It’s that time of year. Dry Turkey abounds and we mark the time until Detroit Tigers baseball starts by noting we’ve made it to Thanksgiving.
As we sit down for Thanksgiving this year, due to continuing COVID worries, we may not be surrounded by family and friends like in years past. There might be a little less food to snack on over the weekend. The Detroit Lions have a “meh” looking matchup in the early game. The Macy’s parade is scaled back. But…we have the Dry Turkey Awards to celebrate. No, we won’t make a joke about new Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch making a loud ruckus with the cans when tasked to take out the garbage after everyone has gone home. We could…but we won’t. On to the awards:
”The In-Laws aren’t coming!” Award
Ron Gardenhire has retired and he and his run of the mill coaching staff won’t be at the Tigers table this season. Gardenhire was never given a lot of talent in Detroit. He never got to prepare the meal, he just set the table. Gardenhire was a caretaker who made sure things looked tidy even though things were pretty sketchy all around. We wish him a return to health and good hunting and fishing.
”Got the Stuffing beaten out of them” Award
Matthew Boyd continued his slide that actually began in the second half of 2019. Boyd was bedeviled once again by the long ball. Does he still have a future in Detroit? Boyd likely gets the next year to work with a new pitching coach before the Tigers hopefully welcome a wave of possible Boyd replacements.
What tryptophan does to us on Thanksgiving…the Detroit Tigers TV crew at Fox Sports does throughout the baseball season. It’s hard to imagine putting together a more boring crew of personalities on purpose. Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson are heroes to many and deservedly so but they are a sedate pair who add little excitement to a broadcast. As for play-by-play announcer Matt Shepherd? Let’s just have more pie and move on.
The Poultry-Geist Award
American League MVP Jose Abreu terrorized the Tigers pitching staff to the tune of .429/.455/.729 with 17 RBI in 10 games. Abreu was a fright when he stepped against Detroit.
”The Turkey was dry last year” Award
Miguel Cabrera with another milquetoast season that provided few of the thrills from days of yore when his brilliance was on display daily. Cabrera now is that last piece of dry turkey you eat even though the gravy boat is out of reach. It’s better than no turkey but not very exciting.
The Sweet, Sweet Cranberries Award
Willi Castro gets the nod here. Even if it was less than 40 games played, if you want to hit .349/.381/.550 we’re damn well finding an award for you. Castro’s sweet little run gets him an extra helping of the red stuff. Keep it going, young fella!
“The soft and buttery mashed potatoes” Award
Victor “Exit Velo” Reyes might hit the ball softly overall with his smooth buttery swing but his knocks find grass. Reyes started looking more confident defensively and has played himself into another season or two in Detroit. It’s a Rule 5 success story now, albeit a modest one.
”The look forward to Christmas” Award
The Tigers took slugging infield prospect Spencer Torkelson with the first overall selection in the 2020 MLB Draft and look forward to the day when the wrapping is torn off and Torkelson is unleashed upon the opposition. With no official pro-at-bats, feel free to dream of the best possible outcome until we see different.
”Are the bars open after dinner?” Award
The Tigers started promoting young players from their rapidly improving farm system in 2020. The results on the field were mixed but in a short season, not many conclusions or grand pronouncements can be made. You still want Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal in your club. More youngsters will arrive in ‘21. The state of the Tigers minor league system is worth raising a beer in the air at the local watering hole.
The Golden Carving Knife Award
The Tigers limped home from being a .500 club around the halfway point to a deep in pack also-ran by the end. But it wasn’t the fault of Jeimer Candelario, he was the MVP of a bad club. He used the quality cutlery and carved out a spot in the immediate future with the Tigers a very solid and sustained hitting display after an ice-cold 0-17 start. Solid defense at 3B was also a trademark prior to a move to 1B. Candelario definitely put himself back on the club’s radar after a poor 2019 showing.
“The Platinum Turkey Wing Award”
The Tigers starting rotation was in tatters for much of the year. Any pitcher with a wing capable of a sub-4 ERA was going to stand out. Spencer Turnbull was far from perfect. He can be wild and he doesn’t work deep into games. But he’s healthy and takes the ball. He worked to a 3.97 ERA in ‘20 and will be given 30 more starts in ‘21 barring a deal.
“The WKRP Turkey Drop Award”
The Tigers won’t need to toss him out of a helicopter, the long boondoggle contract has mercifully come to an end…the Tigers can now proceed to the post-Jordan Zimmermann Era quickly. There are a thousand stats to show how bad it was but, as Roxette said, it’s over now.
The 20-lb Grand Turkey of Year
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is the year’s biggest turkey.
The commish just continued to be the guy who runs a sport he simply doesn’t seem to enjoy very much.
From his delaying tactics on starting the season, his utter failure to have a coherent plan to address pace of play and balls-in-play issues, to his “expand the playoffs” trial balloon…Manfred puts the “less” in “feckless”. It’s no wonder “Theo Epstein for Commish” musings started quickly when he left the Cubs.