Happy Opening Day, baseball fans! This is the day that we have all been waiting for over the past six months, and even though our beloved Detroit Tigers aren’t expected to be all that good, it still feels really, really good to get the season underway.
The entire internet is flooded with baseball coverage at this point (including our front page), so we won’t take up too much time with a long preamble. Today, we just have a simple question; what are we going to learn this year?
This week’s question: What are you hoping to learn about the Tigers in 2019?
Peter: I’m hoping to learn just how far along we are in this rebuild process. I want to see how far the prospects will move up in their development, and hopefully see some of them reach the majors this year. If the system progresses well and we see two or three higher end prospects reach the majors due to their development, I will feel good about the rebuild process. Specifically, I’d like to see several of Casey Mize, Kyle Funkhouser, Daz Cameron, Matt Manning, Willi Castro, Beau Burrows, and others reach Detroit by year’s end.
Chris: Building a bit off of what Peter said, I think we’ll start learning, for better or worse, how well the trades that earnestly started the rebuild are panning out. Dawel Lugo was something of a centerpiece in the J.D. Martinez trade, and we’ve already gotten a glimpse of him. Whatever time he gets at the major league level this year will be more telling as to whether or not he’ll be able to make the jump to the big. We will see Isaac Paredes playing at a higher level than last season, where he put on quite the hitting display. We will hopefully get a full season of Franklin Perez to see what kind of potential he has, and to see if Jake Rogers’s offensive game will carry over from its late 2018 form. Daz Cameron, given the spring he put together, seems like a lock to see time this year. The others, notably Jose King, still need a bit more ripening before we can make judgements on them, but they should paint a clearer picture as to just how well general manager Al Avila did with those deals.
Adam: Tangential to the rebuild topic, we will also be learning more when we see the results of this year’s draft, as well as the players percolating in the lower minors. I’m hoping to learn more about these guys and how well the Tigers are bolstering the farm system, and whether or not the organization is as robust as we hope it is.
Kenon: I’m excited to see how “The Great 40-Man Roster Crunch of 2019” plays out. We’ve referenced it over and over that it looks like the Tigers are trying to get many of their prospects to show up in the majors at the same time. Several, like Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser, are coming up on Rule 5 eligibility and will need to be added to the 40-man either during the season or prior to the 2019 Winter Meetings. It will be fun to watch this roster transformation start to take shape.
Ashley: I am hoping to see the Tigers learn what they want to do with Daniel Norris, and if that is using him in relief, then I hope they commit to that and properly hone his skills as a reliever. I also hope to see them develop some of our almost major league ready talent in Toledo because I want to see Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers, y’all.
Jeff: The obvious answer is, “something about the rebuild.” I’m interested to see how they handle the veteran players. Were Tyson Ross and Matt Moore signed just to be flipped off at the trade deadline? Who are they going to replace them with, especially now that they have a vacant spot left by Michael Fulmer? Are they going to try to trade Nicholas Castellanos? How bad do Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison have to be before they replace them with Willi Castro and Isaac Parades? Why did Gordon Beckham make the team? Basically, how long until the Tigers start replacing these “stopgap” players with the prospects that are supposed to get us back to the playoffs?
Cameron: I want to see genuine on-field improvement. I don’t think it will happen, but I’d like to see the Tigers win 70-plus games with solid contributions from the current young guys and prospects who will earn call-ups throughout the season. Major League Baseball’s draft is vastly different from the NBA in that impact talent typically isn’t felt for a few years. The Tigers are nearing the time when their recent high draft picks should be breaking through to the majors, and that means it’s time to put-up or shut-up. Continuing the trend of 65-ish win seasons is not healthy for the organization. The Tigers winning a few more games than they are projected to might mean their draft stock takes a hit, but it’s more important to show that they are getting ready to win. If they can prove that this season, it would ideally entice the organization to start spending on better free agents who can seamlessly blend with the higher-touted prospects the Tigers have been building up the last few years.
Jordan: I’m most interested to see what we learn about the status of the rebuild, through the results of all the new faces that will be in Detroit at some point this year. But I feel like that has been sufficiently discussed already. I’m also curious to see what happens with Nick Castellanos and the team’s catcher situation. Is Castellanos the last domino to fall for the rebuild, or is there still a chance he is someone Al Avila chooses to build around? Can Grayson Greiner and his 30 games of MLB experience do enough this year to keep a grip on the starting catcher spot, or is everyone just waiting for Jake Rogers to be ready?
Zane: I care at a player-by-player level this year. Is Miguel Cabrera going to have a late-career resurgence and be a guy we can leave in the center of the lineup on our next contender? Is Jeimer Candelario a 2.5 WAR player or can he move up to four-win potential? Will JaCoby Jones ever hit? How should I feel about Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris, Spencer Turnbull, and Joe Jimenez? Will Christin Stewart fulfill his 25 home run potential? Will Niko Goodrum be a 20/20 utility player? What is the organization going to do about Nicholas Castellanos? And of course, I’m interested to see if guys like Jordan Zimmermann, Tyson Ross, Matt Moore, Josh Harrison, and Shane Greene can play their way to having trade value. Mostly, I’m just biding time until we see the young guys.
Ron: I’m hoping to learn how resilient the younger guys are and how much of the media’s prospect rankings are correct or not. The Tigers have a prime chance to showcase some of the up-and-comers who will determine the future layout of the organization.