Detroit Tigers: Can Brad Ausmus Put the “Man” in Manager?


It’s a tough job being a manager for a major league baseball team. You have the role of teacher, coach, mentor, motivator and public relations guy. You have to be able to handle egos and injuries and playing time and travel and a wealth of data that should make your job easier but might actually confuse you. You have to do this over the course of a 162 game schedule, all while trying to look good in a baseball uniform.  No easy task for an experienced manager, much less a relative newby to coaching like Brad Ausmus.

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Brad Ausmus was a surprise hire for the Detroit Tigers. He had never managed a big league ball club before. He had coached an Israeli national team that was trying to get into the World Baseball Classic, and then had a stint as “Special Assistant to Baseball Operations” for the San Diego Padres. I have no idea what that job entails, but it sounds awesome, and he got to live in San Diego, so I guess I would have taken it if it was offered to me.

The key point is, though, that other than managing a bunch of young men of Jewish decent, Brad Ausmus had very little experience managing a baseball team.

By all accounts Ausmus is a capable x’s and o’s manager. His 18 years as a major league catcher prepared him to deal with lineups and defense and the general strategy of managing a team. However, there are lots of guys out there who understand the general strategy of baseball. The real question is whether he can handle a veteran team, with its egos and pride, and who, in some cases, aren’t that much younger than him. Does he have the cachet it takes to really manage these guys?

Victor Martinez was obviously hobbled prior to being put on the disabled list. To me, and most Tiger fans, it was evident that he was hurting the team the last ten or fifteen games he played. But Ausmus kept putting him out there. Was it an honest belief that Victor was going to contribute, or was it backing down to a veteran presence who clearly wanted to try to play through it? Starting pitching has clearly been an issue, but in several cases – most notably with Anibal Sanchez, another veteran – he has left the pitcher in the game despite a bullpen that has exceeded expectations to date.

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  • Ian Kinsler – going through one of the worse slumps of his career – not only continues to play almost every game, but continued to bat second in the lineup (until this week). Does he feel those guys were the best chance he had at winning, or was he trying to not rock the boat in order to maintain a peaceful relationship with his players?

    It worked while they Tigers were winning. And it worked last year when he led the Tiger’s to the playoffs. But with the Tigers in a downward spiral due to a lack of offense and spotty starting pitching, now is the time for the Tiger’s manager to step up and prove his worth – to man up, so to speak. Can he motivate them through the slumps? Can he motivate and cajole and (yes) berate as needed? Most importantly – can he figure out a way to win, regardless of the egos?

    I believe that a Joe Madden would figure it out. I believe that Terry Francona would figure it out.

    It remains to be seen if Brad Ausmus can figure it out. For the sake of the Tigers, let’s hope that he does.

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