By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
Over the next few days, we will participate in a little Q & A; a unique version, as we are both going to answer the same questions. New questions every day until we (or you) get tired of them.
Keep in mind that a lot of Holly’s answers to these questions are going to seem quite logical, with the key word being “seem.” She’s gonna throw around OBP like it’s some really important thing. But don’t let it sway you. Just keep in mind that the most entertaining answers are probably the right ones. Thanks and enjoy.
Holly has the following questions focused on team management:
1. What’s your position on Dave Dombrowski?
Holly: DD has been one of the better GMs in baseball and instrumental in re-establishing Detroit as one of the best baseball cities. However, the longer he goes without that WS title, and given the amount of money he has spent, the more that halo becomes tarnished. This year’s results, the last year on his contract, may determine whether or not he stays.
Kurt: Dave Dombrowski remains one of the best GM’s in baseball and frankly, we are lucky to have him. GM’s of his caliber aren’t just falling out of the sky looking to get hired. So unless this team just plain doesn’t contend all season, I don’t see Illitch shopping for someone else. I think DD’s got the same kind of deal Jim Leyland had; he will stay as long as he wants. And who knows, he may not want to stay if the Tigers fail again.
2. What are your thoughts about Brad Ausmus?
Holly: At first, I was excited to see a much younger man come in with the promise of shaking up the team with new ideas and energy, esp. given DD’s glowing report. But Brad really turned into an enigma and made me worry about his inexperience and the ability to lead this team. This year, he’s got to prove he can manage without a book as well as demonstrate that there is a fire in his belly.
Kurt: I was intrigued and impressed with Ausmus in his press conference and out of the gate when the Tigers started the season so well. But, he seemed to get more and more tentative as the season went on. All creativity then went out the window (cause the window is open remember) and at the end, he was one scared puppy. He’s the reason not many teams turn to a rookie to get a championship caliber team over the hump. It rarely works.
3. Speaking of managers, how do you feel about Jim Leyland today?
Holly: I liked JL in the beginning of his tenure but he ran out of energy and ideas several years before he retired and needed to go. Brad has shown this isn’t an easy job and I now appreciate JL for the stability and people-management skills he brought to the game. Ideally, a new manager should have been brought in three years ago which would have maximized their ability to win.
Kurt: I was a Jim Leyland fan. I knew that Brad would have big shoes to fill when Leyland left. You don’t manage as long as Jim did without knowing the game and how to handle players and all it takes to navigate a team through a season. Brad hasn’t even sniffed Leyland’s shoes, much less filled them. Hopefully, he will at least try them on this season.
4. Was hiring Alan Trammell an attempt to show loyalty or do you think DD has something else in mind?
Holly: I think Tram serves a real purpose in multiple ways. He will be an extra set of eyes and ears for DD (esp re Brad’s skills), an advisor for Brad (they are friends) and the eventual replacement for Gene Lamont next year. He could also be that stability/transitional element in case things go south for the Tigers this year and they need to move on before the end of the year.
Kurt: I think it’s both. I think the Tigers are throwing Tram a bone here. He’s a loyal Tiger and I would expect him to be the bench coach next season. Gene Lamont hung around to be Brad’s guidance counselor, and I think it was smart to keep him. But it’s time for Gene to surrender the post.
5. What managerial issue do you most question?
Holly: Hiring Ausmus still puzzles me. As a team in “win now” mode, combined with those stars and payroll, why would you hire someone with zippo years of managerial experience? It’s akin to having a Ferrari, slapping mini-van tires on it and expecting it to run at full speed.
Kurt: I most question Brad’s ability to handle the pitching staff. And doesn’t this shock you the most? The man was a catcher! If there would be anything fresh he would bring to the party it would be creativity in the use of the pitching staff, primarily the bullpen. I’m still puzzled as to how this could have been one of his weaknesses given his background.