The Detroit Tigers franchise is currently entrenched in an extensive rebuilding process, one that has been very difficult to watch on the field. Behind the scenes, general manager Al Avila and his staff are rehauling the developmental and analytics systems to bring them up to date with the rest of the league. In doing so, Avila gave the public a sound bite that offers more questions than answers: “We document everything.”
Now, whether or not the team was appropriately recording data previously is pretty much moot at this point, but what exactly does this rather cryptic statement mean? Avila attempts to clarify what is meant in this quote.
“We’re going to have a system where a player comes in, let’s say, at the rookie level. We’ll have a system in place for that player until he leaves the organization. There will be a systematic process in his development.
“Starting with the rookie level, there’s all this technology that we put on him. Then we take that to the next level and the next level. So there will be a history there. If the player all of a sudden has some failure, we can go back and look to see what made him successful.
All of this sounds great (albeit vague), but it also rings reminiscent of what clubs should already be doing with their prospects, regardless of the level of analytics adopted.
Speaking of analytics, Avila had the following to say on that front.
“There’s a series of things, and it involves the use of technology, the use of analytics, to help our coaching staff make that player better. Kenny Graham has set up that kind of system already in Milwaukee and also did a great job in Toronto. He’s got a lot of experience in that area. Systemically the entire organization will be under that process. His first order of business is going to be in that area, with a focus on the hitting part. Dan Hubbs will take it from the pitching perspective.”
This quote is a bit different than the one above, as it represents a much more progressive vision when it comes to the use of data.
All of this looks fine on paper, but between the lines one has to wonder if Avila is simply offering lip service, or if these new approaches are an earnest attempt at revamping a system in much need of an upgrade.
2019-2020 international reviews
Baseball America has published its 2019-2020 international review for the Tigers. The long-and-short of it was that it was a great year for players signed by the Tigers from Latin America; the rub is that most of them played for teams other than Detroit.
The best performers on the list were Eugenio Suarez, Willy Adames and Avisail Garcia, none of whom played for the Tigers last year. Moving forward, however, the team made some significant international free agent signings this past year, headlined by 16-year-old Cuban outfielder Roberto Campos and his $2.85 million signing bonus — the sixth-highest bonus of any player this year and the most for a Cuban in 2019. Others mentioned were Manuel Sequera, Abelaldo Lopez, Raudy de los Santos and Kander de Pablos.
Tigers get compensation pick
The Tigers have landed a competitive balance draft pick for the first time in quite a while, with their selection currently coming in at No. 69. While the number might seem nice, it is not quite set in stone, as trades and signings can affect the final location of the pick. Stay tuned for updates as draft day draws nearer.
Tigers history: Miguel Cabrera
Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of the Miguel Cabrera trade, arguably the biggest and most important swap of players for the Tigers in the 21st century.
#OTD in 2007: The #Tigers trade for @MiguelCabrera.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) December 4, 2019
Over the last 12 years, Miggy has been an All Star seven times, won five Silver Slugger Awards, was voted A.L. MVP twice and won a Triple Crown. pic.twitter.com/nZsFTS2HQF
JAWS and the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot, Pt. III
FanGraphs’ Jay Jaffe has been releasing his Hall of Fame candidate assessment series, using his JAWS system to analyze each player. This week, he profiled former Red Sox and Indians outfielder Manny Ramirez, and one-time Tigers slugger Gary Sheffield.
- Free agent catcher Jason Castro would be a wise investment for the Tigers. Castro is a good fit at a position of greatest need, but there will be plenty of competition.
- The Connecticut Tigers are now the Norwich Sea Unicorns. The Tigers Class A affiliate is the newest team with a new name.
- Tigers remain interested in right-handed pitcher Josh Lindblom, according to reports. The veteran has pitched in Korea the last few seasons. Could he return to MLB with the Tigers?
- A third tour from Alex Avila could relieve the Tigers catching woes. The veteran catcher and long-time Tiger still looks like a player the club should pursue in free agency. (Unfortunately, he will not be returning).
- The Tigers may be interested in Addison Russell, according to Jon Heyman. Russell was the Chicago Cubs’ shortstop for several years before being non-tendered this offseason.
Around the horn
Where would the top MLB free agents make the biggest difference? “Scar Tissue”: one major leaguer’s horrible experience with opiate use. The Miami Marlins will install a synthetic grass surface at Marlins Park as part of a multi-year corporate partnership with Shaw Sports Turf.