The dog days of summer have arrived early in Motown with the Detroit Tigers in the midst of yet another losing streak.
With the city’s beloved Detroit Tigers currently sitting at an abysmal 30-71 (.297 winning percentage) on the season, most fans in the Motor City have their sights set on football season before the calendar has even hit August. With some of the current personnel on the roster occupying roles they shouldn’t at this point of a rebuilding effort, I can’t blame them one bit for focusing on the gridiron. However, a few roster manipulations could make this Tigers team a bit more fun to watch, or at least bearable, for the rest of the season.
Head-scratching comments by manager Ron Gardenhire fueled rumors about potential roster moves ahead of the team’s game against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday morning. According to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, Gardenhire claimed he was discussing “roster stuff” on the phone with GM Al Avila after a delay of his morning media session.
Let the speculation begin.
As the trade deadline nears and a number of Tigers remain firmly on the block, this roster is sure to look drastically different in a matter of days. What it will look like remains uncertain, but in an ideal world, the team uses the deadline as an opportunity to reboot its roster and infuse it with youthful talent.
No, I’m not calling for Casey Mize or Matt Manning, as many desperate fans have made a plea for. I’m calling for the dismissal of unnecessary veteran players, and the recall of deserving ones from Triple-A Toledo. With the team’s recent stretch of unacceptable baseball (just three wins in July), this proposal may not be as outlandish as it seems.
It would be wise for the Detroit Tigers to cut bait with veteran infielders Jordy Mercer and Gordon Beckham, and promote the hot-hitting Dawel Lugo and streaking Victor Reyes in their places. Releasing veterans like Mercer and Beckham wouldn’t be easy on the clubhouse, but at this point in the season, it’s time for a full-blown youth revolution. Lugo is hitting an impressive .332 as the starting third baseman for the Mud Hens, Victor Reyes is at .309 while riding a six-game hit streak.
Slide Lugo in at third base for the foreseeable future, give him a shot to prove himself at the big league level with every-day plate appearances. The athletic Reyes can slot in for Nick Castellanos as the starting right fielder once the latter gets shipped off in a trade before the deadline.
Jeimer Candelario, who’s taking reps at first base at the direction of the front office, can learn the position on the fly when he moves across the diamond on a full-time basis following the Lugo recall. It may be a struggle for Candelario to adjust to first base on short notice, but this team has nothing to play for, except the first overall pick of course.
Super utility man Niko Goodrum deserves a shot to play shortstop every day after an impressive showing during Mercer’s extended absence earlier this summer, he’ll get that opportunity down the stretch with these shake-ups. Harold Castro should be the team’s starting second baseman.
The team shouldn’t stop there in its pursuit of roster upgrades. Tigers catchers Grayson Greiner, John Hicks, and Bobby Wilson have combined for a .493 OPS this season, worse than two pitching staffs, (Mets and Red Sox) albeit many fewer plate appearances. Jake Rogers, waiting in Toledo with his impressive 15-of-32 runners caught stealing, should be in the major leagues.
Rogers hit .302/.429/.535 in Erie before his promotion to the Mud Hens, standing at 24 years old with team control until he’s 30. This is a prospect who’s ready for the big leagues, unlike Mize and Manning who many ask for.
The traditional Major League Baseball rebuild includes giving under-experienced prospects plenty of time and reps to develop in the majors, it’s time for the Detroit Tigers to fully embrace the rebuild and turn control of the team to the youth down the stretch. This isn’t unrealistic, I’m not calling for Mize or Manning, I’m not advocating to potentially stunt the growth of young players, I’m simply asking for youth to be the priority in the majors. And from Gardenhire’s indication, this movement may be in the cards for the near future.