As the postseason rolls along, Detroit Tigers fans are left to pick up the pieces from the broken 2019 season and wonder if it could have been any better. If anything, there are plenty of lessons to learn from the historic levels of futility witnessed this past year. But what if things had gone differently?
What if the Tigers spent big?
Evan Woodberry takes a look back at his attempt at playing armchair general manager before the season began in this article for MLive. For this exercise, he created two different scenarios — one formulated before and after the free-agent spending cycle. The general result was that his teams would have performed better, but still would not have even sniffed the playoffs, and probably would have led to Woodbery’s hypothetical dismissal.
The primary focus in both scenarios was to get immediate upgrades for the team without jeopardizing the long-term future of the organization. The first team he created proposed Addison Russell to plug the hole at shortstop, center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, and super-utilityman Marwin Gonzalez; all three were offensive busts, though they would have likely brought better defense to the field. Evan also suggested acquiring pitchers Yusei Kikuchi and Sonny Gray, with the latter being a potentially smart trade given his all-star season with the Cincinnati Reds this year.
The second scenario had the Tigers signing catcher Yasmani Grandal and third baseman Mike Moustakas, as well as bringing back second baseman Ian Kinsler; Charlie Morton and J.A. Happ were suggested to beef up the pitching staff. Long story short, even as Kinsler continues his sharp decline this group still would have offered a significant upgrade to what the Tigers fielded in 2019 — but still would not have made the postseason. The lesson to be learned? This organization still has a ways to go before the fans get a taste of the playoffs again.
Learning from the worst
Speaking of lessons, Ryan Ford takes a look at other historically bad teams and evaluates how each team improved from their nadir in this article for the Detroit Free Press. Included in the list of five is the abysmal 2003 Detroit Tigers squad who lost 119 games that year. The key to the turnaround after that season was the bolstering of bats, improving from 3.6 runs a game to 5.1 in 2004 thanks in large part to the Pudge Rodriguez and Carlos Guillen acquisitions. The takeaway: “Sometimes you have to spend money to fix problems, especially on offense.”
Castellanos: Tigers’ 2019 player of the year
The saga of Nicholas Castellanos’ last days in Detroit is a bewildering one that culminated in his trade to the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline for a couple of low-level prospects. Having been touted as the best bat to come through Detroit’s farm system in quite some time, one would think that he and the team would have had a better relationship. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Regardless of the trade, Anthony Fenech still thinks that Castellanos was the Tiger of the Year, especially on a team that threatened to set records for offensive futility. For a season where Nick came into spring training without a contract extension, Fenech observed him trying his best to live by the team mantra, “less talk, more work”. But between all of the losing and his growing complaints about the dimensions of Comerica Park, his disgruntledness was clearing affecting his play.
While there are unnamed people inside the organization who lobbied to keep him around, the reality of the situation is that the Tigers were just too cheap to extend him. And it is a shame they could not keep him, because his offensive outburst in Chicago was just a glimpse of what he is capable of when firing on all cylinders. In the end, Castellanos’ numbers over that 100 game stretch may not be terribly impressive, but when also considering the intangible aspects of his season he very well deserves the designation of Tiger of the Year.
Looking back on Tigers history
"The Tigers are the champions of 1984!" pic.twitter.com/7u1Bm1vEEP— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) October 14, 2019
Looking forward to spring training
Don't forget! The @tigers kick-off Spring Training 2020 RIGHT HERE in Lakeland at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Be sure to check your calendars and come on out to support them as they prepare for the upcoming MLB Regular Season.— Flying Tigers (@LkdFlyingTigers) October 14, 2019
⬇️Link Below⬇️https://t.co/FTBNymcDnI pic.twitter.com/bpq1yO6RgH
- Tigers’ payroll projected under $90 million entering the offseason. The payroll is currently at its lowest level since 2006.
- 2019 Tigers Review: Jeimer Candelario is probably not the third baseman of the future after a lackluster 2019 season.
- The on-base percentage leaders of the 2010’s. The Tigers led the American League five times, with Miguel Cabrera topping the charts four times, and once for Victor Martinez over the first half of the decade.
- The entire 2014 Detroit rotation can get a ring this year: if the Nationals win the World Series, the entire Detroit Tigers 2014 rotation will have won a World Series ring.
- The rise, fall, and rise of Anibal Sanchez: the former Tigers starter has returned to glory in the 2019 MLB playoffs.
Around the horn
A sudden burst of bullpen competence is key to the Washington Nationals’ postseason success. Foul ball drills worker in Astros dugout; it’s time to add more netting. Major League Baseball has lost public trust over the construction of its baseballs, as first mentioned in last Friday’s news links. How did a Cubs dynasty start to fall apart before it truly began? From the outfield grass: the making of Marcus Semien, MVP candidate.
Twelve non-tender candidates in 2020 that might surprise you. Sam Fuld declines to interview for managerial vacancies with Cubs, Mets and Pirates. Dodgers to reassign pitching coach Rick Honeycutt to special assistant, bullpen coach Mark Prior to take over. Starting pitchers are getting more work this postseason, and they deserve it. Lifetime suspension cost Pete Rose “$100 million”.