The Detroit Tigers hired Scott Harris as president of baseball operations, a new title for the organization
In my personal experience, reading about the Detroit Tigers hiring Scott Harris as their president of baseball operations yielded way more questions than answers. The fascination about the person was there, undoubtedly, but I couldn’t personally get past the title: president of baseball operations.
Several organizations have that title in their directory and several popular front office names happen to have that same title next to their name: Andrew Friedman, Dave Dombrowski, and Alex Anthopoulos, among others. Luckily, the question was asked at the press conference on Tuesday and Illitch gave authority for Harris to hire a general manager, which Harris stated he intends to do.
Finding roles and responsibilities that come with these titles can’t be done as simply as a google search, considering organizations have different structures and philosophies around who oversees what. There will be more to glean once Harris does find his man for GM, but at minimum, two assumptions can be made.
Given what we understand and what Harris did as GM in San Francisco, it is apparent that Avila had been responsible for GM duties and the president of baseball ops duties during his tenure in Detroit. Of course, this is not to excuse his performance, as there are executives who hold both titles; one being Alex Anthopoulos for the Atlanta Braves.
The decision to split these duties and re-aligning the organization, then, becomes curious. Either the Tigers brass felt perhaps Al Avila was spread too thin with handling front office staff, minor league staff, and developing organizational philosophies and processes while also handling MLB personnel decisions–or the Tigers felt the 35-year-old Harris could use a split to start. Besides, who better to find a GM than a former GM?
The Harris hire is the leading story here and marks a transition in the trajectory of the organization. But it shouldn’t be lost that the Detroit Tigers also appear to be modernizing the organization to better align with other successful clubs.
Taking from his introductory presser, it feels as if Harris will assume big-picture decisions and the processes that will trickle down to the organization and the minors, which would leave the GM to do more speaking with agents, negotiations, trade conversations, etc. A sergeant-lieutenant relationship, for example; or a director-drum major–married in principle, separate in practice.
Harris’ three focal points surrounding his vision for the Detroit Tigers: acquire, develop, and retain young players, get the most out of their talent, and dominate the strike zone on both sides of the ball. Suggesting possible GM candidates would be guesswork from me, but nevertheless, the ethos of this structural change comes as one of refinement and renewal to the Detroit Tigers.