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Detroit Tigers News: Rumors, ejections, injuries, a fresh start, and more

Plenty of news from Tigerland in July’s first links post.

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MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

July has finally arrived with the Detroit Tigers stumbling their way into the heart of the summer months. After a disappointing June that saw the team go 5-20 over 30 days, the Tigers approach the All-Star Game with one participant slated, Shane Greene, who represents the team’s token American League All-Star Game delegate thanks to his strong season at the back of the bullpen.

Having dropped their final game of the month on Sunday to Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals, the club still has not managed a single series win since taking two of three from the Baltimore Orioles on the road back at the end of May. While the bad news seems to snowball as the calendar continues to flip over, there still have been a few things to smile about. Unfortunately, there are plenty of disappointing issues plaguing the franchise as well.

Troubles with Miguel Cabrera

This past Saturday morning, retired Detroit beat writer Lynn Henning posted a stream of tweets that are nothing short of a gut-punch for Tigers fans.

Based on Henning’s account, it appears that Cabrera allegedly mocked Gordon Beckham during an interview with Craig Monroe after a 3-1 home loss to the Texas Rangers on Thursday night. An aggregation of the former reporter’s tweets on the subject gives a scathing critique of Cabrera’s current production woes as well as his questionable attitude.

It must be noted that this commentary has not been corroborated in detail by anyone in the mainstream media, so at this point Henning’s narrative should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, if there is even a hint of truth to this, it again raises the specter of a long four-plus years until the end of Cabrera’s contract.

Gardenhire sets Tigers single-season record for ejections

Suffice to say, the fans are not the only ones who are frustrated with the current state of the team. Manager Ron Gardenhire has shown his fiery side quite often this season — so often that he broke the team record for manager ejections on Saturday afternoon against the Washington Nationals. Three games shy of the halfway point for 2019, his seventh ejection already surpassed Alan Trammell’s most recent full-season tally of six back in 2004. Gardenhire also currently leads the majors this year, with just one more than rookie manager David Bell of the Cincinnati Reds.

Coming into that game, Gardenhire was already on a record pace not only to set the team mark, but the Major League record as well. When asked about his copious expulsions, the grizzled veteran skipper claimed that he is just protecting his players from being thrown out themselves. One has to believe that an underlying exasperation with the team’s overall performance is a component as well.

As a side note: all of the fines accrued from Gardenhire’s ejections are donated to the Baseball Assistance Team, which he seems to be perfectly content with.

A fresh start for Trevor Rosenthal

The Tigers decided to kick the tires on former shut-down closer Trevor Rosenthal on Friday, signing him to a minor league contract. After a bullpen session watched by Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson, the organization decided to give the struggling reliever another chance. He will start his road back to the big league in Triple-A Toledo.

Rosenthal missed the end of 2017 and the entire 2018 season after undergoing the infamous Tommy John surgery to repair his torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow while still with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Nationals signed Rosenthal to a $7 million contract during the 2018 offseason after watching him during a personal showcase last October. So far in 2019, the erstwhile Cardinals closer put up abysmal numbers for the Nats, posting a 22.74 ERA over 12 outings that amounted to a total of 6 13 innings. It took five appearances before he recorded his first out of the season, finally getting the 11th batter he faced on a strikeout.

Apparently, Rosenthal is from the same area that Tigers assistant general manager David Chadd lives and has scouted for decades, which reminds one of a similar relationship between J.D. Martinez and then-assistant GM Al Avila. If there is one thing the organization has done well in recent years, it is finding gems in the bargain bin — though there have been more misses than hits, so there is little reason to get too hopeful. The best case scenario is that Trevor can rekindle his mojo and serve as a trade piece at the trade deadline; worst case is that he flounders and the Tigers move on.

Franklin Perez hampered by his health

Anyone who has followed the Tigers farm system the past few years will not be surprised to hear that Franklin Perez, the centerpiece of the Justin Verlander trade, has been struggling to stay healthy. He was placed on the injured list again last week — the third time this season and the fifth time since joining the Tigers organization in 2017 — with persistent shoulder struggles.

But it is not just Perez who is dealing with injuries, as the farm has seen its share of problems as well so far, including Casey Mize, Kyle Funkhouser and Beau Burrows. American League Rookie of the Year candidate Spencer Turnbull has also been shut down recently with “fatigue” in his throwing shoulder.

Perez’s inability to stay on the field has severely hurt his stock in the eyes of the experts, dropping twenty-three spots down to No. 62 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects. At 21 years old, he still has time on his side, as well as a developed four-pitch arsenal, a rarity for players his age. While he has a reputation as a workhorse among his immediate peers, he will need figure out how to work through the pain and discomfort necessary to make it to Detroit.

Jack Morris: Tigers lack leadership

According to former Tigers ace and Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris, the current clubhouse is severely lacking in leadership. Citing the presence of accountability during his World Series run with the team in 1984, the current TV broadcaster feels like there is a lot of talk but very little walk from the veterans on the 2019 roster.

While he acknowledges that it is tough to establish oneself when moving back and forth from the minors to the majors, as well the inherent personalities that players possess, it is paramount for success to have those who are capable of shouldering the responsibility to step up and lead. Morris does not doubt that those players exist among the current group, but notes that it is difficult to cement your message when the team is not winning.

“There’s a lot of guys that have leadership qualities in that clubhouse, there’s no doubt in my mind. The problem is, you need to have wins. Wins say more than anything else. You can talk all you want (but) you got to show it.”

He also defends the job that Gardenhire has done so far, saying that the manager is doing the best with what he has to work with. At the end of the day, however, Morris’ commentary stands, this team is sorely lacking in leadership, and until they start winning, it is likely that this vacancy will continue.

Tigers’ defensive play of the year

It has been a weird year defensively for JaCoby Jones, the mercurial center fielder whose defensive metrics have graded out very average in 2019 after leading the majors in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) last season. A big reason for this has been some boneheaded mistakes on several easy plays.

However, Jones has not lost his mojo, as demonstrated in this highlight reel catch on Saturday robbing Victor Robles of a home run in a 7-5 victory. Simple blunders aside, he can still make the hardest plays look effortless. When asked how he pulls off these spectacular catches, he responded, “You just do it.

Parker Meadows has got that pop

Former prep stud Parker Meadows, the Tigers’ second round pick in the 2018 draft, has been showing how much potential his young body possesses during his current stop in West Michigan. Just watch this majestic moonshot from Saturday, a 415-foot home run to straight-away centerfield. The kid just might be good.

American League All Star roster announced

Congratulations to Tigers closer Shane Greene and former Tigers James McCann, Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez! This article from The Athletic discusses how Greene’s selection officially makes him a trade target... to the surprise of absolutely no one.

Around the horn

Sports Illustrated’s latest power rankings have the Tigers at No. 28. Brandon Dixon did not even know he was on waivers when the Tigers claimed him. Kevin Youkilis is now a master beer brewer. José Canseco joins The Lonely Island for a live performance of “José and Mark” from The Bash Brothers Experience. Emily Waldon of The Athletic has released her prospect report on the top five 2018 draft picks. James McCann has discovered the best version of James McCann. Tiger Stadium demolition began on June 30th, 2008.

Happy Bobby Bonilla Day!