I was surprised, but not shocked, to hear on Saturday afternoon that now-former Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire (pictured) retired just before their game against Cleveland at Comerica Park.

Gardy had some health issues over Labor Day weekend in Minnesota (turns out it was food poisoning).  But I still figured he would at least finish out the season before deciding what to do for next year.  He was in the last year of his contract, and I thought the Tigers might offer him a deal for 2-3 more years to see this rebuild through and start contending.

Well, that's not happening now.  And while I agree with those who say that the Tiger managerial job is more attractive than it was three years ago, this team is still in a rebuild that is 1-2 years away from contending.

I've heard A.J. Hinch's name thrown out there.  I don't want him.  I don't want outright cheaters on this team (OK, he at least oversaw a cheating squad in Houston). I've heard Don Kelly's name tossed around (he'd be OK).  Lloyd McClendon would be the best internal candidate (based on experience).  None of them really piques my interest.

While it is important who they pick as manager (someone who can get along with the players), it's more important now to get the young players they have now BETTER!!!!

Casey Mize can't get out of the fourth inning, and he looks surprised that his best stuff is getting hit by Major Leaguers (after dominating in college and the minors).  Tarik Skubal is up and down, but he shows some promise.  Matt Boyd has regressed, and Michael Fulmer isn't more than a three-inning pitcher (must be better next season).  Spencer Turnbull is the team's best pitcher heading into the offseason (a surprise to some).

The bullpen is either excellent or terrible.  They must figure out the closer position.  Joe Jimenez lost his closer's job and looks upset about it (well, pitch better then).  They've tried Gregory Soto and Jose Cisnero, but they run hot and cold and Bryan Garcia will finish the year at closer (he's been OK).  Tyler Alexander and Daniel Norris are fine long relievers.

Miguel Cabrera isn't going anywhere for three reasons: 1. He makes $30 million next year ($102 million guaranteed through 2024) 2. He's 16 home runs away from 500 career homers 3. He's 143 hits away from 3,000 for his career.  The Tigers (and the fans) want him to achieve those goals in a Tiger uniform.

Despite his recent slump, Victor Reyes is a Major League outfielder.  He can play any outfield position effectively.  Jacoby Jones has improved, but staying healthy has been a problem (hasn't finished the last two seasons due to injury).  The third outfielder needs to be figured out (Bonifacio, DeMerritte, Hill, Riley Greene?)

The infield shows promise, too.  I like Willi Castro and Isaac Paredes on the left side of the infield.  I'd love for them to re-sign Johnathan Schoop, but he might be too expensive as a free agent.  If Schoop doesn't come back, Niko Goodrum can play 2nd base.

Jeimer Candelario went from almost being Designated For Assignment to the best player on the team in about a month's time.  His scorching bat will keep him on this roster and likely at first base (even though he's a very good 3rd sacker).

Austin Romine did a good job a catcher this year, I'd bring him back if he's not too expensive.  Backup catcher is shaky though.  Grayson Greiner doesn't hit well enough for me, Eric Haase hasn't played enough and Jake Rogers has gone from top catching prospect to an afterthought in a year.

There's still a ways to go.  But for the first time in 3+ years, there is HOPE for the Detroit Tigers.  Whoever the next manager is will not inherit a disaster situation.

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