Why I’m excited about the hiring of new Detroit Tigers president Scott Harris

Why I’m excited about the hiring of new Detroit Tigers president Scott Harris

After concluding an impressive, new introductory news conference Detroit Tigers president Scott Harris walked off the stage Tuesday afternoon at Comerica Park.

Harris did a few more interviews with reporters, and then something amazing happened.

Which showed another side of him.

Harris took time to meet an old man, sitting in a chair, off to the side.

A man with a minuscule smile.

It was Willie Horton, the former Tigers great.

“Thank you for being here,” Harris said matter-of-factly.

Horton began telling stories about growing up near where Comerica Park now stands and playing for the Tigers.

Harris didn’t move. He looked Horton in the eyes, nodding his head, smiling broadly. Harris, 35, wasn’t even born when Horton was playing in the major leagues. But Harris was full of respect and admiration, holding a baseball card that Horton had given him. The conversation appeared to last more than 10 minutes, at a time when Tigers PR people looked like they were trying to pull Harris.

But Harris wasn’t giving up.

Tigers owner Christopher Ilitch shakes Scott Harris' hand during a news conference about Harris' new role as the Tigers' president of baseball operations at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.

Tigers owner Christopher Ilitch shakes Scott Harris’ hand during a news conference about Harris’ new role as the Tigers’ president of baseball operations at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.

“Welcome to Detroit,” Horton said. “I’m here for you. Call me.”

“I will,” Harris said.

Harris is clearly brilliant—he wouldn’t have moved up so quickly in the Chicago Cubs organization and he wouldn’t have gotten the nod from Theo Epstein if he hadn’t.

He impressed Tigers owner Christopher Ilitch with his vision and innovative ideas.

VOICE REVIEW:For Scott Harris, the new Tigers president of baseball operations, ‘this day was inevitable’

And Harris had some lengthy discussions with Tigers manager AJ Hinch, even disagreeing over in-game strategy. I think they are cut from the same cloth – supersmart baseball people who see the game on another level.

Harris even got the stamp of approval from Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman who was part of the interview process. I doubt Ilitch would hire Harris if Yzerman was concerned.

“I guess I’ll follow (Yzerman) a lot for some advice,” Harris said. “He’s definitely had a great career on the ice and in the front office and I know I can learn a lot from him. “

But the moment with Horton showed me something else. Harris respects the game and connects easily with people.

“He’s going to do great,” Horton said.

So he even has Horton’s blessing.

Yes, there is a lot to say about this man.

Here we are again

We’ve seen a lot of general managers come and go in Detroit in recent years, especially amid all the losses.

We’ve seen the second in command move up to the top job — and, well, that didn’t work out. Al Avila was recently released.

We’ve seen a draft guru join him – and Brad Holmes seems to be making strides with the Lions.

We’ve seen a hometown hero back — and Yzerman’s job with the Wings remains a work in progress.

Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris is interviewed after his introductory news conference Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022 at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit.

Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris is interviewed after his introductory news conference Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022 at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit.

And we’ve seen a young guy, who failed miserably — oh, the Bob Quinn era is still haunting the Lions.

What is Harris then?

Yes, he is young. And he did, he did a great job at his news conference, communicating his plan.

But new bass words don’t matter.

What matters is his actions — he has to hire the right people and take the right steps to make it work. And win. Oh, good, he has to win. That’s all we ask.

Harris promises to be aggressive.

“When we go into this winter, we will not be averse to risks,” he told the media on Tuesday. “We cannot be risk averse.

“We are going to make a lot of moves, a lot of moves with strong determination and confidence behind them. Risks will be calculated on some of these moves. We need to take calculated risks to close the gap between this organization and the others we are currently facing.”

Harris didn’t give much detail, and I didn’t expect him to.

I think some of those moves will involve hiring new people in the organization – he plans to hire a general manager but doesn’t have a time frame.

But I believe it will also bring in new players, or at least change things around.

“He’s driven to win a World Series,” Ilitch said. “As simple as that is, not everyone is as aggressive in their thinking and commitment to trying to be the best and win a World Series championship. And I found that Scott and I were very aligned on that. So here are some of the key things I saw through the interview process which was really impressive.”

Amen to that.

Job 1: Implement a plan

Why did Ilitch hire him?

“His innovative approach and his passion for winning,” Ilitch said.

Harris declined to give details about those innovative ideas.

But a quick look at some of the positions in the San Francisco Giants front office is noteworthy.

Senior data scientist, biochemist, medical review analyst, director of mental health and wellness.

Maybe, the Tigers have people doing some of those things.

But not spelled like this.

It seems vital to have someone studying injuries, especially at a time when so many young Tigers are dealing with arm troubles.

That’s the innovation I believe they’re talking about.

But it’s also about how you build a roster.

“We need to build a variety of skills here,” Harris said. “We want to arm AJ with the ability to throw out different lineups for different starters to match up differently with some of the different relievers coming out of the pen.”

That could be getting into the weeds.

But that’s exactly what Hinch thinks.

That goes far beyond simple batting averages.

It’s breaking down matchups, thinking ahead, building with a purpose.

You want to know why so many of the Tigers pitchers are successful?

It’s about Hinch matching them up against certain hitters, putting the pitchers in the best position to succeed.

And it is clear that Hinch and Harris are speaking the same language.

“I didn’t know him before this process,” Harris said. “I haven’t met him. But we’ve had many conversations about his role and his vision for the organization.”

Rebuilding is not enough

Harris takes over an organization that has a smart and successful manager, decent young talent, a couple of excellent youngsters and some talent at the lower levels.

Best of all, Miguel Cabrera’s salary will be off the books after next season.

I know the Tigers are flirting with 100 losses. But this organization is not far away from controversy.

This season has been riddled with some crazy injuries and many players, including Javier Baez, have not fared well.

“I haven’t talked to Javy since I left the Cubs,” Harris said. “But I’ve seen the absolute best version of Javy. He is a dynamic impact player who brings energy and 80 on field makeup to every game he plays.

“I don’t know what happened here in Detroit. But the first step to doing that is sitting down with Javy, trying to figure out what this season has been for him and find out ways we can support him to be better, so we can help him make the most of it. .”

That told me everything, just as he thought through the question.

Harris wasn’t talking about analytics, although I’m sure that will be part of it. He wasn’t talking about graphics or numbers.

It was starting with the person.

Yes, analytics will play a role. But it is not everything.

From what I can see, Harris is a mix of new school analytics and old school people oriented approach.

Which is exactly how I would describe Hinch.

And that combination is why I’m motivated that this could work.

Yes, he is young.

Yes, he has a fresh face.

But there’s a lot to enjoy about this hire.

Contact Jeff Seidel: jseidel@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.

This article originally appeared on the Detroit Free Press: Why I’m inspired by new Detroit Tigers president Scott Harris

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