Grading teams in February is dangerous. Last offseason, everyone was all aboard the San Diego Padres hype train after they retooled their roster in one busy winter. The Washington Nationals have been proclaimed World Series champions multiple times in the past three years with only one division title to show for it. Everyone loved what the Boston Red Sox did last winter and they finished in last place.
So when our friends at MLB Daily Dish group the Detroit Tigers among the winners of the offseason, take it with a grain of salt. The Tigers have done well this winter, signing Jordan Zimmermann, Justin Upton, and Mike Pelfrey (maybe) to go along with a few savvy trades, but there are still questions abound throughout the roster. The bullpen will be better, but how much better? Can the starting rotation rebound from an abysmal 2015 season? Is Victor Martinez's knee actually held together with paper clips and bubble gum?
The computers share this apprehension. FanGraphs projects the Tigers for an 82-win season while Baseball Prospectus has the Tigers at 83 wins. The good news? That's good (bad?) enough for second and first in the AL Central, respectively.
This is thanks to a lackluster offseason from everyone else in the division. Neither the Indians nor the White Sox have done diddly, leaving their fans pondering the meaning of life (but hey, food is good). The Royals signed Ian Kennedy to a puzzling deal, while the highlight of the Twins' offseason was Phil Hughes making an inappropriate joke on Twitter.
@baseball_ref nice— Phil Hughes (@PJHughes45) January 26, 2016
Bring it on, 2016.
Evaluating GMs is hard, man
We have spent most of the offseason looking at former general manager Dave Dombrowski through a new light, but everyone else seems to like what he's doing in Boston. Acquiring two relievers (instead of one) qualifies as an evolution, it seems, while Dombrowski himself said some familiar things about his out-and-out desire for an ace atop the Red Sox pitching staff.
Then there are people questioning whether Theo Epstein deserves a contract extension. I mean, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
The part where we link a bunch of FanGraphs stuff
Tanking is being treated like a seven-letter word in the NBA these days, yet is enough of a strategy to keep Sam Hinkie employed for multiple years. Now, it might be making its way to baseball. So long as the Tigers sweep the Atlanta Braves at the end of the season, I'm very neutral to this tactic.
The best lede of the year goes to...
Jordan Zimmermann woke up Tuesday morning, read the report from the Associated Press that MLB appears to be considering a raising of the strike zone, yawned, took another sip of coffee, and quietly went back to working on the day’s crossword puzzle from The New York Times.
Jeff Sullivan is good at his job. So is George Springer, if you're looking for a reason to click that link.
I hope you like Rod Allen and Jack Morris
Because Kirk Gibson is now the Tigers' baserunning instructor. This is bittersweet, as Gibby and Mario Impemba developed some nice chemistry in the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast booth last year. They won't be calling any Jefry Marte bat flips either, because he was traded to the Angels. Lynn Henning likes prospects.