Detroit Tigers: Al Avila’s excuse not to call up Casey Mize idiotic

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

While the Detroit Tigers continue to roll out the likes of Matthew Boyd, and Ivan Nova to usually allow a lopsided score, Al Avila foolishly remains reluctant to recall phenom Casey Mize.

It was clear that the Detroit Tigers decided to keep Casey Mize down to start the regular season to push his service time back a year.  Now the highly touted right-hander won’t become a free agent until 2026 at the earliest.  But it appears general manager Al Avila is content with possibly pushing that back yet another year.

If the Tigers foolishly opt to keep Mize down with the taxi squad in Toledo for the entire season, plus the first couple of weeks to start the 2021 season, Mize’s service time will be pushed back an additional season.  If that happens, Mize won’t become a free agent until 2027.

That begs the question, is Chris Ilitch really invested in this Detroit Tigers franchise?

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Usually, being forced to shell out a long-term lucrative deal to a young player is a good thing.  Typically, that means said prospect is very good.  When an organization isn’t re-signing their own, that generally means they’ve done a terrible job drafting.

It is selfish for an organization to play this ‘service time’ game.  Don’t you think MLB agents are watching this?  Do you expect these agents to pick up the phone, and be eager to negotiate a deal in free agency with an organization that’s just penny-pinching trying to work the system just to add another measly year to their young talent?

Why on earth are the Detroit Tigers concerned with paying Mize six or seven years from now?  He’s a 23-year old seasoned pitcher.  We are not talking about a 19-year old kid straight out of high school.  Mize dominated in both single-A and double-A and was expected to anchor Toledo’s rotation to start the 2020 season.

If this were a regular year, Mize, most likely would not have been recalled to make his Major League debut until July or August.  The difference being he’d be pitching valuable innings in Toledo against live hitters, and many hitters who have spent some time in the majors.  Instead, the Tigers top pitching prospect is working out and pitching simulated baseball games to below-average hitters just trying to keep his arm strength up, probably hoping to join the Tigers at some point this summer.  But Avila pumped the brakes on that yesterday.

General manager Al Avila all but shot that opportunity down.  In an article published by the Detroit Free Press, big Al explains his decision;

"“Our whole thing was, we need to get him more work,” Avila said. “Last year, he had a really good year, but we had to shut him down early … more as a precaution than anything.“We felt this year, obviously we had a shortened spring training. Summer camp was not the greatest way to prepare for a season, either. Our main thing with Casey, and really a lot of our young pitchers, is we want to get them more time to build up pitch count, build up innings, work on their repertoire and not just throw them in the firs in a shortened season. For us, we want to err on the side of caution,” Avila said."

This statement Avila provided us with is an absolute joke.

The Tigers continue to roll out a struggling Boyd who has provided the organization with an earned run average north of ten, Nova, who is just an innings eater, along with Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris, who are both throwing on a pitch count.  The only starting pitcher with any credibility to this point is Spencer Turnbull.

Avila claims the organization is trying to preserve Mize’s young arm, yet the Tigers are using both Fulmer, Alexander, and Norris in the ‘opener’ format.  Why not allow Mize to pitch three innings or 50 pitches?  The team can comfortably ‘preserve’ his arm at the big-league level.

The Tigers currently sit a game above .500, in the widely competitive American League Central Division, yet the organization refuses to put their best product onto the field.

I understand not rushing to bring up a player like Riley Greene or Spencer Torkelson just yet, but a 23-year old arm like Mize should be in Detroit facing MLB hitters.

Next. It’s time to remove Matthew Boyd from the starting rotation. dark

The organization should be excited and interested to see what they have in a player like Mize. It will help the organization determine if they need to sign a middle of the rotation arm this offseason, but my gut feeling is they already possess it. Unfortunately, it’s just buried due to service time.  It’s not only unacceptable, but it’s also embarrassing.