Monday, November 4, 2013

Did the Detroit Tigers hire the right man in Brad Ausmus?

There is no way to know that right now today. In a year from now we can assess the job that Brad Ausmus did in his rookie year as skipper of our Detroit Tigers. However, we can look at the history of mangers in the Mike Illitch era of this team and look at the men Dave Dombrowski has hired to manage this team. From that we can draw some conclusions. First and foremost I think it is fair to criticize the reasoning behind the decision to hire Ausmus.

This feels like a trend hire. The Los Angeles Dodgers hired Don Mattingly and he had some success. In three years he has taken his team to the NLCS. However let us not forget he was a bench coach in New York under Joe Torre and a coach with the Dodgers before being given the skippers job. Mattingly was phase one of this new trend. Along with Robin Venture in Chicago and Mike Matheny in St. Louis.

Now we enter phase two of the inexperienced manager hiring trend. Where teams hire a guy with only loose ties to their organization. The Washington Nationals hired Matt Williams, and the Tigers hired Ausmus. The problem I have here is as a charter member of the the American League and three time reigning AL Central division champions why should the Tigers follow trends? Why not find the right guy that can win now, with  roster built to win now. Maybe Ausmus is the right guy in two years when this team rebuilds, but let's be real honest here the championship window for this team is closing rapidly. The payroll gets ugly soon and the owner is not gonna be around forever. That means 2014 in a all in, must win kind of season. Ausmus inspires little faith that he is the guy to win it all as a rookie skipper.

I would have liked this team to look at a veteran manager, my pick from the jump was Charlie Manuel for the short term. Maybe Ausmus makes sense in two years and maybe he would be locked in somewhere else by then but this kind of hire makes more sense to me sometime in the future.

Now let's look at the three hires made by Dombrowski since he came to town in 2002. His first hire was Alan Trammell and although his record with the team isn't great I think he really showed a lot of younger players how to play this game the right way. I think at some point during his tenure as manager Illitch decided to becoem a spender and the players they brought in and maybe even the front office staff didn't think he was the guy for that kind of job. The Jim Leyland hire was a win, no question. Hiring Ausmus right now kind of feels like the Trammel hire. He might be the guy to help this team rebuild in two years, but maybe isn't the guy to manage a collection of egos built to win now.

Illitch has not had a great deal of success in mangers since he bought the team in 1992. Ausmus is the 8th man to mange the team in the 22 years Illitch has owned the team. that is a lot and a lot of mistakes have been made with the skipper's job. To be frank the hiring of Ausmus feels like the Trammell hire or the hiring of Buddy Bell. I am not even going to mention Phil Garner, or Larry Parrish who is once again back as Skipper of the Toledo Mud Hens.

However, with all my misgivings about this I want to stay positive and see what kind of job Ausmus can do. The good news I suppose is Gene Lamont will return as bench coach and that is important for continuity and a guy with a ton of experience to help the rookie skipper. We do know Ausumus got a three year deal with an option for a fourth, but we do not know what coaches he will retain.

It seems very likely that Lloyd McClendon will move on after interviewing for the skipper's job and not getting it. It also seems likely that pitching coach Jeff Jones will not be back, and I base that on how Ausmus answered questions about him during his presser. Dombrowski said all of the coaches are free to  pursue other jobs and there are still two skippers jobs out there. I have been hearing some rumors that Tom Brookens will depart to join Kirk Gibson's staff in Arizona. Ausmus is free to assemble his own staff and I think one or two changes will be in order this year with more moves coming in the future.,

We shall see how this plays out.

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