So how is it possible to remain a fan of a team whose goal is to NOT WIN?

For Detroit Tigers fans, the only answer is loyalty, and faith that the team’s rebuilding process will eventually bring the promised results.

In case you weren’t aware, the Tigers open the 2019 season on Thursday in Toronto, where they will play a four-game series against the Blue Jays over the weekend.

If you didn’t know that, it’s probably because you do know that the Tigers are expected to stink again this year – perhaps even worse than last year’s squad, which finished 64-98.

Of course there are those diehard fans who are probably saying to themselves “Wait a minute, it’s only the beginning of the season. There is some talent on the roster. If Cabrera stays healthy, and some of the young pitchers start developing, who knows? After all, their division is clearly the worst in baseball.”

Sadly, they are wrong, because even if lightning struck, the Tigers played far better than expected, and made it to midseason in contention, the team’s management would quickly put an end to it.

Remember, Tigers General Manager Al Avila has made it very clear that any player who performs well will be offered up as trade bait, so the club can continue to stockpile minor league talent for the future.

So don’t get too attached to any guy who gets off to a hot start. He will have a one-way ticket out of town.

Some fans are excited about new second baseman Josh Harrison, a former All-Star with Pittsburgh who has lots of skills left, and is a fiery team leader type of guy. Control your enthusiasm, cause if he hits, he’s gone.

A lot of experts are expecting a very big year at the plate for Nick Castellanos, whose massive power potential is just starting to fully bloom. He could hit 30-40 home runs this year. But don’t get too pumped up, because a lot of those dingers will probably be hit in another uniform.

A lot of fans have been impressed with the flashes of potential shown by starting pitcher Matt Boyd, who could emerge as a very effective hurler this year. But if he does, he won’t be a Tiger for long.

Again, the Tigers main goal this year is to NOT WIN. Their plan is to showcase players for any and all possible trades, to get youngsters who may be with the team by 2022 or 2023.

I understand why all of this is necessary. The Tigers’ farm system was left barren by former General Manager Dave Dombrowski, who traded all the young talent for aging veterans during the division championship years.

And from everything I’ve read, Avila’s plan to rebuild the farm system is going very well. There will reportedly be a lot more talent in Toledo, Erie, Lakeland and West Michigan this year than there has been in a long time. That bodes well for the distant future.

But right now the situation is more painful than usual for us fans. Knowing we’re going to have a bad team is one thing. Knowing that any player who performs well will be automatic trade bait is even worse.

It’s springtime, when fans of all teams traditionally dream of great seasons and playoff runs. That’s supposed to be our right, at least until reality sets in by May or June.

But Tiger fans don’t even have that right anymore, because if any unexpected winning starts to happen, management will shoot it down as quickly as possible.

So grit your teeth, fellow fans. It’s going to be a long, painful summer in Detroit, any way you slice it.