Edson: Tigers Only Deserve One Final Grade: F
Mercifully, the 2019 Detroit Tigers season ended on Sunday with a 5-3 loss to the rebuilding Chicago White Sox.
The White Sox are much further along in their rebuilding efforts because of shrewd trades, smart free agent signings and no foolish long term contract extensions.
Grading this year’s Tiger team took less than a minute: F.
We’ve all grown up watching and rooting for the Tigers. That’s what makes this rebuild so tough to watch.
I’m not only struggling with the Double-A and Triple-A caliber players that made up the big league roster this season, but I’m also having a tough time buying what management is selling.
That’s why I was happy to see manager Ron Gardenhire step up on Sunday and say: “We have to find more big league players for next season.”
Gardenhire was referring to the job ahead of general manager Al Avila and the Ilitch family.
When looking at this Tigers roster, let’s start at the top: Miquel Cabrera. A sure-fire Hall of Famer, to be sure, but he is now a side show.
Tiger fans don’t want to look at what the team is getting for $30 million a season: A .281 hitter who was tied for fifth in home runs on his team (11) and drove in only 58 runs. It’s the third straight year of below average production for Cabrera. The only thing left to do now is watch Miggy collect his big paycheck as he marches toward 3,000 career hits and 500 home runs.
And how about Jordan Zimmerman, the worst free agent signing in Tigers history? He banked $25 million this season and went 1-13 with a 6.91 earned run average.
The Tigers starting rotation of Matthew Boyd, Zimmerman, Daniel Norris and Spencer Turnbull combined to win 16 games and lose 54.
I wanted to offer hope with some of the younger players, but here is what you have. Christian Stewart hit .236, Jacoby Jones .235, Travis Demeritte .229 and Jake Rogers .125.
Brandon Dixon and Harold Castro offered some hope. Dixon led the team with 15 home runs while knocking in 52 runs and batting .246. Castro hit .291 and proved he is one of the few major league hitters on this team.
The once-promising future of Jeimer Candelario seemed to dim, with a .204 average and only eight home runs.
One of the few positives on this team is Gardenhire. He tells it like it is, especially after a tough game when the Tigers make errors and mental mistakes.
“That isn’t acceptable in the major leagues,” he had said more than once.
He’s right, of course.
We know we have all kinds of young pitching coming to Detroit within the next two years. We know the Tigers have the No. 1 pick in next summer’s amateur draft.
But what must be done in the off-season to give the fans hope is simple: Sign some players with a major league background who can help this team.
It’s that simple. Tiger fans are smart. They know when you’re trying to sell them a product that isn’t worth the price.
If the team wants to start putting fans back in the seats, they have to put big league players on the roster.
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.