As we prepare to close out the month of January, we find ourselves roughly two short weeks from the beginning of spring training. TigerFest has come and gone, and with it came the kind of exposure to players and management that results in a variety of interesting tidbits to chew on while we wait out these final weeks without baseball. Let’s get to it.
Ron Gardenhire is doing the right things
New manager Ron Gardenhire has yet to step onto the field to direct his new team, but what he has done off the field has gone a long way to making him an early fan favorite. At TigerFest he interacted with fans and left people feeling that they were dealing with someone who was genuine — which was backed up by media members who know him from his time in Minnesota. He took a few minutes to sit outside of Comerica Park and play a card game called Oh Hell with waiting fans. I was under the impression that it was illegal to play anything but Euchre in the state of Michigan, but I’m not up on Michigan gaming law. While he did mention that he sensed some uneasiness, Gardenhire seems to have the impression that he’s working with an excited group of players who are ready to get to spring training and get started.
It’s good to see Gardenhire making a strong first impression as a likable manager. Let’s hope it’s one that doesn’t evaporate after a few bullpen meltdowns.
Let’s slow down a bit, Nick
Evan Woodbery of MLive talked with Nicholas Castellanos about his first full season in right field.
Castellanos glad he got his feet wet in RF last year, but wants to be better in 2018: "I'm excited to get really good. I want to be called a very good outfielder." https://t.co/KVBWrmi3vg— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) January 27, 2018
I’m glad he’s excited, and I hope we get to call him a very good outfielder. On the spectrum of how I would like to refer to Castellanos as a defensive player I would settle for anything above “unmitigated disaster.” Let’s start there and work our way up.
At least we earned our rebuild
We sit in a stagnant offseason where we prepare to roll into February with names like J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, and Yu Darvish still on the market, and people are questioning why that is. It would seem that there are more teams than ever that are openly entering 2018 with absolutely no intention of competing in any meaningful way. Alex Putterman of The Comeback broke down who the quitters are.
The Tigers find themselves slotted in the “Not Even Pretending To Try” category — the lowest level of the rankings — with six other franchises. Putterman leaves the judging of who should be shamed and who shouldn’t to the reader. When it comes to the Tigers, Jon Heyman thinks they should get a pass.
this list has half the league not trying very hard. (me: detroit's allowed, they overspent for years in hopes of winning, most of the other needs have some splainin to do) https://t.co/9cwJe5gS26— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 27, 2018
I can’t say I disagree.
Rotation things are happening
It appears as though one of the team’s more reliable bullpen pieces wants a shot at the rotation. Alex Wilson says he has had conversations with the organization and is all set to make a go of it as a starter in spring training. Based on Chris McCosky’s article in the Detroit News, Wilson has a definite plan in place. He says he has been working on his changeup all offseason, and thinks his ability to locate his pitches will go a long way in helping him as a starter. If nothing else, this should provide for an interesting story to follow leading up to Opening Day.
In the latest game of “Who’s going to be a starting pitcher?” George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press sees McCosky’s Wilson and raises him a Blaine Hardy. If you’re okay with AWilson making a run at the rotation, perhaps you’d like to jump aboard the Blaine Train. According to Sipple, Hardy will get his shot too.
As for the bona fide members of the rotation, Jordan Zimmermann is hoping one preseason shot in the neck is enough to help him get through the entire 2018 season without any of the issues that have plagued his short Tigers career. It would be great if he’s right.
Old man yells at cloud
One of the more surprisingly controversial issues of recent days has been the changes the team announced they were making regarding the uniform and cap the players will be wearing for 2018. While the jersey changes didn’t seem to be that big of a deal, people are notably displeased about the decision to make the D on the caps bigger.
The charge is lead by Tony Paul, who wrote in his article for the Detroit News that “The new hats look like knockoffs, the kind you’d get for 5 bucks at a gas station.” Tony isn’t the only one who feels this way. We have members of the BYB staff who think the hat change is ill-advised and ugly as well.
I’m sorry, but I can’t muster the energy to get that bent out of shape about making the logo on the hat marginally bigger than it has been in the past. Yes, it’s a money grab, but it’s no more of a money grab than any of the numerous special event jerseys they offer up every year. I’ll admit it’s an unnecessary change, but most uniform changes are. If they had changed the logo to two large block D’s — one pink and one orange — and announced that the team was now going to be called the Detroit Dunkin Donuts, then by all means, riot in the streets. It seems like we’re getting a little too bothered by a change no one is going to care about in a couple years.
And there's your difference in the size of the D on the new #Tigers caps. Horrific. (Photo by @evanwoodbery) pic.twitter.com/fJqjAqJvhH— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) January 27, 2018
Who’s counting, anyway?
Noah Syndergaard may be putting a little too much thought into counting down the days until spring training.
18 days till pitchers and catchers report. There are more letters in the phrase “pitchers and catchers” than days before spring training. pic.twitter.com/726r0PNPRU— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) January 26, 2018
There are many ways to know spring training is close. There are the tweets like Mr. Syndergaard’s above and the lengthening of the days to name two, but there are few lead pipe lock indicators like the emergence of the “Best Shape of His Life” article.
Send up the flares and sound the alarms, folks. We have one of those articles on our hands. Come along and read about how a svelte Joe Jimenez is ready to take on 2018.
Daniel Norris was a frustrating Tiger to watch in 2017. His talent was apparent, but he struggled with his game, and as hard as it was for fans to watch, it was harder for him to go through. He is hoping 2018 is different. As John Niyo of the Detroit News writes, Norris approached the offseason in a manner that would help him be better prepared both physically and mentally for the upcoming season, and Norris feels like it has helped him find a different sort of inner peace. I hope that’s the case, because I think we’d all love to see what it looks like when Daniel Norris puts it all together. Now we just need to work on getting him to keep that glorious, magical beard.
The @tigers' @DanielNorris18 (how about that offseason beard?) joins us live on #MLBNHotStove! pic.twitter.com/Q9NSfWr6qB— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 26, 2018
This guy was at my house like 6 weeks ago with no more than a 5 oclock shadow. What are you dude? https://t.co/HpweZVXxbp— Danny Duffy (@duffkc41) January 26, 2018
Around the horn
Miguel Cabrera vs. Comerica Park. Will last Thursday’s big moves finally kick start the slow free agent market? The MLBPA lodges complaints against the Marlins and Astros. The politics of being a baseball fan.