As the season continues to wind down, the conversation regarding who will be on the team and in the organization next year starts to heat up. With only forty roster spots available to protect young players from the Rule 5 draft, the front office has its work cut out prioritizing those positions for players who have a legitimate future with the club. And not only are the players being evaluated, but the coaching staff as well.
The Great Roster Crunch
This article by Cody Stavenhagen for The Athletic provides a great overview of the decisions that have to be made as the year comes to an end.
“As we have these conversations in a group with scouts and everyone else, we’ll talk about whether this guy is gonna be able to do this yet, or he needs more time in the minor leagues, more at-bats, more time on the mound,” [manager Ron] Gardenhire said. “That’s what you do. That’s what every organization has ever done. … We’ve always had a meeting at the end to talk about the whole thing.”
As far as the staff is concerned, Gardenhire is all but a lock to return to as the manager next year, though he is reported to be waiting on the fate of his coaching staff before finalizing that commitment. But on that point, after enduring a 100-plus loss season one has to believe that some changes are imminent. The top name on the replacement list is probably Lloyd McClendon, who oversaw one of the worst offensive seasons in the history of modern baseball as the Tigers’ hitting coach.
When it comes to the 40-man roster crunch, the Tigers have plenty of dead weight on the roster like Edwin Jackson, Daniel Stumpf and Gordon Beckham they can release to clear up space; likewise, there are also players who are expendable such as Zac Reininger, Victor Alcántara, Dustin Peterson and Troy Stokes Jr. Even with the expansion to 26-man rosters next season, the Tigers will need to get creative in order to protect their prospects and also keep some room open for free agent signings in 2020.
Grayson Greiner’s offensive resurgence
Also mentioned in the previous article is the catcher conundrum. After a season that saw Grayson Greiner, John Hicks, Jake Rogers and Bobby Wilson combine to hit for a .178 average along with some less-than-stellar defense, the Tigers have some big decisions at the backstop position — especially in light of all the pitching talent that remains sequestered in the minors. At least one of those players is finally starting to round out as the season draws to a close.
Grayson Greiner has had a bit of an offensive resurgence these past couple of weeks after recovering from an injury that robbed him of a large chunk of his rookie season. After batting .161 before his back issues flared up in June, Greiner has returned raking at the plate, elevating his average up to a more respectable .210 after a 1-4 performance against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night. If the 6-foot-6 catcher can hit more consistently, a tandem between him and Jake Rogers might work out well next year.
Is Harold Castro for real?
Speaking of resurgences, Harold Castro — who is desperately fighting for a spot on the team — has had a hot bat this season, but is it for real? This piece published at Forbes looks deeper into his numbers to evaluate the legitimacy of his offensive stats. The long-story-short version is that his numbers may be more of an illusion than reality, given his lack of walks, absence of power, unsustainable BABIP and moderately high strikeout rate. While his past couple of months have been fun to watch, especially considering his poor defensive metrics Castro is at best a utility role player on a contending team.
Victor Reyes is making his case
Another player who is making his case for the 2020 squad is Victor Reyes, the Tigers’ 2018 Rule 5 draft selection. The 24-year-old outfielder has taken tremendous steps this season after being overmatched last year in his time in Detroit, a result of hard work and perseverance on his part. However, much like Harold Castro, his .300 batting average carries a series of caveats, especially his stratospheric BABIP which sits at the .385 mark so far this year, as well as his lack of power despite bulking up during the past offseason. Nonetheless, Reyes has an inside track on a spot in the Tigers’ outfield next year thanks to his elevated performance levels.
MLB Pipeline’s latest top 100 list
MLB Pipeline has released their latest top 100 list, and the results may be a little disappointing to Tigers fans. After reaching number 2 on the previous rankings, the first pick of the 2018 amateur draft Casey Mize was demoted five spots down the the number 7 slot. The good news is that Tarik Skubal — who has had quite a breakout season in the minors this year — has jumped up from number 96 to 75, a very encouraging promotion for an exciting pitching prospect.
AFL a good test for Isaac Paredes
Isaac Paredes is probably the most coveted hitting prospect currently in the Tigers organization, and he is getting his opportunity to shine this season in the Arizona Fall League. His participation will serve as a good test of whether he can stick at the shortstop position, as well as to get a better look at his bat against stronger competition. You can hear what he has to say about the experience in this video.
Scottdale Scorpions @ Mesa Solar Sox— MLB's Arizona Fall League (@MLBazFallLeague) September 18, 2019
Sloan Park - Mesa
6:30 P.M. pic.twitter.com/uQAXqm463l
Tigers and the worst winning percentage in history
This article takes a look at where the Tigers (and Orioles) stand in regards to the worst single-season winning percentages in MLB history. Basically, the only team to reach a level of greater futility than these two clubs in the new millennium was the infamous 2003 Tigers, who set the American League record for most losses that year. You have to go back to the historically bad 1962 New York Mets in their inaugural season to find the next comparable team; all of the rest sit between 1904 and 1952.
They will have to go 8-4 the rest of the way in order to avoid being the 2nd worst team in franchise history.— Jeff Roberts (@EyeOnTigers) September 18, 2019
Tigers go wire-to-wire in 1984
Once upon a time...
#OTD #35YearsAgo the Tigers clinch the AL East, becoming the first team since the 1955 Dodgers to lead wire-to-wire https://t.co/nB53MLDAzb pic.twitter.com/vzwPLY3gZW— Tigers History (@TigersHistory) September 18, 2019
Trading Eugenio Suarez has never felt worse
If Eugenio Suarez hits 50 homers this year, he will have seasonal ascent for homers never seen in MLB history: 4, 13, 21, 26, 34, 50? Six seasons only, increase total every year, starting in single digits, finishing with 50, confirmed by @EliasSports. #quirkjians— Tim Kurkjian (@Kurkjian_ESPN) September 18, 2019
Around the horn
At the end of a long season, Gardenhire has not given up on teaching moments. Which current Tigers will play a role in 2020? The red-hot Nicholas Castellanos is clearly seeing doubles. The Cubs’ ‘Pitch Lab’ is turning fringe relievers into high-leverage, spin-rate monsters. The way we were, are, and could have been. A look at Yastrzemski, Biggio and nostalgia. In an age of superteams, the Oakland Athletics built a winner without tanking. Yadier Molina’s career in four graphs. Barry Zito rooted against the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 World Series. Washington Nationals help feed the needy with leftover ballpark food.
Baseball is awesome
one of the best @baseball_ref tools is the Oracle of Baseball that connects players via teammates over time: https://t.co/TNct1WyQte— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) September 18, 2019
Carl to Mike Yastrzemski is a fun one: pic.twitter.com/fS5pVjcQRD