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The current state of player development

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Now that we have a new owner, assuming Chris wants to follow his dad's footsteps and investing monetarily AND emotionally in the team, how long does he go with the current underwhelming development team?

It's painfully obvious they are pretty bad at identifying and developing talent, something that becomes even more glaring as the org transitions in a "cheaper and younger" product. 

Would now be the time to "out with the old, in with the new" with the draft coming in a few months? Or do you Dombrowski them right after the draft? Or are you somehow satisfied with the terrible job they've been doing?

Any guesses?

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I'm not sure the problem is with player development or draft/signing strategy. 

I think the current state of the system is the result of numerous free agent signings that forfeited first round picks, plus a number of trades/waiving where we gave up decent young players. That's all on dombrowski. 

Adames

leyba

travis

hernan perez

suarez

aside from adames, we have seen very little return from giving up any of the above players. 

Had we held all of those guys other than adames, we could have have traded Kinsler and/or Iglesias for a decent return. That's a lot of talent that was a product of the system that is more or less still in place. ****, had we kept adames and smyly, not having Norris and Boyd wouldn't be the worst thing.

So, I don't think we have to make any changes. We are in a rough spot given what dombrowski was doing for a few years there. Fortunately, we still have a chance to ride this out if Chris is committed to keeping a payroll close to the luxury tax level. 

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I'm not sure that it's painfully obvious, because there were some mitigating factors that obscure things: loss of draft picks for FAs, lack of draft position due to team success, trades, and lack of international investment.

Chris Ilitch could publicly justify something by saying the results have been poor, but I don't get the sense that he will do that.

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Also, had they not traded leyba and ray for Greene and adames and smyly for price, we could in theory have both leyba and adames in the system, and smyly and ray in the rotation in place of Norris and Boyd. 

Long story short, stop making trades to upgrade a team that is already playoff bound. 

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Just read that they have had a bottom third farm system for ten straight years. Obviously losing draft picks and trading young guys play into that but they have been terrible for a long time.

Who are the top hitters produced since Jim Campbell? Granderson, Clark, and Fryman is all I can come up with. That is about 35 years and three fringe all star types. There aren't a whole lot of pitchers either. 

Like you said they need an overhaul and that could take time even if Chris brings in an experienced exec in player development. 

I suspect changes won't be made until they have a 90 plus loss type of year. I guess then we'll find out.

 

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4 minutes ago, Stanley68 said:

Just read that they have had a bottom third farm system for ten straight years. Obviously losing draft picks and trading young guys play into that but they have been terrible for a long time.

Who are the top hitters produced since Jim Campbell? Granderson, Clark, and Fryman is all I can come up with. That is about 35 years and three fringe all star types. There aren't a whole lot of pitchers either. 

Like you said they need an overhaul and that could take time even if Chris brings in an experienced exec in player development. 

I suspect changes won't be made until they have a 90 plus loss type of year. I guess then we'll find out.

 

Nick C is a draft and develop, we'll see if he builds on 2016.. McCann isn't completely terrible for a catcher. Porcello, Verlander, Smyly are drafted pitchers.

There's a couple other pitching prospects out there as well that started with DET--Paulino and Thompson. The middle infielders that Shelton mentioned all started with Detroit and have solid value.

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Jake Thompson is another guy that was part of this development system. 

And the system is not devoid of talent either. Moya and machado are guys that are going to have major league careers. Manning and Stewart and burrows and still highly rated. 

It's not a coincidence that the guys they were able to pick with first round or supplemental picks are rated highly and propping up the system. 

To me the issue is a lack of quantity of picks, which they put upon themselves, rather than a failure of who they picked. 

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I thinkn it's fair to question the philosophy of the drafts.  Sure we lost some picks due to FA and drafted late but we also used alot of picks on pieces that we thought could help right away namely bullpen guys. 

We had Ryan Perry, Chance Ruffin, Corey Knebal and Crawford.(who most pegged as a reliever)  We also took alot of guys early that had little upside or played positions at the end of the defensive spectrum like Westlake, Gaynor and Schotts.(played CF but most said he wouldn't be able to hit and had little upside)   **** even though Stewart has looked good offensively he is still labeled a poor defender who may have to be a DH which would obviously kill his value.

Basically after looking through their past 10 or so drafts outside of Hill and Castellanos I don't see any position players that they drafted early that had a realistic potential to be 2 way players which to me shows that something is wrong with the drafting philosophy.

 

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Al and Chris ( I think) have both talked about the need to pick up analytics and player development. Not sure why you wouldn't give them a chance first. 

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It really, really bothers me to see a 26-year-old guy playing first base at Lakeland.  Not only that, a guy who was brought in from another organization.  Honestly wouldn't you fire someone over that?  I would.  It's not the first time either although last year was the most egregious.  The variation on this theme is to draft a 4-year college first baseman, send him to Gulf Coast, and then note for the rest of his career that he is old for the level.  First base?  Really?  You're not looking for 5 tools there.  You can't find a guy with a promising stick who won't trip over his own shoelaces?

Scouting community, I feel your pain.  The next Willie Mays has come and gone 2 or 3 times in my lifetime, but you scouts didn't find him because he played point guard or read-option quarterback, unlike the early 1950's, and he didn't play baseball at all.  Nevertheless, there are position players out there, and I want to see more emphasis on position players in the draft.  I know that "you can't have too much pitching" but in fact if they suck like Ruffin and the other righthanded relievers, then yes indeed you can have too much pitching.

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12 hours ago, Shelton said:

I'm not sure the problem is with player development or draft/signing strategy. 

I think the current state of the system is the result of numerous free agent signings that forfeited first round picks, plus a number of trades/waiving where we gave up decent young players. That's all on dombrowski. 

Adames

leyba

travis

hernan perez

suarez

aside from adames, we have seen very little return from giving up any of the above players. 

Had we held all of those guys other than adames, we could have have traded Kinsler and/or Iglesias for a decent return. That's a lot of talent that was a product of the system that is more or less still in place. ****, had we kept adames and smyly, not having Norris and Boyd wouldn't be the worst thing.

So, I don't think we have to make any changes. We are in a rough spot given what dombrowski was doing for a few years there. Fortunately, we still have a chance to ride this out if Chris is committed to keeping a payroll close to the luxury tax level. 

Its good to point out some of the talent that had been in the minors recently.  Its not like the system has been completely barren for decades.

Its tough to think about some of those deals.  Suarez for Simon continues to annoy me. 

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14 hours ago, Shelton said:

 

And the system is not devoid of talent either. Moya and machado are guys that are going to have major league careers.

 

"careers"

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11 hours ago, Charles Liston said:

It really, really bothers me to see a 26-year-old guy playing first base at Lakeland.  Not only that, a guy who was brought in from another organization.  Honestly wouldn't you fire someone over that?  I would.  It's not the first time either although last year was the most egregious.  The variation on this theme is to draft a 4-year college first baseman, send him to Gulf Coast, and then note for the rest of his career that he is old for the level.  First base?  Really?  You're not looking for 5 tools there.  You can't find a guy with a promising stick who won't trip over his own shoelaces?

 

I think the issue here is that given the fact we have a hall of famer at that spot who isn't going anywhere for 15 years there was no reason to prepare even a competent person at the minors for that spot. Invest time/money/effort in other areas. 

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Can't ever know when a career ending injury might happen, and you still need a DH.

Bottom line, if a prospect can truly hit, they would have figured out a way to make it work even with Miguel anchored at first.

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It's not that hard to acquire a decent first baseman in free agency or via trade. So it's not surprising that teams may deprioritize drafting a first baseman. Having Cabrera signed long term is another factor. 

Onviously if there is a great first base prospect anyone could justify drafting him. There is always some way to get a good player into the lineup, and if there isn't you could always trade the guy for a great return. 

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or the organizational theory is just that there will always be enough players from other positions whose D is sub par that you can find a player to move to 1st at need. Kids whose D was bad enough to put them at 1st early in their careers are probably often so bad you can't put them in the field in the majors at all. Dean Greene and Billy Butler come to mind.

Heck - I wish they would look at relief pitchers that way. I'd be reluctant to ever spend a high pick on one - there are always enough good-2-pitch starters with strong arms washing out as starters to keep your BP full. 

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I think most teams subscribe to that theory of drafting bullpen arms. I think the reason you see guys drafted as relievers is that you think they are going to be better than failed starter. 

When it comes down to it, you just never know which guys are going to pan out. Your first round picks have a higher likelihood, but it's still far from certain. The Tigers have not had the quantity of picks that other teams have had, and they also traded away a lot of the prospects that were actually good. 

If they go the next few years without signing a free agent that costs them a high draft pick and they also don't trade away good prospects for veterans, they will probably have a pretty good farm system. But who knows. 

I also think it is worth mentioning that their last few top picks are all highly regarded in manning, burrows, and Stewart. Even Derek hill is still considered a good prospect, although I think he's going to have to stay on the field and produce this year for that to be the case a year from now. 

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1 hour ago, Shelton said:

 

I think most teams subscribe to that theory of drafting bullpen arms. I think the reason you see guys drafted as relievers is that you think they are going to be better than failed starter. 

 

At some point I remember going through the list of top twenty save relievers to see how many were converted starters, I don't remember the numbers but my recollection is that most were but certainly not all. I think maybe the bigger problem with drafting relievers is that they just don't have enough competitive innings pitched, then you put them in the minors and they continue to collect innings at a very low rate to where you end up with guys who just haven't had the opportunity to pitch enough to have mastered their command before they are too old to get better. It's that the development path is just working against you.

Zumaya would be my case in point. He had 400 competive IP before he was converted. Just pitching relief that would take half a career to accumulate. 

So to bring it back the main topic, aside from trading away picks and prospects, which I agree is the biggest source of system weakness, I would still have criticism of too many picks on relievers and going back even further, I think at one time their bias was too high toward power as compared to bat skill. 

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I don't really care if the Tigers draft top first basemen, but I'd rather have an 18 yo lottery ticket at 1st in Lakeland than a 26 year old who is obviously never going to have a career and has the only purpose of "helping Lakeland win some games" which is of course not important at all

Unless you want to get really meta and say that having a top first baseman, regardless of prospect status, could cause the team to score more runs, get the real prospects more ABs, and help them develop. In which case, they should just let Mike Hessman play forever

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On 3/1/2017 at 10:42 PM, Mr. Bigglesworth said:

McCann sucks.

I always say it like this....

57192389.jpg

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On 3/1/2017 at 6:33 PM, Shelton said:

Also, had they not traded leyba and ray for Greene and adames and smyly for price, we could in theory have both leyba and adames in the system, and smyly and ray in the rotation in place of Norris and Boyd. 

Long story short, stop making trades to upgrade a team that is already playoff bound. 

Amen!

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The organization seems to be moving back some 'old school' view on training. Henning today noting that the Tigers feel Mahtook is doing too much strength training in proportion to flexibility work. Seems like if I were in a competition with a bunch of guys for managements nod, I'd do it they way they want.

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12 minutes ago, Gehringer_2 said:

The organization seems to be moving back some 'old school' view on training. Henning today noting that the Tigers feel Mahtook is doing too much strength training in proportion to flexibility work. Seems like if I were in a competition with a bunch of guys for managements nod, I'd do it they way they want.

I think that there is merit in what the organization is saying.  Collins for example is a guy who has obviously trained for bulk but it hasn't translated into consistent power.  I don't think that management wants to go back to the days when Carl Yastrzemski and Nolan Ryan had to deny that they were lifting weights or else they'd get fined.  But even back then those two guys knew that flexibility training was equally important and they could freely admit to that, and they knew that they didn't need big biceps and pecs to play baseball.  They needed strong hands, big wrists, forearms and triceps, and they needed quads, hamstrings and calves.   

The question in my mind is:  is there anyone on the Tigers' staff who is qualified to design a baseball-specific strength program, tailored to each player's individual performance needs, and also incorporate the necessary flexibility work, and also design the nutrition plan to go along with it.  I haven't heard that anyone with those qualifications has been added to the staff but I wouldn't know.  I didn't read the Henning article, maybe he talked about it.  If there were such a person, management would have to strictly enforce his recommendations.  There's no sense in paying for a $500,000 weight room and then leaving it up to the players about how they want to use it, they aren't kinesiologists.

There's a baseball training niche that no one has filled yet as far as I know.  It's been filled in hockey by Gary Roberts, he is the gold standard for hockey-specific training.  If you are a young, single pro hockey player and you don't spend your summer with Gary Roberts, you're out of your mind.  I don't know what it costs but it's a bundle, but if you don't do it you're falling behind.

I read recently about someone training with Cabrera this winter and Cabrera recommending boxing for cardio, footwork and hand speed.  That's smart. 

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