In a radio interview shortly after getting hired, Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch was candid and forthright in breaking down the roster
Shortly after getting introduced as the new manager of the Detroit Tigers on a Zoom press conference which was streamed live, AJ Hinch appeared on the HUGE Show with Bill Simonson WXYT-AM 1270 Detroit. In the interview which can be found here, Hinch tackled three major topics of discussion among Detroit sports fans as it relates to himself and the Tigers. First, simply his background in baseball–something that typically gets glossed over in a presser. Secondly, many still wanted answers regarding his involvement in the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. Lastly and most interestingly, his thoughts and plans for the roster moving forward.
Hinch was impressive when asked about the roster; he knew several of the players as well as their strengths and weaknesses and even outlined who he feels he needs to develop personal relationships with as he begins managing, but several quotes stuck out.
On the competitiveness of the club compared to their last competitive window, ownership’s commitment, and his thoughts on player development:
"“That’s what we want to get back to, and I think when you look at this, you see the influx of young talent is real, I think you have a committed owernship. Chris Illitch has been unbelievable in explaining to me his blueprint on how he wants to build a sustained winner. The family has done it before, they’ll do it again, and that type of commitment to winning from ownership, the young players that have been established and another high draft pick coming this year…you get another impact player to add to the mix…I mean, I love building things. I love player development.”"
His overall view of the club:
"“So my view of the Tigers even before I knew there was an opportunity was just the anticipation of the young pitching getting there, some of the position players. I’ve watched Spencer Torkelson play before so the anticipation for him is going to be really big for him to get to the big leagues…all the sudden you see here comes Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal and Manning is going to be right behind them–you’re combining that with we gotta get Matt Boyd back on track, then all the sudden here comes Willi Castro, young infielder, Candelario has a little bit of a breakout, Niko Goodrum was playing incredible defense, he almost won a gold glove…as the build starts, now it’s about how much can you add to the recipe.”"
Hinch also mentioned the timing associated with when to press the accelerator on the rebuild and stated that can be hard to predict at times, especially because he is unsure of what they really have until they get the team on the field.
On who he feels he needs to know deeply:
"“I need to have a personal relationship with Matt Boyd and Joe Jimenez and Candelario and Paredes who’s a young kid…those are key relationships that have to be individual…I have to know the person first. I do believe you have to develop the person first and the player second.”"
On his managing the Detroit Tigers:
"“On a game management level, I think my strength is I’m not afraid to try anything. I don’t really have one philosophy other than I try to manage to win. I don’t bunt a ton, I don’t intentionally walk a ton unless the game dictates it.”"
On Niko Goodrum:
"“I’m not afraid to move guys around that can play multiple positions, that’s why I’m so excited to work with a guy like Niko Goodrum…he can do a lot of different things around the field, we got to get his offense straightened out, but his ability to play a lot of different positions will be maximized under a manager like me.”"
It is clear that Hinch is targeting Matt Boyd, Jeimer Candelario, and Niko Goodrum as lynchpins to the rebuild and immediate success of the club; these are either players he feels he can help improve short-term or foundational pieces to the next competitive Tigers team. He also feels strongly they will need to add to what they have currently beyond the stop-gape-type signings they have made in recent years. Interestingly, he seems sold that the club will have financial resources to add those key components to the rebuild as the team tries to win again.
The ultimate test will happen on the field, but it appears AJ Hinch is saying all the right things in his first couple of weeks as the manager of the Detroit Tigers.