Welcome to the beginning of the week. The Tigers showed on Sunday that they weren’t the only Detroit team that had trouble putting three points on the board, as they fell to the Baltimore Orioles 8-2. Monday is the final game of the Cellar Series, where we see if Detroit can really roll over and give it away. While we await the start of that contest, let’s get to some links.
Despite the decidedly lackluster nature of the product on the field, Tigers owner Chris Ilitch continues to maintain that the team is on the right track. The current favorite talking point is the strength of the farm system as adjudged by “national pundits.” When asked about the possibility of bolstering the 2020 team with veteran free agents, Ilitch spoke to all the “smart” Tigers fans out there that want to see what these young players have to offer instead of bringing in proven, experienced players.
For me the most significant part of Ilitch’s statements are about how his nine-year-old son wants to see the team win, but Chris has to tell him how that isn’t the way it works. Chris should take a bit of advice from his kid. The idea that you don’t have to become the absolute worst organization in Major League Baseball before you can get better seems to be something a nine year old can understand. If only he could get that through to his old man.
With the 2019 season all but in the books, it can’t be too early to look at what the great reward may be for Detroit in next year’s draft. While it’s too soon to pinpoint any one target, there are a few options to consider (bats, please). The leader on the list is first baseman Spencer Torkelson. The rest of the crew contains one pitcher in Emerson Hancock from Georgia and another college player in Austin Martin from Vanderbilt. Two high school kids complete the group, with Austin Hendrick, an outfielder from Pennsylvania, and Mick Abel from Beaverton, Oregon. Knowing that Beaverton is the home of such talent as Emmy award winning comedian Ian Karmel (a name you should get familiar with if you’re not) is all this simple minded fella needs to get on board with Mick.
Shaking up the coaching staff
As seasons draw to a close at the lower levels of the system, the Tigers have announced six minor league firings. There’s nothing in the firings of great note, but what is to be considered is what is not mentioned: the fate of Toledo Mud Hens manager Doug Mientkiewicz. While all parties maintain a position of optimism, there is the possibility that Double-A manager and former Tigers catcher Mike Rabelo might be in line for the spot in Toledo should Mientkiewicz not return.
Making noise for next year
While these final games of the 2019 season seem meaningless beyond the race for next years first overall draft pick, there are some meaningful things going on with players trying to make the case for a spot on the 2020 roster. Victor Reyes is one of those players. The Rule 5 pick-up, who flailed hopelessly for the entirety of the 2018 season because he had to, started 2019 in the minors. Since being called up, he has steadily improved to the point that he is garnering some attention. The .299 batting average is nice, but the wRC+ of 96 is certainly more encouraging. His ISO — which has been a shade below average in 162 plate appearances since the beginning of August — and walk rate both need to come up (drastically, in the case of the walk rate) before he could be considered a solid everyday guy.
Other notable bright spots would be the Drew VerHagen/Daniel Norris tandem that has proven successful, rookie Bryan Garcia out of the bullpen, and Willi Castro.
Getting in sync
It would appear that the combination of Matthew Boyd and Jake Rogers may need some time before the duo really gets in sync and can Pop. In their most recent outing, only the fourth where the two were paired up things were less than great. It takes time for a pitcher and catcher to get used to each other, This I Promise You. If I’m reading Rogers’ mind here, he’s probably looking at the possibility of catching Boyd long term and thinking, I Just Wanna Be With You. To Boyd’s credit, he took the rough outing on himself thinking that if anyone is to blame, It’s Gonna Be Me, and said he needs to communicate his game plan a little more effectively. There’s little chance this organization is saying Bye Bye Bye to either of these guys so they will need to work out the kinks. From manager Ron Gardenhire’s perspective, he probably looks at Rogers and thinks that maybe they need to spend A Little More Time On You.
Around the horn
Baseball is a world of what could’ve been
Eugenio Suarez has 47 home runs. If you need me, I’ll be in my Alfredo Simon room of sadness.