Tigers Rebuild: Mid-Season Update

We are less than a week away from the all-star break, and with this recent surge of success, the Tigers rebuild has been more than teasing fans with a glimpse into a hopeful future.

Pieces expected to bolster the starting rotation: Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning have already begun their careers in the motor city, each with some degree of success.

Now let’s find out where the offense of the future currently sits in their progression.

Spencer Torkelson

MLB Rank: #3

Tigers Rank: #1

Current Level: AA

ETA: 2022 

The Tigers locked up Torkelson with the number one overall pick in 2020 after an illustrious college campaign, which left him just outside the NCAA Top-Ten in career home runs (A feat he likely achieves had he played a full junior season).

Torkelson made the switch from 1st base to 3rd base and has wowed club officials at his progress, thanks in part to working with Tigers legend Alan Trammell. He has not manned the hot corner since high school, but club officials have been impressed with his athleticism at the position.

Although he had no qualms adjusting to minor league pitching, the power didn’t show until his 15th minor league game. Since, he has clubbed an additional ten home runs, including six since his promotion to Double-A Erie on June 13th.  

He’s 18 for his last 62 and currently on a 16-game on-base streak which includes eleven walks, highlighting his patience at the plate.

Furthermore, he’s only made five errors on the year after switching to the hot corner. 

Riley Greene

MLB Rank: #15

Tigers Rank: #2

Current Level: AA

ETA: 2022

The smooth and fluid left-handed stroke of Riley Greene has brought plenty of success to the former fifth overall pick. Scouts currently have Greene with a 60-grade hit tool with 55-grade power, but he has shown tremendous raw power in batting practice, especially to the pull-side.

He moves very well in the outfield (6.62 60 yd-dash) and thus far has held his own in center field, but scouts believe he may move to a corner position.

Over his last 30 games, he’s slashed a modest .276/.346/.466. Green’s balanced and advanced approach will allow him to continue to climb the minor league ranks quickly, potentially setting up a dual arrival ala-Guererro JR/Bichette of the Blue Jays.  

Green’s left-handed bat will provide the Tigers with a piece they do not have a deep history of in the middle of the order, save for two seasons of Prince Fielder.

Dillon Dingler

MLB Rank: N/A

TIgers Rank: #4

Current Level: AA

ETA: 2023

For better or worse, the Tigers always seem to be in the market for a catcher. Yet you can’t fault them for finding an athlete like Dillon Dingler to man the position. Had the pandemic not shortened Dingler’s final season at Ohio State, he might have gone in the first round.

His 6.6 60 yard-dash time put him in elite athletic company with the likes of Phillies backstop J.T. Realmuto. But his 65-grade arm will be his best asset as a catcher. The Tigers had him work specifically with Mize, Skubal, and Manning in camp to build that future rapport.

Despite his athletic frame and elite physical tools, the Tigers will exercise patience with Dingler as he gets accustomed to the position at the professional level.  

However, he has performed well enough to join future Tigers teammates Green and Torkelson at the Double-A Rank.

Similar to Green, he’s slashed a modest .266/.310/.422 over his last 30.

Daniel Cabrera

MLB Rank: N/A

Tigers Rank: #5

Current Level: A+

ETA: 2023

Cabrera already finds himself blessed with the best last name in baseball. A ten-year career. Minimum.

But the sweet-swinging left-handed hitter has a stroke made for the spacious gaps at Comerica Park. His lack of standout speed does not hinder his exceptional baserunning skills, which granted him 20 steals in 23 attempts in the college and summer circuit.

Club officials predict that due to his advanced approach (notice a trend?), the LSU product should rise through the ranks quickly. Potentially earning an everyday left field starting job.  

Early impressions have drawn comparisons to Andy Dirks and his contributions to the 2012 World Series team, but with a much more impactful bat.

After a solid month of May (.276/.347/.460) Cabrera cooled off slightly in June (.255/.288/.378)

Guess Who’s Back: Tigers Slugger Returning Dangerous Ways

The month of June delivered the most competitive Tigers baseball in several years. Amidst a rebuild, it was a small teaser (or hopefully the beginning) of the team fans can expect to take the field for years to come.

The month of June also gave fans a resurgence of Miguel Cabrera.

Thank you.

Cabrera struggled early and often to start the 2021 season, posting the worst slump of his career: an 0-23 misery tour that included 17 strikeouts. Entering his age 38 season, the two-time MVP and fabled triple crown winner showed clear signs of physical decline. An unfortunate reality but an expected one.

A recent onslaught of season-ending injuries has left Miggy averaging only 90 games a season in the last four years. He found himself struggling to return to old form, another cruel reminder that our bodies betray us as we age. Especially in the cold early months of the season in Detroit.

The ensuing results revealed a very frustrated hitter, struggling with below average fastball velocity in the zone. Cabrera was forced to adjust to his weaknesses in real time as pitchers continuously exploited them. His frustrations showed, and fans saw the confusion on his face as one of this generations greatest talents searched for answers.

But those adjustments have started to take hold and the answers may have been revealed. One full month of steady production and ten multi-hit games later, Miggy slashed .329 (28-85) while also avoiding hitting into a single double play, a modern miracle.

Seriously. The man who has hit into the fourth most double plays in Major League history, coming off of the most frustrating two months of his career, avoided hitting into one for an entire month.

He’s back to his productive team-first habits. Driving seemingly any pitch to the opposite field with runners on base, taking the easy single to drive in the run. He was also no longer getting overpowered by the low 90’s fastball. The seasons of Triple Crown threats may be behind us, but he has returned to his presence as a feared hitter that commands respect from opposing pitchers.

He doesn’t get fooled. Even in his draught, he never appeared to be caught off guard. He always has his plan, and we are starting to see him execute his plan as we did in summers of old. Pitchers will have to make a decision if they wish to keep attacking him, which a guy like Jeimer Candelario can continue to reap the benefits.

It was indeed only one single month of production, but that’s no reason to scoff. The power is diminished, but the jolly slugger’s repertoire featured much more than power to all fields on all pitches. And despite the slower bat speed, Cabrera still displays every other attribute that led him to six home runs and 77 hits away from the 500 and 3,000 club.

Barring injury, Miguel Cabrera is positioning himself at the forefront of a Tigers push for the division. A push that will not continue without his production.

2012 was almost a decade ago. But the Tigers don’t need 2012, they just need Miggy.

The Tigers Keep Winning, The Deadline Keeps Looming

Okay, Tigers. You have our attention.

7-3 in their last ten games and 20-15 dating back to May 28th. A far cry from May 7th when they were 15 games sub .500.

They have momentum.

Enough so where a decision must be made before the July 31st trade deadline. Albeit an easy one.

Currently, the Tigers boast a record 39-46, putting them 10.5 games out of the lead and 9.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. So yes they have momentum, not enough to turn them into buyers, unfortunately. But they DO have enough to turn current pieces into quality future assets, which they should strongly consider.

Jonathan Schoop

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Schoop has been on a rampant tear, hitting .343 for June with ten big johnsons. At age 29, it’s not likely he will be included in the Tigers five-year plan, and as a free agent after this season, he could draw a handsome return from a contender.

The Brewers could be very interested in reuniting with Schoop, plugging him at first base where they desperately need some production. The Tigers may be overly ambitious in requesting any of the Brewers top hitting prospects such as Garrett Mitchell or Brice Turang, but additional bats are needed.

Specifically, bats that are ready in the next few seasons, if not now.

Boston is also starving for production at first base. And with the best record in the American League, adding even an average bat would greatly bolster their lineup. 22-year-old Jeter Downs would check all the necessary boxes for the Tigers and would be ready to contribute immediately if needed. However, yes, another overly ambitious request.

Maybe.

If Boston gets desperate, we have them throw in Blaze Jordan and the Tigers could rob the Red Sox blind of any incredible future marketing that Manfred would eventually ruin.

Nomar Mazara

(Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press)

Mazara’s abysmal production and bad defense would be more about opening a spot up in the lineup for somebody that would benefit the Tigers more. However, he is still a lefty bat with incredible power. Any team making a move on him would simply be looking at a pinch-hit role or a platoon spot.

So far it’s worked out for the Dodgers and Pujols. He’s playing like he’s 41 again.

Think Astros or Rays in this scenario.

But If They Were Buyers…

Now just because we can, we are going to say the Tigers erupt in July, The White Sox implode, and Terry Francona has an existential crisis, plugging himself in at shortstop every game.  

Suddenly, the Tigers are only three games back.

It will be tough to make moves while maintaining most of their future pieces, but let’s try it anyway.

Trevor Story is set to be a free agent and would provide a steady upgrade both defensively and offensively. It’s not likely the Rockies will trade him, especially after the Arenado debacle, but they are on the verge of another overhaul.

Joey Gallo would play the role that Nomar Mazara was expected to. If the Tigers wished to go with more seasoned hands in the outfield, Gallo would fill in nicely, and at a much lower cost than the next two.

If for some reason the Cubs find themselves in a selling position, teams will be hounding Jed Hoyer about Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. Detroit would most likely have to part with two of their top prospects for the Cubs to even return their phone calls.

They would have a chance at resigning one of the two for a longer deal, signifying the Tigers will officially be making their push for the next window.

As long as the Tigers keep winning, they will have the leverage.

Revisiting A Classic: Show No Mercy

Disclaimer: There’s an ironic intellectual consumption with metal.  Disheveled looking characters in faded shirts speak of a band’s catalogue as if they are historians discussing colonization and conflict.  A new band is discovered, and suddenly the community becomes auditory sommeliers.  Abrasive and grotesque imagery is revered. Blunt delivery is preferred.

Five minutes later and we’ve just given intellectual validation for Cannibal Corpse.

The charm in metal lies within the consumption.  By revisiting some of the pillars of the genre, we can look at a snapshot of everything that was culturally significant within the music, the band, or how the story of metal progressed.

In the case of Slayer and other Bay Area thrash bands, very few probably had any idea they were witnessing the birth of some of the most influential bands in not only metal, but in music in general.  

A musical hotspot was brewing in the LA/San Francisco area in the early 1980’s.  Kids in their late teens and early twenties were forming bands that would ignite an entire genre of music, while also featuring some of the most influential musicians of all time.

At this point, Slayer was nothing more than an underground band covering Judas Priest and Iron Maiden songs.  And until the hostile crowd at Ruthie’s Inn (and likely Exodus frontman Paul Baloff) harassed them for even remotely resembling a glam band, they even donned a little spandex and makeup.

As a result of those Maiden covers, Brian Slagel, of the recently formed Metal Blade Records, offered the band a spot on his Metal Massacre compilation album. An album series that featured the early renditions of Metallica, Overkill, Ratt, and Armored Saint. Slayer delivered the song Aggressive Perfector, which generated enough underground buzz through tape trading networks that Slagel offered them a record deal through Metal Blade.

It took all of one week to record Show No Mercy in November of 1983, which was done in the dead of night in order to keep costs low. The band had borrowed money from Kerry King’s father in addition to front man and bass player Tom Araya’s wages as a respiratory therapist in order to fund the sessions. 

The witching hour recordings resulted in an album with low production value, which enhanced the rawness of the sound.

Show No Mercy was the second installment to the Bay Area thrash scene after Metallica released Kill Em All several months prior.  But when Metallica introduced themselves to the world by playing faster and more aggressively than anyone else, Slayer responded by playing just as fast.

And much darker.

Slayer, much like their contemporaries at the time, drew their musical inspiration from the likes of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, but their lyrical content and imagery took heavy inspiration from the british extreme metal band Venom and the newly formed Danish band Mercyful Fate (Distinctly apparent with each Tom Araya wail)

Show No Mercy was just as dark and sinister as it was vicious. And even despite their musical influences, which reveal themselves on the album, it wasn’t a malevolent Iron Maiden, it wasn’t a more aggressive Venom, and it wasn’t a faster Mercyful Fate.

It was Slayer.

The dark lyrical themes and demonic imagery paced the album, as apparent from the pentagram and sword brandished minotaur on the album cover.

Tracks such as The Antichrist and Die By The Sword gave listeners some of the first openly satanic lyrics ever featured on an album. 

Watching disciples of the satanic rule

Pentagram of blood holds the jackal’s truth

Searching for the answer, Christ hasn’t come

Awaiting the final moment, the birth of Satan’s son

Tales of a demonic siege and holy assault barked out in Tom Araya’s distorted vocals, accompanied by Jeff Hanneman’s feverish riffs and Dave Lombardo’s rapid drum tempo. 

But we didn’t get our first flash of a true Slayer hallmark until Fight Till Death. The song that gave us the second half of the Slayer equation.  Aggressive lyrics with an aggressive tempo, driven by an iconic riff. A hallmark which led to other Slayer masterpieces such as Dead Skin Mask, Raining Blood, and South of Heaven.

Due to the content of the album, Slayer received backlash from the Parents Resource Music Center requesting the band cease making music. 

The supporting tour for the album was just as glamorous as the production.  Slayer hit the road with just Araya’s Camaro and a U-Haul. Araya’s teenage brother served as a roadie, while friend of the band Kevin Reed served as a make-shift drum tech.

Slayer didn’t even have a manager for the first leg of the tour until Doug Goodman met them while he was waiting in line for the first show. And despite not being able to sell records while on tour, Show No Mercy became Metal Blade Records highest selling release at the time.

The album became a launching pad for Slayer, as well as countless other bands.  Terry Butler of Obituary and Death labels Show No Mercy as “The blueprint for the beginning of death metal”.  Nergal of the polish black metal legends Behemoth cited he was specifically attracted to Show No Mercy by the dark aesthetics.

38 years later, Show No Mercy remains a foundational pillar in metal. A low-budget, ragtag recording, directly responsible for almost 40 years of the heaviest music.