The answer to what’s ailing the Detroit Tigers is staring team brass right in the face.
There’s no two ways about it: The Detroit Tigers aren’t responding to manager Brad Ausmus, and this aging team is seeing one of its last shots to do something special fall by the wayside early in 2016.
The solution? Admit that it was a mistake to keep Ausmus around this season and ask Jim Leyland, who serves as a special assistant to the Tigers front office and is regularly in attendance at games, to take over this team for the rest of the season before finding a long-term solution in the offseason.
Now, before you jump down my throat in the comments section, let me explain.
Leyland is a guy who lets his players play. The veterans in that clubhouse love him and have played with a lot more grit for this guy than they ever have for Ausmus. If this team has any shot to save this season, I believe that Leyland is the shot of life that they need.
I know, I know. Leyland retired for a reason and there’s no way he would want to jump in and take over a ship that is on the verge of sinking.
Not so fast.
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A lot of these players are Leyland’s guys. If management goes to him and says that Ausmus is on his way out no matter Leyland’s decision, then I think the old skipper gives the organization all he’s got over the next five months.
The Tigers are saying all the right things about Ausmus right now, and I truly believe a lot of the guys in that clubhouse like their manager. I’m just not so sure they respect him.
I won’t lie to you. I applauded the Ausmus hiring when it was made. I thought a different approach to the game, more specifically, better use of sabermetrics, could be just what this team needed to get over the hump and finally hoist a World Series trophy.
Well, I was wrong.
In hindsight, it was a mistake to turn over a team full of veterans to a rookie manager. There are just too many egos in that clubhouse. This isn’t a team that should be micromanaged. It’s a team full of guys who have won MVPs, batting titles, Gold Gloves and made the World Series. Tinkering with what’s made them successful just isn’t working, and Leyland won’t tinker.
Sure, we’ve had our gripes with Leyland in the past. He was loyal to a fault to guys like Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge. But if that’s as bad as it got, well, then life was pretty good for the Tigers under the old ball coach.
It’s a one shot deal. I’m not talking about bringing Leyland back past this season, but I do believe, wholeheartedly, that this is the best chance for this team to salvage this season.