Detroit – new Detroit Tigers Speaking Tuesday for the first time since joining the organization, President Scott Harris outlined his three-part vision for the team and talked about what drew him to Detroit.
Harris, 36, takes over as chief of baseball operations after the Tigers ousted Al Avila at the end of seven failed rebuilding seasons.
Here are 10 tips from his introductory press machine:
Harris plans to appoint a general manager
The announcement of Harris as the new team boss markedly omitted any mention of the “general manager” title, but put that speculation to rest on Tuesday.
“I intend to hire General Motors,” Harris said. “I don’t have a timeline for this decision at the moment. This is day one. I need to listen a lot and understand the strengths and areas of potential improvement in the organization, and once I feel better about that, I will have a better feel for what the timeline for that decision will be.”
Illich said Harris would be free to appoint a general manager as he saw fit. Illich said the intent is to make sure the organization has all the resources it needs to be constantly competitive.
Acquisition, development and retention of young players
Harris said he has three main concepts when it comes to his vision of the Tiger Organization.
The first is direct: “We need to acquire, develop and retain young players.”
This is certainly not a unique strategy, Harris said. Most organizations across MLB have the same mindset, and he said the Tigers need to rely on it.
His second concept focuses on developing talent both on and off the field.
“The best organizations in baseball right now don’t just acquire that talent — they get the most out of that talent when you join the organization,” Harris said. ‘We need to create a culture of development here.’
Harris said he believes that players, coaches, evaluators, and everyone within the organization can always improve. He wants Detroit to become a destination where people think they can come and grow.
“When I think of Detroit, I think of trying to create an environment that inspires players to want to improve and do everything they can to work to improve,” Harris said.
“When I think of the Tigers over the next few years, I think of free agents who might be looking to go different places across our great game. When they think of Detroit, I want them to think of an environment where they are confident they can come and improve. They can perform at a higher level, and they can They prolong their careers, knowing that they will be surrounded by people in this organization who will get the most out of them.”
Starting from the strike area
The final concept revolves around the importance of the strike zone.
“I think the strike zone disproportionately affects everything you see on the baseball field,” Harris said. It dictates the importance of pitch. It dictates the leverage of the count. It dictates the length of the stroke, it dictates the load you put on the body of the shooter and the number of shooters you will use throughout the chain. It also determines the quality of the contact you give up and the amount of contact you give up, which in turn affects the quality of the defense you give up. You can build it and execute it behind the pitcher.”
He said it touches on basically every aspect of the game, so it’s where he wants to start evaluating and improving the team.
“We’ll start with the hit zone,” Harris said. “We want to control the strike zone on both sides of the ball, and we want to acquire, develop and retain players who can give us the opportunity to do that.”
What Chris Illich loves about Harris
Tiger owner Chris Illich said there was a long list of traits that drew him to Harris.
Here are some of the features he mentioned:
Harris had a clear vision and plan, and knew how he wanted to implement it in detail.
His approach is progressive and forward looking on how to win in the modern game.
It has the ability to take data and integrate it with technology throughout the organization.
He is “very smart, yet humble and calm.”
He has a tremendous drive for innovation, which is not always easily found in baseball.
Has an understanding of how important it is to shape an organization’s culture.
Most importantly: “He’s very competitive, and he’s driven to win the world championship.”
What attracted Harris to Detroit?
Harris was general manager of the San Francisco Giants, a team that won three World Series titles in the past decade, led baseball with 107 wins last season, and his overall performance is at a consistent level. So why did he want to leave that to the tigers?
“When this opportunity came up, I was immediately interested in it,” Harris said. “I was interested in what they were building here. I was interested in the players they had here. I was interested in the staff they had here.
“When I got to Detroit, and when I started hanging out with Chris and seeing all that Detroit had to offer, it felt different to me than any other opportunity I had in the past. A combination of an exceptionally passionate fan base, tremendous resources in the department, and starting some of the things that They build it under the hood which has been very inspiring to me, tremendous ownership and support from the business side.”
Illich said the Tigers treated the process as recruiting as much as it was an interview.
A message to tiger lovers
Harris was asked if he had a message for Tiger fans. That’s what he said:
“I would say to the fans: This is an exceptional opportunity and responsibility, but this is not my team. This is not the front office team. This is not the players team. This is the Detroit team, and we know that these players and AJ (Hinch) and his coaches will be in the living rooms more than most. Family members every night when the TV’s on. We know this team means more to the fans and the city than I’ve ever known, so we’ll keep that in mind with every decision we make. We’ll keep that in mind when it comes to making impactful decisions that can change the course of our lives. This organization, but also, we will keep this in mind with smaller decisions that seem trivial and insignificant but in the end can produce huge returns.”
In terms of the competitive schedule, Harris said he’s “treating this as an opportunity for us to get better this winter.”
In the short term, Ilic simply expects the team to regain the momentum they had before the disastrous 2022 season.
“We had a lot of momentum when I went back a few years, even last season, as an organisation, as a top league team on the field,” Ilic said. “We’ve seen an improvement and we’ve seen that momentum.”
In 2021, the first year under Hinch, the Tigers played four months of winning baseball to conclude the season and stun the league by scoring 77-85. It was enough for Avila and Ilic to spend some money on free agency, but the team failed.
“Ultimately, we want to see a baseball win in Detroit, we want to qualify for the playoffs, and in the end, we want to win the World Series,” Ilic said. “We’ve been very clear, I’ve been very clear, and that’s the goal. For now, let’s see if we can take back some of that momentum and craft a better team for the Tigers next season and this season and build from there.”
Is this a rebuild?
Harris was asked if he viewed this project as a rebuilding. He refused to answer directly, saying there was little point in flagging the situation.
Here is his full response:
“I see it as an opportunity to build processes and make smart decisions in baseball, and I don’t think the stickers are all helpful. The stickers don’t even guarantee that what you’re going to do will happen, so we’re treating this as an opportunity to get better this winter. That’s what we’re going to do, and we’re going to do a lot of moves.” A lot of these moves will have strong conviction and confidence behind them. Some of these moves will be a calculated risk. We have to take calculated risks in this organization to narrow the gap between this organization and the other organizations we are chasing now.”
He reiterated that the Tigers would not avoid risk.
It will pay off eventually,” Harris said.
Illich said Hinch played a “central role” in the research process, which provides a glimpse into how the manager is viewed within the organization.
After the team hit the feat last year, fans were concerned that Hinch might be leaving in the near future. But his team struggled with the jump in 2022, and lost some luck as a result.
Avila appears to have shouldered the brunt of the blame within the organization if Hinch’s contribution to this research is highly regarded. This means that Hinch will likely be stuck for some time.
You can watch the full introductory press conference below.
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