It was a big weekend for the Detroit Tigers. On Saturday, the team played a game against the Minnesota Twins in the Dominican Republic that they lost 7-6. It would have been a fun game to watch had Major League Baseball bothered to air it. Instead, the easiest available option was the Minnesota radio broadcast. Not exactly the best idea with an event like this meant to grow the game of baseball.
General Manager Al Avila sat down with the Detroit Free Press recently. In that conversation, Avila talked a bit about the process the team is following in the rebuild, stating that drafting and development of players is the “right way” to do things.
But if you said, ‘OK we’re going to have a $200 million payroll, let’s just sign every free agent money can buy.’ Well, that’s not the right way to do it. So when you’re talking about that, it might work out one year. But over the long term it’s not a good plan.
When asked about model franchises for the Tigers rebuild, Avila referenced The Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics, and when asked what the fans could expect from the team this year, Avila gave some hope for a better team, not just this year, but into the future.
Well, we definitely improved the team. I mean, it’s hard not to improve it from last year. But we have definitely improved the team to the point where — I’ve mentioned this and even (manager Ron Gardenhire) has mentioned it — the tear down is over. Now it’s time to build it back up and we feel we’ve brought some good, vetern leadership.
The folks over at MLB Trade Rumors have a list of American League Central hitters looking at bounce back years. Obviously, Miguel Cabrera is on that list. They mention that a bounce back year would be ideal, given the amount of time and money left on Cabrera’s contract. For most Tigers fans I don’t know if ideal is a strong enough word.
Rookie of the Year?
The odds are out for American League Rookie of the Year candidates, and Casey Mize is up there on the list. The odds at Betsonline.com peg Mize as the second best option. Evan Woodberry of MLive takes some time to rightfully rain on that parade. It’s an unsatisfying cocktail comprised of 2020 being a non-competing season for Detroit and a rotation that is pretty well filled out that make Mize’s chances slim — he likely won’t be pitching in Detroit for any substantial portion of the 2020 season.
In similar news, if you are waiting for Riley Greene to get his shot at playing with the big club, you’re going to be waiting quite some time. Woodberry takes a look at the historical trajectory of players — some of them very noteworthy — to the show, and the safe bet is on Greene is 2023.
Think less, throw better
Prior to his solid outing on Saturday, Jordan Zimmermmann told catcher Austin Romine the following:
“‘You just put the fingers down and I’ll just throw it. We’ll see what happens, and if it goes bad it’s your fault.’ ”
It seemed to work well, as Zimmermann allowed only one hit over four scoreless innings. He chalked it up to focusing less on velocity and more on throwing whatever pitch was asked of him. In the last season of a contract that has been nothing less than disastrous, it would be nice for Zimmermann to finish strong. Solid spring starts are nice. I like them better when they happen in Michigan.
Niko Goodrum found his way into the news after posting a comment on Twitter about an interview Tim Anderson of the White Sox did where he spoke about how isolating it can be to be called up to a team full of veterans. Goodrum’s first experience in that regard was with the 2017 Minnesota Twins and it was not a positive experience.
“That was my first taste and it was not a good one,” he said before the game here Sunday. “When I was over there, I was in the locker room pretty much by myself. No one was really speaking to me.
The atmosphere in Detroit has been different for Goodrum, in a good way.
“I came here in spring training and I wasn’t even on the team. I’m just a (non-roster) invite at that point, and I had dudes coming over to me, ‘Hey man, what’s up?’ JaCoby (Jones), Nick (Castellanos), (Matthew) Boyd, Shane (Greene) – I had dudes that didn’t owe me a thing making me feel part of Detroit.”
Goodrum has made it part of his job to make sure everyone who comes into the Tigers clubhouse has a positive experience.
“I think it’s our duty to make guys feel like they’re supposed to be here,” he said. “That’s the feeling I had back (in 2017), like I didn’t belong there, and I made sure that’s not going to happen to somebody else. They are part of this, no matter what’s going on.
Not that you need more reasons to like Niko Goodrum, but this is definitely one of them.
Around the horn
Managers are struggling with the three batter rule. Former Tigers prospect gets 80 game suspension for violating the league drug policy. Anthony Gose’s 100 mph gas fuels his move to the mound. Justin Verlander exits spring start early with a sore tricep.