Detroit Tigers owner Christopher Ilitch arrives at spring training and gives an update

Detroit Tigers owner Chris Ilitch made his yearly stop in Lakeland Florida, to visit the team and give an update to the day-to-day function and thought process going through a long rebuild. As usual when he spoke Ilitch’s words were honest and forthright. For the Detroit Tigers it is a pan they are sticking with, because it is proven.

As I have stated many, many times rebuilds are no fun. There is no way around it. I say that yet I actually enjoy watching rosters being built. Still for the average fan, rebuilds well suck.

DETROIT, MI – FEBRUARY 09: President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Chris Ilitch answers questions during the NHL Winter Classic press conference at Comerica Park on February 9, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the Detroit Tigers named Al Avila general manager, they knew full well this was going to be the direction the organization was trending towards. When Avila took over in 2015, the Tigers were a mess. An old team with bloated contracts and a pitiful minor league system. Avila got to work and now the Detroit Tigers boast one of the best minor league systems. The Tigers payroll came down as well.

Yesterday, Chris Ilitch spoked candidly and offered some insight. “When I look at what we’re doing, I think we’re on the right path,” Ilitch said. “Al has been clear from day one. He’s got a plan, and as an organization we’re executing that plan. It’s a plan that we know works. We’ve done it before, and it’s homegrown talent that is the foundation of championships. And so we continue down that path, and it’s exciting, because so many of our young prospects are now on the cusp.”

Ilitch went on to say, “The most difficult part is the patience. But I’m just like the fans I want to see our young players make the big leap. And it’s good to see so many prospects in camp today.”

LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 13: Detroit Tigers Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Al Avila looks on during Spring Training workouts at the TigerTown Facility on February 13, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The key is to find (through the MLB Draft) a core group of players. Which was greatly helped by last years draft. Then fill in with big high priced free agents, which Ilitch said he will do after the said core group is identified.

I believe that the Detroit Tigers could begin to add bigger name free agents after the 2021 MLB season. As many top prospects will be and the verge of making the Tigers roster.

Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila says he will consider two currently suspended manger for the vacant Tigers manager position

Sports is a business of second chances, and sometimes more. The Detroit Tigers are in the market for a new manager with the retirement of Ron Gardenhire. Tigers general manager Al Avila said he is willing to consider two manager who are both suspended because of cheating scandals. From a national standpoint this could seem dicey. From an industry that is more forgiving it should be no surprise.

Alex Cora, who was fired as manager of the Boston Red Sox for his part in a cheating scandal that netted the Red Sox a World Series Championship  is being considered by Avila and the Tigers front office. It was Cora who was also in Houston and spearheaded the Astros cheating scandal when they won the 2017 World Series.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 28: Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox sits in the dugout prior to Game Five of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

A.J. Hinch who was the manager of the Houston Astros, has accepted his part in the cheating scandal that rocked Major League Baseball. Hinch was also fired by the Astros. Hinch said he understands he was the leader and remained silent as the cheating was going on.

Al Avila also said that he has a long list of names he will consider. Something of note, A.J. Hinch’s suspension ends when the World Series is over in late October. Al Avila said he will not open interviews until, you got it late October.

Another point of interest in A.J. Hinch is that he is widely respected inside baseball circles. Yes, he absolutely should have spoken up and come clean about the goings on with the Astros. But, Hinch’s work with a then rebuilding Astros team beginning in 2015 lead them to a championship.

The Detroit Tigers of today nearly mirror the 2015 Houston Astros. A.J. Hinch has said if he had to do it all again he would have put an end to the cheating. He did not making him a rather interesting figure in the Detroit Tigers managerial search.

Other names Al Avila is said to be pondering are  Lloyd McClendon, former Marlins and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, Kansas City Royals third base coach Vance Wilson, Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Don Kelly,K.C.  Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol, former Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond, New York Mets bench coach Hensley Meulens and Chicago White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing.

Of those managers only Hinch has lead a rebuilding team out of a rebuild into the World Series. Tigers fans, if A.J. Hinch is named manger from that standpoint he would be a very good hire. From an integrity standpoint I believe it would be a good hire as again Hinch has accepted responsibility for what went down in Houston.


The Detroit Tigers are entering the next phase of the rebuild stage

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila Monday night gave his his mission for the offseason, essentially saying the teardown is complete. It was a roster deconstruction that lasted three years. Speaking at the MLB winter meetings Avila revealed what fans have been asking for and Detroit media wondered about.

“The mindset here is to move forward and build back up,”  Avila said in front of the media, after he had finished the first day of activity at the Winter Meetings. “We’ve made a lot of trades. We’ve traded everyone we needed to trade and we’re at the point where this team is very young and we need to build it back up.”

Al Avila said he and his staff are looking to add a veteran catcher, first baseman, corner outfielder, starting pitcher and possibly a middle infielder before spring training begins in February. One difference, they will be looking for middle tier players and not bottom feeders to fill out the roster.

Avila continued, “The biggest concern when you bring in veteran free agents is taking away time from your prospects,”But the situation here now is we can add free agents as needed and maybe create competition for young guys.”

The Detroit Tigers are looking to make the team better for 2020. The Tigers have top prospects knocking at the major league door. There is a decent chance Tigers top pitching prospects Casey Mize, Matt Manning and 3B/SS Isaac Paredes could all end up in Motown next summer at some point, as the trio’s development is ahead of others in the Detroit minor league system.

While it will be another long summer at Comerica Park, the light at the end of the rebuild tunnel is in sight. After the 2020 MLB season the Tigers will have over $150 million come off the books, from years of making championship runs.

In my opinion that is when Detroit will begin in earnest to go after big name free agents. Coupled with the fact the Tigers other prized prospects will be ready for The Show.

Assuming Detroit’s prospects and free agent signings are not complete busts, 2022 is the year that Detroit will likely start looking somewhat competitive again.

Detroit Tigers are willing to trade pitching for hitters

Embed from Getty Images This week the MLB trade deadline came and went. The Detroit Tigers made a pair of trades that saw the organization add three pitchers and one outfielder. Fans were upset, in the pitching talented Tigers minor leagues it did not seem more pitchers should be added. Detroit general manager Al Avila has a plan.

The Detroit Tigers minor league pitching is currently ranked #1 overall. The team has identified the eight to ten pitchers they will not trade no matter the offer. Detroit Tigers general manager said “we are now willing to trade pitching for bats.”

The list of names the Tigers will not trade appear to be: Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Franklin Perez, Alex Faedo, Beau Burrows, Bryan Garcia and Kyle Funkhouser. The other pitchers are already in high demand. Avila is already said to be fielding calls.

The Tigers do have some really nice position players in the minors. Still more big bats are needed.With a future outfield of Parker Meadows, Daz Cameron and Riley Greene the outfield is in good shape. The Tigers could use another outfielder with projectable offensive tools.

While the future infield could use a couple projectable bats. Short stop Isaac Paredes and catcher Jake Rogers (called up this week) have legit power that is about it. So the infield needs offensive players to balance the batting lineup.

With Joey Wentz, Paul Richan and Alex Lange coming to Detroit through trades it gives Al Avila even more leverage to make trades and get bats. If reports are correct and the team is already getting calls things could begin to speed the rebuild up more.

Every baseball team understand you can not have enough pitching in your system. The Tigers have plenty, what is more than that they have an abundance of quality pitching which will do nothing but keep the phones ringing.

The Detroit Tigers are in a very good position. The long rebuild has some players who are helping to shine a light of what will be. MLB teams already acknowledge they understand what Detroit has on the way.

The Detroit Tigers are open for trades, they will soon have teams lining up.

The Detroit Tigers sign general manager Al Avila to an extension

Embed from Getty Images In perhaps the bottoming out season of a rebuild, and in a season in which wins have been mission impossible, the Detroit Tigers gave a new contract to general manager Al Avila. Needless to say reaction has been mixed around the Motor City.

Deep into a rebuilding hole in which there is no turning around, Al Avila signed a new deal. The deal is one that team president and CEO Christopher Ilitch had presented to him this spring.

Al Avila is currently in his fourth season as the main architect of Tigers baseball. When he took over in August of 2016, the Tigers were an old ball team with a very bad minor league farm system. The rebuild was well overdue.

Through trades and good drafting the Detroit Tigers now have a top 10 minor league, and in a relatively short amount of time. That is the good news. Avila has made some questionable choices in free agency. Some have hurt the team by being unable to flip those free agents for prospects because of poor performances.

“We are right in the middle of it,” Avila said of the Detroit rebuild. “It’s a tough time. You start it, you start moving along, there’s a fast pace to it and at the end, when really, quite frankly, you start seeing it come together and then you can see the light.”

The stockpile of prospects alone does not guarantee success. Yet, teams that are winning now after a prolonged rebuild understand the value of collecting young talent. If a team collects enough good talent, the odds are good they will find a few players to build around.

The real reason Christopher Ilitch gave an extension to the Tigers general manager is it would be pointless to switch in the middle of a rebuild. Avila should be able to see it through. Now he gets his chance.

Unhappy fans need to understand the Detroit Tigers underwent into a full-scale rebuild. This is what it looks like. Fans also need to understand the Tigers have amassed some very good prospects under Avila’s watch. Other top baseball executives have commented on what the Tigers have in their minor leagues. Some have even asked for a trade or two.

There has been enough progress made that it warranted the extension. Now armed with three players (Shane Greene, Matthew Boyd and Nicholas Castellanos) being made available for the trade deadline. Al Avila and the Detroit Tigers could get a very nice haul of prospects.

Detroit Tigers rebuild rolling forward

Embed from Getty Images “I’m saying, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila said. This season will be different in Detroit. Yes, there will be plenty on losses. But there will also be anticipation as Tigers top prospects continue to grow.

The Detroit Tigers are coming off back-to-back 98-loss seasons,  the third-worst two-year stretch in the franchise’s 118-year history. Under Avila’s watch   the Tigers have quietly built a farm system on the rise. He has not shy sharing the rebuild process with fans and media.

In fact the Tigers are currently in MLB Pipeline’s Top 10 rankings . The crown jewel being Tigers pitching prospects. Some like Spencer Turnbull and Kyle Funkhouser should arrive at Comerica Park this summer.

Tigers farm director Dave Owen, who has been with the organization since 2011, concurs that the system is stronger than it has been in years. “We’re getting there. The pitching is maybe a little ahead at this point, but we’re making progress with position players, too. We’re getting guys who will be able to contribute.” Detroit is expecting contributions soon.

Al Avila as mentioned “We’ve got guys who already either here or knocking on the door here and you have guys coming, who are not too far away — pitching wise.” Another good sign.

As players continue to develop this season, there is now a finish line. “Where we don’t have young guys ready, we went out and got veterans to plug in for now,” Avila said. “Now, we are looking at Isaac Paredes, Daz Cameron, Jake Rogers, those guys are, right now, the next wave. Is it going to be at the end of this year, 2020 or ’21? I can’t tell you. But they are right there.”

With  eyes on the minor leagues, This will be one of the last summers of waiting.