Sliding doors, closing windows

The Tigers went into this season privately admitting that last year was probably their best chance at the World Series title they’ve been contending to win for four years now. They had their most complete team, despite their limitations in defense and athleticism, and there was no dominant team in either league left to trip them up. Instead, two late-inning home runs in Boston tripped them up, and they followed with a transformative offseason.

If last year was the Tigers’ best chance, then logic follows to wonder if this year was their last good chance. It wasn’t a dominant team, but it was a very good one in a league without a whole lot of team greatness. It was a team that showed an ability to play very good baseball when it had to, and while its weaknesses were glaring at times, it had a Division Series matchup against a team that didn’t seem well equipped to take advantage of them.

Turns out the Orioles had a knack for exploiting the Tigers bullpen. And no matter how much the Tigers insisted that 2011 was in the past, their struggles against Nelson Cruz suggested nothing had changed.

“It was our time to shine in the postseason,” Max Scherzer said. “That’s what we’ve done in the past. Take nothing away from the Orioles, but we had a great team to be able to win this American League Division Series. Unfortunately, they outplayed us. That’s frustrating for everybody. Everybody in this clubhouse. We did not want our season to end. We know how much talent is in here, and for us to lose is very frustrating.”

Every year when I leave the clubhouse for the last time in a season, I wonder how differently the players in it might look next spring. The sense walking around the Tigers after Sunday’s game was a bit stronger, maybe just because of the players involved.

There’s a realistic possibility Scherzer and Victor Martinez end up being the top free-agent pitcher and hitter, respectively. They were the top pitcher and hitter on the Tigers. It’s difficult to envision the Tigers, already bearing the weight of long-term contracts, being able to keep them both. They have a better chance of keeping Martinez.

“We’ve been battling over the last few years with each other,” Scherzer said. “My teammates have been unbelievable. And for this season to come to an end the way it did, just always leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth. But hopefully there’s a way we can continue to keep playing together.”

Assuming they can’t, the Tigers are worse off at a time when the rest of the American League Central is improving with younger, cost-controlled talent. And World Series aspirations can no longer look past the division.

This is before the next test next winter, when David Price and Rick Porcello hit free agency, and the window closes further.

77 Comments

“But hopefully there’s a way we can continue to keep playing together.”He wont be better than Verlander past 30 YO and the only way is trading Sanchez and Kinsler to a team taking their full contracts. And remain an unbalanced team
Rebuild? that was already done, or is underway: 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, 5 BP arms and one SP were new this year.

It’s going to accelerate. Free agency is going to force it.

Max Scherzer is so full of crap…..good riddance and frankly he had several games this year that were bad some that were good which leads basically just around average. And your playoff appearance was aweful. Good riddance, not worth it because your not an ace!
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I’d rather have the money put into VMart.

I know you are a bitter guy. But honestly Scherzer will be missed. He turned into a great picture for us. It may not be realistic to keep him and we will probably be fine without him. But still he’s been a good pitcher for us.

I’m not bitter, they are his numbers and he’s not worth it. Other than last year he’s been about an average pitcher and an average pitcher who has moments of greatness is not worth what he thinks he is. Let him rake someone else over the coals I’d rather have the money spent on someone who wants to be here. I’ve been saying it all year and his 5 ER runs he allowed in last weeks alds game one just proved he’s not the ace he thinks he is.
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But thanks for the insult.

if schezer had acted differently for the past year or so, there would not be a portion of the fan base well represented by GK’s position on him.

Those were the same fans cheering for him when he came out of the bullpen to shut down the A’s last post-season. I get fans are fickle, and I know fans don’t want to understand that atheletes need to make money immediately because they have short careers, but there is no doubt that Max gave his all for the team and should be applauded.

I hear ya Port, however, the numbers don’t add up….how much you make in your life depends on education level but in general high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master’s degree, $2.5 million. Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees do best at $4.4 million……so Max doesn’t need the money, promise!

If Max does not return I think the Tigers will be fine regarding SP. I sure did love watching Mad Max when he was at his best and wish him well if he moves on. Maybe this will be the year that DD realizes you can’t load a team with high paid players and expect to automatically win. I dislike that this organization has gone that route. With all the changes that are possible it’s going to be a long winter. Thanks to the Tigers for the “highs” this season and being loyal Tiger fan I’ll forgive you for the “lows” (eventually).

What I’ll remember most about 2013 and 2014 is two innings: 2013 ALCS game two and 2014 ALDS game two. Both involved bullpen blowups and shaky managing. The ’13 club being in the WS would have been no surprise. This year’s crew came far closer to the WS than I would have thought possible. If things had gone better in Baltimore, you have a real possibllity of facing the Royals in the ALCS. KC is playing out of their minds right now but that probably would have changed. An opportunity presented itself but it wasn’t to be. It’s strange that I joked all year about this team reaching the WS and it was closer than I’d have anticipated.

Great point, if we don’t blow up game 2. Maybe the guys play better yesterday and we win the series. If we get past Baltimore, we have owned KC this year. But, I don’t see us beating a national league team, but you never know. What could of been😉

Right. I did say “reaching the WS” not necessarily winning it. The entire postseason is random as we’re seeing once more. The best a club can do is get in it and hope the stars align. I’ve thought that ever since they turned it into a tournament, and now an ever enlarging tournament.

its going to be unpopular, but i hope next year we can develop more young talent instead of overpaying veterans.
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The only way to continue to dominate the Central is the development of youngsters (like this year’s JayDeep, Nick, Suarez, Lobstein, Hardy, Krol, Reed, etc.) every year, and in every position in the organization. When the time is right pull triggers for extra help. The time is not right this offseason.

“bearing the weight of long term contracts” just about says it all. And, they are a huge weight.

The club philosophy is to contend every year. “Tearing it down” would require a change in that philosophy, and running the risk of losing the fanbase and resultant dollars coming in. It’s a balancing act and not an easy one.

Ugh, I avoided coming on here last night, was too upset about the loss. The stadium felt as quite as could be after that last out – folks just walking out, not really talking. Tough loss but I also don’t necessarily like when I read too much from the fans because when they get upset they also get upset with each other, even on our mostly amicable blog. For the folks who all season long said we would never made post-season – well we did. We deserved to be there because our record got us there. We were not deep enough of a team to go too far in my mind and we did not. We don’t have a Delmon Young off the bench – we rarely have had a team like that. When Hernan Perez is our late inning threat we are in trouble. No disrespect to Hernan, it is just the facts that we don’t have a Delmon Young, a Jim Thome, etc to pull off the bench and pose a real threat. Once again Tigers thanks for another year – we expect a lot out of our team to make it every year and we are disappointed when they can’t get it done. This one will be tough to forget since they never gave the Oriole’s a run for their money.

The pitching situation is going to deteriorate quickly. Everyone on this club is losing MPH of their fastball every year. We don’t even one pitcher next year that can throw 94 consistently the whole game. Start or relief.
Even though bullpens and the “bulls” in them can change dramatically from year to year, I would not expect anything out Nathan or Soria of that nature. Joba being talked about staying another year is absolutely frightening.
Unlike Kate, I think our starting staff next year will not be making fans very happy at all. I agree with you abut spending though. I think if you are going to improve your club you have to do it via trading. Paying the big bucks for (Not for) Free Agents with names brings a false and fading sense of security. You now have a team built on a feudal system of Lords (and Princes) and serfs and as JL well knows, how can you get the right chemistry in that situation?
This is not to denigrate in the least guys like Victor and Miggy. They are special players. I find it amazing that Miggy has turned his life around as well as he seemingly has.
I’d hate to see him go, but in terms of team building possibilities he is the only individual on this team that has talent, star power and age that can do that.
Our farm system is not an exciting one. Moya, Travis, McCann and Collins are probably three of them likely to break training camp with the big club. After that, there’s not much and the only pitcher I can see that might be an impact eventually is Crawford.
Dombrowski has made some very good trades. But when he starts to try and and be a bit too clever and save a few too many bucks at the same time he makes poor ones. The Fister deal was an example of that and will haunt him next year too.
Next year will be an interesting one I’m sure. What do they do with Castellanos? I think he has the skill set to BECOME a 3rd baseman but he certainly has a long way to go. Do they try to make Travis their CFer? That’s a pretty weird thing to do to a rookie infielder. Unless you are a Bobby Murcer.
I was generally unimpressed with Ausmus and feel his best attribute is that he is not Jim Leyland. I think he had a challenging mix of guys to manage but his lack of imagination and instinct did not help his team at the end of the season.
Best of the “Off-Season” to all of Beck’s Bloggers.

if his best attribute is his dissimilarities from the HOF coach who brought you to the WS multiple times….can you name those dissimilarities?

And Alex Avila – time to hang up the catchers gear – your future health demands you stop taking those shots to the head. Downright scary.

I don’t want to see his daughter wheeling him out for a renunion in a few years.

I may have missed it (lot of comments), but I don’t recall seeing one person on here mention that we lost a 1-run game because of a call at firstbase that cost us a run. The review was inconclusive, so if the umpire had called Romine safe, the call would have stood. I thought it was the turning point of the game at the time and felt it would be all downhill from there. After that, I felt defeated. Maybe those in attendance felt the same. Maybe all of us here did too.
After that play, it was like “now watch us lose by that one run.” Yep.

We focused more in the base running blunder and the non called obstruction

Gotta take up a collection for eye glasses the second base umpire needs them . Either that or he does not understand the obstruction rule . You really cant pin another player to the ground and prevent him from getting back to a base .

Yes Rich. A lot of comments but I jumped on it right away. I still don’t agree it was inconclusive. The foot was on the base before the ball it the back of the glove. There was one replay that showed that conclusively IMO. As I said yesterday, nobody will convince me he was out. I have seen much closer plays overturned this year.
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— Bob

And now that you mention it, Bob, I do remember you saying that. Old age.

And you are right, Venezuelan TV showed their own recording frame by frame and backward: safe.

After JD lost his game tying homer to the vast outfield dimensions of Comerica, does anyone now agree that they should move the damn fences in? It’s not the opposing teams getting robbed.

Juan Gonzalez agrees 100%

I do agree regarding the fences.
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Portwinelad. Yes I cheered for Max all the years he was here including this year. However if you listened to him this year in his comments it was like he was selling himself. He was different. They actually make fun of him here on local radio because he literally said “kudos to me” when he did something he liked. But please don’t act like poor Max would be starving and cutting coupons with a 144 million dollar contract. Please. Two days before he turned down his contract offer I heard the words “I don’t care about money I just wanna be here”. So in my opinion he’s a lier because he either doesn’t want to be here or he does care about the money. And regardless you should just keep your mouth shut because it just doesn’t look good. He didn’t and he looks bad. And I meant it when I said seeing that he has been a pitcher that has had one excellent year ….and has been average the rest of the time he was here, he is over 30 and probably wasn’t going to be a good contract. He hasn’t been an ace and really stunk last week and 5 runs from a guy who considers himself to be an ace he didn’t show up again. I wish him the well but I will be glad our team will not be stuck with another crappy contract. He will soon be much like Verlander once his velocity is gone.

There’s an article in the Detroit News re Avila. In an interview he says he intends on playing many more years.

Alex has all winter to heal up . Gotta think he will be the starting catcher next spring .

When he turned down the offer, that was before the season began correct? If so, there is a domino effect in the mindset of management. Both pre and In season decisions. Fister, Jackson, Smiley……..
Regarding the fences and yesterday’s game. Think about it. A crappy HR flicked down the line, just inside the pole trumps a monster crushed ball that falls just short in a very deep part of the park. Wasn’t meant to be. That’s hard to accept. The wrong call at first not upheld. Game could have ended 3-0 Tigers. But the Tigers earned the first two losses. That can’t be denied.

Jason, thanks for this site and the opportunity for us fans to express our emotions. They were all over the place this season…….talking about our emotions(well, the Tigers too). Your above entry I think is one of your best. There is a sadness in it and a reality that is on our collective hearts and minds. Where do the Tigers go from here? Has the window closed? Should we be looking to the immediate future or maybe one a few years down the road? We Tiger fans are not used to this.

Meant to say the wrong call upheld.

Fister, 7th consecutive postseason QS. No matter how DD fans spin it, bad trade
Mattingly going old school will pitch Kershaw with 3 days of rest

And yet another reason to dislike Scherzer…. If he had been honest about his intentions to never sign back my guess is that Fister would still be in Detroit. But alas he’s not. And guess what who has a better career era in the regular and post seasons …yep it’s Fister…not Max Scherzer.

Mister Fister looked terrific with his pitches, as well as his fielding. I just don’t understand.

Thanks for all your input Jason. Nice work indeed. Hope we can do it all over again come spring. Seems so far away right now. Go Wings!

Jon Morosi‏@jonmorosi·3 hrs3 hours ago
Looks like Doug Fister will have quality start (6+ IP, 3 or fewer ER), his *7th* straight in postseason, best among active pitchers.
(ElTigre alluded to that)
Jayson Stark‏@jaysonst·4 hrs4 hours ago
Hard to believe that was a straight steal attempt by Belt. Fister allowed no stolen bases all season – 1st NL pitcher to do that since 2010
Bet nobody knew that.

Bet the other pitchers knew it.

in my mind scherzer has been gone after this year for a year or so now. no way the org. traded fister because they thought max would be resigned. this team has more than enough starters – they need good positional players and relievers. a bench that is worth a darn would be nice too.
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alex plans on playing many more years, but concussions will end his career. write it down, take a picture….it’s gunna happen i’d bet my butt on it.

They did have more than enough starters. The question is, did they trade away the right one, considering payroll cost to the team and the return trade value each of their starters represented? I know what my answer was and is. Doug Fister would still be on the roster.

Nightingale:
“Or the quiet anger among the Detroit Tigers players when they had to include popular center fielder Austin Jackson in a package for Price.” ?
Pretty unfair to Price, since the lost in the last game was not his fault:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2014/10/05/mlb-trades-postseason-john-lackey-david-price-jon-lester-andrew-miller/16786505/

That’s a dumb article. Besides dealing in massive hindsight, those teams made the playoffs and that’s job one. It’s always foolish to draw long term conclusions based on an end of season tournament.

However, I would argue both teams underperformed after the trades as well as in the playoffs because they lost key offensive pieces.

.552 before trade, .561 after. About the same. Jeez, we can look at it anyway we want to, can’t we? 🙂
The loss of Davis did hurt the postseason offense.

Losing AJax really hurt the team. His defense was never splashy and he got flack for not diving, but when he was gone, I noticed the void immediately. And his bat would have been a positive in the playoffs, especially compared with Rajai and Carrera.

David Price is an elite pitcher, not doubt. Every team would want him. It is very interesting though with the As and Tigers having to yield big league talent (Cespedes, AJax, Smyly) to get pitching at the deadline instead of “prospects” really hurt both teams. WIll it be a blip on the radar or will it be the new norm?

I’ll have to disagree a little. Jackson hit .229 in Seattle and that’s because he’s just an extremely streaky hitter. I think he would have put up the same in Detroit, as his down streak was beginning before he was traded. Davis helped us win games down the stretch and his injury hurt the team badly in the ALDS. Rajai seemed to be underrated all year, IMO.

It is the norm according to the analyses of the trades I read back in July

About two or even three years ago, I said Jackson was “getting old” very fast. I said it in one of these blog posts. Instead of getting stronger into his prime, he was declining. He was a very good CF for several years, but the opportunity for a gold glove passed him by because he wouldn’t dive and give up his body. His speed was good but not great. Hitting…….meh. It hurt to see him go, but I would have traded him at a least a year sooner.

And I still love watching Fister pitch, he is a master. He was sorely missed as well. I defended the trade for most of the year, but after a year it is hard to see Ray and Kroll developing into more value than 2 years of Fister. I do beleive Fister signs in the bay area after next year.

Yes, it is sad for the season to come to an end. We made the playoffs! How many teams can say that. Atlanta, Milwaukee, Texas or Boston? We did not have a decent back up in center. I really missed Andy Dirks. I could care less about the money they make because it is out of control. I just want to watch good baseball. Managing was suspect. DD tried to correct the bullpen but the players did not perform. A game of inches sometimes. Do you remember the catch Cruz should have made. Texas would have won. Thanks Jason for a great blog. Remember, money can’t buy you love. Go Tigers, 2015!

they don’t need another starter they need to develop another starter.

Verlnder, Price, Sanchez, Porcello, VerHagen/ Lobstein/Ryan/Ray/Farmer. 4 and some depth.
The bullpen.
Soon or later, they will have to eat Nathan ´s contract

Castellanos rated 6th strongest arm in MLB
Mark Simon ‏@msimonespn 4m4 minutes ago
The @FieldingBible came up with a video-review stat to rank MLB infielder throwing arms. Here’s ranking for 3B

your thoughts on this, dan??

Mine,it does not matter if he is bad positioned( not his fault but the defensive coordinator´s) or cant reach the ball

If the Tigers are serious about improving the team they need to be serious in who they need to let go. That is a very difficult thing to do and an area where loyalty and friendship inject emotion into the decision making.
You can’t keep Coke. He is a poster boy for failure. Hepitched in 62 games this year. That almost means there were 60 + games the Tigers had pretty much given up on.
He is consistent but not in a good way.
Torii is a finacial drain, expecially if he is on the bench (where he is more valuable).
Andy Dirks will never, ever be a full time player or healthy.
Joba, obviously.
Everyone loves Alex Avila. But it is almost immoral to expect him to catch and truth be told, he can’t hit. His only value is as a receiver. I don’t think it is even right to have him in a back-up role.
Kelly is coaching material.
I think they should keep Victor, at least make him a qualifying offer. A long term contract is not the best idea here though as any serious money keeps the club from getting better than mediocre players they have not been getting.
Max, I personally really like the guy and the pitcher that he is. But, he is too expensive and is at that contractual age where an injury to the arm is too much of a risk.
Reluctantly, unless someone wants to take them off our hands for hard throwing relief prospects, you have to keep Nathan, Soria and Rajai. The team needs to get younger.
There has been some chatter about the newest Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas being looked at. I sure hope DD does not spend money like that and further concentrate payroll into a few superstars.

you GOTTA give both Max and Victor QOs!
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and on a side note, if Max really wants to be here next year he will take that QO [grin]

Seems so strange and sad to wake up and realize the Tigers don’t play today. The season is over. What we haven’t heard anything about is Mr. D. His contract expires in ’15….. next year, and we haven’t heard anything about an extension.

He doesn’t have that commissioners gig to fall back on.

as the president of baseball operations (which i do not think he should be), does he extend himself (the GM)? I think president of baseball ops should be Mr. Baseball, BTW.

Choking Cardinals? Nope!

i think DD could learn a thing or two from that org’s gameplan the past decade….they’re always a factor this time of year

I just got the terrible feeling that Gardy is going to manage the Dodgers next year, and several afterwards. Gnarly!

The best team wins 6 out of 10. The Giants ( or STL) will make the WS for the 3rd time in 5 years.That is not luck
The best paid Giants pitchers was having a bad year each time, and the payroll is close to the Tigers:$149 MM
A roation of Bumgarner, Volgenson and Cain is solid but one was injured and an undervalued reliever had to make spot starts but they made it
STL: 111 MM

There was a lot of talk about the Dodger’s loss and why they left Kershaw in the game. Why? Bullpen, They will be out to get every free agent and/or make every trade ASAP to strengthen their BP.

The Nationals lost game 2 because an umpire changed his strike zone for what should have been the game’s final hitter. Matt Williams compounded it by removing his dominant starter. Giants had a huge slice of luck there. Never know what could have been if Vic Carapazza does his job behind the plate.
Strike zone, man………….

when those electronic strike zones you ordered, coming, rich?

Probably not in my lifetime. You need a controversial call involving the Yankees or Red Sox. Something like Robinson Cano being called out at second in the 2012 ALCS. That’s what changed Joe Torre’s mind.
The story on Vic Carapazza is on Fangraphs.

AS down asTiger fans have been this week, I am sure Nats, Angels, and Dodgers fans are just as pissed. Nature of the game right now. And actually, those 3 teams were favorites, Tigers were not to a lot of folks.
Good news: Steven Moya had 3 hits in Arizona Fall League action yesterday. I liked his limited action in September and hope he can at least push for a roster spot next spring.

I can’t see Moya not making the club. It’s easy to get excited about up and comers (I still miss Brennan Boesch) but I think this guy is going to be absolutley necessary in RF.
Surprised to see ET’s comment about Nick’s arm rating yesterday. I actually thought it was much weaker during the season than it was at the beginning. Kinda figured he might have been dealing with some type of injury or condition.

Am finding that very surprising re Casty’s arm. I would have thought it to be the worst or one of the worst. Even mentioned something about doing offseason strengthening to belp his arm.

I would argue that Casty’s issues are 75% footwork, 15% reaction and 10% mental. I would argue that the footwork and mental aspects can be fixed with hard work. I love for Casty to be significantly improved at the hot corner next year.

Perhaps the other 3rdbasemen just have really weak arms.
Ask anyone who made the jump to the majors and they’ll talk about how much faster the game is. Overcoming that is part of being a rookie. Nick can fix a lot of things going forward if he works hard.

This is the link to the 3b rating, hope it works:

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