A few short weeks ago, as the regular season was over and the postseason was in full-swing, Al Avila, General Manager of the Detroit Tigers, had announced that it was time to get younger and that it was time to decrease the payroll. This movement to get younger and less expensive is a movement that started in Dave Dombrowski’s final days as the GM in 2015. He brought in names like Fulmer and Norris, in exchange for expiring contracts during a less-than-successful season.
The door for Dombrowski spun as he went off to Boston, and Al Avila slipped into the role.
Any and every name that would come to Tigers fans’ minds are each available for the right price. The two largest names that have been floating around over the last week or so include Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander. The list also has included J.D. Martinez and Victor Martinez. So, as the Tiger fans see their franchise attempting a rebuild, how exactly will fans view the last ten years of baseball in the Motor City? With wild enthusiasm, or a feeling of abandonment.
In 2003, the Detroit Tigers tied for the worst record in the history of Major League Baseball, with a record of 43-119. Tiger fans had a taste of success when they made it to the World Series in 2006, a three-year turnaround. This World Series appearance gave Tigers fans hope that the future would continue to be bright in the Motor City. The Tigers have seen players such as Pudge Rodriguez, Placido Polanco, Doug Fister, Gary Sheffield, Max Scherzer, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Guillen, and Prince Fielder over the last 10 years being brought in as the front office attempted to bring a World Series to Detroit. In many years, the team was successful enough to make it to the playoffs before falling short. Now, the team appears to be in a state of disarray.
Should fans be upset? Perspective is everything in this case. If you are to ask a Tampa Bay Rays fan, or an Oakland A’s fan whether or not Tigers fans have a right to be upset, they would be laughed it and considered greedy. Neither of those franchises had nearly the amount of success over the same time period as the Tigers. If you are to ask the Giants or Red Sox fans if the Tigers have a right to be upset, then answers may vary. In Detroit, exactly what will this reign be remembered as while the team starts shedding payroll and getting younger?
I think the first part of the run will be viewed with great admiration. The Tigers made it to the World Series, the Tigers brought in some fun names to watch, the Tigers had a Triple-Crown winner in Miguel Cabrera, who also won the MVP in 2012 and 2013, and an MVP-winning pitcher with Justin Verlander in 2011. We saw Max Scherzer’s dominance before being signing with Washington, we saw the emergence of Rick Porcello, before becoming a Red Sox player. Tigers fans have a lot to look back on with warm emotions.
But there’s a flip-side. No matter what names the Tigers brought in, no matter how solid the lineup or the starting pitchers were, there was always a reason (usually the bullpen) that the Tigers came up short. This time period could be looked at as one of the biggest teases in baseball; team wins, team makes playoffs, team loses. Repeat on spin cycle.
If Cabrera and Verlander do end up getting traded, which appears likely, perhaps seeing those two find success elsewhere, especially if it occurs in games against Detroit, may hurt more than anything else. It’s an end of an era in Detroit’s baseball organization. Hold on for a bumpy ride.