Well, it was terrible while it lasted. Sunday saw the end to a 2019 season that we were done with in July, as the Detroit Tigers dropped their final contest of the year to the Chicago White Sox. The Tigers finished with 114 losses, just a whisper out of first place at 53 1⁄2 games back. We can now turn our attention to the future and wonder, hopefully, if next year will bring us a 60-win team.
Heads are rollin’
We didn’t have to get too deep into the end of the regular season for the axe to fall on management around the league. The Chicago Cubs, winner of a World Series within the last few years, and their manager, Joe Maddon, “agreed to part ways” over the weekend. This is kind of like when my college girlfriend and I agreed to part ways when she stole all my CDs and stopped returning my phone calls. Clint Hurdle also saw the hammer come down on Sunday. After nine seasons with Hurdle at the helm, the Pittsburgh Pirates are in the market for a new skipper.
This may leave you wondering where things stand with the Tigers and Ron Gardenhire. He has one more year on his contract, and he intends to return for it. While things are pretty well set up for Gardenhire, the rest of the coaching staff may still be in flux. There is speculation that Lloyd McClendon might not make it back for 2020. From the sounds of things from Gardenhire, decisions have already been made, so I guess we just have to wait for whatever announcements may come.
[Ed.: Speaking of manager rumors...]
Brad Ausmus is in jeopardy of losing his job as manager of the Angels, after his first year. His status is currently under consideration by the team’s leadership, with one source believing its more likely than not the Angels will go in another direction.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) September 30, 2019
The jury’s still out on Willi Castro
The Tigers didn’t expect Willi Castro to lock down next year’s starting shortstop gig in his short audition this fall, and he didn’t. What may be more important to focus on is the fact that he didn’t use that opportunity to lose the job either. Gardenhire and the rest of the staff seem encouraged, and Castro’s bat is showing that it may be able to play. The concern is the defense. They seem to like him at short for now, but second base may be a more likely outcome. The organization realizes Castro is a work in progress, but they seem willing to give him the chance to prove himself.
It’s no secret that Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press took a turn towards a more cynical — or honest, if you are of the same mind as your author — outlook on the team throughout the course of the season. As we arrive at the end of the year, Fenech has some grades to hand out. They may not be as bad as you would expect; I was looking for failing grades across the board which was not the case. It would seem that the team’s reliance on players who were a mixture of not ready and not good resulted in some failing grades. An F for hitting. Pitching comes in with my get-me-through-undergrad grade, the C-minus. Coaching got a B. I don’t know if I agree with that, but whatever. The farm system rated a B as well.
Pitching hurts catching
One of the spots where we thought we might see some improvement in a season where little was going to be found was behind the dish. With James McCann, gone there wasn’t a great expectation of offensive explosion, but the consensus was that the position was going to be better overall defensively.
Turns out it wasn’t so hot. Having to rely on John Hicks for extended periods of time wasn’t really helpful, but more disappointing were the struggles of Grayson Greiner and Jake Rogers. Jules Posner of Forbes takes a look at what went wrong this year, with a concentrated focus on pitch framing and how he believes the lack of good pitching hurt the framing numbers of both Greiner and Rogers.
Around the horn
Pitcher Danny Graves and his battle with depression. In the wake of Tyler Skaggs’ death, MLB is examining whether they can test for opioids. Historic inequality presents an existential problem for MLB. The inexact science of breaking in a glove.
Baseball is awesome
3,000. That seems like a big number.