What Can The Mets Learn From Detroit’s Success?

An article by posted on October 19, 2012

The Detroit Tigers have put the Yankees in off-season mode, and it took only 4 games to do it. You know in the long run, the Yankees may have had less drama to deal with had the Orioles taken them out in 5 games.

I have no doubt that this will be the start of a lot of changes in the Bronx. They already are speaking of the need to lower payroll, but with the week ARod had – they may be lowering payroll at face value, but paying for him to play somewhere else.

But, let’s let them figure it out. I believe you can look at the four LCS teams and see a lot of what the Mets need to start following. Let’s talk about the AL Champions.

They built their roster through a combination of draft, trades, and signings. They were never afraid to make a big signing, but also never shy from making a trade that may get questioned at first glance.

Impact Trades

When they acquired Miguel Cabrera in 2007, they snuck in while the Angels were trying to get Cabrera and made the Marlins an offer that forced the Marlins to not even call the Angels back. They gave up some of their top prospects at the time. Of those prospects, the most accomplished are probably Cameron Maybin & reliever Burke Badenhop. Exactly.

In 2009, the Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to Arizona, and Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. In that same deal, the Yankees sent Ian Kennedy to Arizona.

The Tigers in that deal acquired Phil Coke & Austin Jackson from the Yankees, and Max Scherzer & Daniel Schlereth from the Diamondbacks.

Exactly.

Besides those two brilliant trades, the following players were also brought in through trades in recent years: Omar Infante, Delmon Young, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister.

Development

The Tigers are not one of the teams you look at and say “they did that through the draft,” but – they did draft their catcher Alex Avila in 2008, and of course developed the best pitcher in the game today (Verlander) who was picked in 2004.

How often have we said it here, a developed catcher and a developed ace can make a huge difference for a franchise.

Free Agency

The Tigers are always active in free agency, but not always to the extent of being the big overpayer. We all know they signed Prince Fielder this past winter, and if they win a World Series this year – I’m sure their fans won’t care about the length of the deal, nor should they.

They also signed Jhonny Peralta, Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel. Obviously the big catch was Prince Fielder, who set their team apart from the rest and installed Detroit as an official “big market” team.

Face of the Franchise: Jim Leyland

The Tigers were managed by Sparky Anderson for 16 years until the 1995 season concluded. After Anderson’s retirement, the Tigers went through 4 (and a half) Managers over 10 seasons.

Buddy Bell 1996-1998
Larry Parrish 1998-1999
Phil Garner 2000-2002
Luis Pujols 2002 (Garner gone after 6 games)
Alan Trammell 2003-2005

None of those managers finished a season over .500.

When the Tigers hired Leyland, they did so knowing of his past struggles with Colorado – but also knowing that this man was one of the most respected and accomplished Managers of his era. They didn’t talk themselves out of why they needed a great Manager – when he said he was interested in managing again, they hired him 1 day later.

“When I talk about people like Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox, that’s the type of category Jim Leyland is in,” GM Dave Dombrowski said.

I am of the belief that the Manager is a very important role. It’s a leadership role like no other.

I have faith in Terry Collins for this team right now, but I don’t believe he is the type of Manager that can take the Mets to the next level. I don’t believe he’s the guy to lead this team toward an attitude of winning.

To me, you either go drastically young like the White Sox & Cardinals have done or you go after the guys who have proven they are winners.

If Managers like Mike Scioscia, Joe Maddon, or Buck Showalter for whatever reason are not employed after the 2013 season – I hope the Mets don’t need them, but if they do – I don’t want any excuses why they don’t look to hire one of them.

I hope people like Ryne Sandberg, Joe McEwing, Brett Butler, Chip Hale, as well as Wally Backman & Tim Teufel are given a chance to prove why they belong managing a big league club.

I think Willie Randolph got a bad deal in Flushing, and will one day get another chance somewhere. His lack of MLB managerial experience at the time should not stop the Mets from looking at similar options down the road.

There is also the slight possibility of two retired giants in the managerial world: Tony LaRussa & Joe Torre. I don’t expect either to be a possibility, but I doubt the Tigers expected Leyland to say he wanted to manage in the bigs again, look how that turned out.

In order to be a respected franchise, the Manager needs to be one of the most respected people in the room. With respect to people like Jerry Manuel, Art Howe, Jeff Torborg, and even Terry Collins – I don’t feel that is true.

Tigers Blueprint

I have the utmost respect for Dave Dombrowski as a General Manager (and Team President). His Detroit Tigers are headed to the World Series with the best pitcher in the game, the best hitter in the game, and one of the greatest living Managers of all-time as well. None of it is an accident.

Each team in the LCS has a different story to tell, and something all struggling MLB teams can learn from. I just hope the Mets are paying attention.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

Comments are closed.