The first step in the Detroit Tigers rebuild is a concerning one

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Published on : July 22, 2017

 

The moment fans have been waiting for, some of us for years, has finally come. The Detroit Tigers have finally conceded that they are not competitive in their division and have seemingly gotten serious about overhauling the team. The opening salvo in this long awaited rebuilding project was a move that seemed imminent for some time now.

 

The Tigers finally went and did what everyone knew they were going to do and they traded away their most valuable market piece, JD Martinez. It was all but certain that Martinez’ days were numbered in Detroit due to the fact that he has a major pay day – one that the Tigers have made clear they want no part of – coming his way. This should have been a happy event for realistic fans of the team who knew that there were some painful days ahead.

 

 Detroit Tigers newest prospect, Dawel Lugo.

 

Trading away a slugger like JD to a contender in need of a monster bat was going to yield some exciting new prospects that would help build the future of the team. Maybe a promising young bat or a hot pitching prospect. Instead, team president, Al Avila, came back with a haul of underwhelming infielders. Which I’m sure the Arizona Diamondbacks were more than happy to ship off for Martinez. The most promising among them is 22-year-old third basemen, Dawel Lugo. The Tigers think his combination of fielding and hitting will continue to develop to the point that he could be in the majors within the next couple years. The other two guys, shortstop Sergio Alcantara (21) and shortstop Jose King (18), are too raw to even project when they might be ready for the big leagues.

 

Looking back to when the Tigers traded away Yoenis Cespedes in 2015 and got Michael Fulmer in return, you would think that the team could have gotten a better haul for Martinez. The you realize that the team really shit the bed by not trading him in the offseason. This is because after years of reckless spending, the team’s payroll is set to exceed the 2018 luxury tax threshold, set at $197 million. What that means is that if the team kept JD Martinez and he left in free agency (which he will because the team can’t afford another $20+ million contract), the team would only be able to receive a 4th-round pick at best for compensation. This gave other teams way more leverage than they should have had in this situation, resulting in this underwhelming return.

 

And this is why I’m concerned about this first step in the Detroit Tigers rebuild.

 

I can’t blame Al Avila for everything that’s wrong with this team and it’s roster, but the strikes against him are starting to add up. It’s because of Avila that the salaries of both Jordan Zimmerman ($18 million this year, $24 the next and $25 the two after) and Justin Upton ($22 million/year) are on the books and killing this team’s ability to be competitive. When coupled with the salaries of both Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, both of whom were homegrown and deserved their big money deals, it’s too much to handle. The guy running the team should have known that this team was getting old and already saddled with some painful contracts, and that adding those two players at that price was a horrible idea. Instead here we are.

 

 Al Avila. Just in case you want to focus your blame somewhere.

 

It’s clearly going to get a lot worse before it gets better for the Detroit Tigers and their fans. The Martinez trade was the first of a probable many trades that the Tigers will make before the July 31st deadline. If this is any indication of how the team is going to shed salary, then what could have been a 2 or 3 year project could take much longer. This team gave baseball fans in Detroit a ton to cheer about over the last decade or so, but they never quite reached the mountain top. Fans have held out hope for a renaissance with this roster in the last couple years in order to finally get that World Series title, but it’s clear that even the team has given up on that hope. Now comes the really hard part, and if this is any indication of how’s it’s going to go down, then it’s going to be harder than even I thought.

 

BE AFRAID.

 

 


Rebuilding the Detroit Tigers

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Published on : July 7, 2017

 

 

It’s no secret that the 2017 Detroit Tigers are pretty awful. As they sit right now, they are 38-46 and have shown nothing that says they have a chance to contend for the AL Central title or an AL wild card spot. The team’s performance this season, and recent seasons for that matter, has left fans in the Motor City frustrated and ready for a change. But just how much can this team change? And is it even possible to blow it up completely and start a full scale rebuild?

 

The first, and most important, thing the team can do is part ways with manager, Brad Ausmus. He inherited a title contender in 2014, and since being swept out of the ALDS in that season, his team’s performance has steadily declined. While he can’t be totally blamed for the team’s roster and much of the blame lies with the players themselves, this team has not grown under his watch and his all star type players haven’t been able to reach their full potential. For that, he should be given his walking papers and certainly will unless the team wants a fan revolt on their hands.

 

 

On the other hand, team president, Al Avila’s job should be safe for at least one more season. With the recent death of longtime owner, Mike Ilitch, it’s hard to believe the team will want to cause anymore of a stir in the organization. With Avila probably safe, you have to wonder what players, if any, the team will be able to trade away for assets in this coming team rebuild.

 

Miguel Cabrera isn’t going anywhere. His contract is insane (he will make at least $30 million annually through 2023) and he’s an icon in Detroit. It would be nice to be able to send him on his way in search for another ring and get something in return for the future hall of fame slugger, but it’s not happening. Being saddled with that contract for years to come hurts but it can’t hurt fan, or organizational, morale to have (arguably) the best player in the team’s history retire wearing the old english D. It’s a nightmare of a contract but there was no other option for the team at the time and that’s just the way it goes.

 

Justin Verlander is almost as iconic as Miguel Cabrera, and for good reason, but the team must ship him off if it can. The trade might not even be possible because of the amount of money that Verlander ($28 million a year through 2019) is owed over the coming seasons. It’s another case of a franchise icon getting paid what they have rightly earned but hamstringing the team with an enormous contract in the end. At 34-years-old he isn’t having the greatest season, but he is coming off of a Cy Young caliber season in 2016, so a contender with money to spend might be willing to risk it. If that happens, the Tigers would be crazy not to pull the trigger and shed that enormous salary.

 

Most likely is a scenario in which Verlander and Cabrera stay in Detroit for years to come. That JD Martinez as arguably the most likely player in the league to be traded to a new team, and he will fetch a nice return for the team. The Tigers have no indication that they wish to re-sign him and add to their already bloated payroll, and his bat would immediately help any team that he went to. So he’s gone.

 

 JD won’t be a Tiger for long.

 

Other trade-able pieces include Jose Iglesias, Ian Kinsler, Justin Upton, Nick Castellanos, Alex Avila and Anibal Sanchez (that’s right, Anibal Sanchez). Upton’s contract probably makes a trade unlikely, but everyone else should draw some amount of interest. The team has Dixon Machado as the shortstop of the future so Iglesias should be gone too, and Alex Avila has been playing great since the team brought him back so he could see himself traded away by his own father. How much the team can get in return for any of these players remains to be seen, but you can’t imagine getting any team’s top few prospects for anyone on this roster.

 

With it being unlikely that the Tigers are going to get any world beaters in a trade, it looks like they’ll have to do this thing the old fashioned way and start drafting and developing players in the system. In recent year’s, they have traded away all of their top prospects for big names in the interest of winning now and getting that elusive World Series title. But that never happened and now the team is getting old and is considerably overpaid.

 

It’s going to be a rough few years but it’s time to stop putting it off and get serious about changing this team in a fundamental way. Al Avila has made it clear that the days of spending huge money are over. Even though they will have to simply ride some of these bad contracts out, they can and must trim their salary and build from within. There are some good young pieces on the roster in guys like Michael Fulmer. If the team is smart with their money, with a little luck they could be a contender in a few more seasons. A new era of Detroit Tigers baseball is imminent but it could be a painful journey to get there.

 

 


Inter-sport Trading: The Dream of the Hometown Fan

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Published on : May 19, 2017

 

While there certainly are some exceptions, for the most part I think sports fans grow up rooting for their local teams, riding out the highs and lows while sticking with those teams no matter how bad the tough times can get. I mean, take it from me, I’ll devote every season to my Detroit Lions even after their disastrous 0-16 season.

 

I would venture to guess that most fans are like me in that sense. Growing up here in the Metro Detroit area, we are fortunate to have a franchise in all of the four major sports, and each one is the team I stand behind. If it’s the fall you can spot me wearing that Matt Stafford #9 jersey, in the winter months there I am hoping for the return of the glory days for my Red Wings and Pistons, and come summer you can find me enjoying a cold one while sitting behind home plate looking at a re-surging Detroit skyline while rooting for arguably the greatest hitter of my generation, Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.

 

 

Being a Detroit sports fan has blessed me with a lot of great memories as I have been able to witness and celebrate multiple championships courtesy of the Red Wings and Pistons, and have been along for the ride on some close calls with the Detroit Tigers in recent years. However, I think the dream for any sports fan is for all of their teams to be at the top of their game every season, or at the same time, and with that wish came an idea that I envisioned many years ago — the idea of inter-sport trading.

 

Now, understand this about the idea, I do realize it is essentially impossible given the fact that these teams don’t in fact belong to the cities they represent. Owning a sports franchise is a business and all businesses of course are in the business of making a profit. Therefore, even though Detroit has four franchises, they are not owned by the same individual and therefore they would more than likely never be interested in my idea. However, we all can dream right? So here is my dream, the dream of the hometown fan.

 

With the NBA Lottery complete, the Boston Celtics are on the clock with the #1 pick and are in a prime position to remain a contender for years to come. Currently, the Boston Celtics are heading into the Eastern Conference Finals as the #1 seed and therefore in a great place going forward building around guys like Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. Also in the Boston area, you have a perennial power in the New England Patriots, and even the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins have enjoyed recent success. All four franchises have won the championship in their respective sports in the past decade which is something to be really excited about if you are a Boston fan, and something that fans of other cities may wish to experience themselves.

 

 

In this example, seeing as how the Celtics are in a great spot contending for an NBA Championship, the Patriots are coming off a Super Bowl season and look to be ready to contend for another this season, and the Red Sox early on are hoping to be in the World Series conversation come October but currently find themselves in 3rd place in the AL East. If inter-sport trading were a thing, I would bet many Red Sox fans would definitely entertain the idea of being able to dangle that #1 pick that the Boston Celtics may not have much use for and trade it to another NBA franchise who could desperately use that #1 pick. Now the question is what’s the return for a Boston fan in this deal? Well, suppose the NBA team that receives the #1 pick is the Chicago Bulls. Chicago is rumored to be possibly facing a scenario where they move Jimmy Butler looking to shake their roster up and therefore a #1 pick would help that process. In return, coming off a World Series title, the Chicago Cubs are loaded with talent and perhaps could afford to lose a spare part in their rotation or lineup to give to the Boston Red Sox.

 

So in this scenario, you have the Boston Celtics still playing at a high level with salary cap space and perhaps not much need for a high draft pick at this time and the Red Sox would boost their roster via the return from the Cubs. If you’re a Chicago fan, you just gained a #1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft and potentially still have a very deep roster where such a move wouldn’t affect the World Series chances for the Cubs.

 

 

However, this scenario does pose a difficult issue considering Chicago is one of many cities or states where two or more franchises reside in the same city or state. For example, South siders and North siders may both love their Bulls but will have very different opinions of the Cubs with the White Sox also having loyal fanbases in the area. Therefore, half of the city would not be in support of inter-sport trading.

 

In another scenario that ultimately inspired the idea for me, we have to go back to 2003. My beloved Detroit Pistons were on the cusp of greatness vying for an NBA Championship with a core group that featured Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince. The lottery balls that year fell in Detroit’s favor landing them the #2 overall pick. However, with LeBron James going #1, the Pistons faced a dilemma of who to take with that pick. Hindsight is of course 20/20 but they definitely struck out with their selection in the long run, but in the short run it may not have been the worst thing in the world.

 

The Pistons went on to select Darko Milicic, and he rarely saw the court during his tenure in Detroit but during his rookie campaign, that may not have been the worst thing. The Pistons had a great starting five and a good group of role players off the bench that seemed to form a perfect team, and it’s possible that even with future superstars in Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony available in that draft, their best chance to win an NBA title in 2004 was with a guy like Darko who didn’t get in the way by stealing minutes from the other Pistons.

 

Darko-2003-NBA-Draft

 

In the short run therefore, drafting Darko may have not been a horrible option, while in the long run it of course looks like one of the worst draft picks in this history of the NBA as Darko Milicic went on to retire from basketball at age 27. However, I think the best scenario would have been to trade the pick because quite frankly, the Pistons just didn’t need it. This is where I drew the inspiration for my idea of inter-sport trading. The Pistons could have found a suitor in the NBA who would have jumped at the opportunity to get guys like Wade, Bosh or Melo and in return another franchise in Detroit could have reaped the benefits from it.

 

Prime example being the Indiana Pacers. The Pistons went on to beat Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals that year thanks in part to the block heard round the world when Tayshaun Prince ran down Reggie Miller swatting him at the rim. With Reggie set to retire, Dwyane Wade would have been a perfect replacement in Indiana had they traded for our #2 pick. Or imagine the frontcourt of Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal with Ron Artest at the small forward position. Just down the road in Indiana, the Indianapolis Colts were riding high with Peyton Manning winning 3 straight NFL MVP’s from 2003-2005 and went on to win 12+ games in seven straight years beginning in 2003. The Colts went on to win the Super Bowl in 2006 and perhaps back when the Pistons could have traded that #2 pick the Colts would have been willing to ship their #1 and #2 or a pro bowl quality player to the Detroit Lions.

 

Again, the idea of inter-sport trading would never work, I get it. Unless teams became property of the cities themselves or owners bought the rights to every pro franchise in that particular city, no owner would sacrifice his own business by helping another business. But a sports fan can still dream right?

 

 


The Detroit Tigers could be headed to old, (un)familiar territory

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Published on : November 11, 2016

 

 

2003 was a long time ago. George W. Bush was in his first term as President. Facebook wasn’t even a thing yet. The iPhone hadn’t even been thought of. And the Detroit Tigers were awful. Among the most awful baseball teams in the modern history of the game to be more specific. Their 119 losses in that year was 1 loss short of the 1962 Mets record for losses in a season. When the Tigers won that last game to avoid tying that record you would have thought that they had won a World Series. Players and fans rejoiced that they weren’t the worst. But they were damn close.

 

Three years after that historically disastrous season, the Detroit Tigers had won the American League Pennant, after making the playoffs as the Wild Card team, and went on the the World Series. It was an amazingly quick turnaround that marked the beginning of a new golden era in Detroit baseball. The organization led by Dave Dombrowski, for most of the period since 2003, would go on to appear in another World Series in 2012, and win the AL Central four times.

 

 

Under Dombrowski (now with with Boston Red Sox) and long-time manager Jim Leyland (retired), the Tigers and the city of Detroit enjoyed a decade of relatively good, competitive baseball. They got to see triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera destroy the baseball and Cy Young contenders such as Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and David Price destroy opposing batters. Acquiring and retaining such marquee talent isn’t easy though, and because of it the organization consistently found itself with one of the larger payrolls in the MLB, and a depleted farm system. And that leaves the Detroit Tigers and their fans here, on the edge of some potentially dark days.

 

Shortly after the end of the 2016 MLB season, Tigers president, Al Avila, made it clear that the team would be retaining manager Brad Ausmus and cutting payroll in a big way. Neither of these things should sound like good news to Tigers’ fans. Brad Ausmus hasn’t necessarily been terrible as the manager in Detroit but he has failed to win a playoff game despite having a considerable amount of talent on the roster. The team isn’t doomed with him at the helm, but he probably isn’t the person to take them to the next level either. More of the same.

 

What should really make fans shudder, is that this team seems determined to slash payroll. The most likely victims of the cost cutting mandate in the front office will be Justin Verlander, JD Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. Years of squeezing their farm system to acquire big name players and breaking the bank to keep those players left the Tigers with a payroll of $199 million last season. That was behind only the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox. All teams that made the playoffs. When you don’t make the playoffs two years running and you are spending that kind of money, it’s easy to see why ownership would want to re-examine their methods. That could mean saying goodbye to the players who have defined baseball in Detroit for years.

 

 

The team says they are listening to offers for any and all players. If that’s really the case then there’s a good chance that Verlander is leaving soon. He is 34 and coming off of his best season since 2012. His value is high and he could net a good return in an offseason with a poor market for starting pitching. Trading him will help the team shed $28 million in salary this coming year. With a big enough return, I’m sure the fan reaction to the trade could be mostly positive. I’m not sure the same goes for a trade involving Miggy. His contract runs through 2023 and he is owed no less than $28 million in any of those coming seasons. For an aging slugger, that’s a lot for a potential trade partner to deal with. The team would probably be lucky to unload him at this point, but he is such a fan favorite that I don’t know that they could get enough in return to fill the void left in the hearts of fans.

 

Will the fans really be able to withstand a prolonged playoff drought plus watching their favorite players leave town? That could be hard to stomach in Detroit and could leave Comerica Park looking a lot more empty than it has been for a long time. It’s hard to be too optimistic about the Detroit Tigers in the near future. Rebuilding is never an easy thing. Fans who have joined the team in only the recent good years, might have to suffer through a bit of losing. Something that isn’t the norm. For those that have been in with the team for decades, we might be returning to the dark ages of the 90’s. Nobody wants that but sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better.

 

 


It’s time for Ausmus and Caldwell to go

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Published on : October 3, 2016

 

Last week, I reported that the city of Detroit was suffering from A Case of the Mondays after both the Tigers and the Lions lost their games. It was more of the same today. Both teams disappointed big time and it has me thinking, now more than ever, that it’s time for Ausmus and Caldwell to be shown the door as head coaches of their teams.

 

The Lions lost in a pathetic display of professional football against the Chicago Bears. The loss brings them to 1-3 and the team is on the verge of a complete implosion. In what is becoming an all too familiar early season trend with these Detroit Lions. Chicago was widely considered one of the worst teams in the league. They had 10,000 players on IR and were missing their starting quarterback. Detroit should have come out and gotten right against this team and started to build the foundation of a a potential playoff run. Instead, they fell flat on their faces. Jim Caldwell once again failed to have his team prepared and it was obvious.

 

The Tigers played the Atlanta Braves, with a chance to stay in contention for a spot in the AL Wild Card. Justin Verlander looked a bit off to start, allowing a run in the first before settling down and blanking the Braves for the rest of his six innings. The team went on to lose the game 1-0. As usual, the Tigers bats went to sleep when they were needed most. Despite having a future hall of fame slugger in Miguel Cabrera and a stable of other capable offensive weapons, the team couldn’t muster a single run. It is now the third 1-0 loss this season when Verlander is on the mound. Now the season is over and Brad Ausmus has failed to get his team to the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

 

 

We expect this from the Lions. This team has been breaking hearts in Motown for decades now and fans have seen the team be horrible more often than not. With injuries to the best defensive players and a head coach in Jim Caldwell who can’t get his team ready to compete on Sundays, they were treated to a listless effort.

 

Jim Caldwell was already on the hot seat this year. After making the playoffs in 2014, his first season in Detroit, the team started off the 2015 campaign in pathetic fashion before firing the offensive coordinator and getting it together enough to manage a 7-9 finish. This season saw a changing of the guard in the front office, as the Ford family brought in new general manager Bob Quinn from the New England Patriots organization. Quinn decided to retain Caldwell and give him one more shot to show what he is made of and bring Detroit a contender. Well, he sure showed us what he’s got and the returns are not good. That’s why he should get fired immediately and the team should start preparing to find someone who can maximize the talent on the team.

 

 

Same goes for Brad Ausmus. Say what you will about Jim Leyland as a professional baseball manager, but he brought the Detroit Tigers out of the dark ages and turned them into perennial contender. When he retired, Brad Ausmus inherited a team that had won the AL Central three years running and had appeared in two World Series in the past decade. His inaugural campaign with the team saw the team win its 4th consecutive AL Central title, only to get swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS. In 2015, the team finished last in the division with a 74-87 record. With yesterday’s loss, the team will miss the playoffs again. With the type of talent on this roster there’s no reason for that.

 

Ausmus and Caldwell have both had three years (more or less) to make a winner. Brad Ausmus came in as a manager with no experience. He was a calculated risk taken by the front office that hurt a team with aging stars whose windows are rapidly closing. Jim Caldwell came in with a solid resume, having taken the Colts to the Super Bowl as their head coach and won another as the offensive coordinator of the Ravens. Their were red flags with him as well, but the team needed someone who could counter the undisciplined culture of the team under former head coach, Jim Schwartz.

 

Neither of the two coaches has worked out. It’s time for the Tigers and Lions to move on from their current head coaches and start looking to the future. If you need to ask why, just watch the games from yesterday. The fans deserve better than what Ausmus and Caldwell have brought to Detroit over the last two seasons. There are teams out there that do a lot more with a lot less. That’s what good managers can bring and it’s time both these teams went out and found a couple of those.

 

 


A Case of the Mondays: Detroit Edition

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Published on : September 26, 2016

 

 

This Monday is a tough one for Detroit sports fans to swallow. The Motor City collectively limps into the week after one of the tougher Sundays in recent memory. Both the Tigers and Lions had big games, and both teams failed to come ready-to-play, leaving fans (or at least this one) wondering why they put themselves through this pain. The Tigers, in the middle of a race for the second wild card spot, played the Royals at home. The Lions, trying to rebound from a painful loss in a game that they should have won against the Titans last week, traveled to Lambeau Field to play the Packers.

 

Both team started off slow and were punched in the mouth by the opposition. Both teams got it together eventually and made a game of it, but lost in the end. It was too little, too late.

 

 The Royals celebrate the Tigers demise.

 

Neither the Lions nor Tigers deserved to win yesterday, yet they had the chance to steal the game away. That should be encouraging, but that doesn’t mean that fans should overlook the fact that these teams are flawed, and aren’t getting a lot of help from the guys that are running the show. That’s right, both of these professional sports teams located in Detroit have coaches or managers that just aren’t very good.

 

It’s already pretty well documented how I feel about Detroit Tigers’ manager, Brad Ausmus. He just hasn’t been all that good during his time with the Tigers. He inherited a team that was in the middle of years-long domination of the AL Central and has had a hand in the teams underperformance ever since. The team started this season with an awful 15-21 record, but somehow managed to hang around long enough to be competing for the second wild card spot. With yesterday’s loss, the team now sits 1.5 games back of the Baltimore Orioles for that last playoff spot. Ausmus deserves some credit for helping the team stick around this long, but also deserves the blame for not getting the most out of a roster with some serious talent.

 

 “Promise me you’ll write after they can my ass.

 

Same goes for Lions’ coach, Jim Caldwell. In his first year with the Lions, he took them to the playoffs with a 11-5 regular season record. After a brutal playoff loss at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, he followed 2014 up with a 7-9 record in 2015. In this, his third year with the team, he is off to 1-2 start following a game that the team pissed away against Tennessee and the debacle in Green Bay yesterday. He has shown a lack of ability to get his teams motivated and the blame for the sloppy play and penalties almost certainly lies with him. If it’s not the head coach’s job to make sure his team is properly prepared then whose job is it?

 

No one really expected this Lions team to go win in Green Bay, but the fact is the Packers aren’t that good. If the Lions had come ready-to-play and didn’t have to dig themselves out of a 31-3 hole, maybe they could have done it. If the 34-27 final score is any indication of what this team is capable of, then maybe they will be alright. But not if their coach doesn’t get them to come out and play for all 4 quarters.

 

 The Packers came out strong and hung on for the win.

 

No one really expected this Tigers team to make the playoffs. When you start the season like that and then go on to have a 2-13 record against the division leading rival, Cleveland Indians, playoffs seem like a pipe dream. But the Tigers are still in the hunt. Sadly, with only 7 games to play they start a 4-game home series against the Indians today, likely spelling an end to those wild card hopes.

 

Mondays can be rough, especially with Sundays like yesterday. The Tigers season might be wrapping up in similar fashion to how it started, with a whimper. The Lions season is just starting off and has already given fans plenty of reasons to drink. Both teams have coaches that could very well be gone next year. And most fans probably wouldn’t be mad. This Case of the Mondays goes to you Detroit. Hopefully this week will be better than the last.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XXIII: The 3/4ths Awards)

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Published on : August 19, 2016

 

 

When fragile china doll, Giancarlo Stanton, went down with a groin strain, you have no idea how much I wanted the Marlins to go after Alex Rodriguez. If nothing else, just to keep the Yankees’ drama going. But since that’s not going to happen, this week has mostly been a discussion of who’s in position for postseason awards. Good timing. The season is about exactly 3/4ths done. And since I haven’t done this for a while, let’s get back in to it.

 

AL MVP

 
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

 

Listen, Trout is not going to win this thing. The Angels are 21 games back of the Rangers, losing 11 in a row at one point this past week. But the fact that a player of Trout’s caliber has only won one MVP award is almost criminal. Here’s how I retroactively would have voted the previous four years.

 

2012                        WAR    wOBA

1. Mike Trout          10.3    .409
2. Miguel Cabrera    6.4    .417
3. Robinson Cano    7.6    .394
4. Adrian Beltre        6.5    .388
5. Prince Fielder       4.8    .398

 

Trout finished second to Cabrera because of the Triple Crown. That’s right, only four years ago, we still cared about RBIs. We were wrong.

 

 

2013                          WAR   wOBA

1. Mike Trout            10.5   .423
2. Miguel Cabrera      7.5    .455
3. Chris Davis            7.0    .421
4. Josh Donaldson    7.6    .384
5. Robinson Cano      5.8    .384

 

Trout finished second to Cabrera again. At this point everybody was saying, “Well, Trout’s a better player. But Cabrera’s a better hitter.” And I was all, “But not by much though. And also, WHAT???”

 

2014                             WAR    wOBA

1. Mike Trout                8.0    .402
2. Jose Bautista           6.4    .402
3. Michael Brantley       6.1    .389
4. Jose Abreu               5.3    .411
5. Adrian Beltre            5.7    .380

 

Trout’s ‘worst’ season is also his only MVP season. Also, this would be an excellent time to remind you that Adrian Beltre is the 5th greatest 3rd baseman of all time.

 

2015                                   WAR  wOBA

1. Mike Trout                    9.0    .415
2. Josh Donaldson           8.7    .398
3. Chris Davis                   5.6    .390
4. Manny Machado          6.8    .370
5. Nelson Cruz                 4.8    .396

 

Trout finished second to Donaldson, who he was clearly better than. But Donaldson won because the Blue Jays were clearly better than the Angels. Unless there is also a stat for ‘most annoying hillbilly voice of all time’, in which case Donaldson would clean up.

 

So…

 

 

This year it looks like this.

 

2016                          WAR   wOBA

1. Mike Trout                6.9    .412
2. Jose Altuve              6.3     .420
3. Josh Donaldson      6.2     .402
4. Mookie Betts           6.1     .390
5. Manny Machado     5.4     .377

 

So my guess is Altuve. No matter how bad ESPN wants to hand it to Betts. He’s also good at bowling!!!!!!!!! Unless there is also a stat for most annoying hillbilly voice of all time, in which case… Donaldson.

 

AL Cy Young

 

Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

 

I’d give the Klubot a slight edge over Aaron Sanchez, Jose Quintana, Danny Duffy and Steven Wright. But I don’t understand why this so so hard for people. Zach Britton has only pitched 50 innings this year and has a 1.8 WAR. So can we stop pretending closers should even be in the conversation? Thanks. Also, the Indians’ overall staff is a tad bit overrated. Their team has scored 600 runs this season. That’s actually a bigger part of why they win. The best staff in the AL belongs to Toronto. You heard me correctly.

 

AL Rookie of the Year

Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers

 

I’d go so far as to say he’s 7th or 8th in the AL Cy Young conversation. And that’s ahead of Justin Verlander, who apparently decided he was still Justin Verlander.

 

NL MVP

 

Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals

 

I WANT it to be one of the MVP Brothers (Bryzzo). But it’s still the fluke homophobe in our nation’s capital. But since we’re talking about the MVP Brothers (I coined something!), did all of you see Anthony Rizzo’s balance beam catch in foul territory this week? Or the fact that the Cubs have a +209 run differential and haven’t had a +200 since 1945? They’re actually under-performing, folks. I blame the bullpen. And yes, I’m horrified of the Cardinals/Pirates winning the Wild Card and doing to the Cubs what the Cubs did to the Cardinals (and Pirates) last year.

 

NL Cy Young

 

I’ll let you decide. Because it’s probably still Kershaw. Like, you can say whatever you want. It’s still Kershaw.

 

2016                                 WAR   FIP   ERA

Clayton Kershaw            5.5    1.66    1.79
Noah Syndergaard         5.0    2.22    2.76
Jose Fernandez              4.8    2.21    2.81
Madison Bumgarner       3.9    3.14    2.11
Jacob deGrom                3.5    3.00    2.30

 

Kershaw is gonna fall off eventually. But that means the Mets have two of the four best pitchers in the league and still can’t win (maybe since one of them doesn’t capitalize his last name like an American person). Also, Clayton Kershaw has a 5.5 WAR and he hasn’t even pitched since June 26. I’m just saying. And the Dodgers have the second-best record (to my beloved Cubs) in the National League since then for some reason. The Giants have the second-worst in all of baseball since then. It must really suck to be the Giants right now. Even year, baby!

 

NL Rookie of the Year

 

Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Just so we’re clear, the Giants have a 9-21 record since the All-Star break. I mean, holy fucking shit. Both are odd numbers.

 

Okay! That’s it for this week. Next week, I’ll be in New York City, in a place that has no outfields. If you need more baseball from me you can check me out on “Comedians Talking Sports” with Joe Kilgallon on the podcast stuff. Until then, the Cubs’ Magic Number is 30. Which is an even number. That’s an important thing!

 

 


The Detroit Tigers did the right thing at the trade deadline

Written by :
Published on : August 2, 2016

 

 

This was definitely a different kind of trade deadline for the Detroit Tigers and their of fans. The organization has been a big player at the deadline in recent years, often coming away with top-notch talent. Aside from last year, when the Tigers traded away David Price and Yoenis Cespedes for a stable of young arms, that talent was always brought to town with the idea that it would help the Tigers win right away. In 2014, it was David Price who was brought in to solidify the rotation for a playoff run. In 2013, the team got their shortstop of the future and human highlight reel in the field, Jose Iglesias. In other years past it was Doug Fister or Max Scherzer. No one can ever accuse former Tigers GM, Dave Dombrowski of being complacent or cautious at the trade deadline, but there’s a new sheriff in town.

 

 Avila, with his former boss and Tigers’ GM, Dave Dombrowski, and for manager, Jim Leyland.

 

First year GM, Al Avila, worked under Dave Dombrowski for years and he learned a lot from the opportunity to work with such a successful baseball architect. But he also realizes that years of wheeling and dealing at the deadline has left the organization and its farm system bereft of young talent. The Tigers have sent away talented prospects in droves over the last decade or so, and because of that, they didn’t have a single top-100 prospect in their system this season. Their top three youngsters are Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. All three of them have played in the majors this year, and have been impressive enough to warrant keeping them out of any potential deals with other teams.

 

Michael Fulmer has been the brightest spot on the Tigers roster all season long. He is currently rocking a 9-2 record with a 2.50 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, and is a legit candidate for AL Rookie of the Year. As one of those young arms that was brought to town at the deadline last year, Al Avila realizes that Fulmer and guys like him are the future of the team. And it’s for that reason that the Detroit Tigers made the correct move by standing idle at the trade deadline. There were plenty of discussions with other teams, but the team is determined to build a winner from within and you can’t do that by trading away your most talented young pitchers. They probably could have gotten a king’s ransom for Fulmer but they weren’t willing to part with someone who has been so impressive in their rookie season.

 

 Michael Fulmer: The Future.

 

The decision to stand pat is probably the best thing that could happen to this team right now. Coming on the heels of two straight series sweeps against the Red Sox and Astros, many people thought that the Tigers would be buyers at the trade deadline and try to add another starter to the rotation. I’m glad that cooler heads prevailed because even though Fulmer was deemed untouchable by management, trading away Norris, Boyd or both, would have put the future of the team and the farm system in jeopardy all the same.

 

The team is finally clicking this season and because of that they have probably saved Brad Ausmus’ job. I don’t really like the idea of having to deal with Ausmus for another year, but as a true fan I can’t help but hope for my boys to win as much as possible. They are sitting four games behind the Indians in the division and one and a half games out of the second wild card spot. That’s a whole lot better than I thought they would be is you had asked me about them in early June. It seems like they have finally figured it out. The bats are alive and the arms are throwing some fire. With everything clicking, why risk breaking up the chemistry by trading away important pieces to try something new.

 

Better to wait until the offseason to further improve the roster and ride it out with these guys. The farm system and the organization as a whole will be better for it in the end. Al Avila seems to know that and it’s because of that fact that I believe that while it may have been a quiet trade deadline for the Detroit Tigers, it was also a successful one.

 

 


These Tigers have no claws

Written by :
Published on : June 29, 2016

 

 

 

The Detroit Tigers have not yet been mathematically eliminated from anything. But it’s time to accept the fact that this team probably isn’t going anywhere. They’ve hung around long enough to keep the hope of fans on life support, and even won against the Marlins yesterday, but after their 9th consecutive loss to the division leading Cleveland Indians earlier in the week, it’s safe to say that this season is dead.

 

There’s just too much missing for this squad to make any type of sustained run at the division title or a wild card berth. They missed the playoffs last year, after winning 4 straight division titles prior to that. New general manager, Al Avila, tried to plug some holes and make the roster viable last offseason, but it wasn’t enough. With sub-par managing, a less than satisfactory starting rotation, a stable of players getting older by the day, and another team taking control of the AL Central, it might be time to turn the page on this team. And here’s why.

 

Starting Rotation

 Michael Fulmer, the future of the Tigers’ pitching staff?

 

For years, the starting rotation has been one of the Tigers strongest position groups. This year however, they lack a clear cut ace, such as Max Scherzer or David Price, and because of that they’ve underperformed as a unit. The original ace of the modern Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander, seems to have finally gotten himself back together, but he is far from the pitcher who earned a $28 million per year contract extension back in 2013. Jordan Zimmermann started the year off very strong but has since cooled off, especially since coming back from a groin strain. Anibal Sanchez has been a disaster, as has Mike Pelfrey for most of the season, and Shane Greene has been living in the bullpen since coming back from the DL.

 

The brightest spot of the starting rotation has been rookie, Michael Fulmer. He has been lights out and currently has a 7-2 record with an ERA of 2.40. His emergence has given fans hope for the future, but the team is already starting to talk about limiting his innings so as to not ruin his young arm. If he continues to develop he should be an important piece for years to come, but he will not carry the team to the promised land this year. The rotation ranks 19th in the league, with a collective ERA of 4.69. That won’t get it done.

 

The Offense

 There have been more and more cringeworthy moments for Cabrera and the offense this year.

 

Miguel Cabrera is still solid, but he is also slowing down considerably with every passing year. There are streaks where the brilliance of his game continues to shine through, but there will be a time very soon when his contract won’t be justified. That time may have even already come. He can’t carry the offense the way he once did, and no one around him, save an also aging Victor Martinez, has proven they can pick up the slack on a consistent basis.

 

With J.D. Martinez still recovering from a broken bone in his elbow and Justin Upton in the running to lead the league in strikeouts, the outlook isn’t good for the offense. It’s not that this is a bad offense, but it is nowhere near as prolific as it has been in recent seasons, and definitely not good enough to cover up for the other deficiencies that this team has. There are too many times when the bats don’t show up, and with the pitching issues, that’s a real problem.

 

The Indians

 The Indians are cruising at the expense of the Tigers.

 

The Cleveland Indians have become kryptonite to any sustained success the Tigers manage to muster this season. The Tigers seem to be able to find at least some success against everyone else except the Tribe. The Royals have also been a thorn in the side of the team, but with the Indians leading the division and absolutely owning the Tigers this season, it’s the team in Cleveland that is writing the obituary for these Motor City Kitties.

 

The Indians’ starting pitching has had their way with the Tigers every time the teams have faced off. They seem to be hitting their peak as a team, just as the Tigers seem to have already shown us their best baseball. They were early favorites to win the division for a reason and now that they’ve woken up everyone else should be worried.

 

 

 

Don’t expect the Detroit Tigers to completely fall apart. They will to continue to play .500 baseball for the rest of the season. I just hope that Al Avila doesn’t try too hard to squeeze a playoff run out of this current roster because in order to do that he will have to mortgage the few promising, young pieces that the team does have. It’s time to deal with the reality that the Detroit Tigers, as they are currently assembled, have missed their window to win a championship. If Al Avila retains his position with the team after the season he must work towards the future and start planning a rebuild that will likely be painful for everyone involved.

 

 


SBS Stadium Series: Angel Stadium of Anaheim Time

Written by :
Published on : June 7, 2016

 

Living in Southern California, it can be hard to see my beloved Detroit Tigers in the flesh as often as I’d like. So when I do get the opportunity, I jump at it. The Tigers rarely come to Los Angeles, so I make a once-a-year trip to Angel Stadium of Anaheim to watch my Motor City Kitties play the Angels.

 

Normally, it doesn’t go so well. I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of seeing my team get spanked in Angel Stadium on more than one occasion. On one particularly painful visit to the OC, I even got to see Mike Trout hit a 1st inning grand slam en route to a 10-0 Angels win. This was the final meeting in a three game series, and the Tigers had already dropped the first two games. The odds of a win were in our favor. This had to be it.

 

Traditionally, my pregame experience at Angel Stadium is pretty weak. The consumption of alcohol inside the stadium parking lot is illegal, so I’m forced to get a spot in an offsite lot. Considering my long drive from LA and my lack of a desire to pay $100+ for a spot in a tailgating lot, I end up sitting in my car and drinking beers before the game (with the engine off and keys out of the ignition, of course). This is while trying to avoid the gaze of the many law enforcement officials in the area. Pretty lame. But this time, I vowed things would be different!

 

Portillos

 

I recently discovered that for some reason there is a Portillo’s in Buena Park, right near the Stadium. For those who don’t know, it’s a delightful Chicago-area chain known for it’s dogs and beef. I headed on down with a couple fellow expat Michiganders to enjoy some food and beers before we hit the ballpark. I was delighted to find that both were comically low-priced as far as things go here in Southern California. I downed my combo Italian beef and sausage sandwich. Things were already going my way.

 

We decided to stop into a bar before the game and have one last reasonably priced alcoholic beverage. We were lucky enough find Keno’s Sports Bar. This place was great. To get there you have to go through Keno’s Restaurant, which looks like a more respectable version of Denny’s. It was really weird. It’s like the restaurant was too big, so they decided to build a sports bar in a corner and separate it by tinted glass double doors. Another bonus was that they actually had Keno (Hot Spot here in Cali), a great lottery-style gambling game that is responsible for taking my money in bars all over Michigan. But not this day! I wound up trying my luck and left that bar $10 richer. The good day continued, now if only the Tigers could seal the deal.

 

We arrived a little late and settled in to our nosebleed seats just as the 3rd inning was getting underway. This was right around the time that I realized that my two friends that I convinced to come with me on this trip south were not very interested in baseball. They were both from Michigan, but they were also ladies who spent more time talking about their work as ER nurses and the latest Snapchat filters than watching the pitcher’s duel happening before our eyes. The stadium was pretty empty and it made it so that the sound carried really far. Not only could people hear my friends talking about everything except baseball, but I could hear all types of stereotypical ballpark sounds as well. Random heckling, cheers of encouragement and vendors selling their peanuts and crackerjacks filled my ears as I soaked it all in.

 

 

The Tigers starter on the mound was rookie, Michael Fulmer and as of the late he has been the best part of the team’s rotation. This June 1st game was no different. It was scoreless going into the 5th inning when the Tigers put the first run of the game on the board. It was right around this time that I realized that the young gun was pitching a no-hitter thus far. I began to get very anxious. My two friends were oblivious.

 

The 6th inning came and went and neither team got a hit. The score was 1-0 and the rookie’s no-no was still intact.

 

In the top of the 7th, the Tigers added another run and while I was excited at that fact, my focus was totally on this possible no-hitter. It took every bit of restraint I had to not tell my friends to shut up and watch what could be the best pitching performance any of us had ever seen. I kept my mouth shut. Even as Michael Fulmer got through the first two batters of the 7th without allowing a hit and my excitement level went through the roof. All I wanted to do was talk about it, but I would be damned if it was me who jinxed this thing.

 

AngelsGame

 

That’s when CJ Cron hit a single and ruined it all. Obviously there was some other Tigers’ fan idiot out there who lacked the same level of self control as me and said something about the no-hitter out loud. What an asshole. I was finally able to tell my friends what had been happening but I was crushed. Sure, my team won the game 3-0 and only allowed 2 hits, and maybe I was being greedy, but I really wanted that no-hitter.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that I finally got to see my team win in Angel Stadium but it could have been so much sweeter. It would have been the perfect revenge for all the awful games I’ve seen there. But sometimes you’ve just got to be happy with what you get. I just have to relish the win and the fact that there’s a chance that the Tigers might have something special in Michael Fulmer. He just had another strong outing last night and might be the new Ace in the rotation. Who woulda thought?

 

 


How long will the Tigers keep Brad Ausmus around?

Written by :
Published on : May 15, 2016

 

 

The Detroit Tigers are off to an underwhelming 2016 Major League Baseball season. They started off the year in respectable fashion by winning 7 of their first 10 games but have more recently lost 11 of their last 12. When they aren’t busy getting beaten in a good old fashioned blow out, they are finding new and exciting ways to lose close games. Fans are beginning to get discouraged and if something doesn’t change soon, the team and its ownership are going to be dealing with a ton of empty seats in Comerica Park.

 

Patience is running thin in the Motor City, so what are the team’s options?

 

Sadly, at this point there aren’t many options that will do any good. After the work done this offseason, the team is more or less set with this roster. They added Justin Upton to the lineup, only to see him look like lost at the plate for most of this season. They’ve left a ton of men on base, including 12 in a 7-5 loss at the Orioles where the team squandered one of the few decent starts by Mike Pelfrey. Victor Martinez, Nick Castellanos, and others are hitting the ball but when the bullpen gives up big leads what does it matter? And when they finally get two high quality starts out of Justin Verlander, what do they do? They don’t hit the ball for shit.

 

 What defeat looks like.

 

There are problems all over this team and that begs the question, how long will the team stick with manager Brad Ausmus?

 

If I had to guess I would say that Ausmus doesn’t make it to June. He might not even make it to next week. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t going to help this team turn it around this season but you can’t fire your players. In my opinion he should have been fired after his first season, and at this point it’s the only thing that ownership can do to signify to the fans that they are just as upset as us. And hopefully that can keep a few people in the seats for the rest of the season.

 

Brad Ausmus has never been a particularly bad manager, but then again he’s never been a particularly good one either. He’s had his share of blunders in the dugout, but there’s a chance maybe, in the distant future, he could return as a manager to another team and be successful. But not here. Not in Detroit.

 

 Interim manager, is that you?

 

Whatever has happened to the psyche of the Detroit Tigers is now firmly resting on the shoulders of Brad Ausmus. Giving him the boot and installing someone else for the rest of what is now looking more and more like a lost season is probably the only option left.

 

Maybe they can install player-favorite, Omar Vizquel as interim manager and salvage something resembling a .500 season from this horrible 15-21 start, while seeing if they can trade away some of their more over-priced and valuable assets. You know, some of those guys with whom the blame really lies. That’s right, those players who got their manager axed. At least potentially… and hopefully. Seriously, just get rid of him already.

 

 


SBS Remembers: Disco Demolition Night

Written by :
Published on : April 7, 2016

 

Flashback to 1979. Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. A double header with the Chicago White Sox hosting the Detroit Tigers. But the second game would never be played because of an incident we affectionately call Disco Demolition Night. Let’s jump into the time machine and zip back to 70’s to give you the whole crazy story.

 

The set up

To really understand the scene we must understand the attitude of the city. The era of Saturday Night Fever was dying and the folks in Chicago were over Disco. Popular FM disc jockey, Steve Dahl, on local 97.9 WLUP aka The Loop was leading the anti-disco movement on the airways of the windy city. In an effort to boost ticket sales, the White Sox held a promotion partnered with Dahl and the radio station. The details were that Steve Dahl planned to blow up a bunch of disco vinyl between the double header games as a stunt. Fans only needed 98 cents and an unwanted disco record to enter the stadium. Brass at Comiskey expected around 20,000 fans but 50,000 showed up.

 

 Steve Dahl (in helmet), model Lorelei Shark and son of owner of the White Sox

 

The stunt

Steve Dahl had planned to explode a crate of records in an effort to ring in the death of disco. But there were so many people at the stadium and their albums were not collected so fans threw their records onto the field. Just think, a wave of flying discs covering the the grass like a fleet of UFO’s coming to earth.

 

Dahl came out to huge cheers. He did his best to get the crowd to riot level energy and then BOOM! A literal explosion and with that, all hell broke loose. Thousands flooded the diamond. Other fans who couldn’t get tickets snuck/broke into the park. Security was useless. Totally out numbered and hopelessly out gunned.

 

disco demo 2

 

Could you imagine being at a modern game where this happened? That’s such a foreign thought. And all this hostile energy is over what? Dance moves? Hip thrusts? I’ll stop talking for a bit and we can all enjoy this amazing photo.

 

DiscoDemolitionNight

 

The conclusion

Riot police had to be called in to help disperse the rabid locals. But the damage had been done. The explosion plus all the extra foot traffic completely destroyed the lawn at Comiskey. Looking back, maybe Disco Demolition Night wasn’t the best idea. I mean just the demolition could have been enough to wreck the playing surface but the full scale riot was the icing on the cake. The next day, the baseball Commissioner ruled that the White Sox had to forfeit the contest based on the fact that it was their own actions that caused the delay of the game.

 

ScoreBoredSports is here to remind you that in 1979, the Detroit Tigers got a win over the Chicago White Sox because the residents of Chicago really hate a particular type of music. That’s hilarious. And pretty sweet.

 

 

Disco.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode IV, Part II: Which Number Should Every AL Team Retire Next?)

Written by :
Published on : March 27, 2016

 

During the upcoming 2016 season, Ken Griffey Jr., Pete Rose, Mike Piazza and Wade Boggs will have their numbers retired by the Mariners, Reds, Mets and Red Sox, respectively. And that got me thinking about which players should be next in line for those honors. We already did the National League. Now, lets do the Junior Circuit.

 

Angels

Finley

 

 

Retired Numbers: Gene Autry, Rod Carew, Nolan Ryan, Jimmie Reese, Jim Fregosi.
The Angels are in kind of an odd predicament since their most obvious choice of position players is 24-years old and their current center fielder. They could go with Darin Erstad or Tim Salmon from the 2002 team. Or that goddamn Rally Monkey. But my choice would be Chuck Finley. He’s their all-time leader in wins and innings pitched and pitchers WAR. Plus, he’s local to Newport Beach. Oh, and after a very messy divorce with 80’s Babe, Tawny Kitaen, where she accused him of steroid use, marijuana and alcohol abuse, Finley responded, “I can’t believe she left out the cross-dressing.” Like a drifter, he was born to walk alone.

 

Astros

Oswalt

 

Retired Numbers: Jim Umbricht, Don Wilson, Jose Cruz, Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan, Larry Dierker, Jimmy Wynn, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio.
I’d say Lance Berkman, if he wasn’t a giant homophobe. Not that Houston is some kind of progressive place. And my second choice would be Cesar Cedeno, if he didn’t also murder his girlfriend in a Dominican hotel room in 1973. And, I’m not kidding, he was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and fined $100. That’s not a typo. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Anyway, I guess that leaves us with Roy Oswalt. I think he only kills deer. And he’s the all-time Astros pitching leader in WAR. Plus, he might have some sort of superpower. I say that because while he was in the minors he suffered from a shoulder injury until he was electrocuted while fixing his pickup. After the incident he exclaimed to his wife in his Mississippi accent, “My truck done shocked the fire out of me and my arm don’t hurt no more.” Case closed.

 

Athletics

Henderson

 

Retired Numbers: Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson.
The Athletics have played in Oakland since 1968, but their history goes back to 1901 in Philadelphia. So all-time greats like Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Collins, Al Simmons, Eddie Plank and Lefty Grove haven’t been recognized by he organization. Or any organization for that matter. And I think they should be. Those guys all won multiple World Series championships for a team that was named the Athletics and it’s not like the team changed its name or its logo to generate a new identity since they moved. All they have to do is slap an old Philadelphia logo on a banner with their names on it like their bay area brethren Giants do with the New York Giants and call it a day. Of course, you might want to include Connie Mack and Home Run Baker and Chief Bender and Herb Pennock and Mickey Cochrane. My point is that the A’s existed before your older brother bought his Bash Brothers poster. They should recognize their heritage or change their name. It’s not like ‘Athletics’ makes much sense 115 years later. Hey, Rickey Henderson was raised in Oakland. Name them after him. The Oakland Rickeys. Either that or do what I said earlier.

 

Blue Jays

Halladay

 

 

Retired Number: Roberto Alomar.
As much as I want to give it to Joe Carter for his epic walk-off in 1993 or Jose Bautista for his epic bat flip in 2015, the best Toronto Blue Jays player of all-time (in terms of WAR) is actually Roy Halladay. He might have gotten more publicity on the Phillies. He might not have been as flashy as Roger Clemens in his two seasons with Toronto, but Halladay is the closest to great there is for a franchise without any great players. Phil Niekro played there in 1987. Roberto Alomar only played there for five seasons. Dave Winfield was there for one. Rickey Henderson was there for one. Paul Molitor was there for three. Frank Thomas was there for two. And good luck convincing me it’s Tony Fernandez or Carlos Delgado. Unless Bautista sticks around and surpasses everybody, they should retire #32.

 

Indians

Lofton

 

 

Retired Numbers: Bob Feller, Lou Boudreau, Earl Averill, Mel Harder, Larry Doby, Bob Lemon, the Indians Fans.
Okay, Tris Speaker was in the Klan. But somebody needs to explain to me why the Indians never honored Nap Lajoie. Because he had a falling out with the team manager in 1914? That’s stupid. And while we’re at it, the Indians could also honor Cy Young of the defunct Cleveland Spiders. But it looks like the best choices for now would be Jim Thome and Kenny Lofton. They were fun, right? And I can think about them while I attempt to block Tris Speaker out of my mind forever.

 

Mariners

Ichiro

 

 

Retired Number: Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey had to be first. They did the right thing. But the Mariners also haven’t reissued the numbers of Edgar Martinez, Lou Piniella, Jay Buhner, Randy Johnson or Ichiro Suzuki, so all those guys are definitely on the horizon. Which is awesome. Because I don’t have do do anything. I could say, “What about Felix Hernandez?” but it seems like the Mariners are already on it.

 

Orioles

Mussina

 

 

Retired Numbers: Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr.
Uh, it’s Mike Mussina. What are you guys doing? Unless they’re waiting for Mussina to get into the Hall of Fame, I don’t see the reason for waiting. We could discuss George Sisler and Bobby Wallace of the St. Louis Browns. Or even Boog Powell. But Baltimore should quit with the whole not retiring Mike Mussina’s number thing.

 

Rangers

Rodriguez

 

 

Retired Numbers: Johnny Oates, Nolan Ryan.
They should just rename the American League West, ‘The Nolan Ryan Division’ since 3 out of the 5 teams in the division have retired his number. Anyway, the Rangers’ relatively short history is riddled with Jose Canseco’s steroids. So this all depends on how we feel about Ivan Rodriguez. Then realize that the next best choice is Rafael Palmeiro. I guess we’ll see what Hall of Fame voters do next year with Pudge. So unless somebody wants to honor Adrian Beltre or Kevin Brown or somebody else from those Ron Washington-led 2010 and 2011 teams that came oh-so-close (Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, CJ Wilson, Neftali Perez, Washington himself), the Rangers will probably be stuck with someone Canseco injected in the butt cheeks.

 

Rays

Longoria

 

 

Retired Numbers: Wade Boggs, Don Zimmer.
The obvious choice is Evan Longoria and also probably the only choice. The team has only been around for like, five minutes and all of their other good players (Carl Crawford, Ben Zobrist, James Shields, David Price) are currently on other rosters. Longo or nobody at all.

 

Red Sox

Evans

 

 

Retired Numbers: Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Johnny Pesky, Jim Rice, Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs.
The Red Sox have not reissued the jerseys of Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield or Skinny Roger Clemens. So I’d guess all three numbers will get retired at some point. Well, maybe not Skinny Roger Clemens. But if they did, that could leave an opening for Skinny Barry Bonds in Pittsburgh. But my main question is, what do the Red Sox have against Dwight Evans? Other than Skinny Clemens, he’s their best choice. Sure, this is another team that could honor Cy Young (and there’s a statue of him at the site of old Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston). Or they could continue to go the 2004-2013 rout with Dustin Pedroia, Stephen Drew, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Jon Lester and Curt Schilling. But we’ve already established that everybody must hate Curt Schilling, bloody sock and all. And it probably shouldn’t be Manny. So Big Papi and Dustin Pedroia are next. If, and only if, they can explain to me why they hate Dwight Evans.

 

Royals

Paige

 

 

Retired Numbers: Dick Howser, George Brett, Frank White.
Okay, what about Leroy “Satchel” Paige? He played on the Kansas City Monarchs. And it’s not like they’re going to give it to Amos Otis or Willie Wilson any time soon. You could make a pretty decent argument for some of their pitchers from the eighties and nineties like Kevin Appier, Mark Gubicza and Bret Saberhagen. But Paige is clearly a better choice. And he even played for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965. Sure he was 59-years-old and only pitched in four innings of one game. But that’s more amazing than anything most people I’ve already named have ever done. I’m sure this current group of players (Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Greg Holland, Wade Davis and manager, Ned Yost) will have a say in the end. But for now, give it to Satchel.

 

Tigers

Trammell and Whitaker

 

 

Retired Numbers: Al Kaline, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Hal Newhouser, Willie Horton, Sparky Anderson, Ty Cobb, Mickey Cochrane, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann, Hughie Jennings, George Kell, Heinie Manush.
Okay, stop everything. The Tigers still haven’t retired the numbers of Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell? Who’s in charge of this shit, Rick Snyder? The racist ghost of Ty Cobb? Get it together! You rip #1 off of Jose Iglesias and #3 off of Ian Kinsler right now, Detroit. I don’t want to see anybody in that shit ever again, you got me?

 

Twins

Mauer

 

 

Retired Numbers: Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Bert Blyleven, Tom Kelly.
We’ve already established that none of the old Senators are going to get a fair shake in Minneapolis. So it’s gonna have to be Jim Kaat or Joe Mauer. Kaat has 16 Gold Gloves as a pitcher, for Chrissakes. I could throw in World Series MVPs, Frank Viola or Jack Morris, just for funzies. But I think everybody knows it’s going to be Mauer.

 

White Sox

Faber

 

 

Retired Numbers: Luke Appling, Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, Luis Aparicio, Ted Lyons, Billy Pierce, Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko.
Red Faber is the best pitcher in White Sox history, played his entire career for the White Sox and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And he was the last legal spitballer in the American League. I don’t know what gives. Hall of Famer, Eddie Collins, also played on the South Side for 12 years. And Ed Walsh, who has the lowest ERA in baseball history at 1.82, also played on the Sox for most of his career. So yeah, they’ll probably give it to Mark Buehrle or Robin Ventura. Because who in Bridgeport would look up lame shit like history?

 

Yankees

Jeter

 

 

Retired Numbers: Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Whitey Ford, Thurman Munson, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, Phil Rizzuto, Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Ron Guidry, Mariano Rivera, Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte.
We end where it all began. When Lou Gehrig gave his famous, “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech it was the 4th of July, 1939 and the Yankees were making Gehrig’s #4 the first retired number in Major League history. Which is kind of appropriate since the 1929 Yankees were also the first team to permanently adopt numbers, anyway. All that being said, it’s Derek Jeter. I mean, it might be Paul O’Neill. But it should be Jeter.

 

 


Great Expectations: A Spring Training Preview

Written by :
Published on : February 23, 2016

 

Oh no. This is a really weird feeling for a Cubs fan to have. For the first time that I can ever remember, the Lovable Losers on the North Side of Chicago seem to be both the unanimous pick to win their division and also a trendy choice for the 2016 World Series. And on paper it even makes sense. Last year, they proved that their young squad was ahead of their projected timeline, won 97 games and then went deep into the playoffs until they ran into a freakishly overachieving Daniel Murphy and a young Mets pitching staff that seems to remind everyone of the nineties Atlanta Braves. And then they went out in the offseason and got the best healthy pitcher and the best position player from their hated Cardinal rivals, and also added a guy who led the majors in WAR in 2009. Oh, and the rest of their seemingly-all-rookie lineup from last year is back and probably better than ever and still way too young and dumb to comprehend how a jaded, cynical asshole like me can still hesitate to be bullish on the prospects of a Thousand Year Cubs Dynasty.

 

This has to be too good to be true, right? There’s too much pressure. The Cubs never follow up a good season with another good season. Look at 1985, 1990 and every other year since The Year That Shall Not Be Named. And Jake Arrieta has to regress. Because he just has to. And John Lackey is 137 years old. And their bullpen isn’t quite there. And Jason Heyward isn’t a natural center fielder. And because they’re the fucking Cubs. Right? Like, why should I get my hopes up just to have them crushed again and again like I have my whole life? Why? Well… Because of Theo Epstein. And because of Joe Maddon. And because of that offense. Oh, that offense. And Kris Bryant. And Addison Russell. And Kyle Schwarber. And Anthony Rizzo. And the fact that Heyward is actually younger than Anthony Rizzo. And the fact that Heyward could win a Gold Glove in center. And because Arrieta may have pitched an assload of innings last year, but he famously stays in excellent shape. And because of how great of a story it would be if they actually did do it. And because, on paper, the Cubs just so happen to have the best team in baseball by a decent margin. Oh no, indeed.

 

 

The Rest of the NL Central

The Cubs may have kicked their ass and stolen their girlfriend, but the Cardinals are still the Cardinals. You just kind of assume they’ll be playing in October, no matter what. But even with Adam Wainwright back, the mystique feels like it’s gone, with a bad offseason and Yadier Molina needing to grow another thumb. Maybe their insane luck will finally run out. I also thought that about the Alabama football team back in September. Not that I should talk about football in the same breath I talk about St. Louis. Anyway… Then there’s the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s not like they sucked last year either. But nobody likes to talk about them because they’ll probably just get to the Wild Card and lose again, if they do anything at all. And the only fun thing about that is if Sean Rodriguez goes HAM on another water cooler. This division will inevitably be drowned out by the tidal wave of Cubs expectations. And the Reds and Brewers have probably already
drowned in it.

 

The NL East

According to EVERYONE, the Mets have the greatest pitching staff of all time, ever. And, yes, it’s horrifying. Matt Harvey is another year removed from Tommy John surgery. Jacob deGrom is a floppy-haired pitching monster. Noah Syndergaard actually is Thor. Big fat Bartolo Colon doesn’t age. Steven Matz would be a #1 starter on every other non-Mets team. And Zack Wheeler will be back in July to seal the already-done deal. Plus, all of them except Colon are 19 years old or something. The only problem is that nobody knows what type of hangover these guys will have from all those innings they ate up against Kansas City in the World Series. Or if they’ll even stay healthy. But if they do all bounce back, holy shit. Plus, they re-signed Yoenis Cespedes, which all makes for an excellent case for them to go back to the World Series. No matter how much I hate that.

 

 

Overall this division is horrible. But Bryce Harper and the dysfunctional Nationals should contend. Even though Dusty Baker is their new manager. And nobody knows what to make of the Miami Marlins quite yet. Don Mattingly is their new manager. Barry Bonds is their new hitting coach. Giancarlo Stanton will be healthy. So will Jose Fernandez. But we’ll have to see what all that means, if anything. Or if those guys can even stay healthy in the first place. And anyone looking to make a bold prediction on the division a la the 2015 Cubs and Astros might want to keep their eye on the Atlanta Braves, who are building a monster farm team, even though they’ll most likely be just slightly less shitty than the Phillies in 2016.

 

The NL West

I hate to say it, but 2016 is an even year. So we can probably throw all the analytics out the window and just hand the San Francisco Giants their fourth world title seven years. Their pitching staff picked up two possibly-great/possibly-hugely-disappointing acquisitions in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. And that could give them an edge in what everybody seems to think will be a three team race with the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks.

 

The Dodgers lost Zack Greinke. To the Diamondbacks. They also have a rookie manager in Dave Roberts. In a market that wore out Mattingly and sent him to Miami. They also didn’t do anything with their gigantic payroll in the offseason. And any time you need to rely on Yasiel Puig for anything other than drama, it’s a pretty scary predicament. But this is a deep team with a crazy-good farm system. And they’ll probably be in enough contention by the time the trade deadline rolls around to throw money at whatever problems they have (that don’t involve lack of team chemistry). Plus they still have Clayton Kershaw. At the end of the day, as a resident Angelino, I just want to see Vin Scully go out in style. And if that means the Dodgers have to be good for that to happen, I can accept that.

 

 

Yes, Arizona got Greinke. And Shelby Miller. And they still have unrecognizable superstar, Paul Goldschmidt and equally unrecognizable AJ Pollock. But their projections aren’t too high as of now because of a lack of offensive depth (sup, Yasmany Tomas?). And it seems more likely they could be this year’s Padres and/or White Sox. As for the 2016 Padres and Rockies, I’m not wasting my time. It is an even year, after all.

 

The AL East

Every team in the division not named the Baltimore Orioles seem to have a chance this year. But the overall consensus comes down to the rebounding Boston Red Sox and the reigning division champion Toronto Blue Jays. Personally, I don’t know how acquiring David Price and Craig Kimbrel turns a 78-win last place team into a division favorite, but that’s just how the east coast media bias works. But it will be fun to see how fat Pablo Sandoval is. And if Hanley Ramirez can play first base. And it’s also the swan song for Big Papi. Plus, David Price is actually really fucking good. So I don’t know.

 

 

The Blue Jays have the best offense in baseball. And reigning MVP, Josh Donaldson. And their offense might be even better than last year since Troy Tulowitzki never got comfortable in Toronto in 2015. They’ll just have to stay healthy. And hope somebody on their team can pitch. As for the Yankees, they’re really old. And look how that worked out for them last season. Plus, you never know about that staff. And as good as their bullpen looks right now, we still don’t know what’s going to happen with Aroldis Chapman’s domestic abuse suspension. And the Rays have Chris Archer and the rest of their great starting five, but they’ll basically need everybody else on the lineup to be awesome to compete. Oh, and also the Orioles are in this division too, I guess.

 

The AL Central

The Royals won the World Series last year, no big deal. And they were one Madison Bumgarner away from being back-to-back World Series champions. Yet for some reason, Baseball Prospectus has them projected to be in last place in the Central in 2016. What gives? Maybe you can’t project things like ‘putting the ball in play and its positive consequences’ or ‘playing with a chip on their shoulder’, but whatever they did the past two seasons worked, so I don’t know why it wouldn’t work again. They have the defense. They have the bullpen. It’s just so hard to make a good enough argument for or against a team with relatively zero stars, that’s this mediocre on paper, going to three straight Fall Classics.

 

 

The hot pick in the AL Central continues to be the Cleveland Indians because of an extremely good pitching staff. Add Francisco Lindor’s defense behind them and they could be a powerhouse. Or Michael Brantley could be hurt and their offense could struggle and they won’t have the money to make acquisitions at the trade deadline to compete. And while I have a soft spot for the Detroit Tigers, they’re also getting a little long in the tooth. They got Justin Upton to aid a pretty good, but aging offense. And they picked up Jordan Zimmermann and K-Rod to help out a healthy, but aging Justin Verlander-led group of arms. Health is the key here. And if they have it, they might compete. The White Sox might also compete, even though nobody outside of Bridgeport is talking about them. They got Todd Frazier. They have Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and a full season from Carlos Rodon. It’s just that everybody is distracted by the heat of a thousand suns ™ on the North Side. And the Twins have Miguel Sano, who is going to hit 40 dongs this year. Even though they were so terrible last year, that even when they were in first place for a while nobody bought it. If that makes any sense. Not that it should. Why would anything in this division make sense? I mean, Royals went to the World Series the past two years.

 

The AL West

Even though the Astros are the unanimous choice to win the division, everybody would rather talk about the Texas Rangers. Their 2015 playoff run was nothing short of a miracle. And now they’ll have full seasons from Cole Hamels and a healthy Yu Darvish. It’s just that nobody really expected the Astros to be where they were last season either. And now nobody expects them to regress. And the former hot choices in the division seem like yesterday’s newspaper. Mike Trout has no talent around him in Anaheim. Nobody wants to get fooled by the Mariners ever again. And the A’s need too much to get anything done.

 

 

So there you have it. Now you’re ready for the baseball season. And now you know why your team probably sucks and why you should switch allegiances to the Chicago Cubs. Or at least that’s how everything looks right now. Spring training, when nothing counts. And before the actual season comes with all its shitty reality to break hearts, launch new stars into the stratosphere and ruin every expectation, rendering long-winded predictions like the one I just spent way too long typing on a nice afternoon completely worthless. But hey, that’s baseball.

 

What else were we gonna talk about, Donald Trump?

 

 

 


Earning His Stripes: How Al Avila Won Big in His First Off-Season as GM

Written by :
Published on : January 23, 2016

 

After winning four consecutive American League Central Division titles from 2011-2014, the Detroit Tigers had high hopes entering last season as they again looked to contend for the division crown. After a 6-0 start and eventually winning as many as 11 of their first 13 games, everything seemed to be on the right track.

 

While sweeping the Minnesota Twins to start the season, the Tigers outscored their opponent 22-1 over the course of three games, setting an American League record of 24 scoreless innings to start a season. An unearned run in the 7th inning of the final game in the series ended Detroit’s string of pitching dominance.

 

 

On the mound, David Price looked locked in to have a Cy Young season, heck with the starts Alfredo Simon and Shawn Green got off to early on, it appeared his own teammates may be his toughest competition. With former Cy Young winner and league MVP Justin Verlander out until June or July, it was a very promising start from the new look rotation.

 

At the plate, things looked just as good through the first couple weeks as Miguel Cabrera was in his usual groove showcasing Ted Williams like numbers, and unlikely heroes José Iglesias and newcomer Anthony Gose were spraying the ball all over the outfield while flashing some leather in the field. For a team that hadn’t won the World Series since 1984, it had the feeling early on that this just may be the year. After four consecutive division titles, fans hoped that the third time was the charm, considering the Tigers made it to the World Series twice in the past decade only to come up short both times.

 

 

But how quickly things can change in this cruel game. Just a month or so later, the Tigers would drop eight consecutive games and fall to .500 for the first time all season. The Tigers would hang around the .500 mark for the next few months before deciding to unload at the July trade deadline. David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and closer Joakim Soria packed their bags late in July as Detroit cut its losses and began to carve out a plan for a quick “reboot” according to then President/General Manager Dave Dombrowski. Vowing this team wouldn’t endure another 15+ year rebuilding process that I witnessed during the bulk of my childhood and early teen years, but instead that this “reboot” would have us back next season.

 

Just a week later, Dombrowski was gone. Said to be a mutual decision between he and owner Mike Ilitch, Dombrowski resigned, handing the reigns to his assistant Al Avila after nearly 14 years with the team. Some two weeks later, the Boston Red Sox hired Dave Dombrowski to the same role and a few months later kicked off the off-season with some blockbuster moves, highlighted in a piece I wrote last month. But what about Dombrowski’s former team? How would the Detroit Tigers do with their offseason? With Dombrowski no longer apart of the organization, were the Tigers still in a “reboot” and ready to make a splash of their own during the offseason with new General Manager Al Avila? The answer, Detroit fans would come to find out, was yes.

 

 

Heading into the offseason, the Tigers had three glaring holes to fill if they had any dream of contending for a world championship, let alone the American League Central. Some of those holes required more than one player to fill them. First and foremost, the starting pitching needed to be addressed. With David Price dealt away at the deadline and Anibal Sánchez having a less than stellar 2015 season, Detroit needed a guy that had ace like stuff. They got that with Jordan Zimmermann, who had been with the Nationals. While some may worry about the decline on his fastball and the fact that he has had Tommy John surgery in the past, Zimmermann can flat out pitch and has a great strikeout to walk ratio. As a backend of the rotation type guy or potentially even a long relief bullpen arm, the Tigers also signed veteran Mike Pelfrey, most recently with the Minnesota Twins. This one was by no means a no-brainer like with Zimmermann and potentially a head scratcher at $8 million per, but these days signing a starting pitcher for less is rare.

 

Sticking with pitching, the Tigers also needed to add a couple quality arms to their bullpen. While the starting rotation didn’t have its best year in 2015, the bullpen didn’t fare any better. Aside from Joakim Soria, who was dealt away in July and maybe Alex Wilson too, the bullpen didn’t give Tiger fans much confidence in the later innings of ballgames. Al Avila made what appears to be a fantastic move by acquiring Francisco Rodríguez, or K-Rod, from Milwaukee for a prospect who many don’t see making it beyond AAA for any extended period of time. So the Tigers scoop Major League Baseball’s active saves leader for the next two seasons for just under $12 million? Yes, please. Avila, also added two more relievers in RHP Mark Lowe and LHP Justin Wilson.

 

The third and final major hole the Tigers needed to fill came after the trade of Yoenis Cespedes. When the Cuban Centipede was dealt away at the deadline, Tiger’s fans knew an outfield of JD Martinez, Anthony Gose, and Rajai Davis was not the answer for 162 games. Very early into free agency, the Tigers brought back a familiar face in an attempt to upgrade the outfield by acquiring Cameron Maybin from Atlanta in exchange for Ian Karol and a LHP prospect. With Atlanta covering $2.5 million of Maybin’s 2016 salary, this move was a low risk, but potentially also low reward. Over the next couple months, fans saw guys like Jason Heyward sign with the Cubs, Alex Gordon re-sign with Kansas City, and hoped that the Tigers would go out and splurge by bringing back Cespedes or another left fielder high on many GM’s lists, Justin Upton. While the familiarity of Cespedes probably had most fans preferring the highly touted 5-tool Cuban, Upton had the potential to add a wide variety of talents to a contending team. Then, late Monday night, the Tigers and Justin Upton had agreed on a 6-year deal.

 

 

Things moved really quick with the Upton deal. It was barely considered a legitimate rumor around much of Major League Baseball, but Al Avila got the final word from Mike Ilitch to go ahead and make the move even though it places them well above the luxury tax range. But as Mr I has always said, “Scared money don’t make money.” He said that right? Well, at any rate, Upton could be the final piece to the Tigers contending in 2016 and beyond. While Upton does have an opt-out clause after year two of the deal, both parties seem to be interested in keeping Justin here for the long haul. Upton brings a bat with great extra base power, a decent walk rate, and can steal you 15-20 bags a year to go along with solid defense in left field.

 

At first glance, Al Avila’s first full off-season as the head man in the front office for the Tigers probably couldn’t have been much better. He addressed every need, even going as far as to get multiple guys at each of the positions, and adding a few other backup spots elsewhere on the diamond as well. What Tigers fans need to understand is they were never in on guys like David Price, Zack Greinke, or Jason Heyward. So to come out with Jordan Zimmermann, Justin Upton and Francisco Rodriguez to fill your biggest voids grades out at a solid A in my book. With the 2016 season just around the corner, the Tiger’s “reboot” appears to be complete and while Rome wasn’t built in a day, Detroit hopes it’s beloved baseball team has been rebuilt in just one offseason.

 

 

 


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