Detroit Tigers: 5 worst moves in Dave Dombrowski era
Brad Ausmus has never managed in the major leagues or minor leagues.
(Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press via USA Today)
#2: Hiring Brad Ausmus
Certain segments of Detroit Tigers’ fans were happy, gitty, almost ecstatic when Jim Leyland announced his retirement just days after the ouster of his team in the ALCS of 2013.
That series with the Boston Red Sox was a sole crusher. That team was arguably the best team of any in era that began in 2006, and the one built most to win. But we know in baseball that the teams built to win don’t always win in October, it’s really the team that gets hot. The Red Sox got hot, and if two pitches were better located, the Tigers probably would have gone to the World Series and won it this time.
But that’s speculation, something many Tigers’ fans share. You can imagine that Leyland felt these same feelings and just didn’t have the energy to do this all again for Spring Training, 162-games and then the postseason, so he stepped aside.
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So Dave Dombrowski sought out his replacement and zeroed in on former two-term Detroit Tigers’ catcher Brad Ausmus. A very good catcher in his day, Ausmus had never managed on any level and was serving as an special assistant in the San Diego Padres front office.
It didn’t take D.D. long to view Ausmus as a great candidate and hired him pretty quickly. Fans were a bit dismayed, putting in a rookie manager for a team with World Series aspirations?
Tigers’ brass brushed this off and said that Ausmus’ “intelligence” would be the difference. That he thinks 2-3 moves ahead in games and he blew them away in the interview. What they tried to sell us was that he was more “Mike Matheny” rookie manager-y than “Alan Trammell” rookie manager-y.
And it looked like they were right when the team jumped out to a 27-12 record and led baseball in 2014. Seems like so long ago, no?
Ausmus is a cool and collected dude most of the time. He doesn’t react to situations he should react to. He can’t manage a bullpen to save his life, calls for bunts in every bunt situation (in other words has no ability to go off-book with his moves), and seems several moves behind the action, not ahead like DD said.
In so many games he’s outmanaged, which was something even the avid Leyland haters could not say. He was totally outmanaged by Buck Showalter in last year’s ALDS that it would be laughable if this wasn’t our team.
I don’t know if things would have been different these last couple of years if Leyland had stayed on or if the Tigers hired another manager, but it’s hard to think it would have been any worse.
Next: Bullpen Inaction