Gardenhire was the right hire
The one thing I don’t mind doing is eating some crow about a statement I’ve made.
And it’s a lot more palatable when that statement is about a Detroit sports team, namely the Tigers.
A few weeks ago, I predicted a 100-loss season for the young and inexperienced Tigers.
I can safely say now that the Tigers will NOT lose 100 games in 2018. It will be closer to 90 games or less because of one reason — manager Ron Gardenhire.
The Tigers are now a team that executes the basics much better. That includes even stealing a base and executing a hit-and-run play.
I’ve always thought Gardenhire was a good manager, especially when he was leading the Minnesota Twins, another team with sub-par talent.
Yet, the Twins seemed to always be in contention, despite that lack of talent.
The reason was that Gardenhire knew how to manage. He put an emphasis on teaching the fundamentals — something the Tigers have been less than proficient at for many seasons.
He also knew how to handle young talent. And that is something that Detroit has a lot of.
There’s little doubt that players like James McCann, Jose Iglesias, James Fulmer, Matt Boyd and others have the potential to be solid big leaguers.
And that list doesn’t even include recent draft picks like Casey Mize of Auburn, among others.
Mize is a particularly interesting prospect. He has the size, (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and arm to be a sure star in the near future.
If the Tigers had hired Gardenhire after Jim Leyland departed a few years ago, instead of Brad Ausmus, I believe they might have won a title or two.
Ausmus came in with zero experience and did nothing with a very talented team that included Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, who are arguably the top two clutch hurlers in baseball today.
For the Tigers to contend in the future, they have to figure out what to do with former slugger Miguel Cabrera, who’s signed for another six years.
The often-injured Cabrera no longer has the power he once did. And you can’t afford to have a slow-running player in the lineup, even he does hit around .300.
That just doesn’t justify a $30 million a year salary he draws.
But if they retain Gardenhire as manager, and solve the Cabrera dilemma, the Tigers can be a contender for years to come.