The Toledo Mudhens clinched the Triple-A East Midwest Division title last night.
You’re probably thinking:
Why does this matter?
The Tigers still aren’t a contender. Comerica Park’s prices are still high.
And, more realistically…
Ohio sucks. Why would I willingly travel there?
But it’s important. The Tigers’ best years always had the looming shadow of a troubling farm system.
The Toledo Mudhens were the centerpiece of this flaw.
While the Tigers featured Cy Young and Triple Crown winners, the franchise’s highest minors team had less-than-stellar rosters.
Mid-twenties players too young to be considered vets but too old to be prospects
Career minor-leaguers nearing their forties.
When the Tigers shifted to a full-scale rebuild, there was no way any of the guys on the Mudhens roster could immediately come in and contribute efficiently – much less be the centerpiece of a young team. This was the same for all levels of the farm system. The Tigers had to play catch-up.
The past half-decade has been the balance of trying to stock the minors while keeping a promising, watchable product on the 25-man roster. The draft picks have been no less than questionable at times. But, it has resulted in a boost in the farm system – even if it is at the expense of the product in The Show.
But let’s be honest. Prospects like Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene are out of place on the Toledo Mudhens. They should be in Detroit already. Any baseball fan knows the flaws with entry-level contracts. It’s hard to blame teams for exploiting them.
Also, by no means will every player on this division-clinching Mudhens team will work in the MLB. Heck, some of them are there because they couldn’t impress in short stints in Detroit this year. This team still has those career-minor leaguers who might never see big league play.
Regardless, let’s take this small win for what it is: a small win.
Lord knows we need some more of those in Detroit.