Inside the Article:
Can you feel it? The baseball season is upon us and all is right with the world once again. Sure, the Detroit Tigers had a very quiet offseason, but hope should reverberate through our souls with a fresh start under new management. Scott Harris was hired as President of Baseball Operations after the failure of the Avila administration. Yes, it'll require just a touch more patience, and maybe you're wearing thin on hearing that, but if the trajectory continues just as spring has sprung, winning will soon bloom.
What's in store for the Tigers this season? Here are five pretty bold, but not totally unrealistic predictions that should keep you watching through the summer:
Bold Prediction #1: The Ninja Turtles will soon be coming to Comerica
Who are the Ninja Turtles? No, there will not be some type of infestation that causes mutant reptiles to overtake Comerica; though, that could lead to a new ballpark. Sorry, I digress. No Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo will not be gracing the field in Downtown, but four young players will be the key for the Tigers this season: Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, Parker Meadows, and Andre Lipcius.
I'm affectionately nicknaming this quad-set after my favorite childhood cartoon, because like the “Heroes in a half-shell” these four will rescue the fanbase this season. Meadows and Lipcius were very good in Spring Training, and Greene and Tork have been the highlight of our prospect pool for years. By May, Meadows and Lipcius will be in the lineup, producing, and leading the Tigers to more wins than we're used to.
Now, the original Turtles had a mentor, a leader, Master Splinter. And, the Tigers Ninja Turtles do too: Jake Rogers, who after looking at the following photo, tell me you don't see the resemblance:
Rogers has seen the ups and downs of Major League life and has fought through it. The wisdom he can bestow on the young fellas while still being young enough to relate to them makes him a great mentor and their performance leads directly into bold prediction #2.
Bold Prediction #2: We will not see 90 losses this summer as fans
This is the big question for the Tigers this season. Will 2023 offer a glimmer of hope for the fans after we were lied to last season about the rebuild being “100% over”?
I'm not yet willing to place the full entirety of the blame on Chris Ilitch; he did make the right call on Al Avila – however late it may have been, Harris was a dynamic hire, and however misplaced he did open the pocketbook prior to 2022. That being said, this team still only won 66 games last season.
This roster is different. This roster is better. And, given a few snapbacks, this team should win more than they did last season. The bottom floor for the season is 73-89 – narrowly avoiding 90 losses, with the top-end being 76-86, as season Tigers fans can cling to with hope.
Bold Prediction #3: Jonathan Schoop's days are numbered
It's been a real roller coaster ride for Jonathan Schoop and his time in the Old English D. He arguably performed well enough to earn a contract extension in 2021 but did not perform well last season, something that is inarguable. He's 31 years old and the Tigers have a number of players in the minors that he could potentially be blocking.
If prediction #1 is true (and it is), Lipcius will come up when they've let Schoop go due to underperformance. At the end of the day, Scott Harris has said that 2023 is getting as many young bats and arms time to see what they have. Expect April-May to be a bit of a “state your case” for Jonathan Schoop, one that ends with his departure.
Bold Prediction #4: Scott Harris leaves his mark on the trade deadline
Scott Harris has been busy collecting waiver players and has made a few trades to remake a broken roster. Moving on from Gregory Soto and Joe Jimenez has left the bullpen questionable, but was needed to create offensive depth that was severely lacking. And while his first few months on the job included zero splashes, his era truly begins with his first trade deadline this season.
The Tigers will have some pieces that could be flipped, should they find themselves sellers. Though there could be a bit of confusion surrounding this time too. The Tigers could “sell” and “buy” if the price is right and the situation presents itself. And, that's what this prediction hangs on, Scott Harris's ability to make his first BIG, cannonball-like splash at the trade deadline.
Bold Prediction #5: Kerry Carpenter will mash, and mash, and mash.
We're all looking for Spencer Torkelson to make the jump to the next level, and there's plenty of reason to believe that he will. However, Kerry Carpenter, who won the fourth outfield spot earlier this week, will be the team leader in home runs. In his 51 plate appearances this spring, he hit three home runs – or one every 17 at-bats, one at-bat sooner than last season when he hit 6 in 121 at-bats. Let's assume Carpenter has 575 at-bats this season, which isn't unreasonable, that puts him on pace for 34 home runs. A welcomed sight for the weak-hitting team from 2022.