When Lou Whitaker was placed on this year’s Modern Era Committee Hall of Fame ballot, many people saw this for what it was: Major League Baseball’s opportunity to right a wrong. Like most men in their mid-thirties hearing REO Speedwagon’s Roll With the Changes and finally admitting to themselves that it’s a banger of a song, the committee would have the opportunity to make a similar decision about one of the best second baseman in the history of the game. Well, it looks like we’ll all have to wait because the modern era committee is dumb and wrong, as Whitaker was not among those inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Whitaker needed 12 votes to get in. Six people were good and smart. The rest were not. Two deserving people made the cut; Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller will be enshrined. Lou has to keep waiting. In three years, the committee will convene again. Let’s hope that time helps them get a little smarter.
Meetings of the winter
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News paints a less-than-rosy picture of what the Winter Meetings should look like for the Tigers this week, as he sees the team as one with nothing to sell and little money with which to buy. The Tigers spent $15 million last year, and there is little optimism that they will look to eclipse that number. What everyone agrees this team does seem to need is a catcher and one decent bat.
If the Tigers are going to do a deal this week, it’s likely at this position. Spending on catchers has been robust, with Yasmani Grandal (White Sox), James McCann (White Sox), Travis d’Arnaud (Braves) and Stephen Vogt (Diamondbacks) among those already signed.
Two catchers the Tigers have been most linked to are Jason Castro (Twins) and old friend Alex Avila, who spent the last two seasons with Arizona. But there are many others, including Austin Romine, Kevin Plawecki, Kevan Smith and Francisco Cervelli.
McCosky also mentions middle infield availability and starting pitching while wrapping up with some Rule 5 picks that I would be more than happy to not have to watch for 162 games. If more than one of these things happens, I’ll be surprised.
MLB.com has come up with what they see as every team’s needs at the Winter Meetings; they have the Tigers looking for a bat and a catcher, with starting pitching being a back-up need. There’s some talk of who the Tigers may be able to trade, but it seems like a bad time to be shopping talent with every candidate in something of a buy-low situation. If you’re asking me — which you aren’t — this team, if anything, comes out of the week with a catcher, and that’s probably about it.
MLive’s Evan Woodberry walks us into the week with a warning that the Tigers may be a bit wary when considering which free agents to sign based on the way last year went. The team didn’t spend a ton last offseason, but what they did fork over was spent early, and those players did not produce much value. This year’s market seems to be moving at a much faster pace than the previous offseason, but it still may behoove the organization to hold off on buying at the Meetings. Woodberry is on the “Get a Catcher Now” train, with an eye toward waiting to see what’s available in the bargain bin as we get closer to spring.
Last week, the Tigers inked former Royals outfielder Jorge Bonifacio to a minor league deal. Bonifacio joins the already crowded party in the Tigers’ system of potential outfield candidates. He had a pretty good debut with the Royals in 2017, but has shown little promise since. The Tigers obviously have an opening in right field. Bonifacio probably doesn’t fill that need, but he can get in the long line of candidates looking to prove that they’re up to the task.
Donny Kelly, baby
In what I can only assume is his folksy, mild-mannered ascendance to the eventual job managing the Tigers to their first World Series Victory in four decades, the mower of lawns, carrier of groceries, rescuer of kittens, kindest of all ballplayers, Don Kelly has taken a job as bench coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Good on Donnie. If things work the way they have recently, we should see him in Detroit when the Pirates decide they are done with him.
Around the horn
Bernie Sanders takes aim at MLB’s “corporate greed”. Zack Wheeler pitching for the Phillies is bad for the Mets; the process that lead to it is worse. Former player Bobby Jenks tells a story about how he woke up in his underwear behind the wheel of a car that wasn’t his. Breaking down a single play to show how WAR is calculated. In an area that MLB and MLBPA can actually agree upon, the parties are discussing an opioid treatment program.