Timing has not been kind to the Detroit Tigers. When their window of contention earlier this decade started to close, the Tigers were faced with a substantial task; trade off superfluous assets, rebuild the farm system, and wait for their top prospects to develop. Unfortunately, this came directly after the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros tanked their respective ways to World Series success, creating a blueprint that other teams were undoubtedly set to follow. Teams started selling off players and hoarding their prospects, making life difficult for the Tigers, who traded their way into contention just a few years prior.
The last few years have not been fun for Tigers fans, to say the least. They have also not been fun for owner Chris Ilitch, who spoke with the assembled media and Fox Sports Detroit’s broadcast crew in Lakeland on Friday. Ilitch insisted that he is just as competitive as his late father, saying “the fire is burning inside.”
He also assured fans that the Tigers would begin to spend again when the team is ready.
“Al and I talk a lot about short-term and long-term plans,” Ilitch said. “When Al and I feel the time is right, Al is going to have the resources to go out and sign the free agents he needs to add around our home-grown base and core of talent.
“That day will come and we’ll be ready for it. He will have the resources to do that.”
While I’m not skeptical that the team will eventually start to open up and spend a bit more, I do wonder how much rope general manager Al Avila will be given. The Tigers have enjoyed a substantial payroll advantage over the rest of the AL Central for the past decade, and it would be nice to see them flex that advantage further into the next decade. Even a payroll of $150 to $160 million, well below the luxury tax threshold but still sustainable in this baseball-hungry market, would likely be the highest in the division by a fair margin.
Now go sign Mookie Betts next winter.
It’s spring training for everyone, after all
The Tigers ran into some communication issues on Sunday, when Spencer Turnbull was forced to go out and warm up for a fourth inning of action despite being told his day was done after three strong frames. The problem? No one in the bullpen was even remotely ready.
“It was like, ‘Uh, Turnbull go back out and throw a few warmup pitches to get another up-down. You’re not going in.’ Literally, no one had even taken a sweatshirt off (in the bullpen). There was just a huge miscommunication.”
This snafu has some people fired up, but... eh, whatever. I can’t bring myself to get angry about a minor misunderstanding on March 1. Let’s just all be happy that Turnbull had a strong outing and started to comfortably ramp up his velocity — and against a halfway decent Yankees lineup, at that.
More prospect rankings!
MLB Pipeline put out their top 30 prospects list for the Tigers on Friday, and the name at the top of the list (righthander Casey Mize) is no surprise. The whole list is relatively tame at this point, honestly; Pipeline’s top 10 Tigers prospects are the same as what we produced, albeit in a different order, and every single name on their list is one we considered for our top 30 rankings. The biggest deviation is righthander Kyle Funkhouser, who was 12 spots higher on our list, but that was before the Tigers officially shuttled him to the bullpen.
Who’s going No. 1?
We have been busy reviewing the on-goings of college baseball all season long, with plenty of focus on the top three prospects available in June’s MLB draft. Our friend Jay Markle of Motor City Bengals previewed who could go first overall to the Tigers in June, with a few more names beyond the Big Three sprinkled in.
Baseball is awesome
It must be easy when you put it on a tee.
Mike Trout hitting rockets isn’t exclusive to the baseball field. pic.twitter.com/tuEyIzxqQ5— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) March 2, 2020