Arbitration-eligible players Shane Greene: $4.8 million – tendered James McCann: $3.5 million – tendered Michael Fulmer: $3.0 million – tendered Matthew Boyd: $3.0 million – tendered Alex Wilson: $2.8 million – tendered Daniel Norris: $1.4 million – tendered Blaine Hardy: $1.2 million – tendered Contract
Two years ago, Miguel Cabrera was coming off a fantastic 2016 campaign in which he played in 158 games and cracked 38 home runs. All manner of lofty terrain in the record books again seemed within reach. There was reason to think that Cabrera’s late-30’s might look more like Hank Aaron’s
People will remember 2006. They will remember 2012. Those were the two years under former general manager Dave Dombrowski’s leadership that a once-hapless Detroit Tigers franchise made it the World Series. They didn’t win either year. Yet 2013 will shine just as bright in memories for years to
Welcome to the waning days of the 2018 season. The MLB playoffs began with much anticipation of exciting matchups that had the potential to entertain and delight many a fan of the sport.
As we await Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, the harsh reality of the 2018 playoff tilt has revealed itself. Instead of getting what we might want, we seem to get what we deserve: a Red Sox–Dodgers series that may excite some, but leaves me wondering if there’s still a way for both of those teams to lose while Milwaukee sneaks in to take the title. Despite having to watch two teams no one really likes all that much, there are a few storylines to follow to make the series interesting.
Angels meet the new Bossmus
If you had Brad Ausmus pegged as the next manager of the Angels of the vicinity of Los Angeles but actually located in Anaheim which is still California, pat yourself on the back. The Angels interviewed 10 candidates — and if you remember, there was a written test that took several hours. Ultimately they settled on Ausmus for reasons. Here’s what general manager Billy Eppler had to say.
“Brad’s balance of connectivity, communication and leadership skills as well as his understanding of evolving strategies and probabilistic approach to decision making led us to him. We believe his knowledge, drive and growth-mindset will allow him to integrate seamlessly with our players and staff and will be pivotal in advancing our culture and moving us toward our goals as an organization.”
There are a variety of words in that quote that will either cause Tigers fans to chuckle to themselves or burst out in fits of uncontrollable swearing. I can’t believe Eppler actually used the word “probabilistic.”
Tell him, Wash
You know how you can tell it’s the offseason? We get treated to articles that ask questions like “Should Nick Castellanos move to first base in 2019?” Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press seems perfectly comfortable with exploring which position we can all watch Castellanos struggle at next, and this year it’s first base. Fenech cites Castellanos’ history as an infielder as a good reason why he should give it a run. Considering he has played third and is a former shortstop, it should be an easy spot to transition to.
Fenech goes through a lot of words and chews up time a reader could have better spent trying to reason with an angry toddler to come to the conclusion most people will get to quickly: leave Nick in right field.
Behind the dish
It would seem the Tigers have a decision to make at catcher next year. Do they put their faith behind Grayson Greiner, who will have minor surgery to remove a bone chip from his wrist after a season where he showed his fair share of promise behind the plate? Or do they drop an estimated $3.5 million on 28-year-old James McCann, who continues to show that he’s not going to blossom into anything much better than a replacement level catcher
Many would argue the choice to go with the youngster is obvious, but general manager Al Avila, in his own very special frustrating way, says the types of things he’s known for saying that make fans wonder just how much of this team he is really watching. The golden quote from him this time is a series of platitudes where he states, among other questionable things, that McCann handles the pitching staff well.
Sure, Al. Whatever you say.
Around the horn
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The Los Angeles Angels announced on Sunday that Brad Ausmus has been named the team’s new manager.
Ausmus, who managed the Detroit Tigers for four seasons, replaces Mike Scioscia, who recently stepped down after 19 years as Angels manager. With the Tigers, Ausmus guided the team to an overall record of 314-332 (.486) with one division title and two winning seasons. He was let go following a 98-loss campaign in 2017.
“Over the past few weeks, our baseball operations personnel sat down with numerous highly qualified and impressive candidates for our managerial role. We are thankful to all of them for their time and effort throughout the process,” general manager Billy Eppler said in a statement. “Ultimately, Brad’s balance of connectivity, communication and leadership skills as well as his understanding of evolving strategies and probabilistic approach to decision making led us to him. We believe his knowledge, drive and growth mind-set will allow him to integrate seamlessly with our players and staff and will be pivotal in advancing our culture and moving us toward our goals as an organization.”
Ausmus, now 49, spent parts of 18 seasons as a major-league catcher, most of them with the Astros. With the Angels, Ausmus inherits a roster that includes Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Andrelton Simmons, and Justin Upton. At the same time, he inherits a team that’s endured three straight losing seasons and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2009.
Ausmus becomes the 21st manager in Angels franchise history.
Examining Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos’ All-Star credentials. Video by Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press. Wochit
If we’re being honest, yes, the Detroit Tigers would love Nicholas Castellanos to play first base.
Heading into next season, hinging largely on the health of Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers are in need of a backup plan at the position. During the team’s final series of the season, in Milwaukee, general manager Al Avila was asked about the possibility of Castellanos moving to first base, which is a popular thought among fans.
“As we are playing it today,” Avila said, “Nick will be our right fielder going into 2019.”
Things can change over the winter, Avila said. He wouldn’t rule it out. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to see whether Castellanos could play first base.
In theory, it’s not. Castellanos once played third base. He was drafted as a shortstop and is an infielder by trade.
If Cabrera gets injured again — he has missed significant time the past few seasons and will be 36 next year — it wouldn’t be bad to have an insurance policy. And, the Tigers could upgrade defensively in the outfield if Castellanos went to first, while keeping his bat in the lineup.
Cabrera already is expected to serve as the designated hitter in more games next season, leaving first base open.
Though Castellanos was a below-average defender in his first full season in right field, he did make significant improvements from start to finish. And at this stage in Castellanos’ career, the Tigers should just stop toying around with him.
Castellanos, 26, is a very good hitter. He posted a career-best season in 2018, hitting .298 with 23 home runs and 89 RBIs in a lineup with virtually no protection.
He has never profiled as a plus-defensive player and didn’t show much range at third base, but he was solid enough that rival talent evaluators still believe he can still play there.
Castellanos is athletic, but he doesn’t have good speed, or a good outfield throwing arm, or good defensive instincts.
Playing right field was never going to be great, but a microcosm of his season came in the Tigers’ second-to-last game, when a home run ball went off his glove and over the right-field fence.
That Castellanos got to the baseball was a credit to the improvements he made this season. That he couldn’t complete the catch speaks to his limitations in the outfield.
“He’s made some strides in right field,” Avila said. “I think he’s getting more comfortable in right field.”
Castellanos will get better with more experience, but probably only marginally.
The Tigers have enough outfielders. They do not have enough first basemen.
That is their problem.
For Castellanos, who is nearing his career prime and approaching his first free-agent payday, a potential move to first base carries more risk than reward. This season, he had a career-best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. It’s impossible to know whether learning a new position would result in him regressing at the plate.
A move would benefit Castellanos if he performed well at first base, making him a more attractable option in free agency, or even the trade market. But as of now, teams don’t want him for his defense.
Ultimately, the Tigers would be best served by allowing him to do what he does best — which is hit — and hope that builds his trade value enough by next season’s trade deadline.
Castellanos was a bad defender to start the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire fielded a few questions early on before putting it to rest, saying the question didn’t need to be asked anymore: Castellanos is his right fielder.
Contact Anthony Fenech: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech.
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