Edson: Rating the Detroit General Managers
There are four prominent Detroit general managers. They are all very different and work under very different circumstances.
But they have one thing in common: Their every move comes under intense scrutiny from sports fans in Michigan.
As it stands right now, here is how I rate the current general managers for the Tigers, Lions, Red Wings and Pistons.
1. Bob Quinn, Detroit Lions. Quinn is in his second year as general manager and already he is changing the culture. He had an impressive rookie draft a year ago along with solid free agent signings.
He has added to that in his second year, with another meat-and-potatoes draft and a re-stocking of the offensive line through free agency.
Quinn doesn’t make many flashy moves, but he is building the Lions brick-by-brick. I like his approach. In my mind, he is the most effective general manager in Detroit right now. He got the Lions back into the playoffs a year ago and now the team is ready to take the next step.
2. Ken Holland, Detroit Red Wings. This is where the arguments can start. But this guy was the No. 1 GM in Detroit for many years. The Red Wings made the playoffs for a record 25 years in a row. The streak ended this year, but that’s no reason to suddenly throw Holland under the bus, as some have.
I think Holland deserves a little leeway to get the Red Wings back on track. He says he has a game plan to rebuild. He at least deserves that chance.
3. Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons. On paper, the Detroit Pistons were a playoff team. They were looking to get back into the playoffs for a second straight year. But they never jelled.
You can blame injuries, but all teams have those. Or you can point to Van Gundy – both the general manager and the coach – as failing to make a move when the team grew stale.
Point guard Reggie Jackson is a shoot first, pass second player. That’s fine for the other positions on the court. But not point guard, who distributes the ball and makes the offense click. Jackson isn’t the only one to blame, but it starts with him.
There were too many players with good ability who under achieved last year. Van Gundy is going to have to figure out how he’s going to either motivate his players better or trade for players who will give him maximum effort every night.
4. Al Avila, Detroit Tigers. I like Al Avila. I really do. But where would the Tigers be if former GM Dave Dombrowski hadn’t made those deals just before he was fired that brought Detroit three frontline, young starting pitchers?
My question is: What has Avila done to make the Tigers better? The answer is – very little. He is lucky that the American League Central is filled with average teams this year. The Cleveland Indians were expected to run away with the Central title – and they still might – but so far they don’t look like anything special.
The one thing that has to be comforting to Avila is that the longer the Tigers stay near first place, the better their chances of making the post-season. And with good pitching, that can happen.
The Tigers bullpen has been shaky. But the starting pitching looks good so far and J.D. Martinez is getting close to returning.
Now the Tigers just have to stay above water through the month of May – when they play 20 of their 30 games on the road.
The good news for Detroit fans is that there are no terrible general managers among the four teams they follow. But some need to step it up for their teams to take the next step.
Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.