I'm feeling old and crotchety today. I admit it. I feel cynical and not sure I buy that the new kid GM is a wizard that will transform the Tigers because the old guy GM was stuck in the past.
Yep, Avila didn't hit for power. Nope, he didn't steal many bases either. Darn it, he hardly ever, if ever got in the line-up.
My point is the players, the manager, and the coaches control the product on the field. The extreme dip in performance is their fault, not the GM's. I will give the team an allowance or excuse that the injuries to so many pitchers derailed things a bit. Yet, really good teams find a way to overcome adversity. Why did all the healthy players collapse?
In my opinion a lot more should have been made of how Hinch managed games. I think he should have pulled pitchers faster, innovated a method of using relief pitchers to replace starters, and juggled the line-up better to improve the mind set of the hitters. I also wonder how he helped the young players deal with the pressure?
Ok, so enough of my digs on Hinch and his coaches. The point of my writing was what will or can the new GM do? I think there isn't a lot different from what Avila did, although he should have managed the playing manager a lot better. Let's compose a little list, shall we.
1. Implement stats and customized player development programs. Hmmmm, I thought Avila did that already.
2. Watch for new emerging talent to pick-up with under-utilized or soon to be replaced talent. Avila did that too. The latest example is trading Robbie Grossman.
3. Pick the best free agents to fit on the team. Didn't Hinch has a say in this? Adding Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez were big ticket items, weren't they?
4. Making a deal to add a critical component was part of Avila's role too. He needed a good catcher, a solid defensive talent, and he landed a gold glover with Tucker Barnhardt.
5. Promote young talent that is emerging as soon, if not as strategically as possible. Brieske, Torkelson, Manning, Clemens, Carpenter, Greene, and others were pulled up, right?
What did Avila do wrong or that was so old fashioned? He lost momentum. He didn't turn on Hinch or his coaching staff. He fell on his sword taking the whole or entire blame.
I hope that what the new guy does is give Hinch more direction as to meeting expectations. Hitting coaches better get players hitting. Pitching coaches better know how to maintain young pitchers. Overall strategy better win games. There better not be any cheating or other nefarious activity, too.
Things I might like to see done, that Avila didn't include:
1. Move the fences in.
2. Demand more out of his manager.
3. Negotiate to make Cabrera a coach, and retire as a player.
4. Improve the International scouting network, or simply sign more immediate major league ready talent from Japan or Cuba.
5. Consider bringing Verlander back.
6. Hire more mentors for young stars like Dombrowski did for Cabrera.
7. Keep building the bull pen. It's on the right track, but be relentless in this effort.