Tigers close to hiring hitting coach, and other notes

While Detroit debates the Tigers’ organizational direction, there were other odds and ends discussed at general manager Al Avila’s end-of-season media session:

First, the Tigers’ search for a new hitting coach could be concluded by the end of the week. Manager Brad Ausmus has talked to a few candidates, both inside and outside the organization, according to Avila.

“I feel that we’re coming close,” Avila said. “Hopefully by the end of the week, we’ll be able to announce this.”

Second, Avila said there are no offseason surgeries on the schedule for any players. You’ll recall that Miguel Cabrera planned on having his surgically repaired ankle checked out for any possible damage. That appears to have been resolved.

“These guys, after 162 games, what they need is basically rest,” Avila said, “then start the process again of rehab/strength and conditioning offseason program and get back at it. As far as any surgeries or anything like that, there aren’t any scheduled.”

Third, with no decision yet on Francisco Rodriguez’s contract option, the question came up about the club’s plans for Joe Jimenez going into next season. At this point, Avila said, they’re expecting him to compete for a job in Spring Training, but continue to exercise caution with his development.

In explaining their caution with Jimenez, Avila referenced Bruce Rondon and what they now view as rushing him too quickly to the big leagues in 2013.

“I know there was a big push for him to come up here [in September],” Avila said, “but trust me, that would not have been in his best interests — or our best interests. There were some things he needed to work on, in particular his slider, and just his command overall.

“There are certain things that you can do in the minor leagues that you can’t do at the big-league level. When we bring him up, we want to make sure that he’s coming up to have success. We don’t want to go through the same mistake we did with Bruce in the past where it just didn’t work out right away.  We want to be a little bit more cautious with Jimenez. In saying that, I’m hopeful that he can contribute to our success at some point in 2017. I can’t rule out that right out of the chute in Spring Training; you’ve got to give a guy an opportunity. But is it going to be a month, two months, three months in Toledo before he makes an impact? Obviously that’s into play, too.”

The Tigers are also hoping to give JaCoby Jones more time in Toledo, which might play a role in their decision on Cameron Maybin’s contract option.

“JaCoby Jones is a viable option,” Avila said. “I think there [are] people in the organization that feel that he could use more time in Toledo. I’m of the opinion that he could use more time in Toledo. But if he has a strong Arizona Fall League, comes into Spring Training and really has a good spring, I can’t rule out that he might not be the guy, particularly if you can match him up with another guy that hits from the left side and can give him some days off against some tough right-handed pitchers.”

Lastly, the one area where the Tigers might hit the free-agent market is for a backup catcher, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s contract up.

“We have to make a decision on who that other catcher is that we’re going to try to acquire to go along with [James] McCann,” Avila said. “Saltalamacchia obviously is under consideration, amongst a list of catchers we have identified.”

That list, Avila confirmed, includes former Tiger Alex Avila, also a free agent after playing out his one-year deal with the White Sox.


Avila was near the bottom in framing

The Tigers are nearing the precipice of becoming irrelevant for the foreseeable future, if Avila dismantles the franchise. Mr. I and I will probably be dead before the Tigers become consistently competitive again. And given how several of Avila’s biggest money acquisitions didn’t pan out for last season, a resurgence may never occur during his “era.”

And I bet the fan attendance will follow in the same direction, just like it did for Cleveland when that club acted similarly. Now Cleveland has a winner and the fans have stayed away in droves. It takes time to rebuild teams. It seems to sometimes take longer to build fan bases.

The key difference between Cleveland’s rebuild and what I believe will happen in Detroit. Is Cleveland was in a bad spot, they were rebuilding from a rebuild of a rebuild.
In my opinion the Tigers have 4-5 years of patch the holes as best as possible and try to stay competitive and hope for the breaks. Than another 3-4 years of we got a good to great team, we just need to turn the corner and hope for a few breaks. Which will put them at least in the WC hunt every year.
The real key is does this organization have the right people to evaluate talent and develop them. It doesn’t seem easy to do. The track record is spotty at best at this point.

I guess I don’t see it the same way, I think DD’s approach was to bring in the big names and build “super” teams. He did pretty well at that, we were a few plays away from winning the WS during his stretch.
I think Al’s saying that approach is too expense and not sustainable. It creates some real problems for putting together a competitive team in the future. You get locked in to some high risk situations. IE, I bet they’d love to cut ties with VMart, Pelfrey, Lowe, maybe even Jzim and Jup. But they can’t. In fact they are tied up still paying for Prince Fielder. It’s not even sustainable for the Yankees or Red Sox let alone a mid market team like Detroit. I think he’s just saying they are moving the organization in a different direction, ie don’t expect a big name signing.
But, I still think they can be pretty competitive. It’s not like he is saying we are blowing up a losing team. Had they not traded for the young guys in 2015 I think this would be an entirely different perspective. Get a few breaks our way, some guys have better seasons, and a few less injuries. We all knew Fulmer was highly touted but who expected him to dominate like he did? Who expected JZim to blow up like he did, or Jup to struggle for as long as he did. I think Al can keep fielding competitive teams that have a chance to make a run if things go their way while he builds an organization that makes success a little more predictable. We just won’t win too many World Series in December or January anymore.

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Salty and/or Avila? Be still, my beating heart.

Yada, yada, yada. Enough talking Al.
Get on with it.

Slow footed: VM, NC, MC and JD . Good luck finding a sprinter with those offensive numbers
Defense.By early August, C, 1B, 2B, SS and JV were GG finalists
3B, RF and were bad enough to drat he team to bottom 10. CF and LF weren’t that good either. And the main RF replacement with 4 assists leaded the team but it was his sole redeeming quality

They announced the same last season until the owner recovered the helm and big spending took place.
Rebound season from JD and career average seasons for JUp and JZ could be enough to close the gap with Cleveland as soon as the rookies could have ( unlikely) similar seasons

I think its a long term plan. All of the free agents that were brought in under performed. I think the statement is recognition that you can’t go out and plug 4-6 new FAs into a holes every year and expect it to work. That you actually have to build a strong organization that brings solid players up year after year.
I agree with you about the gap not being that big. There were good stretches were the Tigers played good ball for extended periods of time this year. If you get a little more from our young pitchers, a few less injuries and a surprise improvement or 2 we are there.
But, the main question is how many more good years does Cabrera, Kinsler, JV have? And who steps in to take over their production. I guess that is what Al is saying as well, having a few big names that we count on production from isn’t a real reliable format for winning.

No all rookie managers are equal. The former SD coach is matching up Maddon and winning.

They need more LH bats

A 10 year window and they couldn’t win a WS. Al can probably sit back and see what kind off offers are proposed.


Avila said the Tigers got better .WHERE ? The record maybe ,but this is an older team that should of beaten Cleveland more and that would of gotten the a Playoff berth . Ausmus should of lost his job last year and now Avila keeps him and that tells me we will be a 3rd place team next year the way we stand now .SAD !

During the Dombrowski years, he’d hold a presser after the WS, announce what they needed, and then would go get it. Avila won’t have that luxury. Al could begin trading this winter, next summer, or next winter. I’m not even sure he’s got it all down yet, but we do have the long term goal stated.
As far as signing free agents go, there aren’t that many good ones out there anyway.

Well, he did say we needed a catcher. Probably a cheap one. The word is already out that payroll has to go down and the team needs to be faster and leaner. I think he’ll be receiving lots more calls than the other way around. This team has too many huge contracts and they haven’t won a WS. Time to move on is what I think. He’s already talked about not wanting to pay the luxury taxes again and the penalty that goes with it. Somebody has to go.

there is a new collective bargaining agreement that should be struck this offseason. there’s a good possibility that the luxury tax threshold will rise. if the goal is to stay below the threshold, the GM may have less to do once the new number is revealed.
I’m most interested to see what adjustments, if any, MLB will make on the rules regarding International and Cuban free agents. certain organizations are gaming the current International system.

4 times in 5 years. The AL belongs to the Central

I suppose the main Tiger news in the next week will be the identity of the new hitting coach. The organization has been essentially status quo recently, which would point to David Newhan or Lloyd McClendon getting promoted into the job.

MLB has been a strong business, with teams averaging over 30,000 attendees per game in 2016. Since 1901, over 3 billion people have attended games. Obviously, not all teams have the same gate. According to Baseball Reference and data available from 1982 to 2012, winning presents the strongest correlation to attendance, not a new park or a venue closing down, such as Atlanta’s park did this season.

The Royals, Braves, Indians and Athletics have had the most fickle fan base during the noted statistical period. Dry spans shriveled up attendance. The Tigers were similarly but less impacted. If Avila’s plans don’t work out to a winning result, I don’t expect the attendance at CoPa to be an exception to the rule. And that means revenue will shrivel and so will the “means” for the organization to financially compete for players.

The international draft will be a move against Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
Back in 1991 , Puerto Rico was added to the draft. Puerto Rican players became invisible. A couple of years ago, a PR native became the first pick. But the PR league suffered harsh times and the numbers of players diminished compared to DR and Venezuela. In Puerto Rico they blamed the draft. In Venezuela ( what remains of the league, close to a ghost league anyway ) and DR they fear a similar fate.
México? their players have a summer league that is enough for most of them. Valenzuela showed how far are they ready to go to defy MLB.
Japan? MLB sees Japans as a peer and they wont take part of the draft. They are making big money with players unable to cope with the grind of MLB with very few exceptions like the runaway former Tiger Nomo, Susuki or Matsui.
Cuba? Cuba has been a powerhouse since the early in the XX century and their league is considered a peer too. Most of them are MLB or close and old so outside of the draft limits and they will be able to find lucrative contracts in Japan, some already do. With the normalization and the eventual end of the embargo , MLB will deal with the government and they will reject any attempt to limit the money earned . And players will continue risking their lives to reach Costa Rica or Mexico and will wait until being off limits for the draft
DR and Venezuelan players are receiving shirking bonuses and pretty bad contracts. For all the talk about the likes of Fielder contract , take a look at Altuve o Pérez ( now renegotiated)contracts . Not to mention Sano.
There is no limit for FA , then no reason to limit FA contracts for players outside of North America

Anybody here considering Fantasy Camp in the new year?

I admit, I had to read your comment a few times before I could read between the lines. Good one. I think?

I was just so stunned. The idea came from so far out from LF, with absolutely no relationship to anything else written on this blog.

Dan Dan Dan……….every year you mention fantasy camp and every year I tell you to go do it while you still can. 🙂 How about if I came down as a spectator?

See ya there!

So this is legit, I now assume? I thought you were making a parody of the Tigers’ situation

I’ve read and re-read your comments El T and am trying to understand line by line as well as what you are saying in total.. Darline, is this what you are referring to? It is both intriguing and eye opening. Certainly educational. These are realities that should be discussed. There’s a lot of stuff here. What is fair? With baseball having become the international sport that it is, both the business and political aspects of it get more complex, muddled, and inescapably arbitrary. What is fair? “And players will continue risking their lives to reach Costa Rica or Mexico and will wait until being off limits for the draft”….that fact alone raises so many ethical points of question. You say a lot between the lines El T. Sometimes goes over my head and sometimes I get it. I appreciate the insight and spirit you bring to the blog.

Just from today, an excellent article by Baseball America’s Ben Badler on the issues regarding developing baseball talent in the DR and Venezuela.
The fundamental issues are should these players be subject to a drafting process and should MLB be putting caps on teams’ spending for this talent (a soft cap exists currently). Another is the issue of age. These players can sign a professional contract at age 16, equivalent of sophomore in high school. Miguel Cabrera signed in ’99 for $1.9M as a 16 year old SS. Gary Sanchez, the Yankee catcher who is a Rookie of the Year candidate, was signed at 16 for $3M. The Giants signed a 18 year old SS out of the Bahamas for $6M.

Also from Baseball America, around the time that International signings began: ‘At the request of several players’ families and teams, with the exception of any record-breaking deals, we will not be reporting the signing bonuses for any Venezuelan players at this time.’

The legal age for workers in Venezuela is 14 YO. In Venezuela like DR most players come from low income families; or used to , middle class families are allowing their off springs to play baseball. Until recently, the likes of Galarraga or Vizquel coming with parents that are professionals were uncommon. By 16 ,they have abandoned the school or have graduated. Basic education begins at 6 YO, some at 5 and HS ends at 17 or even 16. And remaining in a public school wont do them any good. Most are like those HS in Bmovies
In 1999, Hamilton was the first pick and received a 3,96 MM bonus. He debuted in 2007, aged 25.
Miguel signed for 1.8 . Leaving 2.2 offered by the Dodgers because Al Avila was able to earn the trust of his mother and Miguel´s uncle. He debuted when he was 20 YO . Miguel was singed at midnight 1 minute into his 16 YO birthday. He and his family were tot a restaurant with Al Avila to wait until pass midnight and sign the contract
Most Venezuelans and Dominicans react in the same way as the pitcher who tweeted in disgust after the Tomas contract when they see Hamilton getting a bigger bonus than Miguel of Tomas a contract bigger than Altuve´s contract
The younger that player sign, the easier for the team keep the players from developing bad baseball habits.
Americans sign late because MLB want them to finish HS. Latinos sign early and could end in the streets with nothing. But raising the age wont solve anything.

not be reporting the signing bonuses for any Venezuelan players at this time… to avoid being kidnapped or robbed.
The first thing robbers that break into homes look for is $
Not to mention that the payments must be deposited the USA because it is illegal to have $ in Venezuela .
I know the parents of a couple of prospects, one is part of the Tigers organization. They never mention how much he signed for. He threw no hit no run at DR , BTW.

Thanks for your words.
My motto when writing ” the good if brief ,twice good”. But I tend to go too far to avoid being boring.

I’m not sure whether the gap between international and US draftee money is narrowing or widening. The Tigers, again according to BB America, had $5.4M to spend in the stateside draft, with $3.1M in the international free agent pool this season. The biggest gap was Padres ($12.7M US, $3.3M Int’l). There is a bigger pool of money in the draft…wouldn’t it be to the international players’ benefit to include them in it?
One of the points made above, regarding the Puerto Rican League being hurt by Puerto Rican players becoming draft-eligible, I don’t quite understand. When the players became draft-eligible, did it become less lucrative for the local talent-seekers and developers to do what they’d been doing and that’s what led to the talent pool becoming more shallow? Or some other reason?

The drft reduced the incentive to sign with PR professional teams. That deprived them of talent .Back them, it was a comon practice to sign with a Latin American team that had an agreement with a MLB team than in turn signed the player.That practice was abandoned.
And was bad for the PR players .They were in disadvantage because they became invisible. The files about them are, Avila made the point about Moya,little elaborated and little known.And they had to compite with players scouted for years.
The conection between draft and demise was made in PR. That is how they see the event. Maybe it was an excuse, maybe they are right.

Yes Dar, that was legit and not facetious.
I’ve always thought about going to Fantasy camp in Lakeland but for whatever reasons have been unable to. Like Illitch I too am getting older and if I don’t do it this time I fear I may be unable to in the future.
I’ve thought it would be neat to hook up with any Bloggers there should they be going.
Now I have to convince myself that this is FANTASY camp and not TRYOUT camp!!

Well, that explains things The TRYOUT camp line was cute. It sounds like it is NOW time to go!

Come join up
Apparently 8% of participants are women

it appears the ‘base running’ oven mitt movement is gaining some traction, no pun intended. even some of the non-base stealing guys (Mike Napoli) are now starting to wear them.

Protects the fingers and allows another inch of reach. May as well extend it up onto the forearm, ala a bowling glove, to protect the wrist too.
Of course, Victor already looks like he’s running in a suit of armor.

Tigers PR
The Tigers today named Lloyd McClendon the Club’s hitting coach and Leon “Bull” Durham has been named the Club’s assistant hitting coach

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