Tigers rebuild is in gear what to watch for this spring

It’s like a broken record. The Detroit Tigers are in a full blown, time needed (aka trust the process) rebuild. As pitchers and catcher report here’s a list of what I’m looking for this spring:
  1. The kids are coming, The Tigers have invited some of their promising prospects to spring training. I can’t wait to see the young pitchers display their stuff that has the Tigers pitching prospects ranked #2 in all of baseball.
  2. Can Castellanos handle the full time move to right field? He’s a big bat big r.b.i producer. But, it won’t matter if he can’t handle the position day in and day out.
  3. Is Christian Stewart destined for DH? Like Castellanos he’s a big bat run producer. But if he can’t field in what most feel will be in Toledo with the Mud Hens it will feel like a wasted draft pick.
  4. New coaching staff is going to have to work magic to blend raw young players with vets who are stuck because of bad contracts. Not necessarily a bad thing. The vets will give the likes of Issac Parades time to settle in as he develops.
  5. The fans need to understand what lies ahead is better than what’s in front of them right now. That’s the fun part for me. Big picture thinking is your friend

 

Detroit Red Wings trade season

It’s here! Finally! The days leading up to a path to a brighter tomorrow for the Red Wings. 2018 NHL trade season.

I full expect Mike Greene, Gus Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, and even Andras Athanasiou to be dealt. It’s also a good possibility Petr Mrazek will go as well. The return will be too much for Ken Holland to turn down.

The Red Wings, already have 9 picks in the first 3 rounds of the 2018 NHL draft. They can add to the number easily. In a year that has one of the best and deepest drafts in a long time.

Mike Greene, will bring in a first rounder. As will Anthanasiou should the Wings choose to move him. Packaged together Tatar & Nyquist would bring in a first plus a prospect.

The Red Wings, should sell. Often and really improve a nice young core of players who will be the Red Wings next wave of playoff contenders. Dylan Larkin is proving himself worthy of a player to build around.

It’s the end of an era. It’s the beginning of an era. I for one am a sucker for how teams are built. The day to day growth and set backs to eventual playoff team.

Bring it on!!

Optimism when there is not much to be optimistic about

February 14 2018, Valentine’s Day, Detroit Tigers pitchers and catchers will report to Tiger town, in Lakeland Florida. The rest of the team will report February 19.

But, there isn’t the usual buzz around Tigers spring training this season. What with a rebuild and many forecasting a less than favorable season for the Motor City kitties.

I however don’t care. For me there is plenty to keep me interested and keep me headed back to Comerica Park.

I was filled with a rush when this week the Tigers announced they are inviting several of the teams top prospects to join them for spring training.

I enjoy watching a team play and have success. But, I find the building process of the team far to interesting. Anyone can root for a winner. I root for the build. No joke. No kidding.

I am watching several Tigers prospects closely this season. As the farm system has grown in strength.

Alex Faedo (pitcher)

Franklin Perez (pitcher)

Beau Burrows (pitcher)

Jake Rogers (catcher)

Have been invited to show where they stand and where the organization will place them.

There are others I will keep and eye on,

Matt Manning (pitcher)

Daz Cameron (center field)

Christian Stewart (right field)

Kyle Funkhouser (pitcher)

Isaac Paredes (short stop)

Gregory Soto (pitcher)

And others give me a very good feeling about where the Tigers are headed in the not to distant future.

So relax. If you have a big picture thought. Think of what the Tigers are going to be. Don’t get stuck in where they are. But while they struggle enjoy baseball. It’s going to be a fairly quick turnaround.

Will the Lions switch to a 3-4 defense?

Assumed new Detroit Lions head coach, Matt Patricia, who is a big fan of the 3-4 defense, and currently runs the system for the New England Patriots. Patricia has had very good results with it. So the question that must be asked is, will he switch the Lions (currently 4-3 defensive scheme) to a 3-4 scheme?

Do the Lions currently have the personnel to make such a switch? In a 3-4, the defense is arranged with a front row of two defensive ends and a nose tackle.

The second line consists of four linebackers that have the ability to move up to the line of scrimmage as needed.

Two cornerbacks as well as two safeties.

There is an issue on the Lions defensive depth chart. They need more beef on the first line. Here’s a sample:

Ezekiel Ansah, DE 6’ 5”, 275 lbs.

A’Shawn Robinson, DE 6’ 4”, 322 lbs.

Jeremiah Ledbetter DT, 6’ 3”, 298 lbs.

Christian Ringo DT, 6’ 1”, 298 lbs.

Akeem Spence DT 6’ 1”, 307 lbs.

Anthony Zettle 6’ 4”, 270 lbs.

I can make a case that currently A’Shawn Robinson and Akeem Spence could play on a 3-4 scheme. With an outside chance of Ezekiel Ansah, if he can consistently rush the passer and stay healthy.

Big linemen are much preferred because they need to fill the gaps. The bigger the player the more gap they fill. I’m not going to worry about the linebackers right now. The defensive line needs fixed first. They secondary is a solid group.

The reason the New England Patriots run the 3-4 so well is they have beef up front. Here’s a sample:

Alan Branch DT, 6’ 6”, 350 lbs.

Malcom Brown DT, 6’ 2”, 320 lbs.

Adam Butler DT, 6’ 4”, 300 lbs.

Trey Flowers DE, 6’ 2”, 265 lbs.

Lawrence Guy DE, 6’ 4”, 305 lbs.

Ricky Jean Francois DT, 6’ 33”, 313 lbs.

The Patriots have the size up front to roll with the scheme.

The good news for the Lions is they have roughly $50 million in cap space. That will help be because it seems highly probable Patricia will want to stick to what he knows and is good at. Which means the Lions would make the switch.

Will there be learning difficulties? Absolutely. No way to sugar coat it. But in the not to distant future, given draft and free agent success, they’ll be a good unit.

So many ifs, ands, or buts. That’s part of the excitement of a new head coach and a GM (Bob Quinn) who actually seem to know what they are doing.

To tank, or not to tank

Tanking in sports is an incredibly fascinating subject. It’s gone on for well quite a while. Why?

Well (and that is a deep subject) there are various reasons this takes place:

1. The team has an aging roster and see top picks as a quick fix.
2. A teams payroll is out of control and it’s a way to get it under wraps.
3. The team is really that bad with no chance of winning so they implement tanking with eyes on the future.
Agents hate it. With a passion. They claim it slows down the free agent market and teams would rather gather draft picks and young prospects for their farm teams.
As a fan of the rebuilding Detroit Tigers I have no problem with the team if the MLB draft is stacked with good talent.
The fact that the Tigers owner Chris Ilitch has poured money into analytics and upgrading all the minor league facilities shows the switching of a mind set. Instead of winning now as his late father Mike Ilitch aimed for. The younger Ilitch has an eye on the future and prolonged winning.
So to the Tigers I say “as long as the scouting is spot on. Tank away. Lose now, win later and for a prolonged period of time.”

Why 2018 & 2019 will not be lost Tigers seasons

While the baseball season is about to kick off with winter caravans and spring training. The thought of a bad bordering on hideous Tigers season leaves fans wondering what’s the point?
Fair question. Let’s start with the fact the Tigers must see what’s in the minors as far talent.
At some point or points during the season Tigers fans can expect to see Beau Burrows, Christian Stewart, Gregory Soto (who I’m very high on) and perhaps Dawel Lugo get a look with the parent club.
Not to mention fans will want to see if Nicholas Castellanos (baring a trade) can continue to improve his bat skills. Not to mention if they don’t trade him what can a fully healthy Michael Fulmer give you.
GM Al Avila,said he believes the arms in the minors will “bring a championship to Detroit in the very near future.” Bold words. Dangerous words if he and the Tigers don’t deliver. The future begins in earnest this season.

I and Tigers fans will be keeping a close eye on the Tigers farm system. It should be fun!

Exactly what is “the Patriot way?”

The New England Patriots are yet again in the Super Bowl. Big shock for sure. Why are they so successful? What is the secret of “the Patriot way?”

For starters the Patriots draft extremely well. They get more out of lower draft picks than some teams get out of their top picks.

What seems to be the real key is unless your name is Tom Brady, and perhaps a left tackle,you will not be on the roster much past your rookie contract.

Want proof? The 40 year old Brady has thrown touchdown passes to 50 different receivers in his career. Let that sink in. That’s not even the tight ends and running backs who he’s shared the field with.

So to review. Draft well. Get the best years (first 5) out of a player and when they are ready for a pay raise cut bait and move on. The Patriots have made this an art form.

This should interest Detroit Lions fans as former Patriots front office employee Bob Quinn is the GM and is bringing that philosophy to the Lions.

Time will tell if they get it right. Time will also tell if Matt Stafford is the Lions version of Tom Brady who can stand behind any linemen and throw to any wide receiver.

New coach, but next step is critical

The only thing left is to cross the T’s and dot the I’s. It’s clear the Detroit Lions have found their next head coach in New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

That is a first. The Lions have actually identified the new coach. I’ve seen other teams bring in new coaches over the years with ease. All the while watching through the green eyes of envy hoping and wishing the Lions would do the same.

Patricia comes to the Lions highly esteemed. For very good reason. Simply put he’s the best defensive minds in the game.

Now it gets interesting. Whenever the Patriots season ends. Patricia will have to assemble a coaching staff. He is rumored to be keeping offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan holdovers from the fired Jim Caldwell’s old staff and both favorites of Lions QB Matthew Stafford. Not that it matters who a player likes. The coach gets the final say on his staff.

If those two coaches are indeed brought back the focus will shift to the defense. For good reason. Four, count them four, Pro Bowl players on that unit that had trouble stopping the run and was killed by short passes over the middle of the field.

Patricia a defensive wiz will in all likelihood oversee this unit. What is critical is who He tab’s as the coach to run the defensive squad. From linebacker coach, secondary coach, and others. It may be safe to say he will bring a coach he’s worked with in New England. Coaches tend to run in tight groups.

Whoever is the new face of the defense he will walk into a job with some talent on that side of the ball. That has to be somewhat enticing for a coach.

For me this is a big a hire as the head coach itself.

The next Detroit champion

While the Red Wings and Tigers are in full rebuild mode. The Pistons struggling to find consistency and the Lions searching for a new head coach let’s take a look at who can possibly raise a championship banner.

The Pistons: the verdict is still out wether this core group of players can find cohesiveness and achieve the level of consistency needed to make a deep playoff run. In fact the first goal should be to get to the playoffs.

The Red Wings: well documented rebuild (even if Ken Holland hates the word) the Wings are every bit of 3-5 years away from being a serious Stanley Cup contender. There are some good young players to keep an eye on.

The Tigers: yikes it’s going to be a mess at Comerica Park for the next few seasons. But there are solid arms and a few bats. But the immediate future is bleak.

The Lions: could it be the Lions of all Detroit teams have the best shot at a title?
Yes. Bob Quinn has masterfully reshuffled the roster and he is expected to focus on the defense this offseason.

If the team lands Matt Patricia (as expected) this team will be a serious contender. Following the Lions starting in 1980 I’ve never even dreamed of them in position to win the Super Bowl. But they are incredibly close.

Championships not withstanding I will continue my loyalty to all of the Detroit teams documenting all of it. The good, the bad, the putrid.

With the first pick in the 2018 MLB draft

It’s an unusual position for the Detroit Tigers to be in. For much of the past decade they were adding trying to win a World Series.

Now the rebuild is in full swing and thanks to the worst record the Tigers own the first pick in the 2018 MLB draft.

An organization that loves big strong power arms one guy stands out. University of Florida RHP Brady Singer. He fits the criteria (Singer is 6′ 5″) the Tigers covet he had 129 strikeout in 126 innings pitched. Viewed as a pitcher who will not be in the minor leagues long may help the Tigers front office make the pick a no brainer.

Drafted in the second round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015 Singer opted to go to college. As it turns out it was the correct call. He polished up his mechanics and brushed up his slider that has scouts drooling.

He was part of a Gators rotation that was downright nasty. Paired with last years Tigers first round pick (Also from Florida)  Alex Faedo. If reunited with the Tigers the Detroit rebuild would speed up considerably.

A future rotation of

Perez
Manning
Singer
Burrows
Faedo

May be too much for the Tigers to pass up. As they would be staring at 5 potential top of the rotation starters.

Be patient Tigers fans. They are building something that could very well end up being special.