Being the new kid on the block is always tough. What is even more difficult is being the new kid and having expectations of being a leader. Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus found himself in a scenario as such last season, his rookie year as a big league manager in one of the most passionate sporting cities in the world.
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Here he was expected to take the Tigers to a World Series Championship when he had never even written a lineup card before. So much was expected of him, along with being the new guy in town. This resulted in a very spineless managerial style in which moves were made in favor of player’s emotions rather the good of the team.
The 2015 season will be a much different tale as Ausmus now has respect from the players and fans, and a whole year of MLB play under his belt.
The regular season has yet to begin and Ausmus has already made more bold moves than last year. Ausmus named David Price the Opening Day starter over Justin Verlander, ending Verlander’s 7 year run as the Opening Day starter.
At the surface this seems like a very easy decision to make, but it was actually quite gutsy. Verlander is home-grown talent and though he has churned out sub-par seasons as of lately, he’s still an icon in Detroit. David Price has only pitched in the Motor City for a half season and may likely not be in Detroit in 2016. For Ausmus to make an emotionless baseball decision and go with Price over the sentimental pick in Verlander, it shows the young manager has already come a long way.
Ausmus had some powerful points regarding his decision, according to ESPN
"“It is a tough decision when you have two guys like that….Looking at it from a baseball perspective, I felt this was the [right] decision and it wasn’t an easy decision. … I have to make a decision based on baseball and what is best for the 2015 Tigers.”"
This is an incredibly stark contrast from the decision Ausmus made nearly a year ago, courtesy of Hardball Talk:
"Max Scherzer is the reigning American League Cy Young winner, but he won’t be starting for the Tigers until the second game of the season. Rookie manager Brad Ausmus has decided on Justin Verlander as the Opening Day starter."
A year ago Ausmus didn’t want anybody to be upset so he chose Verlander over a man that just won one of baseball’s highest honors. Now he’s making decisions based solely on “what is best for the 2015 Tigers.”
Perhaps the most difficult decision that Ausmus will have to make is what to do with Joe Nathan. Many have speculated that with Nathan struggling in Spring Training, and guys like Joakim Soria, Angel Nesbitt, and Bruce Rondon performing at respectable levels a change is afoot.
Chris Iott of MLive believes it’s possible Detroit cuts ties with the 40 year-old Nathan:
"If Joe Nathan struggles in 2015 the same way he did last season, it’s very possible that he will be replaced as the closer. He could even get released before the season is up. It’s easier to send a guy packing in the final year of his contract than it is before that point."
Regardless of what decision is made. Brad Ausmus is a changed man whom is not afraid to make he necessary decision. He’s already come a long way from his days of tip-toing around drama and making sure everybody is happy. Ausmus means business.