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The Tigers promote Dave Littlefield to vice president of player development

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The Tigers are trying to keep as much of the front office as it was under Dave Dombrowski, but there are some minor changes afoot. Here’s one: former Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield has been promoted to vice president of player development.

Littlefield has been scouting for the past five years, this one for Detroit, the previous four for the Chicago Cubs. Earlier in his career he worked for the Tigers for a spell and was a Dombrowski protege, working in Montreal and Miami. He was, of course, more famously the GM of the Pirates for six seasons during which the club went a combined 421-549 (.434).

His time in Pittsburgh can be somewhat hard to assess in that a lot of the moves he was infamous for making likely were directed by an ownership who routinely looked to cut costs, but a lot of GMs have done just fine under such constraints. Littlefield? Eh, not so much. As a review of his tenure reminds us, he traded away Aramis Ramirez in a bad deal. He once was offered a young Ryan Howard in exchange for Kris Benson and nixed the idea. He did end up getting Jose Bautista for Benson, but that was before he was JOSE BAUTISTA. He signed a lot of guys like Jeromy Burnitz, Joe Randa, Raul Mondesi and Benito Santiago, Actually, it was worse: he didn’t sign guys like them, he signed those actual guys.

Which, no probably isn’t that important to his job in Detroit as he’s likely going to just have an enhanced role in scouting while Al Avila calls the shots. But it’s always fun to take a walk down memory lane when an old friend resurfaces, as many past GMs have lately. I mean, in a world where John Hart goes from unemployed ex-GM to part time TV analyst to the architect of a rebuild in the space of a couple of years, anything can happen.

Freddie Freeman has elbow surgery

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Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.

Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.

It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.

Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.