Years will have to pass until we really know if Detroit Tigers Got the right person to manage the team. after hiring San Francisco Giants General Manager Scott Harris, President of Tigers, Chris Illich, has continued the recent trend of breaking the mold that has arisen during the last decade of decision making within the organization. While the fan base and those who cover the team try to analyze the tea leaves to get a sense of what Harris will bring to the organization, the things he doesn’t highlight first.
Harris certainly looks well qualified. He has the academic background and experience of managing a modern major baseball club. The pedigree behind that experience is attractive, too. He is a sponsor of Theo Epstein who was then appointed general manager by another highly respected head of baseball operations in Farhan Zaidi, who was Los Angeles Dodgers‘The right arm of President Andrew Friedman for years. Harris is still in his mid-30s and younger than average for the role – although Theo Epstein and Dave Dombrowski, among other top general managers, also started in their 30s – but Harris has already spent a decade in senior positions In good institutions.
Perhaps this youth is one of the elements we did not expect in Illich’s appointment. The Tigers have been a fairly cautious traditional organization since Mike Illich bought the club in the early 1990s. Being appointed head of baseball operations at a very young age and with no prior experience managing a team doesn’t seem to be, to copy a phrase, the same old tigers. Young people alone certainly aren’t an advantage, and there are plenty of innovative thinkers and leaders of all ages in baseball, but that still seemed out of the box for Illich’s decision.
Another interesting element is the lack of close relations with AJ Hinch. Certainly there are connections. Farhan Zaidi and Giants manager Gabi Kapler have both been creative with the Los Angeles Dodgers. So, there are links to the same coaching tree and front office pedigree that produced Hinch, shooting coach Chris Vetter, bench coach George Lombard and VP of player development Ryan Jarcoe, but no direct links are obvious.
This is a positive in our book. Aside from the actual decisions about players, which Harris will ultimately be responsible for, the bulk of the job is to attract and assess talent in all of the organization’s leadership positions, from coaches for minor league teams to Hinch and heads of front office divisions. Having a fresh voice that can objectively evaluate all of these people is an important part of the job. It’s not that Josh Burns, for example, could have been a Hinch doll. We hope this is clear. But he would surely have been seen as having appointed the Tigers’ manager in particular through their close and longstanding relationship. There probably won’t be any scrutiny of Hinch’s hold on the director’s seat until a few more years have passed, but more than that, they might see things similarly while Harris in charge could bring a whole different dimension to the organization.
This doesn’t mean they won’t be on the same page either. On the contrary, Hinch was positively elated once he was able to talk about Harris and what he would bring to Detroit at the helm of baseball operations. As a principal advisor to Ilitch, the Tigers’ skipper was deeply involved in the interview process and is clearly a huge fan of Harris and what he can add to lead the club. He was extravagant in his praise.
“Chris (Ellich) did incredibly thorough research,” Hinch said. “He has been tireless in trying to find our next leader and has come up with an exceptional person, a deep thinker and an accomplished man.
“Man, it’s inspiring to see the direction of excellence and what Scott can bring to the organization,” Hinch said. “The way his mind thinks. The vision he has for this organization. He’s been around so many successful teams and successful people. I think he’s going to do it his way and get a lot of information for us going forward on what we need to do to get this back into a winning organization.”
Finally, Harris wasn’t really on any prominent national writers lists of candidates to take over from Avila. These are the journalists most connected to a wide range of front offices, and they have a better sense of who the up-and-coming talents are than the local media can muster. The fact that Harris has passed on New York MetsThe top job last year says he was on the radar at the league level as a future top candidate to lead a team. However, there was no clear alignment with the Tigers, and many were surprised to accept the position when the hiring was announced on Monday afternoon. This indicates that Illich was finally true to his word, and that he would have set up a wide net and depended on his contacts and advisors around the game to select the best possible set of candidates for the interview, rather than selecting someone who was comfortable and familiar.
Was Scott Harris the best possible hire for the job? It will take years for us to effectively answer this question. But Illich and his advisory group seem to have done their due diligence and secured a top candidate who can offer a whole new perspective to his assessment of the Detroit Tigers as a top-down organization. They didn’t hit the easy button. They did not rely on the old boys network. Not only did they promote internally, which many of the writers I spoke with during research expected, but they wouldn’t have brought much to the table. They have searched for a good candidate with excellent credentials and experience with a vision to build a better organization at all levels and aspects of the game; Breaking out of the familiar comfort zone after which they often refused to work during Avila’s tenure.
In general, it is difficult to assess anything more now than the process behind hiring and the basics of a Harris resume. Everything looks very positive on those fronts. Now, we’ll give it time to see the results.