Well, general manager Al Avila and the Tigers have been telling us all offseason that their intention was to put a little more pop in the lineup, and they did just that over the weekend. In a move that promises to put a slightly less mediocre product on the field in 2020, the team agreed to identical one-year deals with first baseman C.J. Cron and second baseman Jonathan Schoop. The club tacked on the signing of pitcher Zack Godley for good measure, and it would appear that this is going to be a much more watchable team next year.
The next question is if this is it as far as major league signings go. Some folks still believe there may be a corner outfielder or a starting pitcher in this team’s future, but I’m not going to be shocked if what we have seen in the past handful of days is all we get.
How you feeling?
Now that we have a day or two’s distance from the most recent flurry of signings, it’s good to evaluate how we feel about what was, based on last year’s numbers, a move that brought three WAR to the organization. Our staff have weighed in on both signings individually, but what is everyone else thinking?
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News notes that the moves show the organization is making good on the promise to add some much needed thump to the lineup, and validate what Avila said at the Winter Meetings a few weeks back.
“The mindset here is to move forward and build back up,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of trades. We’ve traded everyone we needed to trade and we’re at the point where this team is very young and we need to build it back up.
With the Tigers’ offseason spending now sitting a shade over $16 million, McCosky believes that a starting pitcher and a corner outfielder are still possibilities.
Jason Beck at MLB.com had similar things to say, adding that, if nothing else, it would be nice to have Cron on the team and not still with Minnesota, where he hit seven of his 25 home runs against Detroit pitching last year. Beck also mentions that, in addition to the possibilities of adding more pitching and corner outfield help, a shortstop signing may still be in the future for this team, although Niko Goodrum is still seen as having first crack at the gig for now.
Hand over fist
Gross revenues for Major League Baseball were up for the 17th consecutive season last year, rising just shy of a half billion dollars from the previous year’s mark to $10.7 billion. With upcoming television deals and the arrangement that is bringing the little Nike swoosh to everyone’s uniform, experts see little reason for that growth to stop over the immediate future.
Normally, I would care little about news like this, but considering the current state of baseball — where the major leagues are looking to completely eliminate certain minor league teams for reasons that most certainly involve money, and the legitimate question as to whether players are being adequately compensated — this seems like potentially telling information in regards to the true needs and intentions of MLB.
If the current sad state of the Tigers doesn’t do enough to completely bum you out, Lynn Henning offers the opportunity to look back at the six torturous years when Randy Smith was at the helm of the team. There are some fun quotes in this one.
“Most of the trades we made were nothing for nothing,” Smith said of flesh-peddling that might involve as many as nine players. “We were just hoping to get lucky with, say, an Easley for Greg Gohr (1996 deal). “It was like: We know this piece doesn’t work. Maybe this next piece might. Most of those deals were just transactions. It wasn’t that they were done recklessly. It was knowing what we had and hoping something we’d pick up would fit better.”
Hoping something we’d pick up would fit better. What a strategy.
Overall it’s a pretty thorough — and maybe a little too favorable — look at a lot of trading, years of drafts with few, if any, big hits, the Bernie Williams trade that was and then wasn’t, and a healthy dose of the Juan Gonzalez debacle. It was the Randy Smith era, and it was, by all accounts, an unsuccessful endeavor.
Skynet is taking over
In the new labor contract between umpires and Major League Baseball, the door has opened for robot umps. The umpires have agreed to cooperate with the league over the next five years in the development of an automated ball-strike system. The Atlantic League employed an automated system last year, and there are plans to start moving it slowly through the minor league levels over the next few years.
Around the horn
Travis Shaw signs with the Blue Jays for $4 million. The problems with baseball’s transactional scoop mongering. Dallas Keuchel to the White Sox, and the South Side is looking like an increasingly un-fun place for the Tigers to visit.
Baseball is random
Softball is too.