I recently wondered aloud, if I were to climb to the top of the tallest building in Detroit and yell at the top of my lungs “FIRE AL AVILA,” how loud would I need to be for the entire downtown area to hear me? Or at least, most of it?
*Cracks knuckles* it’s Googlin’ time.
My first search tells me the tallest building in Detroit is the Renaissance Center, which stands 727 feet in height (101st tallest building in the world, in case you were wondering).
Next I find the total area of downtown Detroit in square miles, which is 1.4, to be exact.
Now, let’s do some (imperfect) math.
Let’s pretend the 1.4 square mile area of downtown Detroit is a perfect square (I know, it isn’t). In order for me to vocally reach the entire hypothesized area of downtown, I need to be able to project my voice far enough that people in each of the four farthest corners of the square can hear me.
To find the center of the square, I need to split the shape into two right triangles, find the hypotenuse, and then split that in half. Essentially, I need to solve for C in A^2+B^2=C^2, then divide C by two.
After running the numbers and dividing by two, I come away with C = 0.99. So the key number for us is basically one mile (precisely 5,277.32 feet for the nerds in the back).
Now that I know I need to be heard up to a mile away, it’s time to find the right instrument so that everyone from Greektown to Little Caesars Arena can hear the gospel.
Next, I google megaphone prices.
One of my first results is a megaphone from MG Electronics. For $100.95, I can order a 50-watt megaphone that reaches as far as 1,650 feet. While I like the siren feature that comes with the megaphone, that’s not nearly far enough.
After looking through a few more listings, I soon realize that this may require something much higher tech than just any given megaphone found on the internet (shocking, I know).
My next search reads “speakers that can be heard a mile away” and I stumble across an article about directional speakers from explainthatstuff.com. After a few minutes of reading, I discover the U.S. Navy uses a directional speaker called the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) 500X that can reach as far as 1.2 miles away.
My fifth Google search is “LRAD 500X price” and for a bargain of $18,000 to $25,000, I can go home with a LRAD 500X of my own, according to a 2018 article in the archives of muckrock.com.
Where I go to buy such a device is a mystery though. My best bet would be to contact the U.S. Navy or the police department of a major metropolitan city, according to the same article.
So, if you or someone you know wants to climb to the top of the tallest building in Detroit and scream “FIRE AL AVILA” for all of downtown to hear, it’s going to require at least a couple rubber band stacks and a transaction with the U.S. Navy to acquire the right equipment before doing so (and that’s not including the money you’ll have to shell out for hearing protection because a LRAD 500X can go as much as 10 decibels higher than the roar of a jet engine).
Can you tell I’m Al Avila’s number one fan yet?
Sarcasm aside, I’ve never met Al and have zero background knowledge when it comes to the type of man he may be on an interpersonal level. He could be the best father, husband, friend, etc. the state of Michigan has ever seen–and if that’s the case, more power to him–but that doesn’t detract from the God-awful job he has done as general manager of the Detroit Tigers.
The evidentiary list of his abysmal leadership is long and winding, with perhaps the metaphorical cherry on top coming this week, via one of baseball’s best wordsmiths.
According to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, the Tigers are listening to trade offers on “just about everyone,” including Tarik Skubal, a central member of the young core of pitching this team is supposedly being built around.
Six years into a rebuild and it would appear Al Avila is on the precipice of rebuilding the rebuild because there really was no rebuild to begin with, the eleven months from May 2021 to March 2022 being nothing but a delusional mirage that distracted Tigers fans from the blistering misery that has been the Avila-led Tigers.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and recap.
After so many years toiling away in the futility of said rebuild, energy and optimism was palpable again for a baseball franchise starving for a return to relevance earlier this year.
The Tigers started last season 9-24, but found their groove and played winning baseball for the last three quarters of the season. From May 8 on, the Tigers went 68-61 and headed into the MLB offseason with the team’s fanbase harboring aspirations of a playoff run for the first time in over five years.
They seemed to be capitalizing on momentum from more than one front too.
In free agency, Detroit went out and signed all-star shortstop Javier Baez, starting pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez, Michael Pineda, and reliever Andrew Chafin, on top of trading for former gold glove catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Down on the farm, the Tigers had produced a handful of highly touted starting pitchers who were already on the big-league roster, while two of baseball’s top five prospects—Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson—were also waiting in the wings.
Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal were hailed as Detroit’s next young, talented trio of pitchers, while ‘future all-star’ was basically etched into the metaphorical stone beneath the statues to be built on the doorstep of Comerica Park of Greene and Torkelson.
Greene was to become the do-it-all, heavy hitting center fielder, while Torkelson would inherit Miguel Cabrera’s throne at first base.
All was peachy, the sun rising neatly through the rose-tinted glasses of Tigers fans everywhere, but then this season happened.
The Tigers sit at 40-59, good for fourth place in the American League Central, and just about anything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.
Skubal is the only starting pitcher still active from the opening day rotation. Greene fractured his right foot just a few days before opening day, holding him out of baseball for over two months. Javier Baez—up until a few week ago—was hitting well below .200. Eduardo Rodriguez has been away from the team for months trying to patch up his marriage.
At the surface, one could easily blame the Tigers’ woes on injuries and dumb luck, but that would let the proverbial crook off the hook. When you take a closer look, Detroit’s problems run much deeper, and it can all be tied back to the same person I’m screaming about at the top of my lungs through a U.S. Navy-endorsed directional speaker at the top of the Detroit Marriott.
Hired in 2015 to replace team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski, Avila was supposed to lead the Tigers through the twilight of their playoff run in the mid 2010s, then transition the team through a rebuild.
As Detroit fell out of contention from 2015 through 2017, Avila had a stack of assets—Justin Verlander, Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, J.D. Martinez, Joakim Soria and Nick Castellanos, just to name a few—that he could use as trade chips over the years to replenish Detroit’s farm system and accelerate a rebuild.
In those six trades that happened from 2015-2019, Detroit saw a total return of 14 prospects. Of those 14 prospects, four never saw big league action in Detroit (Franklin Perez, Paul Richan, Luis Cessa and Jose King), only six managed positive WAR contributions in a Tigers uniform (Michael Fulmer, Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris, JaCoby Jones, Jake Rogers and Alex Lange), and only three had a career WAR of at least 2.0 while rocking the old English D (Fulmer, Boyd and Norris).
Of those names, only Fulmer, Lange and Rogers remain in a Tigers uniform, but Fulmer and Lange may be dealt by the trade deadline, and Rogers is amid rehabilitation as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery he underwent last year (although Norris is slated to return to Detroit on a minor league deal).
Straight up, traditional draft picks haven’t been Avila’s forte either.
Since being named general manager on August 4, 2015, Avila has been at the helm for seven MLB amateur drafts and has managed to develop a whopping ZERO all-stars from the crop of Tigers’ draft picks going back to 2016.
Poor drafting and player development have plagued Detroit for decades though. While the club has managed to hit on a few pitchers here and there (namely Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello), the Tigers have been particularly abysmal at developing position players.
According to an article from thegame730am.com, the Tigers haven’t had a home-grown positional player make multiple all-star games since Travis Fryman during the early-to-mid late ‘90s (Fryman made four all-star teams with the Tigers from ‘90-’97).
Since 2002, when Avila was hired as assistant general manager and vice president of the team, the closest the Tigers have come to drafting a home-grown, multi-all-star positional player was Curtis Granderson (2002, round 3, pick 80), his son Alex Avila (2008, round 5, pick 163), Nick Castellanos (2010, round 2, pick 44) and James McCann (2011, round 2, pick 76).
Of those four players, Granderson is the only one to make multiple all-star teams over the entirety of his career (one with Detroit, two with the New York Yankees), while the other three have one all-star appearance apiece, with Avila junior being the only other player besides Granderson to make an all-star team in a Tigers’ uniform.
To give credit where credit is due, Al Avila did scout and sign Livan Hernandez and Miguel Cabrera as international prospects while he was with the Florida Marlins, but the latest of those two signings came in 1999, and if you eliminate Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello from the conversation, Avila has next to nothing in the way of names to stake a claim for developing in nearly 24 years of MLB front office experience.
It doesn’t stop in the scouting department though.
When it comes to identifying big league talent, Avila has been equally inconsistent. Sure, Austin Meadows, Baez and Rodriguez have been duds this year for one reason or another, but this is also the same general manager who shelled out over $240 million for Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton from 2015 to 2016.
With those two signings, Detroit lost two competitive balance draft picks in exchange for a pitcher who had the highest ERA among starters with 20+ outings in 2019, and an outfielder who played one-and-a-half seasons in Detroit before being traded away at the 2017 trade deadline.
This has all led to an incredibly miserable rebuild where the Tigers haven’t had a winning season since 2016, and in the same timeframe. not a single hitter has eclipsed 30 home runs.
Since 2017 the Tigers have the worst record in the American League Central at 315-489 — 20 games worse than the Kansas City Royals. The rest of the AL Central had 24 hitters notch 30 HR campaigns (CLE – 9, MIN – 8, CHW – 4, KCR – 3), compared to zero from your Detroit Tigers.
It’s time for Al Avila to go. But given the tone deaf comments made by Detroit Tigers Owner Chris Ilitch praising the progress this team has apparently made, it may be some time before Al Avila is sent out to pasture so this team can once again make steps toward returning to contention.