On Sunday, FanGraphs’ David Laurila wrote in the site’s weekly notes article asking whether Detroit may offer A.J. Hinch its general manager position as successor to Al Avila in the future. Avila has been the Tigers’ general manager since 2015, a seven-year timespan over which I have graduated high school, graduated college, and started and ended a career as a teacher. To put it another way, Avila is part of a very exclusive club of general managers who have served across three U.S. presidencies, and yet Detroit has yet to make a playoff appearance since Avila took the reins.
There will be few-to-no Avila apologists given the performance of his second notable crop of free big agent signings in 2022 (and remember, his first one brought in Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey!). The jury is still out on the Eduardo Rodriguez contract, as he is set to return in the third week of August and is only in the first year of a five-year, $70 million contract, but Rodriguez has missed most of the season after suddenly leaving the team to deal with personal issues. He pitched his first rehab start on Saturday in Low-A Lakeland, and the results were encouraging:
Line for Eduardo Rodriguez tonight in Class A Lakeland:— Cody Stavenhagen (@CodyStavenhagen) August 6, 2022
3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, BB, 5 K.
59 pitches, 38 strikes.
Nevertheless, if you asked the average Tigers fan at Comerica Park at Lou Whitaker Night to grade Eduardo Rodriguez solely on his performance in the first year of his contract, I guarantee that they would respond, “Who?”
Then there’s Javier Báez. Báez signed to a six-year, $140 million contract over the offseason, but has posted just a 79 wRC+ through 389 plate appearances in Detroit. While I wouldn’t give Báez an F on his season report card, his performance has been quite on-brand to what baseball fans have come to expect over time: absolutely jaw-dropping raw talent and streaky as all get. Unfortunately, the streak that we have received in 2022 is a cold one, and there is never a guarantee that we receive a hot streak to balance our own ride on the Javier Báez train out. In fact, it would be quite on-brand for the contract to become another complete albatross as Miguel Cabrera comes off the books after 2023 (more on that in a minute).
Look: should Matt Manning continue to dominate like he did last night moving forward, and Tarik Skubal continue to post baffling strikeout rates and progressively improve, and Riley Greene continue to feel more and more comfortable manning center field in the Comerica Park outfield, the future of the Tigers franchise may very well still be bright. (I haven’t even mentioned Spencer Torkelson, Casey Mize, and Austin Meadows, all still young and under contract for multiple years beyond 2022!)
Nevertheless, the question has been raised. Would you rather have A.J. Hinch as general manager of the Detroit Tigers?
Who would you prefer to serve as general manager of the Detroit Tigers?
This poll is closed
When I raised the concept of Hinch to G.M. to both the general Bless You Boys staff and to the SABR community in Ann Arbor, I received the same response within five minutes: slot A.J. Hinch in as general manager, and promote George Lombard to manager. Boom. Do you agree, or would you rather the Tigers try something else?
Anyways, enough daydreaming. It’s time for your Monday serving of Tigers links!
Tigers land three top-100 prospects on new Baseball America list
This morning, Baseball America released their new top-100 prospects list. The Tigers landed three prospects on the list despite the graduation of five top-tier prospects in recent years (Greene, Torkelson, Manning, Skubal, Mize).
Starting pitcher Jackson Jobe, the third overall selection by Detroit in the 2021 MLB draft, slots in as Detroit’s top prospect at no. 74. Starting pitcher Wilmer Flores, who has posted impossibly low walk rates and impressive strikeout numbers in a breakout 2022 campaign, slots in at no. 95, although he already broke Baseball America’s top 100 back in July. The newest entry to the list for Detroit is their 2022 MLB draft first-round selection, infielder Jace Jung—brother of Rangers top prospect Josh Jung—who slots in at no. 99 on the list.
Ty Madden, the 32nd overall selection in last year’s MLB Draft, has posted a 3.10 ERA in 19 starts for High-A West Michigan, but concerns over his fastball shape continue to keep him out of top-100 lists. Madden is currently in his age-22 season.
Matt Manning’s curveball is back in full force
Manning pitched 7 shutout innings on Sunday, striking out seven and allowing just seven baserunners in a 7-0 loss. Too many sevens!
Matt Manning, Dirty 78mph Curveball. pic.twitter.com/yZfUZ7xjJq— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 7, 2022
Kerry Carpenter reaches 30 home runs with a grand slam
Kerry Carpenter Grand Slam— Tigers Minor League Report (@tigersMLreport) August 7, 2022
His 30th HR of the year puts Toledo up 8-0. pic.twitter.com/sIVHrSYkJK
That’s ten times more home runs than Miguel Cabrera in 2022!
Spencer Torkelson’s college coach is still a believer
New Michigan baseball head coach Tracy Smith continues to sing praises of Spencer Torkelson, the former No. 1 overall pick who Smith coached at Arizona State and who posted a .944 OPS in the first week of August for Triple-A Toledo. Torkelson, who turns 23 on August 26, was optioned to Triple-A Toledo on July 17 after posting a -1.0 fWAR in 83 games for Detroit in 2022. His 68 wRC+ over 298 plate appearances in Detroit has been part of a severely underwhelming 2022 for Detroit, but the past week, his young age, and his overall pedigree are all positive signs of good things to come.