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Detroit Tigers News: How did the Tigers do at the MLB Winter Meetings?

We take a look at how the Tigers graded out at the Winter Meetings, the “importance” of the manager, and talk of change.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels
The best Winter Meetings move the Tigers made?
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the MLB Winter Meetings have concluded. While we didn’t see any of the big fish land in anyone’s net over the past week, there were deals made. The Detroit Tigers stayed in the shallow end of the pool, as expected. Though we still await the decisions of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, among the other big names remaining, we are seeing more of the medium range targets fall every day.

On Sunday, the New York Mets — a.k.a. the latest team unable to pry J.T. Realmuto away from the greedy fingers of the Miami Marlins — settled on a two-year agreement with veteran catcher Wilson Ramos. First baseman Matt Adams decided to re-up for one more year with the Washington Nationals as well.

While we watch the rest of the free agent pieces fall into place and wonder if the Tigers will be able to unload Nicholas Castellanos, let’s catch up on some other news around the club and the league.

Grading the Winter Meetings

Anthony Fenech of The Detroit Free Press took a stab at grading the Tigers moves at the Winter Meetings. It probably wouldn’t shock you to read that I don’t entirely agree with them. They break out as follows:

  • Tyson Ross gets a C. In my opinion, Tyson Ross was a better signing than the grade indicates, but we probably won’t know for sure until we get to July, where we will find out if his arm is made of old rubber bands and sawdust.
  • Jordy Mercer gets a C-. The only thing of note I can add here is that the article notes at least one executive was surprised that Detroit paid as much as they did. He’s not the only one.
  • The decision not to trade Nicholas Castellanos — as much of a decision as it could have been — was given an A. I guess I agree. It’s encouraging to see that the team didn’t just bite at whatever offers came their way during the last week.
  • Finally, the Reed Garrett pick in the rule 5 draft gets a solid B. He has bullpen potential. At least, that’s what everyone tells me. It also helps that every time I read a new article about him, his fastball seems to have gained a few more miles per hour in velocity. The last I checked in, he could touch the high 90s. If it moves at all, I’ll take it.

It’s a pretty big deal

Chris McCosky wants God to help us. In yet another defense of the old way of doing things McCosky takes a disingenuous jab at modern statistics under the guise of protecting the oh-so-sacred role of the manager.

This quote early in the article is telling:

Video replay already has taken some human fallibility out of the game, for better or worse. The concept of a robotic strike zone continues to be discussed. The unceasing flow of data now so accurately detects tendencies and projects outcomes, players coming up don’t develop a true feel for the game.

That last part seems a little harsh.

After dealing a strong opening blow to the de-humanization of the game and the de-valuing of the manager position brought about by all these pesky stats, the rest of the article goes on to discuss the importance of a manager in keeping the players under his watch on the same page and moving in the right direction. That’s a role a manager has always had and modern statistics aren’t doing anything to interfere with how a manager does that job. Do they inform some of the in-game decisions a manager makes? I would hope so. Do they inform much in the way a manager deals with attitudes of his players in the club house and in general non-game situations? Probably not.

So, yes. God help us. God help us if we ever forsake technological advancement in the game of baseball because it makes it feel a little different than what we’re used to. And I’m not sure managers, or their importance, have much to do with that.

Tigers taking steps to retooling their hitting?

A substantial change the organization seems to be focusing on heading into 2019 and future seasons is their overall approach to hitting. The club sees a need in re-tooling the two-strike approach, believing that they are striking out too much. The Tigers have made a variety of staff adjustments across the organization — Mike Hessman was hired as the Triple-A hitting coach — to move the team toward this new goal.

All this news does is make me think of how many times I’ve heard that the team is really going to drill down on getting better at base running.

In defense of the shift

If you have been wondering if the league is going to ban the shift any time in the near future, I wouldn’t bet on it. That is, at least, if the current crop of managers has anything to say about it. It would appear that during the Winter Meetings, when asked about the possibility of banning the shift, not one manager came out in support of the idea, and some wouldn’t even entertain the thought of it. The consensus seems to be that the best way to fix the shift is to force hitters to adjust to it.

Around the horn

Seven under-the-radar free agents still on the board (with an appearance from our old friend Anibal Sanchez). The standard reliever contract is back. Crowning the king of baseball. Grayson Greiner couldn’t ask for anything more.