So it is that time of year again. Spring training is upon us, and with it, one would expect hope, right? Well for the Detroit Tigers is hope still alive?
Is there hope that Ron Gardenhire can get the best out of the Single-A ballplayers he’s unfortunately had to manage since 2018?
Is there hope that the $20 million in free agency signings this offseason provide more lustre in the batter’s box than last year’s woeful excuse for a major league lineup?
Is there hope that the future pitching stars in Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal and the young talent in last season’s Erie Seawolves starting rotation blossom enough to break into the majors in 2020?
Is there hope that Al Avila, the current general manager (and Tigers owner Chris Ilitch’s personal hatchet man), has gotten this rebuild trending in the right direction?
Is there hope that five years of trading away World Series-calibre talent hasn’t made the half-decade of darkness all for nothing?
Is there hope that after a disgusting 47-114 season record with 22 home victories that a corner has been turned?
Like many fans, which whom I interact across various social media platforms, I have no belief in either Chris Ilitch’s lose for less policy while we await the young talent that is waiting in the wings or Avila’s pitching or bust strategy that has been in full effect for years.
There are more than a few Avila apologists out there that still stick to the humorous notion that he has taken, what was the 29th best farm system, and somehow magically turned it into a top-10 farm system. I challenge those fans to name any top talent not named Mize, Manning, Skubal, Greene or Paredes or to tell me where the next big name will come from. It won’t be the highly exalted farm system with its over-inflated number in the standings. It won’t be via trade because Avila has traded anyone of worth already and has publicly stated that star pitcher Matthew Boyd will not be traded. This all following his inability to get the best deal at the 2019 trade deadline, when he squandered the highest potential trade value Boyd ever had.
The offseason free agency signings of Austin Romine, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Cameron Maybin (his third go-around with the Tigers) and Ivan Nova are tantamount expressions of the lose for less psychology and methodology currently surrounding the ownership and front office. These signings are at best a bandage being applied to stop the Tigers from bleeding out to keep attendance (which was dismal last season) high and selling concessions in Comerica Park. Tie that in with particularly idiotic PR stunts like retiring Lou Whitaker’s number in 2020 (this is something that should have happened years ago), after he failed to make the Hall Of Fame in the offseason (which is a disgrace).
Then there are the usual reports coming out of spring training stating that Miguel Cabrera is fighting fit and healthy again. This is the same story that has been written and continues to be rewritten by sportswriters the past four years. We all now realise that Miggy is no longer the batting title-winning player he once was and has been battling health and weight issues for a while, but as fans are we not entitled to expect a player earning $30 million a year to do his job to the best of his ability? To keep himself in shape and help prevent the health and knee issues he’s been struggling with over the past four years?
In the absence of hope is dismay. After five years of chaos and destruction, I hope that a brighter future is in store for this once storied franchise, but unfortunately, I can see no hope while Chris Ilitch owns the Tigers and Al Avila is left unchecked in the front office.
Paul Robinson is a guest writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @Robbo1701a