With the last place predictions beginning to roll in, it’s much easier to look backward than forward. That’s what our own Kyle Yost did in highlighting the relative stability of the Tigers’ roster through the past decade. It’s a tough exercise during these hard times to remember how good we had it. But after years of familiar stars, the 2018 Detroit Tigers will be barely recognizable.
No position personifies that more than the utility spot, where the Tigers have brought in three new names to compete for the surprisingly fan-friendly position previously occupied by the likes of Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago and Andrew Romine. The newest one is Alexi Amarista, who played for the Colorado Rockies in 2017.
With change comes promise. Earlier this week, three Tigers were named in Baseball Prospectus’ top 100 prospect rankings, with a couple other players likely hanging right outside the top 100. The farm system is finally an exciting place, and you can bet many fans will be watching the minors closer than the majors this year.
Other players that have been stuck in the minors, like Christin Stewart, will finally get their shot in 2018. With the departure of so much talent, the organization will be dipping into their minor league coffers early and often. So while it may take a while to get to acclimate yourself to the roster, hopefully some of the new names you learn turn into household names soon enough.
I miss Miggy in my life
An all-time classic. #MiggyMondays pic.twitter.com/dpnrk9zvIQ— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) January 15, 2018
Familiar faces elsewhere
As the list of familiar current Tigers shrinks, the list of former Tigers playing in new locations continues to grow. Doug Fister will be producing ground ball outs for the Texas Rangers, while Austin Jackson received a two-year deal with the San Francisco Giants who seem obsessed with signing every outfielder possible. With Justin Verlander in Houston, Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler now working for the Angels, and J.D. Martinez presumably signing to play baseball at some point this year, the presence of Tigers past will still be a force around the league.
With the Tigers likely headed for a poor 2018, there is at least one silver lining: all of the free stuff! I have to say, the promotional giveaways are excellent this year, highlighted by the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1968 World Series victory and the Hall of Fame victory tour for Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. I personally have my eye on the Patriotic Miller Lite Pitcher. Special shout out to whoever engineered the Ron Garden(hire) Gnome idea. Incredible branding.
Over in Okmulgee
Evan Woodberry takes a look at Ron Gardenhire’s journey to Tigers manager, with a spotlight on his humble beginnings in Oklahoma. For all of you who want Gardenhire to incorporate analytics more, you have an unlikely ally.
“Now, I would never try to give Ronnie any advice, because he’s a baseball guy,” says barber Roger Kovarik as he makes the final clips of the haircut, “but I always wanted him to get into sabermetrics.”
For the love of God, even your barber wants you to look at some data. Fire up the computers, Ron.
Around the horn
The Tigers may add another retread starting pitcher on a minor league contract. Can’t hurt, I guess. The Brewers have been surprisingly active, offering a contract to Yu Darvish and inquiring on Christian Yelich. More Eric Hosmer warnings. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. just got MLB Pipeline’s first 80-grade hit tool.