Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey

Detroit Tigers Roundtable: Optimism for 2017?

How are you feeling about the upcoming 2017 season after the relatively quiet off-season the Tigers had?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor

If the Tigers have anything to acknowledge as far as their off-season is concerned, it's that they managed the communications of their plans rather poorly, which I think has created some negativity and reduced expectations heading into the year, despite the fact that they've got a club that returns largely intact and was within a game of a playoff spot last season. Personally, I'm neither optimistic nor pessimistic about this team entering 2017. For every potential sign of encouragement, I see another one that is cause for concern. If things break right, I see a potential 90-win team on our hands. If everything that can go wrong does, I could see the Tigers trying to sell once again at the deadline, and cruise to a last place finish in the division. So for the first time in many years, I personally am lacking the excitement that I've felt entering most other years, but acknowledge that this team still has plenty of potential this season.

 

Mark Anderson, Director of Scouting

I've found myself pretty amused by the seemingly constant negative views of the upcoming season. The Tigers had a disappointing 2016 campaign and that can't be denied, but there were definitive and unexpected injury issues that hampered the club's effort, including JD Martinez, Nick Castellanos, Jordan Zimmermann, on top of the erosion of Anibal Sanchez's performance. That combination of unexpected challenges would doom any team with playoff aspirations, let alone a team that had known and likely flaws to begin with. The Tigers are largely the same club today as they were before the start of spring training last year; a team that was widely expected to compete for a playoff spot. Many of the club's warts are still the same, including volatility in the bullpen, expected center field performance, and a net-negative offensive contribution behind the dish, but they're still a potential playoff club with all that considered. Fans can be both realistic and optimistic about the Tigers 2017 potential, realizing that they have little margin for error but can reasonably be expected to be in the hunt for a playoff spot for at least one more season. Personally, I'm cautiously optimistic about the Tigers chances this year, and while it is always easier to be pessimistic about any team with known holes, their standing really hasn't change from twelve months ago when the expectation was they were playoff-bound.
 

Chris Brown, Staff Writer

I have to agree with Mark that the negative attitude toward the Tigers from fans this offseason has bordered on comical. I suppose it's a testament to the franchise's previous decade of success that two consecutive years of missing the playoffs has the fans lugubrious, but I think the naysayers are ignoring the fact that there's still a hell of a lot of talent on this team (there are at least 10 former All-stars on the squad). Yes the bullpen is still full of questions, and no it's probably not reasonable to expect Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Ian Kinsler to repeat their health and/or success from 2016. But there's also no reason to think Jordan Zimmermann, JD Martinez, and Nick Castellanos will miss large chunks of the season again, or that Justin Upton will be missing in action for months at a time. They should also have a pretty darn strong rotation if they add Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd on a permanent basis, and send Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey to the bullpen (or elsewhere). Is it enough to overtake a stacked Indians squad? Probably not, but the White Sox and Royals appear to be rebuilding and the Twins don't seem like much of a threat either. This team should be able to win about 85 games this year, and with a few breaks (like not going 4-14 against a division rival) and maybe a deadline trade or two, I don't see any reason why they shouldn't compete for a Wild Card bid.
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