Tigers GM Al Avila tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press that he takes full responsibility for the team’s underperformance in 2016. “…[A]t the end of the day, I make those decisions and you’ve got to put a lot of the blame on myself,” said Avila. “So the guys that we brought in — and let’s say they didn’t perform for whatever reason — that’s on me. As Fenech explores, about $56MM of the Tigers’ 2016 payroll was dedicated to free agent signings Justin Upton, Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Pelfrey, Mark Lowe and Mike Aviles. That quintet of players, however, fell woefully shy of expectations and finished the season with a collective performance that was scarcely better than replacement-level. Fenech notes that Avila fared much better on the trade market — Cameron Maybin, Francisco Rodriguez and Justin Wilson — and will probably have to be more active in that regard this winter anyhow due to the lack of appealing free-agent options.
More from the game’s Central divisions…
- Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star explores some potential trade scenarios for the Royals, noting that the team’s desire to shed payroll could result in moving a player who has been central to the team’s previous run of success. However, Dodd also reports that to this point, Kansas City “has shown little inclination to trade one of its central players,” so the listed scenarios are predominately speculative in nature. Among the soon-to-be free agents are Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Wade Davis, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar — each of whom will hit the open market following the 2017 season.
- The infield is a source of some uncertainty for the Cardinals heading into the 2017 season, writes Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. However, unlike many clubs with positional uncertainty, St. Louis’ problem isn’t a lack of options but rather a number of potential fits. The hot corner looks to be Jhonny Peralta’s entering next year, Hummel surmises, as Matt Carpenter could play either first base or second base — representing another position change for the versatile infielder. Peralta acknowledged to Hummel that rookie Aledmys Diaz has seized the shortstop gig and will play there moving forward, and the veteran didn’t have any complaints about the move. Nonetheless, Hummel writes that Peralta could potentially be dealt this offseason as well, if there’s interest, noting that he’s owed $10MM next year in the final season of a front-loaded four-year, $53MM pact. The presence Matt Adams and Kolten Wong (as well as potential interest in re-signing Brandon Moss), of course, only further clouds the infield picture.
- Brewers GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell spoke to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the team’s 2016 season and explained that many of the incremental goals the team set for itself were met, even if there’s still quite a bit of work to be done. Counsell spoke positively about the competition among players not only at the minor league level but also at the big league level as a particular source of excitement for him. As Haudricourt notes, the Brewers led the Majors in stolen bases and also came second only to the Blue Jays in pitches per plate appearance (3.97), which resulted in a staggering increase in walks but also an uptick in strikeouts. The Brewers struck out too often and ranked in the bottom third of the league in overall runs scored, so Stearns isn’t celebrating the increase in selectivity just yet. “I think ultimately you evaluate offense by the number of runs you create,” said the GM. “All offensive contributions are geared toward creating runs. Clearly, we’d like to create more runs in the future. We can get there in a variety of ways. There’s no prescribed way to build a lineup. We have to be flexible in how we approach run creation.”