Rudderless Tigers turn to former Cubs executive to turn things around
The 2022 season hasn’t exactly been kind to the Chicago Cubs – but their shortcomings have paled in comparison to what the Detroit Tigers and their fans have suffered through.
Detroit, 55-91 entering action Monday, cut ties with longtime general manager Al Avila last month and now have their new top baseball ops mind onboard in former Cubs executive and rising front office star Scott Harris.
Cubs fans no doubt remember Harris from the Theo Epstein regime, although at that time, he was largely a behind-the-scenes presence to a lot of folks, while Epstein and Jed Hoyer garnered most of the attention as Chicago erased a 108-year championship drought and earned four straight postseason berths.
Epstein had nothing but high praise for Harris, who spent the last two years as the Giants’ GM under president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.
2022 was supposed to be the end of Detroit’s lengthy rebuilding effort after the Tigers seemed to turn a corner after the first month or so of the 2021 campaign. Instead, just about everything that could have gone wrong has, and the new regime faces a mountain of questions heading into the offseason.
Cubs: Everything’s gone wrong for the Tigers in the 2022 season
MLB Pipeline’s updated organization farm system rankings peg the Tigers at 22 – due largely to the fact that both Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene fell off prospect lists. Now, normally, that’s a good thing as you’d think Detroit would then be getting contributions from their young talent. But that hasn’t been the case, especially when it comes to Torkelson, who has a -1.2 bWAR on the year.
The young arms were supposed to be another reason the Tigers could be ready to make a run at their first AL Central crown since 2014, but endless issues on that front have proven costly, as well. Marquee offseason pick-up Eduardo Rodriguez missed a considerable chunk of time away from the team for personal reasons, while Casey Mize underwent Tommy John surgery and Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning both missing time due to injury.
The struggles of the team’s young players have only been exacerbated by the front office’s swing-and-a-miss last winter on just about every move it made – headlined by the signing of longtime Cubs infielder Javier Baez. The former NL MVP runner-up has been a disaster in year one of his six-year, $140 million pact, failing to be the centerpiece in the lineup Avila hoped for when bringing him in.
Harris will have his hands full in his first few months at the helm, although one could certainly look at this collection of young players and see promise in the not-too-distant future. For Cubs fans, it’s yet another reminder of just how highly respected the brain trust that put together the team’s most recent competitive stretch remains – and why there’s cause for faith in Hoyer and the plan being executed as we speak at the Friendly Confines.