Detroit Tigers owner Christopher Ilitch’s comments to the media today offer a preview of what the off-season may have in store.
Today was a big day for baseball fans around Detroit, as several prominent Detroit Tigers players and brass were on hand for the announcement of the Hamtramck Stadium being restored. This was the former home of the Negro League Detroit Stars, and the historic stadium played host to the Stars’ own Turkey Stearnes, as well as Satchel Paige and many other great Negro League players.
Hamtramck is already home to the soccer club Detroit City FC, who play their home games at Keyworth Stadium, and just won the NISA Independent Cup. The restoration of historic Hamtramck Stadium is another opportunity to help a rabid sports community continue to grow.
During the event, Detroit Tigers owner Christopher Ilitch dropped these statements:
I am not a beat writer. I am a public analyst and a co-expert at this site, and as such I try to consider all the ways to interpret these statements from Chris Ilitch. If I put on my Tigers fan cap and try to capture the reaction of most people on social media, the initial reaction seems to be “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Writers like Tony Paul of the Detroit News publicly spoke about how he thought the Tigers should be spending before the 2021 season to further the rebuild. Moreover, on a recent “The Spiro Avenue Show,” Justin Spiro, his guest Scott Anderson of Spartan Nation, and Paul outlined a plan to rebuild for 2022.
It involves more than just signing Justin Verlander and calling it a day, which is a fear because there are so many holes with this team. Watch the entire episode, but the first twenty minutes is where they speak about the off-season plan.
The Detroit Tigers are in the midst of their best stretch of baseball since 2016, with three consecutive months in which they have finished over .500. They led all of baseball in July in runs scored. According to Maury Brown of Forbes.com, the Tigers are one of the few regional networks to see a rise in TV ratings since 2019.
Look, I am not cherry-picking stats to make my case. It’s concerning to read things like this story about Eric Haase, who felt Detroit was behind the times when he came over from Cleveland.
And this quote about the Tigers (and Rockies) from an unnamed NL executive on MLB.com is a bit worrisome:
"Those clubs had a clear opportunity to add future wins to their ledger but elected instead to punt that opportunity in favor of meaningless short-term wins,” the exec said. “It’s obvious that both decision-makers chose a self-serving path of ‘showing progress’ in an effort to preserve their own jobs rather than act in the best interests of their organizations. They have no chance at the postseason this year, next year, or any year in the immediate future and their inaction further delayed any hope to construct a real title contender at any point in the next half-decade. Their fan bases deserve better.”"
That may come across as harsh, but considering the grief general manager Al Avila has taken from fans for lackluster acquisitions at previous trade deadlines, I don’t necessarily blame the team for passing on deals they didn’t think were helpful. And the trade of Daniel Norris did give them a much-needed minor league arm with some potential.
The Tigers have Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, Dillon Dingler, and a few other interesting prospects, but if I am being objective, the team needs to address a lot this off-season. Christopher Ilitch has a chance to change the narrative and have the team’s success carry the public relations department instead of always being on defense.
The Detroit Tigers are getting better
The Tigers have three potential American League Rookie of the Year candidates in Casey Mize, Akil Baddoo, and Eric Haase. A.J Hinch is using every trick in his book to keep an injury-riddled starting rotation afloat.
Miguel Cabrera is getting closer to his milestones, and for all the “his contract is bloated” cheap shots, he batted .280 in July. It was his best July since 2016, when he batted .314.
The easy thing to do is let the front office have the money to sign players. What Tony Paul said about Avila is correct. It isn’t fair to compare him to Dave Dombrowski, because one had an open wallet, and Avila did not.
Avila has deserved his fair share of criticism, but the team finally looks like it has direction. They are a fun watch. So it’s time for ownership to build off that. The signs are there. The fans are restless and the “angry blogs folks” want this to happen.
We shouldn’t have to state the obvious so often. But if Chris Ilitch follows through and lets Al Avila add to the team — including more starting pitching — they can take advantage of a weak AL Central. The Chicago White Sox didn’t even make it on Ben Verlander’s latest power rankings…though he may have done that solely to anger White Sox fans. But I digress.
Build on the buzz of the city that is going on right now. That’s all anyone really wants. Follow through and shut us up already.