We’re already a few days into 2019, and if you are anything like me, you have already broken one or two of your New Years resolutions for the upcoming year (“going to bed earlier” was always a tough ask, though).
Luckily, we get to ease into the year with the Detroit Tigers. The regular season is 84 days away, and we still have another six weeks until pitchers and catchers report at the start of the spring training.
This week’s roundtable will take a slightly different format, as we posed a pair of questions about New Years resolutions for the upcoming season.
Question #1: What are your New Years resolutions for the Tigers in 2019?
Patrick: I want to see the Tigers get on with the business of adding players who will be part of the next contender, rather than just sitting back and waiting for the kids to grow up. I don’t see a single player added so far this winter that moves them any closer to contending. Nor do I see any player who might be traded for such a player.
Kenon: It’s time to turn the corner on this rebuild. I’ve been fine with the team’s passive approach up until this point. However, many of the key prospects are starting to knock on the door and, starting with the 2019 trade deadline, we need to start building around them with quality veterans who can be roster anchors for a team worthy of contention.
Zane: I want the team to embrace the youth movement that is already beginning to unfold with minimal nonsense. No “Matt Moore edges out Daniel Norris for final rotation spot” nonsense. No “Christin Stewart benched after a 2-for-24 stretch” nonsense. Let’s see what these young guys have. But while I have high hopes for the guys down on the farm, I am in no rush to see some of them arrive this season unless they are completely ready. I could see Casey Mize, Daz Cameron, and Isaac Paredes getting some late-season action, but we have to see how their years go. Elsewhere, let’s see Miguel Cabrera play a full healthy season, and sign a guy like A.J. Pollock just for the hell of it. If he costs $60 million or less over the next few seasons, he is worth the boom-or-bust potential. Picture Pollock returning to his six-WAR form halfway through a four-year contract when all of our top prospects have arrived. Hell, wouldn’t an outfield with Pollock JaCoby Jones, and Daz Cameron be great to see in Comerica Park in September? Chris, if you have zero interest in anything like this, please sell the team this year. You still haven’t proved anything to us.
Ashley: I hope they resolve to move forward and truly invest themselves in a rebuild, even when that means spending money to improve. The Tigers will be good again, and fun again, and it’s just a matter of how they approach things. They can’t just draft a pitcher every year and hope for the best. They need to be smart and bold.
Kyle: Be bold. The front office is never going to be as creative as we hope, but that doesn’t mean they need to stick to the same old mold. Sign someone interesting, make a challenge trade, do something to shift up the roster. Likewise, the coaching staff has a chance to mix things up on the field. Will we see more Openers? What about shifting? Be a little more progressive with the batting order and try out the kids across the field. Just do something different this year.
Rob: Play Christin Stewart in left field 162 games this year. Sign Nicholas Castellanos to an extension. Keep Miguel Cabrera healthy. Sign Martin Maldonado and D.J. LeMahieu. Keep Daniel Norris healthy. Draft well. Win some games. Keep Michael Fulmer healthy. Spend some money before we write this post again next January.
Chris: As unrealistic as it may be, make an Ivan Rodriguez, catalyst-like move to expedite the rebuild. If the Tigers are serious about being competitive by 2020, as has been preached since the start of this, they aren’t going to do it while following their current blueprint of buying pieces low with the hope of selling them high in July. If the pieces pay off, then they are helpful. But they won’t do it on their own. They have to shell out some money to close the gap and there are plenty of players available on the current market (D.J. LeMahieu, to name one) that would improve this team immensely. Wishful thinking, I suppose.
Brandon: I’ll keep it relatively simple. I want to see the farm develop, and I’m going to do my best to enjoy the ups and downs of the young Tigers. A reasonably healthy year from Miguel would make it all go down easier, as well, so I’m wishing for that one. Finally, I will be hoping the Tigers can find a really good college bat with the fifth overall pick, and can make a trade for another good position prospect. If they can manage that, we’ll be in pretty good shape moving forward.
Question #2: What is your New Years resolution related to the Tigers for 2019?
Patrick: I will not waste as much time on the Tigers unless and until they begin to show a commitment to winning, as I described above. That means spending. I’ll keep an eye on them, but if they don’t care about me as a fan, I’m not here to get my heart broken again.
Rob: I’m going the other direction, actually. There were a lot of times in 2018 where I checked out on a given game or series because the team was an awful mix of bad and boring. There were a few positive signs here and there, but the grind of watching a second consecutive 98 loss season wore on me (and the rest of the staff, I imagine) as the year went on. This year, I want to do everything I can to watch this team more, appreciate the young players the team is bringing into the fold, and spend a little more time in the moment when writing about and analyzing this team.
Zane: Two sentences ago, I included JaCoby Jones in my dream outfield of the future for our team. My resolution is to not get irrationally upset if he continues to post a sub-.300 on-base. I will be very upset if Miguel Cabrera is washed, however, as his underlying hitting metrics from Statcast have been top-notch the past two years despite limited production. I also promise not to get too invested in Daniel Norris. I’m not worried about getting overly invested in the team — we’re not winning the World Series this year — but seeing Norris thrive would feel amazing and darn it I’m getting my hopes up already.
Ashley: Mine is really how I relate to the team. I resolve not to hope for too much and really enjoy the wins there are. A losing team isn’t forever and there are great stories here and players worth liking in the meanwhile. I resolve to enjoy the Niko Goodrums and not be heartbroken by another losing year. Even 70 wins are better than none.
Kyle: Enjoy any and every healthy Miguel Cabrera at bat that we get in 2019. It’s no secret that his productivity is on its last leg, and we might not get too many more opportunities to see the slugger in his form. Given his contract, it’s possible that the end of Cabrera’s tenure is really messy in a lot of ways. Let’s enjoy the positives while we still can.
Chris: To take the good with the bad. While we have seen the AL Central get a bit weaker around them, the Tigers have done little to improve. It’s still going to be a rough go for them in 2019, but there will be things to look forward to as some of the prospects we’ve heard about for so long, particularly some of the highly-touted arms, begin to approach their ripeness for major league action, as well as a full year of Christin Stewart and a (hopefully) healthy Miguel Cabrera as he chases the 500 home run milestone.