Results tagged ‘ Mike Ilitch ’

Ilitch pushing hard for playoffs, maybe over prospects

In case there was any question lingering whether the pressure was on Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland to get Detroit its first division title since 1987, team owner Mike Ilitch reiterated his strong desire to win now. He didn’t say he expected a division title, but he wasn’t far off.

“I’d be extremely disappointed if we don’t [win one this year],” Ilitch said in a group interview recorded and posted by WXYT-FM 97.1. “We’ve got a good team.”

Though Ilitch was talking with Detroit media at the press conference for Red Wing Kris Draper’s retirement Tuesday morning at Joe Louis Arena, Ilitch spent a good amount of time talking about the Tigers. Like most Tigers fans, Ilitch is looking and waiting for his club to add a starting pitcher on the trade market before Sunday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. Payroll, Ilitch indicated, will not be an issue.

So far, by every indication, nothing is close. But judging by the owner’s comments, he’s open to plenty of possibilities, maybe even some that cost them coveted prospects.

“We need that No. 5 guy,” Ilitch said. “We’ve got some [pitching] prospects, but when you’re in a tough race like this, it’s hard to throw some of them in there when you’re a game or two this way or that way.”

Asked if he expects to have a deal by Sunday, Ilitch couldn’t say.

“I don’t know,” Ilitch said. “I haven’t been presented with anything. [Dombrowski] hasn’t been able to bring anything to me that he feels makes sense at this point.”

So far, the Tigers have been reluctant to part with top prospects in any trade since the Miguel Cabrera deal four years ago. Whenever the Tigers have been asked about Futures Game participant and potential 2012 starter Jacob Turner over the past year, they’ve indicated no willingness to deal him.

Part of that reflects Ilitch’s desire to build a strong farm system. But with the Tigers fighting to maintain their division lead, Ilitch hinted that waiting for prospects to emerge might have its limits. It was an interesting comment.

“We’ve done a fairly good job,” Ilitch said. “We’ve been competitive. I put a lot of emphasis on the farm system, and you can’t get carried away with the farm system. That Tommy John [surgery] always seems to surface.

“It looks like when you look at the system, geez, we’ve got six [top prospects] here. For sure, two are going to be stars. It just doesn’t work that way in baseball. It’s much different than some of the other sports.”

Ilitch on Tigers

Today was the Tigers’ annual team photo day, which means that team owner Mike Ilitch was at the ballpark to take part. He talked with reporters after the pictures were done.

On what went wrong:
“I had one little superstition at the beginning of the year, when our leadoff man [Curtis Granderson] broke his finger. Being in sports all my life, a lot of times, you start off with a little bit of a quirk. And he’s our sparkplug. And I said, ‘Man, with this cold weather coming up and our sparkplug out of the lineup, I’m worried about our start, getting off to a bad start.’ So I was concerned, because he was out a week or two, a couple weeks. But other than that, just like all of you, I didn’t foresee to have all the holes that we did. I mean, beyond my wildest dreams, I didn’t anticipate that. I thought we had a good, nice, solid foundation that we were going to build from and keep the ballclub up, contending all the time. But it didn’t work out, so it’s cost us a little bit of time, maybe a year, year and a half.”

“We’ve got to get back on the ball and see if we can get ourselves restructured now, correct all the mistakes that we made. We’ve got to go back over, I’ve got to go back over, everything that we’ve done. And now everybody will learn and be reminded that we’re not in a normal business, and anything can happen. And I think it humbled everybody. So we’ll have to pay the price.”

On what he means by paying the price:
“Pay the price for miscalculating so deeply. In other words, we paid the price. I don’t want to go through that again now. I want to make sure I get the right team together and then I want to move forward again. I figured I lost a year, year and a half, but I’ll be right back at it.”

On what changes need to be made:
“I don’t know what we’ll be making. I just want to get back to where I thought I was, and that was competing with Boston, competing with the good teams, holding your team up there, year after year. That’s my goal personally. It’s not there, so we’re going to work like the dickens to get it back. But we’ve got to level off now, see where we’re at, make a re-analysis of who our real players are and who we’re going to keep and we’re going to go forward with. And are we going to mix youth with veterans? What are we going to do exactly?”

On payroll:
“As far as payroll’s concerned, I’m not sure what we would do on payroll. That would be the last thing that I’m going to look at. I mean, I’m not afraid to go out and spend money. It’s been very costly, but I’m not going to change my ways. But I don’t know if this year is the year to go after people. I’m more concerned about getting the team in shape and seeing who we’ve got and who are the real Detroit Tigers.”