The Tigers Got A Brand New Man

I was never a fan of the decision to give Al Avila the Tigers’ GM/President of Baseball Operations job. Sure, I understood it as a stop-gap solution to finish out the season after they canned Dave Dombrowski. I was happy with that move, but I knew Avila wouldn’t bring the Tigers into the 21C – after all, he’d been DD’s right-hand man and hadn’t shown any signs that he was trying to lead from below. His record since has only solidified my impression of his ineptitude.

I am not the only Tigers fan to recognize that for some time the problem with the team has been the Front Office. That was the place that needed a rebuild, and as the sucky seasons passed, Tigers fans grew more vocal in their opinions. Earlier this season, there were FB posts encouraging folks to sneak “Fire Al” signs into the park. The cries online for new leadership were public and vociferous. How did the Ilitches not recognize the problem when it was so obvious to folks in the stadium seats?

Well, I got an early birthday present when Avila was fired August 10th, and I got a late present today when the Tigers announced that Scott Harris is taking over as President of Baseball Operations. Harris seems to have an excellent record demonstrating actual baseball competency. And, if you thought Beautiful Brad was dreamy, well, Handsome Harris appears to be the full package: he’s young (36), he’s smart, he’s attractive, he has hair! It’s a true baseball fantasy. If he can win too, you won’t be able to keep the fans off him.

The first order of business for Harris will be clarifying his role with the organization. His title is President of Baseball Operations, but in San Francisco, it was General Manager. Is this a full promotion or just partial? It’s unclear, and I guess we’ll have to see what he says or if he hires a GM to really know. Certainly, he has to get the okay from Ilitch for the salary for a GM on top of his pay, so I’m sure the organization knows the answer. The rest of us have to wait.

The confusion is a holdover from the DD hiring as well. The Tigers had a GM but Pa Ilitch wanted to bring in DD (as a proven winner with the Marlins), so he hired him as President of Baseball Operations, supervising Randy Smith (the GM). Smith left and DD filled both roles then. When DD got the boot, Avila was elevated to his position and inherited both titles. Whether Harris will continue the tradition of the double-headed eagle or actually separate the jobs – which, frankly, might be part of the Front Office problems – will be a sign of his style, the organization’s confidence in him, and his ability to harness synergies to optimize returns and align his team with strategies that provide real returns for stakeholders…or some business jargon crap.

To fans, this seems like an actual opportunity to fix the piece that seven years of rebuild hasn’t yet addressed. I feel optimistic, but I will again root for another team in the post-season, so there won’t be much short-term change. As the Ukrainians have shown us, though, hope is everything. I may soon look forward to the 2023 season more than I await the end of 2022.

4 thoughts on “The Tigers Got A Brand New Man

  1. Wish I was as optimistic as you about this hire. I’ve read a few articles all lauding his past connections with Epstein, Hoyer, and Zaidi and inferring this means he’s well qualified. Past connections don’t guarantee success, just look at all the Bill Belichick assistants that have flopped in head coaching or front office roles. Plus, I look at the current Giants minor leaguers and see only 2 players on the top 100 prospects list and the most recent ranking has the Giants farm system ranked 18th. The Giants had a great year in 2021 but have fallen this year, and a good portion of their key players are on the wrong side of 30. This isn’t a team set up for future success. I’d rather have someone from an organization with a reputation for developing young talent like the Dodgers, Braves, Rays, Padres, or Astros.

    Harris wasn’t a name rumored in any of the sources I read. I wonder if the Tigers were turned down by candidates from any of the aforementioned teams and Harris could be a fall back selection.

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    1. Actually, one of the things that I think is wrong with the FO is that they can’t seem (still) to be able to recognize or develop mid-level talent. Everyone knows to chase top prospects, but they don’t always work out and their number is limited. It’s being able to find some solid support that’s our problem — much like building the bullpen. Yeah, we got socked with injuries this year, but not having serviceable filler kills us. You can’t have a good team with 2 stars and a bunch of junk. Clearly, they were counting on prospects to save us, but that’s a gamble and our development has not been great — which you need to be good at to go that route.

      My hope is that Harris has more of an analytics background that will help us catch up with current practices. Maybe we’d be more competitive as far as baseball operations. I’m a little fearful it will be Ausmus 2.0, but Harris has got more experience, so I have some hope.

      It’s been hard to support the team as loveable lovers like in the past, which is I think because I’m so mad at the management. It would be nice to be able to focus on the team again.

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  2. Ty Cobb has probably been dead too long to play again, but what about Al Kaline? If respectfully asked, might not the Gods be able to nudge him out of retirement? He hasn’t been dead that long. The Twin’s first baseman (what’s his name again – oh yeah) Rod Carew may well win the batting championship in spite of his heart transplant.

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