The Tigers pulled out an 8-4 victory today over the equally troubled Orioles, but the win didn’t come without a fair share of bummer news. Baseball legend Miguel Cabrera was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, and the club announced after the game that the former Triple Crown winner is dealing with right knee soreness; as veteran reporter Chris McCosky of the Detroit News was quick to note, Cabrera has been dealing with chronic pain in that knee all season (link).
On Saturday, Chris McCosky of The Detroit News published an interesting story regarding the ongoing contract situation of Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. As McCosky points out, both Tigers owner Christopher Illitch and GM Al Avila have been complimentary of Gardenhire’s influence on Detroit’s young roster, and the veteran manager has himself indicated that he expects to return in 2020 to execute the third and final season of his current managerial contract. There may be one thing standing in the way of that goal: the status of Gardenhire’s staff.
When he joined the Tigers before the 2018 season, Gardenhire brought with him a number of familiar faces from his time managing the Twins: pitching coach Rick Anderson, bench coach Steve Liddle, and quality control coach Joe Vavra all worked with Gardenhire in Minnesota. The rest of the Tigers’ staff—a group that includes Lloyd McClendon and Ramon Santiago, among others—has evidently earned Gardenhire’s trust and respect, and he may now look at those coaches as an invaluable part of his working process.
If the 61-year-old will indeed continue to shepherd the Tigers toward eventual contention, it seems like the retention of his current staff is something of a non-starter. “I want to talk about my coaches more than anything else. I defend those guys no matter what happens here,” Gardenhire told McCosky. “That would be hard for me to take–if anything happens to my coaches. Those are the conversations we’re going to have.”
For the time being, the possibility of an extension beyond 2020 seems to be the last thing on Gardenhire’s mind. That conversation will happen in due time, assuming there is mutual interest. Avila inked a “multi-year” contract extension earlier this season, which will keep him in Detroit for an as-yet-unreported length of time.
“It’s always up to the boss and Al has said I want you back; I don’t have to worry about that,” Gardenhire said Saturday. “Now we’ll have to have a conversation on the rest of it. Not about an extension; I don’t (care) about that. That’s to be determined.”
For his managerial career, Gardenhire holds an 1175-1240 record, including playoff berths in six of the thirteen years he spent in Minnesota. Since joining the Tigers, though, it’s been a different story: in nearly two full seasons in Detroit, Gardy’s teams have managed just a .347 winning percentage as the club has jettisoned productive veterans like Mike Fiers and Nicholas Castellanos from the active roster in pursuit of a prospect-oriented setup.
- Tigers President and CEO Christopher Ilitch spoke with reporters yesterday about the direction of the franchise, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. Generally speaking, Ilitch didn’t provide any groundbreaking news. He appeared content with the speed of Detroit’s rebuild while focusing on continued progress as the organization’s only present mandate. Of course, he couldn’t say much to praise the Tigers’ current performance level without seeming disingenuous, and there would be little point in publicly denigrating a team that could well be on its way to a second top overall pick in three years. The primary takeaway seems to be an overall lack of urgency at the big league level – good news for prospect truthers, frustrating for those with hopes of seeing a competitive on-field product at Comerica Park in 2020. It seems there will be at least one more season of slow-and-steady as they continue to flesh out an increasingly well-regarded farm system.
- Tigers utilityman Niko Goodrum is reportedly unlikely to return this season, though he hasn’t given up on a potential late-season comeback, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News tweets. Goodrum hasn’t played in nearly three weeks thanks to an adductor strain, which has taken away a much-needed bright spot for the struggling Tigers. The uber-versatile 27-year-old has slashed .248/.322/.421 with 12 home runs, a dozen steals and 1.9 fWAR across 472 plate appearances.
Stokes has at times been considered a solid prospect, but lost his 40-man spot recently. He has managed only a .233/.341/.385 batting line this year in 381 plate appearances at Triple-A.
Carpenter, who just turned 29, has been on the injured list but obviously wasn’t in the Tigers’ future plans. He has struggled to an 8.57 ERA in 63 career MLB frames.
Several new faces will be joining the Tigers on a flight to Kansas City this evening, as MLive’s Evan Woodbery was among those to report that outfielder Christin Stewart, third baseman Jeimer Candelario, pitcher Tyler Alexander, catcher Grayson Greiner, pitcher Zac Reininger, and pitcher Daniel Stumpf will be called up to the big club in short order (Twitter link).
It would be an exercise in tedium to review the records of each player joining the Detroit dugout this week, so individual focus will instead be paid to Stewart, a player that prior to the season ranked as the team’s sixth-best prospect according to Fangraphs. Cited as being in possession of raw power and a solid batting eye, the Tennessee alum has been nonetheless seen as a work in progress, at best, on the outfield grass.
The 25-year-old was handed a substantial crack at playing time for the rebuilding Tigers this season but failed to make an impact in 327 at-bats. His .239/.321/.393 output was disappointing considering the outfielder’s solid output with Triple-A Toledo in 2018, a campaign that saw Stewart hitting .264/.364/.480 (138 wRC+) in 522 at-bats with the Mud Hens. He has been with Toledo for the entirety of this August following his demotion at the end of July.
Numata was a switch-hitting catcher from Pearl City, Hawaii who originally broke into pro ball as a 14th round pick of the Phillies organization in 2010. A veteran of ten professional seasons, Numata appeared with the Phillies, Yankees, and Tigers organizations in his career. In 2019, Numata’s first with the Detroit organization, the backstop received his first opportunity in Triple-A baseball, while spending the majority of the season with the club’s Double-A affiliate in Erie.
A statement from the Tigers organizations regarding Numata’s untimely death reads as follows:
“The Detroit Tigers are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chace Numata, who was a catcher for our Double-A affiliate in Erie. Though this was his first year with our organization, Chace was beloved by many from our Major League club through all levels of our player development system. He had an engaging personality that quickly established him as a leader on and off the field, and his presence will be forever remembered in our organization and beyond. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, teammates, and coaches.”
MLBTR offers condolences to Numata’s family and all those affected by his passing.
The Tigers announced today they’ve selected the contract of right-handed reliever Bryan Garcia. Outfielder JaCoby Jones, already known to be out for the season, was transferred to the 60-day injured list to create 40-man roster space.
Garcia, 24, ranks 23rd among Tiger farmhands at Fangraphs, where Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen praise the Tommy John survivor’s mid-90’s fastball and plus slider. Garcia has stayed healthy all season and logged a 2.97 ERA in the hitter-friendly International League over 33.1 innings. His strikeout (23.9%) and walk (10.1%) rates with Triple-A Toledo are less impressive than the run prevention numbers, but he’ll nonetheless get a chance to cement himself as a long-term piece in a Tiger bullpen that sorely needs them.
The Braves have acquired lefty Caleb Thielbar from the Tigers, per an announcement from the Detroit organization. Cash considerations are going back in return.
Thielbar, 32, is several years removed from his last appearance in the big leagues. After wrapping up his time with the Twins, he spent two years in indy ball and then joined the Tigers before the 2018 campaign.
Since the start of the 2018 campaign, Thielbar has been a fixture in the Tigers’ upper-minors relief corps. He has been effective in fifty games this year, pitching to a 3.30 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 over 76 1/3 frames.
Since he is not playing on a MLB contract, Thielbar was eligible to be traded after July 31st. He’ll potentially be eligible for the postseason roster if the Braves decide to add him to their 40-man roster before tomorrow evening (or if they add him thereafter to replace an injured player). Odds are, the primary objective is to add some organizational depth and protect against any unforeseen problems that may arise.
- Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire has helped oversee their extensive rebuilding effort since last year, and it’s likely he’ll helm the club’s dugout again next season. The soon-to-be 62-year-old Gardenhire’s “in little to no jeopardy” of not returning in 2020 for the final season of his contract, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. Gardenhire, for his part, seems uninterested in going anywhere else. “That’s to be determined for (general manager) Al Avila, with where they want to go and what they want to do, but I enjoy this and I love this city,” Gardenhire said of his future. The Tigers have stumbled to a miserable 103-158 record under Gardenhire, but it would be unfair to judge him for that. Anyone would’ve been hard-pressed to guide last year’s roster or this season’s team to respectable marks.