The Detroit Tigers are not a forward-thinking organization
When Al Avila was fired back on Aug. 10, Detroit Tigers principal owner Chris Ilitch said he made the move then, as opposed to after the season, to get a head start on the GM search. While history would tell you a much different story, there was just a sliver of hope that Ilitch was being a bit more proactive by getting out ahead of this.
Well, he’s being proactive all right—perhaps a bit too proactive. All signs are pointing toward the Tigers naming a GM by the end of the month, instead of taking their time and interviewing as many quality candidates as possible to ensure they get the right person for the job.
Ilitch also said that they would cast a wide net with this search, but with some of the candidates that have been reported to be in consideration, it doesn’t seem very wide at all. They just seem to be aiming for candidates that A.J. Hinch and others in the organization are familiar with.
Take Josh Byrnes, for example. He seems like a fine candidates on the surface—being Andrew Friedman’s senior VP of baseball ops in Los Angeles is certainly a resume builder. But then you remember that this would be his third go-round as a general manager.
Now, this deserves some context. While Byrnes would be a retread, he seemed to have gotten the short end of the stick in both of his previous stops with Arizona and San Diego, respectively. He’s also had success in the first round of the draft. But at the end of the day, he’s still a retread, and the only reason he’s getting any consideration for this job is his connection to Hinch.
Current de facto interim GM Sam Menzin also fits into this category. Though this would be his first GM job, he and Hinch supposedly get along pretty well.
Matt Slater is the only reported major candidate to not have any connection to the Tigers or A.J. Hinch. He’s been with the Cardinals for 15 years, holding their director of player personnel title for the last 10. He’s only been interview for one other GM job in that timeframe that we know of.
There seems to be a lack of quality candidates here. Where’s Braves VP of scouting Dana Brown? Where’s Guardians assistant GM James Harris? What about Twins GM Thad Levine? There’s also the possibility (albeit a seemingly slim one) that the Astros move on from GM James Click, as his contract is set to expire at the end of the season.
This whole thing feels rushed—which is the opposite of what Chris Ilitch said he would do. He said this would be “an exhaustive, thorough search.” This—with what has been reported so far—does not appear to be true.
Should we be surprised by this? Not really. It’s clear that Chris Ilitch has no interest in running a major league baseball team. If that is truly the case, the least he could do is find a quality, forward-thinking candidate to be the Detroit Tigers next GM.
Pardon my pessimism, but this just doesn’t seem like it’s going to end well. We’re probably going to end up with an uninspired hire who doesn’t give Tigers fan a lot of hope. I’m willing to give them a chance—and you should, too—but I have my doubts.