Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers vice president Al Avila prior to game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Dombrowski was one of the most successful general managers in Detroit Tigers’ history. He helped bring the Tigers out of obscurity as a perennial last place team and turned them into a World Series contender.
Dombrowski’s problem was that his team failed him when they needed him most in the World Series, the ALCS, and in the regular season in 2015 which led to his departure. Now that the Tigers have put Al Avila at the helm, will anything change?
The knee-jerk reaction is no. Avila left Brad Ausmus as manager of the Tigers heading into a lame duck season. Ausmus looked overmatched when he managed the talented 2014 Tigers. He looked even more overmatched in 2015 when he was given a worse team and dealt with injuries.
I did not expect the Tigers to go to the World Series, but there were numerous instances where Ausmus cost the team games which could have changed the outlook of the season and the moves at the trade deadline.
If Avila has left Ausmus as manager, how much will really change between Avila and Dombrowski’s styles? Dombrowski’s teams got close, but they failed on the biggest stages at times they were set up for success, especially in 2006 and 2012.
Will Avila be able to build the bullpen that Dombrowski struggle to compile the last number of season he was in Detroit? Will Avila raid the farm system like Dombrowski did to try to win now at all costs? Will Avila have to deal with “Mike Ilitch moves” like the signing of Prince Fielder, or will he have the autonomy to allow baseball people to make baseball decisions.
Avila’s evaluation will not be complete after his 2015 offseason for the 2016 season, but patience will run short as people see the core the Tigers have.