both through his experience and his father's legacy to baseball in Latin America. Scott Mowers of Minor League Ball compares and contrasts Avila's old-school roots against Dave Dombrowski's new general manager, Mike Hazen and his unique path to the front office.
Al Avila is the first Cuban-born general manager in baseball history. Obviously, Avila is also strongly associated with Venezuela from his work in scouting and player development there with both the Marlins and the Tigers. Venezuelan baseball operations have become fraught by political difficulties and unrest in recent years. The Tigers are one of only a handful of franchises who continue to support a full scouting and player development operation in the South American nation. His father's legacy in the Dominican Republic, and the family's Cuban heritage also lead one to expect the Tigers to continue and hopefully expand their operations in the region.
Family ties won't be enough to entice top international prospects from the rapidly opening Cuban market to the Tigers. However, fans can certainly hope that Avila's long-standing emphasis on the Latin American market will lead to a much greater investment in international free agent signings. While that commitment will have to come from ownership, the Tigers have never invested much money comparable to other large market franchises. In the process, they've limited their reach there, and probably hampered the farm system in the process.
Avila has already named rebuilding the farm system and player development system as one of his primary priorities. While his work this offseason will be of a short-term nature, attempting to get the Tigers back on track to contend in 2016, it will be his success with the farm system that may well determine the Tigers long-term future as stars like Cabrera and Justin Verlander reach the waning years of their careers.
Ausmus hopes to fine-tune Tigers’ baserunning - The Detroit News, Chris McCosky
We've heard this tune before. Despite their excellent numbers at the plate in most categories, their meager run totals are in large part the fault of Ausmus and the Tigers' inability to improve their baserunning efficiency.
J.D. Martinez joins Tigers elite with first 100-RBI season of career - Oakland Press, Matthew B. Mowery
Just a year and a half after being released by the Houston Astros, J.D. Martinez made his first All-Star game appearance. Yesterday he cracked the 100-RBI mark for the first time in his career. Its been a meteoric rise to stardom, and while J.D. has changed as a result, his approach and work ethic have not.
How'd Justin Verlander get over '14 loss? Quite drunk with Kate Upton - Detroit Free Press, Steve Schrader
You weren't alone JV...With the Tigers' ace in brilliant form again, the Tigers have a strong anchor to build a new starting rotation around. There were times last year when most of the fanbase thought he'd never get it back. Sounds like Verlander had a few of those nights too.
In Jonathan Papelbon-Bryce Harper fight, media has lost objectivity; players overwhelmingly support pitcher - FOX Sports, C.J. Nitkowski
I link this mainly so that you can point and laugh at C.J. Nitkowski for this obtuse piece of nonsense. I'm sure C.J. still wishes he had some rookies to haze.
When Teammates Fight: An Ugly History - The New York Times, Victor Mather
The confrontation between Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper was too short to really tell us much about what would've happened had teammates not intervened. This was indeed fortunate for Papelbon. As a result their scrap falls way down the list of the ugliest, nastiest fights between teammates in baseball history.
The AL Cy Young Discussion - FanGraphs, Tony Blengino
David Price has made a very strong case to win his second Cy Young award, but the voters are arbitrary in their choices, and a few other candidates still have a shot to make their case in their final starts of the year.
Searching for Clarity in the Closely Contested Carlos Correa vs. Francisco Lindor AL Rookie of the Year Debate - Grantland, Michael Baumann
I'm going with Correa, and I'd advise Jose Iglesias to hit the weight room hard this off-season if he wants to remain in the conversation as one of the elite shortstops in the American League.
An Update on Drones in Sports – TechGraphs, Brice Russ
Be afraid sports fans. The time of the drones is nigh...