We’re still waiting for new President of Baseball Ops, Scott Harris to hire a new general manager and a new scouting director. Those two decisions may ultimately be more impactful to the future success of the organization than any player decisions this offseason. One would expect the former will occur before the offseason begins in earnest, but we’ll have to wait and see. However, the turnover in the front office continued on Monday as the Tigers parted ways with long-time assistant general manager, David Chadd. The news was first reported by Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press.
Chadd has been with the Tigers for 18 years, so his tenure goes all the way back to the early years of the Dave Dombrowski era. He was a member of the Florida Marlins scouting department from 1994-2001 before taking over as the Boston Red Sox scouting director for three seasons prior to joining the Tigers after the 2004 season as Vice-President of Amateur Scouting. Chadd was responsible for a few notable draft picks including Rick Porcello, Alex Avila, and Nick Castellanos during his time heading the scouting department. When Avila took over as general manager in August of 2015, Chadd was promoted to assistant general manager as Avila’s key lieutenant, a position he held until Harris was hired.
With two years remaining on his contract, apparently there was some discussion in the front office of keeping him in a scouting role. However, Chadd eventually decided to pursue his options elsewhere and an agreement was reached that allowed the parties to part company for good. Jay Sartori and Sam Menzin, Avila’s other two assistant GM’s, who were both promoted to the role late in the 2021 season, remain in those positions, at least for now.
Kevin Rand fired
The other notable news today was the beginning of an expected overhaul in the medical and training staff. That began in earnest on Monday as Kevin Rand, Senior Director of Medical Services did not have his contract renewed for the 2023 season. Rand was formerly head athletic trainer, and had been in the senior director role since 2017, coordinating all the athletic training from the club’s Lakeland complex. He joined the Tigers as head athletic trainer in the major leagues back in October 2002.
Meanwhile, head trainer Doug Teter was reassigned to Lakeland to work in a new capacity as well, though it’s unclear whether he’ll be taking over as Rand’s successor of working in some other role. Teter has been with the Tigers for 30 years, starting as a minor league athletic trainer, and was formerly the club’s rehabilitation coordinator and minor league medical coordinator before taking over as head athletic trainer following Rand’s promotion to senior director in 2017.
Manager AJ Hinch’s comments at the end of the 2022 season, speaking on the extreme level of injuries during the season, probably points the way forward while subtlety illustrating some of the issues that plagued the team this year.
Quite honestly, I think it exposed that we can probably enhance that department. I think it’s something the organization needs to look into, both in size and strength of our overall program. But it needs to be linked completely together. How we handle our medical process has to be unilateral across the organization.”
From the sound of it, coordination and a lack of an integrated approach from different staffers seems like the problem. Probably nothing is going to explain the level of injury trouble the club suffered this season, however. Both Rand and Teter are highly qualified, but perhaps the overall organizational approach and coordination was lacking. Too often over the past few seasons have we heard that an injury was considered mild and short-term, only to eventually receive news that said player is now having surgery and will miss significant time.
As far as the 2022 season went, perhaps part of the problem was that the club was depending heavily on young starting pitchers who had their innings progression interrupted in 2020, and then went all of last offseason with no communication permitted between players and the team, including the medical and training staff. With a hastily assembled spring camp and a packed regular season schedule from the start, there were a lot of uniquely difficult circumstances for teams’ medical and training staffs to deal with this season. It didn’t take a lot to recognize in the preseason that there was extra injury risk for pitchers in particular. The Tigers’ issues were likely exacerbated by youth, but it’s still no surprise that changes are being made. The Tigers didn’t lose the most man hours to injury this season, but they were certainly near the top.
MLB 2022 regular season injury plot. Injuries and injured list games missed versus team wins. Bubble size represents cumulative quality of players lost for games (Lost-war metric)https://t.co/Yh0kuFC1gD pic.twitter.com/pCjXscawYi— Man Games Lost MLB (@ManGamesLostMLB) October 13, 2022
As expected, we appear to be getting a very thorough organizational overhaul. Strength coach Steve Chase was also let go on Monday, so it looks like there will be some new faces in the strength and conditioning department as well. This is going to be a very different team both on the field and behind the scenes by the time the offseason is over.
Still, keeping some continuity is going to be important to keep both minor league and major league players on track this offseason as Harris and his team work to improve the club’s processes in all these departments. It will be interesting to see if some kind of coordinator will be hired to oversee all these new hires and develop integrated protocols for the whole organization, or whether they’ll simply replace a few people in specific roles. Perhaps Teter’s new position will be in that supervisory capacity, but we’ll have to see what things look like when all the changes have been completed.