Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
There were a number of moves that didn't go right for the Tigers, but we all know that the club's biggest issue is pitching, and arguably the riskiest move they made was giving up Robbie Ray (along with infield prospect Domingo Leyba) to land Shane Greene from the Yankees. Ray had an up-and-down debut season, while Greene emerged for the Yankees as a very reliable starter, despite lacking the track record. The Tigers felt Greene was on the upswing, and didn't see Ray quite ready, so they made the swap. The results have been somewhere between bad and disastrous. Greene was outstanding in his first few starts before he fell apart. After struggling as a starter, the Tigers sent him to the bullpen, where he continued to struggle, and was eventually returned to Toledo. Meanwhile, Ray has been very solid for the Diamondbacks, with a 3.13 ERA (3.17 FIP) in 13 starts for the Diamondbacks. He's striking out nearly a batter per inning (8.4 K/9), is maintaining good control, and has seen his fastball velocity tick back up to around 93 MPH, per PITCHfx. The Tigers have had a lot of failures, but lacking reliable starting pitchers has been a big part of that, and Ray would have been what Greene has not.
Mark Anderson, Director of Scouting
It's hard to blame just one move, particularly without knowing many of the behind the scenes things that influence all of the decisions the club makes. That said, I think the inability -- whether through a willful decision or unfortunate circumstance -- to acquire an additional relief pitcher with a reasonably consistent Major League resume is the move I would highlight. The club has found solid performances from guys like Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy, but there have been too many ups and downs with the rest of the bullpen, ups and downs that could potentially have been avoided with a middle-of-the-road acquisition whether via trade or on the free agent market. Maybe such a move wasn't out there to be had under the circumstances the Tigers decided to work within, but it likely would have made a substantial difference, and ultimately settled the late innings of games. The Tigers may well be in the same situation today had they acquired such a reliever, but they would have had slightly better odds to avoid their current standing. Running a close second is heading into the season with two starters owning questionable backgrounds (Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon), and having no reasonable backup plans if things went off the rails; and no, I don't consider Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan reasonable backup plans.
James Chipman, Senior Correspondent
There's numerous areas that came up short for the Tigers this season; all of which could arguably be deemed the main culprit. Refusing to learn from seasons past the Tigers failed to address their perennial Achilles heel: the bullpen. The construction of their bench once again lacked a certain punch that you often see in a legit contender as well. And to an extent, I suppose you could point a finger at their BAND-AID patchwork to their rotation as well. Aside from David Price, the Tigers put all their chips in the center of the table, betting on the resurgence of Justin Verlander, and the oft-injured Anibal Sanchez. Perhaps even more delusional, they were counting on solid contribution from Shane Green, who was due for regression after last season's breakout year and Alfredo Simon, who's production significantly tailed off following the All-Star break last year. With that being said, not to take the cheap way out, but I don't really think it was any isolated incident, but more of a culmination of those three huge mistakes. Then when you factor in the injuries of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander and perhaps the biggest loss: Joe Nathan (ok that last name is a joke). But when you add the injuries to the poor roster construction that I listed above, it's a solid recipe for what Tigers fans observed this year; one helluva tough team to watch.
Chris Brown, Staff Writer
When commercial airplanes crash, it's almost always the result of a concatenation of a dozen small malfunctions, rather than any one glaring problem. The same holds true for the swift decline of the Tigers. A dozen bouts of turbulence, each manageable on their own, have combined to send the team careening into the side of a mountain. The team's horrible pitching has been its biggest downfall, so the obvious answer for this year's failure would be the inability to re-sign Max Scherzer, but that doesn't seem quite fair because the root of that extends back to Justin Verlander's expensive extension a few years ago. So I'm going to go with the trade of Robbie Ray for Shane Greene. It was a move few fans disliked at the time, and it may still work out for the Tigers, but it's hard not to be frustrated when Greene's collapse has coincided with Ray seemingly developing into a quality pitcher for the Diamondbacks. It may not have made a difference, but perhaps Ray would have contributed a few more wins than Greene, giving the team a reason to keep David Price, make a run for the playoffs, and perhaps keep their general manager.
John Moore, Associate Scout
There are many moves you could point to that helped push the 2015 Tigers to where they are today. If I was forced to say one move I would have to say it was their lack of bullpen free agent signings last offseason. I know that one free agent reliever signing wouldn’t erase the large difference between them and Kansas City right now (not a single player in the history of baseball has been that good), but the idea that the bullpen has been a legitimate issue for a while now (as we saw that once again last October against Baltimore in the ALDS) and all they did last offseason in the free agent market was sign Tom Gorzelanny (who probably won't be around much longer) and Joba Chamberlain (not even in the organization anymore). I would’ve just liked to see them sign a big time free agent like Andrew Miller (who they were very close to landing before he signed with New York) or David Robertson (who they were also linked to early in the offseason). As a result of their inability to fix their bullpen problem, it has once again been one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball.
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