Lynn Henning Interview: Scott Harris a pleasant surprise for the Detroit Tigers – Part 2

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Scott Harris was a surprise to all in the search for a new leader for the Detroit Tigers. Lynn Henning of the Detroit News gives his thoughts on the hire and how the Tigers can move forward with him at the helm.

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Lynn Henning Interview, Pt. 2

A.J. Reilly: Then the onus for Al Avila‘s tenure then is more on his roster construction than, you know, the trade. Which, I mean, the roster trades aside, the roster construction is not exactly not great, which you said at the beginning. 

But there, you know, there’s plenty around Detroit in the media that has said, listen, the last seven years at this point, there’s sunk cause, right?

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There’s there’s nothing. You can’t do anything about ’em they’ve happened. There’s no reason to continue to just look at them and be like, okay, woulda, coulda should have. We now have Scott Harris and it’s time to move forward with Scott Harris. 

You and I talked even before, the hire was made and I had messaged you with this tweet of all these names that were thrown out there. And you’re like, listen, Andy Burns from the Dodgers is who has the most traction, but there’s not a lot of info out there right now. Because the Tigers have been very oh, very locked in their information. 

Lynn Henning: Was just top secret. 

A.J. Reilly: Man was, was Harris a surprise? 

Lynn Henning: Yeah, he was. I thought we had, most of the young guys identified, uh, I’m talking about nationally, and um, he was one and I can’t explain why he sort of slipped past everyone’s scrutiny. But he of course adds up tremendously in terms of credentials. 

But back to Burns, he thought he had the job. Uh, I think AJ Hinch thought he had the job. I thought he had the job, uh, a number of other people nationally thought he was going to the Tigers and this came as a brutal blow to him when he got the phone.

That he wasn’t gonna be Detroit’s GM. He was really primed for this job. And I think all of us expect, I think his, the manager of the Tigers was rubbing his hands too, but I think they also, AJ, I think they got tremendous. Bright and baseball astute kid. And I’m gonna say kid, because he is 35, 36, 

A.J. Reilly: He’s my age, which, you know, you wanna feel a little insignificant oh no, here I am on a blog and he’s running a baseball team, but, but you know, that’s 

Lynn Henning: A great, that’s a great time to hire because people are, are usually blossoming and, and really hitting their point of fruition at about that age professionally mm-hmm

And what I kept saying about the Tigers was everybody wanted Theo Epstein. They wanted, to hire Justin Luna and they wanted all of these people whose names already were established. I said, why don’t the Tigers find their own Theo Epstein their own Andrew Friedman their own Mike Elias? And they have to do just that.

I think they got frankly, a pretty good chance to have their own industry standard here because this kid is not only, I keep using that. Uh, this gentleman is, uh, not only, uh, extremely bright and, uh, accomplished, and it’s not because of diplomas. He’s getting hired. Anybody that tosses that out is, is just playing nonsense games.

He’s got a brilliant baseball background now after 10 years with some very sharp people. And, um, all of that, I think that insight that does help on the business. You’ve gotta figure out whether somebody is worth extending or not. The tires haven’t been very good at that. They’ve made some critically bad choices.

They may have made another one last year, a BAAs. Although, you know, if, if September’s any indicator. They might survive this thing. Um, but clearly when you have business acumen involved in that, you know, the risks, you know, when to sell for 60 cents on the dollar, um, Gregory Soto comes to mind there, I, I think should have been, uh, absolutely moved for 40 cents on the dollar.

Um, if that were possible. And I, and I haven’t had my conversation yet with Avila. To go over the autopsy. So to speak of sure, seven years, but I think he’s gonna tell me, I, we couldn’t even get a bite on him. I, I suspect that’s what I’m gonna hear, or at least for, not for anything other than a bag of balls, but that’s separate from the fact that business people, who’ve had, great exposure to analytics through these years.

and know how the personnel must be assembled. Know the scouting side, are gonna be pretty good at, at their job. And I think this, this, this gent is gonna be, really, I think he’s probably gonna end up as a pre-successful story in Detroit.

A.J. Reilly: Yeah. And, and you said something that kind of resonated with what they said in, in the press conference, even in the press conference, they said you can try and replicate what everybody does, but it’s not going, you’re not gonna do it as well.

So going after a name, like a, you know, Zaidi or Friedman or a Theo Epstein innovate. With somebody like a Harris who is, you know, what, what he, I forget the exact quote, but like he’s concerned with innovation. He wants to innovate. Yeah. Which is exciting, especially when you’re coming off of what we’ve come off of.

Um, I did think it was kind of telling though, and, and you’ll, you’ll have a little bit more to say about this, but I’m sure you caught the smirk in the press conference when you talked about the Giants’ view of the Tigers’ farm system. Yeah. Uh, How telling do you think that is and how concerned should Tiger’s fans be?

Lynn Henning: Oh, I think, um, he, he probably wasn’t being, um, quite as, uh, mocking there as, as some of us, it, it may have written it, uh, but I do think, uh, he understands they’re at the bottom 10 now of, of all minor league teams. That’s because of some, so many of these guys. Noted Torkelson and Greene and their real thoroughbreds are already now in Detroit.

But, um, he, he understands that this system right now is the problem and has been the problem for 40 years into it has been, it’s been a problem since the seventies, when Alan Trammell and Kirk Gibson and Whitaker and Parish and Morris and Petrie, all those guys were drafted all in one big. And the Tigers haven’t come close to replicating that in any kind of a draft, uh, for all these years.

So he probably has seen that very superficially and certainly saw it with the Giants. Every team AJ knows each other’s rosters in their minor league systems intimately. There, there aren’t any mysteries out there. There can’t be any more in baseball, so they know. Very very, very comprehensively from A to Z what the Tigers have and don’t have.

Now what they are also going to know is in two years, son of a gun, there was a little more talent there than we thought. Sure. There was Colt Keith and there was Jace Young and there was Parker Meadows maybe. And there was maybe Dingler or maybe Crouch, uh, or, or you could, and of course, the pitching and that’s one thing I’ll give Avila credit for.

Even in this catastrophic year where they lost pitchers by the week, uh, they’re pitching, held up pretty well this year did now. Yeah. You know, you’re gonna nail him on one thing. You gotta credit him on the other. And they’ve got a lot of arms in the system. Flores is gonna be a top-of-the-rotation guy down in Erie.

Um, Ty Madden has a chance to be really pretty. Uh, we forget about Faedo. We, we forget about all these guys coming back next year. Uh, Spencer Turnbull. Um, you know, they, they’ve got a lot of pitch. Reese Olson down it. I don’t know if he’s gonna end up as a reliever as a starter who they got, 

A.J. Reilly: who they got for Ian Kinsler if I’m not mistaken, correct?

Lynn Henning: They got Reese Olson in the Daniel Norris deal in 

A.J. Reilly: Norris. That’s right. Yes. 

Lynn Henning: Yeah. And you know, Joey Wentz is, is, is really gonna be, uh, a factor here. Well, that’s suddenly Avila is gonna end up getting a little more credit than people have been inclined to give. As, as he’s gone out the door here because he did trade for some pretty crucial pieces.

Um, Alex Lange is, is not half bad at all. Uh, they got, they got some help here and, and they’re gonna have it on both sides. Uh, they’re still deficient in my estimation, in terms of the slugging outfielder. Now, Meadows has a chance based on what he is done at AA. This. Right to be a center fielder and that moves Riley Greene to left.

That would be an ideal situation. They need a kid like that to come through. And finally, in that drought, uh, of the international signings, right. Not paying off them. 

A.J. Reilly: Yeah. He was big. He was the big international signing a few years ago. That kind of caught everybody off guard. Right? 

If I remember correctly, he was the one that nobody really knew anything about. But projected very well. 

Lynn Henning: Yeah, he was from Cuba, and then they, uh, migrated to the Dominican Republic. It was a complicated deal. Uh, but they, of course at the time, paid him more money than they’d ever paid any internationals.

2.85. And, uh, he’s got a chance next year. I think, uh, we could be talking about him big time. So it’s not a, a barren landscape that, uh, Scott Harris comes into here at all, but there’s gonna be a lot of work to replace working parts now, uh, that isn’t functioning terribly well. 

I don’t see how they tender Jeimer Candelario next year. Yeah, I know Schoop. I thought that two-year deal last summer was a bad signing. And of course, people loved it because they loved that the Tigers were spending money. It seemed like right for so long people didn’t really care whether they wanted or lost, but are you gonna spend some money today?

So they spent 240 million in the off-season. And look what that got. This is why I go back to that original point, payroll people looking down the wrong end of the gun barrel on this thing. Mm-hmm, it’s not payroll. There’s a point where payroll will complement what you are building with youth. But it takes the foundation first and that’s gotta be young players and young talent.

A.J. Reilly: And I mean, there, there seems to be a little bit of a foundation kind of like Carrie Carpenter has been a revelation this year. Yeah. And I think, I think can be, you know, not, he’s not gonna be a superstar, but he can be a solid, you know, middle of the order type bet.

Ryan Kreidler could, you know, solidify, I think the left side of the infield, for sure. Especially if Javi continues to struggle to throw the ball to first base, right? Uh, that’s a whole nother discussion for a whole nother time is Javier Baez. But, um, like those two to then compliment Greene and Torkelson, there’s a little bit of a foundation along with the arms that we’ve already talked about.

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