Originally published on 5/9/17
Only 13 cities in North America have a team in all four major professional sports, 14 if you want to include Toronto who has the CFL Argonauts but no NFL team. At some point in each city (Save Boston who’s Patriots have ruled the NFL for 15 years) the debate rages as to which of its teams are closest the next championship.
Now that the NFL is done until October, The NBA and NHL are in the doldrums of the playoffs, and it’s too cold to enjoy Major League Baseball, let’s look at our teams and discuss what we’ve got going on and how long it may be again until we have a parade down Woodward.
Based on my fact based analysis, yet completely biased sense of logic, here are the Detroit teams ranked in order of their chances of winning the next title.
3. Detroit Tigers (86-75 2016, 25-28 YTD 2017) –The surprise
Why they could win: The one thing about our Tigers that keeps us eternally optimistic is a strong core of veteran leadership, on the field and in the clubhouse. With the purge of 2015 where we traded away Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, and Joakim Soria, we’ve been able to fill our starting rotation with cheap, young, controllable talent. Our lineup anchored by Miguel Cabrera (who I’ve been advocating to trade for three years now) is beginning to play to their full potential. Nicholas Castellanos looks like he’s finally hit his major league stride and Justin Upton will be in a contract year for the next four seasons – due to his ability to opt out at the end of either of them. We still haven’t seen JD Martinez and our surprise MVP looks to be Alex Avila – both of which will right one another by year’s end. We could hit ourselves into the ALCS easily this year if our bats heat up and stay that way, but as we know, pitching rules the playoffs and games are more than six innings come October.
Why they won’t: If we don’t win the World Series in 2017, we won’t for at least a decade – and we may not even compete during that time. Like I said before, Justin Upton can opt out of his contract following any of the next four seasons. If he chooses to exercise his option following this year, we’ll lose both he and JD Martinez who is also set to be a free agent this year. Leaving our 2018 Projected outfield to be a game of “Name that Mudhen.”
Our biggest obstacle, however, may be the man pulling the strings. Of the twelve pitchers on the roster, seven of them are bullpen arms; and currently, two of whom (K-Rod and Anibal Sanchez) can’t be trusted to make an out. Two more of Al Avila’s awful signings (Mark Lowe and Mike Pelfrey) were waived to begin the season. Could you imagine trying to manage a baseball team with the bullpen of Lowe, Pelfrey, Sanchez, and K-Rod? I don’t think Brad Ausmus is the best manager, but I don’t know any manager who could be expected to win with a deck like that stacked against him.
My prognosis: At the end of 2017, the window on a World Series is officially closed. Rebuilding on the fly isn’t going to work, especially at the hands of Al Avila. As a fan of the Braves on the 90s, I’ve seen this over and over again. Plugging gaping holes with stop-gap journeymen, farm hands, and utility men will continue to keep our head above water as we continue to sink further and further.
My exception: There is one way I will move the Tigers to the number one spot, and that’s the trade of Miguel Cabrera. Unpopular is the understatement of the century as far as this idea is concerned, but it’s the only way to fill the holes we have. With the Red Sox floundering after the loss of David Ortiz and a ripe farm system, maybe we could entice Dave Dombrowski into trading for Miggy once more in return for some bullpen arms, some outfield talent as well as a bat.