Major League Baseball is currently playing its league divisional series, with eight of the initial 16 teams remaining in the postseason field. The Detroit Tigers, however, are not one of those teams after another disappointing summer that has them sitting at home in October.
Looking ahead to the future, the Tigers franchise embarks on its search for a new manager to lead the young team into the next decade of Detroit baseball. There are a couple of big names that have been mentioned that bring quite a bit of baggage with them, but would it still be worth it for the amount of talent and experience they bring? That is the multi-million dollar question the franchise’s top brass currently faces.
Hinch and Cora draw interest despite cheating scandal
The biggest names on the managerial market are erstwhile Astros skipper A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora formerly of the Boston Red Sox, both of whom World Series winners with their respective previous teams. The rub, however, is that both were also involved in a cheating scandal a few years ago with the Astros for which Cora was singled out by MLB as the mastermind of the operation.
According to recent reports, both disgraced coaches are under consideration for the managerial job in Detroit. While general manager Al Avila is keeping his cards close to his vest, according to the Detroit Free Press, he mentioned that his next hire will have the skills to motivate the team through the last stage of the “rebuild”. Avila had the following to say on the subject.
“He’s got to establish that presence. You have to have courage. You have to have discipline. You have to have conviction in what you’re doing.”
That said, Hinch and Cora apparently fit that bill as the Detroit Free Press later reported that Avila does in fact have the two names in mind for the open position. When asked about their candidacy, he offered the assessment of the baggage they carry.
“Obviously, the cheating scandal is not a good thing. They’re serving their suspensions. And once their suspensions are over, they’ll be free to pursue their careers. We have not eliminated anybody from our list at this point.”
When asked to clarify his answer, he succinctly responded.
“I have them on my list.”
With the two decorated but disgraced former managers under consideration, Cody Stavenhagen at The Athletic took a look at the case for and against the two, respectively. The long story short is that Hinch brings a championship pedigree to the table, with a proven track record at the helm of the Astros’ meteoric ascent as one of the top teams in the league. Cora, who also has a few World Series rings of his own — as a player, a coach and a manager — offers a bit more youth in the way that a candidate like Don Kelly would provide the team.
So what happens if those two candidates fall through? Another name that has been hitting the headline of late is former Tiger George Lombard. Evan Petzold at the Detroit Free Press feels like he checks all of the boxes for what Detroit needs in their dugout. His most recent claim to fame is his role in the development of 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts. The Tigers are reportedly planning to interview him for the position, though he is currently serving as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ first base coach.
Once the World Series is over, expect things to really pick up on this front. For now, everything is merely speculation unless Avila drops an unexpected bombshell on the fanbase.
Checking in on the prospects
Stavenhagen published his update on Detroit’s top prospects on Wednesday at The Athletic, with a focus on the biggest names down on the farm in Toledo. He covers Spencer Torkelson’s transition from college to the pros, touches on Riley Greene’s progress, lauds Dillon Dingler for his athleticism, and prognosticates on Matt Manning’s 2021 season, among other observations. Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield offered the following on what he sees in Manning and the rest of the young pitching staff.
“I think we’ve seen a pretty wide range of different things from guys like Matt Boyd and Spencer Turnbull and Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize and Matt Manning, different things over the course of the last couple years. It’s a challenging league, and all of them have a lot of talent, and all of them will be successful in my mind. But it’s very competitive and it just doesn’t move up perfectly, in a linear way. But Manning, we’re very high on him, and he’s a good-looking young pitcher.”
Also included in the article are the positional rosters for the instructional league season, which the organization is already a few days deep into.
Tigers’ TV ratings up amid pandemic
This should come as no surprise to anyone, given the extreme effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on fan attendance as well as the more general social distancing practices the population has engaged in response, that television ratings for the Tigers have gone up this summer.
After a few years of the team putting a terrible product on the field and a subsequent decline in viewership, the TV numbers bounced back in 2020 according to data published by Forbes. Amazingly, the Tigers saw 34-percent audience growth from 2019 to 2020 — fifth-most in the majors — despite their fourth losing season in a row.
Around the horn
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