Over the last five seasons, the Detroit Tigers have made late September baseball worth paying attention to.
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This season, with only the most die-hard fans still concerned with the day-to-day foibles of a team playing out the string, some other fans have drifted to other things and might have been bathed in the after-glow of gridiron victories by both the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans.
Shortly after the conclusion of those games, everyone was brought back to the Detroit Tigers’ kingdom with a sudden jolt. All of the fans looking to other things, perhaps waiting for the Hot Stove League and the expected selection of a new manager, were brought back in the fold when Al Avila announced that Brad Ausmus would return for the 2016 season.
This move has been met with a largely negative reaction, although there has been a bit of a groundswell of support for Ausmus over the last couple weeks in the Tigers’ clubhouse, media and with a small segment of fans.
I too have evolved on Ausmus slightly. About a month ago, I was ready to have him run at the end of the year with no questions asked, however watching this team flounder the last couple weeks, before last week’s solid performance, made me realize that any manager would have had a hard time managing this team with so many flaw in the pitching staff pre- and post-trading deadline.
Still, because I felt Ausmus should never have been hired in the first place, I thought everyone should move on.
Thus we present contrasting viewpoints. One from Mitch Albom, who set aside the writing of his latest sappy Hallmark Channel movie to provide support for Ausmus, while always-angry baseball curmudgeon Pat Caputo disagrees.
Finally, where it matters most perhaps, in the Tigers’ clubhouse, the players were happy that Brad would be back in 2016.
Tigers right not to give up on Brad Ausmus – Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press
"But if the talent was wrong, then what’s the manager supposed to do about it? Especially when top guys are injured and you strip him of the best players just before the trading deadline. If you have any doubt how much David Price and Yoenis Cespedes can mean to a team, take a look at the first-place Blue Jays and first-place Mets, who should be sending the Tigers hand-embroidered thank-you notes.The Tigers were two games under .500 when the trade deadline expired July 31. They are 10 under after Saturday night’s loss. Some might argue that’s holding a ship together pretty well, considering the loss of talent, influx of young players and general malaise that drapes a team that knows it doesn’t stand a chance.“I believe Brad has the talent, the know-how, to lead and mentor the young players that are on this team,” Avila told the media Saturday. “They’ve shown great improvement, guys like James McCann, (Nick) Castellanos, Anthony Gose, these guys have improved under Brad and his staff. We got a lot of pitchers also, that have improved. He also had the respect and the backing of the veteran players on this team.“So, that combination to me, tells me that Brad is the right man to lead this team into next year.”"
Wrong call made by Al Avila bringing back Brad Ausmus to manage Detroit Tigers – Pat Caputo, Macomb Daily Sports
"His pitching staff was terrible. Most of the decisions Ausmus has been harshly criticized for were of the â€œdamned if he did, and damned if he didnâ€™tâ€ variety because of it.But even under those circumstances, I donâ€™t think general manager Al Avila made the right decision by bringing Ausmus back for the 2016 season.It was the ideal time to start anew in the dugout and the clubhouse, and manager is one area I think the Tigers would have been able to upgrade.Also, Aumus is essentially a lame duck entering the final guaranteed year of the original contract he signed before the 2014 season. On a veteran team, thatâ€™s not a good thing when several players have that much more security than the person supervising them.Avila cited Ausmus for doing a good job with younger players, and any manager needs a better pitching staff than Dombrowski provided him. Thatâ€™s going to be the key â€“ regardless the manager.However, a new vision and voice can help with veteran players, and the Tigers needed a clean break from Ausmus considering where his contract status stands."
"“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “I think for them to announce that at the time they did shows the confidence they have in Brad. You go into the offseason without having a manager and it could be a wild goose chase. You don’t know what’s going to happen. We have a guy that’s extremely qualified for that position.”One of the reasons general manager Al Avila cited for keeping Ausmus is the work he’s done with young players. James McCann is one of those players.“I think it’s good news,” McCann said. “I think that Brad’s a very capable manager. I know that it’s been a frustrating year and a lot of people want to point fingers. It’s been a tough year all the way around from injuries to just a lack of having personnel because of those injuries.“I know that I’ve learned a lot from Brad. I know that I really respect him as a manager. I know there’s a lot more for me to learn, so I’m definitely excited to keep learning underneath him.”"