Detroit Tigers’ Biggest Concern Should be Brad Ausmus

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It just didn’t make sense did it? The bottom of the ninth inning, one out, runner on first and second, down 2-1, facing elimination against the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Division Series and Brad Ausmus sends Hernan Perez to pinch hit for Andrew Romine. Perez who had five at bats in the regular season and didn’t hit lefties exceptionally well in the minors. Perez aptly hit into a season ending double play and Buck Showalter looked like a genius compared to Ausmus.

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Last we left our Detroit Tigers in October, many Tiger fans were questioning the capability of Brad Ausmus as the leader of the team. Talk radio was filled with the questions of whether or not Ausmus was the right manager to lead the Tigers to their first World Series championship in thirty years. Whether it was head scratching pinch hitting decisions or a mismanaged bullpen, Ausmus deserved a lot of the criticism he was receiving in October for the Tigers early exit in 2014.

Then a funny thing happened – the off season. The many questions the Tigers face as they begin the 2015 campaign have buried the concerns and criticisms of Ausmus. On top of the list of concerns are the depth of the bullpen, changes in the starting rotation, and injuries to Victor Martinez and Justin Verlander. But on top of those questions should be a concern whether or not Brad Ausmus can effectively manage the Detroit Tigers.

Ausmus’ defenders will quickly point out that he learned a lot in his freshman season and that we need to be patient with him. They’ll say that we will see him manage his bullpen better in 2015. Personnel decisions and game time strategy will come more natural to him. Ausmus fans will point out that in his first season, he did lead the Detroit Tigers to their fourth straight American League Central Division crown with a hobbled Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander as well as one of the worst bullpens in the majors.

But what has changed?  Ausmus remains in denial about his closer, Joe Nathan.  As Matt Pelc reported in mid March after Nathan was shelled for six runs, four of them earned he said “I thought he looked good.”

Ausmus is lauded as being one of the most cerebral minds in baseball. From who? Ausmus himself. He’s so smart he developed his own brand. In the press conference announcing the hiring as manager Ausmus said, “I always enjoyed the cerebral part. It was much more difficult to hit — that was the part of the game I didn’t really enjoy.” Maybe that’s more of Dave Dombrowski rationalizing his decisions again. I don’t know. Cerebral doesn’t always translate into great leadership, does it? I don’t need a Mensa membership to know that I wouldn’t send Hernan Perez to face a lefty on the brink of elimination from the post season or know that Joe Nathan is not “good”.

The 2015 Detroit Tigers will be handicapped this year by an inexperienced Brad Ausmus. How will he perform with a less talented team and a worse bullpen than in 2014? With Jim Leyland I liked that you always understood what Jim Leyland was thinking and he took accountability for it. The thing with Brad Ausmus is that I don’t have a clue as to what he is thinking.

Next: Jose Iglesias courage, diversity, best living Tiger

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