Let me make this abundantly clear. Nobody in their right mind would have opposed the tear down of the Detroit Tigers earlier this summer. The payroll was bloated, the team wasn’t going anywhere and their garbage farm system needed an infusion of talent.
If anything, GM Al Avila probably waited longer than I would have to deal some of the team’s elite veteran talent.
That was from October of 2016. So, yes, I totally understood why Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez and Justin Wilson had to go. I never had any issue with phase one of the Chris Ilitch plan to overhaul his inheritance.
Just as I was one of the first “media” members in 2015 to suggest then- GM Dave Dombrowski had to have a fire sale of all pending unrestricted free-agents (which led to the purge of Yoenis Cespedes, David Price and Joakim Soria), I was also on board with making those necessary trades with the caveat that this wouldn’t be just a way for Ilitch to save money.
Because if you remember, back in 2015 after those expiring deals were dealt, Mike Ilitch went back that winter and dove right back in to the free-agent market with admittedly mixed results.
While Upton ended up being a great signing (he was the 2017 Detroit Tiger of the Year even though he spent the last month in Anaheim), Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Pelfrey and Mark Lowe turned out to be disasters.
But that’s not really the point. The moral of that story is Chris’ father Mike Ilitch was still attempting to put a competitive team on the Comerica Park field in 2016 even after he made the prudent deals to obtain Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris, Matthew Boyd and others to inject the franchise with quality prospects.
But that’s not Chris Ilitch’s end game. This isn’t just about guaranteeing the future of the organization in the next few seasons, this is CLEARLY about Ilitch not giving a flying fuck about the fanbase of the Tigers. One that has supported the team at the box office for the last decade-plus with no World Series jewelry to show for it. We have also made the franchise’s games the city’s highest-rated program during the summer on Fox Sports Detroit.
It appears that the beat writers and columnists (and even many slapdick fans) can’t fathom that there is some middle ground betweeen Chris Ilitch reasonably lowering the team’s bloated budget to get under the luxury tax provision in the CBA and the near- $80 million austerity program we are now going through that will make this team totally unwatchable for the next few seasons as they lose over 100 games.
Keep in mind, I am not suggesting Avila do anything that will impact this franchise in 2020 when the Tigers can reasonably be expected to benefit from the trades of this past summer. While one can quibble with the return for J.D., you’d hope that Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron, Jeimer Candelario, Isaac Paredes and the first overall pick they earned for being historically awful in September will be contributing by then.
But someone will have to explain to me how the future of this franchise would be impacted if Ilitch lowered payroll by around $30 million — well under the luxury tax threshold — while diving back into the free-agent market to make quality signings with the knowledge that 85(!!!!!) wins was enough to qualify for the postseason in 2017.
On the DSR Podcast on Periscope the other night I explained how the Tigers could sign a few free-agents this offseason which would at least make them tolerable on a night-to-night basis.
(Remember, this isn’t the NHL or the NBA where tanking can actually be fun with a real payoff at the end of the rainbow. Losing on purpose in those leagues and even in the NFL is more like easily curable skin cancer. Being awful from April until the end of September — with a game almost every day/night — in the midst of 162 games is pancreatic cancer.)
So this was my plan. I am including the accompanying consensus projections for what these available players are expected to sign in my analysis:
Lorenzo Cain (4 years, $70 million — $17.5 per year)
J.D Martinez (5 years, $110 million — $22 per year)
Alex Cobb (4 years, $48 million — $12 per)
Alex Avila (1 year, $2 million)
Under my plan, you don’t trade Ian Kinsler for the 20th and 24th best prospects from a depleted farm system. You keep him. You can also sign a few bullpen arms for under $10 million — or acquire them in trades — and field a respectable team way under the luxury tax threshold while still slashing tens of millions of dollars in payroll in comparison to the start of 2017.
Also, you might think I am being conservative with the money and term for J.D. but that’s more money than Upton received with the Angels so it seems reasonable.
Look, the pitching would still be a huge question mark but this team was going to have to rely upon guys like Norris and Boyd this coming year even before the moves they’ve made over the last few months. At the very least, a team with this lineup would have a fighting chance on a game-to-game basis ….
1] Lorenzo Cain (CF)
2] Ian Kinsler (2B)
3] Miguel Cabrera (1B)
4] J.D Martinez (RF)
5] Nick Castellanos (DH)
6] Jaimer Candelario (3B)
7] Mike Mahtook/Christin Stewart Platoon (LF)
8] James McCann/Alex Avila Semi-Platoon (C)
9] Jose Iglesias/Dixon Machado (SS)
(Please note my plan would include telling Victor Martinez and his backstabbing ass to stay home. Thanks for the memories, Corpse Mart.)
None of those signings would be harmful to the team’s future. You still would be on pace for a starting rotation in a few years of Alex Faedo, Brady Singer (if they predictably select him in June), Matt Manning, Beau Burrows and Franklin Perez.
You aren’t stunting the growth of any prospects ready to play right now, because other than maybe Stewart …… THEY DON’T FUCKING HAVE ANY!!!!!
And why the hell do you care if Chris Ilitch — a man who heads a family worth over six billion dollars — has to shell out some dough to give us just a LITTLE hope heading into 2018????
You are talking about a man who just recently took $300 million from the city of Detroit to build a new arena and who, in a week. is going to get a tax cut in the hundreds of millions thanks to our corrupt President, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan so 13 million folks can lose their health insurance.
THIS is the family you are worried about shelling out some dough for players like Cain, J.D. and Cobb so we have an alternative to watching Big Brother and America’s Got Talent this summer???????
Here is chart demonstrating what the Ilitch Family has doled out in payroll over the last decade ….
…. and do you see any of them out in the streets, starving? Do you see their net worth doing anything but skyrocketing? Do you see any of them having to curb their obsession with cocaine?
While I was working on this post, I was sent an article from a reader pointing me to an article in the Metro Times about the culture of the Ilitch Empire under Chris.
It would seem that Chris Ilitch is forcing the Foxtown Grille out of the building they own that is sandwiched in between the Fillmore and Fox Theater. This is what owner Barbieri Kolinski had to say about her relationship with Chris:
To summarize, the Ilitch Family had no problem taking the Kolinskis’ money when the city was struggling, but now that things have turned around, they want that space for themselves. While Ilitch was purposely buying up land near the District Detroit under assumed business entities and artificially depressing the area for years and years, people like Kolinski were attempting to carve out a living downtown.
And this is the fucking guy whom you are giving a free pass to decimate the Tigers’ roster just so he can save a few shekels?
I totally expect this from the usual suspects in the media like Lynn Henning, but I am shocked that many readers of THIS site have gone along with this Chris Ilitch charade.
We’re fucked until he sells the team.
And now we can’t even get a nice plate of linguini with white clam sauce across the street while we are taking it in the ass.
(You can follow Moss on Twitter @JeffMossDSR. You can discuss this article on Facebook by clicking here. You can also go fuck yourself if you’d like. Totally up to you.)