Sonny’s Side Note: Back to the top
In 2015, the Detroit Tigers did not make it to the playoffs and were below a .500 win-loss average. Since then, the team has been clawing their way back up to the top.
“Four Central Division titles, three league championship trips and one World Series appearance” was plastered onto every ad before the 2015 campaign. But, mid-season the team wasn’t on track for another post-season appearance, so owner Mike Ilitch fired longtime General Manager and President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and replaced him with Al Avila.
Avila’s bite was as big as his roar. He released many players after being named General Manager.
With the Tigers’ payrolls and rosters, expectations are always the same for me: make the playoffs and win some games there, too. In the past few seasons, the Tigers picked up big-name players such as Prince Fielder, Max Scherzer and Yoenis Cespedes. However, Fielder was shipped out to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler while Scherzer left before the 2015 season. Cespedes found himself in the World Series with the New York Mets after being traded for prospects. These incidents were key factors in the team’s 2015 failures.
Dombrowski built a team with world champion potential, there is no question about that. However, the team never lived up to what Dombrowski hoped they would. Ilitch and Avila are determined to change that.
Verlander was the top arm in the 2015 rotation, but other pitchers were inconsistent. By signing Jordan Zimmerman, Avila added a stable pitcher who recorded over 200 innings last season. Veteran closer Francisco Rodriguez was acquired for end-of-game consistency while lefty-reliever Justin Wilson and set-up man Mark Lowe were signed to help fix the broken bullpen.
However, the team’s troubles didn’t stop at the pitcher’s mound. Cespedes left Detroit’s outfield for New York, so Cameron Maybin was brought back from the Atlanta Braves, for the offseason, after being traded 9 years ago. Maybin and Anthony Gose will hopefully ensure a speedy centerfield this season, even without Cespedes.
Now go back to the 2015 offseason and Avila says no more moves would be made before power-hitter Justin Upton came to Detroit.
What is surprising about picking Upton? Cespedes was back on the market. But even though Upton was signed due to payroll, he is definitely the right choice. With Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez batting alongside Upton, Detroit’s lineup is one of the best in Major League Baseball’s (MLB) history.
With the Detroit Tigers claiming the fourth highest payroll in the MLB, I expect a strong post-season showing. Key players are locked up for the next few years and young, developing players are on the rise. With these two things in mind, I am hoping for a successful season.