[tps_title]5. Get a ‘clubhouse’ guy[/tps_title]
Every team needs a guy in the clubhouse that is a vocal leader, a teacher to the young guns on how to carry themselves as a major leaguer. These guys typically keep the clubhouse loose and feeling good about themselves on a daily basis. More importantly, their appreciation for the game of baseball is evident, and it reflects on how their teammates act in their presence.
The Tigers had that guy for the 2013 and ’14 seasons. Former outfielder and current Minnesota Twins right fielder Torii Hunter is one of the most well-respected guys in all of baseball. His production as a big league ball player comes second to his personality on and off the field. To say he carries himself as a professional would be a huge understatement. Torii is among the sport’s best in his role, because he keeps everyone accountable and is the perfect tutor. The 40-year old Hunter is likely to retire at the end of 2015, but he has been a big part to the Twins’ surprising success.
Part of the season the Tigers have floundered this season was a lack of accountability. Obviously some of that comes from the manager position, but ultimately, it is up to the players as a whole to keep one another accountable for their play and actions.
The best example of a ‘clubhouse’ guy right there with Torii Hunter is Jonny Gomes. Gomes was acquired by the Kansas City Royals after Atlanta put him on waivers. Gomes now serves as the fourth or even fifth outfield position for K.C., but was mainly brought in to keep the relatively inexperienced Royals club prepared for a deep playoff run. Gomes himself has been on playoff teams in four of the previous five seasons, including earning a championship ring with the Red Sox in 2013. He will be assuming his familiar role for the Royals this postseason.
Jonny Gomes has a club option for 2016. Whether the Royals pick up that option remains to be seen. If Kansas City declines on his option, Detroit needs to strongly consider signing Jonny. The 35-year old would be very reasonable as far as price concerns, and he would be the perfect platoon partner for Tyler Collins in left field, assuming the Tigers move forward with Collins in the outfield (.250/.291/.378 in 53 games). If not Gomes, other guys that fit the bill could include Mets utility man Kelly Johnson or Angels outfielder David Murphy.
[tps_footer]Making these moves would greatly affect the Tigers in a positive fashion. There certainly is no need to blow up the team when the window to win is still open and the chances remain within reach[/tps_footer].