Even the most cynical Detroit Tigers fan has to nod their head in agreement in the last two weeks of moves.
We here at Motor City Bengals walk the line of objectivity. As fans who follow the Detroit Tigers and put ourselves out there as “public evaluators” on this site, according to some people, we can be viewed as “too negative” but I like to think we keep it honest.
In this case with the recent hirings by the Detroit Tigers, these hirings are all pointing towards not only optimism but logic. Here are three reasons why these hirings bode well for the future of the franchise.
Proven track records
As Chris Brown highlighted in his piece for the new hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, his track record is a mile long in his various stops. With AJ Hinch and his background in player development we already discussed, that helps play into the young talent the Tigers have.
But in addition to the Chris Fetter hire as the pitching coach, is the promotion of Toledo Mud Hens pitching coach Juan Nieves as the assistant pitching coach. His influence has been widely known in the organization, including helping Tyler Alexander in 2019. He has overseen staffs in Boston, Miami, and worked with the White Sox. A veteran to pair up with Fetter makes the transition much smoother.
A philosophy change
Minus Miguel Cabrera and Matt Boyd, who turns 30 in February, the average age of the Tigers roster is around 27 years old. It will continue to get younger as the prospects evolve and if you look at how the Tigers are drafting, the type of player they are scouting and putting time into is changing.
For example, players with OFP (Overall Future Potential) that are 50 or higher in the system are emerging. They are trying to break away from being a farm system that has one or two players who can make a contribution, rather, having a series of players who can fit some type of role.
With Hinch, he sets the tone along with the rest of the organization in building out players who can get on base, or set a tone for how they want to continue pitching development. I hate this cliche but it is true. “Setting a higher bar” for prospects who develop in the Tigers system will continue to be established.
The Tigers still have ways to go but the farm system is in much better shape than it was in 2017. Hinch had a series of young players who were growing in Houston so the situation is similar in some ways. Now, if they can develop players in the later rounds (Skubal so far) then Detroit will really be in business. That is something they have never been able to do on a consistent level.
Changes the brand
So, allow me to explain what I see with these coaching hires do for changing the brand of the Detroit Tigers. This is no longer Minnesota east (Gardenhire, Rick Anderson, etc) and with these hires, it allows a total cleanse of a staff that goes back.
Lloyd McClendon’s impact on the hitting was well documented that it was a mixed bag. While Joe Varva provided an impact, it was going to be what Hinch wanted to do. In addition, three former Tigers are in coaching positions with George Lombard, Hinch, and Ramon Santiago, who were around during the team’s dark period in the early 2000s.
How does that change the brand? They are former Tigers who went elsewhere and put together resumes. They were around when the team was awful. Fetter went to the University of Michigan so it plays into a stronger team brand. The Tigers PR department can present a lot of different angles with this, just as I did.
Branding is a small part of why these recent hires are good. As long as they can continue to acquire the talent to win, that is what matters the most. This should translate into a better future for the Tigers. Let’s just hope the optimism and what we see on paper, work out.