What a roller coaster the past five days have been. We started out with a draft that saw the Tigers put together a group of selections that have been lauded as one of the best in the league, and we finished the weekend with a stalemate that almost assures that we’ll see a shortened 50 game season mandated by the league because Major League Baseball apparently enjoys looking bad. Let’s get to it.
It would seem that what we’ve got here, is a failure to communicate. You can come down on the side of ownership and believe the oft repeated line of complete horse shit that owning a professional baseball team is not profitable, and that the Players Association is operating in bad faith, or you could side with the players who believe they have sacrificed enough, and have continued to offer further sacrifice in their attempts to negotiate with the owners and the league to no avail, but it would appear both sides are done, and we’re headed to a shortened 48-50 game season.
If you’re looking for an understanding of the current state of things and how or why we’re in the place we find ourselves in, Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk breaks it down better than I could ever hope to.
Let’s go shopping
The Tigers, like all other Major League teams, find themselves in unfamiliar territory following this year’s draft. We have entered the free agent signing period, and with a five round draft this year, there are a slew of talented players available. The catch is that no team can offer a signing bonus greater than $20,000. This means that many free agents will have multiple offers to choose from. How do the Tigers plan to set themselves apart? Here’s what Al Avila has to say about it:
“We do feel that in our situation right now, having what we feel is a great organization, where we have a good track record of developing players, there’s going to be opportunity,” Avila said. “There’s going to be the best and most modern technology and analytics to help a player develop. We have a great and experienced coaching staff. And we have opportunity. Obviously we feel that’s going to be a very attractive place for people to come and sign with us under these circumstances.”
Avila says they have a list of guys they’re interested in, and we’ll just have to sit back and see who wants to put the tigers on their dance card.
When the Tigers drafted shortstop Trei Cruz in the third round they got a player who is familiar with Major League Baseball. Trei is the the third generation Cruz to enter into professional baseball with both his father and grandfather playing a significant amount of time in the major leagues. As Chris McCosky of The Detroit News points out this is a bit of a double edged sword.
“More or less, when these kids are around the game growing up, they feel comfortable in it,” said Scott Pleis, Tigers director of amateur scouting. “They feel they belong. They know what to expect. Because of their fathers, they know how to handle themselves. It just comes with a lot of belief that, ‘I can do this. It’s not a big deal.’”
It also comes, once you decide to take that same path, with heavy, potentially oppressive expectations. Trei Cruz understands that all too well.
For Cruz, dealing with pressure is something he’s prepared to take on, and he’s not unfamiliar with having to adapt to adversity. A stint in the Cape Cod League last summer exposed a big leg kick that didn’t hold up so well against some of the better pitching he was facing. He made a quick adjustment there and finished the summer strong. He carried that into the 2020 season and he’s now looking to bring that success to a professional career, and he’s got confidence on his side.
“You never know who’s watching. You never know if it was someone’s first time watching you. I have a lot of confidence in myself and need to play that way whether I am having a bad game or a good game. Either way, I am going to walk out being the most confident person in the building.”
With the 62nd overall pick, Detroit took Daniel Cabrera, the LSU product who wore number 8 for the Tigers in 2020. That’s a big number at LSU. Mikie Mahtook will tell you, as he once had it on his college jersey as well. It’s the number assigned to the leader of the team in any given year. Cabrera comes to Detroit to prove to everyone else what his college teammates and coaches seem to know, and that is that he is far more capable and athletic than some give him credit for. He has spent his downtime putting on five pounds of muscle and focusing on something he plans to do a lot of for the Tigers: Hitting.
“I’ve always approached it like you have to be a good hitter first,” Cabrera said. “You have to make contact before you can hit the ball a long way. I feel like if you can square it up, the ball is going to go. So I’ve always wanted to be a hitter first, knowing the power is going to come.”
Mitch’s dumb wish
Mitch Albom, writer of a variety of dumb things, has a wish for Spencer Torkelson. That wish is that Torkelson be a part of whatever the Major League 2020 season looks like. Al Avila doesn’t seem to be as gung-ho about it as Mitch.
“Major league baseball is day-and-night difference from college ball. It’s day-and-night difference between Triple-A and the big leagues, and day-and-night difference between A ball and Double-A ball. While he has talent to hopefully move up quickly, I’d hate to just jump him in there.”
Mitch believes that in these unprecedented times we find ourselves in, anything is possible. Spencer and Al have a more tempered approach. I would guess we might see Torkelson on the taxi squad, but I don’t know why major league action would be a good idea this year.
Around the horn
Judge rules letter from Rob Manfred to the Yankees to be unsealed. Not all ejections are created equal. Mlb.com taps Colt Keith in the 5th round as the experts favorite pick for the Tigers. Which state is best at baseball?