Detroit Tigers players haven’t had the easiest time finding a win as of late. The team has dropped six in a row. Naturally, the manager is in the hot seat.
Some fans are now calling for his firing to the point where Ausmus had to address the issue after Sunday’s 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers. After Sunday’s loss, Ausmus said, per the Detroit News,
"“I understand that when you have a payroll like ours, the manager’s the guy that’s in the crosshairs. That’s fine. I knew when I took this job, I probably was gonna end up getting fired before I walked away from it. Not this job in particular, managers in general. How many managers walk away?”"
Even though Ausmus is not the best manager in baseball, now is not the time to fire him, nor has Ausmus committed a fire-able offense in 2016.
If the Tigers wanted to fire Ausmus, they had reasons to do so after the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Since they believed he was competent enough to be their manager then, he should be competent enough for them now because he is the same manager who believes his starters should go six innings and his bullpen should have set roles to get hitters out late in games.
In 2014, the Tigers had all the skill in the world, especially enough to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles. The Tigers had more skill than their record showed last season, but they played below that level. Ausmus’s management only hurt the Tigers’ cause, but management believed he was the correct man for the position.
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The games the Tigers have lost this season have been on the players. Brad Ausmus does not control the fact that his starting pitchers outside of Jordan Zimmermann have compiled a 5.93 ERA. Ausmus is not responsible for the Tigers scoring three runs or fewer in 11 games this season, losing 10 of them.
In some respects, Ausmus has improved as a manager. He has gotten better (not good) at managing his starting pitching and bullpen. When the lineup was scuffling, Ausmus should get credit for shuffling the lineup for more production.
Ausmus’s biggest weakness is in the details of baseball, which are a direct reflection of the manager. The most glaring detail is the Tigers’ base running. The Tigers have always been a brutal base running team, and 2016 has shown no improvement, even though they stressed it throughout Spring Training and while they were in Kansas City.
Should Brad Ausmus be the manager of the Detroit Tigers now? No, he should have been fired after the 2014 or 2015 seasons, but the Tigers have backed themselves into a corner by supporting Ausmus through those two offseasons.
If they fired him then, they would have been able to find a replacement outside of the Tigers’ organization. If they fire him now, the Tigers would have to turn to Lloyd McClendon, Gene Lamont, Jim Leyland, Ron Gardenhire, or another unemployed manager to lead a team that is scuffling because the players are not performing.