The Future of the Detroit Tigers
Following the devastating news from earlier this afternoon about the passing of Detroit Tigers, Red Wings, and Little Caesars owner, Mike Ilitch, many Detroit Tigers are wondering what the future of the franchise will look like. Not only was Ilitch a well known entrepreneur, he also was a household name in the city of Detroit and a true icon that helped to build the city's sports scene into what it is today.
The Detroit Tigers, as we know them, are a mid-market team who operated most likely above their means over the past couple of years. Ilitch was never afraid to invest money into the team, as evidnet by the team's current $173.8 million dollar payroll, and badly wanted to win another World Series as soon as this coming season.
For starters, let's rewind to the 2015 offseason and you can see exactly how Ilitch had an effect on the team. He had a say in the trade involving Cameron Maybin with the Atlanta Braves, approved the signings of free agent pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman, and Justin Upton, and approved many other moves including Mike Pelfry.
Heading into this winter, there were many rumors floating around that the Tigers would become sellers. Ultimately, they didn't and basically stood pat all winter besides a few minor league transactions which they hope will add depth to the organization. Ilitch likely played a role in that decision and wanted to hang onto as much of the team from last year as possible in hopes of taking down the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals during an AL Central pennant chase.
As the upcoming season is gearing up, the Tigers still have the same roster in tact from last season with the exception of Cameron Maybin, who was traded to the Angels at the start of the winter, and will do everything possible to be a postseason contender. After all, the Tigers still has Justin Verlander headlining their rotation, Michael Fulmer, who looks to be a solid pitcher, as well as a tremendous offensive core that includes five players who hit 20 home runs or more last season and recorded 60+ RBI.
Although the Tigers have a talented roster heading into this coming season, there is a lot of uncertainty about how the team will perform and even more questions about the future of the franchise. Will the new owners invest as much money into the team as Ilitch did or will they decide to take a different route and start afresh? That question remains to be seen, but will likely be answered in due time.
Either way, as we look back on the life and times of Mike Ilitch, many will remember him for his renowned passion for baseball, his commitment to the Tigers, Red Wings, and the city of Detroit, as well as his financial wherewithal to operate above what he was comfortable spending to bring Tigers fans a winner.
Although, Mike Ilitch won't be around to witness how the 2017 season goes for the Tigers, he left his fingerprint and legacy on the team, organization, and the fans of the team. Now, the Tigers need to go out, give it their all this season, and bring the good guy another World Series champion while their window is still open.